One Sonic Society

tête-à-tête: stu g

Sometimes you get introduced to a band and it changes your life. Delirious was one of those bands. Stu G was the guitar player. His playing changed everything for me. It was beautiful and brash. It was tender and tough. It was perfect. He raised the bar. Big time. The way he constantly evolves as a musician is an inspiration. I met Stu a few months ago when I was in Atlanta recording the new Matt Redman album. We sat and he let me talk for hours about how much I love him… which was quite kind and patient. A couple weeks ago we had another chat. We talked about his day to day life as Stu G, his own inspirations (he saw Queen play Wembley Arena. OMG.), his new album, fuzz pedals and much more.

Enjoy.
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Hi Stu G. What are you doing?
Right now I’m working on my new EP and all things to do with my PledgeMusic Campaign at the same time as finalizing things for my eldest daughter’s wedding at the end of September…wow time goes fast!

What’s a normal day like for Stu G?
Well everyday can be different but always starts with a coffee, a read and some meditation. I spend my time nowadays either song writing, guitar sessions [in my studio or tracking sessions elsewhere]. occasionally producing, or playing live with an artist. OSS (One Sonic Society) takes some time too, but it’s not a full time commitment.

A typical day in my studio would start around 9am with more coffee and creating a to do list. If i’m co-writing, that would start at 10:00. I try and get home for dinner around 6:00. I’ve done that ever since the kids were born if i’m at home. There is no greater gift than family and eating meals together is really important to me. If I’m not busy in the evening, Karen and i will catch up with whatever TV obsession we have… currently it’s either Breaking Bad or Madmen 🙂

Did you grow up in a musical family?
Both my parents played an instrument but not professionally. Mum [piano] Dad [violin, guitar] So there was always music around. I used to go to my Grandmas and raid my uncles record collection and bang along on upturned saucepans. Once I was aware of Top Of The Pops on the BBC I would grab a tennis racket, pretend it was a guitar, and play along. 

What first drew you to the guitar? What kept you interested?
I was a huge Queen fan and when I heard Queen Live Killers at 16 years old I wanted to be Brian May. My love of music kept me interested as well as the lifelong search for tone, hooks and melodies

Did you play in bands growing up? Any exceptional band names?
Yes I was in a band back in Ipswich [my home town]. It was a christian band playing bars. It was called 33 Across – quite an exceptional name.

After I moved to London I had a band called The Stuart David Band [my two first names] and then The Treasure Park 🙂

33 Across is exceptional! Who is your favorite band?
that would have to be Queen historically and Radiohead currently.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen? And why.
HARD! Historically – The first time I saw Queen at Wembley Arena or Pink Floyd The Wall at Earls Court both in 1980, no explanation needed! More recently – Arcade Fire at the Ryman in Nashville. I’ve never seen more joy exuded by a band performance EVER!

I want to ask you about your writing process. Specifically guitar parts. The thing that really hits me when I listen to you play guitar is that the parts are very catchy. Very memorable and timeless sounding. Then you have a knack for finding the perfect guitar sound for that part. I think often times when I am listening to bands it’s one or the other. What comes first, the melody or the tone? What’s the process like when it’s time to track guitars and write your parts?
Thank you! I think it’s a combination of things. The music that inspires me, the desire to put the song first, years of making music in the studio, basing everything I do from the major scale, being both a rhythm and lead player.

There is always a gut reaction melody that comes to mind, but getting the tone right makes you play less so it always develops at the same time. I hardly ever sign off on parts without collaboration. I am always better when someone else is there, producer or artist, to bounce ideas off.

I remember the first time I heard Glo. Those fuzz guitars and all the crazy noises you made. It shocked me and made me rethink everything I was doing. One thing I liked about that album was the guitar sounds were so aggressive but the guitar parts were very melodic and pretty. So it created a really cool tension. Who were some of your influences as far as the more experimental guitar sounds you were going for?
Well the producers were an influence, Chuck Zwicky, Lynn Nichols and Tedd T. I was listening to a lot of Billy Corgan combining that with an Edge like melodic sense. It just kind of evolved. ZVEX pedals were also to blame and the Line6 DL4 had just come out 🙂

You have a rather large discography now. What are some of your guitar performances over the course of your career that you are especially proud of? Are there any that stick out to you? 
I think my work on Mezzamorphis, Glo and AudioLessonover were really defining for me and I’m proud of that. Any time we played live in Southern California or London pulled the best out of me too. So I think back to shows at The Greek Theatre and Shepherds Bush Empire specifically. I love what I did on the first two OSS eps and on my new EP OF Burdens Birds And Stars

You are making a solo record! Tell me all about it!
Yes It’s called Of Burdens Birds And Stars and is a collection of 6 new songs written in the time since Delirious finished up to the present day. These are stories and observations of my time of transition and include a love song, a prayer for a friend, therapy from relationship failings, a song for my youngest daughter when she left home for a year traveling. a real mixture of styles and sentiments. They don’t fit into OSS or anything else I’m involved in and once a few friends heard them, they encouraged me to get them out there. These are not songs to sing in church they’re just songs. I’m not trying to be cool, trendy, mainstream, alternative or anything else i’m trying to be honest and obedient to my story, and maybe these songs can help other people with their story. I’m nearly done recording, but ran out of money to mix and master so I’m running a PledgeMusic Campaign http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/stug to help me finish it. I’ve never done anything like this before and really enjoying the social media interaction. This is a new day for me and I’m really excited about getting this out there

I’m really excited to hear it. What’s happening with your band One Sonic Society?
We remain busy with playing at conferences and churches. We are writing some new songs right now too. We’re talking about the next year or so and looking at how it’s going to look. We all have an influence and are involved with many different worship leaders and movements. It’s a privilege to remain a part of writing and influencing the church in terms of songs and music. Jason and Paul are my biggest supporters and friends. We have some history now, and I have to recognize it as a God connection… I’m both lucky and blessed 🙂

Who are some bands and guitar players that you are really into right now?
Anything Jack White, Blonde Redhead, The new Jars Of Clay record Inland is amazing, All Sons And Daughters, The Brilliance, Loud Harp, Radiohead, Oceania by Smashing Pumpkins is a great record as is The Next Day by David Bowie

Ok, well you are Stu G, so I need to talk to you about some guitars and amps and pedals and things. What’s your favorite guitar that you own? What is the guitar you find yourself using the most in the studio and live?
Ugh! That’s hard. I think it would have to be my Cherry sunburst Les Paul Standard from the 90s. This was my mainstay for most of the Delirious years. It’s the best Les Paul I’ve ever played. Next in line would be my ’66 Gretsch duo jet, Then my ’79 Strat. Live I use my Duesenberg Star TV player most. It’s kind of a mixture of Les Paul and Gretsch, but is a newer, well built guitar that I don’t mind flying with in a Mono gig bag.

If you had to choose just one amp, what would it be?
My ’76 Park 50w combo it’s incredible!! Made by Jim Marshall in a time where his distributor Rose Morris only wanted certain designs, he made these and sold them through a store in Birmingham England 

Ok, and what are some pedals that have caught your attention recently?
Earthquaker Devices are amazing. I have just got The Organizer, Bit Commander and Hoof Reaper. They are a little like Zvex in as much as you need to be ready to experiment and expect the unexpected. 

I am proud to have relationship with both DMB and JHS pedals. both these guys make really solid and useful tools for the guitar player. They both make extraordinarily good delay pedals in the Lunar Echo and Panther Delay respectively well worth checking out their range of stuff.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Apart from “don’t eat yellow snow”? 

That’s great advice! Anything Else?
I think it would be “don’t strive to be who you are, help others be who they are” this came at a time when i was trying to figure out life after D?

What advice can you offer to aspiring guitar players?
Hold on to your dreams, work hard, practice, learn the major scale in every key in all 7 positions. Finally prayer works… it’s the only thing that can change circumstances when we have done everything physically possible.

Thank you, Stu. Bye.
THANK YOU! byebye

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