Chris Forsyth Brings His Evolution Here We Come Tour to The Turf Club November 3
Philadelphia’s favorite space cowboy guitarist has a new album out this year, Evolution Here We Come, on No Quarter Records. Thursday, November 3rd, he brings his ace band of players (featuring members of scene superstars Tortoise, Sun Ra Arkestra, the Dream Syndicate, and Garcia Peoples) to the Turf Club for an evening of mind expansion. Singer-songwriter Meg Baird will be opening the evening.
In anticipation of the gig I drafted a few questions Forsyth was kind enough to answer for Reviler:
Your country, psychedelic, and folk roots are palpable. Considering that, what would you consider to be the best jam band of the 1960s, and why is it Creedence Clearwater Revival?
I wouldn’t sully CCR with the term.
Your arrangements encourage play and (for lack of a better term) exaltation. Specifically I’m thinking of “Tomorrow Might As Well Be Today”. I love that song. When you play out your ideas, or at least find the blueprints, do you feel like a “song-writer” or a “composer”? (This is a very conceded question, so feel free to remind me they are the same thing)
Maybe “transmitter?” There are different ways a piece comes together – sometimes it’s a conceptual thing or a rhythmic thing that leads to the finished product, like instructions for the band. In the case of “Tomorrow Might As Well Be Today”, which has a more conventional song form, it was a matter of catching that main riff and then working backwards – what are the chords that go under it, what is the “B” part to be used as a chorus and then let’s find a bridge. That may be considered more conventional “songwriting” strategy, I suppose.
I feel it’s reductive to qualify an artist as “expressive”, because d’uh. I play my guitar “expressively”, NBD. But your performance choices (your “feel”) are very familiar to me – comfortable, even. Can you enunciate the ratio of “personal” versus “influential” in regards to your playing?
It becomes the most personal when you steal or, more politely perhaps, “integrate” the influence so completely that it becomes your own.
You can (casually) lead the fuck out of a band. You may be famously modest, or otherwise, but how comfortable are you leading/fronting an incredible band, and what is the (easily notated) secret?
I’ve learned that the most important thing is to treat people well, create a good vibe, and then just get out of their way, let them do what they do. I try to work with people that don’t need a helluva lot of instruction. As with the songwriting question above, there are different ways that things come together – sometimes I have parts or a specific groove in mind to give to them; other times, I just let them react and invent parts. For me, there needs to be collaboration and creation with the players, in all phases: creating the arrangement, playing live, and in the recording studio. I want it to keep evolving.
You seem to be a dedicated Fender player, from amps to axes. What brought you to the Stratside?
I like all kinds of guitars, but I just find Strats to be the most versatile model. But they can require a little work – they’re not as easy as, say, a Les Paul or a Jaguar. For me, guitar and amp design peaked in about 1962.
The new album has all kinds of colors and character, tones and effects. Does your composition process usually begin with sounds upstairs (in your head) or downstairs (on the pedal board)?
Somewhere in the middle – I think it starts in the fingers. Out of necessity, I usually record all the parts through two amps – an old Fender Deluxe and a Roland JC55 – and blend them together in varying ratios. For each song I do try to dial in a specific tone with pedals and guitar choice. But I’ve never taken more than 3 days for basic tracks on any of my records, so I’m working real fast. Not so much time to mess around.
Thin Lizzy, Marc Ribot, Andy Gill, etc. aside I would have to say my personal Guitar Mt. Rushmore would include: Rory Gallagher, John Fahey, Ron Asheton, and Tony Iommi. Who would be on yours, and why?
I’d say give Mt. Rushmore back to the Lakota Sioux, but if you mean who are my biggest influences, probably Keith Richards, Richard Lloyd, Richard Thompson. There must be something about the name Richard. Michael Karoli would be way up there, too, as well as Loren Connors and Catfish Collins.
Stream and/or purchase Evolution Here We Come and more releases from Forsyth in anticipation of November 3rd’s performance here: https://chrisforsyth1.bandcamp.com/album/evolution-here-we-come
Make sure to secure tickets to the show here: https://first-avenue.com/event/2022-11-chris-forsyth-and-meg-baird/
See you there!
Adam Johnson lives in Minneapolis with his wife, cats, and guitars.