10Q's with KARL DEMATA

Karl Demata has a rather good blues rock album out now called 'Cross The Mountain and is working on a new Crippled Black Phoenix album…

1. What are you currently up to?

I am currently working on the new Crippled Black Phoenix CD. We
should finish recording in early september and release before the end of
the year. Also, on September 12th I will release my solo cd called
'Cross The Moutian'. in between other commitments I am also performing
shows and festivals with an Oxford based band called The Original Rabbit
Foot Spasm band. It's great stuff. If you can imagine 1940's jazz
played with a punk and drunken attitude you would not be far off.

2. Could you take us through your new album ‘Cross The Mountain’?

''Cross The Moutian' was conceived in a very natural and spontaneous
way. I have been playing this sort of blues-rock for many years mainly
performing in local venues and festivals (in Oxfordshire) for years. I
thoroughly enjoy playing and touring with Crippled Black Phoenix but In
the last couple of years I started writing original material and I found
myself with a good number of tunes clearly showing that rock blues
influence, late sixties / early seventies bands like Cream, The Allman
Brothers, early Fleetwood Mac etc, – which was the kind of music that
made me start playing guitar in the first place. So it felt like a
natural development to book a studio and records these tunes.

Taken as a whole the CD shows a good number of different hints and
influences but which is the result of the total freedom to explore
whatever felt natural to play.

As far as songwriting goes i constantly collect and pile ideas and
little parts of songs. Every few months i'll just got through all of
them, bin some ideas and work on developing the chosen few. Once the
core ideas are more developed i turn my attention to try to listen with a
more detached and objective mind. There's a point where you have to ask
yourself 'where does this song wants to go' rather than 'where do i
want it to go'. That is also a good time to work more in-depth on vocal
lines and to think about what the lyrics should be about. I was very
lucky to work with a friend called Chris Hood who used to be a
screenplay and novels writer (and a blues-rock fan too). So we got
together few times listening to demos, drinking tea and talking about
themes and subjects for the lyrics, and vocal lines. The rest came by
just playing together with the band and arranging the final bits in the
recording studio with Chris (heilmann, bass player) and Merijn
(Royaards, on drums).

3. How different was it writing and recording a solo album as opposed to being in a band environment?

Playing in a band as the 'guitar player' carries less responsability
and in a way you work is much easier. I have room to bring my ideas and
suggestion to all the bands i am in. In Crippled Black Phoenix I
arrange all my parts. It's a great position to be in as it comes natural
to me to listen to songs and ideas and bring my own styles and
influences along the way. Working on your own material might be a little
more tricky as it require to go through a stage of detachment from your
own ideas, and of course there's more pressure. But then the rewards
are all there.

4. How did you get Hugh Flint (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers) to guest on the album?

I have been knowing Hugh for a long time. I used to see him often in
local folk jams. He is pretty much retired from professional playing
and now plays mainly percussions in local folk sessions. We talked few
times about jazz, country and blues. His knowledge of music is extremely
vast and I always though it would be such an amazing honour to play
with him as he was as his drumming was pretty much outstanding. He
played on some of my favorite albums ever, from John Mayall's
Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton to The Blues Band to The Blues Band. So
when we were going through the production process i aksed him to listen
to some of the tunes and he really enjoyed few of them, mainly the song
Crpss The Mountain. so we thought why don't try to include his
contribution. again it came all in a natural way,

5. In this age of downloads and declining CD sales has the
internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways
hindered it by websites offering free downloads?

well, no matter what musicians think about it, we have to live with
it. Overall I think the technology developed around the internet is a
very good thing for musicians. We all have the opportunity to reach our
listeners and even communicate on a more direct way. To some extent the
great divide between the artists/bands and the audience is drastically
reduced. And to me this is a good thing. On the other side the audience
too has to make an effort and understand the work ethics of single
artists/bands. If people recognise the sincere and true musicians and
artists from the manufactured ones they will be more keen on supporting
them, coming to the shows, buy the cds and even meet and shake hand.
Plus, at the end of the day, nothing will eliminate the experience of a
live show. And that will always be there and untouched by technology.

6. What made you want to start playing guitar and who have been your musical influences?

I think I started playing when I was about 11 years old. Early
influences as mentioned already was the blues revival of the late
sixties/early seventies, plus my father and brother record collection.
Just the usual classic, early Floyd, Stones, some early prog. etc.

Since then i went through loads of different kinds of music and to
this day i am finding and discoverying new things. I believe there's bad
and good music in every section of your record store so i enjoy classic
rock, blues, alt-country, bluegrass, jazz, you mame it

Influences? just too many to mention. From Duane Allman to Johnny
Winter, from contemporary jazz players like Bill Frisell to contemporary
bluegrass players like Tony Rice. On the more contemporary scene I
really like bands like Gov't Mule, Borth Mississippi Allstars, Derek
Trucks, Drive By Truckers. As I said, too many.

7. If you could create a fantasy band line-up who would be in it and why?

I love great skilled players, especially drummers and bassists, who
can combine high technical skill with a very vast knowledge of different
kinds of music. I believe good musicians should be able to corss
boundaries and styles in a totally natural way. So if I think about this
I would say my dream line up would involve musicians like Bela Fleck,
Jerry Douglas, Victor Wooten, Steve Smith. Again, too many to mention.

8. What have been the live highlights so far and why?

Well this actually is a hard question. I had the pleasure of playing
some great festival including in far countries like China – Crippled
Black Phoenix played there last June – which was brilliant, or in very
cool festivals in Europe. But the difference between a good show and a
memorable one has more to do with your state of mind on and off stage,
There's an elusive element of the live performance which has to do with
the rational side of your brain totally shutting down. In those moments
the performance comes directly from a far deeper level, which is the
more creative one. This can happen literally everywhere, on a small
stage or on a large festivals in front of thousands of people. And those
are the most memorable moments.

9. Is the rock and metal scene still in good shape or do you
think there maybe to many bands out there now competing for an audience
that isn’t growing that much?

I am not I can properly answer this question. As a musician I never
think in this way. And of course music should not be seen as any sort of
competition for a sections of market. That's business talk that should
be left to bankers and business execs. I only want to play the music I
love with the people i like and respect and hopefully create something
interesting and meaningful along the way .

10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

My wife! I also like to read books, a lot about music of course, but
also about politics and society in general. I also enjoy good movies or
tv series. When I can I also follow Italian football. Napoli is the
team i support. Go guys!

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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