“I was really lucky to get started at a time when guitars ruled the airwaves. They were all original sounding players and you could tell right away who you were listening to. I realized at a young age it was important to have a sound that made you unique. I like to think that other guys recognize my playing within two – three minutes of hearing me …”
Travers started his first band at the age of fourteen and turned professional at fifteen. His father never got to see him reap the benefits of rock stardom yet his Mother did and was very proud of her son. She never threatened to throw him out or send him to church. According to Travers – ‘Mom’ felt more sorry for him as he tried to learn his craft …
“I started real young. Crash and Burn (Travers’ biggest selling album), came out when I was twenty-six and it was already my fifth studio album.” Says Pat from his home since 1980; Orlando, Florida. ” Of course it was on the heels of my live album which contained ‘Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights). A song which put me on the map.”
That song – according to Travers, was one of those things that were just meant to be.
“It’s funny. When I was doing my first album, I needed a filler. I had originally heard ‘Boom Boom’ played by this guy when I was thirteen. Richard Newell was his name and he was a great blues harp player. He performed it in Hamilton, Ontario and it stuck in my head. I decided to use it on my first album and it became a huge hit. It became somewhat of an organic hit and I am not sick of talking about it yet.” He chuckles. ” Of course, everyone wants to hear it wherever I go. I still love playing it and people expect to hear it. I am more than happy to oblige. In fact, I will be part of an upcoming festival with Edgar Winter and a couple of other guys and I have time to play seven songs. ‘Boom Boom’ will be part of that set for sure.”
Travers also came from an era known as ‘Arena Rock‘. A magical time which according to Pat – as decadent as the lore …
“It was great, going to work everyday in front of 13,000 – 20,000 screaming fans. I was young and somewhat unencumbered. It was (he laughs) the time of sex, drugs and Rock n Roll. It was a lot of fun.”
Those days have long since disappeared for Travers. He has been married for over twenty years to the same woman and is a loving Dad to a young daughter and son. A pair in their late teens and early twenties respectively. Pat’s son, a chip off the old block, is also a guitar player and aspiring movie maker. Something which makes Dad proud.
” He really is into the movie making more than the music at this time.”Says Travers. ” He is a good kid and is really into learning how to make movies. As a parent, you have to be supportive as possible and I think it is wonderful how much passion he has for it. One day, who knows – he may make a documentary of me and my career ..”
Travers’ son, once in a while will show his dad some licks he has created or learned on the guitar. They have jammed together and Travers Sr. is always there for his son. Due to the ‘nature of the beast’ however – the same cannot be said from Junior’s perspective.
” C’mon man – when I was his age, I did not want anything to do with my parents.”Laughs Pat.” It’s not cool to hang around with dad and I totally get it …”
Travers remains amazed at how many talented musicians come out of Canada. Considering the country’s small population, there is something to be said for the ‘long, cold winter nights’ – according to Pat. The vastness and the time to reflect gazing at the wide open spaces – quite possibly the reason behind a creativity privy to Canucks.
“I knew Frank Marino and guys like him but really, at that time, I was working in London, England. We worked together in 1977 – 78 or something like that yet aside from that – our paths did not cross much. Being Canadian made you proud for other Canadians but I never looked at musicians that way. It did not matter where they were from – it was the music they played that mattered.”
Pat Travers is coming to Montreal on June 28th. He is supporting his new album; Can Do …
“It’s a rock album combined with the Blues. I had a lot of time on my hands last year and the record company asked if I could come up with an album which sounded like the records I first made. Not knowing how to do that – of course I said yes …” He laughs. ” I think I did make a great record because I had the time to be creative and get my work done. There were no outside intrusions and I had the time to craft a very good album.”
Travers has come full circle that way. Along with guys like Frank Marino, Pat was – at one point in his life, frustrated with record companies. They wanted songs ‘last week’ and attempted to control too much.
‘Frontier Records were great about it.”Says Travers of his new association. ” I think the album was supposed to be finished in September or something. Sometimes the creative juices do not flow. I sent them an email and told them no way it will be done. They replied and told me to take my time and get it right. It’s a great working space when you do not have too much pressure. People always like the albums I did when I was able to work like this. Songs do not just appear at a snap of the fingers. There is some tooling you can do but songs cannot be forced.”
Pat and his mates – plan on touring extensively promoting the new album. The Montreal stop will include at least four or five new songs along with the old. The single; ‘Can Do’ is a positive message which Travers says reflects his outlook on life.
‘I had a full head of steam in the last year and the songs just flowed. I finally got the songs I wanted and I believe there are eight songs that I think are really good. Out of the twelve songs, I wrote ten. Of the other two, one is a cover and the other one was sent to me and I thought it was a great song. I decided to ‘steal’ it. It is called ‘Dust and Bones’ and it fits in well with the other songs on the album. I did not have to tweak it that much and it sounds like my style.”
Pat Travers loves playing live. It is the travel he does not like. He also thinks, for the first time in years – Rock n Roll and the guitar sound is coming back. Within new songs by bands like The Black Keys, Travers hears hints of the guitar work that at one time – was commonplace. He also hears hints in the music his son plays for him.
“Because of YouTube and the internet, anybody is able to listen to music from different eras and different times. People can listen to whatever type of music they want. By doing so – it’s almost impossible to not be influenced by the different genres and styles. There are kids coming up today that are appreciative of the tones and sounds and rhythms and are incorporating it into their music. I am confident that there will be a crop of stuff that will cross generations. Stuff that old farts like us will like …”
Pat thinks the key is the urgency within the songs. Demo – type, raw and one take sounds which remain an important part of Rock n Roll. There is a roughness that appeals to people. In his words -‘ everyone likes the demo better than the final product.’
“I am aware of that when I record. I try not to over polish anything. Especially with digital recording today, you can take the rough edges out of everything. You can take the tempo out of everything but what you end up with is something that is so smoothed over, it has no character anymore. What’s happening with vinyl is there is some distortion that is injected in there. For some reason, that distortion sounds good to people’s ears. For guys like me who do this for a living, it drives us nuts. I know it is not what we recorded. What you are hearing is what we recorded in a different way. Nothing wrong with it because that is what sounds good to the buying public.”
Travers incorporated much of that concept into his last album; Blues on Fire. An album which the record company Cleopatra asked Travers to record. A disc which showcased some old Blues artists. Tracks which Travers had to do much research on …
“Thank God for the internet.” says Pat. ” They wanted me to do an album based on artists that existed in the twenties. My wife helped me a lot in finding out about these guys. Men – back in those days, who sang the Blues – were named Blind something or other more times than not. I found songs from 1927 and 1929, rearranged them and the disc came out really well. I came up with a list of about thirty artists from that time period and went online and chose the songs. Blind Lemon Jefferson , Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Willie McTell – there were an awful lot of blind guys bumping into each other back then.”
Travers is also a big fan of Buddy Guy. A man who Travers believes did not get any respect at the beginning. In Travers’ eyes – it was only around 1959 when he started to earn his due accolades.
“It took him a while to find his own style. At first – he did not stand out but he did something right cause the guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf kept him around. Little Walter was one of the only guys who had the same energy that Guy had. I can understand why Guy became more successful playing with Walter.”
Howlin’ Wolf is Travers’ favorite Blues guy – if he had to choose. Muddy Waters also holds high court along with Willie Dixon. According to Pat – Dixon was able to put up with these ‘characters’. He wrote incredible riffs and because of his laid – back character, was able to corral men like Little Walter. Men who walked around toting guns and not taking crap from anyone.
If Pat were to choose a band that influenced him as a young man, the Beatles take front and center. Later – as he got more and more into Rock n Roll, he realized the attitude the Stones delivered was necessary to survive in the Rock game. Travers does not think anyone can compare the two iconic bands. One is Pop and the other is Rock. One is polished, the latter – raw.
Pat Travers believes he has gotten better in his playing over the years. In 2004, he took up martial arts and contributes that to a better lifestyle. Something he believes is necessary to maintain not just musicians – everyone who is under the spell of Father Time.
Pat is also one of those guys who love what they do. He has made a comfortable life for his family and continues to record and play songs which remain true to his core.
Someone – young guitar guys today, can learn to idolize …
Pat Travers will be in Montreal on June 28that the Cabaret du Mile-End (5420A Ave. Du Parc).
18+ Tickets are $25.00
billets disponibles bientôt chez:
tickets soon to be available at:
Cabaret du Mile-End
- PAT TRAVERS To Release New Album In July; Audio Samples Streaming (bravewords.com)
- PAT TRAVERS BAND To Release ‘Can Do’ In July (blabbermouth.net)
- TEN YEARS AFTER, EDGAR WINTER BAND, CANNED HEAT, RICK DERRINGER, PAT TRAVERS Confirmed For Rock’N’Blues Fest Tour (bravewords.com)
- Boom! Boom! Out Go the Lights! (garymeza.wordpress.com)
- 10 Best Heavy Metal Compilations (noisecreep.com)
- Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Rolling Stone? (keenemusic.wordpress.com)