Initially a keen jazz trumpeter Walter Trout switched to guitar after hearing The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and, having moved to Los Angeles, served his apprenticeship in the bands of John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Joe Tex. His rise through the ranks was prodigious as, sadly, was his intake of Jack Daniels - one performance in East Berlin caused Carlos Santana (who knew all about performing under theinlfuence) to explain to Walter that he was wasting his gifts and a newly sober Trout embarked on a touring heavy solo career that has seen him shift over 500,000 albums to date and, at the end of last year, found him playing up a storm at The Ferry in Glasgow before our man David Blue nipped in to ask what kept him coming back to Glasgow?
Walter Trout: “You know something, it’s just a great audience. You know, you could feel it tonight. You could feel the energy and the enthusiasm of the people. The first time that I played this city was 17 years ago at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and the people went completely nuts, the manager of the place came out to tell us to stop playing because he thought that they were going to tear the club down, we did about four encores that night and I thought, this is a great city. Every gig is like that.”
Total Music: The new album (The Outsider) has been out for some time now, do you feel like an outsider?
Walter Trout: “No, I didn’t write that about me. I wrote it about a relative of mine who shall remain nameless, but who I saw at a party at my house for family and friends. I saw him standing across the room and everyone else was having a good time and relating. He was standing by himself and I could see sadness in his eyes. I could see that he felt uncomfortable in social situations and he is still having trouble making friends, a lot of trouble, and this was for him."
Total Music: You once said ‘the blues should not be in a museum’. Do you think that the genre has expanded, say in the last 10 years or so?
Walter Trout: “It depends on who you listen to. If you listen to people who are on a mission to keep it in a museum, they’re certainly not expanding it and I don’t have a problem with them. What they do is valid; it’s just not what I’m interested in doing. I want to feel free of any musical constraints and that’s why that one verse on 'Child Of Another Day' is about blues purists ‘Here comes the guy I’ve met a million times before, he tells me to slow it down, he says remember less is more, he doesn’t understand it, it don’t sound just like it should, it don’t fit his preconceptions so it can’t be any good, but I just ignore him, I don’t care what he said’.”
Total Music: So what do you think about all the young pretenders like, for example, your stable mate, Joe Bonamassa?
Walter Trout: “I think he’s great man. I think he’s carrying the torch for this stuff. I think it’s important that there’s young people carrying it on and he’s definitely somebody who is concerned with taking this to a new place, not being stuck in the past, you know. So, I respect him for that, a lot. He’s definitely going his own way with it too. He’s been influenced by a lot of people, I may be one of them, but he is definitely on his own path and God bless him and more power to him."
Total Music: Taking you back to your John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers days. Do you still see any of the guys?
Walter Trout: “I see them all the time. I get up and play with John Mayall when we play at festivals and I’ve gotten up with Coco (Montoya) and his band and he’s got up and played with my band. We send each other emails all the time. It was a hell of a band and I may be biased but I still think in the last thirty years that was Mayall’s best band, when he had me and Coco as duelling guitarists we used to push each other every night John would encourage competition between us and he would get fiery shows every night. It was a duel.”
Total Music:You’ve shared a stage with many, many people. Is there anyone that you have not shared a stage with that you would wish to do so?
Walter Trout: "Yeah, before I die if I could get up and play a song with the Rolling Stones I could die happy. That’d be it.”
The Outsider is available now on Pinnacle and a new album entitled Unspoiled by Progress is released by WEA Int'l on June 15th. You can find more about Walter at www.waltertrout.com