DECEMBER 1982 – INTERVIEW WITH STEVE GETT
“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus;
Let no such man be trusted.
Mark the music.”
(Shakespeare, The Merchant Of Venice)
STRANGE WORDS to feature on the sleeve of a hard rock album, but Pat Travers has specific reasons for quoting The Bard of Avon on the back of his latest LP. For a year ago, the Canadian guitarist found himself heavily in debt and subsequently went through an endless stream of legal wrangles with his old manager.
“It was pretty scary discovering that you owe half a million dollars at the age of 27!” remarks Travers.
“I never got disillusioned at all but it was very frustrating to have that sort of thing going on and not being able to concentrate on playing music. Everything has been sorted out though and I now find that I can be far more objective about things.
“Mind you, it’s not something I’d ever want to go through again. I spent about six weeks not knowing what the hell I was going to do. But you wise up pretty quickly and in the end it gave me something to strive for – to get back out there and make music!
“I thought it was very appropriate to put that Shakespeare quote on the new album and the people it’s directed at certainly know who they are. It strikes me that there are a lot of people out there who attach themselves to the music business for the wrong reasons – they’re a pain in the ass to say the least.”
Now that Travers has sorted out his business problems, he’s finally got himself back into action and last month saw the release of ‘Black Pearl’, his seventh studio elpee.
Pat initially surfaced on the British music scene back in 1976 with a highly auspicious debut effect recorded with bassist Mars Cowling and drummer Roy Dyke. At that juncture, Travers was playing the British club circuit and before long he’d secured the skinbeating talents of Nicko (Trust) McBrain. 1977 saw the release of the ‘Makin Magic’ LP and already Pat had established a respectable following in metallic circles. However the punk movement was in full swing by then and as a result Travers found it tough to break higher ground.
Later that year ‘Putting It Straight’ emerged, at which point McBrain had been replaced by Clive Edwards. A second guitarist had also been recruited but after a relatively unsuccessful string of British dates Travers decided to pack his bags and move to America, taking only bassist Mars along with him.
In the States, Travers enlisted the services of former Black Oak Arkansas drummer Tommy Aldridge together with ex-Automatic Man guitarist Pat Thrall. The new look Pat Travers Band subsequently enjoyed a good deal of success with ‘Heat In The Streets’ and the live ‘Go For What You Know’ album.
In 1980 ‘Crash And Burn’ was released and in August of that year the group appeared at the Reading Festival. Shortly afterwards though, it was announced that Aldridge and ThraIl had quit the line-up. So what went wrong?
“We were just experiencing a lot of internal friction.” answers Travers, “especially between myself and Pat. The whole thing had come to the final stages shortly after Reading – it seemed like there was nowhere else to go, there was a lot of bad feeling and the management situation was beginning to get out of control. In the end it was kind of inevitable that Pat and Tommy should split.”
It’s a well known fact that Travers and Thrall hadn’t been getting on too well in the latter days of the band, which was a pity since both are very talented and in fact the whole line-up was extremely good.
“Oh yeah, that band was excellent,” agrees Pat. “When it was hot it was just f**kin’ incredible. But when there are that many ambitious people involved in something there are bound to be problems at some point. I’m very happy with the band I’ve got at the moment and both Pat and Tommy seem to be doing fine.”
Tommy Aldridge and Pat Thrall are actually playing in the Hughes-Thrall band, although the skinbeater has been heavily involved with Ozzy Osbourne for the past 18 months. What did Travers do after they’d left him?
“Not a lot!” he laughs. “Eventually I decided to get a drummer and we started rehearsing to do some club dates. But then the drummer decided not to do the gig four days before the shows. It was at that point that Sandy (Gennaro) arrived.”
And so the Pat Travers Band reverted to being a trio and last year toured America with Rainbow. ‘Radio Active’, which featured several cuts with Thrall and Aldridge, was released but it failed to register impact. Following the completion of the Blackmore dates, Travers entered a period of inactivity during which time he spent a good few hours in the courtrooms!
Eventually, with his business affairs in order, PT began recording ‘Black Pearl’ and enlisted Don Harris as keyboard player in the group.
Travers: “Even when we did those gigs as a trio I still had it in the back of my mind that I wanted someone in on keyboards and eventually I got hold of Don. Funnily enough I’d known him about eight years ago in Toronto but we’d lost track of each other.
“Anyway, when I was look for someone I got a cassette and a letter from him out of the blue and called him up straight away. He was in San Francisco at the time and he flew straight down to Florida where I live.”
‘Black Pearl’ was recorded in Miami’s Quadradial Studios between January and August of this year. It’s an entertaining platter and contains a wide variety of material, the strangest cut being Travers’ version of Beethoven’s Fifth!
“I was looking for a piece to practise guitar on,” explains Travers, “and one day when I was cleaning the car l heard it on the radio. I thought it would be interesting to learn and once I did I thought it would be great to record. It’s kind of like flexing your musical muscles!”
Be that as it may, there’s some very good guitar work on ‘Black Pearl’ and Travers shines on the album’s winning cut ‘Can’t Stop The Heartaches’.
Whether it will achieve impact in the UK depends on whether Pat plays live gigs – a tentative date schedule has been arranged for next April. We shall see. In the meantime, Travers is out on the road in the States supporting Aerosmith.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there again,” he enthuses. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in my new band and hopefully I’ll be able to make up a bit of lost time.”