ANDRES ROOTS INTERVIEW
When did you start writing about music—and what or who were your early passions and influences?
Well, I grew up with my father's LP and reel-to-reel collection, which included everything from the Stones to Bach. The first LP I bought myself was Deep Purple's "House of Blue Light" – one of the very few rock albums available in the U.S.S.R. at that time; I still listen to that album. Then when I heard AC/DC's "The Razor's Edge" in 1990, I picked up my father's guitar and asked him to teach me – and when I saw John Hammond Jr.'s acoustic solo gig in 1992, that's when I knew what I wanted to do – what I absolutely and definitely had to learn how to do...
So I got started on the guitar in 1990 and was writing my own songs by 1992 – back then, you didn't have YouTube or online lessons or anything like that, so I'd just try to learn a tune by ear, get it wrong and use what I got for a song of my own :) My early ambition, especially after seeing the live broadcast of Bob Dylan's 1994 Woodstock set was to be a songwriter, not a guitarist or a bandleader – I only started my first band in 1996 to hear my songs performed by someone.
As for writing *about* music, I studied to be a journalist and must have had my first music review published around 1995. Since then, I've written for many publications in Estonia and abroad; currently, I contribute regularly to Blues-Finland.com.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD's?
Too many to mention, really, and the answer would probably change every few days – as a guitarist, I'd say I've been mainly influenced by Johnny Shines, Muddy Waters, Tampa Red... Freddie Roulette is an amazing player, Roy Rogers is very good – but I don't really play that style. Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian I've been always in awe of, and recently I've been getting into the pre-Christian Benny Goodman stuff, with Gene Krupa on drums. I'm also a big fan of 1960's rock and Miles Davis, and there's always Les Claypool and Primus.... Anyhow, the last two albums I bought were a Link Wray boxed set and "The King Jazz Records Story" with Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow – some beautiful music on there!
Do you get nervous before a performance ?
Of course – when you stop getting nervous, that's when you know you're in trouble! The audiences can tell immediately if you're just going through the motions... It has happened to me a few times, and my solution has been to shuffle the deck – do something different, maybe even start a new band.
How do you promote your shows?
The best I can – get the posters out and online, do a press release, give interviews, work the social media... Some festivals and venues are good at promoting their events, others do very little if anything at all, so I'm in the habit of doing my own promotion regardless of where I'm playing and who's running the show.
What's your outlook on the record industry today?
The pop stuff the big labels are putting out is even more bland and boring than in the 1980's, which I didn't think was possible – so if their sales are dropping, I don't think they can blame it all on technology... On the other hand, there are so many cool little labels out there doing amazing things – the only problem is that you need to really spend time looking for the good stuff, as the indie labels don't normally have the budget to have their latest release just magically appear on your iPhone, free of charge ;) But then in a way, that's always been the case – finding the music that speaks directly to you. Sadly, it seems that for many young people these days, music is sort of in the background like TV, so they can't be bothered – when I was growing up, the music you listened to was pretty much what defined you. Seems like such a long time ago – back when there was still music on MTV...
What's your claim to fame?
I've never thought about it like that – I didn't pick up the guitar to become famous, I just wanted to make music, and in that sense, the moments that have mattered to me most are not necessarily "claims to fame" in anyone else's eyes. Like being asked by the late Honeyboy Edwards to go and play a set with him – there's literally hundreds of people out there that got to play with Honeyboy over the years, so it's hardly a special honour, but it was important to me! And I've been lucky to work with so many wonderful musicians that I admire – Steve Lury, Dave Arcari, Black River Bluesman, Bert Deivert, Ismo Haavisto... The list goes on.
But anyway – claim to fame. Since you put it like that, I suppose it is nice to be able to say that my music has been aired over the radio on five continents , and that the first single on my own Roots Art label, "Redecoration Day" with Eric "Red Mouth" Gebhardt on vocals, topped the music video chart on Estonian national television and stayed on that chart for something like four months – how many blues artists can beat that these days?
What inspires you to do what you do?
Good music still makes me feel good – and I like to feel good! I guess I'm still a music fan more than anything, and I play and write for myself first and foremost – I do think about retiring every now and then, but I can't imagine not playing, even if it is just for my own enjoyment.
What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?
The embarrassing bit is that I've never owned an MP3 player – I used to have a Walkman many years ago... But I do have some music on my phone to keep me entertained on longer trips, so let's see what's on there right now: the latest AC/DC, Buffalo Springfield, R.L. Burnside, Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang, Blind Blake, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey. Could be worse, but I'm not telling :)
If you weren't musician what would you be doing?
If I wasn't a musician, I'd probably still be a journalist... Although, as long as I can remember, I've had the urge to move away from the cities, so it's also possible I'd be a farmer in a remote village somewhere.
Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?
Well, like many other musicians, I'd like to spend more time playing and less time travelling :) That said, over the past ten years, I've worked a lot in the Baltics, Finland and the UK, but I would like to come and check out the scene in Central Europe – the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium... I've been to France a few times, but it's been exactly 15 years since I played in Berlin! And I would love to do some more work on film scores – I've really enjoyed that experience.
Andres Roots & Raul Terep - Winter Is Coming
Andres Roots is een bekende naam in de blueswereld.
De in Estland woonachtige gitarist heeft als opvolger van zijn album Live In Lerwick ( met Steve Lury) nu een EP opgenomen.
Andres heeft dit gedaan met drummer Raul Terep. Op de EP staan vier nummers die kwalitatief niet voor elkaar onder doen.
Voor de liefhebbers van de muziek van Andres Roost is dit natuurlijk verplichte kost. We horen twee instrumentale tracks en op twee tracks vocalen van gastmuzikanten. Op het nummer 'Winter blues' zorgt Bert Deivert voor de zang en op het derde nummer ' All in The Cards' horen we de zang van Mikk Tammepõld. Dit is wederom een prima release Andres Roots.