Joe Gooch
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Interview Leo LYONS - Joe GOOCH - Damon SAWYER
Saturday 19th September 2015
Grosses Guitares Festival

(c) Hundred Seventy Split
(c) Grosses Guitares Festival

Your band is called HSS.

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Leo : Yes.

AM : Who has found the name of the band?

Leo : Hundred Seventy Split is the name of a road junction in Nashville, where two roads meet. It is quite famous. Highway Seventy crosses the United States from Southeast to Southwest. The movie Thunder Road, which is also the name of a song by Bruce Springsteen, takes place on parts of Highway Seventy.

How did you meet each others Leo, Joe and Damon?

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Damon : We had someone in common called Barney Watson. Leo met him on the road with Ten Years After a few years ago.

Leo : Yes, he was our guitar tech.

Damon : One day HSS was looking for a drummer. They contacted Barney for me. We had a run-through. It was five years ago.

Leo : Joe checked him out first to see whether he was crazy!

Damon : I was!

AM : We already know the two of you, Leo and Joe.

Leo : Joe was in Ten Years After with me. One day we decided to form another band. I have known Joe for years, he is a friend of my son, Tom. We enjoy playing together, so here we are.

Leo, what is the best bass guitar for you?

(c) Copyright Marc Lawrence

I don't know, maybe I didn't find it yet. I have 17 or 18 bass guitars. Mostly, I am using a copy of my original 1962 Fender jazz bass made for me by Bass Centre in London. I also play 5-string bass and an octobass, contrabass as well.

AM : I saw you with a double-sided bass.

Leo : That's right.

AM : It was the first time I saw a bass on both sides.

Oh yes, that was a few years ago. Someone came along and brought that instrument and lent it to me, it is very good. I have never used it on stage.

AM : Is it easy to reverse it?

Yes, relatively. If your precision is correct you flip it a little bit high and adjust it and play.

What kind of Guitar do you love Joe?

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It changes all the time. My two main guitars at the moment are...

What drum kit do you dream to own Damon?

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At the moment I play Mapex Saturn drums, and...

Joe and Damon, Do you wish you were at Woodstock Festival?

(c) Copyright Chris Bergson

Damon : I would have loved to have been to Woodstock, that would have been fantastic.

Joe : I don't wish I was there. I don't really like festivals to be honest. Being backstage is all right and playing a gig too but I wouldn't like it. I don't smoke dope and I don't take acid, and there are too many people.

AM : Leo you were there, weren't you?

Leo : Yeah. I like festivals. I like playing festivals. I wouldn't necessarily go in the audience. I like the open air and have the opportunity to see other bands.

AM : Do you think the festivals nowadays have the same atmosphere than this one?

Leo : It depends on the festivals. A lot of festivals do have a good atmosphere. There was a time when people were trying to say, is it going to be another Woodstock? I don't think that would ever happen, because it was a spontaneous thing. A lot of festivals now are designed ones. They are there to make money, but there are still a few kind of hippie festivals. We played a couple this year where the people and promoters do them because they love the music, and it does go back to that era. Waffenrod was one festival we played and the Finki Festival in Germany which is a long run one.

Let's speak about this beautiful CD. It is called.

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Leo : The Road, for obvious reasons. It is life on the road. Here we are walking on the road, then walking back down the road, and here, it's us waiting for a bus.

Damon : It never turned up!

Leo : No! It was recorded in Germany in October last year and released in March of this year. It's a double CD. It is an example of what we do on the road. Anything you want to say Damon?

(c) Copyright Damon : It was a lot of fun recording it. We recorded lot of shows and chose the best performances. It represents what the band does very well. It's got the energy. What we do in the studio is great but it is often difficult to capture the energy. Do you agree with this Leo?

Leo : Yes. We are always happy to record shows on the road, not for another live record, but just to see if we can capture something different.

AM : It is very well recorded, the sound is great, your voice is amazing, it is a very good work. We really enjoy it.

Are you planning to do a new album?

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Yes we are. We are starting recording it in November. We have written material now, we had rehearsals and we run through the songs. It would come out in 2016.

AM : What kind of songs, lyrics, themes, are you developing?

Leo : We don't have a particular theme through this one, have we Joe?

Joe : No, just the usual things in life we write out, like relationship, road stories and so on.

AM : Any idea about the title?

Leo : Not yet. On the road again, maybe!

Where are you going to tour to end 2015?

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Leo : We will play a show in Norway, then in November we'll start a tour of Europe, mostly in Germany.

AM : What about 2016?

Joe : Devises!

Leo : We'll definitively do a tour in November 2016. We probably won't do a tour in March. We'll do more festivals in the summer and some one-off shows. We are looking to work in America, Australia...

AM : You had visa problems.

Leo : Yes. It currently takes 120 days to get a visa and you can't really apply for a visa until all your shows are in because they have to specify the shows.

AM : A lot of bands have the same problem.

Leo : Yes.

AM : Today you are near Lyon at Les Grosses Guitares Festival, so we wish you a wonderful gig and a lot of fun. Thanks a lot for your time guys.

Leo, Joe, Damon : Thank you.

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(c) Hundred Seventy Split
(c) Grosses Guitares Festival