The Man Behind the Guitar:
An in-depth interview with the UK’s guitar virtuoso, Dave Sharman
Sick Lit Magazine: Your career began in 1990; what are some personal highlights that you’d like to share with our readers who may not be familiar with your work?
Dave Sharman: Being invited to perform at the BBC studios for the radio 1 ‘Friday Rockshow’ was a definite highlight, as that session landed me my first-ever record deal. We actually managed to secure the rights to that recording quite recently and it’s now available to download on iTunes.
Getting Neil Murray to play Bass on my second album ‘Exit Within’ stands out and I really enjoyed being part of the Night of the Guitars tour, alongside the likes of Ronnie Montrose, Yan Akkerman, Rick Derringer and Robin Trower, and the release of my debut album ‘1990’ has to be up there.
SLM: Tell me about your latest record.
DS: It’s called Evolution Machine and it’s a 10-track album written and produced by me. I like to think of it as an eclectic mix of a diverse range of influences from rock to funk to classical. ‘Hunger’ which is one of the opening tracks, has an eastern feel coupled with high intensity rock guitar. There’s also a big power ballad called ‘Lady’ which is a throwback to my love of classic rock. We’ve also covered the Cars ‘Just What I Needed’ which was a lot of fun and the title track ‘Evolution Machine’ is sort of a space-age rocker built around a sequenced keyboard part, that one’s very indicative of my current direction.
SLM: What were some challenges you faced on this record? What were some great aspects?
DS: Handling all production and performance duties does have its challenges, but it’s something I’m used to. It can be hard work doing everything yourself, however, there’s a certain degree of satisfaction in finishing a song and knowing every intricate part of it is the way you want. It’s also a question of evolving; I mean, I started out as just a guitarist but now I also play a wide range of instruments as well as singing and producing, it’s all part ‘n’ parcel of what makes me tick.
Some great aspects are with the advent of Pro Tools and Logic. It’s become that much easier for artists to create & innovate their ideas, there are some great production tools out there to help expand your horizons. You can literally record a studio quality album in your bedroom these days.
SLM: What are YOU listening to right now? What music inspires you–and how has that changed over the years?
DS: Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are ever greens, Beethoven, especially, with his uncompromising attitude towards love, life and music is very inspirational, those guys are also really good to have on in the background if you have something else you need to concentrate on. Van Halen, Rush and most classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s and for some reason, I can’t get away from Rage Against The Machine, who were a great band, wish they’d get back together and put out some new material! You’ll also find everything from Cypress Hill, Linkin Park, Bryan Adams and Ravi Shankar on my iPod. I guess I’ve always been inspired by new and original music.
SLM: Where are you from? What are some of your favorite venues you’ve played and why?
DS: I was born in a small town called ‘Walsall’ which is located in the west midlands of England. It’s a relatively uninteresting place to grow up with not a lot happening but for some reason it seems to spawn rock bands. Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford all originate from that part of the world; I guess it must be something in the water!
In terms of venues, I was lucky enough to play the legendary Marquee Club many years ago just before they shut it down. And stepping onto the stage at the Royal Albert Hall was cool.
SLM: It looks like you’ve worked with some pretty big names throughout your career. Who stood out? Which moments stand out in your mind and why?
DS: Jamming to ‘Smoke on the Water’ in the basement of Ian Gillan’s house with Cozy Powell and Neil Murray accompanying on drums & bass is hard to forget.
I remember Ian coming round to my home earlier in the week, I must have been around 18 at the time, he’s stood there in my living room, (the singer of Deep Purple!) clutching a demo tape in his hand and says, “see what you can do with this.”
Working with Don Airey, keyboard player from Ozzy and Rainbow, was also cool.
SLM: So, What’s next for Dave Sharman? Will there be another LP for us in 2016?
DS: I’ve just finished some new material, with a new album in the works. We also plan to shoot one or two more promos for a couple of songs from Evolution Machine, including ‘Lady’ and ‘Liberate.’ There’s a lot of activity on our social media including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and my official website (davesharman.com), where I’ll soon be launching a new range of merchandising plus a series of instructional guitar vids called ‘Dave’s Guitar School’ so make sure you subscribe and look out for my mailing list.
SLM: How has your sound changed over the years?
DS: I think my guitar sound has remained fundamentally the same. I have never gone in for many pedals as I prefer a relatively clean and uncomplicated tone, adding any effects during post-production, which is normally just distortion, a little reverb, maybe some delay and the occasional phase or wah effect. I prefer to make the actual guitar part more interesting with what’s actually physically being played as opposed to using gadgets. Of course, there are changes to the actual technology in terms of production; something released in 2015, for example, won’t sound the same as a record that was released back in the mid-nineties.
SLM: Where are you living now? What do you love about it?
DS: I’m based in London, which is probably one of the most exciting cities on the planet.
There’s always something to do here, and on top of that I live right next door to Abbey Road studios, which is a great place for a musician and if you’re a Beatles fan! I guess stepping outside the front door makes you appreciate being in a place where you are free to do whatever it is you want to do with your life.
SLM: Rock and guitar (acoustic or electric–both are amazing) ultimately make up the soundtrack to my life! Commercial, mass-marketed fluff (think:New Kids on the Block) has always enraged me. With that being said, what about the music scene today has you disillusioned or off-put? What about the music scene today do you find to be great?
DS: I think the industry is always changing; I would definitely like to see more control swinging back to the artist & away from the record company exec. There are too many miniature Simon Cowells out there.
It needs to be more about the music instead of trying to make a quick buck.
What I do think is great, though, is that anyone can make music nowadays and self-release directly to the fans, bypassing the labels.
Obviously it’s much tougher not having the kind of expertise and contacts a record company might provide, but at the same time it’s really difficult for the average Joe to get a contract these days. So my advice is: go ahead and find your audience, put your stuff out on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and stop prioritizing the labels.
SLM: You’ve often been described as a prodigy and a guitar virtuoso; what’s it like to be regarded so highly?
DS: To be honest, I don’t really think about it but, yes, it’s kind of cool I suppose; at the end of the day whether you’re a Mozart, Einstein or a Da Vinci, you still have to put your trousers on one leg at a time. I mean, it’s just a question of focusing and honing your particular talents and given enough time, you naturally get better at doing it. Everyone has something they’re passionate about, mine happens to be music.
SLM: Tell me something not many people know about you.
DS: I have a keen interest in the world of quantum physics and cosmology. As a species, we’re still very much in our infancy when it comes to the fundamentals of nature and the universe around us. There are some amazing thinkers out there such as Thomas Campbell and Peter Russell. They’re amongst a select group of physicists helping to bridge the gap between science, consciousness and spirituality, guys like Richard Dawkins get a little too much ink in my opinion and not always for the right reasons!
SLM: What would be your ideal Saturday morning?
DS: Spending time with family, taking in a great movie and hearing the latest record from one of my favorite artists, how about a new Van Halen album to start?
SLM: Tell me one of your guilty pleasures.
DS: I can moonwalk and do the James Brown shuffle, but not in public!
SLM: I love that! I’ve been on a James Brown kick myself here lately. Now, with that being said, I have always been a huge fan of the Beatles; also Oasis, the Stones,Burt Bacharach, and of course Bush. So there has to be something to this “English” musician thing, right? Because it’s the most phenomenal music out there. I listen to a variety much like you, but the songs I listen to on repeat are always from my favorite artists who live across the pond. Why do you think that is?
DS: I think there are many factors involved … England had a huge empire across the world, incorporating many cultures and styles. We underwent an industrial revolution, took part in two world wars as well as numerous other conflicts throughout the 20th century. We’ve experienced enormous highs and lows throughout our history, which has had a knock on effect emotionally and subsequently, creatively.
Also, because English is such a dominant language, we rarely follow anyone else, preferring to do our own thing, which leads to originality. At the same time we’re very quick to cotton on to a great ‘idea’ such as all the blues, soul, rock and dance music which came out of the States, the Stones, Zeppelin and the Beatles essentially repackaged that stuff and sold it back to you!
What a great interview with Dave Sharman! He’s extremely down-to-earth and quick-witted; he also just happens to have some pretty SICK guitar solos floating around out there. To learn more about Dave or to listen to THE MUSIC, please visit some of the links below so you can have a look inside Dave Sharman, the man, the Guitarist, Vocalist, and Composer.
Follow him on Twitter: @SharmanDave
or Subscribe to his new YouTube Channel:
We dig the vibe over here at Sick Lit Magazine, Dave. We hope to catch up with you again after your new album drops; as you know, we always love a good follow up.