For those who haven’t yet heard the good word yet – Supersonic Blues Machine is Lance Lopez (guitars/vocals/songwriter), Fabrizio Grossi (bass, producer, songwriter), and Kenny Aronoff (drums). As they’ve proven on their first album and round of shows, it’s not a party unless you invite some friends, and for ‘Californisoul’, their second outing they’ve brought along some heavy hitters.
For Fabrizio Grossi ‘Californisoul’ is all about a soundtrack for an imaginary road trip up the California coastline in the heady, halcyon days of the early 70s, and its an album that really captures the vibe and mojo of those times. It’s an album you all need to hear!
Fabrizio: Hi Mark!
Mark: Fabrizio how are you? It’s great to get the chance to speak. Before we start I just wanted to say to you that your debut album a couple of years back was one of the best Blues albums I’ve heard in years, I’m just settling in with the new one at the moment, it’s a lot funkier but sounding very good. You’ve rekindled my love of the Blues.
Fabrizio: Oh thank you. That’s great and I hope that you get reacquainted with some of the greats and the original guys through our music.
Mark: I don’t think it matters how you get there as long as you do and it was a great re-connection. I loved reading about the new album being envisaged by you as the soundtrack to a road-trip from L.A. to San Francisco. As soon as I read that I jumped in the car and headed off down our own West Coast to see if it worked down-under! And it does!
Fabrizio: (laughs) Well thank you for that I just wanted it to sound like what everyone thinks about when they think of driving down the coast with the radio on in California in a convertible with the sun and all that. California really is not only a State but a state of mind. it’s a different culture its a sound, its something that even though it was a few ears earlier might be a soundtrack for a Summer of Love. If you’d turned the radio on back then it would have been so different to what it is now – Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix to Sly Stone and James Brown, and then The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, and The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that is great music. And that’s where our music comes from, and also if you read the lyrics of the record you’ll notice that those themes and ideas are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. We’re still fighting for the same things, and we’re still fighting wars with no idea why, there is famine, there is poverty, really the problems are the same. considering how advanced we should be now it’s amazing to think we’ve not resolved these things, but the music and lyrics are pretty much what we stand for, we’re pretty much a bunch of Hippies you know (laughs) We’re a community, a gathering of musicians and this is our creative outlet. there’s a great spirit behind it.
Mark: I think you’re right and you’ve answered a few of my questions there beautifully. ‘Californisoul’ has a funkier feel to the debut, it’s more Soulful
Fabrizio: Well I don’t think it was intentional, but the way that we were writing it just came about and the Sly Stone and James Brown influences just got swept up. At the end of the day we’re not traditional, we’re not purists of the Blues , some think the Blues died with BB King and that first generation of Blues guys, but everyone who came after if you think about it was just a progression, Sly Stone was just if you think about it a Muddy Waters amplified, Jimi Hendrix is the Blues through a distorted microphone, sure he took it to space but it still there. Bands like Aerosmith were versions of The Rolling Stones who in turn were heavier versions of Muddy Waters, everybody takes something from somewhere. With our new album I kind of resented the guys with ideas but we all took it to where it ended up. And we’re all from different places so that’s in the mix, there’s Soul and Funk in the mix but at the end it’s all still the Blues.
Mark: Absolutely. It’s a great sound. You’ve got some great guests on the album too, even managing to get Billy Gibbons back again. One of the things you said about people guesting was that it was a great way to find out their secrets, what have you found out about Billy so far?
Fabrizio: Well we have worked together for the past 12, maybe 15 years maybe. Billy is really responsible for this. I met Billy in a studio years ago, and I’d always been very cautious about being on stage especially with English not being my first language he’s inspired me in many ways – he inspires me in the studio when he plays there’s always something there to use and more generally he told me to never be afraid but the main thing he taught me was to play what you feel like playing never mind anyone else thinks and when he told me that I just went home and played and it felt amazing*.
*apologies to Fabrizio for paraphrasing his words the line quality dropped at this point in the interview
Mark: If you had to name a single song that exemplified all your feeling about music, all of the power and the passion it holds for you, what would that song be?
Fabrizio: It may sound strange but it’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procul Harum, I cannot not shed a tear every time I hear that song and my Mom used to love it too. That song has the right amount or rock and the right amount of soul, the right amount of everything, it’s a beautiful song and some of the best music ever produced ever. I can’t believe what it would have been like to play on that song.
Mark: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit today Fabrizio, and thank you for another great album.
Fabrizio: Thank you for doing this and for listening.