If you think the policemen are getting younger, check out the bluesmen. Laurence Jones, for instance, is still hanging on to his teenage years but has a stunning debut recording and a tour schedule musicians twice his age would be envious of. The album, 'Thunder In The Sky', captures the raw energy of an artist steeped in the blues of his heroes who's already turning into quite a showman himself - check out the B.B. King cover! Here Laurence takes us through his musical development, his studio work, and the future.
When and where did you first get on stage?
Wow! That was a long time ago! When I was 15 I had my own covers band, playing classic rock covers, and the first gig I performed was in my local pub in my hometown.
Are your family musical?
My dad strums a few chords on the guitar and this, along with his record collection, inspired me to pick up the guitar.
Do you still draw on your early classical training?
Yes, plenty of my techniques that I had learnt will always stay with me. The style in which I finger pick is still very much rooted in my classical training. I started learning classical guitar at 8 years old and studied it for ten years, achieving all my grades, and it’s hard to forget after that much training!
Did Stratford Upon Avon have much to offer starting out?
Stratford Upon Avon doesn’t have a massive blues scene or much of a music scene altogether but there was one local pub that had regular blues nights and my dad would take me to watch every Monday evening. Seeing plenty of blues musicians put me in the right frame of mind for when I would take to the stage. There were plenty of artists playing those small pubs who are now making it on the scene; I saw Joanne Shaw Taylor performing at my local pub on her 15th birthday when I was just 9 years old! When I was 12 I saw Sherman Robertson perform and he really inspired me.
Tell us about your studies at the Birmingham Academy of Music & Sound.
I studied there for four years getting my national diploma and my foundation degree. It helped me study my craft as a musician and always taught me about the music industry from gigging to contracts.
Were you a Fender man from the moment you first plugged in?
Well, my first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul but when I first tried an American Fender Strat I knew it was the guitar for me. I know own a American Fender Custom Shop Deluxe which is my number one guitar.
When did you meet the guys in your band? What sealed the deal?
My band has changed a lot over the years. I’ve had ten drummers and five bass players! The current line up that I now have is working out great. We connect so well. It was great to feel it come together quickly and it just clicked. I have got two great guys in the band that I feel will be a long term line-up consisting of Luke Dolan on bass guitar and Pete Rycroft on Drums.
How on earth did you get your album recorded in just a few days?
We wanted to make sure we got a great live feel so I thought that the album would be best done by recording it in a few days, to keep everything fresh. Sometimes you hear about people being in the studio for months on end tweaking (or sometimes just waiting!) but I wanted to make the album raw and give it a live feel. It was a great experience and we even slept in the hall studio in which we recorded the album for two days!
How long had your numbers been in development?
As I knew that our time in the studio was limited, I knew how I wanted each song in my head and it was just a case of getting it on tape. We did play around with the guitar effects, on the intro to ‘The Thrill has gone’ for instance, I played with both the whammy bar and the wah-wah pedal while my drummer his the bridge of my guitar with his stick, giving it a unique sound!
Was it daunting when you first covered B.B. King?
B.B. King is a huge influence on me. I didn’t want to do a straight cover though I wanted to put my own stamp on it. I wouldn’t want to do a standard cover of such a great song when B.B. does it so well himself!
You spend a lot of time on the road. Do your travels have a soundtrack? Any recommendations?
One of my favourite bands is The Hoax, we tend to listen to these guys a lot and it really gets us in the mood for a gig. November 16th and 17th we will be playing with Buddy Whittington so it will be great to play on a bill with someone whose album we’ve listened to in the van!
If the phone rang tomorrow and someone invited you to join their tour who would you most like that to be?
Well, is Clapton touring again anytime soon? Of course it would have to be Eric Clapton, he is my all time hero but there are so many great people on the scene at the moment that would be great to go on tour with.
2013 is going to be a big year for the band and me. We already have plenty of gigs booked for next year and are looking forward to The Skegness Rock and Blues Festival in January. February through to April we are touring around Spain, Holland, Finland and the UK. I hope to also be recording my next album towards the end of 2013, so you can see that we are going to be fairly busy!