Photo courtesy of Alessandro Solca

 Photo courtesy of Alessandro Solca

Everyone's has got a mission to accomplish, in life. Such mission may often be something that we don't choose willingly, but it is something that can be dictated, from time to time, by circumstances that make a decisive impact in our adult life.
There is no doubts at all that somebody who knows, sadly, very well how much some traumas and abuses may leave an indelible token on personal lives is the talented American Blues-Rock Guitar Maestro and singer-songwriter Walter Trout, one of the most loved and respected torchbearers of the genre worldwide.
Throughout his career, Trout has always looked at music as a vehicle not only to express his many talents, but also as a way to fight those internal demons that he has carried within for a long time, demons that he has now thankfully overcome, in the last 30-plus years, although some of them, for various reasons, can never be completely taken away from the artist's personal life.
The American Guitarist's new record, called Broken, which our website has recently covered, is another wonderful demonstration of how Trout is able to use his songs as a way to dislodge negative karmas that have permeated his life for a long time, providing, at the same time and through Trout's life experiences, a pensative platform for the artist's many fans, through Trout's formidable storytelling style.
Our website meets the Blues/Rock Titan on a cold winter evening, to discuss the incredible amount of positive accolades the American artist has received so far, upon the release of his brand new album.
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BR - Walter, great to be talking to you again and huge congratulations for the release of another inspired chapter of your remarkable music career, such as Broken, your new album, clearly is. With now 31 records on your belt, how amazed and overwhelmed are you by the huge, positive responses that you received from fans and the music press, once Broken got released? 
WT - You know, it feels wonderful to me. Let me tell you something, about this record; when Beth Hart came in and sang with me, on the album's title-track, the next day she sent me a video, where she said "Walter, I wanna thank you for yesterday. The day I shall be on my death bed, looking back at my life, I shall think about what we did yesterday as one of the greatest time of my life". That's what I feel, about Broken and the positive reactions this record is getting. It's probably getting the best reactions of any other record I've done before and, I have to say, on Broken I tried different things and I did not know whether they were going to work or not. I can't imagine that the Blues society is celebrating the fact that I had Dee Snider on my record, but frankly, I didn't care. I'm like, he's a friend of mine, a great man, an amazing human being and when he said to me "Walter, I'd like to sing on your record", I just replied "Of course you are going to sing on my record!" You know, to be 73 and given the life I had, to get these type of reactions for my new album, it is something deeply moving and fulfilling to me. 
BR - We are aware that a song like Broken was hard for you to write, given the topic so close to your personal life. Besides your personal friendship with Beth Hart, did you have any conscious or unconscious feeling that the song could have such an impact emotionally for Hart too, not only because of her past but also because of the current struggles she is facing?
WT - You know, I was and from the very beginning, I thought she had to sing that song with me. I had it in my mind. As a matter of fact, long before I got to know Beth, I've known her husband (Scott Guetzow, husband and Hart's Tour Manager), for 40 years, long before he met her. When I used to play in a bar in Huntingdon Beach, 40 years ago, Scottie was the bartender there. He and I spent a good many nights partying "Hardy", you know. We partied a lot, we were buddies... For what concerns that song, I sent him an email, long before I even wrote the song itself, where I wrote "Scottie, I have an idea for a song" and I told him I got the idea because there was a song called All Out Of Tears (from the Ordinary Madness album) that I wrote with Marie (Trout's wife) and Teeny Tucker, which was about grief, more specifically, about Teeny Tucker losing her son, so the three of us decided to write a song, about that delicate subject. That song ended up being Song Of The Year, back then, at the Blues Awards in Memphis. As I said, the song is about grief, loss. One of the song's lines says "I know I am broken" and every time I would sing that song on a stage, I had this little voice in my head saying that I had to write a song about the fact that I don't want to be broken. I know I am broken, but then the next line should be "I don't want to be broken". In my email to Scottie, I mentioned that the song was going to be about not wanting to be broken, but a song about my years as a drug addict and an alcoholic, with many years spent having mental therapy. Scottie then wrote me back, saying that he had showed my email to Beth and she would be honoured to be part of that song. When it came to actually write the song, as you said, I got stuck. It all became too close, because in my head, I started re-living some of those really not good days, when I was a heroin addict and things like that. So I called Marie, because, together with being my wife, she is also an amazing award-winning songwriter, explaining that I needed help to finish the song. In brief, I knew what I wanted to say but didn't know how to say it. Literally, an hour later, Marie sent me these beautiful, amazing, deep insightful lyrics that she wrote, so I put them all together in the song and did a demo of it. I sent the demo to Beth and she called me immediately saying "I am going to come in and sing it with you". To be honest, I did have indeed her in mind, for Broken, because I did want the song to be a duet and I didn't think that there was another female singer on the planet that could sing it like Beth. Because she is really one of the greatest artists on the planet, right now. I'd say, one of the greatest, ever.
BR - Broken, more than any other of your albums, it involves so many people within your family, either playing or song-writing, including artist and producer Eric Corne too, somebody that has now produced 15 consecutive albums with you. What is the secret recipe, Walter, on having so many close family members and friends translating so well, through music and lyrics, what goes on in Walter Trout's own world in 2024?
WT - Well, I have to say, they all do support me a lot but, at the same time, they all also bring their own personal visions, to the songs. Take Marie, for instance; she was able to put into those lyrics in the song Broken words that I could not express. When she wrote on the album's title-track words like "...Now I pay the cost and I'm only trying to see just how much I have lost from the way I used to be. And now it's every day, these pieces break away and all that I have left is out here on display...", I could have never been able to come up with such words, that was all her wonderful doing. And even Beth said to me, when she read the line ".. all that I have left is out here on display...", that those lyrics translated perfectly her and I being on a stage and baring our souls to people, right? One of my kids, Biscuit, who wrote Falls Apart on the album, did also all the background vocals and arrange them, on that song. We said to Biscuit "Look, the song needs some backing vocals and you have free hands, do whatever you want" and this kid came through with this amazing body of work on his own, with Biscuit even singing acapella, at the end of the song, while I was not involved at all, in those closing moments of the song. In the beginning of Heaven Or Hell, those weird sounds, when I am saying "I met an old blind man, out on the street..." coming from the background, that is my son Jon, with his guitar! Jon said to me "This song needs some weird s**t, man" and he did those stuff in our house, in the living room and I recorded it all on my phone. He was hitting the guitar where the tuners are, making these weird noises and I said "Man, that's perfect!". On Love Of My Life, who plays the actual harp, the finger-played harp, that is Jon's girlfriend Vera (Armbruster). We sent her the track and Jon recorded her at their school, with me telling her "Go ahead, please, play something" and she played this beautiful improvisation. I got to tell you, Gio, that a lot of time, on my records, I have music which I go and record with the band, then I listen to the tracks and I write then the lyrics on a later stage. Something wonderfully weird happened with the song Turn And Walk Away; I had this music in my head which I showed to the band. They would hear how the melody goes, but I had no lyrics at all, at that point. I just had this words in my head, "...It never occurred to me that you would ever set me free.." and I kept singing them over and over. You also have to know that I have a lot of unused lyrics that I have written something like 20 or 30 years ago, which sometimes I pull out of the box where they are kept and look through them. All of a sudden, while looking into this box, I find a page of lyrics in my wife's handwriting, which were including exactly those words that I kept on singing, while I was in the studio with the band. I went "My God, those lyrics fit so well in that song!", so much so that the whole page, without changing a single line of the lyrics Marie wrote, fitted to perfection into that song, something that I found wonderful and weird at the same time, because those lyrics she wrote, they were originally written 25 years ago. It really felt like it was meant to be, you know. So yes, going back to your original question, my whole family is involved on my new record, it's awesome, what can I say? (smiles).    
BR - Every new album of yours is always a truthful and completely open window of your soul, as a human being and as an artist and Broken is no exception. Besides the splendid album's title-track you sang with Beth Hart, for which I know you needed your wife Marie's help to finish writing the lyrics, was there any other songs, off your new album, that you found particularly challenging to write, due to its theme?
WT - I would say, if I have to come up with something specific, that the song Heaven Or Hell was perhaps the one that was a little challenging. The story behind it, it's the fact that the song was intended originally as a poem, which I had written in anger. The reason why I had written it, it was because there are some Southern Preachers, in the United States, who are very right wing and one of them was preaching things like, if you are a parent and you allow your kids to become transgender, you need to be shot in the head and all gay people need to be killed. Now, this man is presenting himself as a Man Of God, as a righteous Christian and he is preaching hatred, violence and bigotry. This is a man who I know is a fundamentalist and he firmly, deeply believes that there is a heaven and there is a hell. And if he believes that there is a hell and he is out there preaching violence, murder, death and bigotry, saying these stuff in the name of God, surely he is the first going to hell! I was so angry, when I found out about this man and what he preaches, because one of my children Biscuit is non-binary, which means, in that man's head, that both Marie and I should be shot in the head and my kid should be murdered and cut off. This is what this man is preaching and that made me very, very angry. I remember, some years back, I think I was in London, when I met with this Street Preacher and this man, who was blind, was exactly preaching the same things that I am saying, which is that if you firmly believe you are a Christian, it has to be about love, it has to be about acceptance and has to be about love for all mankind. Before starting working on the song that would then become Heaven Or Hell, I thought about those two men, the Street Preacher in London and the American Southern Preacher. I wanted to put that poem I wrote into music and I couldn't find the right music. But I so much wanted those words to be heard... Finally, I believe it was the last day we were in studio working on the album, that I said to Eric "Look, I want this song on the album but I can't find the way to sing it, therefore I just have to speak it, so to say and I need music behind me, music that must be sounding hard, like Heavy Metal or Hard Rock", because I felt that there was real anger, in there. Yes, Heaven Or Hell, that was a challenging song but I felt it was necessary for me to put that message on the record andget it out there.
BR -  Among so many fantastic songs included in your new record, we found your parlato singing style in No Magic (In The Street) really a stroke of genius, something that reminded us a little of the style that artists like Lou Reed used to adopt on his songs. Could you please reveal a bit of more about the genesis of that song to our readers and how that racounter-ish singing style came about? 

WT - There was a certain experience that made that song happen. I have lived in the town of Huntingdon Beach for 50 years and, for many of those years, whenever I was not on Tour, I played with the House Band in a little bar at the beach. I started playing there back in 1975, where I was even living for a while up above the bar itself, playing there through the late 90's. Back then, the town felt a little like a Wild West sort of place, with groups of locals coming to the bar every night. We had a kind of little society among us, all together and I was very well known, in that area. When I first met Marie, she thought I was some kind of big star, because I was doing so well as an artist in Europe and I guess she might have been a little surprised when I told Marie that back in the States, the only place where everybody really knew me well, it was the Main Street area of Huntingdon Beach, particularly where this bar/club was located, where I was playing 5 nights a week and everybody would come in and see me playing. I remember I could walk down in the town's streets and everybody I saw, I knew them by name and we really felt like a tribe, a society, as I said before. Then, time after, when I started touring a lot more around the world, as the years went by, I didn't go down there quite as much. During the pandemic, I was living in Denmark for over two years and when the time came for me to return to California, I went downtown to take a walk down Main Street. I found myself not knowing a single person, nobody knew who I was, I did not know who anybody was and I could see that there was a whole new group of younger people who had their own little group going, their equivalent of what was my society back then and I realized that I was not longer part of it. I had outgrown it and most of the people I knew back then, were sadly no longer with us. That's why I say, in my song, "...All the locals I know, now they're dead and gone. But I'm out here and I'm movin' on...". When I said, in my song, that there's no more magic, it's because I felt I was no longer part of that scene, I felt like an outsider in my own town. There used to be real magic, in that area, like I said; there was danger, laughter and lessons to be learned. At that time, it really felt like living in a movie or a John Steinbeck's novel. I remember that the man who owned the bar I told you of, back in the early 80's, he told me that if I wanted to run for mayor, I could have been elected in no time at all, in Huntingdon Beach. But now it's all a sort of a new world, new people, I am just this old man walking down the street, an anonymous human being. Funnily enough, even No Magic (In The Street) was solely intended to be a poem, when I wrote it.. Did you know that there is a Facebook group that is called Hidden Huntingdon Beach, which is ran by a very well-known author who has written the biography of famous people in the music business like Dave Mason, the Doobie Brothers, John Oates and books about Jimi Hendrix? He lives in Huntingdon and just a few days ago, we did a live Facebook Feed together with the Huntingdon Beach group and we played that song we were just talking about. I then did an interview about that very song and realized, all of a sudden, that I have written, in my career, four songs, about Huntingdon Beach! The first is Life In The Jungle (1990), which was about a friend of mine that came to see me playing live in that bar back in 1984 and one night, when she was going home, she sadly got murdered. I was very upset, about that tragic event and that was the reason why I wrote that song. The second song I wrote about Huntingdon Beach is called Prisoner Of A Dream (1991) and was about a homeless, young and beautiful lady that used to live in the streets, back in those days and she would go down to the beach, she wouldn't speak to anybody, just picking up seashells and writing poetry in the sand. Then she would wait for the tide to come in, which would erase her words and at that point, she would sit down and cry. The locals said to her that I had written this song, about her but she wanted to remain anonymous. You know what she did? She came to the place where I was playing live and she wrote on the door of that bar a poem, in which she was telling me to f**k off! (smiles). She basically wrote, on the first line of said poem, that if that door where she was writing could speak, it would speak of betrayal. Because, at that time, we did not have yet these mobile phones where you could take a photos of what that lady wrote, I ran off to get pencil and paper to try and write her words down but sadly, the staff at the bar had already washed off this lady's poem from the door. That event triggered the third song I wrote about Huntingdon Beach, called Message On The Doorway (2001). That song was a way for me to say that I didn't mean to hurt her, it was just a song to sing and sometimes, I don't understand the pain that life can bring to some people. And of course, the fourth one, as we know, it's No Magic. I am sorry if my answer was a particularly long one but I wanted to provide you with a full background about my song-writing relationships with a place that holds so many memories for me. 


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                                                                                      Photo courtesy by Hanni Saabye

BR - At the age of 73, when you look around you, how really hopeful are you that people may be Broken but never beyond repair, especially given the conflicting state of the world we are living right now? 

WT - You know, I guess that the key word, about what you are asking, it is Hope. Even though my new album dwells on the world being broken and the fact that we all have our childhood traumas, personal losses and tough times we try to overcome every day, whilst I know that this can be part of one's life, I rather prefer to latch on the word Hope and its meaning, by keeping on being optimistic about the world we are living in and telling myself that everything is gonna be OK. As you know, I went through a lot of therapy, in my life, for stuff I went through when I was a kid, in what I guess you may call a rough childhood but, one fundamental lesson I learned while in therapy, it is that you never get away from those things. You just need to learn to coexist, with those things and you learn to accept them, while you look at the future and move on with your life. Live your life now, live the moment, that is what I do now. 

BR - We know that, from time to time, you like to add an instrumental, to some of your records just as you did so beautifully and tenderly on Broken with Love Of My Life. What gave you the inspiration of adding almost a Latin flavour, to this lovely tune?

WT - You know, a lot of instrumentals I wrote for my albums started out as ballads, where I would have one line only of lyric and I can't get any further. Do you remember Marie's Mood (1997)? All I had, for that tune, was "Marie is feeling sad...(sings)" That's all I had and I thought, well, this is such a beautiful melody, therefore I just kept on playing it on guitar. I had another one called Through The Eyes Of Love (1999, Livin' Every Day's album), where all I had was "Through the eyes of love is the way that I look at you... (sings)" and again, that was all I could come up with and therefore I kept on playing it on my guitar. For my new one, all I came up with was "She is the love of my life...(sings)" and again, I felt this beautiful melody and I kept on playing it, because in my mind, that was the way in which the tune was meant to be shaped. After we recorded it with the band in the studio, I said to Eric (Corne), "Let's try strings, on here". We then got hold of Stevie Blacke, who had done strings in the past with people like Ariana Grande, Beyonce', all these people and we sent the song to him one morning. About three hours later, he sent it back to us as it is, with Stevie doing all the string parts by himself. I listened to it and I said "Oh, my God, that's beautiful" but now, I think we need a harp. So we sent the song to Jon's girlfriend, Vera Armbruster (a.k.a. Aurelia, Armbruster's stage name) and she did such a wonderful job. While I was in the car, earlier today, I happened to listen to that song and that harp part brought me to tears, because it's my attempt through music, to portray the heart and the soul of my wife.  

BR - You have got quite an extensive 2024 Worldwide Tour in support of Broken, Walter. Appreciating that, in these days and age, touring for many artists is where artists are able to produce the greatest revenues, but, as gratifying as it might be, it's also a 24/7 relentless job to carry on doing. How challenging does it get for you to face such intense schedules year after year, traveling around the world?

WT - I am certainly lucky in the fact that I love getting up on stage, playing to people. That is something I felt is in my mission in life since I was 15-years-old, because, back then, I already knew that I was destined to do that. I felt it was my destiny, in my DNA, to go out there to play and sing for people and make people relate to my music. The tough part of it all, right now, it is of course the traveling part. The way that I have to go through that, is to try to get plenty of sleep, try to eat good food. But I can also tell you this; I had people who worked with me for quite some time that started to really complaining that the work was too hard and too tough for them, therefore I had to make rid of them. I tried time and time again to tell to some of these guys "Look, I am probably 20 years older than you, I am on my second liver and I am keeping on doing this, despite all that. If you don't want to do this anymore, so be it". That doesn't necessarily mean that I don't love this people, it just means that if they cannot keep up with me, they gotta go. Because I am a driven artist and I'm gonna go out and play to people for as long as I can. I know that sometimes is hard, sometimes you're tired, sometimes you may be a little sick, sometimes you don't feel so good but at the end of the day, you gotta get up there and give those people an experience. Because that nourishes me, provides self-respect to me, because I feel that what I do, it is my purpose in life. And that's what I live to do. 

BR - Last time Bluebird Reviews came to see you playing live in the city of London, we noticed two ladies, presumably mother and daughter, looking very moved by your performance, to the point that, during one of the songs, the older lady started crying while she was singing your song, with her daughter trying to console her, by hugging her during the song. Have you ever been consciously aware, in your career, how much your fans old and new relate to your songs and love you so passionately and unconditionally?  

WT - You know, I get a lot of messages from people about some of my songs helping them at some point in their lives. For example, on my new album's title-track, I've got so many messages from people telling me how much a specific song helped them to heal. Some wrote that Broken, the song, made them at first cry, then look back at their lives and helped them to make changes, in their existences. That, to me, it is the greatest compliment.. Like, what you witnessed at that concert in London, to me means a lot, because if I was able to move that lady and create such a strong feeling to that degree, that is the greatest validation and compliment I can ever receive, as an artist. That is way better than having a Number One album, better than getting a great review from music magazines.. That manifestation of feeling you witnessed at my concert, to me, it means that, what I have done, what I set out to do, which is to create art and to move people, it has reached its goal in full. In the old Van Gogh's museum in Amsterdam, not the new one but the old, smaller one instead, as you walk in, there is a quote on the wall, related to the time when Van Gogh decided to leave the ecclesiastic seminary to become an artist. The quote mentions that when his brother wrote to Vincent Van Gogh, asking why he wanted to become an artist, Van Gogh replied by saying "To express an honest human emotion".  That, to me, sums up my life, that's what I want to do and if I can communicate that to someone, that is our common humanity. When that happens, people are truly together and at that point, it doesn't matter anymore for who you voted for or any of that, because you have touched someone in their soul, in their common humanity and you have bonded with that person in a way that transcends superficial concerns.