Blues collective returns this February, grab a track here
On 26th February 2016, the collaborative extravaganza that is Supersonic Blues Machine will release their debut album on Provogue/Mascot Label Group (Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck, Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout, and Beth Hart).
At the heart of it is Bassist/Producer Fabrizio Grossi, Guitarist/singer Lance Lopez and drummer Kenny Aronoff as well as a host of guest of the highest caliber; ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule/Allman Bros Band), Chris Duarte, Eric Gales, Walter Trout and Robben Ford.
It happened in 2012, Texan guitarist-singer-songwriter Lance Lopez was planning a visit to Los Angeles to record a new album and producer Fabrizio Grossi suggested they hook up and work on some ideas. The following whirlwind day and a half in the studio resulted in three songs which became the foundation of an exciting new project before they knew it.
With a prolific career as a producer, mixer and bass player Fabrizio has worked with some of the finest musicians around today pulling into an array of eclectic styles, from Steve Vai to Tina Arena,Nina Hagen to Alice Cooper as well as Glenn Hughes, Dave Navarro, George Clinton, Joe Bonamassa, Leslie West, Zakk Wylde, Ice T, Slash and Paul Stanley to name a few.
Before Supersonic Blues Machine even existed as it is, the seeds began to be sewn from a hook up with Billy F. Gibbons, “I was telling Billy about my work with Lance” explains Fabrizio before excitedly adding the ZZ Top legends response was “‘Oh, you know Lance? He’s fantastic, I’ve known him since he was a little kid, you two should seriously consider working on something together.’”
The third part of the core was Indiana native drummer Kenny Aronoff who joined the family next. The pair came together thanks to Toto’s Steve Lukather. Aronoff brought with him the experience of working with a huge collection of artists such as John Mellencamp, Smashing Pumpkins, Meat Loaf, Brandon Flowers, John Fogerty, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Joe Cocker amongst a host of others.
Supersonic Blues Machine isn’t just a band; it’s a mood, a comradeship, a melting pot of ideas with likeminded people bringing their own unique talents to create something with feeling that is very organic. “I was thinking of all the people we know and thought, how about putting together something like The Who or The Rolling Stones used to do in the early 70s” he adds, “they would put together a record and bring all of their friends on board, I thought that would be cool. Bring back the spirit of camaraderie between musicians.”
Debut album West of Flushing, South of Frisco is a sprawling and emotional journey that has an emphasis on peace, hope, forgiveness and empowerment. Fabrizio’s long-time friend and co-producer,Serge Simic of hard-rockers’ The Slam also puts his stamp on the record as a co-writer with a seamless ability to flit through styles with a keen ear for melody and musical elegance. The importance was to have close friends on the record to have that natural and authentic quality to it. Grossi adds, “We could have done a record that was jam packed of famously random guests, but we didn’t want to do that that’s not the idea.”
Running Whiskey came first; “that was Billy” recalls Fabrizio, “he was in the studio and said to come over and we started to put down some ideas and that song came into play and within a couple of days I was telling Billy if you don’t want to use it for ZZ Top or anything I think there is something we can do with this and he said ‘please go ahead, let’s find it a home.’”
More friends started to feel the vibe and next up was Gov’t Mule main man and former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes. After a Gov’t Mule concert in LA the pair spoke about the idea of Supersonic Blues Machine, a collaboration of friends and not just to release a record but something they can go out and perform. “I had this idea and I said I think it may be good with you and he just said send it over so I did and that it then we started to exchange a few things”, the result was the laid back Americana of Remedy.
Tennessee guitar virtuoso Eric Gales can turn his hand to dazzling effect to a number of genres and the pair first worked together with funk father George Clinton on a cover of Hendrix Voodoo Childback in 2001. “Nightmares and Dreams it was written in basically 5 minutes one day that Serge was in LA for another project we were working on. I woke up from a weird dream where there was an eerie melody played through a hospital ER’s PA system, I asked Serge to play something to support the melody I was screwing with and the whole thing came to life. One year later (give it or take), I had the same dream, but this time it involved the addition of an out of body experience and as soon as I woke up I wrote the words for it. Eric’s hunted touch on the main melody and his solo really do open that connection.”
“I’ve always been a very big fan of Walter Trout” he says affectionately. Having discussed working on a record previously. “I wanted to do something with him a year and a half ago but that wasn’t a good time, he was having a rough time and was in the hospital, and had obviously way more important things on his mind. When I knew he was playing again I called his wife and said ‘hey Marie, I’m doing this thing, and I would really like to see if we could get Walter to play with us.’” Within 5 mins, Walter called back and said “are you fucking shitting me, I’ll bring the guitar.” A few months later they were in the studio recording Can’t Take it No More.
Chris Duarte has been friends with Lance with a long time and started to show interest in working with the Supersonic family and immediately started sending ideas to and forth with the others which became That’s My Way. When it came to subtle jazz-rock maestro Robben Ford, who collaborated on Let’s Call It A Day the final piece slotted it magnificently. “Robben is something else” he proclaims, “he epitomizes the bohemian open spirit that California represented in the late sixties, I’ve been blessed to have worked with and become friends with some of the most influential guitar players in the world and Robben is one of those guys, he is on a class of his own! He has got such a gentle delivery that is so perfect”
The winding exploration through the album takes you through different emotions, themes and tones and when Lance himself takes on the lead vocals some of those are profound and some are pure foot to the floor stomp from the bar room rocking of Bone Bucket Blues to the opener Miracle Man which is a twist on the theme from Beyoncé’s Single Ladies and the even more sad “Gold-digger/Free loaders” attitude fortified by Reality trends TV shows. “If you read between the lines, the stereotype: the guy is the dog and the girl gets the short end of the stick, but that isn’t always the case, especially in LA, where there’s a lot of great decent guys out there where but, one has ever given these guys a voice…well we just did, in our “gospelly” type of way.”
The album has moments that come from a dark place and a very personal part of Fabrizio life, he lost his birth mother aged 11 and was growing resentful of God and all related to him. “Around 15-16, I got curious and involved with readings about Aleister Crowley ,The Golden Dawn , Magic or sort, he offers, “then weird things started happening which affected me quite a bit. Even though the whole “dark” infatuation, phased out by the time I was 18/19, it took me a really long time to get rid of the negative vision of matters” and it was this that fed into I Ain’t Falling. Let It Be is about the power of forgiveness and regardless of what an individuals’ background is.
Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City) is a cover of the late great Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland classic. “The first time I really took the time to listen carefully to this song was during Whitesnake’s legendary concert at Castle Donnington in 1983. I was 13 at the time and I was in the UK for a language live in hospitality trade, I was really taken by the whole experience and promised myself “one day, I will do this song too”’.
Album closer Whatchagonnado is about what Jesus would say if he came back around and talked to people right now. “We’re not a Christian band, we don’t endorse any specific belief, other than what works for you” asserts Fabrizio, “but it seems that everybody embraces this figure and builds his own agenda with it, but how would Jesus really react if he would come back and see all of his teaching twisted around? And we did that with our funky mould.”
West of Flushing, South of Frisco is a reminder of an era that embraced collaborations, one that shared a vision and shared moments, both good and hard, one that put every ounce of their experiences into it, its bleeds emotion but is an uplifting and powerful listen. Now that the Supersonic Blues Machine has begun its journey, there’s a lot more to experience from it.