When Foghat skyrocketed to stardom in the 1970s on rocket-fuel hits like ?Fool for the City,? guitar master Bryan Bassett was on a slightly different ride.
A star in his own right, Bassett was busy playing that funky music with Wild Cherry. Later, he was off ?Flirting With Disaster? with Molly Hatchet. The gifted technician also spent the better part of the 1980s and 1990s in the studio, filling such roles as first engineer and studio manager.
Today, the two-time Grammy nominee straps on his axe as a full-fledged member of Foghat, after having stepped into the void left by the late Rod Price.
GM: Let’s talk about Foghat Live II. Even with newer members, Foghat still sounds very much like the band that started it all in 1971, with those powerful rhythmic grooves and strong riffs that really grab you somewhere south of the belt. What is about the band dynamics that creates such a gripping live sound?
Bryan Bassett: I think one of the most important and overlooked aspects of the ?Foghat? sound is Roger?s unique ability to play a powerful back beat as well as incorporating a ?blues shuffle? feel into the rhythmic texture of a lot of Foghat?s material. I was an engineer at a Blues label for many years (King Snake Studio ? Sanford, Fla.) and I had my session drummers organized by ?great shuffle drummer? or ?great backbeat drummer.? It is rare to have a drummer do both well.
Roger?s style of playing provides the fundamental feel that I think is a huge part of the ?Foghat? signature sound. For my part, before I was a member of the band, I was a student of the band and very definitely a product of the British Blues Rock invasion. Savoy Brown, Peter Green?s Fleetwood Mac, all the John Mayall guitarists, of course Eric Clapton in the Beano period … these are the guitar tones I tried to emulate when learning to play and am chasing after still on a nightly basis. I also had the opportunity to play with Rod Price for the better part of a year and absorb some of his wonderful slide technique, which keeps me on track when recreating his parts for the stage.
With Craig and Charlie just smokin? on bass and vocals, we have a lean and mean rock machine where everyone has room to move and improvise within a tightly arranged framework. But we really hit our stride when all of us hit the groove as a unit. I think that is one of the essential ingredients of the ?Foghat? sound.
GM: How did the idea to put out another live album come about? Was it a spur of the moment kind of thing?
BB: All last year we had been looking for a convenient venue to do some concert video/audio recording. The Sycuan Casino Theater in El Cajon, Calif., provided us with the perfect venue. They allowed us an extra day with their staff to setup and the theater is a perfect size from a sound recording standpoint, big enough for us to play full-speed ahead and have a good-sized audience, but small enough that room acoustics were not much of a problem.
Plus we got some great video footage as well, which is in my editing bay at this moment. After I got through with the final mixes we realized it was the 30th anniversary of the first Live record and couldn?t think of a better time to release another live recording.
GM: Listening to Foghat Live II, and forgetting for a moment the actual
songs included on both, what do you hear in it that reminds you of Foghat Live and what’s different about it?
BB: What I think has remained the same, and consciously so, is the band?s approach to recording the album, which is four guys on stage rocking out to a great audience and having a great time. No frills or attempts at changing th