In a decade or so that really has not been kind to the concept of true guitar heroes, one name consistently makes itself felt among the handful of exceptions. Dave Kilminster probably came to prominence back in 1991 when, aged 28, the comparative unknown won Guitarist of the Year in a UK guitar magazine. Since that time, he has worked with the reformed Nice, the solo Keith Emerson and , since 2006, Roger Waters. He has also just released a “directors cut” of his acclaimed solo debut Scarlet, that itself is one of the most refreshing discs of the year so far.
Goldmine: Tell us, first, about Scarlet – beginning with, how did you manage to record it amidst everything else you seem to be doing!
DK: It was really tough actually!!! There’s always other things to do… things that actually earn you money!!! Haha… so I really had to make a concerted effort (and turn some stuff down) just to find the time to record these tunes…
GM: When you think about solo work, is it a case of having “all these great ideas” bursting to get out, and throwing everything into the pot? Or is it a more considered “plug in and see what happens” kind of thing?
DK: I always have far too many ideas, which is probably why Scarlet is such an eclectic mix of musical styles!! I really wanted to experiment though, and to try a whole bunch of things that I’d never done before… but from a career point of view, recording ‘Scarlet’ was a very useful learning curve, as I now have a much clearer idea of the direction that I’m heading in.
GM: What makes this a “Director’s Cut”?
DK: On the original version I rushed the mixing of Scarlet to finish it in time for the Australian leg of the Dark Side Of The Moon tour… but I was never completely happy with the final result, and always regretted putting it out. I tried to move on and concentrate on my next album, [but] I just couldn’t leave Scarlet not sounding right. I thought she deserved better. So as soon as I had a break I went back into the studio with my good friend Jamie Humphries, and we stripped the tracks down completely, and remixed the whole thing… as well as adding some extra guitars and vocals along the way, so that now she sounds like she was originally meant to…
It’s definitely a drag being a perfectionist sometimes!!!
GM: Goldmine readers probably know you best for your work with Emerson and Waters. Were you a Floyd fan? ELP? Crimson?
DK: I actually grew up listening to everything I could!! The radio was so good back then… you’d get Black Sabbath, Bob Marley, The Eagles, The Carpenters and Michael Jackson all in the same program. Two of my uncles were big ELP fans though, so I heard their first few albums… but I totally missed out on Crimson and Floyd… and Genesis and The Nice… and probably a whole host of other prog bands too. One of my school friends had several Yes albums though, so I got to hear them… but I’ve never been one to listen to just one style of music…
Queen were probably the first band I got heavily into. Other records that I loved back then were Makin’ Magic by Pat Travers, Firing On All Six by Lone Star, ELP’s Trilogy, Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak, Wired by Jeff Beck, Rainbow Rising, Led Zeppelin III, A Farewell to Kings… and then I heard Van Halen I!!!
GM: Who were your favorite guitarists (as opposed to bands) – and do they hold the same status in your heart today?
DK: My early guitar heroes were Rory Gallagher, Pat Travers, Brian May, Jeff Beck… and of course Edward Van Halen, whose influence is embedded in my DNA!
It’s really nice to listen to them again from a nostalgic viewpoint, and Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ is still as breathtaking as ever… but Jeff Beck is actually the only guy out of the bunch who’s still out there, and playing better than ever!!! He really is amazing, and definitely someone to aspire to.
GM: What are your plans for the immediate future… both with your album, and other projects?
Last year I recorded an acoustic album with my friend (and amazing singer!!) Murray Hockridge, called Closer to Earth. I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’m really proud of it… It’s available on iTunes at the moment, but it’ll be released on CD in April.
Also in April I’m going into the studio with Pete & Phil to record the follow up to Scarlet. I’m really so excited about the new songs I’ve written, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them!!!
Then in May I’m hoping to be on tour in Europe with Murray, promoting Closer to Earth… and July through September I’ll be back on the road with Roger Waters for another leg of the Wall tour… so, crazy busy as always!!! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A prodigious writer, fierce music lover and longtime record collector, Dave Thompson is the author of over 100 books, including Goldmine’s “Standard Catalog of American Records 1950-1990, 8th Edition” as well as Goldmine’s “Record Album Price Guide 7th Edition , both of which are published via Krause Publications and are available at www.krausebooks.com