Root Blues with overblows: interview of Laurent Siguret
Planet Harmonica: The very first ear-catching thing when listening to your album is this rough blues sound, quite unusual for a french band. Could you tell us about your influences and how you set up the band ?
Thomas and Julien put the band together in 2009 and kept playing as a duet until 2013. They made 2 albums in the meantime. Then, I joined the band and we issued 3 records since then, with Freemount Records.
We all have our own musical universe, and we all like people like Creedence, Howlin Wolf…
Each of your albums is strongly associated with the place it has been recorded. Can you tell us more about that ?
Basically, our goal is to record each album in a different location. We stay there for 3 or 4 days, chilling out, trying to grab the feeling of the place.
How do put your new songs together ?
Julien often brings an idea, a theme, that we all try to develop, just like if we were jamming. We rehearse at the “After You My Friend” studio that Julien manages, which provides great playing conditions.
How do your recording sessions work ? Do you play live when recording, maybe adding some retakes, ou do you record instruments separately ? How do you work together in the trio ?
Over time, we recorded in “full live” conditions. On the previous albums, we used to record at least drums, harmonica and guitar together, then vocals and the other instruments.
On the last one, we decided to go for a mono recording, only one mike to take everything even vocals. This implies that we all have to really listen to each other.
Mono recording ? How surprising ! No room left for mistakes !
Indeed ! And by the way, I noticed some small things I would have liked to retake. But that’s the rules of the game, and we really wanted to play « live ».
Let’s focus on you, Laurent :
We really enjoyed your playing in the context of this blues trio. You play your parts wisely, just at the right place and at the right time, without “over playing” if I may say so. Can you tell us more about that ?
From the very beginning, I have tried to serve Julien and Thomas’ music. We listen to each other carefully when we work on our songs. We try new things, I play a lot. When it comes to this new album, I have to say I tried to remove everything that I thought unnecessary. This is not the album of a harp player, this is the music of a band. I think the room left by Muddy Waters to the harmonica in some of his pieces is a pretty good example of what I am trying to do.
How to you design your solos ? Do you use pentatonic scales and/or blues scales ? Do you play overblows ?
I think my solos have changed over time, and as I attended training sessions by Jerôme Peyrelevade and Sebastien Charlier. I primarily play in E flat on a A flat harmonica and I switch harp if the band plays another key, which allows me to keep the same picture of my playing in mind.
For example, if we consider playing a C harmonica (on a piece in G) : at the beginning, I used the G major pentatonic scale as a backbone for my solos, adding D flat on a regular basis (the fifth flat). Then I started to play overblows and overblaws, studying at the same time the B flat major pentatonic scale, the E blues scale and even the G minor melodic scale. Now, when I play blues, I use the 5 and 6 overblows, and the 7 and 10 overdraws. When soloing, I mix scales according to Julien’s chords. And I also add other notes as needed.
You have won the Marche D’Aincourt challenge, a very different piece compared with the music you play with the Marshals ! How wide is the range of your influences ?
I listen to a lot of music, but less and less harmonica. I still like blues, but I’ve rather listened to jazz for the last years. I also like some kinds of bluegrass, or even Argentinean music.
Which harp players have particularly influenced your playing ?
When I started, my only influence was Diabolo, a harmonica player I saw playing on a Jacques Martin TV show. Then I saw him playing along with Jacques Higelin. When I started to play, I did’nt know anybody and I could’nt afford buying records. On top of that, blues was way far from what I used to listen to at the time. So I played mainstream pieces. Then I met a harmonica player who told me to buy JJ Milteau’s book. Thank you so much M. Milteau, your book really tought me how powerful the harmonica is ! He influenced me so much. Nowadays, I really like Jason Ricci’s flamboyant style, Vincent Bucher’s playing accuracy, the poetic Michel Herblin and (sorry for mentioning them again and again) I have to say I’m always amazed by Sebastien Charlier’s stunning playing and Jerôme Peylevade’s versatility.