“The storytelling was important to me, to get a kind of point across. The track ‘Ain’t done yet’ is how I feel! (Laughs) I also wanted to focus on the music and expand on the guitars”.
It’s 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon and I’m talking to Kim Simmonds on the phone from his home in the US, about Savoy Brown’s latest album Ain’t Done Yet.
Ain’t Done Yet is released on 28th August 2020 via Quarto Valley Records.
The album features Kim’s long time band mates, Pat DeSalvo on Bass and Garnet Grimm on Drums.
Listening to Ain’t Done Yet, the audience is instantly taken on a journey. This storytelling is something that Kim has said was extremely important to him when creating the songs.
From songs about looking back on your life and the journey you have taken, to instrumental tracks such as ‘Crying Guitar’, Ain’t Done Yet is one of the years must hear blues rock albums.
While storytelling was a focus, improvisation was one of the keys to the album’s sound.
“It’s all improvisation. Most of the songs on the album are simply one take, said Kim.
We’ll get the backing track down and then the rhythm guitar. Then I’ll play the lead, along with the bass and drums. Either way, most of the time, it’s just one take. I can do another run through of the lead guitar, but it would just be a variation of that first one.
I like to play the first thing that comes to me – I like the serendipity of it all. If I play that way, or do the one take and be happy with it – and usually I am – then I’ll be playing something that I’ve never played before”.
As a musician myself, it is a pleasure to talk to Kim about the variety of guitars that were used on the album.
‘All gone wrong’ features the use of a Gibson Flying-V on the solos, while ‘Borrowed Time’ uses a ‘Multivox Full Rotor’ to create the unique guitar tone.
For ‘River on the Rise’, Kim used a Stratocaster Guitar and took inspiration from George Harrison’s slide guitar playing.
“When it came to doing ‘The River and the Rise’, I have my own style, but it occurred to me that it’s not necessarily a blues song, said Kim.
I was looking for a different approach and I’d never played in that slide style before on a stratocaster type guitar, so I thought lets dive in here. When I play that lead on ‘River and the Rise’, I have a very light sound. The guitar wasn’t set up for slide. I had to play very lightly and I realised that’s what you have to do, to play in that Harrison slide guitar style”.
George Harrison is one of the musicians whose slide guitar playing Kim has always admired, adding that:
“I’ve always admired Guitar players from one era, who then manage to fit themselves into a new era. It’s amazing. George Harrison really belonged to the 1959 era of Guitar Playing, even though it was the Sixties when The Beatles were popular. In the Seventies, or maybe even earlier, he suddenly reinvented himself with that slide guitar playing, which was some of the best slide guitar playing I’d ever heard. I was always very impressed”.
Since Savoy Brown’s formation in the 1960s, Kim Simmonds has become renowned for his style of playing.
One of the bands in the British Blues Rock Scene of the Sixties, Savoy Brown toured across the world and have headlined major venues including Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Kim Simmonds has also received many accolades, including enshrinement on the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame and induction into regional Halls of Fame across the USA and Canada.
One of the musicians Kim toured with was another blues rock legend, Muddy Waters, who even gets a mention on the album song ‘Soho Girl’:
“I like name dropping in songs, as it’s a shout out to the people I loved. I did a song in the Sixties called ‘Louisiana Blues’, which was a Muddy Waters song. I rocked it up and put this hook of guitar riff. It was an underground hit and all the bands were playing it in the states. It’s a good guitar riff and a rocking song. Then I did a gig with Muddy Waters and he jokingly, tongue-in cheek said “You stole my song!” (Laughs) I was a huge fan of his and we performed some concert dates together.
I feel ‘Soho Girl’ is some of my best guitar playing. I enjoy listening to it myself. That song I tried on the last album, but it didn’t make it. I approached it with a different guitar sound and it didn’t work. It’s amazing when you change the guitar sound, it can make the sound sit better”.
Ain’t Done Yet was recorded at Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey with Studio Owner and Engineer Ben Elliot.
Sadly, Ben Elliot died shortly after the album was completed.
Kim Simmonds remembers Ben’s enthusiasm and support, not only on this record, but on the albums that he and Kim worked on since the 1990s:
“He was very pivotal. I really feel this is Ben’s album as much as anybodies. He put his heart and soul in it. He’d have every lyric in front of him of a song and he helped produce it with me. I’d sing them and he’d follow, word by word and line by line. He’d help me. You know what it’s like though, playing on stage or in the studio, things can change. It’s always good to have someone like Ben say ‘hey, I know your sound – I think you need a bit of this’.
With ‘All gone wrong’, there was a line that I wasn’t sure I could put in. It was a personal thing. Originally I’d wanted to make it general, about what’s going on in the world. I thought, should I keep it general? Ben said no, I like it, keep it. It was very important. Ben was very invested in the songs and lyrics, which is so encouraging”.
Ain’t Done Yet is released on 28th August 2020.