General Store's interview
by Philippe Archambeau
Hi Will, can you tell us about the General Store band ? its history, its members ...
General Store is a power blues-rock trio located in Bordeaux, France, which started back in 1992. Its current members are Urban Shade on drums, percussion and background vocals, David Charles on bass, and myself on guitar and vocals.
What knid of music did you play when you started 10 years ago ? southern rock covers ? which ones ?
It all started back in the college years when we started a band with friends for fun... We mostly played rock from the 70s, such as Led Zeppelin, Free, Ten years After, Canned Heat, John mayall, Santana...all classic songs... We discovered southern rock thropugh Lynyrd Skynyrd and their second album. Then we went through the Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker, among others... Covers from "Working for MCA", "Thing's goin' on", "Call me the Breeze", "Free bird", "Boogie no more" were included in the set list back then.
How did your record this last album ? Why is there only covers ? Did you write originals ?
"A box full of rusty Blues" has been recorded in 4 days with mostly live takes. Only the vocals and some lead guitars have been added. We wanted to capture that live sound and feeling. Recording covers was a deliberated choice. It was our way, after two years of hard way, to get that style, southern fusion style. JB Jet (keyboard), and Big Dave (harmonica) came in, as guests, to add a different colour to the album. I write most of the originals we have, I start with a rhythmic idea and I try to find a spirit for the song. The arrangements for a song are always a group effort and work with everyone adding his personal touch.
I like very much the slide, it seems you're a master of that guitar style, not so much played in France.
Slide guitar is certainly the most difficult aspect pf that kind of music as you need to be real precise ; you gotta find the perfect pitch. I never use open tunings. The use of slide guitar is also a way to add different colours to a song, you can vary the intonations, your solos. My favorite slide guitar players are Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, Gary Rossington ... and of course, Warren Haynes, whio is the one I like the most (I must confess, I'm a huge fan !!!).
General Store seems to be a mix of the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. Do you write songs with this approach ?
The General Store originals are certainly close to this approach, the "new southern rock" music mixing different kind of music, but it is really difficult to be close the the Allman Brothers sound with a power trio band. On our next album, which 'll be originals oriented, the individual personality will be really important. I wish our musical culture will help us finding ideas while writing new songs. Urban Shade, our drummer who also sings, is a 70s progreqssive rock fan and his his creative spirit is really important to Genral Store. David, the bass player gets us a perfect junction between the drums and the guitar as it is important, in a trio format, to define each one's role.
Can we conclude General Store is a kind of french Gov't Mule ?
It's a bit exagerated to be compared to Gov't Mule, they're making it big in the USA, and don't forget we are a french band playing the french blues-rock scene. The passion fopr this music, over here, is not really the same, copmpared to the USA. We have our own style, and it is right that Gov't Mule is a reference and a big influence on us. They've got everything I'ld to find in General Store's music : the power of a three piece band, incredible improvisations, a killer sound, references to the greates bands, a bit of jazz for the fun, and most of all, three people performing live in front of a conquered crowd (ie. Live at Roseland Ballroom). But we also to keep our own personnality, our sound, our soul and our musical culture.
Will General Store always a be a three piece band, or will you have have other people ?
We wanna stay a three piece band for many different reasons : the spontaneous performing, the freedom in improvising whenever we wanna do it, the easy way to deal with decisions, schedulings and so on, and most of all, we have the chance to be the three former members of the band. By the way, we love to have guests on stage or in the studio to get different sounds and colours. The jams are the strongest moments when meeting other musicians...
You've performed over 400 gigs, did you enjoy opening for Brother Brooks, back in 1994, in Bordeaux ?
We opened for the Brother Brooks two times, and it seems it was yesterday to me. We welcomed them the day before the show at "the Cricketers" in Bordeaux. After exchanging local goods, Bordeaux red wine vs Jack Daniels (Hips!!), the Brothers Brooks (2 giants from Macon, GA) gave us two wonderful shows. The first one was mainly songs frtom their album, and the second one was almost an Allman Brothers tribute.
Is there a chance we might see you on stage during summer festivals ?
I belive we'll have a few dates for the Harley bikes shows and exhibits, blues festivals and some other gigs. Dates are not yet sure as an touring agent is interested in working for us.
final and traditional question. If you had to rest your life on
a desert island, which albums would you bring there ?