Monday 23 November 2009

Roger Klug More Help For Your Nerves review and interview

Roger Klug More Help For The Nerves Mental Giant

Back in the late nineties Cincinnati’s own Roger Klug got us to sit up and take notice with a pair of stunning albums of clever, inventive kick bottom power pop that showcased the man’s abundant creative talents and left us panting for more. Ten years later and the panting is over and half way through the opening witty ditty Tinnitus is clear that the man never really went away. The second track Dump Me Hard kicks in with all the classic Klug hallmarks, we know and love. Classic pop melodies, swooping choruses, blazing playing and addictive hooks aplenty are at the heart of it and around this solid foundation dances the reasons that elevate him into the ranks of real genius. His lyrics are razor sharp, smart arsed and literate but never cold like some clever buggers tend to be. The playing, as ever nearly all done by the man himself, is wild and confidently adventurous, you never know where it’s going till it’s been there. Just as About Time settles into its perfectly pitched languid pop lament it hammers down a brutal guitar riff before sliding into shit hot country picking that give Barefoot Jerry a run for their money. Confounding expectations in a way that thrills and amuses in equal measures is a constant feature of this beautiful and rich album. Epic and sardonic, intimate and relaxed, Roger takes it all in his laid back stride. Whether it’s flicking off cascading riffs like only the likes of Jason Falkner usually attempts or pulling a melodic pop treat from his sleeves, the man is up for every challenge he sets himself with a down to earth mastery few can touch. And boy does he know how to rock. On top of all this wealth comes the other constant, the stunning guitar work that punches through and anoints throughout. Klug is without doubt one of the truly great lead guitar players in the world. If he could do nothing else he would be a legend in my books. Fortunately he does do everything else to the same breathtaking standard and More Help For Your Nerves shows that while he was away the talent remained as captivating as it ever was.

We thought to catch up with the man at his long home and find up whats going down since last we spoke. It’s been awhile since the last what have you been up to?
RK: Yeah, it has been a while. That seems to be the headline: Man Wakes From Coma And Releases New Album! Let’s see…a couple of babies arrived on the scene, so I had to move the studio out of the house. I’m now in what was, at one time, the longest building in the world; it’s something ridiculous like a half-mile long. So that took a couple of weeks to move the gear, the instruments, the circus animals…what else…dum dum dum…played a lot of low-key gigs around the Cincinnati area; there are a lot of great musicians here, why that is, I’ve no idea. I recorded commercials for sports teams, fast food restaurants and loan sharks. Played banjo, balalaika and wah-wah guitar with the Kentucky Symphony. Watched babies grow into toddlers and then full-fledged human beings. Mostly avoided working on a new album: I think subconsciously I was avoiding finishing it, because then I would have had to find out if it was any good.

How did you approach the new album?
Very gingerly: "Come here, little album, I don’t want to scare you away; come into my arms, won’t you…" Hmmm…I did have it in the back of my mind that this would be a very guitar-oriented album, versus a lot of piano or strings or what-have-you, although those orchestral instruments always find a way of creeping into the mix. Other than that, it was just whatever songs were swimming around in my head at the time; it always starts with the germ of a song. I had a few things recorded but not much finished. I was kind of suffering from what Andy Partridge seems to be going through at the moment…boredom with music, lack of confidence, lack of desire…like there was no reason to write another song or put something out into the marketplace. Luckily I snapped out of it and finished up the tracks I had and even wrote some new ones. Maybe it was musical depression or burn-out or writer’s block…but once I got going again, about a year ago, there was no stopping and my head was very clear about what I needed to do to reach the finish line. I’m really stoked about it now, and glad I hung in there to see it through. What did Steve Miller say? "You’ve got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven." This is the second time this year I’ve quoted Steve Miller; what in Hades is happening to me?

You've been playing live again.
It’s great to be out playing loud guitar again; not something I sit around the house doing by myself, it’s definitely more of a social thing. And as much as I love working in the studio, there’s a kind of living-in-a-vacuum quality to it, whereas live you get immediate feedback from the audience, the band, your amp, ha ha…and there’s no hitting Rewind, or Undo; you play it once and it’s gone forever (or else on YouTube tomorrow night!). I like that; I keep threatening my next album will be cut live to 2-track, just like a jazz session. Maybe I’ll get smart and take my own advice someday.

1 comment:

troy said...

I just picked up this album, partly on your say-so, Jay. It's really terrific. I occasionally like to ask other Falkner fans who else they like, hoping to learn of an artist who can produce songs like he can. If anyone asked me that, Klug would probably be the second name out of my mouth, after (earlier) Brendan Benson.