Because the music of acclaimed producer Andy Johns and the nephew of legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, you might say that Will Johns was born to play music.
Certainly, for Johns, there was by no means a path ahead that didn’t contain washes of creativity by way of a definite but tried and true mix of rock and blues music. Although his earliest musings got here by the use of a drum equipment, destiny intervened, and like his uncle earlier than him, John’s set forth on a path outlined by way of six strings and an amp.
And although his influences are totally different from his father and uncles, the consequence isn’t fully dissimilar, with Johns in the end settling in as one of many extra distinguished Bluesbreakers of his period, albeit with a contemporary aptitude. With an Ernie Ball Music Man in hand and influences starting from the Beastie Boys to B.B. King, Johns’ singular tackle the blues is like no different.
However none of that has saved the bruising axe-slinger from paying homage to the previous as he pays tribute to his uncle’s music with The Cream of Clapton Band. Certain, Johns has paid tribute to Cream and Eric Clapton with the likes of Kofi Baker, however this time, Johns is taking a extra straight-ahead and targeted strategy, yielding chic outcomes.
With a busy 2023 forward, Will Johns logged on with ClassicRockHistory.com to talk on his origins with the guitar, his love for the blues, the affect of Eric Clapton on his model, and what’s subsequent for him as he strikes ahead.
This can be an apparent query, however what first sparked your curiosity within the guitar?
Sure, I’m afraid the apparent reply is my Uncle Eric [Clapton], who was not solely an inspiration however was additionally a father determine in my unstable upbringing. I used to play the drum equipment within the studio below his home, however one morning – I believe it was about 6 am – he instructed I study to play a “correct musical instrument.” The remaining is historical past.
Past your uncle, who have been a few of your greatest influences that formed your sound?
My Mum’s cassettes, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, and Irish insurgent music. I used to be an enormous Michael Jackson Fan at age 10. Then, Phil Collins. My first CDs have been The Beastie Boys, Bryan Adams, Huey Lewis, and The Cream of Eric Clapton biggest hits album. Once I began taking part in guitar, it was Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Massive Invoice Broonzy. Later, Jamiroquai and B.B. King, after which extra B.B. King, after which extra B.B. King! [Laughs]. After half studying the best way to play quick, my taking part in developed to discovering that one bend or phrase, or be aware that will pull on the viewers’s heartstrings.
How vital have been the blues to you as a teen?
My dad, Andy Johns, was a tough rock producer for the likes of Van Halen, Cinderella, and so on., so I all the time considered rock as “his” music. My First actual expertise of what I’d time period “true” blues music was Massive Invoice Broonzy at age 13-ish. I appreciated the double entendres and the attractive, naughty lyrics disguised within the on a regular basis discuss Bull’s horns, lemon juice, and so on. Later, Taj Mahal captured my creativeness along with his laid-back vibe.
How did your uncle, Eric Clapton, alter your notion of what guitar music could possibly be?
As I went into my teenagers, I grew to become acutely conscious that should you performed guitar nicely, you would possibly drive a Ferrari, have a couple of quid, and get a number of consideration from fairly women. This appealed to me, and I imagined attempting to study every thing I may by instance and emulating sounds on my stereo. Having stated that, it was Ry Cooder who utterly electrified my mind. Eric performed me his 1987 album, Get Rhythm, and the opening riff on “All Shook Up” altered my notion utterly.
How do you outline the significance of Cream in your life and rock music?
As I discussed, one in every of my first CDs at age 14 was The Cream of Eric Clapton, I performed alongside to the Cream tracks, and that grew to become part of my taking part in. It was not till 2013 that I actually tuned into the band and discovered extra of their songs after being requested to hitch a canopy band that performed solely Cream. Cream was unbelievably instrumental in widespread rock music and outlined the style at a specific second in historical past.
Would the concept of energy trios and blues-oriented rock music be the identical with out Eric and Cream?
In a nutshell, no! For my part, it’s sort of like saying would the human eye be the identical with out hundreds of thousands of years of evolution from fish to the primary mammal?
Inform me about your newest venture, The Cream of Clapton Band.
The Cream of Clapton Band was born out of The Music of Cream, which I had been concerned with since 2017. The Cream of Clapton Band got here along with the assistance of our supervisor, Simon Roberts. He and I shared a imaginative and prescient of a fantastic, enjoyable band of gifted and devoted musicians that might carry out on the very best degree and revisit probably the most important and thrilling period of the Clapton legacy, specifically the “Heaven Band” of the late ’80s, that includes Greg Phillinganes, Phil Collins, Nathan East, and Eric.
You’ve celebrated the music of Cream earlier than; what makes this venture totally different?
Skilled musicians which can be good to be round, well-rounded, and devoted to the music. This venture focuses extra on the songs, not prolonged “spaced-out” jams and prolonged drum solos. We will likely be taking part in the classics like “Layla” and “Great Tonight,” a number of the Cream numbers, after which the very uplifting and dance tunes from the albums, Behind the Solar, August, and Journeyman.
Are there any plans to work with Kofi Baker once more in celebrating the music of Cream, or has that ship sailed?
That ship has disappeared over the horizon. I’d not be focused on that in any respect.
What gear, pedals, results, and amps are you utilizing on this tour, and what goes into that selection?
My guitars are Ernie Ball Musicman Van Halen and EVH Wolfgang Commonplace. For results, I am going with a Jim Dunlop Cry Child Wah, Mad Professor Candy Honey Delux Overdrive, Mad Professor ElectricBlue Refrain, Octave, and Boss DD3 Digital Delay. I will likely be utilizing a employed Peavey Traditional till I can reconnect with my beautiful Mad Professor Previous Faculty 51 RT Combo! Why? The guitars are my private concept of playability and excellence and personify the head of the electrical guitar’s evolution. The pedals and amp characterize one of the best I’ve personally performed.
What’s your secret to good blues guitar?
A tasteful mixture of lightning and really feel. Confronting the complexity of the thoughts with the simplicity of the center. One be aware performed proper to make the hairs in your arms stand on finish.
Do you intend to proceed your solo work outdoors of this venture? What’s subsequent?
Sure! I’m at present engaged on my 5th solo album, titled Yin & Yang. It’s a assortment of my very own authentic compositions and has a up to date really feel. It will likely be utterly reverse to my final album, Bluesdaddy, which was all basic blues songs barre the title monitor. Transferring ahead outdoors The Cream of Clapton Band, my aim is to achieve success, financially unbiased, glad, in love, and wholesome.
Will Johns: The ClassicRockHistory.Com Interview article printed on Traditional RockHistory.com© 2022
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