The Dark (But Not Really) Bonamassa Interview

March 10, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More

Part 1 of 2

Joe with a dark Les Paul....

Joe with a dark Les Paul....

I was fortunate to grab some time with Joe Bonamassa today, and got to ask him a few questions about Black Rock, Black Country and black Les Pauls, among other toney things. Sounds very dark, but Joe called that coincidental.

I asked about things I hadn’t already read about, about half of it focused on gear. Hope you enjoy.

WoodyTone: It seems to me that Black Rock has a darker, heavier sound than John Henry.

Joe: You’d be right about that. Definitely. It was purposely done – to be a heavier album in that sense.


We had a big year, and I didn’t want people to think we were kind of resting on our laurels. I think we could’ve done the John Henry thing for a while, the Royal Albert Hall thing…. But I wanted to do something fresh and current, and a bit heavier than before.

Why heavier?

Because I wanted to make a youthful album. It was like pretending you were making your first solo album again. Like you had something to prove, the “conquer the world with a guitar” kind of vibe.

Tone-wise, you seem to be going that way (heavier), with your transition to Les Pauls a while back and now the Bogner.

The Bogner comes and goes [in his American rig]. I didn’t use the Bogner for Black Rock. That was my European live rig: two Marshalls and two Van Weelden heads. [The Marshalls are EL34s of course, a Silver Jubilee and a hand-wired Super Lead plexi reissue. The Van Weeldens are 6L6 Dumble Overdrive Special-style amps.]

But I’m definitely not a huge fan of treble. And it’s weird because it’s obviously not that my ears are failing me: I keep taking treble out from the guitar instead of putting it in there. [Hearing loss hits the high frequencies first, which prompts older guitar players to add in treble to hear what they want to hear – but not necessarily what the audience wants to hear!]

Switching gears to Black Country – can you describe the sound the band is going for, and what tone and gear you have in this band?

For me personally I’m using two Marshall amps – two Super Leads – and a Les Paul. I wanted it to be more of a Marshally tone than what I use for my solo band.

The band – it’s a straight up rock record, all original. We’re going for a very organic, back to basics rock record. But it has a very English flair to it – it sounds very English, both the style of playing and the production of it.

Fans, me included, kind of hope it’s Zeppelin-ish. Is it?

Anytime you do kind of these ‘all-star bands,’ people will theorize – it will be like Led Zeppelin 1 plus Come Taste the Band plus Dream Theater plus whatever Bonamassa does. It won’t be that, but it will be its own thing. It has some progressive elements. It definitely is a sum of its parts band.

[Come Taste the Band is the ’75 Deep Purple album with Glenn Hughes – and Tommy Bolin on guitar. Glenn plays bass and sings in “Black Country.” Dream Theater is a reference to Derek Sherinian, who played in that band and is on the keys in BC. The Zep reference is of course a nod to Jason Bonham, drummer for BC.]

– End of part 1 (of 2) –

Category: Joe Bonamassa

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  1. WoodyTone! - The ‘Dark’ Bonamassa Interview, Part 2 | March 11, 2010
  1. JBW says:

    Part 2 please, great piece

  2. Jim says:

    Great interview. I think that's Joe's Candy Apple Blue LP (rumor has it, in addition to the 4 originally made, more will be released by Gibson)

  3. WoodyTone says:

    Yep, that's the one — Joe talks about it in part 2 but no mention of more being made. Will ask him if I get the chance later.

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