I caught up with Lance Lopez last month shortly after the arrival of the newest addition to his family (Congratulations to the Lopez family) to discuss his new album “Live In NYC” and his Supersonic Blues Machine album “West of Flushing, South of Frisco”. Lance was great fun to talk to and a truly down to earth artist. If you haven’t heard any of his music before, you need to check him out because his Blues sound is really good. I have added links at the bottom of this interview to preview some of his music to connect you to his music sites. Give them a listen, then buy his albums.
Yesterdazenews: For those who are not familiar with your work yet, I want to give them a run down on who you are. You’re a solo artist, part of the Supersonic Blues Machine as well as being a writer and producer.
Lance Lopez: Absolutely correct.
YDN: Can you tell me what it was that initially inspired you to pick up playing the guitar and what led you to the Blues?
LL: I initially wanted to play the guitar from seeing Elvis Presley on the tv. I was about three years old and my dad showed me a video of Elvis. My dad was in the army with Elvis and they were good friends so it really inspired me to want to play the guitar. Once my dad saw me show interest in playing the guitar he bought me a guitar for Christmas. What got me into the blues was years after playing the guitar, three or five years or so, we moved over to Dallas and my mother took me to see B.B. King in concert and I knew who B.B. King was but I’d never seen him play in concert. When we were there, it’s kind of a funny story, we were there to see B.B. King and everyone was walking around in these t-shirts with SRV on them and I didn’t know what SRV meant until Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble came out and played. It was pretty cool and that was the life changing experience for me that thrust me into playing the blues. Seeing Stevie Ray Vaughn for the first time, I had no idea who he was or anything about him and there I was 20 feet in front of him and then he and B.B. King played together. They had a big Blues jam and that’s the first Blues jam I had ever attended was seeing Stevie Ray Vaughn and B.B. King play together. From that point on it was pretty much the Blues and sadly a couple months after that Stevie Ray Vaughn passed away. That even kind of furthered the mission of continuing on that tradition and playing the Blues.
YDN: I can absolutely see how that could hook you to the Blues. I can’t even imagine seeing that show.
LL: Yea it was pretty funny too. I was about twelve years old and at a very formidable age to see something like that. Growing up in the 80’s as a kid I’d seen all of those big hair bands and guitar player shredder guys and I was always like, meh you know, that’s cool. It was very early on that I discovered Jimi Hendrix so I was very much into that world at the time when that wasn’t really cool. When I was into that everyone else was into Van Halen, Ratt and all these hair bands and I was into everything from the generation before that which was all Blues based music but just didn’t realize that yet. So that’s what drew me to Stevie Ray Vaughn when I was twelve, I had no idea who this guy was and he was playing and I was like that’s the kind of guitar player I was looking for. Then he started playing Jimi Hendrix and I was like this guy’s the perfect guitar player wrapped up into one. I was like what just happened? It was pretty monumental. From then on, I became obsessed with music. Not just playing it, but everything that surrounds it too. I was always researching about the latest equipment and tools that producers would have in their studios. There’s just so much to this industry that I learnt and am still learning.
YDN: So earlier I was talking to Paul Nelson (producer of Lance’s “Live In NYC” album) and we stumbled across the subject of Lance Lopez of course. He was just telling me how good your “Live In NYC” album is and how talented of an artist you are. Then I was looking through what the fans have been saying about the album and there’s a lot of really great and positive response to both the “Live In NYC” album and the Supersonic Blues Machine album “West of Flushing, South of Frisco”. How do you as an artist, from your perspective, feel that the albums are doing for you?
LL: First off let me say that you to Paul for having such high praise for me. Paul and I bonded pretty closely when Johnny (Winter) was alive. We did a lot of traveling together with Johnny and that’s how I met Paul. As to how they are doing for me, the “Live In NYC” album and Supersonic, it’s really two different kind of perspectives, one spectrum to the other. The “Live In NYC” record is me and my trio setting, just a full power trio and unadulterated guitar at a sold out show at B.B. Kings in NY. Supersonic Blues Machine is a very different situation. I mean it’s still me playing guitar and singing, it’s just not as unadulterated. It was very produced, it was thought out and we worked very hard on it. “Live in NYC” is what you see when you go see the Lance Lopez Band. You go see Lance Lopez, that’s what you get. You get in your face guitar playing. There was nothing different than I did in NY than I would do if I was playing in a roadhouse in Texas. We just took what we do in these roadhouses and Blues clubs in Texas and brought it to NY. Supersonic Blues Machine is much more of a collective, but it was the opposite of that because we had so many great guitarists involved. We didn’t want it to turn into this big shootout album, you know the next guy taking a solo then the next and then we just turn it into a big Blues jam. We didn’t want it to be like that, we wanted it to show comradery of us playing together and playing together musically. Actually supporting one another and being very interactive as opposed to trying to outplay each other or anything like that. You get a lot of guitar players together in a big kind of jam situation, that’s what starts happening, guys want to outplay each other, it turns into a big shootout and that’s the exact opposite of what we wanted to do with Supersonic Blues Machine. We also wanted songs with messages. We wanted songs that talk about what’s going on in the world today, what went on with us personally and personal struggles. You know, relationships going bad, relationships going good, yea know I think there’s even a song about barbecue on the record. There’s so much in the record but we wanted it to be deep and talk about all these different things and not us just playing every other Blues song and sound like a Sunday night Blues jam. We didn’t want to go in there and just be playing Dust My Broom, Sweet Home Chicago and then everybody take a solo. We wanted to save that kind of stuff for a concert. I have heard the criticism of some saying, “why didn’t you guys just jam” and I am like, “well that’s why you come see us play live”. All those guys playing with us on that record will be playing with us live. That’s the beauty of Supersonic Blues Machine is that we can jam live and have fun doing it and all that but we really wanted that album to be a classic album. We want it to be very musical and we wanted it to show that we can bring all these great guitar players together and they can actually play together. Kind of the message these songs are about too is kind of like everything in the state of this world today, we wanted to show unity and everybody coming together. Our version of that is bringing a lot of great guitar players that are legendary in their own right and showing that they can have unity and come together without egos and without trying to outdo each other. There’s a lot of symbolism there to kind of convey our message to the world.
YDN: I’ve listened to the album and it’s very genuine. It’s not overdone and I actually enjoyed it very much. It’s nice to have, like you said, no shootouts. It’s a pleasurable experience to listen to it. You worked with a variety of artists on this project. For your next album with the Supersonic Blues Machine, are there any other artists you are already thinking of that you’d like to work with or collaborate with?
LL: Absolutely. We’re going to start working on and writing the follow up to “West of Flushing, South of Frisco” in December into January. We’ve got guests and I really can’t talk about it or who they are right now, but I really want to so badly. It’s going to be even more epic than this album. There’s some people who are going to be a part of it that I’m really, seriously excited about. I really can’t discuss it and that’s what really sucks about it. (laughter)
YDN: (laughter) But it does answer my question that you do have other artists in mind for the next project.
LL: It’s going up to another level. It’s got some very serious people. Everyone on “West of Flushing, South of Frisco” were friends of mine. People that I have known many years. This next record is going to be more like heroes and people that I don’t know but have always wanted meet and play with that I’ve never had to chance to work with. So yea, it’s going up to another level if everything works out the way we are hoping. It’s going to be a pretty serious follow up. I will say this, it’s going to be more of a fun record, a lot more funky. So it’s going to be really cool.
YDN: As far as tour plans, are there any plans for North America?
LL: We are working on that for 2017. We secured an agent here in the states and basically what it entails is we will be booking around ZZ Top’s schedule because Billy Gibbons will be with us. We have short windows of time with ZZ Top’s not touring so when those dates are open Billy will be with us if he’s not working with his solo project. So if ZZ’s not working, his solo group is not working, he will be with us. So it’s just filling in those wholes between schedules. Then we have all of our other guests we have on our record and everybody’s got their own schedules so it’s a balancing act booking in between everybody’s schedules especially when you’ve got somebody like ZZ Top. We are also adding some really good friends of ours to join us on tour and are in talks with some other really great and legendary guitar players on stepping in, some of which will be on the follow up album, to join us on some of the dates in 2017 pre follow up release. That’s what will be really cool about that is when we start dates in North America, we’ll have all of our guests that were with us on the first record and then we’ll be adding guests from the next record. So yea, we are in the midst of making some big plans for next year. Also, when Supersonic Blues Machine is not out, I am working on a new studio album for my own band and hopefully I will be out playing some shows as well.
YDN: That’s great. You sound very busy, but that is a great kind of busy to be.
LL: Absolutely, keeps me out of trouble. (laughter)
YDN: You were also recently nominated for “Producer of the Year” and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” with the East Texas Music Awards. How does it make you feel when people nominate you for things like this?
LL: It’s quite an honor. The East Texas Music Awards is a regional awards around the area where I live and it’s really cool. I am working with a group kids and the best thing about it is working with these kids. I’ve got them doing a little child prodigy Blues band called “Salvation From Sundown” that I am producing, mentoring, helping and coaching. They actually named themselves after one of my albums which was really cool and I had nothing to do with that, it was all their own thing. That was one of the reasons I was nominated for it because the kids are primarily from that area and I live in that area so I have been working a lot with the kids when I am not working with Supersonic Blues Machine or touring with my band. I’m teaching, I teach guitar lessons, I work with kids primarily with kids. I also work with advanced players and adults as well. That’s one of the things that’s really cool about it. It’s like, I really don’t do that to be sited for awards. I do it to help the kids. You know, it is what it is. It’s cool and it’s a good feeling for them to nominate me and ask me to do that, but my work to help the kids is to help the kids. It’s pretty cool.
YDN: What is it like for you when you are working with these kids to see them as their talent develops and to know that you are instilling this next generation of musicians?
LL: That’s the payoff. That’s the goal. More than anything else it’s to keep the tradition of the music to continue and to education them on the history of the music and to keep it going. That’s the primary purpose of what it is that I am doing with them is to ensure that the music will continue and if they don’t continue in that music, that they will be Blues based musicians that will carry on. All of the music that changed the last half of the 20th century, especially with the British bands like the Stones, Zeppelin, Cream and all those bands were heavily influential on American rock music the last three or four generations, all of those musicians were Blues musicians. They morphed into whatever it was they did, whether it was the Rolling Stones or whoever they were and it came back over to influence American rock which, it’s a lineage if influence. That’s one of the big goals is to insure that this young generation will also be Blues musicians and whether they continue to play Blues or morph into something different they will still be heavily influenced as well.
YDN: Absolutely. That’s why I got into writing about music. I kept constantly hearing from people all over that live music is dead and I absolutely disagree because I see so much of the live music scene. I think that everyone who touches the music industry on one way or another has a responsibility to make sure new artists are coming out, young ones are getting developed, existing artists are getting talking about and also that people are talking about the music they are seeing and hearing so that people are aware it is out there. We need people to keep going out to these live shows and buying the music and supporting music. So to me, it’s always nice to talk to people and hear when they say they are giving back or have side projects to work younger people. It restores my faith in the music community when we are reaching out to help however we can. So that is all I have for you today Lance. Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on the newest addition to your family.
The Lance Lopez Band is: Lance Lopez – Vocals, Guitar, Patrick Smith – Bass, Landis Chisenhall – Drums
“Live In NYC” is available now via Amazon, iTunes and many other music sellers
Supersonic Blues Machine is: Lance Lopez, Kenny Aronoff, Fabrizio Grossi
An incredible list of collaborators gives the record added warmth and propels it on to a higher level; Billy F. Gibbons, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes, Robben Ford, Eric Gales and Chris Duarte
“West of Flushing, South of Frisco” is available now via Amazon, iTunes and many other music sellers