Derek Trucks with his Gibson SG

Gibson: You are back in the U.K. touring your album Songlines and live DVD. What makes the British audiences special for you?
 
Derek Trucks: The music listeners in the U.K. were really the first Europeans to embrace the band so it’s always a warm reception with knowledgeable fans. We were excited to start our tour in London this year and the vibe was great.
 
When did you first realize you had this incredible talent for slide guitar?
 
When something comes natural to you at a young age you don’t really give it much thought, so I think I had the advantage early on of just doing my thing without analyzing it. I was on stage playing in clubs at nine years old, but all of my heroes set the bar so high that I knew I had a long way to go.
 
You’re best known for performing with the Gibson SG. Why is this guitar your instrument of choice?
 
Early on I loved the sound of the Gibson Les Paul, but it was just too heavy for a nine-year-old. The SG gave me a similar sound without all the weight. I also saw a picture of Duane Allman with an SG and that look has always stuck with me.
 
You were recently featured on the front cover of Rolling Stone with the likes of John Mayer and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their “New Guitar Gods” feature—quite an achievement for any musician.
 
It’s nice to be recognized in the mainstream press even though the roots-based genres of music I play are often overlooked by the bigger publications. You have to take any accolade with a grain of salt and keep focused on what you’re trying to do. But the fact they put Sun Ra on the cover of Rolling Stone in the ’60s makes you feel like you’re in good company.
 
How many Gibsons do you own?

I have seven Gibsons right now, including a 1960s 335, a ’50s ES-250, and a few SGs. I play a Gibson Custom reissue on stage, and that’s what I feel most comfortable traveling with but my prized possession is a ’61 Les Paul SG. If anyone has any extra ’61s lying around let me know!
 
You were recently on a European tour with Eric Clapton and his band. Tell us about that.
 
Doyle Bramhall II has been playing in Clapton’s band for the last eight years and he gave him a few of my records. I got a call from Eric to record on the J.J. Cale album and during the session he asked me to be a part of the tour. It was obviously an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and it was an amazing experience. You learn pretty quickly why he’s reached legendary status and it’s refreshing to see someone that’s still pushing himself while giving opportunities to younger guys like Doyle and me.

What does 2008 have in store for Derek Trucks and your band? Will there be a new studio album?
 
I’m just finishing up a home studio and I’m hoping to spend a lot of time recording there. Our plan is to finish up a new album and get it out sometime next year but I don’t want to rush anything. I’m looking forward to recording at home and having more time to experiment. There will be plenty of touring as always with my band, the Allmans, and probably some more shows with my wife.
 
When did you first pick up a guitar and were you self taught?
 
I first picked up the guitar at nine. A friend of my dad taught me a few chords but mostly I just figured out by listening to records and eventually playing on stage. I was lucky to play with a lot of great musicians early on and I tried to pick up everything I could. I learned early on that listening was as important as practicing.
 
What advice or tips can you offer any budding guitarist starting out?
 
I’d suggest to young guitarists to listen to other players besides guitarists so they develop their sound more like a musician than just a guitar player. It’s important to remember that in the end you’re trying to get through to people with music and melody speaks louder than technique. With guitar and all other instruments it’s all about time, tone, and space.

Tell us about your new tour and Songlines album/DVD.
 
I’ve been playing with some of the guys in my band for over 13 years and it’s great to develop with players for that long. I think it’s important to document every stage of a working band on the road and so the filming of our DVD Songlines Live was a great opportunity to do that. The Park West in Chicago feels really good and luckily we had a strong night for the taping. It was nice to document live versions of the studio songs from our CD Songlines which gives people another take on that material.

For more information on Derek Trucks, click here.

Photo Credit: Dean Fardell