Dave Hole’s new album, GOIN’ BACK DOWN, has been a long time coming. “It’s taken 3 years of my life”, says the internationally acclaimed 69 year old Australian bluesman “but it’s been worth it. This is the one I’ve wanted to make for what seems like forever – an album where I could have the luxury of writing and developing the songs at a leisurely pace without the pressure of a fixed release date.”
Having taken the decision to self-produce and engineer, Hole had a lot to learn but found the process exhilarating. Three tracks feature accompanying musicians (Bob Patient, Rick Eastman, Roy Martinez, Paul Millard and Jon Tooby) but the remaining eight cuts have Dave playing everything himself, with the occasional use of loops and samples. This is not the first self-produced Dave Hole album but is it the first that he has engineered? “Well yes. Three tracks were recorded by Bob Patient at Anarchy but I recorded the rest of them and mixed them down in my home studio. It’s been a huge learning curve getting to grips with Pro Tools and all that stuff but it’s very satisfying to have done so much of the work myself.”
The result is a quite different and more varied collection of songs than what might be considered usual for a Dave Hole album. The ballad Tears For No Reason for instance, features nylon stringed classical guitar while Arrows In The Dark reveals a distinctly ‘60’s Merseyside influence – a side of Dave Hole we’ve not heard before. That said, there’s still a substantial helping of Hole’s signature high-octane slide guitar on offer – Goin’ Back Down promises to have broad appeal to both new listeners and Hole’s many existing fans alike.
“Too Little, Too Late was in my head almost fully formed when I woke up one morning. It’s about those irreversible tipping points in life. It could be in a relationship or whatever, or to do with climate change. It’s the point where you realize that there’s no going back.”
“I’ve always been a huge BB King fan and Used To Be seemed to demand that bluesy call and response thing that BB did so well and where the guitar just takes up the singing during the solos. So I abandoned the slide for that one and picked up my standard tuned Gibson 345 and allowed myself to fantasize that I was the “King of the Blues” for six minutes!”
The first and last song that book-end the CD appear to be closely related. Hole reveals “they’re actually two halves of the same song. The first one, Stompin’ Ground contains all the vocals, and the last one, the title track, Goin’ Back Down, is the extended outro solo. It started off as an experiment but I came to really like the effect of having a ‘slight return’ at the end of the album.”
Measure Of A Man is a slow paced burner that features what sounds like a Dobro throughout. “Actually it’s my National Tricone on that track” explains Hole. “The intro lick is a Robert Johnson thing.” Could we be forgiven for thinking that it’s about a certain US President? “You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly say,” quips Hole.
“Arrows In The Dark was co-written with my friend Nic DiFalco. He came up with the chord progression and it reminded me of some of the stuff from the 60’s that I grew up listening to, so I put some Everly Brothers vocal harmonies on it. It’s probably the most radio-friendly thing that I’ve ever done. Lyrically it’s about someone wanting to rekindle a relationship and the other person saying “That was way back when and we’re both totally different people now……and also, let’s not forget that you were the one that pulled the pin.””
“These Blues Are Here To Stay was probably the most fun of anything to record. It’s just six minutes of rollicking blues….the perfect vehicle for lots of slide guitar solos. Right in my comfort zone. And Bobby’s Rock is another one - an instrumental blues shuffle that was a great excuse just to have fun with guitar.”
Dave Hole’s 10th album, GOIN’ BACK DOWN, will be released world-wide on April 27 on CD, LP and Digital. He will be playing a handful of Australian dates in May with band mates Rudy Miranda on drums and Ian Lees on bass. See below for full details.
DAVE HOLE BIOGRAPHY
Australia's first successful blues export Dave Hole exploded on to the international stage with the release of his first album - 'Short Fuse Blues' in 1991. He is now widely regarded as one of the all-time slide guitar greats whose playing is infused with the spirit of such legends as Elmore James, Duane Allman and Johnny Winter.
Nine successful albums and countless tours of the U.S. and Europe have solidified Hole’s stature as one of the very best slide guitarists playing today and seen him headlining festivals in America, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, France, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. His two performances at the prestigious Leverkussen Blues Festival in Germany were televised nationally. Tours have also included performances in the UK, Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Dave Hole was born in England in 1948. At the age of four he moved with his family to Western Australia, settling in the hills outside of Perth, the place he still calls home. Being fairly isolated, his childhood was somewhat lonely and the young Hole sought solace in music via the family radio. He listened intently to the likes of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and Cliff Richards and the Shadows, being increasingly drawn to anything that featured a twangy guitar. By the age of eleven he had convinced his parents to buy him his first cheap instrument. He was immediately smitten - and so began a lifelong passion for music and guitar in particular.
At the age of sixteen a friend’s Muddy Waters record introduced him to the power of the blues and it wasn’t long before the pair resolved to form a band and set about getting their hands on as many blues records as they could find. What ensued was a voyage of discovery through Robert Johnson and Blind Willie Johnson to Elmore James, Otis Rush and BB King.
On leaving school Hole completed a degree in physics at the University Of Western Australia before being increasingly drawn into a life of music and by 1974 he was playing steadily around Perth and the country towns of Western Australia. In 1976 he broke the little finger of his left hand playing Australian Rules football. The mishap lead him to adopt his unusual slide guitar technique, whereby he places the slide on his left hand index finger and plays from over the top of the neck.
Fast forward to the day in 1990 when a chance encounter with recording engineer John Villani resulted in a session during which Hole and his band laid down 16 tracks in a single day. The aim was to produce a CD to satisfy demand from Hole’s growing number of local fans. On a whim Dave sent a copy to US Guitar Player magazine and was astounded to receive a call in the middle of the night from the then editor Jas Obrecht. Hole describes the conversation: “I literally fell out of bed when I realized it wasn’t a hoax. Jas was raving about my playing and promised “to give it the best review I’ve given anything in years.” The ensuing review commenced “Magnificent, staggering, almost beyond belief...” and concluded with “…what more could you ask?” Guitar Player then followed up with a July 1991 Dave Hole feature story.
Obrecht also tipped off Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records, the world’s most prestigious blues label. When the deal was inked Dave Hole became the label’s first and only non U.S. based signing. Alligator then released SHORT FUSE BLUES to a world-wide audience. Almost overnight, Dave Hole became an international phenomenon.
Hole was soon gigging non-stop across America and Europe, leaving audiences spellbound wherever he went and drawing rave reviews from countless international publications, including Billboard, Rolling Stone, Downbeat and Guitar World. Similarly, he earned rapturous praise from the Associated Press and major US market dailies such as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
And it wasn't just the critics who were paying attention. Metallica's Kirk Hammett named Dave Hole as one of his favourite guitarists, saying "His slide playing kills me.” People everywhere took notice. When veteran rock and blues guitarist Gary Moore heard SHORT FUSE BLUES he was so impressed that he sought out Dave to invite him to do two European tours together. They played stadiums and arenas and concluded with two memorable nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Hole’s records and live performances are jam packed with soaring slide guitar and passionate vocals. "Nothing interferes with Hole's searing guitar when he is in full flight," says Rolling Stone. Guitar World agrees, saying, "Hole produces solo upon blistering solo with slide work that is exhilaratingly relentless." "While many bottleneck players base their styles on a few patented patterns, Dave Hole sprays a steely fire all over the strings, navigating stratospheric leaps with the greatest of ease," wrote Guitar Player. "Hole has a molten tone that will harden into a hopeless tangle, then bust loose for some old-fashioned catharsis", said New York magazine, "He's a modernist mining a classic blues vein”. Blues Revue noted "If this guy played with any more feeling he'd have to go on Prozac. Dave Hole is not only a superb guitarist with a distinctive sound, he performs heart-felt vocals with the depth and credibility of any blues headliner touring today ... hard driving rocking blues ... he is electricity incarnate!"
Hole’s STEEL ON STEEL album was produced by Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Luther Allison, Santana), and featured twelve original compositions. Down Beat said of the album, "Harrowing slide-guitar solos and rampaging vocals ... wickedly seductive, playfully inventive."
His next album was recorded in Chicago with some of that city's best blues players. The dynamic result of these sessions was TICKET TO CHICAGO. The album featured Hole's sizzling slide guitar playing and was fire-powered by the talents of bassist Johnny B. Gayden (Albert Collins), drummer Ray "Killer" Allison (Buddy Guy), and pianist Tony Z (Larry McCray, Buddy Guy). "It was incredible to be able to play with musicians of this caliber and it forced me to really extend myself," claims Hole, who even added horns (courtesy of legendary arranger Gene Barge) and harmonica (from Billy Branch) to a few songs.
Next came OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, containing 12 new tracks that bore further testimony to his astounding guitar virtuosity, further endearing him to his growing world-wide legion of fans. Hole’s only live album to date, THE LIVE ONE, was recorded over two nights in Chicago and one night in Perth and captures the full-blooded excitement of his live show - a power-house representation of a one-of-a-kind talent. WORKING OVERTIME was nominated for a prestigious American NAIRD Award and UNDER THE SPELL won an Australian ARIA Award.
When pressed for career highlights Hole cites “having the opportunity to jam with some of my heroes such as Buddy Guy and with Albert Collins at the Royal Albert Hall in London. There was also the magic night when Otis Rush came to see me in Chicago and wound up joining me on stage for the entire second half of the show.”