The music on SIX represents a long road. We got a solid start in the summer of 2001 with "Hammer" and "Place for Me." We were back a few months later with "Guiding Star" and "24 & 10." But interruptions (like the recording of a new Supertramp CD, a CVBand UK tour and a 6 month Supertramp world tour) kept us in and out of the studio for almost a year. We picked up a few more tracks each time we were all in town together, and much of the writing went down on the road in hotel rooms and backstage at the arenas.
1) Lay Your Hammer Down: This song is about the conflict between the unions and the individual. It's very driving but with a blues-weariness to it that demonstrates the frustration of the worker. I played my old ES-335 to begin the solo but switched to my '58 strat at the break.....
2) Place for Me: This is a heavy tune about a failing friendship. It just keeps building thanks to Steve DiStanislao's mighty drum track. I like the way the clean strat breaks and the acoustic 12-string compliment the fat solo tone at the end. This was my 1954 Les Paul....the same guitar I used on the 1996 track "Slang Justice."
3) 24 & 10: I was inspired to write this piece after playing on a movie called "Collateral Damage." The composer had me detune an acoustic guitar to a bazaar tuning, to replicate a sitar. Days after the session I pulled that guitar out of the case and realized it was still in the same tuning. The song just came straight away, inspired by the sound. Steve plays tablas and Cliff has some backwards fretless bass in there. My old 1961 Strat came out for this one, same guitar I played on the 1998 track "Slingshot."
4) Give a Try: Written backstage in Zurich, Switzerland. I found a locker room with good acoustics and began to sing the lyrics. I had a complete melody before picking up a guitar, and envisioned the song having no guitar except for the solos. Jim Cox plays wonderfu,l soulful organ fills in the last verse and supports my theory: nothing compliments an electric guitar like the B-3. (I used my 1969 Les Paul Deluxe with real PAFs on this one)
5) Maggies Ladder: This is a "barn-burner" instrumental that gives each player on the track a little space. Cliff Hugo plays some amazing bass lines and there is a slamming, stretched out solo from Steve at the end. High energy blues-rock-fusion, inspired by Jeff Beck and ?
6) Come Down Tonight: The spirit of this song is very genuine. It's about the joy and warmth we feel on the road from our audiences. There is nothing like that moment when you know that, even though we're unknown and our songs are being heard for the first time, we have just won the crowd over. I played my 1951 Gibson J-50 acoustic, my '65 ES-335 through a '63 Gibson Falcon amp for the solo, and a '65 strat under the choruses. I like the combination of tones on this one.
7) Rumor Mill: This was a live track that Jim Cox, Cliff, Steve and I played one Friday afternoon. We have to give Jim arrangement credit for slowing down the choruses and bringing the blues feeling of the tune to the forefront.
8) Guiding Star: The upright bass played by Cliff on this track brings out a completely different vibe of the band. Because there are no keyboards, I used many guitars: Teles, Martin acoustics, Strats and even a 1956 Supro Dual Tone for slide. We had a lot of fun in the studio singing all the background vocal parts on this one.
9) Raimund: I wrote this solo acoustic piece backstage while on tour in Canada. It was written for my dear friend Raimund Tillmann who passed away last year. There will probably never be a bigger supporter of this band than Raimund, and we truly miss him. My goal was to write an acoustic song that rocks, showing both sides of his amazing personality.
10) Yes It Is: This is a Lennon, McCartney song that was originally the b-side of the "Ticket to Ride" single. I've always loved the John lead vocal and the George volume pedal guitar stuff. But what I didn't realize was the subtle blues undertones once you strip away the 3 part harmony. Originally intended as a guitar and vocal solo, we ended up with a tambourine and bass part on the final version.