Nick Cody: Hi, this is Nick from musicfortheheadandheart.buzz and I’m with Scott Wainwright. Good morning to you Scott.
Scott W.: A very good morning.
Nick Cody: So I thought we’d start off by talking about the blues, which I understand that’s primarily… I’m not a big fan of genres, but that’s kind of the style. So how did you get into being interested in writing and playing?
Scott W.: The blues thing is just what came out, if I’m honest. In all honesty, I never ever set out to be, to play anything in the blues style. I do touch on a load of different stuff with all my music, and influences are coming from absolutely everywhere. I’d say, what made me pick up a guitar in the first place is wanting to write songs and express myself. At school, I was particularly interested in the arts and in English, although I was no good at any of those things. Not academically. Art, I could’ve probably, but academically, no, I could never apply myself to academia as it were. I had this desire to want to write, to write lyrics and express stuff. And I think sort of a friend of mine suggested we learn to play guitars.
At that point, our were into hip hop music, so I like the, again, the street poetry, that sort of stuff. It was from there, I sort of got into… My parents had quite a vast taste in stuff, and I sort of slipped into the Beatles and from the Beatles into Bob Dylan, and I suppose from Bob Dylan, that’s where I started, discovered all this sort of raw music that’s just played on a guitar. And it’s from there, it’s tracing it all back to there, and tracing it from what were Bob Dylan’s influences, and just going from that place of here’s a guy with a guitar and he initially starts off with a guitar writing songs. That was really when I wanted to, and that’s really where I started. So I suppose when I started playing and I started singing and started writing, this is what came out.
Nick Cody: Well Dylan, honestly, I mean I saw Dylan in the seventies you know, he’s the only artist I ever queued all night to see.
Scott W.: Yeah, wow.
Nick Cody: And is an extraordinary, still playing, and still touring after all these years. So you started playing at what’s what sort of age?
Scott W.: I was, about 18 actually, when I, yeah, 18 that’s when I first started learning to play guitar, shall we say, and as soon as I started, as soon as I got some chords together, I started writing songs. That’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t really learn anybody else’s songs. I had a few lessons, I did some classical guitar lessons, but my teacher did sort of say to me after a while saying, “You’re going to have to apply yourself a bit more to the discipline of playing classical guitar. You can’t be improvising on pieces,” which was what was happening. You’ve got to really sit there, so he said, “You need to make your mind up what sort of playing you want to do because I like your playing, but if you’re going to play classical guitar, you’ve got to follow these pieces of music.” And then we come back to the academic thing, I’m just not cut out for following things as they should be I suppose. It’s always been a problem. A blessing or curse, I don’t know.
Nick Cody: Well, I mean, who knows, in some alternate universe that maybe Scott Wainwright, hip-hop artist, or Scott Wainwright, classical virtuoso guitarist, but we’re very pleased that we have Scott doing your own thing. We’re big fans on Music for the Head and Heart of not totally categorizing, because the love of music is great love of music.
Scott W.: Yeah.
Nick Cody: So when you’re writing a song, what’s kind of usually your starting point? Is it a musical thing? Is it a lyric? Does it vary? How does that work?
Scott W.: Well, because my music, I do a lot of instrumental pieces as well. I’m a big fan of instrumental music as well. So I’ve got vocal pieces and instrumental pieces. Somebody asked me this recently and again I was stumbling around trying to find an answer. With a lot of songs, I tend to start, I might start with a lyrical idea, and that’d be something I want to express, but not always. Sometimes I’ll just be playing, and something will, there’ll be, I’ll start hearing something. I’m thinking, “Okay” and I may be able to just… I don’t know. So I’ve just hum until words appear and then we’ve got a line here, and then we’re thinking, “Okay, where’s this line going to go from there? Where are we going to go? What we’re going to say from this point.”
A lot more now I like to, so I’ll be quite economic with the lyrical content. I like to just get to the point, I’m not… When I first started, I loved that Bob Dylan thing, 25 verses, let’s do it, but after a while I found that… Although I have done songs in that sort of style, actually what suits me better is quick bursts of words, and get to the point. If indeed there is a point, because I like to leave them quite open naturally. Because I think all good art is as much for the, as the viewer, or the listener, or the reader, the watcher, whatever, as it is for the artist. I sort of done my part, when I’ve done the, when I’ve written the song, and it’s up to other people what they take from that. But as with an instrumental, there’s no real starting point with an instrumental I suppose, I just play around with stuff. Stuff starts happening and then the stuff that I’m happy with that, it’s piecing stuff together.
I might have several different pieces that I think I’ll be able to work into that, and that into that, and all these things, they grow them all, you’re playing live, all of them’s growing. I’ll listen back to songs I’ve recorded 10 years ago that I play now and the lyrics are different. I don’t know where at some point I’ve got rid of lines, so I’ve done it there and then, I’ve just, maybe I’d forgotten what the line were and replaced it with something else. But definitely, yeah, it’s an organic process when you’re playing them live as well I find as well.
Nick Cody: And you’re a working musician and I think there’s a lot of people have all kinds of myths about, “I’m going to be a working musician.” What do you love most about it and what’s the biggest challenge about it?
Scott W.: The biggest challenge for me is the… Well there’s, I mean there’s several big challenges, but obviously keeping yourself in work is quite a challenge. But I’ve found the biggest challenge is a lot of the traveling, often on your own as a solo performer. I do some duo stuff as well, but primarily as a solo performer it’s a very lonely… So I’m wandering into places and you’re on your own, you play on your own, you’ll have your break, hit middle sets on your own, and then go home on your own. I find that you’ve got to gear yourself up for that, something that I have to keep on, I have to really sort of drive… I’m a homebody as well, so I’m part gypsy, part homebody. I love to be at home. That’s one of the biggest challenges I suppose.
What do I like most about it? Well, at end of the day, I am my own boss. I do as I please, and what I always dreamed of as a… I think back to sort of being 10, 11, I dreamed of doing something with the creativity that I felt inside of myself, you know what I mean? And whatever that would be, and I used to think, “Well, how possibly could you ever sustain yourself from doing this creative stuff? Other people seem to do it, but is it luck, is it hard work?” I’d say it were both of those things, but being working class, I suppose, it’s about hard graft, getting down and getting out there. I do a lot of gigs a year. People say, “Well, how do you earn a living at it?” “Well, because I keep on gigging.”
Nick Cody: Yeah.
Scott W.: That’s what you have to do.
This one is called The Weekender.
The recording side is what I love the most, I love recording, but again, we’re in times now where recorded music is somehow, it’s so hard to paste the lid on that and earn any serious income from that. Not that’s why you set out to do it, but it costs so much to do.
Nick Cody: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Scott W.: It’s one of those things, it needs to make some money, and obviously keep making it.
Nick Cody: Yeah.
Scott W.: That’s the way I look at it. But yeah, what I always set out to do is what will record, and that’s what I enjoy. I do, I love playing. When I get there, I sit in front of an audience, I do love that, but there’s something very special about me getting that album in my hands and saying, “Ah, this is it, this is what I wanted to make.” So I don’t know if I really answered the question there.
Nick Cody: How’s music? I mean, I have my own ideas, but I’m interested from your point of view as a working musician, because a lot of the people we interview here point out that there’s the craft of playing and writing, and then there’s the, “I need to be able to feed my cats and pay the mortgage at the end of the month.” So the practical considerations, how is technology and the music sort of industry changed since you’ve started out?
Scott W.: Well my first band that we ever played in, my first gigs were in 1998, and we were just started seeing the internet appear at that point. And obviously I’d grown up without the internet, so as the internet come along, obviously at this point I’m in my early twenties when the internet’s really started taking hold, and we had a bass player in the band who was a bit younger than I was and he was straight away tech savvy. I remember him designing a website and I was thinking, “What on earth, what on earth is any… Who’s going to look at this?” You sort of couldn’t see where it would go. I think that the one thing that technology has added to it is back in the sort of like ’97, ’98 when we were sort of starting out with the gigs, we’d go to the venues with a poster.
Nick Cody: Yes.
Scott W.: After we’d been to the venues to get the gig in the first place, and then we’d go with a poster to put up. We’d end up with 20 posters around, in around the area, and that’s the way you told people that were happening, and obviously that for years and years and years, that’s how people did it. And to some degree, we still do that now, but very much now it’s more about having the social media presence into it, and having the music there. But I think what comes along with that, is that we’ve got so much more stuff with just fingertips, it’s very hard to hone in. Why were ’70s or ’60s music better than it is now? Well, it might not have been, but I think it were people’s were able to hone in more on a particular area and there weren’t as many distractions. People saved up for an album.
Certainly when I… I mean even when I were growing up in eighties, my pocket money, it would be, I’d save up and buy a vinyl album, or cassette, or when CDs appeared, I’d save up for those things. You sort of treasure that thing from time, because it’d be awhile before you got something else.
Nick Cody: Yeah.
Scott W.: Now we can find it instantly and we can start to discard it instantly. So that’s one of my criticisms, but also the positive point is, yeah, I can find music from anywhere in the world right here, right now. I can see what kind of music they’re making in around, I can look at that and I can take whatever I want from that. I can enjoy that, and artists like me can, their music can be enjoyed all over the world. Whereas before we were, you’d obviously need the record deal and the distribution deal. Whereas now the video we’re making now, quite possibly somebody in Japan could watch this.
Nick Cody: Yes.
Scott W.: I think that’s the amazing thing about technology. But I think the trick now is going to be, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? As listeners. I don’t mean that as in what I thinks good and you thinks good, they could be very different things. It’s how do we, us as a listener get down to what we really want to hear.
Nick Cody: Yeah. Well the idea of this platform is exactly that. Is to say let’s take technology and let’s get people who are, have an absolute passion and love for what they’re doing, and start to join up the dots so people get to hear about people. Probably people have completely different tastes and if people want to find out about you, what’s the best place for them to find out about you?
Scott W.: Well, obviously all the social media, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, but I have a website, scottwainwright.co.uk. From there you can access all the social media and there’s a… I have a list, all the gigs, all the bands in town thing. But actually if you, to be fair, if you just googled Scott Wainwright, you’d find videos would pop up. It’s there. Thankfully there’s not many other musicians going under this name. There’s a wrestler, but if you google and find him, that’s not me.
Nick Cody: Not you in your formative years?
Scott W.: No, no, he’s got no shirt on. I generally have a shirt on and the guitar. But yes, the website is probably the best way to… And from there you can find obviously Bandcamp, you can find links to, if you stream on Spotify and all that and all that stuff.
Nick Cody: Then finally from, I mean, you sound like you’re somebody who sort of listened to a lot of different music and you’re already referenced a number of artists that I absolutely love, I think we probably share, agreement to a lot of things.
Scott W.: Yeah.
Nick Cody: If you’re going to pick sort of two or three albums that you’d go, “You know what, those for me are pivotal albums,” and they may change on a daily basis. But for you, for today, what would come to the surface of things that you like?
Scott W.: Well, this will probably surprised people because of the music I play and I enjoy listening to are probably… To me they’re not far apart because I think it’s all connected ultimately, but the albums that have sustained me for most of my life of being… There’s a rotating sort of 10 that I sort of, that I go for. I’ll just name a couple of them. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys, is one of my favorite album, but also one of theirs called Friends, which is an album after Pet Sounds, it’s just an album that, I don’t know it has always just spoke to me. But I also enjoy Miles Davis in Asylum where… If I’m going to choose a Bob Dylan album, which always makes me top 10, this might be surprising because it’s a later one, Love and Theft, I think is a masterpiece. Although I do love Blood on the Tracks and Desire, but Love and Theft, it just came out at a time. Just, I don’t know, it’s probably the time that that came out that more I remember.
I also love Swordfishtrombones, that’s Tom Waits. I love, go represents some women here with Kate Bush, Hounds of Love, I love that. Now me mind has gone a bit blank now. I mean, I’d say those are the ones that stay with me constantly. Beatles, Revolver. Yeah, if I were to choose a Beatles album, although it was Sergeant Pepper’s that introduced me to the world of… I remember, the funny thing was I went into Hip-Hop and I read an interview with Run-DMC, and they were listing their 10 favorite albums, and they listed Sergeant Pepper’s in it, and I’m thinking, “These are rappers, why do they like that?” So I wanted a treat and so I said to my mum for Christmas, “Any chance you can buy me a copy of Sergeant Pepper’s for Christmas?” She’s, “Why would you want that?” “So I just thought I hear it.”
So I heared that, that’s what opened the door to all sorts. Again, I suppose Sergeant Pepper’s, it sticks, but my favorite Beatles album is probably Revolver, but it again, it’s one of those things that stayed with me. I’m trying to think, me mind’s gone completely blank now on albums.
Nick Cody: Well, if we are on a desert Island, let me tell you, I would be very happy with your selection. You’ve ticked a lot of boxes across a lot of genres, and my belief is that good music is really good music, and a lot of the time it’s ahead of the curb, and sometimes, I mean you mentioned Tom Waits, is a great example, Miles Davis. A lot of the time people, hear these artists and go, what is it?
Scott W.: Yes, yeah.
Nick Cody: I thank you very much for being on Music for the Head and Heart.
Scott W.: Yeah, thank you. Thank you.
Nick Cody: It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. So it’s scottwainwright.co.uk.
Scott W.: That’s where you’ll find me.
Nick Cody: From there people can look at gigs and look, if they want to book you, they can look at booking you from there.
Scott W.: Yeah, yeah. There’s the email on there to book.
Nick Cody: Great, thank you so much.
Scott W.: Thank you.
Hello, I’m Scott Wainwright, and this is Rolling Down the Road.