Released recently through Heavenly Records, Duke Garwood’s most recent record Garden Of Ashes is his most heavenly yet (sorry). Carrying on his career-long tradition of gritty narratives and bone-shaking instrumentals, it’s pure music for the soul, and your bones will shake in the emotion way not the “OH MY BASS!” way.
To coincidence with that release, and Garwood’s recent stint around the UK, we popped over some questions and he proved the answers. We hope that the below provides you with enough information to entice you into this Londoner’s discography, and you can get lost in the wonder from there, enjoy:
Musos’ Guide: Now onto your sixth solo album, 'Garden of Ashes' sounds to be the most "accessible" record yet in terms of tone alone, in that your characteristic gruff sound is at an all time low, was this an intentional move or natural evolution?
Duke Garwood: I couldn't say exactly. It just happened this way. We guided the songs. If anything I can say I am harder on myself to create beautiful things. But I do let the songs live free. If they don't cut it. Out they go.
MG: In terms of evolution musically, which artists would you said have been most influential throughout your career, and which newer acts have had a significant effect (if any)?
DG: John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Minutemen, Tim Buckley, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Giuseppi Logan, Dmitri Shostakovich and Ennio Morricone. New acts would be Kreol Lovecall, Smoke Fairies, John J Presley, Lyenn, and Cactus Truck.
MG: As with your entire back catalogue, 'Garden of Ashes' effortlessly bridges across various genres, is this an intention of yours or simply a fortunate product of your musical prowess?
DG: You are very kind. It's a natural thing. The intention is always to make an album that entertains the mind, body and soul. Songs can make their own.
MG: You've guested on a number of records across the years, were any of those particularly memorable, and do you have any other compositions in the pipeline?
DG: Composing is always going on, I have had very good times recording with the Archie Bronson Outfit, and cutting tracks for Mark Lanegan. I particularly liked doing the horns for his new record, and the guitar for 'Bleeding Muddy Water'.
MG: Despite the less "gruff" nature of the new record, the vocal performance is as striking as always, do you view this as one of your musical strengths, and just any instrument in the repertoire?
DG: These days as my fingers get stiff in the icy weather, I see my voice as being one of my strengths. I like singing more and more as time goes by.
MG: Looking forward to the future, what are your goals and aspirations for the year ahead and beyond, and what hopes do you have for life beyond music?
DG: World peace of course. Make more good music. Beyond music I want to grow vegetables and fruits of exotic kinds.
MG: How would you describe your live shows, and how do they compare to the music on record, and which shows hold a particular place in your memory?
DG: I play every show like it's the last. My band is beautiful. Live is now. Records are an artefact to enjoy in your chosen comfort zone. The show in Privatclub, Berlin on the 19th February 2017 was a high point for energy and beauty.
MG: With the artwork of the record, why was that particular portrait chosen, and why was it chosen to be present in black and white, assuming there was a reason?
DG: It is a plate photograph taken in the old way. There is only one. It's real. The method reveals the subject.
MG: Finally, what are your favourite games (be it board, video, card or whatever) to play, and why?
DG: Gin rummy.
Weren’t those answers short and sweet? If you’d like to get to know Mr. Garwood a little better, you can catch him on tour with Mark Lanegan this summer (dates below). Additionally, you can watch and listen to the video for ‘Cold Blooded’ from that new record too, to get more of an audible feel for the man’s earthy sound (at the very bottom).
19th – Library, Birmingham, UK
20th – The Garage, Glasgow, UK
21st – Ritz, Manchester, UK
22nd – Koko, London, UK
25th – Live Music Hall, Cologne, Germany
26th – Gruenspan, Hamburg, Germany
27th – Gibson, Frankfurt, Germany
28th – Zeche, Bochum, Germany
29th – Rock Werchter, Werchter, Belgium
1st – Effenaar, Eindhoven, Netherlands
4th – Wizemann, Stuttgart, Germany
5th – Rockhouse, Salzburg, Austria
6th – A38, Budapest, Hungary