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Musos’ Guide Interviews Duke Garwood

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


Duke Garwood - Garden Of Ashes

  • Published in Albums


Blowing away the cobwebs of last year and accepting the impending doom of the apocalypse we have a saviour. Duke Garwood has returned with a new album in an attempt to provide us with a safe house or some form of sanctuary. In his own words Garwood describes the album as:-

“This record is fantasy music, Beautiful apocalypse love music, it doesn't hide from reality, but it could hide the listener from it all for a while.”

Garden Of Ashes is his 6th studio album and builds on the critically acclaimed album Heavy Love from a few years ago.  

It’s more of the same from South London’s most unlikely bluesman as he serves up a soothing realism that has an intensity that stops you in your tracks. Lead single ‘Coldblooded’ oozes with a hypnotic gruffness and haunting lyrics which are superbly complemented via his catchy fuzz guitar. Using a heap of metaphors to explain his sorrow at the current state of the world Garwood laments “Cold blooded in the blaze of the sun/Set the lizards free/Run before they burn”

Are we the lizards and is the sun the media onslaught we are subjected to? Garwood explains further that during the process for making this album he came to realise that we needed “To become masters of our fate and stop listening to the snake talkers who would steal our last breath. It’s time to go Elvis and shoot the cursed TV.” 

There has clearly been some deep soul searching which is evident in tracks like the title track which is sumptuous in its laid back tempo that describes natural beauty. This is continued within the album via ‘Sonny Boogie’ which acts as an escape from the impending doom and ‘Heat Us Down’ which is a straight up love song about the wonder and beauty that surrounds us all if we only open our eyes and ears to it.  

‘Sing To The Sky’ illustrates Duke’s strength to create an intense yet warming track which is drenched in a blues tradition yet is fresh and modern. This track sums up his ability and reassures us that as an artist for over 20 years, he has collected a clarity and ferocity that we all need to lend our ears too.

Garwood’s album is beautifully hypnotic as he spreads his vision like some old town crier who is predicting the end of the world. Yet whilst in the past these doom mongers may have been dismissed, Garwood acts more as a visionary that has glimpsed the future and he’s here to tell us that the future isn’t too bright. By his own admission he is an angry man. Yet he equally states that the world doesn’t need any more angry music. We think that Duke sums it up best "Everyone can turn on the TV and see the horror show, they don't need to hear it coming out the stereo. I’m trying to distil this frustrating feeling we all have right now into something more focused.”

Garden Of Ashes is available from amazon & iTunes.

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