I’m not God’s gift to rockabilly. There’s great players out there, and some of them deserve a lot more than they’ve gotten.
I wanted to go back to Sun. Unfortunately, most of the gear is gone from Sun. The way I take it now, it’s almost like a tourist destination. So, it would have been pretty difficult to have brought all the gear into Sun to make it like it was in the ’50’s.
Normally, you go into the recording studio, make a record and then take it on the road and you think… wow… I could have done THIS to it, or something.
The jazz chord substitutions in a country song… that was another thing that bent people’s ears. I guess that my favorites are the unique ones. It’s not how fast you play. It’s that unique blending of different stuff I’m most proud of.
It is hard to play Blue Suede Shoes. I know everyone has heard it 10 million times, and that makes it even harder to play it, but there’s a very laid back tempo on that. I was surprised at how slow it really was.
With the Stray Cats at least, we really took the music somewhere else. First, we wrote our own songs. That’s a real weak point in modern classics if you do rockabilly or blues.
We weren’t afraid to mix some crazy styles into the standard rockabilly look. We also took a lot of different musical influences that were part of that era.
It’s not about how loud you turn the amp up. That’s not what makes it sound big. What makes it sound big is fooling around with different delays and reverb settings.
A lot of people put all that stuff on a pedestal, and they won’t touch it. But I don’t think that’s the reason they did that. I think they played that stuff out of pure joy.
I didn’t want to take the guitar solos down note-for-note, but more or less use them as a map, and keep all the hooks from the guitar playing, and let myself come through.
Elvis is not so difficult as Johnny Cash because his voice is so distinctive. If you try to copy Johnny Cash, it’s just going to sound dumb.
I basically sat down for a month, with all the Sun stuff I could find and just picked out my favorites. I didn’t think that they were indicative of ’54 to ’57, although I tried to stay within that period.
Since the big band started I’m just always swamped with movies and things. It certainly pays the bills and it’s very satisfying, because I get to write all these big charts and all this crazy music.
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me to show them Stray Cat Strut and that little diminished run on the C. I guess my brain is wired backwards. I don’t know what possessed me to do that, but I did.