Sunday, March 6, 2011

EXCLUSIVE! Alain Johannes INTV!

With major ambition, talent, creativity and perseverance you can have it all. Just ask guitarist Alain Johannes, who, has shared the stage with Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, Queens of the Stone Age, recorded with Arctic Monkeys, Silverchair, members of Pearl Jam, UNKLE, No Doubt, Chris Cornell...the impressive list goes on and on. With all of this success and great respect from one's colleagues, the best way to celebrate is to share with a loved one. For Alain Johannes, who's best friend was his wife and musical partner, Natasha Shneider; celebrating, commemorating and sharing that same passion and fire is just as inspiring and invigorating as the work itself. As Alain has made his name in the music business through the years, along with Natasha, as they began to have it all, the duo were dealt a major blow as Natasha was stricken with cancer. As the musicians friends came out to support her and help raise funds for Alain and Natasha, she had succumbed to the disease and passed away in July 2008. Alain took his pain and sorrow and channeled it into music, linking up with the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures and then crafting a solo album, Spark, which is his tribute to Natasha. In one of the most heartbreaking and love filled interviews I have ever done, I had a chance to speak with Alain as we discussed his solo work, his late love and his long career. Take a look at my interview with Alain below:

You have played for a plethora of acts, what was it like finally making your own record?

Spark is my first solo record but I never thought about it being that. It was a catharsis and the only way I know to express the depth of emotion and the intensity of the loss of Natasha. The process of recording it felt just like making an Eleven record I could feel her presence so strongly like we were collaborating again.

What does the title “Spark” mean?

Spark refers directly to Natasha. Her ability to make something happen on the deepest level in any musical situation. Igniting that high intensity environment where creativity and flow within it are possible.

Spark features a variety of guitar styles, did you have this going in mind, that you did not just want to make a rock record? Or did the styles just flow and come about organically?

The record was written on my cigarbox guitar which has a warmth and percussive quality that allowed my expression within the songs to have a completeness to them. The other textures I added as spice but the songs survive without them.

I grew up listening to all kinds of music and that infused my playing with unusual flavors I guess but they come out of me as needed for each piece of music.

You produced, sang and played guitar on the record. While doing all of this, how sensitive were you of picking out who else would be involved in the project since it was so close to you?

Dear talented friends offered to help me record the album but I knew I had to be alone to do it. I ended recording and mixing the whole thing in a 4 day period kinda in a trance. Each moment led to the next and then it was done.

The record is an ode to your talented late wife, was it hard making this record without her?

Actually I felt so connected to Natasha in the process. That dialogue we had pushing together towards that wonderful place where the creation contains as much of the original inspiration as possible was fully present. Me physically here and Natasha alive inside me.

Now that “Spark” is out and done, do you feel any vindication?

Not exactly vindication but content to have been able to express in music that blessing that was our musical life and our time together and the loss of it.

How do you think Natasha would liked it?

Yes, Si Da Oui.

Your close friend Josh Homme had some praise for the record and helped you release it. How did your kinship with Josh happen?

We met officially on tour opening up for Queens on the beginning of the Rated R tour. We got along like a house on fire where no one's hurt.

While you were recording the record you were on tour with Them Crooked Vultures. What was that experience like? Did you ever think you would be sharing a stage with John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl on drums and backing Josh Homme in another band?

Amazing experience. I didn't see that one coming. JPJ is a mind blowing and giving master musician. Dave is incredible at everything he touches and Josh is a creative power of the highest order. Plus it was fun and always inventive and full of life.

Seeing you play with Them Crooked Vultures was explosive, that whole band is just an experiance. There have been talks of a follow up record, will it happen?

I sure hope so. And I hope to be included again.

You have worked with a number of artists from Chris Cornell, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Arctic Monkeys to Adam Lambert. Who would you say is your favorite to work with? Even if they are not on that list?

They're all different experiences but I've enjoyed them all. It's the universal aspect of communicating through music and the infinite variations and forms the process can take that is fascinating to me and draws me into the collaboration.