“Apparently everyone likes everything I hate!”
Lyrics by Peter Hodgson
Matt Schofield chats with us about his return to Australia, the world of content creation and, most importantly, the setup behind the virtuoso
This writer has lost track of how many times people have slipped into his DMs with videos of Matt Schofield accompanied by a comment like “Holy shit!” Have you got seen this guy?’
Schofield is one of those players who seems to have an almost supernatural connection to their instrument – that indefinable thing where it feels like the guitar and its player are one. And although he has already visited Australia, his next tour will be the first real opportunity for a wider audience to experience his particular brand of blues rock.
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“Yeah, I’m visiting properly this time,” Schofield said on an afternoon Zoom call. “We came for a gig and that was the extent of my Australian touring experience so far. We came all the way to a concert! But now we’re going to hang out and hit some spots this time. So I’m very happy about that.
It will be a chance for all of us to see the Manchester native with his trio for real, as it is meant to be, rather than on YouTube. “I’m not a content creator,” he says. “And although there are all these videos online, I don’t even really do it. It became its own monster with the YouTube and Instagram clips, because for years I was like, ‘I hate this’. I don’t want you to film me,” and now it took on a life of its own and I just said, “Okay.”
“It’s been weird navigating the way the music industry has gone for someone like me, you know? So I’m a very reluctant content creator: I just do gigs and people film them.
Schofield acknowledges that the awareness that you are being filmed can alter the energy of a performance. “I had a lot of rants about it: it changes the concert, you know? As soon as you start recording or filming a concert, you actually change how it works. But at this point, I’ve kind of come full circle and it’s like, apparently, everyone likes everything I hate! But you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.
While Schofield’s playing is in the spirit of the blues greats, he sounds like none other than himself, as he spins in fiery jazz lines interspersed with heartfelt blues-rock phrasing.
“He’s informed by heroes, isn’t he?” When I was coming of age in the late 80s and early 90s, it was a Strat world, you know? And Eric Clapton was doing blues nights at the Royal Albert Hall, so we had Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan and Eric all playing Strats. And of course, I was also inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan. So I was very informed by the Strat era of the blues-boom of the late 80s. Steve Ray?’ Well, I love Stevie, but no, I don’t want to be Stevie.
But rather than picking up a different guitar just for fun, Schofield stuck with the Strat because it was the style of guitar he felt most comfortable with. “I love the Gibson ES-335s – BB King was my first hero – but when I play them I don’t hear as much about me as I do with the Strat. And yes, there is a bit of a fight in a Strat. You have to work at it, and you have to put something into it to get something out of it. And that was my thing. You have to play it loud!”
Since 2005, this volume has typically been achieved through Two Rock amplifiers, including a signature model released in 2012. That said, Schofield’s current rig is based not on their signature model, but on a newer Two Rock boasting improvements put in place since the company changed hands a few years ago.
“Now they are even better! One of my best friends, Eli Lester, bought the company about five or six years ago, and Max Skinner, who has always been with them, is another dear friend of mine. It’s like my best friends run the business, so we work together. So now, actually, I also use the Classic Reverb now, which is one of their newer models, which even surpassed my signature model, which was my previous favorite.
As far as guitars go, Schofield’s main whip is the SVL 61, a guitar heavily based on his own ’61 Strat but augmented with Callahan hardware and custom-wound SVL pickups and a slightly more modern feel without betraying its values. vintage-inspired. “I have my SVL guitars that my friend of 30 years, Simon Law, makes in the UK. Then there’s my Mad Professor overdrive pedal that we worked on together, the Supreme. It’s an overdrive two-stage signing, and it’s okay in the Two Rock and I’m good to go. I try to keep things as simple as possible these days and think about playing rather than gear…although there is always something!