Fireworks Magazine Online 74 - Interview with SIMO


Interview with JD Simo by Mónica Castedo-López

Having first heard their material at an intimate showcase for their second album, 'Let Love Show The Way', in central London back in November, Fireworks was instantly taken aback by the quality of Simo's musicianship and the heartfelt tracks they created. The Nashville-based trio formed by singer/guitarist JD Simo, drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro offers an amalgam of Blues, Fusion and Psychedelic Rock, and has the blessing of the institution that is Joe Bonamassa. In early January Fireworks called frontman JD

.SIMO Interview

To start with, please give us some background on the band.

I'm from Chicago, started playing guitar when I was five and playing professionally at clubs when I was around ten. I left home early to go on the road, travelled all over and ended up in Nashville right before I turned 21. Here I played on records for several years. Adam is from Ohio, grew up playing in local bands and ended up moving to Nashville about nine years ago backing other artists and being a sideman. Elad is from Tel Aviv, Israel, relocated to the States to become a recording engineer and ended up working at one of the most prominent studios here in America called Blackbird, which is a studio that I worked at all the time when I was a session musician, and we met that way. The group formed basically out of improvisation when we got together and jammed. It felt so good and all of us were at a place where we kind of wanted to be part of something, but didn't know what we wanted to do necessarily. We just didn't want to continue in the avenues that we had already found employment in, so we found each other, we started playing with one another and we've been at it for several years. Last year in particular has been incredibly exciting because a lot of things started to line up for us business-wise and otherwise. At this point we're really grateful of the opportunities being presented to us. We're trying to do our best and play music that means something to us and leave it to people to like or not like.

Joe Bonamassa actually endorsed you. You must be thrilled! Tell us how that happened.

My goodness, yeah! Joe and I became friends several years ago. We had some mutual friends and first became email buddies, where we would email each other all the time. Then we became song buddies where we texted or called one another, and then we finally met in person and hung out about four years ago. We just hit it off like two peas in a pot. We're very similar in some ways and really became good friends. He's like a brother to me and we've got to know each other very well. Through the whole process of the building of the group he's always kind of been there. He and his manager recommended us to the president of our record label. Obviously he didn't need to do that, but I love him a lot and I am grateful I have him in my life.

You are now releasing your second full-length album, 'Let Love Show The Way'. Can you give us an overview of it?

Some of the songs have been knocking around our repertoire for the last couple of years and some are brand new, like the song 'Two Timin' Woman', which we wrote the day before we recorded it. We're very much a band that are always writing. There's never really a period when we're not cultivating new material, and usually we play new songs live to see how they're shaping up because that's a good way to know. Recording this album was really easy because we had a lot of material to choose from.

The album was pretty much recorded in a live setting, wasn't it?

Oh yes, overdubs are extremely minimal for us. I always sing live and obviously we all play live. If the take isn't a good take, we don't use it but we don't go back and fix things. We get a really good take from all three of us and then I'd put on an additional guitar part, or a percussion of some sort, or a background vocal. For us it is trying to capture a complete performance, much like they used to do. It's harder, but it yields better results.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

At the end of last year Simo supported Walter Trout around Europe, including the UK. How was it?

It was wonderful! First of all, to get the opportunity to play some of the prestigious rooms the first time over there was amazing. Walter was incredibly gracious, his crew and band were very kind and welcoming. I'll forever be grateful to them for allowing us to come along.

Are there any plans to come back soon?

Yes. Our US tour starts in a week and a half and will take us to the middle of March. Then we do England, France, Germany, Holland, in March and April. I believe we come back a second time in the summer to do a bunch of festivals.

I guess being this busy you had to leave your jobs?

Oh yes. It was a decision we all made a while ago. You really can't serve two masters. In the very beginning it was a difficult decision because basically you're choosing to give up your livelihood and that's a very scary thing, but this past year has been really wonderful for us with doors finally opening up.

You used the Allman Brothers Band's old house as your studio and played Duane Allman's 1957 gold-top Les Paul to record this album. How was the experience?

It was incredible. I have some really great friendships that I've had for years now with people in that camp. The opportunity to go set up in their old house and record...I didn't really think we'd get to do it, but it worked out. I met the gentleman who owns that guitar ten years ago and we've been friends since. He's been very kind to let me use it four times now.

Is there anything else that is important to get out there?

Aside from the promotion of the record and hoping someone likes what we do or comes to see us play. I think the world is a beautiful place and if we can share something positive, and that is, if we all just took a couple of minutes every day to try and do some random acts of kindness to people around us, I really think that this planet would be a much better place. I always say take care of yourself and take care of the people around you. It's up to us individually to decide to be happy, positive and kind, it's not a hard decision, really, and it feels good to do.

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