Grammy Award Winner Paul Nelson
MWN: Hello! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer the following questions. Music, Why Not! Is very honored to have the chance to ask you a few questions! Your talent and dedication for what you do has brought you a great amount recognition. What advice could you give a young musician who is just getting their feet in the water?
Paul Nelson: My advice would be to do it all if you love music and want to be involved with that, produce, engineer as well as play you never know where the journey will take you
MWN: Just to name a few. You have toured with musicians such as Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Leslie West, Robben Ford, Joe Perry, Slash. What would you say is one of the most memorable experiences you have had in your career is? And how has this amazing musical journey been like?
Paul Nelson: I would have to say that winning a Grammy was one of my most prized achievements. Another would have to be playing with the artisst that you mentioned i have played all over the world many many times over… Japan was great, China was great as were many parts of Europe I’ve been very lucky to do what i do and continue to do so… so far the journey it has been fantastic playing all over the world doing what you love playing with fantastic musicians… its a great job…
MWN: More specifically you had the chance to work with Johnny Winter. Can you tell me a little bit more about that experience?
Paul Nelson: Johnny with an idol of my growing up so it was very exciting to perform with him I knew most of his material as he did with Muddy Waters so are playing really fit the minute we started working together… we became very close friends fairly instantly and he entrusted me to produce him and play with him. we tour the world together it was a huge honor and a hell of a lot of fun.
MWN: After reading about all your accomplishments in this industry, all the great musicians you have worked with, and all the amazing work you have created and produced. What are your thoughts on the music industry today and about the life of a musician?
Paul Nelson: It seems to becoming increasingly difficult for artist starting out I’ve been fortunate that I built a career and like I said played with many notable artists and secured my position in the music industry. But I find for others that it’s very hard to get noticed, get deals, and perform. Something really needs to be done in this regard there was a big push with music in schools that had people learn music but then what happens when they do?… many strides have to be made to follow through with helping after musicians are educated
MWN: Your new album was released through Sony- Bad Ass Generation. How do you feel to finally release something that you worked on so hard- What did you get out of making this album? Anything in particular that you discovered about yourself and your sound?
Paul Nelson: I have to say that the music poured out of me on this release i assembled a great band of musicians and their talents were truly inspirational. It really helps when you’re surrounded by great talent specially in the writing process Morten Friedheim on vocals Chris Axleander on Bass Danny Louise from Govt Mule on keys and chriss redden on drums. I really wanted to re-create a 70s vibe but yet keep the production current we are all big fans of guitar oriented music and wanted to give this release the same type of feeling as a release that might’ve been released in the 70s. We are all big fans of jam bands classic rock southern rock blues bands like ZZ Top Led Zeppelin Aerosmith Boston Queen these are the influences that helped me to shape this recording
MWN: How was the recording and production process like for Bad Ass Generation?
Paul Nelson: It was a total lockdown I had everyone flown in from around the world we all just started listening to anything we could find from the 70s as inspiration I especially was listening to the production value of the drums the guitar and the vocal vocal sounds… so I started writing material lyrics and music and we started rehearsing recording right on the spot… there were no throw away songs everything we did made it on the recordings
MWN: I am a bit curious as to why you decided to name the record Bad Ass Generation. Can you elaborate a bit on this?
Paul Nelson: It’s pretty funny actually when we start playing some of the rough tracks for people in the studio and people were using terms like wow that’s real bad ass or I pulled out a guitar and someone said that’s a badass guitar and I exclaimed “what is this some kind a badass generation”? and the rest is history! The term really fit with the style of music I was trying to create
MWN: You have studied with Steve Vai, and Mike Stern. You have also been involved in various genres from metal to jazz. How did this shape your craft?
Paul Nelson: It made me more versatile and that’s reflected on this new release as well. I always knew that I had to play many styles of music to make it. I was groomed as a performing artist and a session player that’s how I actually met Johnny in the studio ha ha
MWN: A producer plays an enormous role in the making of music. I would say the producer has one of the hardest jobs in the industry. You have one of the highest recognitions in the music industry- a Grammy for the production of Johnny Winter’s album: Step Back. Can you describe how it felt to win such a prestigious award? Was it really nostalgic to accept it after the passing of Johnny?
Paul Nelson: I guess you’re right I will say that I was also nominated for producing and playing on Joe Louis Walker’s album on mascot this year which was a great honor as well I’ve had several nominations the Grammys. but the one for Johnny was very special. It was the pinnacle of our time together Johnny had never received a Grammy for his own work and I was very proud that he gave me honor on me and that he succeeded in aceaving that goal… and yes it was very mix night of emotions receiving that honor at the Grammys…
MWN: Speaking of being a producer you worked with “Los Angeles-based record label Cleopatra Records….a Tribute to Junior Wells album” How was that like?
Paul Nelson: Actually i’m still working on that one all the tracks are done and I have the blues brother horns section recorded already i’m just bringing on the guests now. it’s a very special project will be some really big names on this I can’t wait to get this one out
MWN: You produced Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty Documentary (which premiered at SXSW). How was that experience like and why did you decide to take on the role of being the producer?
Paul Nelson: Actually I’m executive producer but I’m also in the film which is about johnny’s icon history and his amazing comeback. Greg Oliver was a director (Lemmy Doc) and I brought him on and had him come on the road with us for about three years he followed John and I to Japan, China all over Europe the US and even filmed our appearances on David Letterman and on the Jimmy Kimmel show. It’s a very important documentary for many reasons. One thing about Johnny was that he had taken me under his wing he was a big fan of my playing as well and always wanted to see me do well.
MWN: Lastly to finish off the interview. I like to end on what the future holds. What can we expect in the months to come? Are there any tours in sight? I want to also take the time to thank you for answering my questions. I look forward to reading them all and to the future of your music. Thank You!
Paul Nelson: I continue to play tour produce all of the above i have more major tour dates coming up for my own music under the Paul Nelson Band in the East Coast, Canada, West Coast, midwest as well as shows with the Johnny Winter All-Star band I put together Johnny to honor Johnny i have had friends like Warren Haynes, Edgar Winter, Sonny Landreth on board for these… as well as some great projescts in the works… i have been talking with good friend Derek St Holmes and we are discussing working together on a new recording… and guitar tracks i layed down for the #1 artist in China on the Voice with Brian Adam’s band comming out soon… thanks so much for the interview – Paul Nelson