Simo are a rock trio to be reckoned with. Rooted in improvisational blues-rock the band aim to keep their music as vivid and alive as possible. We spoke to bass player Elad and main man, guitarist and vocalist, JD Simo after their spellbinding set at this year's Ramblin' Man Fair.
PHOTOGROUPIE (PG): YOUR SET TODAY WAS REALLY ASTONISHING, THE CROWD WERE LOVING WHAT YOU WERE DOING UP THERE.
JD SIMO (JD): It's lovely when there's not a divide between the audience and what you're doing on stage. I don't like the whole pompous rock star showboating thing, I like it to be a connection where we're all in it together. When that happens that's really beautiful, positive and loving.
PG: YOUR MUSIC FOLLOWS A VERY IMPROVISATIONAL STYLE, HOW DID THAT DEVELOP?
JD: It's how the group formed, we didn't have any songs so all we did was jam and that's a big part of how we write. Even in a structured song, just the concept of improvisation - that you're not tied to how to perform something, keeps it primal and fresh. To me, that's what rock and roll is. Rock and roll isn't scripted.
PG: YOU USED DUANE ALLMAN'S GUITAR TO RECORD YOUR RECORD, WHICH WAS ALSO RECORDED IN THEIR OLD HOUSE. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
JD: It was a very happenstance thing. It was very last minute and we thought it would be fun. We were just going to record a couple of songs in Macon, Georgia, we weren't going to record a whole album and we ended up getting all this work done in two days. Duane's guitar was there and it's owned by a very good friend of mine and I'd played the guitar many times before. My friend knew we were going to the house to record, so he said 'the guitar's there, use it.' It was a very wonderful experience. Duane's been gone so long so to get to pay respect to what an influence him, Barry and the original band are to us was great.
PG: THE ALBUM WAS ORIGINALLY MEANT TO BE TOTALLY DIFFERENT, WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
JD: We had made a whole record which got us our record deal, and that was what was gonna be released. The Macon stuff was just supposed to be bonus tracks. We were so pleased with what we had recorded that we thought let's take the best of what was already about to be released and put it with the best of what we just did in Macon and make a better album. Luckily the label agreed and that's the record that is out. There're three or four songs from the original sessions in Nashville and the rest is all from Georgia.
PG: WILL WE EVER HEAR THE ALBUM AS IT WAS ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED?
JD: Probably not, some of the songs were re-recorded in Georgia and we have takes that we like better. Some of those songs that didn't get on the record we will probably end up being redone and used in the future.
PG: WHEN YOU WRITE DO YOU START BY JAMMING – IS THAT THE FIRST INSPIRATION?
ELAD (E): Sometimes. It depends on the situation.
JD: We jam regardless. You have to shut us up!
E: Every sound-check is a jam, every rehearsal is a jam until someone goes 'alright let's work on something!'
PG: AS MUSICIANS YOU'RE DRAWN TO WHAT HAS BECOME KNOWN AS THE VINTAGE SOUND, AND YOU LIKE TO RECORD IN A TRADITIONAL WAY. ISN'T THAT HOW BAND'S SHOULD WORK?
JD: I agree with that. If you're a band you should be able to sing and play without repairing stuff.
PG: AS YOU LIKE TO RECORD IN THAT WAY DO YOU FIND YOURSELF DOING LOTS OF DIFFERENT TAKES TO GET THE RESULTS YOU WANT?
JD: Sometimes it's one, two maybe three takes. There were one or two songs on the album that we had to play longer, four or five takes. You know when you've done a good performance. For most bands that make records in 'the modern way', it's just a lazy way to make records. For years and years, I was a session musician, I played on hundreds of people's records. Whenever I was working on somebody's record and they said 'everybody played it kind of OK, now we're going to go back and fix and things we don't like', it used to make me very angry. I used to say 'why don't we just play it right!' In our band it's a point of pride. If you call yourself a musician, you should be able to be one, you shouldn't have to hide behind auto-tune and processing drums.
E: Personally I don't think there's one way to make a record.
JD: That's true, I agree with that.
E: Whatever works for you is cool and if people like it then you did a good job. It's just that we like to do it that way.
JD: Especially with rock music, there's an underlying quality when a band gives a performance and it's not tampered with that's more visceral and easier and easier to connect with.
E: It's OK to do overdubs and fix things, but the band has to play together. Rock and roll is an energy, it's not perfection.