Supersonic Blues Machine is a collaborative extravaganza formed by bassist/producer Fabrizio Grossi, guitarist and vocalist Lance Lopez and drummer Kenny Aronoff. Their debut album West of Flushing, South of Frisco was an astonishing feat of modern blues, it also featured some fabulous guest appearances from Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Walter Trout and Eric Gales. Photogroupie caught up with Fabrizio and Lance ahead of the bands first live performance in the UK at Ramblin' Man Fair 2017.
PG: IS THIS YOUR FIRST LIVE SHOW IN THE UK, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE HERE?
LANCE: Being here is a big deal all my guitar influences apart from Chuck Berry and Elvis came from here. I was introduced to the blues via British bands, Cream, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones so it's great to be here on British soil debuting our band. Fabrizio got to come to Castle Donnington in the 80s when he was a kid and be part of it then. For me England has produced so much music that has been part of my life and it is an incredible honour to debut our band here.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE BAND?
FABRIZIO: We are definitely focused on playing live. The more we go out on stage the more fun we have. None of the shows we have done so far has been the same, not only because we have different guests but our approach is different. It's always a mystical experience and we are becoming a junkie to that kind of feeling so we are doing it as much as we can. It's been difficult for us because a lot of the guys we worked with are big stars and have their lives planned two or three years ahead, we were not expecting the success or the welcome that we were expecting from the first record. For the first record it was difficult to get everyone around to come and play but now the cat is out of the bag everybody wants to be on board and we are getting busy and we are working on a new album too.
PG: SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE IS A VERY ORGANIC AND A COLLABORATIVE BAND. WHY WAS THAT SO IMPORTANT?
FABRIZIO: As a musician when you start off with your band at school you are friends, that is the best and purest moment in the life of a musician. You're doing that because it's an incredible passion, you don't really think in terms of 'I'm going to do this and that, oh the millions and the mansion and the girls' it's none of that, it's just the love of music and playing together. Then when you make it as a professional musician there's like 15/20 years of total madness and all the other stuff doesn't count and it's all the other BS around it. When that's done you go back to the original passion. That's the thing with this band: we all had our own careers, we did a lot of things we needed to do with other musicians – and we're still doing that – but maybe it's time to have our own voice. So we put this thing together, invited some of our friends and just go out and play. You get to a point when the madness is gone and there's no ego in the band, when we are all together it's like a big Thanksgiving family.
PG: WHEN YOU PLAY TOGETHER IT'S VERY INTUITIVE AND FLUID, HOW MUCH IS THAT INTENTIONAL?
FABRIZIO: We don't know what's gonna happen and that's not a snotty approach, it's just logistics because Kenny and I live in Los Angeles and Lance lives in Louisiana.We can't get together to rehearse once a week or whatever. So logistically it's always a challenge. Even though we get together and prepare, we never know what happens when we go out there.
PG: IS THERE MUCH IMPROVISATION THEN?
FABRIZIO: We wish it was about 75% prepared and 25% improvisation, but when we go onstage it's probably more 60 – 40.
LANCE: When you ask how much is improvisational - every guitar solo. The songs are rehearsed and they're there but as guitar players and as this is a guitar based band, nothing is pre planned at all. That's what's so great about this band. When we play solos that's where the real blues based drive comes from: it's coming from inside. You stick to the theme of the solo, but that's where the blues comes from. When you get to that place, that's when it starts to come from your heart.
PG: I AIN'T FALLING WAS VERY PERSONAL SONG FOR YOU TO WRITE FABRIZIO. DID WRITING THAT SONG HELP TO LAY TO REST THOSE PAST DEMONS?
FABRIZIO: Well from when we started to when we finished and started to go out and play live was like a two and half year life span. In that time we lived the sort of life that a normal band starting off would live over 20 years: we went through several divorces, near death experiences, hospital a bunch of different things that if you had to write it down it would be like 'what the hell!' I Ain't Falling was actually one of the last songs we recorded. I wrote it so it's my story, but it's Lance's story and Kenny's story and it's Walter Trout's story and Eric Gales' story. I lost my birth Mom when I was really young and that got me into different things, but when you're that young you are not really programmed to talk and communicate about it and you close yourself. Music was my escape: music and Alistair Crowley. The whole thing was crazy to the point it was getting really out of control. I was prepared to call all the madness off and make a switch and put the same principle to putting this band together. It's a way to communicate the message that if you want to get away from all the negative that is around and it's a step towards the positive side. By going out there, talking, sharing the message and being positive you stop being so hard on yourself it's what really empowers you.
PG: PEACE AND FORGIVENESS ARE VERY MUCH A THEME FOR THE BAND, DO YOU THINK THOSE CONCEPTS INFLUENCED THE BANDS SOUND?
FABRIZIO: Peace, forgiveness and understanding and when we say 'love' it's not the Hollywood thing. We are a bunch of hippies and the music that inspires us is old, it's all bands from the 60s and 70s, and we are sad that the human race didn't really evolve since then. And all the things that we are talking about today are just as relevant as they were in the Summer of Love. So I think it's really important for us to be nostalgic but also this is what we based our lives on and how we were able to all turn our lives around by following those principals.
LANCE: What was so interesting for me as a kid was that I was influenced by English bands that redelivered the blues. Then growing up in Louisiana and Texas and researching this I was like 'wait a minute I'm standing on the spot where the real guys came from, no wonder it was in my heart.' That was what was really cool about the influences, My dear friend and dear mentors Johnny Winter said the blues will never go away because as long as people are alive and working and they're struggling and they are living we will have the blues.