Big Boy Bloater and The LiMiTs are currently getting ready to record the follow up to last year’s Luxury Hobo album, which will hopefully see its release in 2018.
Big Boy Bloater himself is often typecast as a blues artist, but in fact, his current album traverses both blues, rock, soul with a multitude of influences thrown into the mix.
National Rock Review recently took the opportunity to chat with Big Boy Bloater at Ramblin’ Man Fair in Maidstone on board his incredible air stream, which was pitched in a prime position in the center of the main arena. Throughout the course of the interview we talked about his forthcoming UK tour, the follow up to Luxury Hobo and the current state of the blues scene.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us again today, we really appreciate it.
Big Boy Bloater: No, no, I love it yeah.
NRR: I mean quite literally, your album Luxury Hobo – you can’t get anymore Luxury Hobo than this air stream.
Big Boy Bloater: This is it.
NRR: This is the epitome of Luxury Hobo right here. So you are here at Ramblin’ Man Fair in Maidstone, you are performing tomorrow afternoon. I was just wondering obviously you are here for the weekend, are there any bands that you want to see yourself at the festival?
Big Boy Bloater: Yeah, I really wanted to see Graham Bonnett, he opened the festival and he did not disappoint. It was pouring with rain, he was on at about 4:30 pm – there were a few thousand people in the arena already and he just put on the best show. He did all of the favourites, and his voice was just thunderous and just unbelievable. He doesn’t seem to have lost anything at all, he was great.
Today I’m going to go and check out Kenny Wayne Shepherd, as he always puts on such a good show. He seems to pick really good material and Noah who sings with him as well, he’s got a fantastic voice. I remember meeting him for the first time and thinking that wasn’t what I was expecting; you sound a lot different on record to how you look. So I’m definitely going to go and check those guys out.
Then tomorrow, the headliners like ZZ Top – I’ve never seen them live before, so I’ve got to do that, I think they will do a good show. There’s so much stuff on I’ve almost lost track of it all, it’s making my head spin. I’m just gonna try and keep those few things in mind and go with the flow for the rest of it. See what happens.
NRR: Since you are here for the weekend, and you are a seasoned pro – have you got any essential festival survival tips?
Big Boy Bloater: Yeah, number one is bring your own air stream (laughing), you can’t go wrong then can you. I’ve got cold beer, I watched Saxon last night and then came back in here and watched a film. Yeah, you can’t go wrong really.
NRR: Obviously there’s a lot of great blues artists playing over the weekend. My worry is that in recent times we’ve lost some of the greats, you know BB King, Johnny Winter …There are only a few blues greats left, like Buddy Guy and such. In that respect, what do you think about the current state of the blues scene right now?
Big Boy Bloater: I think that the blues scene as a purist thing I think it’s probably healthier than it’s ever been. You’ve got some great players, you know and we kind of feel like we are losing a lot of our big hitters at the moment, but I think there are people who are rising up that will fill their shoes. Ok, they are sort of mid range players right now, but in another ten or twenty years time they will be there.
We’ve recently lost Johnny Winter, but obviously, there’s a lot of people who came before him and we are saying oh god it’s sad they’ve gone. The blues scene is always being rejuvenated and reinventing itself a bit, you know I think it’s going to be there in another 200 years time, there are still going to be people who are the blues heroes, but it takes a while to make a blues hero, it doesn’t happen over night. In 20 years time, Kenny Wayne Shepherd might be one of those, not that he’s not a blues hero now, but he might be one of those blues legends.
Obviously, Joe Bonamassa is going to go down in the history books for something, isn’t he? I think blues will be alright it will survive, it will still go on and change as it always did and always has.
NRR: I think the last time we spoke, it was at the start of last year just after Luxury Hobo was released. I remember we talked about songwriting and you said that you always leave your writing to the last minute, like some kind of naughty school kid.
Big Boy Bloater: Yeah.
NRR: I just wondered in that respect, how much closer are you to a follow up to Luxury Hobo. Have you started writing for it, have you been given a deadline, is it on the radar?
Big Boy Bloater: Do you know what, I’m a little bit ahead of myself this time. I’ve almost written the album and I haven’t got a deadline yet. I think we are putting it out, sort of early next year. I started finding I had a lot of things where I thought that’s a really good idea for a song, that’s a really good idea for a song, so I actually got a bit ahead of myself and got on with it and didn’t leave it to the last minute this time. You know so far, I’ve been doing some demos for it and it’s been sounding really good, so hopefully touch wood it’s going to be a good one. I’ve got a good feeling about it, yeah there’s definitely some different stuff.
NRR: I know that Luxury Hobo was recorded following your period of depression and your breakdown. Obviously, mental health has come to the forefront even more in recent times with the loss of Chris Cornell and more recently Chester Bennington. I was just wondering what would you say to anyone who’s going through those types of experiences at the moment, how did you get through it, what did you do to battle that?
Big Boy Bloater: The thing I had to learn to do and the thing that got me out of it/got me through it really was to talk about. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, whether it’s a Doctor or a friend or wife. I was really lucky I had a very good Doctor, a really good friend and really good wife and the three of them together really, really pulled me up and helped me.
I think I had spent so many years not talking about it and just sort of sweeping it under the cover – no I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m Big Boy Bloater there’s nothing wrong, you have this sort of persona on the outside that you wear, but actually inside you are absolutely dying. Just talking to someone about it and acknowledging that it’s going on is the biggest step, it was for me anyway. Yeah, If anyone is going through it try and find someone just to talk to, you don’t have to say a lot.
NRR: You are out here this time with The Limits, you are doing a full band show tomorrow. With a festival you always get a shorter set, quite often you are playing to people that might not necessarily know your music. How do you go about approaching a show like this – picking the set list?
Big Boy Bloater: It’s a tough one, as we’ve only got 40 minutes tomorrow. So it’s probably about half as long as we would normally play. So you have to start cutting out songs, it’s like picking favourite children. It’s something no man should ever be put through really, but it is what is.
Hopefully, I’ve picked a set which is strong and punchy. The thing about The Limits is that we don’t do the sort of shoegazing blues and stuff, it’s got a lot of energy to it and a lot of life. Hopefully, I think we will just get everybody going and have a few beers and a bit of a party, and enjoy it. Tearing up the roof.
NRR: Do you have a particular favourite song to perform live and if so which song and why?
Big Boy Bloater: Again, it’s the favourite children syndrome, the favourite child. I do love playing “Robot Girlfriend”, I love that song and the sentiment behind it, and the story and the groove of it. I really do enjoy playing that, it’s one of those where I could just stop playing and listen to the rest of the band.
NRR: In terms of the rest of the band could you tell us a bit about those guys, because everybody always talks about Big Boy Bloater? Tell us a little bit about The Limits and how you came to meet?
Big Boy Bloater: Absolutely, I couldn’t do it without The Limits. On drums, we’ve got Matt Cowley, and Matt actually did the first ever live Limits gig but as a dep. So the original drummer that I had for the gig couldn’t make it, so I got Matt in as a dep and he was so good that he ended up getting the job full time. He’s a great session player, he does a lot of session work too with so many people and he is one of those players who just gets something straight away. We don’t do rehearsals very often, but when we do it’s pretty painless, just everyone knows what they are going to do.
Again, on bass Stephen Oates – he’s another one of these great session players, who just I just say to him I want something that’s like such and such and such and he will just play it exactly like what you were thinking before you even think it.
For me it’s great, having them onstage, they know exactly what they are doing. I think I’m probably the weak link of the band now, they know exactly what they are doing and their playing is fantastic, their timing is fantastic, they know just what to do and I’m the one sort of thinking I’ve got to pull myself up to their level kind of thing, they are great to work with.
NRR: I know you are going to head out on the road in October, you’ve got a headline tour. You are going to be coming up to my neck of the woods again, you are playing at The Forum in Darlington, which is just down the road from me. I just wondered, do you enjoy performing in the North East of England at all?
Big Boy Bloater: Yeah, I love it. Do you know what, the North East is always full of friendly people, it’s absolutely great. You know I’ve played at The Cluny a few times, I love playing there. I will go wherever people want me to go, I love playing live, I love meeting people and playing a gig.
Festivals are great because you get to sort of make new crowds and all that, but doing those tour gigs where people are coming along to see you and you get a chance to meet them and chat with people that’s great.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it.
Big Boy Bloater: Thank you for coming to see me.
Big Boy Bloater will be taking to the road across the UK later throughout September/October in support of his current album Luxury Hobo, for further details and ticket information please follow the social media links outlined below.
Big Boy Bloater
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