Fans of Graham Greene’s virtuoso guitar work have been thrilled by his burst of creativity of late. SHANE PINNEGAR speaks to the guitar shaman about his new (mostly) instrumental album, Down Devils Road.
Formerly the guitarist with early ‘90s hair rock heroes Ice Tiger, Graham Greene released The Tale Goes On EP in partnership with wife Donna (one of the country’s most underrated vocalists) as The Resonance Project, and released his own solo instrumental EP, Lord Of Misrule, last year.
He also played with local AC/DC tribute band, Hells Bells, as well as staging several highly successful charity gigs with Donna as Siren in support of Multiple Sclerosis, which Donna was diagnosed with a couple of years ago.
“I had a feeling that it was good,” he says humbly when I suggest it’s his best work yet. “The album wasn’t actually an album project from beginning to end.
“I’d been inspired by learning all the Accadacca stuff, because I’d only ever played a couple of AC/DC tracks. I started writing a few things like that and that’s where Hand On The Handle (the only non-instrumental track on the new album) came from. I’d written the thing because it was fun, then Donna was listening to it one day and started singing some stuff. Before we knew it we’d written a lyric and we were in the studio slapping it down.
“The last few tracks that I’d written for Down Devils Road were written while I was really going through (the process of) finding my own place in our ‘new normal’. I was spending so much time caring for Donna. The last four tracks that I wrote, they’re almost like a chronicle, in particular Through The Dark. That is probably as much of a personal statement as I’ve ever put into a piece of music.”
As emotional as this creative process sounds, Down Devils Road is uplifting and exciting, with Greene trying a few different things – there’s some horns and strings on the album, a piano solo on Chicken Soup For The Soul, and some jazzy and bluesy touches here and there. It’s something of a departure for the man dubbed ‘the Satriani of the South’.
“I think that came from the fact that I wasn’t planning an album and I wasn’t thinking at all who was going to listen to it,” he explains. “I’m not really aiming at a demographic. I don’t have an A&R guy that I have to please. Essentially I was doing the tracks for myself – it was therapeutic for me to get the feelings down and when I got into the flow of putting the feelings down, that was when it got real.
“Back to Through The Dark there are sections there that are musical sections and there’s no soloing over the top. The music stands alone. You listen to some of the great symphonies, there are long passages of music where there’s no solo. It’s the orchestra playing the music. I think that’s how I approached a couple of parts.
“I really wound up getting into the orchestration side of things and some people were leaving comments on Facebook and we started joking about wouldn’t it be fun to do something with an orchestra and I said, ‘yeah, I would love to do something but finding an orchestra is difficult to do’. This guy said, ‘well what about WASO (Western Australian Symphony Orchestra)?’ I said, ‘if I was going to pick an orchestra, that would be it’. He said, ‘leave it with me’.
“I have no idea how it would be done, whether it would be a performance or whatever, and working with orchestras is really hard because there’s a lot of people and they need to be paid. If someone came along that thought the idea was good enough to underwrite it, I would probably be willing to go through the work required – because it would be a lot.”