Did you know that over the years one of the English teachers at Eurolingua built up a parallel -and distinguished – career as one of the most appreciated guitarists and songwriters of the Córdoba scene?
Q: Have you ever given flamenco guitar a go? (Claude, Birmingham, England)
P: When I lived in Badajoz in the early 90s, I took flamenco guitar lessons with a gypsy guitarist I knew. I was more interested in the technique than in becoming a flamenco guitarist, but it was difficult for me. Especially the right-hand rhythmic technique and the different “compas” (the structure/number of counts per bar).
Q: If you could choose one artist or group to mentor you (current or past), who would it be and why? (Kelsey, Seattle, EE UU)
P: As a mentor I would choose someone who could guide me in song composition, do for their originality and diversity, both musical and lyrical, it would be a tough choice between Lou Reed, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Bob Dylan (with Lennon/McCartney maybe getting a look in). Joe Strummer too is a strong contender. Most people only know him for his work with the Clash, but his later solo material mixed all kinds of ecclectic styles and lyrically he had the attitude and the turn of phrase. Still though, the winner would probably be Ray Davies from The Kinks…!
Q: What tips would you give someone wanting to take up the guitar? (Emma, Bexhill-on-Sea and Pete, Stockport, England)
P: Play til your fingers bleed! Play along to songs you like. It’s so much easier today with tutorials on youtube, chords available online etc. I had to learn by ear (I still can’t read music score). Just sit with it, make sounds with it, experiment. Depends on the instrument, of course, but with an acoustic guitar that’s how I began to learn, picking out melodies on one string, then progressing to chords. classes are fine, but you’ve got to have the drive/will to learn it.
Q: What’s your favourite music to relax to? (Molly, Manchester, England)
P: Any music of an artist I like will relax me, from punk to acoustic folk, as I just get lost in the song(s), time disappears and the only moment is the then and there. Same with performing. You get totally lost in moment.
Q: How do you feel music genres have changed over the last 25 years? (Alec, Edinburgh, Scotland)
P: Speaking of genres on a more general level, I’d say that the lines have become more blurred in the last 30 years. There was a clear progression from 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, through to 60s beat/pop, psychodelia, to 70s glam then punk and so on, which were normally the product (musical, sartorial) of youth sub-cultures and urban tribes. I don’t see such clear lines of distinction today.
Q: When you write a song, do you first choose a theme or topic and then begin work on it or does the inspiration come to you ‘from the ether’ in the form of a song “asking to be written”? (John, Glasgow, Scotland)
P: I invariably follow the same process. Sat on the sofa “doodling” on the acoustic, a riff or chord sequence comes out and I’ll get a melody line in my head. The lyric nearly always comes last. The I’ll polish the composition (how many verses before first chorus, where to include a middle-eight, how to end, etc).
Q: Have you had any funny/strange/memorable experiences with fans or people in the audience? (Rob, Gloucestershire, England)
P: The typical ones, like hecklers. I learned quickly how to deal with hecklers early on. Give an acid reply and straight into the next song before they have a chance to come back at you. I learned that from watching Joe Strummer, having seen The Clash live a few times. Once, many moons ago, while busking in the centre of Leeds, an old lady stopped me mid-song, handed me 50p and said, “get some singing lessons, love“. I didn’t have a come back for that one!
Q: Do you have a name for your guitar? Do you carry a lucky charm on you when you perform? (Iselin, Christchurch, New Zealand )
P: No, I don’t have a name for my guitars (I have 9) and I don’t have a lucky charm or a set ritual before gigs. Sorry, I wish I could give a more interesting answer, haha!
Q: Are there any new bands/musicians who you enjoy? (Alec, Edinburgh, Scotland)
P: A current artist I really admire is Ezra Furman. I flew to England to see him play at a festival last summer. It was a small festival with loads of up and coming young bands. Brilliant.
Q: If you could only listen to 3 albums for the rest if your life, what would they be? (Lorraine, Bristol, England)
P: Almost impossible to answer. It would change by day/week, depending on my mood. I’ve been nominated several times in the last few weeks by friends on Facebook to do the “name one album a day for 10 days. One that has inspired you, etc…”, but the task to choose 10 seemed so daunting that I haven’t participated. But, given that you ask (but don’t hold me to it) today I would say the first album by the Velvet Underground, Hunky Dory by David Bowie and maybe Never Mind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols (for when I really want to let off steam!)
Q: What song would you say is your “guilty pleasure”? A song that you like but wouldn’t admit to liking. (Alec, Edinburgh, Scotland)
P: Haha, you want the skeletons in the closet! Maybe Mr Blue Sky by E.L.O or something by the Carpenters. It’s nostalgia. Reminds of the cassettes my dad would play on long car journeys.