The latest “15 questions” feature is with guitarist David Griffiths. Dave is the front man and rhythm/lead guitarist for the rock band BOSH, who during the past 7 years have performed live hundreds of times across the length and breadth of UK. In addition they’ve released numerous albums, most noticeably “Sound the Alarms” and “The Gloaming Hour”. Guitar Jar caught up with Dave to quiz him on his equipment, technique and any additional projects he’s currently involved with.
…I love guitar playing that conveys loads of melody and emotion…
Dave and his beloved Telecaster
- Hi Dave, before we get into the details of your equipment and technique, can you give Guitar Jar readers an insight to why you first picked up the guitar and how long you’ve been playing?
I come from a very musical family and my Dad is a guitarist. I picked it up at about 13 years old and taught myself, hence my dreadful technique! I first learned piano and guitar was the obvious next step. Back then, guitar music was massive and I became obsessed with music. I think Blur inspired me more than any other band, and that hasn’t changed.
- Can you tell our readers more about your band BOSH? How did you form and how have the last seven years treated you as a band?
Bosh is about the musical adventures of my brother Mike and I. He’s foremostly a drummer and we began to bond musically at a very young age. We became BOSH in 1996 and have progressed through many line-ups and experiments with home and studio recordings since then, but things really settled down in 2003 when James Grant joined on bass.
- You’ve recently recruited UK guitarist Steve Coates. Do you feel Steve will bring a different sound to BOSH and if so, is that something you’re embracing, or would you prefer to keep the BOSH sound as it is?
Steve has come on board to replace Matt Gainsford who was with us for six years and was a huge part of our sound. Obviously, with the material Matt helped craft, Steve will be staying fairly true to his parts, but he is a very different player. The sound is a lot more rootsy now with Steve in the band, and he is a far superior soloist to both Matt and myself, so the solo’s really soar now. We will hopefully embrace Steve’s passion for bluesier tones and licks in new material, yes. I am exctited about that, but Matt is certainly missed from a brotherly point of view.
- Can you tell our readers about your guitar setup? What pedals, amps and guitars do you use live?
I have always been careful to not over-use effects, so I have a fairly straight forward set-up. I run a 30 year old Telecaster into a EHX Holy Stain, for a nice clean boost (which breaks up just enough for it not to be too clean), an optional muffy fuzz and creamy drive and some really lush reverb too. Then I go in to an Artec Twin Head for either a high-gain smooth drive or a crunchy drive. I bought a lovely Fulltone Duo-Drive in New York and that was my main drive until someone spilt beer into it and it’s still at the doctors. Shame. Anyway, then into a BOSS EQ for a boost, then a digitech delay and then a digitech reverb and a korg tuner. I am a big fan of the British tones, so I run a Heritage Edition Vox AC15, which gives me lots of options, and is just faultless. I also use a Crafter hollow-body with a Kent Armstrong P90 on top and an acoustic pick-up inside. It’s a very angry sound guitar, and very versatile. For acoustic gigs I use a Washburn mid-range, which I am very fond of and a John Martyn-esque Wah into a Digitech Hot-Head into the Akai Headrush for lush delay and looping.
- I really enjoy the track “Police Helicopter”. Who wrote the guitar riff for that song, and what’s was the influence behind the lyrics?
I wrote that riff. The song came together really really quickly, the best ones always do in our case. The lyric idea came to me when I was walking through Bournemouth town centre late one night when all the binge-drinkers are being really aggressive and the police helicopter was circling over head. I didn’t feel safer that it was there, I just thought ‘whose out there to warrant this?’. The song talks of living in an urban environment where you don’t feel safe, but that there is a home to get back to where you are safe, and all things are made new, so the song is a sort of allegory to believing in a better situation than the one we live in, after life I suppose.
- You recently collaborated with Verra Cruz guitarist, Marc James. Marc is a stunning guitarist – how did you establish a relationship with him?
Well, primarily I am a fan of his work. I am involved in running a community of musicians and we had Verra Cruz be a part of it’s festival. We are kind of in a similar position in that we are both men of faith, and men of music as a job, and we get on pretty well. I deeply respect him as a song-writer, singer and guitarist and he’s the sort of bloke I would want to see a lot of people discover. It’s a thrill to have him playing on a track of mine, and I hope it’s not the last time we collaborate.
- Rumour has it you’ve recently recorded an album with multiple artists to help support various charities in the UK. Can you tell our readers more about this project?
Yeah, we are currently working on a project called Fruit Tree which is about using music to raise awareness and funds for outstanding organisations. I have a lot of very inspirational friends who spend their lives working to help other people and they make me want to do all that I can to help them. So, the Fruit Tree album is about friends of ours kindly recording exclusive tracks to then sell as an album to raise money for these charities. A lot of the acts are part of the record label BOSH are on, Risen Records; and it’s sort of another product of the community I mentioned earlier, called Nth Degree. So we have us, [dweeb], brother john, Tom Whitman, Adam Oxborrow, Steve Leach and Paul Oakley all giving it some songs. I love it. I think it’s the future.
- In addition to playing with BOSH, you earn your living by gigging in a covers band at various pubs and clubs across the UK. Are there any major differences in playing both with BOSH and your covers band, or from your perspective, is it just “another day at the office” regardless of music/line-up/venue?
Well, I actually feel like two different people from one day to the next. BOSH is quite a different experience to the covers band. Usually the gigs are bigger and more people listen to us. We get to play our own music and communicate our message. The covers stuff is much more of ‘another day at the office’ because it’s other peoples songs and you’re there to entertain people, most of whom just want a good night out. However, I love both. I love the social aspect of the covers work, and the fact I get to spend time in lots of different places and I wouldn’t like to decry it at all. I feel very blessed to do what I do for a living.
- Are you a fan of amp/guitar modelling? In the studio, are you averse to using this technology?
I wouldn’t say I am a fan. I think it’s very clever stuff, and I have used it, particularly in demo stages, but I am more keen on getting a good mic on a good amp, and using real effects pedals. What I really don’t like is when I see people using line6 pedals or something of that ilk straight into a DI box and into the PA. That’s not cool in my book. You can get great valve amps for not much money, and that’s where it’s at.
Dave with brother Mike on drums with BOSH
You’re no stranger to ripping out an epic solo as and when required. How often do you practice and what do you focus on to improve your technique?
I am very chuffed you think I can ‘rip an epic solo’. (I think you’re lead playing is excellent! – Sam). I often feel very limited in my lead playing, because I taught myself. My main inspiration is David Gilmour. I don’t really dig speed playing or shredding, but I love playing that conveys loads of melody and loads of emotion, so Clapton, Gilmour, Buddy Guy, Doyle Bramhall II, Knopfler, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Graham Coxon and Gilmour are my main go-to guys to get focussed. I just try and hone in on a certain feel and see if I can achieve it. I don’t practice much, I guess because I feel that I play so much anyway, that I have been steadily improving over the last few years, but then I’ll play with Steve or Marc and feel like I have sausages for fingers. I am a pretty good rhythm guitarist though, because I’m also a drummer.
- Have you had any nightmare experiences whilst gigging?
Yes, lots. Notwithstanding technical hitches, I have had people getting naked at my gigs, squaddies telling me to ‘do that one, or I’ll kill ya’, fights breaking out at weddings (between the bride and groom!), fights with band mates. I saw one girls hair get set on fire because it went in a candle, and I have often had people so drunk that they fall into my equipment and break it. I have had to physically remove people, and I have seen people arrested for doing drugs at a gig. It’s all part of the job.
- Your house is burning down. What’s the one guitar item you would save?
My tobacco-burst 30 year old Tele the BOSH boys bought me as a wedding/birthday present in 2005. I still glow with pride when I look at it sometimes, it really is with me till I die.
- If you could form a super group using famous musicians past or present, who would you have on drums and why?
Hmmm, well I love Phil Collins, but that’s too obvious. I think it’d be Steve Gadd, who is an American session drummer who has played a lot with Clapton, Paul Simon and Richard Thomson. He’s just got the balance so right between groove, style and just serving the song. Lots of feel, but not arty farty.
- Lager or Cider?
Well Real Ale actually, but a local Dorset or Somerset Cider.
- What’s the plan for yourself and BOSH for the next 12 months?
Well, we have some things in the pipeline for Europe next summer with BOSH, and a tour to support the Fruit Tree album. I’d love to write a new full album, but I don’t think the time is right yet. I have a very spiritual electronic album written and demoed, so that’s probably next. I am thinking of forming a new band for the pub work, and my diary is very hectic for 2011 with that side of my work, so I am excited about that. I just want to keep making music that moves people and makes them move!
For more information about David Griffiths, BOSH and his charity involvements, please visit: