A Celebration of English Musician Lars Mullen for St. George's Day
Hello, my name’s Lars Mullen. I’m a music journalist, photographer and press consultant for many music-related products around the world including the wonderful Fusion gig bags.
And most important, I’m a guitar player. Welcome to St. George’s day.
Yes, guitars are my thing – there’s quite a few around. I don’t keep them in the house anymore; we don’t have room apparently, so once a month I go for a boy’s day out to a lock-up where they’re all kept and turn up very loud – clear my head! I first started… I was eleven years old, so not long ago, I was on a classical Spanish guitar playing the Harry Lime theme in the school concert. Petrified, yes I was.
How has your work changed with musical influences and life experiences?
It’s always been guitar related, like I say my first gig was when I was eleven or twelve. But any song with a hook line or cool guitar riff works for me. Metallica’s Sandman to the British boom bands from the sixties – big harmonies, jangly guitars, verses and choruses. I learned the A chord playing the guitar, the A chord (mimics playing the A chord) when “Help” came out, the Beatles’ “Help”, and I was off on a roll. Then Hendrix came along, there’s another story. I always thought he had his strap caught, when he had his guitar behind his neck? I thought the strap was wrong (laughs).
Y’know, the Marshall, the white Strat, I’ve done it all, but I haven’t set fire to any amps though. Not yet, anyway.
Well, I think everybody’s influenced by something. Within song writing, it could be tripping over the cat – play E Minor and A Minor, you’ve got a song, haven’t you? The Beatles themselves were influenced by the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis, who in turn were influenced by Sister Rosetta Tharpe – I mean; we’re talking about the 1930’s! There she was, in a big fur coat, rocking out on an SG! Great stuff, and way before Jimi Hendrix. But that’s another story. And then Stevie Ray Vaughn came along, didn’t really do anything totally different but it was the tone, he was a tone gig. Good stuff. Rock it up, turn it up.
How does your musical knowledge and journalism work together?
I was a service engineer for amplifiers for a long, long time. And like I say, having a house full of – the “in” door and the “out” door, amps and guitars coming through and I’m constantly writing – ten years ago, it was like a conveyor belt. I’ve got a big knowledge and I can draw on it, I think, and it helps when you want to ask a question to an artist, or something new comes along, or off I fly – “go and interview so-and-so!” – got my Fusion bag on my shoulder (nice big one, it’s around here somewhere) full of camera gear, and I’m thinking “oh, questions…” Just get there and do it.
I interviewed Francis Rossi from Status Quo, and Rick Parfitt bless him, about all the different sounds and the old school days when they’d just go in a studio, crank everything up on to ten and sit there, play for three weeks and they’d have an album done. Now, it costs so much to do that stuff, it’s got to be done over the phone, or you email the bass part to someone on the moon, or blah blah blah, and there’s your album, done. I think there’s something a little bit missing with just sitting in front of the band. Although I think it’s coming back, it’s coming back.
Well, crikey, we go back, we’ve got old churches, museums and things, I mean England’s got a long and diverse history of folk music dating back at least to the medieval period. Song and dance, and all that stuff. Court jesters and the like with the little bells on the hat, entertaining the king and the troops before the battle. I mean, they had a bit of a job, if the king didn’t like the song he’d either shoot them there or send them out to battle, ha. Bit like today, if they don’t like your music! (Laughs)
What does music mean to you?
It’s a healer, isn’t it. You can communicate… I’ve actually been to Shanghai on holiday, it was out at the park and there was a spare guitar, nobody – I couldn’t speak to him, he couldn’t speak to me, there was six of us all different languages, basic nodding. But through this little band we’d formed, we were just working off each other and it was almost like, transposing stuff… Psychic, even.
I’m from that era when we had our noses pressed up against the guitar shop window looking at a red Stratocaster… Nobody could afford one, so we all had Hofners, a Galaxie or a Colorama maybe. Which sounded pretty good! I mean if you walked around with a Strat, you were cool but if you could play it you were cooler than cool. But music, I think, is a healer; it solves a lot of problems like I said earlier. Especially with my mind, when it all gets too much and the writing isn’t flowing and I’m chucking paper, or a bad day with the internet (which is most days) – you won’t get me on the phone, you know when I’m having a bad day I’ll be in the shed picking on a guitar, or in my studio playing very loud.
I see you have one of our Fusion bags, any thoughts?
Yeah, I’ve got a few Fusion bags, you might be able to see one – there’s a black Urban series there, and a special edition with the Union Jack on the top. But I’ll tell you what, because of the straps and the nice ways you can carry them, there’s no mistaking seeing the Fusion bag on the hoof at a show or something, it’s just like a periscope going along above all the people. See them going up the escalator, “Hey I do there press work! Tell me about it, tell me about it-“ and all the people I’ve interviewed, nobody comes up with an “oh, they should’ve done this, they should’ve done that” – everyone’s got a thumbs up for Fusion. I love it, with the little zips, turns into a bungalow with all the pockets.
It’s raining outside, and I have my Fusion bag there to take my guitar with, with the rain cover on who worries? It’s gonna get wet, but not inside, it’ll all be smug. It’s me who’ll get wet.
Alright, speak to you later – Bye!