Paul Gilbert / Talking about new album ‘Werewolves of Portland’

11 March 2021

Paul Gilbert will release his new album ‘Werewolves of Portland’ 4 June 2021, via The Players Club and today he has shared the first track ‘Argument About Pie’.

‘Werewolves of Portland’ is Gilbert’s 16th solo album and with the world on lockdown, rather than wait, Gilbert decided to crack on and do it all himself.

Paul told MetalTalk: “It took me about six months to think of it, but it finally occurred to me that I could play all the instruments myself. I have always loved playing drums and I can play bass and keyboards well enough to get the job done.”

“‘Argument About Pie’ is one of my favourites. This lyric came from my pre-lockdown experiences of stopping by my local pie shop for a slice of strawberry rhubarb. Amidst all the brewing angst in Portland, the pie shop was a place where everyone was happy and at peace.

“Eating pie seemed to be something that everyone could agree on. Since my mind has the habit of searching for contrasts, I started to wonder what people might be against eating pie.

“Most of my titles come from the lyrics that I write in order to get a melody going. I have even printed the lyrics in the liner notes of the album, so you can ‘read along’ as you listen to the music.”

Cover of Werewolves Of Portland by Paul Gilbert

Gilbert on his songwriting style

While most of us would assume that Paul uses the guitar to provide the driving element behind his song writing, he told us that this is not the case.

Paul said: “Mostly I write by singing. I use the lyrics to give myself a structure where I can hang the notes. Once the melody is long enough to have some life in it, my musical instincts can take over. I can often finish the song without needing more words.

“But if I get stuck, lyrics will always get me going again.

“My guitar can hit the high notes! It’ i amazing to have the physical limitations of my voice… gone!

“The challenge is to be expressive, with all the slides, vibrato, dynamics and tones that a voice has. I am constantly learning vocal melodies on guitar, so I get used to playing with the kind of expression that singers have.”

Werewolves Of London

The Warren Zevon song ‘Werewolves Of London’ contributed to the inspiration behind the album’s title.

Paul says: “I live in Portland and thought it would be funny to substitute the name of my much lesser-known city. My original idea for the ‘Werewolves’ was just the guys in my band and me.

“When we play music, it is our version of ‘howling at the moon’.

“Unfortunately, Portland has become more ‘known’ in the last year for events that are pretty sad to watch. And ‘Werewolves’ could take on other meanings that I certainly had not anticipated.

“But the title, to me, still has a musical meaning.”

Dimitri Shostakovich

The album contains some quirky titles, with two songs written about Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich.

‘A Thunderous Ovation Shook the Columns’ covers the audience’s reaction to the debut performance of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony.

Paul told us: “They liked his Symphony! So, fortunately, did Joseph Stalin who had made no secret that he did NOT approve of some of Shostakovich’s earlier music. ‘Professorship At The Leningrad Conservatory’ is my lyric about that story and I built the melody from there.”

Recording

‘Werewolves of Portland’ was recorded at Opal Studio in Portland with co-producer and engineer Kevin Hahn.

Gilbert chose some of his favourite guitars for the job, telling us: “I mostly used my Ibanez Fireman guitars. I have been collecting vintage Ibanez guitars lately, too. I brought some models from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s like the Ibanez Artist, Roadstar II and Ghostrider. I also brought and modified a 60’s Epiphone Olympic.

“I used to play those in the early days of Racer X, so it was fun to have a guitar that reminded me of my early shredder style.”

Career

From working with L.A. Metal band Racer X, through Mr Big, Gilbert has also been asked to work in a wide range of projects, including for Todd Rundgren, Bowling For Soup, Glenn Hughes and MC Lars.

He has also toured with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci in 2007 as G3 and two years later played with Richie Kotzen and George Lynch in Guitar Generation. With his 16th album on the horizon, it is a long step since being hired in 1985 by the Guitar Institute Of Technology (GIT) in Los Angeles.

Paul finishes: “I did not become a musician to shout my ideas, complaints, or philosophies at anyone. I love music because of the music.

“So I love my method of using my inner rants as scaffolding to build melodies. This scaffolding can then be pulled away to unveil some pure emotional music. This works perfectly for me and hopefully for my listeners.

“I need to be able to visualize the look and sound of my fretboard well enough to play accurately in my mind. It is almost like real air guitar! Then when I actually go to play the music, I have got a good chance of having my melodic intentions come true.

“And that is about the best feeling in the world.”

Werewolves Of Portland – Tracklist

1. Hello North Dakota!
2. My Goodness
3. Werewolves Of Portland
4. Professorship At The Leningrad Conservatory
5. Argument About Pie
6. Meaningful
7. I Wanna Cry (Even Though I Ain’t Sad)
8. A Thunderous Ovation Shook The Columns
9. Problem-Solving People
10. (You Would Not Be Able To Handle) What I Handle Everyday

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