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Playing With Feel: Introducing Henry Parker

Thursday, 29 August 2013 Written by Huw Baines

It’s a well known phrase, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”. For Henry Parker, who will release his new single, Red Fox, on September 15, an act of teenage bloody-mindedness laid the foundations or a future with guitar in hand.

As a 13-year-old singer he was asked to perform at school, but with his peers overcome by the diabolical music tastes most are forced to admit to at that age his chosen composition proved to be somewhat difficult to come by.

“I’d always been into music, far more than other kids at the time,” he said. “When I was about nine I got into Black Sabbath, and they were into real crap. It was before music really meant a lot to most of them. The song I wanted to sing no-one knew and no-one could play. My father had a guitar. Pretty much from that moment I did it solidly. I had about two weeks to learn the basic chords and I just locked myself away and did it. I haven’t really stopped since.”

Parker certainly has a knack for it. Red Fox is packed to the gills with chunky riffs and a wailing solo, with the guitars and drums having been laid down in one live take. Bass was added later by former Whitesnake member Neil Murray, lending an air of classic rock to proceedings and more ballast for Parker’s less-is-more playing.

“I don’t really look to emulate anyone,” he said. “I’ve got lots of guitar players that I love and I just take the bits that I really like. BB King is a big influence and Neil Young as well, it’s that simple way of playing with lots of feel. It’s saying an awful lot without doing an awful lot, that’s what really turns me on to guitars. Whenever I play a solo, that’s what I’ve got in mind. It’s all about expression."

Parker may well be lumped in with the current blues resurgence, and it’s not too difficult to understand why that link is made, but on a personal level it’s an association that he feels doesn’t fit too well with what he’s trying to do. 

“I’m not really into the modern day blues scene,” he said. “It’s not my thing. I’m much more turned on by the folk scene. We’re not playing folk but from a songwriting point of view it’s very much rooted in that. I’m a massive fan of roots music and roots blues, but that’s kind of where it stops. 

“I love Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, that’s what I think of as blues. As a band we come from more of a folk place when we play. If you take the electric guitars away and strip it down to the basics, it’s much more of a folk thing than it is a blues thing.”

Parker also feels that his songwriting process and lyrical style come more from the world of folk, even if the tracks are later given an injection of electricity.

“I write about stuff that I know about,” he said. “I’ve either been through it or I’ve observed someone else go through it. That’s where I come from. When I sit down with the acoustic guitar to write, I come at it like a folk singer would. I strum the chords and everything builds around that. With a blues band they tend to jam the electric parts and the words come afterwards.”

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