By Rosine Alleva and José Oliveira, Journalist/Photographers – Rock at Night France, Switzerland
AARON KEYLOCK is a young marvelous and talented guitar player. Young! He’s only 20, but with a solid experience and confidence. This nominated and awarded artist began to play since he was eleven! He was at Woodstock Guitares Live with his brand new line-up for his first 2018 French show. This angel face spread his wings already very high and his ascension is not ready to stop! Were we his guardian angels for a few moments? Maybe, but far behind those surrounding him since his early life…
Check it out !
RAN– First of all, welcome to Woodstock Guitares, the French Guitar temple ! Is it your 1st time in Eastern France?
Aaron Keylock – Yes, I think so, I just did press days in Paris, I do writing sessions in Nice. I’ve haven’t been traveling much either, just been here…
RAN– How did you get to choose to play on Gibson, Les Paul and Firebird vintage?
AK– I remember when I first started I always wanted a Les Paul, I started on a Strat though. Then I got a Les Paul cause that’s the guitar I wanted. And from there I discovered Johnny Winter which was the inspiration for the Firebird.
RAN– So, are these kind of your favorites?
AK– Well, I guess so, those are the ones that started me, I‘ve got more types at home but yeah these seem to be the ones that I go to, yeah.
RAN– You were listening to 70’s music very young, what is the band, why that music style, that triggered your desire to play?
AK– I guess that was the kind of stuff I was introduced to, just kind of 70’s classic rock, that’s pretty much my kind of inspirations when starting playing guitar, then I found the blues, then I found my way back towards …I mean, there’s a pretty big spectrum of stuff I’m listening to. I found my way later to stuff like GRATEFUL DEAD, ALLMAN BROTHERS, LITTLE FEAT. I first found my way into obvious classic stuff, found my way to in blues. It’s later on that I’ve kind of gone into that think a lot more, that kind of thing is like an addiction (laugh).
RAN– I saw GREGG ALLMAN’s son play in Basel a few years ago…
AK– I got to play with GREGG ALLMAN a year or two years before he died, I kind of get too scared to speak to him, I just watched him play. I heard some stories about people that have done so….laughs….But then I met his guitarist, first of all, Scott Sharrard, he’s over in New York and so we jam together when he is over.
RAN– As soon as I read about you, I thought of this similarity with Tyler Bryant. Did you meet, play together maybe? I would love to see this…
AK– At only one festival so far. We haven’t really done shows but I’ve known Tyler good two years before he came over. We’ve been introduced through mutual friends, in America, the CADILLAC THREE…then, I met him when he was supporting them and when he came over for the AC/DC shows. We played together last summer at the Ramblin’ Fair in London.
RAN– And Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown are touring US at the moment with BLACKBERRY SMOKE, another similarity with you, as you toured with them in Autumn 2014 on their UK dates.
AK– Right, yeah. And it was a real honor to be on their tour.
RAN– Can we say there is a revival of Southern rock in the UK, and US, thinking about bands like Stolen Rhodes who played here last January.
AK– I’d say so, it has always been big in England, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Feat, those bands were always leading it. Yeah, there is a lot more of these bands who are coming over now. There is an actual scene of it.
RAN– January 2017, you released your premier album, CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN signed with Mascot Label group. Amazing album, great reviews. How do you feel about this big success?
AK– It was good, it was a long time coming….Cause obviously I’ve been playing shows since 11 and I didn’t release things towards 19. So it has long years of writing and playing shows. A new experience, I didn’t know much about recording. At that stage you kind of just got to do what you do. I mean, you’re making a record as good as you can and when you feel it’s right you put it out and hope that people like it. I was happy with it but when you see people kind of get into it as well, it fills it out …
RAN– When did you start to write songs, in particular for this first album ? You started quite a while ago, right?
AK– Yeah, it was basically just the collection of songs that I’ve been writing over the passed 6 years. I wanted to be in a place where I could put a record out and make that record as good as I could. I put the work in playing a lot of shows, getting that together writing and get the songs right. But also then to be able to be in a position business wise to get a record together if you want it in a good way I guess
RAN– And you had good advice from FABRIZIO GROSSI (Alice Cooper, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Vai…) who produced your album…
AK– Yeah, again, he’s a producer who kind of understood where I was coming from,
He’s been working with the similar type of bands and he was a musician himself… he played on the record.
RAN– How was it to experience the recording in L.A. with him and the other musicians?
AK– Yeah, it was good. We got on, first of all, as friends before we started making music together. Only over Skype or the phone as he’s living in L.A. He came over to England and saw some shows of mine, and we just hang out for a couple of days. So that was the thing that we kind of got on, that we could music together. From there I trusted him coming from a producer point of view. He also knew it was my record and my name going on it so he was supportive in the decisions I made as well.
RAN– You have at least 200 concerts behind… What are your best memories? As a support act and as a headliner now?
AK– I’ll probably say when I first started to do proper tours, when I’ve done the first ones with BLACKBERRY SMOKE…we’ve done a couple of times now. But that was kind of the first time when we were doing a proper tour and we were playing in theaters. Also we were bands that highlight some respect. That’s probably stands up to some of the best shows.
RAN– How did you meet JOE BONAMASSA?
AK– I was playing in a blues band when I was like 12 and a good of his friends was part of it. She just took me to one of his shows, we were hanging out and I guess he kind of saw similarities, from the timing and then a few years later we ended up for the same label (Mascot Label group)…
RAN– Did you get any awards, any nominations?
AK– Yeah, I’ve been nominated for British Blues Awards in 2016. And Guitarpart Magazine France included CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN in the best 20 albums of 2017, and second best guitarist of 2017 as well. I am also part of “the 14 best new guitarists in the world right now”, we’ll last December by MusicRadar (laughs)
RAN– 2017 was a great year!! And who would you dream to perform with you didn’t yet?
AK– Well, most of the people I would have wanted to play with I haven’t heard a long time…No, I’ve been quite lucky in the end of playing and being able meeting a lot of people, some of the top people for me, as well as being able to write with a lot of them as well, which’s been good. But at least one of them who stood out would have been JOHNNY WINTER but That’s probably too late for that now… One of my first concerts I played live was with the BLACK CROWES, I’ve been working with RICH ROBINSON for a couple of years, playing with GREGG ALLMAN, it’s all been great!
RAN– Do you already plan your second album?
AK– Yes, I had already forty songs ready for the first album. And obviously it’s 2 years later in life, 2 years older, different experiences I guess. Things change, you’re a different person, 2 years down the line…So yes, when the business side of things pulls in place you can do that again.
RAN– What about what happened in that club London a few years ago… you couldn’t get into the club you were performing…
AK– I was 13 or 14, we were allowed in for the sound-check but then we went out for some food, the gear was still in there. The sound engineer finally came to let us in but we were 10 minutes late on stage (laughs).
RAN- What do you think of people comparing you to Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore?
AK- Well, I think there will always be comparaisons, as long as people like it they compare you to what they listen to, people like kind of summarize, put labels on things. I take it as a compliment.
RAN– Looking forward to your concert, and thanks for this interview Aaron!
Aaron Keylock, guitar, vocals
Jack Browning, Bass
Alex Aspin, Keyboards
Mike Frank, Drums