Oct/Nov Q&A, Part V
12/5/2008 (updated 12/5/2008)

Re: Playing music for a living
Dear Richard, Did you ever get stressed out by the prospect of making music as a career? What got you through if, or when, you had feelings of self-doubt? Thanks, Jordan

Surviving as a musician can be a tough business, but if that is who you are, you will find a way. Sometimes you have to play weddings, wait tables, or sign on as unemployed to keep going. Every artist has self-doubt, and there is no formula to overcome this Ė other people are a good, but not infallible, mirror, and words of encouragement can make a world of difference. Conversely, everybody can tell you that youíre music is no good, and they can all be wrong, but in that instance you would need extraordinary powers of self-belief to get through, but it has happened. Iíve always had a belief in my own music as being original, and based on that, Iíve just tried to doggedly stick to what I do in the hope that there is an audience for it somewhere. Iíve also tried to expand or contract according to the times, in order to stay in business. The lifestyle of a musician isnít for everyone either. You can be a great player, and hate going on the road, or hate getting on stage. And lastly, you have to love music, and be excited by whatís around the next corner creatively.

Richard, I'm wondering if you may be a fan of the great Scottish indie band, Belle and Sebastian. For years, I labored under the illusion that they were a twee and effeminate band of little interest and no consequence to me. That all changed upon hearing 2006's masterful "The Life Pursuit", which reminds me of listening to a great run of songs on a classic 70's AM radio station. I have since devoured the lion's share of their back catalog and now consider Stuart Murdoch to be one of the greatest pop songwriters of all time, though woefully underappreciated. I think an RT cover of the B&S classic "I'm A Cuckoo" would be an excellent fit for you. I doubt this will ever happen, but I'd like to think it merits your consideration. John Ryder

Iím a long time Belle and Sebastian fan. Twee? Effeminate? Bring it on! I have considered covers, but havenít found the one that fits.

I am hoping to build a replica of your blue Ferrington, not being a luthier, and it being my first project, we'll see how it goes.. But my question is for the 5 way switch, is that wired to the same combinations as a normal Stratocaster? In that case all 3 pickups can't be active at once? (continued)

5 way is wired like a Strat, yes.

I was watching an old interview where you talked about your Fender. You said the guitar was pretty much stock except for a "trade secret". Has that been exposed? Does the Ferrington have it as well? Thank you in advance. Paul Novak

The Ferrington has no tone controls, but a separate volume for each pickup, which creates endless combinations of tone when the knobs are backed off. Also, the pickups are glued, not screwed, to the body, to give a tighter fit, and potentially more sustain. It also has an extra wide fingerboard.

I was just reading Lolita when I came across the phrase, "She dabbled in cretonnes and chintzes." It's in the midst of a paragraph describing the somewhat sham marriage between the Mr. Humbert and Ms. Haze. As soon as I read it I thought of your song, Let it Blow ("a keen eye for..."). Maybe it's a long shot, but I was hoping you'd reveal that, "Yes! I snagged that obscure phrase from Nabokov." Did you? Thanks, Luke

Well, I read the book a couple of times, when I was at school, because it was a bit smutty, and the last time in my twenties, so I may have subconsciously borrowed, but I think thatís very unlikely.

Look, I'm having withdrawl symptoms through lack of 'News From Home'. It is nearly a year now since the last post. What's going on?

Iím too busy just now. Hope to get back to it.

Is Beeswing played in a tuning? Or maybe Richard just plays the guitar better than me!

Itís in Drop D, Capo 3.

When do we have the juicy prospect of a 'band' tour of the UK? regards David

There may be the odd date in 09, but a real tour would be most likely in 10.

Do you remember what tuning you used for "Valerie" on "Daring Adventures". Saw a youtube clip with an acoustic version and it looked like maybe drop D with a capo on 3 fret. The footage isn't that clear though. (continued)

On the record, it is played in straight tuning, key G. Acoustic, I play it in F, capo 3, drop D.

Getting quite technical but I saw that you have a Broadcaster pup on the blue Ferrington guitar, is that a Seymor Duncan Broadcaster? I play a tele custom '72 where I've kept the humbucker near neck, put the original bridge pup as a middle and a SD Broadcaster at the bridge. So I got a sort of Stratocaster sound. I loved the sound from the Broadcaster but it felt a bit too weak when using together with the middle pup (ie ex-original bridge pup). I've now have a Budz handwired bridge pup and moved the broadcaster to middle position which partially solved the problem. Do you have any sort of compensatory mechanism on your guitar(caps or such) or don't you need that when using you Broadcaster with the Alnico strat pup? Many thanks for you time and hope to see you in Sweden or Scandinavia some time! Mats Holmqvist

I think mine is an original Broadcaster, in which case they were not wound very scientifically, and all sound a bit different. Iíve found the output about the same as the middle pickup without changing the wiring.

Can you tell me if RT is planning any Irish dates for 2009? Thanks, Dez

Donít know yet.

I haven't been able to get the 1952 Vincent Black Lightning out of my head! The song itself is compelling, but the guitar work just floors me. You have probably been asked this a million times so bear with me. What was the inspiration for the song? Thank you for you time. Merle Miller

I was trying to get romantic/mythical British objects into songs. In America itís easy, because so many cars, trains, place names, etc., have romance and myth built in. This used to be the case in British folk music, but itís harder now.