May 24, 2016 Interview – Lance Lopez
The Blues has been one of the most impactful styles of music on the face of the planet. More than just a musical style, it is an art form that projects emotion far more explicitly than other genres. Taken in by the deep spell of Blues Rock, Lance Lopez realized at a young age that he was destined to master the craft of guitar, and now, all these years later, has been dubbed a Texas Blues Legend. After years of mastering his craft, sharing the stage with other famous guitarists, as well as most recently joining up with Fabrizio Grossi and Kenny Aronoff to form new project Supersonic Blues Machine, some may say Lopez is hitting his prime. Recently we sat down with the axeman to talk his journey in music, lessons learned in life, future projects, and more.
CrypticRock.com – You began your professional music career at the young age of fourteen years old. Since then, you have toured all over, performed with a long list of Rock/Blues artists, and released a series of records. What has the long journey been like thus far?
Lance Lopez – It’s been a trip! (Laughs) I mean, I have had so many ups and downs, sometimes more downs than ups…but I have always come away from both bad and good learning something. I have been very fortunate to have worked with and shared the stage with a lot of my heroes. Each time I am presented with such an opportunity, I always try to remain humble and teachable. I started making records in my early twenties and have yet to make that really “great one.” I feel like I got pretty close with the debut Supersonic Blues Machine album, but I feel I still have a long way to go. I’m always trying to outdo myself (laughs). I like to go through the journey today one day at a time and get excited to see what’s gonna happen next (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – That is a good outlook to have. If you do not approach life, in general, as one day at a time, it can become overwhelming. The Blues is certainly a very emotional form of music, which is more about knowing what notes need to be played than anything else. Tell us, what inspired your interest in Blues guitar playing?
Lance Lopez – I was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, so I have been surrounded by Blues music since birth and never realized it! When I began playing guitar in the mid 1980’s, it was Arena Rock music everywhere, but I was, and still am, drawn to more of the Blues-Based Rock of the 1970’s from England and America. It wasn’t until 1990 when I was 12 years old, my Mom took me see B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan in Dallas, and on that day, my life changed…after seeing B.B. and Stevie Ray jam together 10 feet in front of me, I decided right there and then I was gonna be a Bluesman!
CrypticRock.com – That is awesome that you found that out at such a young age like that. Of all your years on the road and performing live, what are some of the most important lessons you have learned?
Lance Lopez – Oh man…there are so many. Sobriety has been the best thing I have come away with. Learning very hard lessons about partying and that whole crazy world that surrounds it proved not to be of any advantage to me. I learned that drugs and alcohol actually hindered my live performances, not enhanced them, which is what I believed that myth to be. It’s so great to go out and play live, clean and sober, and give everybody 100% of a lucid me…and the biggest lesson of all is to follow you heart and do what you want to do, not what someone else thinks you want to do.
CrypticRock.com – Congratulations on sobriety, that has to be difficult, but great to overcome those hindrances. Speaking of live performances, you recently released a live album, entitled Live in NYC. It is a tremendous live record recorded at B.B. King’s Club in NYC. What was it like recording this particular show?
Lance Lopez – It was amazing! It was Johnny Winter’s 70th Birthday party and he invited me to perform and play an opening set to kick off the party! I had no idea they were recording it that night! I just knew it was Johnny’s party and that it was sold out with a guest list of some of the greatest Blues musicians in the world there. I just wanted to make Johnny proud.
CrypticRock.com – That is great and it certainly shows in the recording. As stated earlier, the Blues are about feeling, and it seems the best way to listen to the genre is in a live setting. We all know how the performance makes the audience feel, but tell us, how it makes you feel performing the music on stage?
Lance Lopez – Well, as I said before, now that my lifestyle has changed, it is so enjoyable to be 100% there with the band and audience and to be able to pour my heart and soul out through my guitar night after night and walk away and be satisfied knowing I did the best I could and there are no outside issues hindering it. That still doesn’t mean every night is perfect…but at least I can walk away and say I did the best I could and I was sober doing it.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, and that is what matters most. Seeing you spend a lot of time performing live, do you have future plans for a possible new solo studio record of original music?
Lance Lopez – Oh yeah, I have been working on a studio album for about three years now. I have been recording in L.A. and New York. Co-writing songs with great writers, doing pre-production with my band in Texas, then recording, then re-recording…making sure everything is perfect. It’s great to work with Fabrizio Grossi as a producer because he tells me the God’s-honest truth and pushes me to always be better…hopefully we will be finishing it up soon and it should be ready for a 2017-18 release.
CrypticRock.com – That will be exciting to look forward to. You mentioned Supersonic Blues Machine earlier. That is a project you work with Fabrizio Grossi and Kenny Aronoff. How did this project come about for you?
Lance Lopez – Well, like I said, Fabrizio Grossi has been producing me for a few years now, in the midst of us working together we formed a band with the greatest drummer in L.A., the legendary Kenny Aronoff! We got together and the first song we did was “Running Whiskey” with Billy Gibbons, and then next with Warren Haynes, and then we were just able to have our favorite guitarist and closest friends on the album. It really is a dream come true to be in this band with all my favorite musicians.
CrypticRock.com – That is fantastic to have those opportunities. Supersonic Blues Machine recently released their debut album, West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco, back in February. What was the writing and recording process like for this album with this group of musicians?
Lance Lopez – Rarely did we all record in the same room together. With this era of modern recording technology (Pro-Tools) and due to everyone’s touring schedules, we just had most of our guest submit their tracks via email and we chose the best takes. We really wanted Supersonic Blues Machine’s debut album to be a “classic album,” therefore we brought in some great songwriters from Nashville, New York, L.A., and even Europe! We didn’t want to get all of these great guitarist together and just turn it into a Sunday night Blues jam vibe, with everyone soloing over a standard 1-4-5 Blues progression. We wanted epic, impactful, thought-provoking material and songs that made statements about our lives and has us playing together musically as opposed to jamming, so we brought in great writers and really made it a collaborative effort…we’ll save all the jamming for the live shows and the Lance Lopez solo albums (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Well, the album is a great modern Blues offering and also has a list of great guests. It seems that the Blues has a very niche audience. What do you think attracts listeners to the genre, and what do you think is the future of the Blues scene?
Lance Lopez – Well thank you! We put a lot of hard work into it and I think you can hear it. The Blues is a very emotional music. It’s about true stories and real life drama, and I think everyone can relate to the stories in one way or another. I think Blues is headed in a very cool direction, there are a lot of young artist carrying the torch, and it is definitely alive and well. Johnny Winter said it best, he said, “The Blues will always be around, people need it.”
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. You sound/style is certainly one of a harder edge. Could you tell us a little bit about some of your musical influences?
Lance Lopez – Well that’s why we call it “Blues-Rock.” I have been called “Rockin’ Blues,” “Texas Rock,” or “Southern Hard Rock,” and other things. The main thing is that even if we are not playing traditional Blues and the material is more heavy Rock, that the Blues remains at the core. I grew up in the 1980’s, began playing guitar in the 80’s, and Rock music was everywhere. However, I was a decade behind, and I was influenced by all of the Blues-based Rock of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, that’s where my heart is. I played R&B and Blues for a long time when I began playing professional as kind of an education before returning back to my more heavy Rock and Blues based roots. My biggest heroes were Rock musicians that were first Blues musicians. As a kid, I started with Rock, went to R&B and Blues, and now back to Rock again.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to have such diverse influences. There is no doubt it bleeds through in your own music. My last question is pertaining to Horror/Sci-Fi movies, since we cover music as well as film on CrypticRock.com. If you are a fan of the genres, do you have any favorites?
Lance Lopez – I love Horror and Sci-Fi!! I love Guillermo Del Toro’s work! Mama (2013), Crimson Peak (2015), The Orphanage (2007), Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011), and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) have been my favorites of the last decade. Del Toro is absolutely amazing! I’m also a fan of Rob Zombie’s remakes. Brian Perera and the guys at Cleopatra Records are also now making some very cool Horror movies that I can’t wait to see. I have been in Los Angeles talking to them about some of them, and one in particular is called The Devil’s Domain starring Michael Madsen. That’s in production right now and I’m super excited to see it. I’m also a huge fan of all of the old Hammer Films from England, and I was so happy to see Hammer come back with The Woman In Black (2012). I thought it was one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory. But, Guillermo Del Toro is by far my favorite director of this genre.