The Smooth Crooner, BOZ SCAGGS, Known for Hits Like “Lowdown” Opens Up About His New Album, “A Fool To Care” and His Biggest Musical Accomplishments!
Posted On 24 Apr 2015
Tag: 429 Records, A Fool To Care, All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Bonnie Raitt, Boz, Boz Scaggs, David Paich, Duana Allman, Glyn Johns, Jim Beard, Lowdown, Lucinda Williams, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Silk Degrees, Steely Dan, Steve Jordan, Steve Miller Band, Steve Miller Blues Band, Toto, William Royce
On March 31st, the legendary singer-songwriter, Boz Scaggs released “A Fool To Care” via 429 Records. The album showcases the patchwork of influences and innovations that make up a Boz Scaggs album. Most importantly, on this record, there is a sense of fun, as well as Scaggs ability and willingness to wander in any musical direction throughout the twelve tracks. The album also features two outstanding duets with Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams.
William Royce “Boz” Scaggs began his long career in 1965 with the release of his first solo recording Boz. He then went on to play with the Steve Miller Band and was really able to work on his rock and R&B chops with the likes of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Duane Allman. Scaggs achieved multi-platinum success with Silk Degrees in 1976.
With a trademark voice, a rich catalogue and many accolades, Scaggs continues to establish himself as one of music’s most creative and original artists. Learn more about the man himself in this exclusive interview:
You’ve been quoted as saying “I’m at a point where I’m having a lot of fun with music, more than ever.” Why do you think that’s the case now? What is it about this album, A Fool To Care that you were able to have all this fun?
Life gets better as it goes on. Life just seems more complicated when you are 16, 25 or 35 years old. I’ve said it in other conversations with people- I’m just happier now then I’ve ever been and I’m not the only one who says that.
So it’s natural if I’m doing what I love to do which outside of my personal life, I get to play music. It’s what I started out doing, it’s what I love doing and it’s the only thing I really know how to do. If I’m able to continue that, then I’m in a pretty good place. I’m performing more then I ever have now and I’ve got a great band and a really good organization of people around me. Yeah, I’m working with musicians that I’ve worked with for many years. I am talking about the studio players who I’m recording with and Steve Jordan, the producer who has been an associate of mine for about 15 years now. We are really enjoying our work now! We know the players we like, we know the music who want to experiment with. It all just feels good.
Can you talk about the inspiration for the music on A Fool To Care? What are some of your favorite tracks on it?
Well, they are all my favorite songs at one time or another. When you pick them up and turn them around and analyze them and play them and find your own take on them, it’s a highly focused process. You record it and then you add everything into it. They are like experiments in a way. It starts with a lot of material. Jordan and I do a lot of pre-production. We talk about the songs. We knew the rhythm sections we were going to work with. We knew kind of what the audio pallet was going to be for the record. So then it’s just talking about material. There was a concept in the very beginning that we were going to explore my earliest musical influences growing up in Texas and Oklahoma as I did. That included music not only from Texas but blues and guitar music and music that was on the radio. The music that came out of New Orleans which has been a big influence on my career and Steve’s as well was important too. We share a good deal in common when it comes to musical interests. So it kind of became a process of finding the material that would be interesting to play and interesting for our audience.
We tried to find material that might be enlightening in some way and might open some doors. So it went from 40-50 songs to a shorter list and it eventually evolved into a list of 14-15 songs that we agreed to take to Nashville with us to record with the players.
What was it like recording with Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams? How did you decide on those two particular singers?
Well Lucinda and I were asked to do a duet on a special show a couple years ago up in San Francisco and we had not met before then. Although I have avidly followed her music for some years. So anyway, it was just a good experience and we liked it and sort of promised ourselves that we would get together some other time and this was a good time to do that. It worked out for both our schedules. It just worked out so well. Lucinda is a great hero of mine. I think she is one of the greatest writers of my generation.
Bonnie too has been very special to me. We both live in the Bay Area so we have known each other from proximity. But I’ve never really known Bonnie closely as a one on one friend. I’ve always wanted to work with her though. This song seemed to have her signature all over it. So we made a demo and sent it over and she liked it a lot and agreed to come over and do the duet and add some slide guitar to it.
I think I worked with two of my biggest heroes in music in working with those two. I feel very fortunate to have made these connections.
As far as your time with The Steve Miller Band, can you recall some of you favorite memories with the group?
Well, we made two records together in the 8 months that I was with them. At the time, it was called the Steve Miller Blues Band. I was just filling in for a guitar player who had left the band. That was our first time in a major recording studio and our first time with a major important producer. So of course it was a very exciting time! So I’d have to say the highlight was making our first record in London with the producer, Glyn Johns who really taught us so much and gave us such a great experience in the studio. That experience in London with Glyn was a highlight of my music life.
It was a pretty natural transition. I had just come to SF to play for the purpose of playing in the band. My love for SF grew in that year that I spent there. I continued to live there and made more friends. Recording those first two records with the Steve Miller Band set me on a track of writing my own music and gave me a little direction as to who I was and what I was doing. So I continued writing songs and through friends and a particular associate who lived across the street from me, helped me develop that material and get my first recording contract. It was a very very natural transistion and a pretty organic process.
It led to my first solo record or actually my second since I had released one in Europe 5 years before. It led to my solo career very naturally.
Well, for me, it was discovering my own musical voice. I had written a number of songs and made 4 or 5 or 6 albums before I really landed with a group of musicians for the album “Silk Degrees”. Those musicians went on to become the band Toto. In connecting with those players in the studio scene in LA, I really found my footing. I knew that after the last few years and a bumber of records out there that I was looking for something in particular that was a match for what I was at musicailly. And I hit it with that rhythm section. Particulary with the drummer and keyboard player who became collaborators of mine.
The keyboardist, David Paich and I even went off one weekend to write and run though music. The first song we finally came up with was “Lowdown”. And that probably became one of the most important songs of my career to me. It was just in a very natural place for my voice. I had wanted to go there for a long time.
Well, they wouldn’t be new to a lot of people. I have been really inspired lately by a musician named Jim Beard who I met as a member of Steely Dan who I worked with on the road for a couple years. Anyway, he’s a jazz composer, writer and arranger. I’ve been listing to his work more then anybody for the last couple of years. It’s taken me to a really great place.
I sort of go through life sampling a little of this and that.
You’ve been on several labels in your career. Why does 429 Records fit you and your music today?
Well, every company has a special focus. The music biz has changed so much over the course of my career that it represented one thing at one stage of my career and another thing at another stage. At this point, 429 Records focuses on classic artists of my generation and they also focus on a little jazz and a little R&B and soul and blues too. That’s generally the area that I am focusing on today. I do other styles and other things too though. But for now they seem to have a handle on the audience that would most appreciate my work.