Having snuck into my Top 10 albums of 2022 with ‘Damn Right!’, Dr Feelgood produced the goods against the odds. A great album of 11 new songs that live up to the band’s name. So, it seemed like the right moment to ask returning guitarist Gordon Russell for an interview on all things Feelgood. He very kindly took the time to answer my questions. Read on…

Hi Martin.

Thanks for the good album review and it’s a pleasure to do this. Here we go

How did you come to rejoin the band?

I think things had stagnated for a few years in the band. Same show, no new album or even new songs so they were looking for a change.The pandemic was a good time for the guys to turn things around so they asked me if I’d like to rejoin, I was delighted of course

How does it differ, playing with Phil and Kevin now, than the first time around? The live clips on YouTube seem to be joyous. I live in France and hope to catch one of your gigs here later this year. I often replaced Steve when he took his holidays, so we have played together quite a bit over the years. But it’s no different than before. Phi and Kevin are the best rhythm section and we all still have good energy, so it works. Yes, we have lots of fun onstage which makes it fun for the audience to watch too. We will be playing in France later this year. Dates are still to be announced but yes do come and see us.

Robert Kane does a great job of doing his own thing, rather than emulating Lee. No disrespect to anyone else, but the two of you seem to have clicked with the songwriting on ‘Damn Right!’. As I said in my album review, the songs show influences from Wilko and Gypie while keeping your style of playing. It sounds like Feelgood, not a tribute, which was a very pleasant shock for me! How did the two of you approach writing? Had you already written some ideas before rejoining the band? Glad you like our album. Robert and I started writing as soon as I was back in. We didn’t plan to record so soon, but it was just a natural thing to do, and it worked immediately.  As most songwriters will tell you there is no set way to write songs. But with us, sometimes Robert would send lyrics my way to complete songs and sometimes I would send him riffs or ideas to finish.  We had a similar vision so it all came together quickly. 

Are there already some songs for another album, or are you just enjoying the gigs at the moment? The band certainly doesn’t look like slowing down. We’re not thinking about another album at the moment but I always have new riffs and song ideas. So I’m sure they’ll come out when needed.We certainly do enjoy touring and playing so while people keep coming to our shows we’ll keep doing it. All the shows we’ve done so far this year have been sold out which is great!

The end of ‘Last Call’ is lovely, the band were obviously loving playing it together. Was most of the album recorded essentially live? Last Call is 100% live! We did that one evening after dinner in one take. It was a magic moment. We recorded all the songs in 4 days!  And Dave Bronze our producer mixed it in two days 

a couple of weeks later. So pretty quick work. All the rhythm tracks, eg bass, drums and rhythm guitar are completely live. Robert added the vocals and harmonica after and I added the guitar solos after too. I did most of the solos in one take because I wanted them to sound live and be in the moment. Also Dave our producer wouldn’t let me do them again. Ha (laughs)

In preparation for the gigs, did you listen to ‘Doctor’s Orders’ again? If so, how did it sound? I still enjoy it, even if the band at the time felt that some of the rough edges got lost in the mix. Not really. I didn’t like it at the time because as you say, we thought it a bit too clean. But when I listen back to it now (that’s very occasionally) I think it’s a good album. Some fun songs there.

How does playing with Robert differ from playing with Lee? Both very different but both excellent frontmen and very easy to work with.

Can you tell us about your guitar and amp set-up? Does it differ when in the studio? Pretty much the same. Live I use a G&L ASAT deluxe as my main guitar. I do a few numbers on slide guitar where I use my very old Burns Trisonic. I also have a Fender Telecaster standing by as a spare. The amplifier I’m using at the moment is a Fender Hot Rod Deville 2×12. I also have Fender Hot Rod Deville 4×10 which comes out occasionally. I have a small pedal board which consists of a Boss Stage Tuner, A Boss Blues Driver for solos and a TC Electronic analogue delay which is on for a couple of the more bluesy songs. For the album, I used my 2 stage guitars on everything. Although it was the Fender Telecaster for the solo on Mary Ann. The amplifier I used on every song was a Vox AC 30 except for the song Put Your Money where Your Mouth Is, which is a borrowed Orange amp. Hardly any effects recording except a tremolo for the song I Need a Doctor and a fuzz box for Mary Ann. That’s it really. Quite basic.

Catch Dr Feelgood on the road at a town near you soon. Dates are regularly added on their Facebook page

Author: Martin Chamarette