Back in the last century, when the human attention span was still quantifiable, it was perfectly normal to watch Hank Marvin and the Shadows perform repetitive instrumental covers on TV at prime time. Four minutes of a goggle-glassed grinning Hank, carefully picking out Stratocaster notes one at a time, with seemingly way too many other musicians in the background doing something inaudible. Nonetheless, this guy had a unique sound; you knew when you were hearing Hank.
For this new song, Scarlet Sky, I played my beautiful Taylor T5 semi acoustic guitar, or as they call it nowadays, a hollowbody electric, which is otherwise an elegant piece of flamed koa fine furniture with strings. It’s one of those guitars that seems to dictate how you play, and for me that oddly seems to be a melodic Hank Marvin minus the whammy bar. However, definitely not in the Shadows, is the bass which has a forward groove like the Chili Pepper’s Flea, and the cans, which are sonically architected here by a rhythmic Dragan Bonham Stojkovski.
My great friend Steve Mackereth seemingly has developed a real knack for rank and file melody: Mack’s newfound mastery of dark social narrative drives the song insistently from start to finish. For the conjectural voiceover, our first choice would have been Vincent Price, of course, but we went with the ubiquitous, angry-but-informed Scottish guy. Anyway, if anyone should ask, this is what the song is about.
Looking at a Scarlet Sky by Steve Mackereth and Alex Smith, produced by Dragan Stojkovski (4.06). Photography by the intrepid Chris Blackshear.