This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.
Percy Jones is renowned for his work with Brand X, Phil Collins, and Brian Eno, so we were understandably excited to find out that ACM tutor Scott McGill has been playing with Percy for a number of years!
Scott has performed at all levels of the music industry, including to over 500,000 people, playing alongside Jimmy Page, the Beach Boys, and Joan Jett. In recent years, he has worked extensively with Percy Jones and Ritchie DeCarlo, releasing four albums so far as a trio. In a recent interview, Percy refers to Scott as an interesting person to play with, who likes to push boundaries.
We spoke to Scott to find out more.
Hi Scott! How did you get involved with Percy Jones?
I met Percy in the early 2000’s as our record label at that time booked a short tour in which Percy was the opening act. He did a solo bass set with loops before we played. This was my band with Michael Manring called McGill Manring Stevens.
You toured the US with Percy and Ritche DeCarlo recently, how was that?
Very busy and a tight schedule as after I landed in the U.S. we went into the studio quickly to record new tracks and rehearse simultaneously. In fact, the rehearsals lasted until one hour before the doors opened for the first gig in Philadelphia.
Third Transmission – What was the recording process for that like? Do you come to the session with pre-formed ideas, or do you allow for a lot of experimentation?
The process was fast and concentrated in regard to the music and general logistics. Our drummer Ritchie DeCarlo is actually the guy who really makes it all happen as he is the producer, recording engineer, and booking agent. He is amazing as a musician and producer.
We came with only a few set ideas and normally play them out recording everything. We then listen, edit, and the material is constructed either as first or second pass performances, or edits of many different performances. Ritchie is the one who executes this process. There is a lot of experimentation in terms of musical ideas, editing schemes, recording techniques, use of software, and musical style in general as it is truly “progressive” rock/fusion music. Our audience expects it from us.
What’s your go-to gear, guitars when working with Percy?
I have a number of guitars Fretted and Fretless Electric and Acoustic that I use for the recordings. The amplification is usually whatever Ritchie has at the studio and my friend Bryan Betts has always been gracious enough to lend me his gear when he is back in the U.S. It varies and I could not say what I actually use and don’t really have any specific preferences except that it has to be loud enough and work with my pedals and guitars which are my only constant.
I also record directly into the console and use Amp Modelling software as well as use a 13 pin MIDI line into the computer to trigger plug ins after the tracks are recorded for interesting hybrid sounds with Guitar Amp and Synths. My pedals are mostly Line 6. I have the Modulation, Delay, Filter Modellers, a Boss Super Shifter for Pitch Shifting, and I use two Zen pedals designed and graciously given to me by Bryan Betts. One is a bionic Tube Screamer called a Skyline Drive and the other is a MXR Phase 90 Script style Pedal. I am hoping to get another one of his Skyline Drives to further drive the first one for additional flexibility.
Percy describes you as a player who likes to push boundaries. How would you describe your approach to guitar playing?
I am greatly influenced by 20th Century Classical Composers such as Arnold Schoenberg as well as my old teacher Dennis Sandole who taught John Coltrane, James Moody, Pat Martino, and many others. With Percy and Ritchie, I approach playing the Guitar as mainly accomplishing musical ideas and textures.
I have a very technical approach in general and I like to play a lot and play fast. In a trio of this type it is important to have a lot of ideas but you need them not only in the writing, but in the performance. I need to sound like I am playing a stream of ideas while I perform with them so all of the material sounds composed even if it is improvised. In general, the music is heavy fusion with a great emphasis on ambient textures and electronic musical processes.
What else have you got coming up?
I have recorded a lot of Classical music for solo Electric Fretted and Fretless Guitar by composers such as music by Paganini, Bach, Liszt, Debussy and Wagner. I used a clean sound for this music and did the Violin Music with Fretless Guitar. One of the pieces is a solo Ambient piece as well, influenced by Ornette Coleman. I did these entirely solo with no backing tracks or other musicians. There are now some clips on Youtube now but I intend to release the full collection of these sometime in 2018.
I was recently contacted by G. Calvin Weston who played Drums in Ornette Coleman’s band Prime Time about doing a release and maybe a few performances. Hopefully we can make that work as I enjoy his playing and music. I am also active writing academic papers on the material I like to play which I usually post on academia.edu and have been doing a lot in the way of taking well-known music theory texts and creating study guides from them.
If you’d like to study at ACM and learn first-hand from world-class musicians like Scott McGill, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.