As a 15-year-old aspiring guitarist in 2003, hearing the tones summoned by Pat Travers and Pat Thrall on 1979’s “Live! Go For What You Know” for the first time was transformative. I spent hours poring over every inch of that album in hopes of incorporating their techniques into my own playing, and, while I was never able to reach that level as a musician, being able to interview and write passionately about the artists that shaped me is an even more satisfying endeavor at this point in my journey.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Travers this week in advance of his upcoming show at The Stage on Aug. 31 and it was something that my 15-year-old self could never have imagined.
MNOD: Tell me about how “The Art of Time Travel” came together.
Travers: It’s a great album. We had just done a deal at the beginning of the pandemic to make a record and the loss of our live work meant that we were able to focus on the new material to make it the very best. I was able to work like I used to. I hadn’t the luxury to devote three months to something and really fine tune it in a while, so we’re ready to get it out there to the audience. Both guys in my band are smokin’ players and they’ve known each other since they were teenagers, which definitely helps with the chemistry. We think we have a really great batch of songs here and everything sounds exactly the way I wanted it to.
MNOD: What motivates you to keep writing new music at this stage of your career?
Travers: That’s a good question. For this album, I was constantly working on songs. I couldn’t turn off the faucet. I actually wrote 16 songs, but I ended up narrowing it down to the 10 best. I worked really hard on the album and the pandemic enabled me to really focus on making the songs stand up. I train in Karate every day and the dojo I was training at closed down during the pandemic, which was annoying. I need ample space to work with my bo staff and do my Katas, so it was tough to do that at times. I spent most of my time away from the stage during the pandemic working on the album and fine tuning these songs, which was my motivation.
MNOD: This may sound like an odd question, but I’ve noticed a trend throughout your career in which your album titles and covers tend to have a motif of heat or fire. ‘Crash and Burn,’ ‘Heat in the Street,’ ‘Radioactive’ etc. Is that something you’re conscious of or is it purely coincidental?
Travers: It’s definitely a coincidence. I never thought about it until you just mentioned it. ‘Heat in the Street’ as a title was more about the idea of there being police in the streets, but I guess there is something to that being a thing.
MNOD: What’s the story behind the cover for ‘The Art of Time Travel?’
Travers: The artwork was the idea of Brian Perera, who is the president of Cleopatra Records. It’s a painting of a photo of me from 1976 and inside the album is a picture from 2021, which is another time travel reference.
MNOD: Your live album from 1979 is rightfully considered one of the greatest live releases of all time. What do you remember about putting that together?
Travers: We were playing the last four or five shows of the tour in Florida and we made the decision to record them. The great thing about that album is that it’s totally as it was. There’s only one vocal overdub due to a microphone not working. Otherwise, the playing and the mixing on that album is completely real. I was surprised that ‘Boom Boom’ became such a hit. Ultimately, that meant that I had to get back out on the road again, but the band at the time was on fire.
MNOD: As a guitar player myself, the impact of hearing you and Pat Thrall tear it up on the album was immeasurable. What was it about his style that meshed so well with you?
Travers: We just clicked. We hit it off instantly and inspired each other. He’s one of my favorite players and people to this day. We had a lot in common from the beginning. He’s actually the one that inspired ‘Snortin’ Whiskey,’ because he arrived late for rehearsal one day. The riff for that song was actually passed along to me by a musician named Derek O’Neil, but his was more country and I modified it to make it heavier. Nothing was carved in stone yet in terms of lyrics or a title and hours went by before Pat finally kicked the studio door open. I asked if what he had been doing and he said “I was snortin’ whiskey and drinkin’ cocaine,’ so I knew that had to be the title. I put the whole thing together in about 11 minutes, as it was pretty low hanging fruit.
MNOD: You’ve mentioned in the past about how significant it was seeing Hendrix live when you were younger. Describe what that experience was like.
Travers: I was 13 when I saw him in Ottawa. I had never seen one Marshall stack at that point, let alone three of them. How we played and how he looked when he played set the bar very high for me, so it was special.
MNOD: You’re playing at The Stage in Williamsville next week. What are some of your memories of playing the western New York area throughout your career?
Travers: I’ve always loved playing Buffalo. We played with AC/DC in 1979, which was great. The response to the new material has been fantastic so far, so we’re feeling very confident. We’re looking forward to being there.
Pat Travers is at The Stage in Williamsville, NY on Aug. 31 with Lips Turn Blue.
“The Art of Time Travel” is available now wherever music is disseminated, but do us all a favor and pay for a physical copy.