Interview: Thomas Larsson

Dan McAvinchey: Thomas, how did you all get started in music, and what led to your selecting guitar as your primary instrument?

Thomas Larsson: My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was 12. I guess it was just an attempt to keep me from doing bad things. I had my first electric when I was 13, and then Clas Yngstrom taught me and my brother some blues riffs. I realized almost at once that the guitar was right for me because I learned so easily.

Dan McAvinchey: When did you first realize you had the ability to write original music?

Thomas Larsson: Me and a friend of mine started a band when I was 14 years and nobody could really read music. We had to play something, so we made up some
chords and melodies and just played. We didn't think much about the songwriting; it came naturally. At 18 years old I started taking composing more seriously.

Dan McAvinchey: Your music has a heavy rock/blues feel. Who are your biggest influences in this style of music?

Thomas Larsson: My biggest influences from the very beginning were Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Uli Roth, Steve Morse, Neal Schon, Ritchie Blackmore and bands like Deep Purple, Boston, Journey, Kiss, Sweet, Slade and Grand Funk.

Dan McAvinchey: What gear did you use to record your CD, and how important a role do you think the selection of recording equipment, instruments, etc. plays in the final quality of the album?

Thomas Larsson: I used many different amps on "Freeride" such as a Fender Twin, Orange and Peavey Classic. I also used a homemade preamp in a Marshall 2/50W-power amp. In fact, I was a little confused about my sound at that time. I wanted to find another sound then I had used before, but I didn't know what I was looking for. I just got tired of having the same sound year after year. The guitars used were two ESP Strats and my Les
Paul. For my solos I ended up using the Peavey Classic 30 and a Colorsound overdriver. I think it is very important working with good sounds while playing. The sound you work with will help you to express yourself and therefore allow you play to your utmost.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you get a chance to perform the material from your albums live?

Thomas Larsson: I haven't done a 100% Thomas Larsson gig yet, but on most concerts
there's always a couple of songs played from my own library, both instrumental and with vocals.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel about the national press (Guitar One, Guitar Player, Guitar World, etc.) in the United States and how they are currently covering guitar-oriented music?

Thomas Larsson: All kinds of media is very important to keep up one's interest. I like to keep myself updated about new equipment. Unfortunately, I don't read many guitar
magazines myself. I think many of the music-oriented mags don't focus much on the good musicians but instead on the commercial bands that sometimes don't even know how to tune a guitar. I like talking to, and reading about other artists to find out similarities and differences in between playing the guitar and creating music. Unfortunately not many
of the upcoming talents and bands give me as much inspiration as the old school players - it's more image than substance nowadays.

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Dan McAvinchey: What do you think the future holds for digitally distributed music such as mp3s or other forms of digital music?

Thomas Larsson: The Internet itself is a huge jungle. I believe it gives a chance for those who don't make it via a traditional label or distributor, if they know
how to reach the audience. I guess the 'Internet as music business' needs another
couple of years before it works properly for both musicians and consumers.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you have planned for the next year or two?

Thomas Larsson: Since I played with Glenn Hughes I haven't been involved in any big projects. From now on, my goal is to get back to playing on a professional
level, and also doing it my own way. Hopefully there will be another
instrumental disc recorded next winter in cooperation with Grooveyard Records. About 50% of the material is ready and I really look forward to starting the recording. The direction will be about the same as some of the instrumental
songs from "Freeride" but it will also contain some more "artistic" songs -
with not only just bass and drums.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you think has been the biggest help so far in getting the word out about your CD to the fans of heavy guitar music?

Thomas Larsson: When working with music that is not as commercial as Britney Spears, for example, it's absolutely necessary to be surrounded by people who believe in your music and that give you the freedom you need to create what you really want, instead of compromising in order to make it sound commercial.

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Sweden's Thomas Larsson is an outstanding guitarist who has a new CD out through America's Grooveyard Records entitled "Freeride". The CD itself, with six vocal tracks and five instrumentals, features blistering, intense, top-shelf retro-'70s heavy guitar rock of the highest order that ranges from hard-assed grooved-out bluesy heavy riffage to classic mid-tempo bluesy heavy rock swagger to clean beautiful melodic ballads.

Dan McAvinchey interviewed Larsson in order to get the guitarist's perspectives on music, gear, promotion and his future.