Andrew Davis of Them Dirty Roses: The Interview

Andrew Davis Interview

Feature Photo by Todd Dean

Andrew Davis of Them Dirty Roses

Interview by Andrew Daly

If any appreciator or critic of hard rock and heavy metal music needs confirmation that the next generation of guitar heroes is upon us, look no further than six-stringer Andrew Davis.

Davis’ fierce fretwork and grizzled, throwback vibe have proved a perfect fit for the invigorating blend of throwback-meets-modern rock that Them Dirty Roses has been perpetuating.

And so, for those who fear that the genre has been left relegated and collecting dustworry no more. For Davis—and his cohorts, who obviously share the mindset—rising forth from the ashes and granting hard rock music residence amongst the seething masses once again is akin to just another day at the office.

During a break from the road, Andrew Davis beamed in with to dig into his origins, songwriting style, gear choices, and more.

What first sparked your interest in the guitar?

I wanted to play guitar from such a young age, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what started it. When I was around five, my mom would put VH1 on in the mornings as we were getting ready for school, work, etc. My first memory of a guitar player was Carlos Santana on the track “Smooth,” he did with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. I was mesmerized. From there, it took a while to find my first major influence, but Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction landed in my lap when I was twelve, and I never looked back.

And from there?

Guns N’ Roses was everything I thought being a rockstar should be. From there, I found Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Tony Iommi, and all the other legends that Ozzy Osbourne played with. Then, Metallica came into the picture. I loved Kirk Hammett’s lead playing, but James Hetfield’s right hand always stood out. Man, I could keep going on about Dimebag Darrell, Joe Satriani, Jason Becker, and all the guys, but I don’t think we have the time for that [laughs].

How did Them Dirty Roses form?

We all grew up together and were part of various separate musical endeavors. Eventually, those all came to an end. James [Ford] moved to Nashville, TN, about two years before us to pursue songwriting. One day, he decided that he should do more than just write the songs, so he called us, and we moved up to Nashville. James could probably tell this story better than I could, honestly. Either way, the three of us moved into one bedroom; the rest is history.

Tell me about signing your first record deal.

Would you believe me if I told you that our first record deal was with a label that we started [Red 11 Music]? It still is. We didn’t really dig what was happening around town with the labels. We heard so many horror stories about artists being told what to do, what to say, how to dress, and we didn’t care for that, not to mention the large chunk of change that you will forever owe to the machine.

Would you change anything about your early records?

Yes and no. It’s hard to say that I would change anything because I’m thrilled with where we’re at, and who knows how that would’ve turned out under any other circumstance. However, I have evolved as a guitar player more than most people know. I came from a metal background. I knew scales and arpeggios, but playing this music was very foreign to me.

I was very reserved for the first few years of this band and struggled to find my place. Most of the early recordings were sort of a “bare minimum” situation where I tried not to overplay or over-exert my influence too much. In short, yeah, I’d love to do all the old stuff over again with what I know now. But it wouldn’t be the same if I did, and I’m still really proud of that work.

Tell me about Them Dirty Roses’ latest record.

This latest record has been years in the making. We started in April 2019 with Joe Carrell in Nashville, TN. It was intimidating, to say the least. Joe is a multi-time Grammy-nominated engineer, and we had never really stepped foot into any situation quite like that.

There was definitely a lot of pressure on everyone to deliver once the “red light” was on. Joe helped a lot with that, though. He has this sort of calming presence yet this sense of urgency simultaneously. He makes you feel comfortable and relaxed yet still pushes you to get the best performance possible. It’s an art within itself, really.

What gear did you have to work with while in the studio?

I actually had a friend with an authentic 1959 Les Paul Standard that I was able to borrow for most of these sessions. On top of the pressure to perform in the studio, I had to try and live up to the legacy of this guitar! It was nerve-wracking at times, that’s for sure. Aside from that, I used my 2017 Classic, my 2001 Studio, and my 1989 Junior. I’m a Gibson fanboy if you can’t tell. As far as amps go, it was between my Marshall JCM2000 and a 1981 JCM800. Both amps had different tonal characteristics that I liked for different songs.

Describe your songwriting approach.

You know, that’s probably more of a James question. I write a lot of music, but most of our songs start with him. I do a lot of the guitar arrangements, and sometimes I’ll help with the lyrics. It typically starts with him, though.

What moments from the sessions stand out most?

I don’t know that this is a specific moment, but I think I started to find my sound during these sessions. We would be in the studio by day and out all across Nashville at night. I got to jam with tons of legit players that brought out the best in me. It was definitely a wild time.

Nashville itself is a wild city. When you throw the four of us in the mix, there’s no telling how the night will end. One thing was for sure, though. There was always a surplus of phenomenal musicians playing on any given evening. Even if I didn’t play with them personally, I always learned something.

What has the experience been like in terms of touring and promotion?

Honestly, I always loved these songs, but I wasn’t sure how anybody else would feel. Seeing crowds sing the lyrics back to you really gives you chills. People playing air guitar and nailing the solo better than I do is kinda humbling [laughs].

Does making music in a low-attention span world frustrate you?

Yes, but it also presents an interesting challenge that keeps the music fresh. How do you capture the “15-second” crowd? We make music for our own personal enjoyment, but you can’t completely ignore the trends that are happening these days. How can you make music that’s both authentic and commercially viable? I say that it frustrates me, but honestly, it’s kinda fun.

What’s next for you in all lanes?

I’m thinking I need a new Les Paul [laughs]. But seriously, we’re always writing, recording, filming new videos, or touring. We just finished up an album, and it’s probably some of our best work to date. It definitely is for me, personally. I got to really hone in on my sound for this upcoming record, and I pushed the boundaries between genres for sure. I’m really excited for the world to hear it.

Andrew Davis of Them Dirty Roses

Feature Photo: Andrew Davis of Them Dirty Roses

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