The road to success 06/04
Guitarist David Viner puts his own unique spin on country blues
Kick-starting a career as a key-jangling roadie can be no bad thing. It worked for Noel Gallagher. Now it's working for young blues man David Viner. Previously, the North Londoner was driving The Von Vondies' tour van and flogging their T-shirts around America. They didn't realise the guy up front was probably the best guitarist around.
'Jason from the Von Bondies forced me to play,' says quietly but determinedly spoken Viner, who adopts the title Mr for his own work. 'My first proper gig was down in Texas and all I remember was being too petrified to even move my fingers. To my suprise it went down really well.'
It's been going well ever since.
Viner, you see, plays ancient country blues in the manner of such legends as Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt. There are traces of Bob Dylan and Donovan in there, too, but Viner's spidery nimbleness communicates an eerily lost world. His eponymous debut album - and the now the splendid This Boy Don't Care - unite such instinctive guile with the lyrically droll and the emotionally dark.
Nevertheless, he hasn't had a former life picking cotton.
'My uncle gave me a pile of really old records,' says Viner. 'I wasn't writing songs at 17, but when I heard those records I knew how I wanted my guitar-playing to sound. Sure, the lyrics were brilliant and mean something to everyone, But it was the guitar playing that hit me.'
Viner had plenty of time to perfect his technique. Disappointed by student life at Manchester's Metropolitan University, he eschewed seminars and concentrated on his scales. '
'Unfortunately, I also ran into huge debt,' he says of his lost year. 'I just had no interest in learning anymore, I didn't like anyone at University, I'd just had enough. Still, I put the time to good use..'
Yet Viner wasn't happy with everything. 'I always hated my voice, even on the first album, infact, I still hate my voice on this album. Why can't I sound like Bob Dylan? Still the more people have said I'm good, the more confident I've become.'
The ultimate test came about naturally enough, in New Orleans. He was billed alongside a gaggle of long-standing bluesmen in their 80s. 'They were great musicians,' he says. "Suprisingly, the audience took to me when I played. How flattering was that?"
Perhaps unwisely, Viner was recently sent traipsing around the country alongside The Hiss and Jet. Isn't he worried that he'll becomg lost in the ongoing garage scrum? 'Put it this way, it's nice that there's a renewed interest in the blues.' he says 'But it's also nice that not that many are doing the country blues the way I am.'
Or even pretending to be blind while playing. Does this improve your 'authentic; bluesman credibility? 'Er no, it doesn't,' he laughs 'I only pretended to be blind for a few hours. A couple of people were really dissapointed when they found out I could see.'
No matter. Mr David Viner doesn't need a white stick and shades to sound like the real deal.
SKY DIGITAL - Interview David Viner
Brit boy sings the blues
Respected by blues fans as a minor messiah, 24-year-old David Viner has already been hailed as a 'blues wonder'.
We hook up with this cool (and refreshingly modest) Londoner to chat about his second LP This Boy Don't Care - the follow-up to Mr David Viner.
"HOW DOES THIS BOY DON'T CARE COMPARE TO YOUR DEBUT ALBUM?" The musicianship is much tighter and the songwriting and singing is a lot better.
"HAS AGE MATURED YOU?" No, not really. I was 22 on my debut and I'm only 24 now!"
"YOUR NEW LP TITLE REEKS OF ATTITUDE, BUT YOU SEEM VERY DOWN TO EARTH. WHY USE IT?" To be honest I wanted to self-title my album again, but that would have really confused people. The album title doesn't mean anything because I DO care.
"WHAT IS YOUR ALBUM ABOUT?" Me moaning that I can't get any women, basically! I confess that I am a real whinger.
"DO YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND AT THE MOMENT?" Several, but not one proper romance. Once I find love I'll probably find something else to moan about.
"HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE SUCH RAVE REVIEWS ABOUT THIS ALBUM?" It's really nice, I do feel very, very flattered.
"DESCRIBE THE SOUND OF THIS ALBUM" It's more country as I've been listening to more Hank Williams stuff. Obviously that's rubbed off.
"DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND IN THREE WORDS." Country, blues, folk.
"WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG ON THIS ALBUM?" The opening track I'm Sick And Tired Of Being On My Own. I love the feel of it. It's intimate and with the whole band.
"WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE SONGS?" Everything. Sometimes it's easier to express myself through my music. Not so much with my close friends but with people I don't know.
"WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT PERFORMING?" The money. But it's not my main motivation.
"YOU'RE VERY YOUNG - DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A LOT TO LEARN?" This industry is a big learning curve for me and I've already made my mistakes.
"WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR AMAZING MUSICAL TALENT?" I discovered blues and funk when I was at college.
"WHAT WERE YOU STUDYING?" Art and biology, but music took over. I then went to university, which was a mistake. Basically I failed and ended up staying there for a year and a half spending lots of money.
"ANY PLANS FOR YOUR THIRD ALBUM?" It's half written so far.
"WHERE IS YOUR DREAM PLACE TO TOUR?" I love Europe. I've played in Spain and Sweden and would love to return there.
"WHO INSPIRES YOU?" The Reverend Gary Davis, the amazing guitarist and blues singer, inspires me most out of anyone - ever.
"WHAT IS THE BIG PLAN FOR YOUR CAREER?" I've already been to America, but I'm honestly not hankering after conquering America. After this album is released I'll hopefully do a UK tour - playing live is my passion.
"WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE AIM?" For the record company to let me keep making albums. I keep getting one-album deals but I fancy a ten-album deal!