Dave “Bucket” Cowell is a veteran guitarist who has played with some of the most revered names in hard rock. Not only has the UK native been a member of Bad Company and Humble Pie, Cowell, along with Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith, played in ASAP. That band’s 1989 Silver and Gold album is a favorite among AOR insiders. Cowell has kept busy in the following decades, raising his profile through constant touring and recording sessions, with the cream of the classic rock crop. Never one to sit around waiting for the next gig, the guitarist has just released Guitars, Beers & Tears, a new album featuring some of his famous friends. The record was masterminded by Cowell and guests include the aforementioned Smith (Iron Maiden), Steve Conte (New York Dolls), Danny Bowles (Thunder), and singer-songwriter Edwin McCain. PureGrainAudio caught up with Cowell and got the skinny on the new album.
You’ve been playing musically professionally for over 4 decades now. Does the grind of touring and recording ever wear on you?
Bucket: Definitely not! I love touring… always have a bag packed! It’s a shame due to several factors, economy etc. It’s not easy to sustain lengthy tours. Most bands, in the US anyway, go out Thursday through Sunday and go home during the week. Recording is such a creative experience. I get completely wrapped up in it and lose track of time!
At this point in the game, do you even need to practice guitar? How much of what you do has become almost instinctive?
Bucket: It’s not so much ‘practice,’ in the classic sense, these days. I’m always noodling with a new song idea or riff, driving people crazy I’m sure! Instinct takes over on stage. It’s where I like to be prepared so I can enjoy the show as much as the audience… hopefully. [laughter]
During the mid to late ’80s, the whole “shred guitar” thing got huge. What did you think about that movement?
Bucket: Well I must admit, it sort of passed me by! Although I acknowledge the incredible technique, it leaves me cold. Perhaps, if you got paid by the note, I would have practiced more. [laughter].
You’ve worked with Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith throughout the years. You guys seem like kindred spirits. What makes the collaboration process between the 2 of you so easy
Bucket: Co-writing comes easy to me. I love the sparking back and forth of ideas. The luxury of working with Adrian is awesome. We both contribute purely on the merit of the idea. After all of these years, we’re over fighting for the percentage thing. No matter where in the world, or how far apart we are, we both relish playing and hanging together.
I always thought the ASAP album should have gotten a lot more attention. Give us your thoughts on the Silver and Gold.
Bucket: We had a great time playing some shows as ‘The Entire Population of Hackney’ which led to us writing the album. Adrian’s distinctive voice and the influence of Andy Barnett and myself as writers wasn’t necessarily aimed at Maiden fans. We made an album that we liked, maybe a bit before it’s time.
That brings us to Guitars, Beers & Tears. Who gave you the idea to make it, instead of trying to create a new band around you?
Bucket: I was playing with The Jones Gang at the time along with Kenney Jones, Rick Wills and Robert Hart. As with Bad Company, I was perceived almost as a sideman. It was Peter Kuys (AAO Music) who first suggested me making this album with friends and peers.
Did you write the songs first, and then thought of the right people for each track? The combinations you used on the record work really well.
Bucket: Thank you! It varied – some songs were written before I thought who they would suit vocally – others I wrote with specific singers in mind. Then came the logistical problem of availability, permissions and all that other stuff.
You also included “Reach Out,” which was first recorded by Iron Maiden in the ’80s. Why did you decide to record a new version of it?
Bucket: We first played it with ‘the Hackneys,’ down the line I got a call from Adrian in Hawaii saying Iron Maiden were going to cut the song! I thought, “cool!” It’s always been a favourite of ours so we changed the feel a bit with the halftime verses. I think it’s more moody that way. Adrian nearly died when I recorded the backing track in the same key of E, he hasn’t sung a lead vocal in 20 years! But, I think you’d agree… he did a fantastic job! Thanks mate.
Edwin McCain’s involvement was a surprise. How did you guys hook up?
Bucket: I came across Edwin whilst working in Nashville and was knocked out with his voice and songs. He is a classic American troubadour. He reminds me of someone in the vein of Steve Earle, who I love also. I pursued him relentlessly and finally met up with him, here in the UK, during his solo tour.
When will audiences in North America get to see you again?
Bucket: The album is out now on AAO Music’s label Reality and we are preparing for shows in the US in the fall, my bags are packed!
Thanks for the interview!
Bucket: Many thanks to you, cheers! [ END ]