Guitarist and composer Ant Law is back on tour this Spring performing with his new trio music as well as favourites from his critically acclaimed debut album. His tour brings him to Monmouth’s Queen’s Head on March 30 where Matt Ridley joins him on double bass and the drum chair is split between Asaf Sirkis and Dave Hamblett.
Over the last decade, Law has established himself as a significant compositional talent with an unorthodox yet original guitar approach working in new improvisation-focused music. He studied at Edinburgh University and Berklee College of Music and now lives in London, regularly performing with renowned musicians such as Tim Garland, Jason Rebello and Paul Riley. Law is a pioneer in the ’Perfect Fourths’ tuning system for guitarists and is a published author on the subject. Andy Howells recently put questions to him.
What lead you to becoming a musician?
My Mum put headphones on her belly when I was in the womb – it probably started then! And when I was born I emerged strumming my umbilical chord! Seriously though, in my family we always listened to lots of music. I had a Queen video and a Guns ‘n’ Roses video, Brian May and Slash were both very inspiring. More practically speaking though, it wasn’t until I started to study for a Physics degree that I realised that subject wasn’t for me, and that I had to some way be able to survive by playing music! So I started to practice all day instead of going to lectures!
Who or what has inspired you most on your musical journey?
Every now and then I am fortunate enough to travel a little, and I find that inspiring from a life point of view. In other words, it inspires me to live, and since music is a part of my life, that means practice, composition etc. It’s not that I am influenced by music from other cultures directly. For example, I went to Brazil, I love the music there and certainly found it inspiring, but you won’t hear anything that sounds Brazilian in my music. I don’t know if that makes sense…?
Can you give us some background about your most recent album?
My most recent album was Zero Sum World, released last year on Whirlwind Recordings to great acclaim. In the international press in particular it was very well received, which was nice. That features the UK’s finest Michael Chillingworth (alto sax, bass clarinet), Ivo Neame (piano), Tom Farmer (bass), and James Maddren (drums) and is all my compositions. It’s my second album as a leader and is basically a modern jazz quintet playing music that is an amalgam of everything that has ever gone into my brain, from Gnawa music from Morocco, Messaien, Jazz, Blues and so on.
You’re touring shortly are you looking forward to that?
I am really looking forward to it. I have toured the UK extensively over the last 3 or so years, but never with a trio, it’s always been larger ensembles like quintets or quartets. When it’s just bass and drums, there is much more room to explore! And being a guitarist who owns lots and lots of pedals and effects, it’s really exciting to experiment with those types of things and see what weird and wonderful sounds I can create. The drummer on the tour is Will Glaser, he is a very exciting young cat that seems to have everything together, and has played my music lots in the past. Matt Ridley will be on double bass – we have a chemistry that has developed over years of playing together in my band and other bands too. It’s always very very good musically to do tours, even though they can be gruelling in some ways!
What can people expect from your forthcoming Monmouth gig?
It’s going to be an exciting evening full of virtuosity and spontaneity. There’ll be lots of interesting rhythmic stuff going on, and it’ll be nearly all my own original music. It’s influenced a great deal by music from South India, but this isn’t always audible to the untrained ear, since we don’t use Indian instruments.
What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
It’s always a bit of a range of stuff; I have been really digging Eddie Harris of late. For jazz guitar type music I check out lots of Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Ben, Mark Giuliana and some other amazing jazz musicians are on the new (and final) Bowie album which is a really interesting listen. Classically speaking, a friend introduced me to Thomas Ades last year, and I’m really into him, I also saw Ravel’s Waltz performed which is one of my favourites! In terms of more popular music, I have two albums by Hiatus Kaiyote, and I like Knower too…
- Visit Ant Law’s official website.
- A version of this Q&A appears in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on March 25, 2016