There's a rare class of guitarist who inspires just as many new players to pick up and start playing as they cause old players to throw down the instrument in painful realization of what they'll never be able to do... For the month of June, we present one of them; nine questions with a supreme talent, Mr. Martin Tallstrom.
Early Life, Personal Background, etc?
I live in Stockholm, Sweden. I´m married and have two small sons. I currently work as a freelance guitar/ lap steel player. I used to work with electronics at Ericsson when I was younger, but one day I just quit, much to the horror of my parents! After that, it took about 10-15 years of frustration before I finally found my musical "home" and ways to make a living from playing. "
How did you arrive at guitar?
For some unknown reason, I knew pretty early on that I simply had to play the guitar. I guess I was around eight or so, but I got my first real guitar when I was ten. Before that, I played mandolin for a year at the public music school - I think I successfully learned to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on a single string :)
What artists were influential on your early playing?
If we´re talking way back, it was rock´n´roll and blues a la Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Blues Band, John Mayall, Dave Edmunds etc. After a brief hard rock period I found stuff like Boston, Toto, Chicago and other AOR bands. During this era, I happened to hear a studio ace player called Tim Pierce. He plays mostly electric (like I used to do), but he´s still my biggest influence in terms of touch, tone , timing, technique and taste - the five T´s - he´s the man!
Later on I was very inspired by Jerry Reed, Brent Mason and others. After seeing Tommy Emmanuel in 2006 (wow!) I have focused mainly on steel string acoustic guitar. I´m also very influenced by classical and Spanish guitar.
Five albums, what are they?
Hmm, tricky, that seems to change all the time... I find that I don´t listen to albums these days, more a song here and a song there. But if I made a playlist, I would probably include artists like The Eagles, Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys, Toto, John Prine and a hundred more :)
Away from music, what do you enjoy doing?
I have always liked fixing and building stuff. Right now there´s a lot of work going on both in and around the house, in our small garden. (I´m not sure, however, what my hands really think of all the digging and grinding and pounding :-/ Uh-oh.)
(I´m also a big fan of V8 muscle cars, so one dream is to have a monster car that I can work on.)
If you could pick one person, place or thing to load into a catapult and fire into an active volcano, who, where or what would it be?
Definitely my inscrutable phobias.
Favorite city in the world?
It has to be... Stockholm!
When you compose, from what do you draw the most inspiration?
Apart from music I hear/ have heard, there is a certain sound, and the feeling it gives me, I´m looking for. I can´t put my finger on it, maybe it´s nostalgia... maybe it´s some romantic notion. Anyway, it´s a bit of a mystery :)
Do you have a musical 'goal' in terms of technique, composition, etc?
I would like to be comletely free in terms of right hand technique, playing with or without a thumbpick, using the thumbpick as a flatpick, move freely between a classical and a fingerpicking position etc. I also need to study improvisation, everything I play is written.
To try and compose music that can be enjoyed by many, not only guitar players.