Fast Eddie Clarke of the rock band 'Fastway' and former guitarist of 'Motorhead' very kindly agreed to answer some questions about playing the guitar and being a musician. My thanks go out to you Eddie for taking the time giving these informative and inspiring answers.
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Basically I wanted to learn guitar and a friend showed me the chords of Summertime. I then kept practising for 3 weeks and then played and sung the song to my Mum and Dad. It was a good song to start with as it had an F and a C which are the hardest chords to get used too. I learnt most stuff by ear or from friends I was not good at learning solo’s note for note which as it turned would be my saving grace as I had to come up with my own solo’s which gave me my own style.
Do you have any advice on practicing?
Practicing in my mind has to be something you want to do. I would say I think it is good to spend as much time with the guitar in your hands as possible maybe not playing but just holding it. For example while watching the TV you could have the guitar in your hands and just holding it.
I say this because you need to be comfortable with your instrument. I think you should learn songs you like and then try and improvise as much as you can to give your own take on it. I think it is important to create your own style as much as possible. If you are doing a classic song when the solo comes do your own thing. It is also very important to learn to hold a tune together so never underestimate learning the chords and structure of a song. Timing is everything. You should be able to do it in your sleep. That is how much you must practise.
Do you have any guitar playing tips for beginners? Exercises or scales or useful riffs that you would recommend?
As I said above the key is learning songs you like and want to play like. At first anyway as this will hopefully create the enthusiasm needed to practice. If you do not want to learn or practice maybe the guitar is not for you.
At what point did you decide to go into music more seriously? Did you have a plan B?
No there was no plan B things just happen over time. It is an old saying but being in the right place at the right time is important but also you must be ready and keen enough to try anything that allows you to play.
What experiences do you find developed you most as a guitarist?
Playing music that was not really what I thought I wanted to do. Then realizing that what I wanted to do first and foremost was play my guitar.
Do you think the music that you did with Motörhead and Fastway has a strong connection to the time it was written? The 'zeitgeist' so to speak.
Not really I think the music you create is more to do with where you are as a person rather than what is going on around. It is important to always do your best and fit with whatever situation you find yourself. This will help you grow. Obviously these things come after a lot of time but if you are keen you can play with your friends in no time at all.
Do you still listen to LP's CD's or Tapes or have you made the switch to streaming/ Mp3's etc? How do you think the listening experience differs?
I still listen to Cd’s. MP3’s are convenient sometimes I am not too fussy. I did and still love everything about Vinyl it was one the keys to the music in my day. I think it must be difficult with the ease and availability of music today. There is not much to look forward too. Vinyl did sound so much better than digital.
What are your opinions on recorded music and the internet? In what direction do you think musicians are heading right now with regards to this?
I feel the music industry has gone back to how it was in the early 60’s in as much as the industry seems to hold power over who makes it and who does not. The revolution of the seventies with independent labels has gone and big business is in control once again. I hope this will change but the internet and digital makes it very difficult. Also most of the venues we played back then are gone so where do you play now. I am sure something will happen but I have no idea what form it will take but music will always be one of the great things to spend time doing.
How would you approach the music industry if you were just starting out now?
As I just said I have no real idea. My only advice would be to write your own music and play to the people as much as possible to try and get some sort of following. It has never been easy and as I said above it is much harder now. But maybe Colleges and Universities will again be at the forefront of live music as they have been in the past. I think the future rests with them. They can give small good little bands the chance to play live.
What advice would you give to young musicians with a desire to go into the profession?
What’s in your heart is what will take you forward . It can be a long hard road but the enjoyment you get from just playing should get you through both good and bad times. You have to find a way to persevere. I took to painting and decorating to put food in my mouth when I was not playing guitar. You have to learn to survive which is not always easy but when asked. You can say, I am in a band or I am a guitar player. Believe me this counts for a lot as you will find out. There will be knocks and you will be hurt by many things. You can only learn this in time and on your own journey. There is a lot of pain as I found out but that is the price you pay. But there is also a lot of highs. Only you will know if you made the right choice.
If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to be a musician? Would you do anything differently?
Not really, you have to play with the cards you are dealt and make the best of it. You have to stay true to yourself as much as possible and that is not always easy in the music business. Of course in hindsight I would do plenty differently but that is not how it works. I have met and worked with some really Great people. I wouldn’t change that for the world.