WRITTEN BY: CLAIRE HILL
Interviewed by: Chris Stones
DTF spoke to guitarist and Federal Charm founding member Paul Bowe to get the lowdown on what we can expect to hear from the band over the next few months. Originally formed in 2012, four-piece Federal Charm started 2017 with two new members, vocalist Tom Guyer and drummer Josh Zahler, following an amicable split with original members Nick Bowden and Danny Rigg. Zahler brings his characteristic groovy style of drumming into the mix, whilst Guyer’s powerful vocal range adds another dimension. Says Bowe of Guyer, “The guy’s voice is insane. An unbelievable talent, I can’t believe nobody’s ever heard him sing. It’s exciting to see what he’s doing with the old stuff as well as the stuff we’ve been writing over the last 12 months”.
Guyer also joined Bowe and bassist L.D. Morawski in the writing process for the album, which was written in much more detail than their two previous albums, including the use of feedback and focus groups. Bowe’s enthusiasm is infectious. “We’re at a point now where I’m so excited and positive…I just can’t wait to get back on this tour. We’re just in the middle of recording the album now and I’m getting goosebumps in the studio thinking this is going better than I ever imagined it could do. Maybe it’s for a reason but it’s very positive”.
Most of last year was spent onstage, supporting bands of note such as Y&T, UFO and Brian Downey’s Thin Lizzy, which gave the new line-up ample chance to fine-tune their stage show. Plenty of gigs meant there was an abundance of opportunities to showcase new material from this third album for fans old and new and to get the new tracks gig ready ahead of the scheduled album release around September this year. Worldwide touring agent TKO is now representing Federal Charm on the strength of the new material and positive outcomes of the live shows. Bowe has more praise here for Guyer, “To be honest, what’s been really good is when Tom’s got off stage – he just jumps straight into the crowd afterwards and it seems that our current fans and people he’s meeting…he’s really connecting with them. I can’t drag him away after a gig. He really wants to engage with people and they do with him. It’s a really good sign for things in the future. I love seeing the freshness and excitement in him. It feels like he’s like me when we started the band and we got our first deal and tour. It’s brilliant to see how excited he was gonna be and I’m gonna feed off that. That’s another positive thing!” DTF suggests that the audience will feed off that as well!
Bowe goes on to say that with the addition of Zahler and Guyer, Federal Charm’s sound has developed into a heavier, rockier sound. It still has the Southern bluesy feel, but with a heavier, more riff-based edge. A fresher feel, with a bit of a nod towards the past, perhaps, “I’m just playing what I like to play but what I do think there’s an explosion ready to go off – I don’t think it even went off yet but we’re on the path to see a big pull of young bands. Like the Rival Sons kind of direction. They’re the guys people are looking up to. They’re doing the Led Zeppelin thing in a contemporary way and that’s a great package. If that can get an 11 year old boy or girl to pick up a guitar and then go and listen to Led Zeppelin or UFO because it’s all coming back again then I’m all for it cause that’s what I’ve always been about”.
Musical influences are the next topic of conversation, and Bowe mentions Ritchie Blackmore, Tom Morello, Dimebag Darrell, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. He says he’s also a massive Jimmy Page fan (“Not the man himself but just the way he plays the guitar”) because he’s a Les Paul fan, “He sings through his guitar and I think my ambition is to be able to. My goal as a musician is to naturally, organically sing through my instrument and I think Page does that perfectly”.
Regarding the new album, Bowe is confident “It’s 100% the best work I’ve ever done since I picked up an instrument. We’ve got big Chris Cornell/Robert Plant-esque vocals going off...raw stuff. Some of the best guitar work I’ve done. It’s one of those combinations where as a starting point with Tom where he’s only going to get better. He’s writing some really catchy hooks. Without sounding too clichéd, I think it’s got everything you want to go for. But you’re just gonna have to check it out. Hopefully the original Federal Charm line-up albums do amalgamate with that. I think it’s just a progression. I would like to add that a lot of this material was worked on 12-18 months ago when Nick was still in the band and we were the two song writers. I’ve taken a lot of that stuff into this album so it isn’t a fresh break – it’s a continuation from ‘Across the Divide’ (the last album) and I think you’ll be able to hear that,” Bowe continues, “Just because Nick’s not there anymore doesn’t mean the spirit doesn’t remain. Even in two or three albums down the line. For me personally, the objective wasn’t to start the band, then lose a front man, then start again.”
When he talks about Zahler, Bowe’s enthusiasm is clear, “He is a very experimental drummer. His grooves are good. He’s a drummer’s drummer and it’s really refreshing to be around that. I can really pull, twist and turn different places we want to go. It feels like a more creative kind of process because I used to bring a lot of the stuff including drum patterns on demos. Josh gives me goosebumps and makes me laugh when he does things. When you see someone that good you get giddy (laughs). I’m in a place now where I’m getting excited. I’m in a band with people that are making me laugh, it’s that good”.
Federal Charm will do a short series of four dates in April and May, with local bands for support, followed by some festivals as support for Molly Hatchet.
Catch Federal Charm live in April and May:-
14th April 2018 Norwich, Open Club - www.opennorwich.org.uk
22nd April 2018 Bristol, The Louisiana - www.thelouisiana.net
12th May 2018 Manchester, The Deaf Institute - www.thedeafinstitute.co.uk
18th May 2018 Newcastle, The Cluny - www.thecluny.com
Get in touch with Federal Charm here:-