featured the 2013 CD by Philippe Caillat-Grenier called Surf
Jazz Twist For Horse Riding Heroes and he puts a new twist on
his space age surf-jazz guitar twist sound with the 2017 CD release
of Secret Agent. The all-original ten track CD
was recorded over the past two years and it's truly a unique merger
of jazzy guitar technique played with a kind of 21st century retro-surf
instrumental groove. Philippe isnt poking fun at the time honored
instro surf genre, hes just combining it with heavy jazz and
also Nashville style country twang ala Chet Atkins. Surf rock fans
who enjoyed his 2013 Horse Riding Heroes CD, may not be aware
of Caillats unique repertoire of albums from the past 35 years
but theyre all still well worth hearing. Philippe's English
language skills aren't excellent, which stands in contast to his mastery
of instro rock music, and especially the retro style and sound of
legends like The Ventures and The Shadows. Speaking to mwe3.com about
the inspiration behind his last two "Surf Jazz Twist" albums,
Philippe explains, "This style of music forces the composition
to give the impression of simplicity and minimalism. I love this era
of the 1950s and 60s, which gives a joy of life."
Since 2013 Philippe has acquired an insatiable appetite for creating
music that say, Joe Meek and Hank Marvin would approve of. Some of
Caillats sonic ideas for his past two albums look back on Meeks
groundbreaking early 1960s work with The Tornados way back when. With
one excellent track after the next, Secret Agent jettisons
Philippe Caillat-Greniers sonic retro guitar vision into the
heart of the 21st century. www.PhilippeCaillat.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The Secret Agent Interview
Is your surf-jazz sound turning into a kind of ongoing musical series?
It seems like with both your Horse Riding Heroes album and
now with Secret Agent youve tapped into an interesting
musical vein for guitar players to aspire to. Are you bringing back
the Hank Marvin guitar sound back to the music world of 2017?
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: This is the feeling I had during
that period. Can it be for the next one? This style of music forces
the composition to give the impression of simplicity, and minimalism.
I love this era of the 1950s and 60s, which gives a joy
mwe3: Who played with you on the album? Did you change the
band sound around on Secret Agent and who did the engineering,
mixing and mastering? You must have had some specific ideas about
the sound this time.
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: The bassist is new, Mr. Gérard
Carbonnel while the drummer remained the same with Alex Vesper. The
studio also remained Recall Studio in France as well as the sound
Philippe Gaillot, who had a big influence in the realization of the
sound of this album! For the sound this time we chose less reverb
and more direct.
mwe3: Blue Fields is a great way to start the Secret
Agent album off. The song chords are interesting in that its
a very circular type of composition. Sounds like you dropped the fans
in the deep end right away!
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: In this piece it takes minimum of
3 guitar harmonics and the rhythmic work is very important! To have
this sound there is a harmonic part in the low strings and another
in medium and rhythmic high strings that returns later.
mwe3: How about your song Ghosts? Ghosts
has a great air-like effect, almost weightless like a ghost!
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: I imagined two ghosts who pursued
it, pushed by the wind!
mwe3: Does Lets Go show your American country
style guitar picking roots? How influenced were you by Nashville and
what country music guitarists influenced you?
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: I always had a great respect for
all those pioneers of blues-rock and country. There are too many to
quote them and I fear after forgetting.
mwe3: Another favorite on Secret Agent is Sparkling
Pants. It has a late 1970s Shadows beat, almost disco yet the
song has great energy. Do I detect a kind of Hotel California
circular chord sequence?
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: Your analysis and perfect super bass
super drums. Disco pants and glitter!
Obsessions sounds like the name of Bond film theme song.
What were some of your favorite Bond movies or other movie soundtracks
influenced your guitar playing?
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: Goldfinger. I love the
mwe3: Beatrice has a kind of Santo & Johnny
effect. Were you going for a kind of retro NYC circa 1961 kind of
sound? That kind of polarization between the hard jazzers and the
burgeoning, early rock and roll scene.
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: Yes that was my inspiration for a
declaration of Love to Beatrice. The same parts of the guitars are
very precise to replace the pizzicato violins.
mwe3: Wild Horse is a cool track. Does that track
get back to your western cowboy influence? Is there a kind of Bollywood
effect on that song?
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: Once again Robert you saw just that
is exactly the right analysis!
mwe3: How about Happy Cats? Thats another
song that has a kind of cool retro bop, Les Paul effect on it.
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: It pays tribute to Arthur Smith and
Les Paul and the joy of the 1950s and 60s and a group called
Wild Cats. The Wild Cats were a rock 'n' roll twist group in the
1960s. (In Français: Les Chats Sauvages )
mwe3: The title track Secret Agent is one of your
best. Did you set out to make a kind of action type theme song. I
imagine every country, France included, had their own spy movies and
TV shows back in 1960s!
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: Yes it is all these series and the
films where there are always beautiful car chases with many tensions!
It seems like you cant break free of the 1950s on the CD closer
Romantic Lover. Its very much rooted in that 1961
sound as well. Its just amazing how well you combine your famous
jazz-rock guitar sound within the realm of Santa & Johnny meets
Hank Marvin sound that Secret Agent does so well.
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: This is the feeling I had in this
period. As I told you I love this time, and I do not know yet or if
the wind will push me, but there is a lot of musical direction but
I let life make me move!
mwe3: Last time you played the Fender Relic Jazzmaster a lot
on Horse Riding Heroes. Were the same guitars used on Secret
Agent and were any new guitars or guitar sounds added this time?
Are you listening to any new music these days by other guitarists
Philippe Caillat-Grenier: No change, it has remained Fender
Jazz Master, Fender Telecaster, Fender Baritone Sub Sonic and Fender
Stratocaster. I listen to everything and mostly classic music and
when I'm in the car I love Mozart! In the world of guitar there are
many very great performers in all styles. For me music is like painting
with infinite colors.
mwe3: Some fans just started listening to you after Twist
For Horse Riding Heroes album and now with Secret Agent they
might not be fully aware of your vast output of music going back 35
years at least right? Also would you consider doing a double disc
box set to put your career into perspective? Looking back on the early
years, what were some of your favorite solo albums that you made over
the years? Secret Agent is like a trip through time so I hope
there will be more!
Caillat-Grenier: Make a double or triple disk? I've already thought
that. My favorite albums are three last Opposites Attract,
Twist For Horse Riding Heroes and Secret Agent. Yes,
looking back I had the chance to do real-time evolution of the different
musical styles. Of course, I will continue to make albums if the inspiration
is there. This and another story