In The Cool Of The Dawn
(Blue Room Studios)


Canada-based guitarist Roland Nipp has been turning out great instrumental albums since 1999 when he put out Blue Room, not forgetting his 2005 classic By Night. Much to the delight of his fans, Roland is back in 2017 with yet another excellent CD, his sixth album, called In The Cool Of The Dawn. With all the original songs written, performed and produced by Roland, the eleven cut album also features a deep, introspective cover of the classic old English folk song “Londonderry Air”. For those just tuning in to Roland Nipp and his wide-ranging guitar recordings, be advised that his style is quite diverse and expressive. Guitar fans who enjoy melodic guitar inventions will be rewarded with Roland's tuneful tracks that combine rock style arrangements with a toe-tapping beat. Listeners who enjoy hard-rocking instrumental fusion jazz will tune in to Roland's dextrous fretboard work. For this writer, among the many highlights of In The Cool Of The Dawn is the track “1968”. True to form, the melody and overall sentiment of "1968" perfectly evokes the golden 1968-1971 era when the early rock giants like The Beatles and, shortly after ELO, ruled the radio waves. Even without vocals or lyrics, the track is a perfect example of Roland’s still evolving guitar history intertwining with early rock’s past glories. Basically, guitar fans who enjoy smart instrumental guitar playing will thrill to In The Cool Of The Dawn and may very well be inspired enough to track down Roland’s other acclaimed albums. Roland’s many fretboard influences—like Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler and George Harrison—can be spotted throughout this diverse sounding album, yet even with so many sonic signposts, the show belongs to Roland Nipp and his manifold guitar personality. Instrumental guitar fans who enjoy variety and smart songwriting are strongly advised to give a listen to Roland Nipp and his latest CD masterpiece, In The Cool Of The Dawn. presents an interview with
Roland Nipp

: Tell us about your new CD, In The Cool Of The Dawn. How does it compare with your previous albums and how did you come up with the title?

Roland Nipp: In the Cool of the Dawn is my 6th CD and is essentially a snapshot of what was musically brewing in my mind between July 2016 and Jan 2017 . I feel it’s a natural progression from my previous albums. I listen to a lot of music, and a wide range of styles, so what I write is generally a reflection of where I’m at in life, and what I’m listening to at the time.

Most of the album was written and recorded in the early morning hours between 5a.m - 7a.m. It’s a creative time for me…my mind is fresh, the slate is clean, and possibilities seem endless.

mwe3: Tell us about the guitars, pedals, and amps you feature on In The Cool Of The Dawn.

Roland Nipp: I’m a big fan of the Holy Trinity: the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul. They obviously have a historic role in creating so much of the music I grew up with. In the hands of the greats, it seems their range of sounds and expression is limitless.

Effects-wise, I’m always on the lookout. Some key pedals on this album are the Electro-Harmonix Mel9 for Mellotron, cello, and orchestral sounds, the Electro-Harmonix Ravish for sitar sounds, and the MXR Jimi Hendrix Univibe. I also use the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver for my overdrive sounds.

For amps, I was using a ’68 Custom Princeton Reverb Reissue. It’s a really responsive amp and inspiring to play though. For some of the higher gain lead sounds on the album, I plugged into my old POD version 2 which I still love.

mwe3: Can you compare your songwriting style on In The Cool Of The Dawn to your style going back to 2005 and By Night? Is the melody and arrangement still the strongest part of your sound or have you branched out to include other influences like the sound of the album, mixing, production, etc?

Roland Nipp: When I’m writing music, melody is still king. My internal radio is always playing some tune or melody. As a music fan and listener, I think that’s what drives me to put a song on for say, the 100th time. If you can surround a great melody with a sympathetic supporting cast, dynamic arrangements, creative sounds, imaginative production, etc., the sky’s the limit.

mwe3: The title track “In The Cool Of The Dawn” is an interesting way to start the album. What kind of sound were you going for and what players influenced you on that track?

Roland Nipp: With the song “In The Cool Of The Dawn,” I was playing riffs into a looping pedal, and trying all sorts of ideas…just having fun and experimenting, really. I remember playing a riff and groove that I liked, and then building on top of it and adding ideas until it was complete. When I’m writing music, I’m just following my instincts; not a lot of left brain activity is going on.

When I listen to the track now, I hear bits of many players that have influenced me: Andy Summers, Steve Stevens, Alex Lifeson, and David Gilmour.

mwe3: “Beauty And Demons” has a kind of Knopfler-esque sound to it. There’s also bits of Santana in the solos.

Roland Nipp: I’m a big fan of both Knopfler and Santana, so I’m not surprised if aspects of their style come out in my playing. In “Beauty And Demons,” the main riff came from me playing sparse chords through the Univibe pedal. I loved the sound of it and the song pretty much wrote itself. The clean Knopfler-type tones are my Tele neck pickup played through the Princeton Reverb.

mwe3: Track 3, “Sand” has a kind of Beatles/ELO sound to it. The instrumentation is sparse, yet quite effective. What can you tell us about this track?

Roland Nipp: I’m really pleased with how “Sand” turned out. It was written very quickly and was one of the first songs completed for the album. I was inspired by Jeff Beck’s beautiful, melodic playing style…the way he expresses himself armed with only a Strat, tremolo bar, and fingers. When I listened to “Sand” upon completion, I was ecstatic... I felt it raised the bar for me and I was inspired to complete an album of songs to complement it.

I am a huge Beatles and ELO fan. I love how they both use orchestration within the context of a rock song. The orchestral/cello sounds on “Sand” come largely from a Strat played through the Mel9 pedal into my Princeton Reverb. I was blown away by the Mel9... it ended up all over the album.

mwe3: Track four “It’s Time” gets back to a rock-based sound. There’s a lot going on with that track.

Roland Nipp: As a rock guitarist, it’s hard to be unique and play something that hasn’t been done before. As a result, I generally try to avoid common power chords that are part of every guitarist’s vocabulary. With “It’s Time,” I discovered some less obvious chord shapes which eventually formed the main riff of the song. The song is about going for it…wiping the sleep from your eyes, taking action, etc.

mwe3: “Angels” is one of the more acoustic-based tracks on the CD. What acoustic guitars do you like to play and record with and what strings do you prefer?

Roland Nipp: I love how an acoustic adds warmth to a track... it’s a very organic, timeless sound. On “Angels,” it set up the vibe I was looking for, and blended so well with the electric guitars, organ, and cellos. I play a Morgan Concert Mahogany strung with Elixir 80/20 Bronze Light strings.

mwe3: “Restless” also mixes in acoustic and electric guitars but quickly shifts to a ZZ Top kind of boogie shuffle. Is that your rock energy coming out? How do you rate Billy Gibbons as a guitarist? It really has a great cross-cut saw guitar sound.

Roland Nipp: I love driving, hard rock, especially the melodic stuff from the 70s to mid 80s because it’s so full of great guitar playing and sounds. I am a big fan of Billy Gibbons but I think I was channeling my inner Jimmy Page. I love how he layers guitar parts to create orchestral-type soundscapes, like in Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone”.

mwe3: Tell us about “Meet Me At Pigalle”. Is that a real place? It has a kind of Gypsy Jazz sound to it. Pigalle has a kind of Gypsy sound to it too. Do you listen to jazz and Gypsy Jazz as much as rock and fusion?

Roland Nipp: When I travel, one of my favorite things is visiting local guitar stores. Pigalle is the music and cabaret district in Paris, France... all their music stores are on a few streets connected to each other. While my family was off seeing the traditional Paris hotspots, I opted for Pigalle!

I am certainly influenced by Django Reinhardt, how can you not be?) And so “Meet Me at Pigalle” just took on a European vibe while I was writing and recording it. The accordion on the track always reminds me of riding the Paris Metro subway.

mwe3: “Londonderry Air” is also known as “Danny Boy”. You kind of push the electric guitar on that adding a little distortion to the mix. What’s your history with that song?

Roland Nipp: When I was in Pigalle, one of the guitar store employees, who happens to be a monster guitar player, was playing “Danny Boy” on a Strat and I was knocked out by it. He later allowed me to videotape him performing it, and it’s become one of my favorite songs to play.

For the recording, I’m playing a Stratocaster. I was trying to be really expressive with the tremolo bar, and being dynamic with my right hand touch.

mwe3: “1968” is one of the best cuts on In the Cool of the Dawn and it features your cinematic soundtrack style. It was a great year, trust me, but a little chaotic, sort of like, just before everyone woke up. What can you tell us about the song?

Roland Nipp: I was really lucky to grow up with the great music from the late 1960s through the early '80s... it’s at the core of my musical DNA. The late '60s, in particular, was a magical time. The sounds being made by the Beatles and Hendrix were so groundbreaking.

In my song, “1968,” I’m adding Mellotron, cello, sitar, echoey slide guitar, Leslie guitar - many of the cool, “trippy” sounds associated with the late '60s. When I hear tracks like “Strawberry Fields,” or “I Am The Walrus,” I still can’t believe all those sounds coming from a rock song!

mwe3: “Eastbound” kind of picks up the vibe of “1968” and takes it one step further. What is your musical mindset on “Eastbound”. I can almost picture strings playing those staccato cello-like swipes, ala shades of ELO meets ZZ Top. Are you playing a sitar guitar on that song and is there an Eastern influence on that track?

Roland Nipp: The Eastern influence comes from Led Zeppelin and Heart; they’re masters of the slow and heavy groove, and some of their tracks have Eastern, exotic scales thrown in.

The nice sitar and cello sounds are courtesy of the Mel9 and Ravish pedals. To get a more grainy cello sound, I used a dimpled pick, like the Edge does, to get a rougher, grating sound to come off the guitar strings. Often, when you get the right sounds, the parts seem to write and arrange themselves.

mwe3: The CD closes with a softly stated track for your daughter, Emma. Is that song kind of McCartney-esque? One can picture the strings playing the counter harmonies. Tell us about your daughter Emma. How long has she been playing guitar and is she also planning to be a recording artist and composer like her dad?

Roland Nipp: McCartney is a hero of mine, for sure. He’s a master of melody and can throw in surprising chords and key changes effortlessly. If I absorbed any of that skill, you can credit him.

Emma has been playing guitar since the age of 6, she’s 14 now, and we perform regularly throughout Vancouver, playing everything from Bing Crosby to Metallica! It’s a blast exposing her to the great music from the past. I’m not sure if music will be her calling like it was for me, but I like to think it will be part of her life in some meaningful way.

mwe3: So now with In The Cool Of The Dawn released, what other plans do you have for the rest of 2017?

Roland Nipp: I still get a real buzz playing guitar and listening to music. I’m always learning, discovering great songs and players so I hope to continue evolving. I like to think my best work is still ahead of me.


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