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 Rolands still evolving guitar history
intertwining with early rocks 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 Rolands other acclaimed albums. Rolands many fretboard
influenceslike Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler and George Harrisoncan
be spotted throughout this diverse sounding album, yet even with so
many sonic signposts, the show belongs to Roland Nipp and his manifold
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. www.rolandnipp.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
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
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 its 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 Im
at in life, and what Im listening to at the time.
Most of the album was written and recorded in the early morning hours
between 5a.m - 7a.m. Its a creative time for me
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: Im 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, Im 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
For amps, I was using a 68 Custom Princeton Reverb Reissue.
Its 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 Im writing music, melody is still king.
My internal radio is always playing some tune or melody. As a music
fan and listener, I think thats 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 skys the limit.
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
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 Im writing music, Im
just following my instincts; not a lot of left brain activity is going
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
mwe3: Beauty And Demons has a kind of Knopfler-esque
sound to it. Theres also bits of Santana in the solos.
Roland Nipp: Im a big fan of both Knopfler and Santana,
so Im 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: Im 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 Becks 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 Its Time gets back to a
rock-based sound. Theres a lot going on with that track.
Roland Nipp: As a rock guitarist, its hard to be unique
and play something that hasnt been done before. As a result,
I generally try to avoid common power chords that are part of every
guitarists vocabulary. With Its 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.
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...
its 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 its 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 Zeppelins Ten
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. Whats 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 its become one
of my favorite songs to play.
For the recording, Im playing a Stratocaster. I was trying to
be really expressive with the tremolo bar, and being dynamic with
my right hand touch.
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... its 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, Im 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 cant 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; theyre 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. Hes
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.
has been playing guitar since the age of 6, shes 14 now, and
we perform regularly throughout Vancouver, playing everything from
Bing Crosby to Metallica! Its a blast exposing her to the great
music from the past. Im 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. Im 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.