Coen Wolters is a dutch guitarist that has begun making waves on the blues rock scene. We recently had the chance to chat with Wolters about what he’s been up to in the time since his last album, and his most recent release, Illumination, and what’s coming in the future.
Why such a long time between Illumination and your last album?
First, I took some time off from making music to explore other interests; especially video. Illumination was not recorded, written and produced within a defined period of time. I’d go in the studio for a few days working on a song, then I wouldn’t work on the project for months. The lyrics and vocal line for “Home” for instance, was only written a month before I started mixing. “Complicated” was one of the first songs I completed and that was a perfect chance to do a video and release it as a single/video before the album was actually released.
What made you want to become a musician?
To have an excuse to make videos..;-) No, just kidding. I never thought about becoming a musician, I just wanted to play guitar. After a while I wanted to go out and play with a rhythm section and before I knew it, I was gigging all over the world!
So what was your big break that got you touring around the world?
There was no such thing as a big break. I just got invitations to play abroad and naturally I said yes to that. It got me to play on Beale Street with Muddy Waters’ son Big Bill Morganfield, on a festival in Skopje, Macedonia and I was invited by an US band called Blinddog Smokin’ to tour with them over the summer. When I hooked up with a German manager I got to play Germany extensively as well. I remember a cool gig at a festival where we played with Snowy White.
When did you pick up the guitar and why?
I didn’t grow up in a family where music was around. As a teenager I wanted a guitar, but my parents didn’t wanna buy me one. When I was 18 I finally made enough money to buy myself a guitar. Being into hardrock big time I bought me a brand new Kramer superstrat. When I heard Hendrix’music there was no turning back!
Who has had the biggest influence on your playing?
When I started playing, definately fellow Dutchman Adrian Vandenberg and (coincidentally?) Dutch born Eddie Van Halen. But after attending a jam session where a local band played Hendrix tunes I was completely sold on the magic from the man from Seattle. I bought everything I could by Hendrix and he still continues to amaze me. So, if I have to mention my main influence.. Hendrix it is!
How do you approach the creative process of writing a song? Is the inspiration typically a melody, a lyrical phrase, or a rhythm and then build from there around that idea, or is it different every time?
I used to try to come up with a strong guitar riff and build a song on top of that, but for Illumination I approached the writing for most of the songs a bit different. I wanted to write good songs with a strong melody on top of a grooving rhythm section. I’d say half of the songs came from a vocal line, two or three songs (for instance “Time of Day”) had a guitar riff as an inspiration and two or three more songs came from a groove I had in my mind.
What’s the thing you enjoy the most and like the least about being a musician?
When people tell me they enjoyed listening to my music and those gigs where everything comes together, when you pick up the guitar and you just can’t hit a wrong note. That is when I love being a musician. I also love being on the road. See places, meet people and play every night! I could really do without dealing with the business side of it. That’s why I’m really happy to have signed a deal with a management company, so I can solely focus on making music.
What was the inspiration behind the video for “Complicated?” The video is a little open to interpretation. Where does the girl disappear to in the video? Stopped in the middle of nowhere, she’s outside the car, he’s angry and then things go B&W and next he’s slamming the truck closed and she’s gone….
I had this road movie idea after the lyrics were finished and although the song doesn’t suggest he killed her, the video sure does. The guy gets annoyed with the girl who doesn’t make up her mind. At first he thinks she’s cool, taking him on a trip. Then she makes not so complicated things so complicated to the point where the guy has enough and makes it stop. He might have killed her and dumped her body in the trunk. Maybe he did tie her up and put duct tape over her mouth and threw her in the trunk alive. No-one knows where she is now…
What’s next for you?
First we’re gonna do a couple of gigs in Holland and Germany. My management is working on an extensive European tour later this year and I can’t wait till I get back on the road again! Other than that, I want to shoot one or two new videos and start writing on a new record. It won’t take years for a new release…
Interview by Kevin O’Rourke