Not many 23 year old blues/rock guitarists can claim to have opened for the late BB King on tour in the U.S., but Hamish Anderson has accomplished just that and has already begun to make a name for himself as an extremely talented musician. The Australian singer/songwriter finished a tour with the legendary blues guitarist in September and October 2014. Now, Anderson has recently announced he’ll be touring the U.S. and Canada this spring and summer in support of his critically acclaimed sophomore EP, Restless.
When asked about his history with creating music, Anderson said that he had always had the inkling that music would play a large part in his life. From an early age, he has been able to make that dream become a reality. “Originally, it kind of started when I was 12 that I’ve known I wanted to do music. The moment that got it all started for me was when I was 12 years old and I heard The Beatles White Album and the song Back in the U.S.S.R, that was the first time the sound of the guitar really stuck out to me. I begged my parents for a guitar and writing music came a bit later. Then when I was around 18 or 19, I kinda knew I wanted to do it as a career. I recorded my first EP when I was about that age and from then on, I knew I definitely wanted to do music, write my own songs and perform them,” said Anderson.
While many artists will initially blaze their path in music in the company of others by playing in a band, Anderson said that music has always been a more personal thing for him. “It’s always kind of been a solo thing for me. I tried to do the band thing around that same time, but was never really able to get anything together, at least not seriously,” he explained.
Anderson was noted to have worked with a bevy of impressive guest artists during the recording process of both of his EP’s. During his first, Anderson recorded with Eric J. Dubowsky (Weezer, Bluejuice). Rami Jaffee (keyboardist for Foo Fighters and founding member of The Wallflowers) also stopped by the studio to record organ and piano, alongside bass player Rob Calder (Angus & Julia Stone, Kanye West). Both EPs were mastered by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys, Dr John, The Shins).
On Restless, Anderson teamed up with producer/engineer Krish Sharma (Rolling Stones, Counting Crowes). Recorded in Los Angeles at Henson Studios, the EP showcases Anderson’s blues infused rock and lyrical imagery. In addition, Grammy-ward-winning pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz (Tom Petty, Ray LaMontagne) added his magic to Shotgun and Street Lights.
He then went on to describe the time spent with some of rock’s best while recording his EP’s. “Playing with those guys it makes you confident as well. Playing with guys like that pushes you and brings your game up. You learn things and do things that you never thought that you could do, and it kind of brings it out of you,” said Anderson. “I went into the recording project with an idea of what this drum should sound like, and I had a defined concept, whereas a lot of them, they would really listen and play the song and let it naturally go to where it wanted to go.”
One thing a first-time listener may notice about Anderson is his ability to effortlessly switch between music styles. From the bluesy rock-star vibe, demonstrated in singles such as Burn; to the more sensitive and personal acoustic piece, Winter; Anderson shows incredible variety in his collection of music. The single Burn is an adrenaline-charged blues explosion, charged with classic guitar riffs and dramatic drumbeats. The other tracks on Restless (Shotgun, Little Lies, Restless, and Street Lights) all pair Anderson’s raspy, yet tenderly soulful, vocals with his fluid and seamless electric guitar mastery.
While Anderson stated that he has always had a wide variety of influences, he said that there has always been one genre of music that has defined him the most. “I’ve drawn a lot of it from blues stuff, really. That’s the kind of music I love the most,” said Anderson. “Artists like BB King, and other genres that kind of mix with blues. Then rock bands too, like Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and some modern stuff as well, like City and Colour and Jack White.”
Anderson’s heavy blues influences can be heard in the EP’s first single, Burn.
Anderson then went on to further explain his draw to the blues and how he infuses the style into his music. “I think that’s the most important thing. I think that the blues has gotten the stereotype or cliche of being like the bar band, or just 12 bar blues. But, for me, the blues is most interesting when it’s mixed with something and brought into modern times. I think the blues is interesting when it’s like an ingredient that’s put in pop or folk music,” said Anderson.
Anderson was also given the opportunity to open for late blues icon, BB King, last October before his recent passing. “That was great! For me, that was such a great experience having such a legend there, that I’ve idolized for so long. Being able to open for him was just crazy! It was an honor to do it – not only is he an inspiration to me, but he’s an inspiration to every guitarist I have been inspired by. He’s the living embodiment of the blues. It was an honor to share several nights with him before he fell ill,” Anderson reminisced.
Things seem to be picking up momentum for the young artist, especially since he’s made his way to the U.S. from his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. “I’m basically based in LA at the moment. For now I’m just kind of focusing here and stuff. Last year was really America-focused. I kinda went back and forth a little bit. Around March of last year, I got invited to do a showcase in L.A., and things have just seemed to be moving really fast over here so ever since then, I’ve been kind of focusing more on the U.S. Australia has a great music scene but I think for the type of music that I do, blues and rock, I think there’s more opportunity here for that type of genre,” Anderson said.
During the interview, Anderson took a moment to look back at the past few years of his career and touched on some of the highlights to date. “The BB King Tour was a really great experience for me. I just did the South By Southwest Festival, which was a really great experience. And any time I get the chance to record it’s always a great experience, too. I really love recording and being in the studio. It’s always a highlight when it comes to that,” explained Anderson.
Anderson recently wrapped up shooting a music video for Little Lies, one of the singles from Restless. “It’s actually one of the only tracks on there that was recorded in Australia. It was recorded in Sydney, which was really cool. For me, I was kind of just doing a different sound with it. It was definitely more groove-oriented and different from a lot of my other songs,” said Anderson. The music video for Little Lies is set to release later this month.
With two EP’s under his belt, and with a tour just around the bend, Anderson says he is already looking ahead and revving up the playlist for his next album. “At the moment I’ve been writing a lot. I’m gonna have a couple weeks off here so I’ll be focusing on writing and kinda go back into the studio next month and record what I hope will be my first full-length album! But for now, I’ll just be writing and I’ll kind of decide later if it’ll be an album or another EP. So that’ll be the next month or so. We’ll also be doing a whole bunch of dates coming up. We’ve got Canadian music week, too. This next weekend is when we’re about to start trying to get out there and start playing again,” he said.
Anderson is scheduled for tour dates in both the U.S. and Canada starting in June. Tour dates will be posted to Anderson’s website as they are scheduled.
At only 23 years old, his appeal is from the ages. He carries the torch in a line of great guitarists and breathes new life into the often forsaken rock/blues genre. And considering the number of extraordinary accomplishments that have come from Anderson in his short years in the music industry, it’s certain that there are many more tricks up the Australian singer/songwriter’s sleeve. Keep a wary eye on the horizon, America, and make no mistake about it. Hamish Anderson is the complete package.