Jolyon Dixon (Amy Macdonald)
Hi Jolyon, you have been playing guitar for Amy for some time now…how did it come about?
I started playing for Amy in early 2006, when she was doing demos and showcases for labels and publishers, myself, Adam Falkner the drummer and Jamie Sefton the bassist had all been touring together with Mark Owen (Take That) and Adam was a friend of Pete Wilkinson, (Amy’s now manager and producer) who asked Adam if he could recommend a band for this girl he had just “discovered”, so we all got on board then, and soon things started to go really well!After the success of Amy’s debut record, ‘this is the life’ you have been playing some big show across Europe. What has been the highlight?

There’s been a number of highlights to the big European shows, a few really stand out as really special events, the best has to be a festival we played at Gurten, Switzerland, which was in the most amazing setting pretty much at the top of a small mountain, with the Swiss alps as a backdrop..we were due to play in the second stage tent, at the same time as a really popular Swiss band were playing the headline spot on the main stage.. it was our first show in Switzerland so we really thought there wouldn’t be a big response, but, the 5000 capacity tent filled right up just before we played, and during the show we all noticed that a huge crowd had gathered outside the tent, trying to look in….the organizers told us afterwards that around 20,000 people had surrounded the tent…it was such an amazing crowd response..they were all singing along and cheering, a real goosebumps moment…How does touring different countries effect you as a player/band? Where do you get the best response?

There is definitely a noticeable difference in audience reactions for different countries… the English have a reputation for reservedness which is not entirely unjustified (mostly in comparison with some of our more enthusiastic European cousins) the French seem to be a great listening audience, very quiet during songs, and the Spanish seem to like to just scream and cheer throughout the entire gig, which can be really fun…and then you go and play in America where Amy is largely unknown and you’re playing bars to 15 people, so you really have to re-examine what makes it a good show, you know…they don’t know the record, so you really have to concentrate on being an exciting, tight live band to impress anyone! I think Amy’s gigs get the best response in her hometown, Glasgow.. where the crowds are just amazing…

What Boss pedals do you use and how do they shape the sound your after?
I, like most people have used all sorts of boss pedals ever since I started playing 27 years ago! At the moment I have a super overdrive, a compression sustainer, and the RT-20 rotary twin pedal which I think sounds really great…I still own many more which live in my studio but those listed are always on my pedal board… and I have to say the star of the show is always my TU-2 tuner, which has been my best stage friend for fills me with confidence to be able to tune up quickly,clearly and accurately between songs…

What was the first gig you ever went to?
The first gig I went to would have been Judie Tzuke at Poole arts center in 1981 I think…my dad was a semi pro bass player in the 60’s and 70’s and he was friends with Judie and her guitarist mike paxman from their hometown of Salisbury, so we got tickets and got to go backstage after the show to meet the band, I was only seven or eight and I remember thinking the whole thing was really exciting, years later (in 1995) I ended up working with Judie and Mike on several albums and tours, and were still good friends now….

How do you see guitar music changing in the future?
In the future, what will guitar music be? Well who knows, it all depends on what companies like Roland/Boss come up with to shape our sounds doesn’t it! Whatever it is, I hope there’s still an emphasis on good playing, and fun…

Who were your influences growing up learning guitar and currently?
My influences growing up were mostly my dad and his friends, I used to go to rehearsals once a week from the age of two onwards, so I remember just  growing up aware that music was made by people playing (Tich Amey of Dave Dee, dozy beaky Mick and Tich was always awesome to watch playing guitar, and still is… ) I do remember putting on a vinyl copy of queens a night at the opera when I was nine and being wowed by Brian May’s guitars, none of my dads friends ever really sounded like that!, I have a lot of respect for so many players, and I try to draw some influence from all of them…Pete Townshend (who I’m lucky enough to work with!) Angus Young, Larry Carlton, Jeff Beck, Nuno Bettencourt, Albert Lee, George Harrison….those are a few of my favourites!

You are playing a lot of festivals this summer. How do they differ from playing an indoor show?
Festivals differ greatly from indoor shows, mainly because there’s no preparation time,… usually no soundcheck at all, you just have a minimum stage set up time and off you go, so, it’s a little nerve wracking.. you have to trust your crew, and especially your monitor engineer to get you a workable sound quickly….luckilly our monitor engineer, Francois Pare, is awesome!..the festival mainstages are also really big… so you can feel a little disconnected from the rest of the band, and you have to try and occupy more space so you don’t just disappear ! apart from the challenges, its great fun to play festivals, there’s usually a great atmosphere and you get to catch up with friends in other bands, and actually see other bands play which is nice….

Whats your favourite lyric of all time?
My favourite lyric of all time? Hmmm very tricky…probably “ isn’t it a pity/isn’t it a shame/ how we break each others hearts/ and cause each other pain” (George Harrison’s “isn’t it a pity” from “all things must pass.) Or..”broken hearts are for a**holes” (Frank Zappa) two different perspectives on the same theme there….

How important is it to have a connection with your band members?
I think its really important to have a connection with your fellow band mates…the better you know them, the better you’ll play together, the more common experience you have, and the more ups and downs you go through together, the better you’ll become as a band on stage..Amys band are all great friends and great characters, it really helps.

How is the second record coming along?
Amy’s Second album is due to be recorded in July, Amy is having a break to write a bunch of songs, and were all really excited to see what its going to be like, you know, its going to be fun making it….especially after spending so very long touring and promoting the first record, it’ll be great to have some new material to work with.

Worst moment on stage?
My worst moment on stage… there’s been a few…terrible hangovers…hmmm… I think there was one festival we played in Tromso, Norway, which is inside the arctic circle…the temperature onstage was below freezing, there were no stage heaters, we were all wearing big coats and fingerless fingers would hardly move at all so I just couldn’t play well,..and then my hired backline just gave up and started emitting a huge growling buzzing white noise type of sound…I tried my best to smile but I wanted to run away and sit by a fire somewhere…not fun!

What advice would you give to guitarists looking to write songs and play live?
If I was to give anyone advice starting out I think it would have to be just to practise hard, write as much as you can with as many people as you can and do as many gigs as you can, no matter how small or whatever, because really, all that experience will shape you into the musician that you want to be…have fun in what you do and that will come across to anyone watching or listening…and, go for it!

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