Vince Martell
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Could you tell us about the album you're working on now?

    I ran into a fellow, Randy Pratt, a very nice guy... he's a real hardcore fan, he loves the '60s era, loved the Fudge. He's doing a book, along with another fellow, called The Roots Of Heavy Rock. They must have started about three years ago, and they've interviewed the [Fudge], and other groups. I was glad to contribute.

    In the meantime one of the fellows asked if I'd like to do an album, he has a recording studio with a 32 track digital system. I guess I was a little reluctant at first, since I've not been actively seeking a record deal in a while, and this wasn't a regular record deal anyway. He said, hey, in a year you could have an album together, why not just come in when you can and do it. I figured, that's true, so I'd do it.

    So I started, and I'm glad I did. I'm working on about 14 tunes, they're almost completed at this point. It's half cover and half original. For example, one of the covers is Stevie Wonder's All In Love Is Fair.

    You know, there are certain songs that as a singer - you know, I'm a singer along with being a guitarist - there are certain entertainer's songs that I can sing that best match my own range, like Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers... and a lot of Black artists, Wilson Pickett... in fact I like that style. Not screaming, but the gruff, bluesy vocalizations. I can really get into that.

    I also do a song by The Vagrants on the album - a good one that Jerry Storch, their organ player, wrote. I won't say too much right now, only because I've not gotten hold of him yet, but it's like my own little tribute to that band. We saw them do this tune back in the Action House and I liked it then - and since then Jerry has put out a couple of albums and he did this song, but he didn't do it the way they had done it. So I took it to my "max-out" way that I like to do things.

    I also did Nights In White Satin, which is something I've done quite a bit in the area, and I did Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale. On that one I included an extra verse that a fellow found in a book of lyrics. The verse wasn't included in the original.

    Then there are my originals that I included, some of them that were actually written in the Fudge days. They're real Fudge - right in that niche. I want to have enough on this album that the hard-edge fans, the people that are into even the real heavy stuff of today, that I've even got a couple of things on in that style. I dig sinking my teeth into that kind of stuff too. I don't want to do too many ballads.

    Then I've got a tune that my mother and sister wrote when I was young! I think its a real hit. I did an initial recording of it with my sister - I finally got her into the studio. I managed to get her down there and she played an electric piano - she's usually an acoustic player - but she was intrigued with the sound, she'd never been in the studio. She'd almost never heard herself all these years, she's like an undiscovered talent... I might not be able to get that track on this album, but it'll go on something later.

    I really like the album - I've got some real fine sounding guitars and it gives me a chance to really get out there and play and wail, and there's really no compromising on the guitar. I don't have to sacrifice the guitar to get into vocals or to listen to the meaning of the song. It's like a Fudge type of thing where I'm trying to get the most out everything. I've gotta get something that'll last a long time for me - I never want to get tired of hearing it.

    It can be done, because I feel like we did it with the Fudge. We did certain arrangements that are like out there in time, you'll never get tired of it (unless that's all you listen to, over and over, then maybe... [laughs]). It shouldn't be like, "Jeez, they shoulda done this..." or "This is too much of that..." or "That's too short...". So I try to look at a song... which way am I going to get a lasting sound? What can I do to make sure it takes the longest time it can for people to get tired of an arrangement? If you've got something catchy in a song, don't do it even twice in the song sometimes. If you hear the catchy part more than once sometimes it wears faster. I like to keep it one step away from that... you have to hear it a lot of times before you start getting tired of it. At least I hope listeners feel the way I feel about that.

    I'm always letting people listen as I go along, getting honest evaluations from even the engineers. I'm sort of a perfectionist when it comes to music, I listen to every little idiosyncrasy.

    I'm really looking forward to getting this album out, it's real turn on for my head - a real creative outlet. My thanks again to Randy Pratt - I can take all the takes I want, he'll go along with everything I want.

 

Is there a name for the album yet?

    Not yet! But we've done the photo shoot for the cover.

 

What are your thoughts on the 'music as art vs. music as business' quandry?

    You need more, there's something deeper than just money. You want to be productive creatively, you want to contribute something.

    Nothing turns me on like playing outdoors to a lot of people. I could do that for hours. A couple of years ago at the Freedom Fest in Woodstock I was up all night. I played there with some friends of mine, and when the musicians after us got a jam together I went up there and followed along. I'm a night person, I get up late and I'm ready to go all night -- These guys were dropping off, having to go to sleep or whatever.

    At some point one guy who was playing the drums fell off the drumset. We turned around and the guy was out, flat on his back from drinking or whatever. He was laying there for the next couple of hours, so there were no drums. Sure enough, it ended up that everybody dropped off and I played guitar by myself for about three hours.

    Everybody was sleeping out there in the fields and I played all the great things that I've been wanting to play outdoors -- musical tunes, the Star Spangled Banner, everything.

    It was really, really great for my head, which is what I look to do. Sometimes I stay up all night at my own home playing guitar, which I believe I have to do for my own head, just like an artist would have to paint the pictures that he feels, even if they don't sell.

    I do work with people where I have to play with people where there are limits. I do a lot of different gigs with friends of mine and in a lot of situations they only want this or that -- and I can do it, provided that I don't only do that. As long as I can get out of it and go back to my crazy stuff with no walls noplace, fine, I can put up with the limits.

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(Editor's note: Vince's interview resulted in over four hours of tapes.
We'll be transcribing more as time goes on, so please visit again to read more!)

Copyright © 1997 by Aaron Butler. All Rights Reserved.
Photographs not credited are Copyright © 1997 by Shirley Gioia. All Rights Reserved.
The Vanilla Fudge Web Site Compilation is Copyright © 1997 by Vanilla Fudge.