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How To Focus Studio Sessions by Willingly Giving up Control
Marc Ford laid out what he calls love songs on his latest LP, Holy Ghost, out now on the Naim Label. Produced by Stew Jackson aka Robot Club of Phantom Limb, Holy Ghost features a blended line-up of Marc’s immediate family, wife Kirsten of almost thirty years, Marc’s son Elijah and members of Brixton, UK band Phantom Limb.
Ford decided on Stew Jackson to helm this project after producing his band, Phantom Limb and developing a great working relationship. Marc is now on the road with Stew and his immediate family first with dates on the other side of the pond and spending this next year on the road in the U.S. – just as Holy Ghost lands Stateside, tailor-made for the Americana crowd that eats up material by Ryan Bingham or Hayes Carll.
I guess you are out on the road missing California right now?
I’m in Arizona.
It looks like you are booked all the way out till October of next year. Is the title Holy Ghost anything to do with the documentary project of the same name that you interviewed with a couple of years ago?
It’s unrelated. I accidentally named it the same thing. I called them up and I said look, this has nothing to do with the show. That was actually a couple of years ago.
I guess it is more to do with your own personal belief system?
The record is just love songs. I just thought it was a cool title.
I guess the Holy Ghost aspect is just part of what you do. It is just a part of life.
Yeah. You know, realizing that who you are and what you do is just a part of the plan or something like that. Does that make sense? I don’t know. I’m just too uncontrolled.
Your son Elijah is out on tour with you as well as your wife Kirsten.
Yeah. Elijah does a thing on the side as well.
Are you doing a full-on band tour or is this a scaled down live group?
It’s a full band. Elijah does some acoustic stuff by himself then there is a break and then there is a set with the band.
Did the Bristol band, Phantom Limb, come over from England to tour with you?
A couple of the guys, yes. They couldn’t all come but, yeah. As well as a friend from California, so it’s kind of a mixed bag.
Holy Ghost has a feel that’s not out of line with some of the guys you have worked with like Ben Harper and Ryan Bingham. Is your live set all over the map from Burning Tree, Black Crowes up to now?
I’m concentrating mostly on the new record. I was just a hired gun for The Black Crowes. I want to sing my songs.
As far as instrumentation, you use a lot more steel guitar and other things on this album.
That is Stew Jackson.
So, he produced Holy Ghost which features him on steel and now he is out on the road with you?
Yeah, among other things.
Do you basically use the same gear you have used for years?
A Martin acoustic. We also have my signature model from Asher Guitars as well. That’s basically it.
Do you think you will stick around within the Americana scene?
I just wrote a bunch of songs on my acoustic guitar and didn’t think about the genre thing; I wouldn’t have called it that. I guess people need titles.
Are there any particular songs that stand out for you?
Like I said, they are all strong and I think they are the best ones that I’ve cut and happy to be a part of.
When I listened to Holy Ghost I thought this could have been cut in Muscle Shoals or East Nashville. I saw that it was produced in England and I guess there had to be a back story to this.
The thing is, from my experience or my collective experiences you could put it, being a producer is really just a kind of higher-level communicator. Like for example, ‘I think what the guitar player is trying to say to you is this.’ When we did this record, I didn’t want to produce myself again. It’s too hard to do. It’s really a trusted perspective, you know. So, Stew did this as a favor.
Did you use Stew as a second opinion or did you let him work things out?
It started with a band and a song that I had been working on. I knew where I wanted it to go. I just wanted to show up and play and not think about anything else so that I could just think about singing and playing.
You worked with British label Naim under their Edge label. Did it take a while to get [the record] the States?
We looked at getting a Stateside label but nobody wanted to deal with it for some reason. So, Naim just said, ‘Let’s do it ourselves’ and now you have a British Indie label releasing an Americana record here in North America.
It sounds like you had a good time working with Stew and the other Brixton bandmates. Do you think you will collaborate with him again?
I don’t think we’re gonna not work together ever again. We are actually finishing up with the record he did with Elijah [Ford].
How is it being on the road with your son Elijah?
We have a great time together. He’s blowing me away. I don’t say that just because he’s my son. My Mom [Gigi] came to the show in Las Vegas the other day and she bought me my first guitar when we lived in Lake Havasu, California when I was like nine or ten, so it was a real trip. I mean I was thinking, ‘See how far that eight bucks went?’ [laughs]
It’s kind of fun that you have gone full circle where you are playing acoustic in front of a band now.
Yeah, I mean, it’s all circles and squares. I think it’s a great record, a great band and a great show. I think people will enjoy themselves. I’ve been pretty fortunate.
Follow on Twitter @MarcFordMusic
photos by Jessie Lee Cederblom