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Del Bromham has been a mainstay of Stray who first came to prominence in the 70's and are still going strong today. Del Bro ham releases his debut solo album soon plus he tours with Leslie West (Mountain) and appears with Pat Travers, on the latter's London show on June 3rd. Thanks to Batttttty for passing the questions on.

1. What are you currently up to?

I have recorded Well, after a busy last year with the band Stray, I have been in the studio recording my first solo cd. Also making plans for my first solo tour - you would not believe how much there is to do and to think about !

2. What has been the highlight(s) and low point(s) of your career to date?

Well there's a question! I don't think there's enough time to list them.

Having my first Gibson Firebird guitar stolen from Newcastle City Hall was a low-point.

It was a rare green one. There were only a few of them made - I think about five at this time. I had one, Stevie Winwood had one, Eric Clapton had one, and guess what - we all had them stolen !!!

A major low point would probably be back in 1977 with the original Stray band members, we found ourselves in bad shape due to management, business and financial problems. We found ourselves in such a hole that we had to sell our assets and cease to be a band at that time. That was very depressing. We all just about lost everything we had worked so hard for. The situation was highlighted by the fact we had just completed a tour with Rush, and had an album out entitled 'Hearts of Fire'. To the outside world all looked 'rosy' but as it transpired, that was not the case. Too many other low points to list.

High points : Turning professional shortly after leaving school snd getting our first management and record contract.The release of the first album. Being presented with our first Gold album for 'Mudanzas'in 1973. First tour of USA. Iron Maiden recording one of our songs 'All In Your Mind', doing the European tour dates with Iron Maiden in 2003, and confirming we can still do the business.

3. What do you think has been behind the longevity of Stray? When the band formed did you expect to be going so long?

I think like most people forming bands, we were so pre-occupied with what we were doing at the time that we didn't think too much about tomorrow - well, not till a bit later maybe. We wanted to be as big as The Beatles. I wanted to write songs and I believe that our music, generally speaking, has a timeless quality. I listen and still play some of the songs we recorded thirty years ago and I still think they sound fresh. I listen to some acts who come from the 60's ,70's and 80's etc and they sound pre-dated.

Furthermore, I am stubborn and I believed in Stray then and I believe in Stray now and will do until the day I die. I don't see why I should hang my guitar up just because we might not be fashionable or have a large management company with a fat cheque book. I got into playing music for the enjoyment, not the money. Unfortunately there are some that lose the plot and end up only doing it for the money. If that were my case I would have packed it in years ago. Like I said I'm stubborn. Blimey, I nearly went into one there !!!!!!

4. Which Stray albums and tunes do you think have stood the test of time and why?

A true Stray fan would give you a more accurate answer. I think the first album, primarily because of the track 'All In Your Mind' which is almost our theme tune. I think the sound of the album, the recording quality, and the energy emitting from the tracks is unique and unmistakably Stray. I also feel Saturday Morning Pictures has stood the test of time. Bear in mind both of these are over 30 years old now !!! I hope that '10' will last as long - I love that album, it is special for me as well as John and Paul.

5. What made you first want to play guitar and has your style changed down the years?

I don't know why really. It was just this love of music from as early as I can remember. There was always music in the house. My dad and my older brothers were always buying records. My brother Alan had various groups and most of the time they practised in my mum and dad's house and I used to sit in and watch. Sometimes the guitarists used to leave their guitars at the house and unknown to them I used to get them out and have a go. The guitarist used to like Hank Marvin and Carl Perkins - it was the latter that I was more interested in.

As for my style changing, I suppose (and this may sound an odd thing to say now) in recent years I have become more confident particularly regarding soloing. What you have to understand is that I never really rated myself as a guitarist. I was the songwriter, I was more like a Pete Townsend guitarist in that I needed to play in a more rhythmic style than solo. I had no rhythmn guitar or keyboard so I had to make the whole sound fatter on my own. I think that a mix of the rhythmn and lead has contributed to my style. Over the years I have often been asked if I use backing tapes or even if I have a guitarist on the side of the stage, because there are those that cannot believe what a full sound the band gets from just three instruments.

6. You have a new solo album out soon. Could you take us through some personal highlights please? Where do the ideas come from for your songs?

OK, the album is called Devils' Highway. It is very different for me because this is a 'blues' style album.

I wanted the title of the album to in someway both represent the blues and represent me. The blues was called the Devils' music, predominately by the black Gospel Church in the USA. Musically and personally this is a different road I am taking, so put the two together and there is the title - Devils' Highway.

There are 11 tracks on the cd. Devils' Highway is the title track which opens the album and is just me singing the song and playing bottleneck slide guitar. Lots of fretbuzz and neck rattle. There is a reprise of the tune played on electric slide guitar later in the album. I have used no effects or pedals on the guitars throughout the album.

I worked with Paul Kennedy who has worked with me now on the last two Stray albums. He is a great sound engineer and I have never felt more comfortable working with someone. He seems to know exactly what I am looking for. I wanted to make the album sound authentic. I played all the instruments on the album, drums, bass, guitars, piano, organ etc... that in itself is an ambition which I have now fulfilled.

I don't mean to sound critical or that the album is in anyway contrived, but I have noticed artists tend to keep covering the same old songs. So my contribution, I hope, was to write something new but in the spirit of the blues. I didn't realise until I began to sit down to write this album, I'd forgotten how much of blues and rhythmn and blues artistes I used to listen to when I first started playing. People Like Robert Johnson, John Mayall, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James,B.B. King, Clapton and Beck etc etc... I can hear influences myself, I am not ashamed of that admission. I which I knew where the ideas came from. They do seem to literally come out or the air.

I write stories - some fiction some autobiographical. Generally lyrics are important, but as I have said I was more concerned with capturing the spirit of the blues and consequently I hope the album is taken as a whole and not dissected. In a literary sense, on this occasion William Shakespeare has nothing to worry about...

7. What have been the live highlights for you? Have you seen newer fans still coming along to your gigs?

I suppose I have been lucky over the years. I can honestly remember very few gigs which I haven't enjoyed.

When you are doing what you enjoy doing the most, playing with good musicians and friends and playing to good audiences - it does not get much better than that. That can be a small venue or a large one. Fresh in my mind are the shows we did in Europe and Eastern Europe in 2003 with Iron Maiden. These were stadium shows, anything from 10,000 people per night upwards! Maiden fans are extremely loyal to their band and they do not always show their appreciation to the support act.

I can honestly say that Stray went down really well every night. It was mentioned by members of the Maiden entourage that they had not seen an opening act go down so well for many years! It just re- affirmed that we can reach audiences right across the spectrum of music. Interestingly enough when we started the band at school that's exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted as many people as possible to enjoy us!!

Yes a lot of new fans, young and very young fans are picking up on the band. It's great to look out on an audience and see a cross section of people of all ages visibly enjoying the music.

8. What sort of set-list can we expect on your upcoming tour with Leslie West?

At this moment in time, the intention is predominantly to play the Devils' Highway set. However being on my own, I can swop the set around and change the set and add old songs on the spot. On this tour it is just me, on my own - I will not be playing with a band.

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

I must have spare time, but I cannot remember where it goes!! My personal life has undergone some changes recently. I used to play squash fairly regularly, but unfortunatley my Dad passed away last year and my mum is not well so she needs 24-hour care, so I drive down to take care of her when I can. I go through phases of either not playing my guitar very much, or the reverse. At the moment I am doing a lot of playing.

I have to confess to becoming something of a couch potato. I've been watching more TV than ever .... that's probably another good reason for me to get out on tour again. Roll on April !!!!!!!!

10. Message for your fans...

Whatever I try to say does not seem enough. I have been on the road a long time and there are those out there who have been with me virtually all the way. I listen to what they have to say. They are all honest and let me know what they like and what they don't like. Whatever, I have the greatest respect for all the fans old and new. I sincerely say to all a "BIG thank you".

Take it easy. Del

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Interview © 2004 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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