Nine Below Zero

What songs lurk in the mind of bluesman and Nine Below Zero songwriter Gerry McAvoy? We find out

Nine Below Zero
Nine Below Zero
Family
Family
Sting
Sting
Lightnin' Slim
Lightnin' Slim
Jo Jo Gunne
Jo Jo Gunne
1/5
What do you think of when we say…

…family?
Family
‘Burlesque’ by Family has one of the greatest riffs ever recorded. So that’s the ‘family’ I think of. Not my family, who are upstairs asleep right now, but the band. So yeah: ‘Burlesque’. The riff seems incredibly simple, but on analysis you realise how clever it is, how it fits so comfortably into the song and the bassline. On our new album, which we’re just finishing off now, I wanted to have one song on there that, if I was a kid, I’d just die to know how it was done.

…under?

The Police
When I was first starting out, I used to play a pub called Thomas A’Becket just behind my school in London. I remember being stood in there under this big pillar when I heard this incredible song being played – it was ‘Walking On The Moon’ by The Police. I remember hearing Stuart Copeland’s high-hat at the end of the song and being really impressed. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I haven’t heard that before.’ We actually toured with Sting in Europe around 1996, and he was a consummate professional. We’d watch him night after night, but he never got boring. We had nothing but admiration for him. And, although we’d played alongside and learned from The Who and The Kinks when we were starting out, we were still learning things from Sting – how to tease the audience and how to build to a crescendo.

…lightning?

Lightnin’ Slim
I used to listen to his stuff in the early days. I love that naïve blues-guitar style; it’s very little technique and all feel. I would have loved to have been there to see it, in the early ’60s. The great thing is that, thanks to parents and the internet, kids are still being influenced by that stuff. You talk to any 11-year-old kid, their taste in music is so wide because their parents listened to all sorts. I talked to an 11-year-old Neil Diamond fan! It’s amazing. We have kids coming to see us in Europe, because their dads grew up with us. They still grow out of us by 15 and find their own thing, though!

…run?
Jo Jo Gunne

Jo Jo Gunne had a song called ‘Run’ and my God, it was California personified. There was a big red Cadillac on the cover, and that idea of driving across America has always appealed to me. I used to sing ‘Route 66’ in Thomas A’Beckett, and five years later I was driving it! If you have one gig on the US’s West Coast and another on the East Coast, you have the choice of either flying and having three days off while the bus drives across, or going with the bus. And I’ve always elected to do the latter. It’s incredible to live the song that I used to sing as a kid.

Nine Below Zero play The Music Room, June 5.

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