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In Conversation with Larry Graham

In 1968 Larry Graham joined Sly and the Family Stone, appearing with the group during the halcyon period which gave rise to such classic albums as Stand! and There’s a Riot Goin’ On, as well as smash singles like “Dance to the Music” and “Everybody Is a Star,” both of which prominently feature Graham’s rich baritone in addition to his enormously influential thumping bass style. The Album ‘Rise Up’ and subsequent Sold Out Tour dates are a testament to the talent and Inspirational works of Larry Graham. Graham Central Station will be arriving in the UK for a series of performances, at the Jazz Cafe and at the Love Supreme Festival. The current line-up of Graham Central Station consists of frontman and founder Larry Graham, Wilton “Fab” Rabb on guitar, Jimi “Joy” McKinney on keyboards/horns, Dave “City” Council on organ/keyboards, Brian “Rio” Braziel on drums, Ashling “Biscuit” Cole on vocals and Funkbox and Larry Graham’s wife “Tina” on backing vocals.

Listen to the timeless music of Larry Graham ‘One in a Million’, ‘Just be my Lady’, ‘When we get Married’ you will feel the talent, passionate intensity and spiritual influence this Bass playing genius delivers throughout his music…

DeeperTheBeats ‘In Conversation with Larry Graham’

DTB: Can you remember and tell us, what was the first record that you purchased on vinyl.
LG: I think it was a song, ‘Uncloudy Day’ by Mavis and The Staple Singers, I was brought up with my Grandmother who raised me, and I remember her getting that record.

DTB: Why do you think that you have succeeded in an Industry that is pre-destined for the majority of musicians, singers and songwriters to fail, especially with the Industry being a minefield of obstacles, what do you feel has been your personal ethos to guide you thorough that minefield, to cultivate a career that is legendary.

LG: I believe that if you run into problems with the endless minefields in any area of work or life, whatever the issue, you just got to deal with it, if you really love what you do, the opportunities, you have to stick with it. If there is a need to fix any problem, deal with it, move on but Do Not to give up. I also think, that it has a lot to do with the depth of love for what you do..there are a lot of things out there that stacked against you in any field, musicians, athletes, but I just really love what I do.

DTB: On your official website you mention Moon Base Guitars, and GHS strings, are these your favourite instruments when playing, how do they affect your sound, when performing especially when you are on long extensive Tours.

LG: I still use, and like the GHS gauge, and it makes it comfortable to play, especially when I play super hard, some people use thicker strings , I like the lighter gauge .. I’ve been playing the Moon guitar for about 30 years, and during early years with Sly and the Family Stone. Early Graham central Station I was playing Cinder strings. The Moon Bass, corporation approached me, and allowed me to give them my input of what I would like, showed me the best of they had, we collaborated and came up with the bass that I have today.

DTB: Everybody wanted me to ask you.. how many guitars do you own?

LG: Hmm in the house (laughs), maybe 12 or 15 Not all Moon though..

DTB: Do you usually have 3 or 4 guitars with you, on the road?

LG: I usually have no more that 2, a main bass and one as backup when doing a show ..I will sometimes have a string change and then go back to my main bass.

DTB: Tell us a little bit about the side of Larry Graham that the public never see, what do you do for relaxation.

LG: I am very family orientated, I was raised being around a lot of family, all my family and my wife’s family are close, on both sides we are very close and spend time together in Minnesota, or California, our daughter has 3 kids so its busy, but a beautiful busy!
We spend a lot of time together we’ve been married for 40 years, for me being family orientated is my life, we have only been apart from each other for 2 days, any gig if you see me, my wife is either Backstage or, she’s at the mixing board, always there and goes on tour with me. My daughter was on the road when she was 6 months old and until she was 18, I was only away from her 1 day…If my Wife can’t go or my daughter can’t go then… I can’t go! We do everything together.
You don’t really see a lot of families out on the road, it’s not as easy, as travelling by yourself, maybe its harder for me, but I want them there…you leave home and leave your family behind, when I was with Sly and the Family Stone I wasn’t married, I know what it’s like being on your own, it’s a big difference, and when my family are with me its like ‘this is the way its supposed to be’.

Larry Graham SLAP BASS

DTB: What can we expect from your UK visit at the Jazz Cafe, and set at Love Supreme, will you have any special guest surprises for your UK visit, we are so excited for your arrival.

LG: Each time we come its always different, a lot of people come up on stage, last time Mark King (Level 42) came up.. It’s like a big happy positive party. A lot of the countries we are fortunate to play in are different and they have their own characteristics, we love playing in America, Europe, Japan. If the audience is into the music, people not only listen music that they love, but get time to study it, get into the nuances, and so, when your playing its like their body and soul really get into it, its a beautiful thing!

DTB: It’s a really long tour, how do your prepare or look after your hands and voice to ensure that you are happy with each performance?

LG: That’s the exercise right there.. the playing! After the first gig, you are into the first set of exercises, the Tour is more set’s and more repetitions, so you have to keep going, the only things with fingers, if you play guitar or Bass you can get calluses. if you don’t play for a little while the calluses may soften up, after the 1st gig or too, you may feel a little sensitivity, but once you have done a few dates you don’t feel that any more, so I don’t have to do anything extra ..

DTB: How important is technology to you today, within your current creative process, and has that technology enhanced or influenced your musical performances,especially with the songwriting from back in the day with Sly and the family, or when you are out on the road with Graham Central Station.

LG: I think if you use it properly, it can be very beneficial, for example when editing back in the day, and you wanted to shorten say the bridge, or move something to another place you had to break out the razor blade and slice tapes, in studio you had difficulty finding the place you needed. Now can have it instantly where you want it.
With the sound there is a difference, if you compare analogue to digital. I do a combination, I do analogue 1st, then transfer it, onto digital for the ease of editing and stuff like that.

DTB: having worked with numerous artistes during your illustrious career, can you name two artistes today, who you admire, that bring a sense of depth back into the Music Industry, with great lyrics content, and spirituality.

LG: Of course Prince, and I recently saw Stevie Wonder, it was a fantastic show, he’s always leading people in the right direction …

DTB: During an interview with Prince, a few years ago whilst on Tour in Europe, you gave a TV interview, where you both attributed your faith as a gift, and how you are able to enjoy the ‘spirit of life’ to reach your audience. Can you tell us how you work towards bringing your music to the audience, with that ethos in mind..

LG: When you study and apply what’s written in the scriptures, by the one who created us, and who knows us best, by following the manual, that makes everything better. It makes the marriage better, by applying your faith, if you run into some issues, the answers are there if you read them and apply them. The issues today, with raising children, it takes time and desire to sit down and it takes time and desire study the scriptures, and willingness to apply what you are reading to your life. It makes you a better friend, a better person, you won’t steal or lie to anybody or run game on anybody, we were created in God’s image so we already have the basic knowledge and foundation of what we should and shouldn’t do.
It’s just reminders, taking you to the best route, to make you happy..
That brings the piece of mind because you feel comfortable.

Larry Graham with special guest Prince North Sea Jazz 2013

DTB: In the Interview with Prince in Europe, he was very open, and how very special you are to him, his ‘Brother Larry’. Can you tell us what you feel, you have learned from working with Prince and that you still find valuable today, in your work and life journey.

LG: It’s easy to work with someone with whom you are on the same page, musically we are total agreement, I didn’t know when we first met, but he was raised up on Graham Central Station, and he went back and got deeper into Sly and the Family Stone, we are on the same page musically, and spiritually we both have that harmony as Jehovah Witnesses. His guard never has to be up around me and mine never has to be up around him, that makes for a true friend, one that you can really trust, then you are comfortable all the time. That carries over into the music, there’s an agreement and harmony, it makes it very easy to work with him.

DTB: Can you tell us about the collaborations in the pipeline, on the album ‘Raise Up’

LG: On the current album Prince is on that, Raphael Saadiq on the track ‘One Day’, I did a track that’s a Stevie Wonder song ‘Higher Ground’.

DTB: What moments during your career, would you describe as the most memorable, and what were the hi-lights for you.

LG: The privilege of working with my Mother, that was like going to a special college, a wonderful training ground, which set me up and laid the foundation of what was to come, then being in a group like Sly and the Family Stone, Woodstock… playing with those fantastic artistes, that was a turning point for us in our career, and took us higher, having our own band, and receiving our first Gold record.. its like Wow! Recording my first solo album, there’s been so many hi-lights and I look forward for more to come..

A generation of musicians have given props to Larry Graham naming him as one of the Legends of ‘Slap Bass’ players in the world, From Marcus Miller, Mark King, Bootsy Collins, Flea to Prince.
It was an honour to interview Larry Graham the Legendary ‘Slap Bass’ Icon, DeeperTheBeatsHQ looks forward to seeing Larry Graham at the Jazz Cafe …You are welcome to join in the Funk Party
Step into “Graham Central Station”, hop on board and make the connection with Larry Graham + Graham Central Station at The Jazz Cafe 1st & 2nd July. Doors open 7pm.


About Cheryl Huggins

Cheryl Huggins
Music evokes memories of a time, place, people, an event! Live life with Passion Ambition Creativity, After leaving London College of Fashion, Working on Tour with Loose Ends, Working in Media for Roots Magazine, as Fashion and Beauty Editor Teaching. Creative and Artistic development at Calvin Klein, Beauty and Makeup Specialist. Attended the Grammy Awards in L.A. All the elements came together.. Our goal was to build a platform for music... This Creation is just the start…

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