Electric blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Hamish Anderson calls himself a student of “the three kings:” blues royalty Albert King, B.B. King, and Freddie King, and in fact Anderson was the last act to open for B.B. King before the blues icon passed away. Having moved from his native Australia to Los Angeles to steep himself in the music scene there, Anderson is still touring his debut CD, Trouble, and is working on his next album, due out in 2019 (see the preview video for “No Good,” here). Anderson channels the early blues legends like Son House and Robert Johnson with raw, masterful guitar playing, a heartfelt vocal delivery, and universally relevant lyrics. He recently took the time to answer our questions about his background, his inspirations, and why he loves the blues.
What kind of childhood did you have?
A very creative one; even before I got into music I was always really interested in film, reading, and arts in general. I just loved being creative.
What role did music play in it?
A big part. My parents aren’t musicians but are huge music lovers. My dad’s vinyl collection was what really started my love of music. It was very eclectic, from blues to rock and roll, soul, classical music, films scores.
Who—or what—was the best influence on you as an artist? As a human being?
I would say my parents. They really gave me my love of music and encouraged me and my sister to pursue our interests.
Why did you choose the blues?
It just felt like the most honest and raw music I had ever heard. It really blew my mind that this genre of music had influenced all the other genres of music. I loved rock and roll and soul, etc., but blues music is really about the highs and lows of life that we all go through, and I found that very moving.
How did you learn how to play and sing it so well?
I feel like I’m definitely still trying and always learning. I just really wanted to write songs, play guitar, and sing, and it’s still all I want to do. I don’t think I’m the best in the world at any of those things, but I feel like I’ve developed something in all three that’s unique and honest to me and the way I express myself. I think a lot of what it takes when trying to hone a skill is just to be driven and passionate. If that’s what you really want to do it’ll take a long time, but if you have that drive you’ll get there.
How did you assemble your band?
Originally, I couldn’t find anyone to play with who would take it seriously or was driven to do it, so that’s how I fell into being a solo act. It was always my goal to play with a band, though, because one of the things I love most about music and playing live is being able to play with other people and how you play off each other. Playing with the band is where I feel most comfortable and where I feel my music translates the best. I love the feeling of kicking into a song with the full band.
Of all the countries you’ve toured, where did you find the most enthusiastic response to your music?
I think it’s been in the States. One of my favourite shows I ever got to play was at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in Colorado. That crowd was amazing and the energy was great!
Has anything funny or weird ever happened to you while touring or recording?
I had my pedal board cut out in front of about 2,500 at a festival in the Netherlands while it was also being live streamed. It felt like a nightmare that I wasn’t waking up from. Luckily it was in-between songs because it would have been a train wreck if it was in the middle of a song.
What’s the story behind the creation of the song “No Good”?
The music came very quickly, but the actual lyrics and what the song was about took a really long time to find. I wrote the riff one day just out of the blue and came up with the little lick that starts each verse. The only line I had was the opening line, “Don’t say you love me, ‘cause you know I don’t go for that,” but that was all. For months I just played that riff all the time trying to build on it. One day six months after I had started the song the lyrics just all came to me at once.
How do you regenerate after giving yourself heavily to the music?
Going and hanging with friends or just doing something completely outside of music for a minute can recharge you and regenerate your love for music. I try not to force myself to play and write if I’m not inspired; I wait for the inspiration to hit me.
What conditions do you need in your life to maintain your creativity?
I feel like I need to be present and just in the moment. If I’m not being honest with myself then I feel like it’s not real.
Are there any books, albums, or films that have influenced your work?
I’m super inspired by Martin Scorsese’s films; they have a rock and roll attitude to them, and I’m always inspired by whatever he makes. There’s million of albums, all the stuff that really started my love of music: The Beatles, The Stones, Chuck Berry, that’s all the stuff I still love the most.
If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?
To produce honest music inspired by the roots of blues, rock and roll, and soul and hopefully bringing them into the age we live in.
I just released my video for “No Good” with Billboard. My sophomore album is going to drop next year, so before then hopefully releasing more singles, more music videos — and I’ve got some U.S. dates coming up in the fall.