A collector’s new favorite guitar
Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Peter Stroud was first bitten by “the guitar bug” when his older brother brought home a guitar and a distortion box, and plugged it all into a Silvertone amp. Migrating through the Carolinas, Stroud eventually ended up in Atlanta, Georgia. There he hooked up with Dreams So Real, out of nearby Athens.
Back then, Athens was the fertile music ground that spawned such bands as Pylon, The B-52s, Indigo Girls, Georgia Satellites, and R.E.M. Peter Stroud’s path changed in 1995 when he got the call from Pete Droge, headed off to Europe and found himself on stage before 40,000 fans! Stroud continued with Pete Droge & the Sinners, touring and playing on three albums from 1995 through 1998.
In 1999, Peter Stroud joined forces with Sheryl Crow, contributing his signature guitar playing and taking on the role of Musical Director. Since them, Peter’s credits list has continued to expand – touring with Don Henley, recording with Stevie Nicks, and his current work with Sarah McLachlan. Peter Stroud is known as a demanding gear hound, so VOX was pleased when Stroud took up their Virage guitar. VOX recently set out to catch up with Peter so he could bring us up to date.
VOX: Hello again, Peter. Let’s start at the beginning and ask how old you were when you realized that being a guitarist was your calling?
Peter Stroud: By the impressionable age of 10, after seeing the movies Monterey Pop, Woodstock, George Harrison’s The Concert for Banglades, and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen. We never had good concerts come though my hometown until years later, so you had to go to the movies – and those four changed my life!
VOX: Who do you claim as some of your major musical influences?
PS: Musically I was exposed to a lot of different things at an early age, from The Beatles to James Brown to Dave Brubeck; and lots of beach music having grown up in the Carolinas. And then those in the movies – The Beatles, Otis Redding (having seen him in Monterey Pop), Leon Russell, Janis Joplin & Big Brother – I can go on and on. Growing up in 70s, of course, that brings on The Stones, The Who, and Zep [Led Zeppelin]. It seems the most impressionable years are your teens.
VOX: And for guitar?
PS: Well, for guitar – Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Clapton, Townsend, Page, Billy Gibbons. And then there’s Joe Walsh and Ritchie Blackmore; the list goes on and on.
VOX: So, Peter, much of your work has been supporting artists like Don Henley, Pete Droge, Sheryl Crow and now Sarah McLachlan. Have you ever thought of putting together a band of your own?
PS: [I am] working on it now, finally. The worst time in the music biz, but best time creatively. One can be less concerned about making money – cause it ain’t gonna happen, right now at least – which affords more creativity and sincerity.
VOX: Tell us more.
PS: I’m very excited about it! It includes incredibly talented writers and players, working as a band, not just a “Peter Stroud – Listen to me wank” kind of thing. I can tell you it’ll seriously rawk. I plan on having it done this fall and hopefully out beginning of next year.
VOX: It’s no secret that you possess an amazing collection of guitars – both new and vintage. What led you to try out the VOX Virage?
PS: Why… YOU did, VOX! [Laughs!] Truthfully, we go way back … I trust your opinion and was open to try the new Virage on your recommendation. I sort of needed another guitar like a hole in the head. If there was an AA meeting for guitar collectors, I’d be there with a call list of five sponsors! But a great new guitar always serves as inspiration for both playing and composing. I was incredibly impressed with the Virage from the first moment I played it, and now my new Custom Virage is one of my mainstays.
VOX: The gigs you’ve had – and have – require you to mimic or cop guitar tones from hit songs; does the Virage help you in that regard?
PS: Yes! Its pickup tone selection is very versatile; the guitar itself acoustically very alive. I’ll jump back and forth between the single coil and humbucking tones; the VOX Virage does both very well.
VOX: You’ve recently taken possession of a new custom VOX Virage guitar. Can you tell us how that Virage is working out for you, and some of the things that make it extra special to you?
PS: This custom made Virage is a real treat. It has the perfect feeling neck. I love the ash top on mahogany; the thin finish; it has everything I like in a guitar. I really believe the ash/ mahogany combination (along with the new special design pickups) attribute to this guitar sounding like no other I’ve heard or played. The pick attack is immediate with a nice amount of spank, yet not shrill. And you can fatten it up beautifully. Nice one, guys!
Well, thank you, Peter. Keep the music coming!
Watch Peter’s Virage video on Youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=jipoBLFux9k