By: Arlene R. Weiss
Jacaranda, Trevor Rabin’s first new solo studio album since 1989’s critically acclaimed Can’t Look Away, is a deeply personal, musically reverential album. The instrumental album melds and showcases Trevor’s vast musical vocabulary, as well as his talents as a writer and performer. Rabin’s vast array of influences is also allowed to shine on the album including jazz, rock, bluegrass, roots, classical, rockabilly, and blues.
On Jacaranda, Rabin crafts an autobiographical and emotionally expressive musical homage to his native South Africa. A beautifully reflective yet introspective record imbued with meaningful personal and artistic memories, Jacaranda affectionately recalls the first 24 years of his life, growing up in South Africa, and the people, places, and memories from his homeland that he holds close to his heart.
I sat down with Trevor Rabin to discuss the background to Jacaranda, the instruments and effects he used on the album and his plans for future work in the instrumental and vocal genres.
Arlene R. Weiss: Hi Trevor, how are you. Congratulations on the release of Jacaranda. What an amazing and beautiful songbook. You must be so happy and proud.
Trevor Rabin: I just loved making this record. I’ve never had a better time.
Arlene: “Jacaranda” is such a deeply personal record for you. Many of the songs and their titles are autobiographical, very affectionately recalling the first 24 years of your life growing up in South Africa. What at this time in your life compelled you along this introspective direction, where each song is crafted as a loving photograph inspired by a special time and memory in your heart?
Trevor Rabin: For some reason I remember going through an introspective time in my life when I was around 16 to 17 years old. It’s this period that my mind goes back to when creating a lot of the song titles. The liner notes talk about this, and partly what I was just saying from my teen years. It was just an introspective time for me, and that inspired the songs, what they’re about and what they mean to me.
Arlene: You’ve referenced the jacaranda several times throughout your career. What is it about this particular flowering tree that inspires you and why did you choose it as the title of your new record?
Trevor Rabin: I grew up with jacarandas everywhere. When they bloom, the explosion of purple flowers and the beautiful carpet they create always sticks with me. From what I’ve heard, it’s also known as the Tree of Knowledge and Wisdom and so I found that to be inspiring and it just sort of became a recurring theme throughout my music.
Arlene: Jacaranda is your first solo studio album in 23 years. Why did you wait such a lengthy time period to release this new album?
Trevor Rabin: Inspiration hits me in strange ways. But I’ve been so busy with doing film scores and other scoring projects that it just took awhile, and last year I just decided to discipline myself and work on it.
Arlene: Jacaranda is an instrumental album. Are you hoping to do other projects down the road where you will be showcasing your vocals?
Trevor Rabin: I will sing soon! Yes, I will definitely be singing on my future albums and projects.
Arlene: What artistic statement were you aspiring to achieve in writing and recording the album?
Trevor Rabin: I don’t know, it definitely feels like the most honest and natural I’ve ever been writing this music and making this album. This album and the music I express on it is definitely a turning point for me. I will be far more creatively free from this moment on since creating Jacaranda.
Arlene: Most of the songs on Jacaranda feature the Dobro. Do you remember when you first started playing Dobro? What is it about this instrument that compelled you to use it as the most prominent musical voice on your record?
Trevor Rabin: I first started using Dobro in my film scores, and I just love playing the instrument. I don’t remember when I first actually started playing Dobro though. I’ve been using Dobro to color and texture my film scores, but I’ve always loved it. It’s just a beautiful sounding instrument and it creates amazing textures and tones, as well as moods and emotions.
I use the same trusty Dobro that I’ve always used for many years. I only have the one….and I just love it! I use a chrome metal slide and I approach it in a very unorthodox way. I play it as if I’m playing slide guitar.
Arlene: What Dobro players most influenced you throughout the years?
Trevor Rabin: I really love Jerry Douglas, he’s just an amazing virtuoso.
Arlene: Take us through your songwriting process on Jacaranda.
Trevor Rabin: The interesting thing is that I really let the music flow from me with no specific business plan in mind as far as to how it would be released or even what it was. This made for a far freer experience for me, and also there was a tremendous emphasis on performance.
Arlene: My favorite song on the album is “Through the Tunnel.” What was your inspiration for the song, how did you conceive, arrange, and then fully develop the arrangement for this song?
Trevor Rabin: I really loved creating this, from Vinnie’s jaw dropping drumming, to how much fun it is playing bass with him, and then when I was performing guitar and letting it rip as it were. For that song, it was just like the album itself and how all of the other songs also came about. It was purely all about the freedom of not caring about any preset expectations about what I was doing….and it was just the process of enjoying creating, which somehow lead me to this. For playing the piano passages, I used my Young Chang Concert Grand piano on that.
Arlene: Of all the songs on the album, “Anerley Road” is imbued with the most multilingual guitar voicings, for which you used nine different guitars plus your Dobro. How did you conceive this song?
Trevor Rabin: It was a bit like doing a jigsaw, one thing lead to the next, and suddenly I was done. I thought hard before using all the different and particular guitars, knowing what sound I would need in the end. I thought the bell toned harmonics that I put on that to be perfect bookends for the piece.
Arlene R. Weiss: Tell me about the video that you’ve filmed and produced for “Anerley Road.” How did that come about and will there be other videos from Jacaranda that you’ll be doing?
Trevor Rabin: I met a video guy who talked about doing the video, and I realized that I wanted to do it myself. So I got into filming, lighting, color correction, editing…and I filmed it myself. I hope to do more videos for the album.
Arlene: You used your infamous, beloved 62’ Strat on the album, especially on “Through The Tunnel.” How is your Strat holding up these days?
Trevor Rabin: I guess it’s like the most worn in saddle of all my guitars. It’s definitely my second wife. It’s holding up great. I look after it a lot better now, than the old days. She’s very happy.
Arlene: How did you come by your Westone Rainbow Guitar, and what is it about this guitar and its tones that you especially like?
Trevor Rabin: I was endorsing the Westone brand at the time, and when they presented this to me, I fell in love. I way prefer it to my 335.
Arlene: What other guitars and stringed instruments did you use on Jacaranda and what effects, amps, and gear did you use on the album?
Trevor Rabin: All the guitars are mentioned in the album’s liner notes, there are just so many and they’re all wonderful. My newest acoustic is a Martin which I’m liking, and I will probably use it on my next album. I used my old Marshall 100 amp. I also used my Ampeg VT-120′s which are not made any more. God knows why, because I think for me, they’re the best sounding guitar amps.
Arlene: The songs on Jacaranda have a very natural, organic, feel and sound. Did you use your Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer and your Digital Work Station, to record this record?
Trevor Rabin: Yes, I used Digital Performer and it was really my central work station for everything. I decided that electronic instrumentation would be to a minimum and it would really be just me, in the studio, playing genuine instruments. The album was all recorded digitally, but I used an analog approach and that’s what comes across on the final release.
Arlene: Will you be touring to support Jacaranda?
Trevor Rabin: Well, I haven’t got there just yet. It’s all still very new, but I’m hoping to.
Arlene: What other artistic paths and projects do you hope to explore in the future as you travel your musical journey?
Trevor Rabin: Because of this album, and what it’s taught me…what I’ve learned, is not to try and contrive what to do next. I always feel most free and pure when I can naturally write and play music, without any expectations…..and then I can just be in the moment, free and spontaneous, and just let the music, come to me.
Check out the Jacaranda review by Arlene Weiss HERE!
© Copyright March 28-June 8, 2012 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved