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Neil Fraser
Neil Fraser

Neil Fraser

Musician
Neil Fraser

Guitarist Neil Fraser is a founder member of tindersticks, the UK alternative rock band whose distinctive orchestra-backed style can be heard on a string of critically acclaimed albums and film soundtracks. The band’s latest album ‘No Treasure But Hope’ is released in November and 2020 sees the band embark on a major tour with dates across Europe and USA. Neil will be using an Aston Spirit mic on his Vox AC15 stage amp.

tindersticks, Asphalt Ribbons
Getting the buzz

“I wasn’t really into the music scene at first. For my 15th birthday my oldest brother bought me two albums, one was David Bowie ‘Heroes’ and the other was Status Quo’s ‘Rockin All Over The World’. The Status Quo one I gave back, it definitely wasn’t my type of music, but it was from this point I started to get the music buzz, it was 1978 and there was a lot going on in the music world with the post punk era and I realised I wanted to make that kind of noise with a guitar, so I went out and bought and started experimenting with sounds and got inspiration from bands like Wire. Guitar is my main instrument, but I do dabble with piano - just haven’t mastered playing with two hands yet, I have to record the right hand then the left hand!

I’ve always been in bands with Stuart Staples [tindersticks] as the lead singer since I was 20 years old. We first met in 1983 and we were in a band called the ‘Indignant Desert Birds’. I was on bass, Stuart was singing and we had a drum machine. Unfortunately, Nottingham wasn’t a hot bed of music at the time so in 1987 I left the band, put my guitar under my bed and moved to London.”

Home Spirit

“Whilst I was working in sales, Stuart formed a band called the Asphalt Ribbons. He’d always send me cassettes of their records asking what I thought of them, but he’d sneakily put no guitar in it hoping I’d play along freestyle to the tracks. Stuart and David Boulter [organist/pianist] moved down to London in 1990 with the band and asked if I wanted to come to a rehearsal… I said no, but after some persuasion I gave in and we formed ‘Asphalt Ribbons’ Mark 2. We weren’t hitting it off as we all would have liked, so we all decided to take some time off. We reunited not long after and decided we wanted to play the music that we wanted, rather than what we thought people wanted to hear – which is when Tindersticks was born. That was in 1992 and we’ve been performing together ever since.

I was first introduced to Aston by Graham Pattison [FOH Sound engineer] who set the mics up in front of my AC30 amp, I thought the Spirit he used looked very special, expensive and sounded amazing, I thought there’s no way I could afford one of those, I was gladly wrong so I went and got one for myself straight away and now use the Aston Spirit live on my AC15 amp regularly, actually I use the Spirit on everything at home too!”

Trading with Bonamassa

“Currently I’m using an AC15 amp, I’ve also trimmed down my pedal board, I have an Strymon El Capistan delay, a Neunaber Immerse reverb pedal which has a ‘shimmer’ sound, used on one song, a Diamond Tremolo and 2 overdrives – a Wampler Tumnus and a Timmy transparent overdrive which is on all the time, low gain just to give things a bit of bite.

The guitar I use now is my red DeArmond, it’s a great guitar! I have changed a few bits on It though, it’s got new pick ups, new switches, new left tone and volume controls. I also have a Fender Telecaster, in fact I’ve always had them.

Funny side story, I had a 1971 left-handed Telecaster which I sold unknowingly to Joe Bonamassa!”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. The Velvet Underground, Wire – they’re the reason I’m playing guitar, and Can

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. Forensic Science, but I’m really glad that I didn’t or I wouldn’t be living in Belgium, and not met the people I’ve met

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. Lou Reed – Street Hassle

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