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Interview with 8 Ball Aitken: Heading To SXSW

Unrated Dan: How does it feel to be playing SXSW.  How many showcase are you doing?

8 Ball Aitken: It feels fantastic to be launching my new album in my adopted hometown of Austin. My official showcase is Saturday March 19, 10pm at the Saxon Pub. I am playing two other official daytime spots for Sounds Australia. They are BD Rileys Irish Pub March 15th, 2:00pm-2:30pm, and March 19  12.40 - 1.05pm.   Unrated Dan: What do you hope to get out of SXSW?

8 Ball Aitken: I want to make as many new fans as I can in Texas. My music career thus far has been as independent as they come. I started out living and jamming in a tobacco shed so it has all gone from there. All my fans have been made one by one from touring. Having an official SXSW show for the first time feels like such a lucky break. Having the chance to play a hometown SXSW show feels like the right thing to be doing on the back on my first USA album release. Unrated Dan: Tell me about your background.  How did you get interested in Music?

8 Ball Aitken: I am from a family of 12 kids. My Dad played and all my brothers and sisters can jam and sing. I used to play, practice and write songs all night when I was a teenager living in a tobacco shed. I loved picking guitars much more than picking bananas which was my job at the time. I and eventually I quit farm work and started traveling. Playing music and writing songs is my calling in life. Rural Queensland life is kind of relaxed. Some of my Southern friends say that it is like Mississippi. 

Unrated Dan: How did you get your name 8 Ball Aitken?

8 Ball Aitken: I got my name from playing in a rough blues club in North Queensland. There was a fight at the pool table. I was playing at the time. My friends call me eight or mate. 

Unrated Dan: What instruments did you play while growing up?

8 Ball Aitken: I played drums when I was a kid. At age 13 I took up guitar and then I discovered slide guitar aged 15. I told my friend about it and he then went and sawed the handlebar off of his bicycle to make a slide. I sound too much like and tin and had no sustain. It was terrible. Then his bicycle was harder to ride too. I used to make them out of wine bottles. I got a brass slide too. Now I use glass. 
Unrated Dan: You grow up on a banana farm.  Did you have a chance to see many bands play live?8 Ball Aitken: We used to have all weekend long parties. People would sing and play. We were all into jamming back then and the parties would go all night. When you live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors, you can play really loud all night. It was great. 

Unrated Dan: What was the first band you played with? 

8 Ball Aitken: I played on the back of a truck at the Mareeba Rodeo as my first gig with my high school band. I had an old Japanese Strat and we played both guitar and bass guitar through the same old Chinese amp. It worked for us at the time. I still play junk guitars that are made out of cigar boxes, cookie tins, and a wrinkle cream can. Unrated Dan: How were you discovered?

8 Ball Aitken: I was not really discovered by anyone. My songs that have done well with awards and on the radio have mostly been happy accidents. I have an inner personal drive to play live, entertain, and travel around. I have been doing it for 12 years in 17 countries. I am rarely ever not on the road heading to a gig. Austin is a perfect base of operation for me. 

Unrated Dan: How did you get hooked up with Maton Guitar?

8 Ball Aitken: Maton are the most popular guitars in Australia. It seems like most musicians are playing them down there. My Dad had a very old Maton and I grew up listening to him play it. It was so wore out an busted up but it still sounded amazing. The guitar turned 40 this year. He gave it to me on my 21st birthday and I got it fixed up. It actually sounds a lot like a Gibson J-45.Maton have made me some cool guitars over the years. I have a 12-string mini-Maton that sounds incredible through a Fender Bassman amp. Unrated Dan: Who are some of the bands you have open up for?8 Ball Aitken: Playing gigs with Ray Wylie Hubbard and Guthrie Kennard have been some of my favorites in Texas. Back in Australia I have played so many gig (220 a year on average) that they all start to blur into one big adventure. I love the swampy stuff the most. Unrated Dan: What can you tell me about your new record what is it going to be like?8 Ball Aitken: My new album ‘8 Ball Aitken’ is a collection of my best songs from all of my previous Australian albums. It is my first USA album release and it really is a bluesy, swampy, alt. country mix. It is Americana music made by a guy who just happened to be born in Australia. I am a US citizen now. I had a number #1 country hit song in Australia with a track called ‘She’s Going To Mexico, I’m Going To Jail’. That is the single and the opening track. The video for it was made in Brisbane's Boggo Road Jail. 

Unrated Dan: What was the release date for the record?

8 Ball Aitken:The release date was 26 February. It is available now. 

Unrated Dan: Did you have anyone special helping you get the record finished?8 Ball Aitken: Most of the tracks were recorded in Nashville but some were done in Sydney. I wrote all the songs and Michael Flanders was the producer for most of them. We have worked together a lot for the last few years. Unrated Dan: I just love the songs Refugee, Outback Booty Call and Hands on Top of the Wheel.  If someone was going to decide who you are. What video should they watch? 
8 Ball Aitken: SHE’S GOING TO MEXICO, I’M GOING TO JAIL - http://youtu.be/C4g579-5nlo 
SEVEN BUCKS AN HOUR IN A CHICKEN SUIT - https://youtu.be/M6y2OM4l8ts
Unrated Dan: Why did you decided to do the video for She's Going to Mexico, I'm Going to Jail?  It has a nice beat.  Very catching.8 Ball Aitken: There has never been a better time to make a music video. Everyone is walking around with something to play a video with in their pocket. Unrated Dan: Any plans to tour?8 Ball Aitken: I haven’t stopped touring for 12 years. This year I am focusing on playing as much as I can in Texas although I do have commitments for festivals and other gigs in Australia and other states of USA. 

Unrated Dan: What is the Genre of your music?8 Ball Aitken: My music is Americana. A lot of what I do is blues and swampy sounding. But I do have a the occasional sincere love song, country ballad, and even instrumental guitar thing that I do. 

Unrated Dan: What is your feeling about Vinyl?8 Ball Aitken: I think that vinyl for the true believers. The people who don’t mind getting up out of their chair every 22 minutes to flip the record over. I am so thrilled that my new album is coming out on vinyl. It is a dream come true for me. I am a vinyl lover. Unrated Dan: What are some of the some of the bands which Influences your music?8 Ball Aitken: Howling Wolf, Tony Joe White, CCR, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Rait, and an old Australian band called Daddy Cool. Unrated Dan: Who are some of your guitar hero?

8 Ball Aitken: Albert King, Dwayne Allman, Magic Sam, R.L Burnside, Billy Gibbons, Blind Willie Johnson, John Lee Hooker. Unrated Dan: Where does you music come from?8 Ball Aitken: A lot of my music comes from the way I view the world. I try to view the world on an angle. Not too much of a slant, just the right amount. I enjoy writing with a sense of humor. I really love getting deep into dirty blues grooves, adding lyrics that make me laugh, and then getting crowds pumped up with the whole thing. I don’t get too serious about the whole thing. I think that every chance to have fun in life is a blessing.  Unrated Dan: Who would you like to open up for you? Being alive or dead.8 Ball Aitken: Derek Trucks is my favorite slide guitar player around these days. I love a lot of Texas songwriters like Gurf Morlix, and Kevin Welsh. I have a lot of people I want to meet in my new home town. I am still new here and that feels good. Unrated Dan: How many guitars do you own and what is your favorite one make model and year.  And why?8 Ball Aitken: I have about 15 guitars. My favorite’s are a 1952 re-issue Telecaster, a National Style O with a Stratocaster pickup in it, a Cooder-caster, and my Dad's old Maton too (he died last year). Unrated Dan: What instruments do us on tour vs. the ones you record with in the studio?

8 Ball Aitken: I use the same gear for both. There is nothing like taking a $10 homemade junk guitar into a million dollar studio. That is when music has come a full circle. Unrated Dan: What is the biggest crowd you have play for?8 Ball Aitken: About 12,000 people at a festival in Australia. I love the big gigs because of the energy. I also love the intimate little ones. I just love to play and jam. I especially love to play with new people and jam out when I have no idea where the song is going. I thrive on jamming when I get thrown into he deep end and have to swim. Unrated Dan: What direction do you see your music heading in the next 2 years and your long term goals of your music?
8 Ball Aitken: I guess I want to get further to the essence of what I do. It really is a all about the songs. I just want to write a better song tomorrow than I was able to yesterday. I suppose I will sound more Texas after living out here for a while. 

Unrated Dan: What fest would you like to play?

8 Ball Aitken: I would like to do them all. I will start with SXSW. One day I would love to play Red Rocks.  Unrated Dan: What artist would you like to record with and why? Living or dead?

8 Ball Aitken: I would like to record playing guitar with Keith Richard’s. I think Ronnie Wood has the best job in the world. Unrated Dan: Are you BMI or ASCAP?8 Ball Aitken: SESAC
Unrated Dan: What is on you ipod right now?

8 Ball Aitken: Lucinda Williams album West. Unrated Dan: What was the Kazoo Orchestra?  Are you planning to do that in every city that you tour in?

8 Ball Aitken: I started playing kazoo live at my gigs. The crowd does too. My fans know what they are in for and they bring their own. It really rocks out and is so much fun. Kazoo can be like a transcendental state. There is something zen about it. I practice the 3-seccond rule if they fall on the ground at my gigs. It builds my immune system to be exposed to kazoo germs from every bar in Texas and Australia. Unrated Dan: If you could pick any cartoon character who would it be and why?8 Ball Aitken: I have 4 cartoons myself already. It is too late. I am already a cartoon character. Check out 'Destroying The World', 'Yellow Moon', 'The Party', and 'Chocolate, Jack Daniels, And LSD’.Unrated Dan: What music do you listens to relax?

8 Ball Aitken: Muddy Waters or Patty Griffin. Give me old blues or Americana anytime. 
Unrated Dan: Anything you like to close with?8 Ball Aitken: If you like my music my name is 8 Ball Aitken… If you don’t like my music then my name is One Direction and I just broke up. 

- Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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