The Ventures enjoying 60-year musical wave
Guitar-driven surf pioneers the Ventures are riding a musical wave that started more than 60 years ago.
According to guitarist Bob Spalding, who joined the band in 2005, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee that is known for its renditions of “Diamond Head,” “Slaughter on 10th Avenue,” “Pipeline” and “Walk Don’t Run,” has come up with a two-fold mission statement.
“We started phase one, which was to start touring in the United States and Canada with the current lineup last year,” Spalding said during a joint interview with drummer Leon Taylor. “The second phase is that we are going to work on new recordings and albums for The Ventures. So if we can go out and play and represent the Ventures and release new songs, we think people will be interested, especially if it makes them happy as the classic songs have.”
The Ventures will show Park City a slice of their legacy when the band plays three nights at the Egyptian Theatre, starting Thursday, March 8. And while the band has gone through some lineup changes since it formed in 1958, the music has endured, said Spalding and Taylor.
“The sound – two-guitar, bass and drums – fascinated me when I first saw the band back in 1962, and it continues to do that today,” Spalding said. “So as we record and play today, we still try to hold that same characteristic of the group.”
The guitarist said while the band’s current lineup, which also includes his son Ian on guitar and bassist Luke Griffin, performs the songs true to how they were originally recorded, there is a natural evolution that can be heard.
“Throughout the years, each guitarist played these songs in their own way, but the songs always sounded like the Ventures,” Spalding said. “And now when I play these songs, I don’t play them like the others, but I do play them in my style that was influenced by the others.”
The same thing applies to Taylor, whose took over the drums after his father Mel, who was the band’s drummer for nearly 30 years, passed away in 1996.
“When I first came into the band, I tried to emulate my dad, because he was the drummer for all of those years,” Taylor said. “While my style is similar, I try to play the way my dad played, but as I got more comfortable in the band, I began implementing my own style.”
While Taylor’s association with the Ventures comes through a bloodline, Spalding’s association comes through years of being a fan.
“I was a teen when I first saw them with the band’s founders – Don Wilson and Bob Bogle – in 1962 in Japan,” he said. “I never knew that I would actually have the good fortune of working with the band when I got older.”
Spalding feels the weight of responsibility as they take the band into the future.
“I think one of the interesting components is that it is hard work,” Spalding said. “But we have enough experience to understand what elements need to be present to move the band forward.”
Of course, the main element is the music itself.
“A lot of people who didn’t hear the Ventures during the ‘60s and ‘70s, didn’t realize how powerful the band really was with just playing instruments,” Spalding said. “We want to move that legacy forward and keep it alive as long as we can.”
Taylor agreed with Spalding and said he hears fans tell him how much the music means to them.
“People tell us that they come to hear the band because they want to relive a certain time of their lives, or that a song reminds them of something from their youth,” Taylor said. “Even the young kids who come to see us who have never heard the songs before are amazed at the sound and the energy the songs have.”
While some of these songs are 50 years old, the band never gets tired of playing them, Taylor said.
“There are certain songs that we have to play, you know, the hits, and we always try to add different songs into the set,” he said. “But I really never get tired of playing the songs. There is something about the songs that make me feel good. I don’t know how many times I’ve played ‘Walk, Don’t Run,’ but every time I play it, it feels like the first time.”
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