This was obviously one of Allan's favorite topics. The book "Reaching For The Uncommon Chord" also has a lengthy section on the subject.
- 1 "...Where No Guitarist Has Gone Before..." (Cymbiosis 1986)
- 2 A beginners guide to (Classic Rock 2000)
- 3 Allan Holdsworth (Guitar Player 1980)
- 4 Allan Holdsworth (Guitar Player 1982)
- 5 Allan Holdsworth (steveadelson.com 2000)
- 6 Allan Holdsworth Interview (richardhallebeek.com 1996)
- 7 The Final Interview: Allan Holdsworth Talks SynthAxes, Jaw-Dropping Solos and More (Guitar World 2017)
- 8 Allan Holdsworth interview (Abstract Logix 2004)
- 9 Allan Holdsworth’s Untold Secrets + Worthy Quotes (Guitar Player 1990)
- 10 Holdsworth & Co. A New Side Of Allan’s Music. (Guitar 1980)
- 11 Legato Land (Guitar Techniques 1996)
- 12 Makin’ Trax (Guitar 1994)
- 13 Med Siktet Innställt På Total Kontroll (MusikerMagasinet 1996, Swedish language)
- 14 Mike Pachelli Show (video transcript 1991)
- 15 Strong stuff from the brewery (EQ magazine 1997)
- 16 The Allan Holdsworth Interview! (Jazz Houston 2006)
- 17 The Open End (Boston Sound Report 1988)
Cymbiosis: Perhaps one of the things you could do to relax yourself is come up with your Demon Ale. Are you still going to be brewing "Old Holdsworth's Demon Ale"?
Holdsworth: If I were rich, that's what I'd do: start a brewery in California. I'd just brew a beer that I think would appeal to Americans just as much as anybody else. I don't think you really have to know anything about beer to be able to tell if it's good. And I think it'd do incredible. I'd love to put up a pub somewhere in L.A.: a real pub, not one of those plastic ones that they have there now.
Yet if Allan Holdsworth ever gets to be a rich man, it'll be down to beer, not the guitar talent that left Bill Bruford wondering why Holdsworth isn't a superstar in the Clapton class. Because Holdsworth's more interested in real ale than the unreal nature of fame. While most American axe-meisters want to dazzle you with their record sales, Holdsworth purrs because "I've patented this system of hand pumping ales, using the classic swan neck they use in Yorkshire, that the micro-breweries in the USA would love. All I've got to do is sell them a few..."
How did U.K. form?
Bill said that he had an idea of working with [keyboardist] Eddie Johnson and [bassist] John Wetton. He asked me if I would like to go to a rehearsal and play. I agreed, and it looked promising. But the closer we came to recording, the more sterile the music sounded. Just before I left the band, I used to daydream an awful lot while we were playing all those bits onstage; you know, thinking about a nice pint of beer or something. I was easily distracted. And because I couldn't associate all those bits - they didn't form any kind of cohesive picture in my mind - I wouldn't know if it was tune three or tune six or what.
Do you find much time to practice?
Yeah. I usually find time in the hotel room when we are on the road. I practice scales, fingerings, chords, exercises. I just generally try to help myself get out of the hole. Recently it hasn't been so easy to find time because we've had so much to do. I try hard to find the time. It usually works out the opposite way: When I haven't got time, I'm desperately trying to find the time to practice. And when I have the time, I'll do things like sit around and drink Coors.
TCG: We must at least bring up the topic of beer.
AH: Do you have a few hours? I was always fond of English cask ale. When I first came to the States it was like being in the middle of a beer desert. I couldn't find decent beer. Cask ale is really soft like Guinness and all those carbonated beers just irritated my throat. I developed a system that would take a more ordinary beer that when pulled, would make the beer cascade like Guinness and it would have an unbelievably tight creamy head. It's just a hobby, but the systems are now installed in two local restaurant-pubs here in California.
-What does a day in the life of Allan Holdsworth look like?
I play almost constantly, but it's something organic, I don't have a schedule or something. I play when I feel like it. My major hobby is cycling. The advantage of California over England is that the weather is good here throughout the year and I can always go out if I feel like it. Furthermore, I'm brewing my own beer. I'm trying to get it on the market for a while now, but as always, money is the problem. I've also developed my own beerpump. It gets rid of the CO2 in the beer so it doesn't have any head anymore and it tastes much more powerful. That pump is a huge success here in the neighbourhood. Every pub has one. I'm also building my own power soaks, called the Harness. It's almost the same thing Rocktron still releases as 'The Juice Extractor'. But I went into a disagreement with the company and I broke the contract. Their box doesn't resemble the original in any way. It's all a matter of mass production. My own, handbuilt power soaks a re available in a small amount at local music stores.
The Final Interview: Allan Holdsworth Talks SynthAxes, Jaw-Dropping Solos and More (Guitar World 2017)
I know you love beer, and brewed your own at one time. Can you elaborate about that, and what is your favorite beer? —Mike Sabatino
My favorite is Timothy Taylor, which is brewed in England. I used to brew my own beer, but it’s a lot of work and takes up a lot of room. It’s very cheap to make beer, but the problem is that if you make too much and it sucks, you have to call your buddies and ask them to help you drink it all.
AL: Do you have any thoughts about the late Shawn Lane ?
Allan Holdsworth: I thought he was an amazing guitarist and musician. He was also a very nice man with a passion for Belgian ales (OK by me!). He is greatly missed.
Fan: Allan, if you were asked to open a brewery, what kind of beer would you brew?
AH: I would only brew Northern English style ales in open fermenters. They're called "Yorkshire squares". This would cover all the ales like pale milds, best bitter, extra special bitter, IPA, and a dry stout- all with relatively low gravities.
He's right on the first and last accounts. This band - drummers Colaiuta, Husband, or Wackerman, Johnson, and keyboardist Steve Hunt - is one of the most vital rotating units in electric jazz, and their breathtaking performances stand tall in Allan's crystalline production. From the rich ambience of the drums and Johnson's 5-st'ring Alembic all the way down to the Spaten Franziskaner ale Allan pours as a spirited coda to "City Nights," Secrets is a rich, deep collection of adventurous music that features some of the guitarist's most dramatic electric work, and some of the most expressive guitar-synthesis to be encountered anywhere.
As we left we noticed Allan's gleaming racing bike leaning against a wall, a hobby and exercise he has recently returned to. ‘Yes, it's hard being a musician’, he said, ‘because you have to keep up cycling all the time. A little while ago I rode to Rochdale near Manchester, which is quite a long way, to see a friend of mine who's really into beer. After a good evening out l left at midnight and it took me 15 hours of riding to get home.’ Blanching at the thought of it, we realised that here was the secret behind those fast moving fingers.
Is he kidding? Anyway, the handpump on the cover of his latest album implies that Mr Holdsworth is still taking his beer seriously... "Oh yeah, I'm afraid so [laughs], much to my waistline's disgust! When I first came to America I couldn't stand the cold, fizzy stuff, so we came up with a device which we call 'The Fizzbuster', which we place between a conventional pressurised American keg and a vacuum pump, in order to pull up beautiful pints of ale. You can just take a keg of some good American beer and put it through this and you get a beautiful creamy head. When Gordon Beck (keyboardist) came over to California and we were working on the album, we'd play most of the day and then at about 7pm we'd go back to my laundry room and pull up a couple of pints of 'English' ale. We'd just sit there and we'd think, Jesus, the California sun is shining and we've got some ale! That's what that little handpump joke at the end of the album is all about. I brought most of the things I like along with me and there's a part of England in my laundry room!"
Why do it at home?
It's cheaper. It's very difficult to make the kind of album I want to make with the budgets we get. The basic tracks are done very quickly, usually in three or four days. But the critical thing for me is mixing; that's what's done at home. That takes a while because I go at my own speed and I don't do it all the time. What I try to do these days is get it where I want it and then walk away for a bit...go out on my bike or go for a beer. Then when I come back I can hear it much more clearly. I find when I do it too quickly I focus on the EQ of the guitar or bass, say, and I miss other things. After I come back, I'll be shocked. I'll say, "Jeez, the bass drum is way too loud."
He tells us that his life is governed by cycling, music and beer. Unfortunately, the statement that follows is beyond my comprehension, but he talks enthusiastically about the precious drink. The only thing I remember with any certainty is that if you consume enough of Timothy Taylor's Landlord, it will eventually flow into the fingertips and allow friction-free legato runs in the true Holdsworth spirit. Believe it if you will.
What do you practice when you practice?
AH: Well usually I have a lot of things I’ve worked out away from the guitar, you know I work out a lot of stuff off of the guitar and when I get some time, and I’m not feeling too lazy I like riding my bike or drinking beer I don’t practice… (?)
Guitar virtuoso Allan Holdsworth spends lots of quality time in his garage studio, which is adjacent to his house in San Diego, California. He calls the place The Brewery. "It's where we brew up all the music," he explains, "Plus, I like beer." Soft-spoken, Northern-English born, and mechanically inclined, Holdsworth has even invented and patented his own beer pump. But most of his exceptional digital dexterity has been devoted to music. Holdsworth emerged as a key figure on the '70s fusion and art rock scenes, playing with Soft Machine, Tony Williams' Lifetime, Jean Luc Ponty, Gong, and with drummer Bill Bruford in the U.K.
MM: Are you still brewing beers?
AH: No. I just drink them!!! (huge laughter)
MM: Ok. What are your top five beers?
AH: Wow, OMG, that’s a tough one. One of my favorite is Timothy Taylor’s. I like Beck’s beers. I like the London beers Fuller’s and Young’s and I’ve always liked Tetley’s because you could drink gallons of it without falling over. (huge laughter) That’s one of the hardest things to do. You can make a real rocket fuel beer like many micro-brewers do that has a really strong taste but have a lot of alcohol. It’s hard to make one that has a low alcohol content that tastes good. I actually love Czech Budweiser beer. It was pretty good. The American version is one of my least favorites.
MM: Well, I have to say I caught you drinking a Coors with lemons on one of your last shows here in Houston.
AH: Really? Maybe I was drinking a wheat beer at the same time. Who knows? I used to drink lemon with rice beer.(laughter)
BSR: What is your favorite beer?
AH: Favorite beer? Well, there are a lot of good beers. It's like asking who is your favorite musician. I suppose I like Timothy Taylors, that's my favorite. You'll never find it anywhere but in a small town in Yorkshire.