Congratulations to long standing PRS artist Simon McBride for joining Deep Purple on tour this year. We caught up with Simon ahead of the tour to chat about his new album, Deep Purple and all things PRS!
PRS: So, why PRS Guitars?
SM: I’ve been with PRS for a very long time, about 27 years. I’m of the attitude “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Nothing is ever a problem with them and it’s amazing to have that relationship with a company. With my PRS guitars, it feels like home, they’re great and everyone is so nice to work with. Everyone has their guitar sound inside them and PRS does it for me.
PRS: How many PRS’s do you have?
SM: About 8 or 9?! My Custom Singlecut Semi-Hollow, then I have another Custom 24 Mapletop, Double Cut, 245, Hollowbody, Silver Sky, and a SE Angelus Acoustic. I do also have a Private Stock that Paul Reed Smith kinda gave me … I was doing a show in Dallas and Paul said he had this great guitar that I would fall in love with. He handed me this guitar to play at the gig and I was like Paul what have you done! It’s amazing to play, it’s turquoise with a maple neck a prototype Paul’s guitar. I took it home with me and that was that, thanks Paul!
PRS: Tell us about your new album (out May 27th 2022) and the writing and recording process of making it?
SM: It’s called ‘The Fighter’ we started about 4 years ago now but because of covid etc it got held up a lot, so it’s finally coming out! We recorded at many different places. We recorded the drums at Dave Marks house. We did a lot of guitars and vocals at my studio at home in Ireland. Backing vocals and keyboards were done at different musicians’ houses. My main focus on this album was the song content instead of solely the guitar content, I wanted to focus on the songs before the guitar riffs. I can do riffs in my sleep, so I just wanted to make it more about the song first. I worked with a singer-songwriter called Nathan O’Regan from Ireland, and then I also wrote with Jo Webb and Dave Marks who are all great writers.
PRS: Which PRS Guitars did you play on the new album?
SM: I mostly used my 408. It’s my main PRS and it’s very versatile: it can do so many things, and though the pickups are hot you can still split them in different ways using the two mini-switches. From rock to blues, metal and beyond, it can do everything. I also used a Starla on some tracks. I find the Starla works well with my 408, it’s like a single-coil but not, its low output and not too bright, but it has that very transparent wide-open sound to it. Blending the two guitars brings a nice quality. I used my SE Angelus acoustic on some tracks as a background rhythm. I used a Silver Sky for some single-coil sound on tracks like ‘Trouble’. I’ve always played humbucker guitars but I do like single coils, and the Silver Sky is all about the single-coil sound, it’s a great guitar. In certain songs, I do this 80s clean sound where I layer up about 7 different guitar tracks all playing the same thing. I use the bridge pick up on one track, then the next pick up on the Silver Sky and just keep layering it up. It’s a very unique guitar and it’s got a lovely tone to it. I also used my PRS 245 on one track for more of a vintage feel.
PRS: Favourite guitar solo/riff on the album?
SM: ‘High Stakes’ and ‘It Just Takes Time’ are probably my favourite on the album. It’s funny when you play tracks live some tracks just don’t translate, but the hard rock ones work well live. The album is very me, all the 80s heavy guitar sounds and riffs, I’ve always been into hard rock and my heart just lies with the 80s music so this album is just me. You know bands like Yes, Motley Crue, Van Halen – all those influences you can hear in the album.
PRS: How was your tour this Spring?
SM: It’s still weird times but I was just dying to get out and play again, it felt normal again. It’s been fine being at home these last 2 years doing videos and stuff but it’s been great to get out gigging again.
PRS: Congratulations on joining Deep Purple! How does it feel to be going on tour with one of the most legendary bands of all time?
SM: They’ve invited me on tour and it’s an incredible thing. I’ve played with every member of Deep Purple before, not all at the same time and in the same band haha. They’re all great musicians. I’ve toured all over with Don Airey and he’s an amazing guy and musician, same with Ian Gillan. You know they’re icons of rock but they’re all amazing people, normal people. I’m very excited about it, running through all those classic iconic songs we all learnt when we were young. Now I get to play them as part of the band. Steve (Morse) is an amazing guitarist, so I know I’ve got big boots to fill.
PRS: How did the gig with Deep Purple come about?
SM: I got the call for the Deep Purple gig because of Steve having personal reasons for not being able to do the tour. Obviously, I didn’t need to think about it, it was a solid yes. It was an easy choice. That said it was a bittersweet emotion because it’s under sad circumstances. On the other hand I’m also going ‘Yes!’ because it’s a dream opportunity. It’s a little bizarre.
PRS: What PRS guitars will you be taking on the road with Deep Purple to re-create those iconic riffs?
SM: I’m bringing two guitars on the tour. My 408 and the Fiore. The Singlecut sound for Smoke On The Water and then the Fiore will be more subtle but still rock. They’re both great guitars so it’s gonna be cool. It’s all challenging, from timing to feel, there are all sorts of things coming together to make Deep Purple sound like Deep Purple. I have to try and get on board with that and bring the same sort of energy that Steve would.