Troy Redfern: Cosmic blues rock from a prolific musician
So good is British slide guitarist and singer-songwriter Troy Redfern that he managed to enlist the help of a former Guns N’ Roses guitarist to play on his upcoming new album.
The gifted musician, who has announced a date at The Junction in Cambridge, released his latest single, Waiting for Your Love – described by the man himself as a “bombastic, sassy blues boogie” – in May. The fiery track is taken from his forthcoming album, The Fire Cosmic, which was written in 2019 and which is due to launch this Friday (August 6).
The new LP – produced by Paul ‘Win’ Winstanley and mastered by Frank Arkwright, senior mastering engineer at Abbey Road Studios – follows the staggering five albums that Troy put out in 2020, and was recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in North Wales, the same studio where Queen recorded all of their early albums.
For the recording, Troy enlisted what he describes as “the ultimate dream team” – Darby Todd on drums (The Darkness, Robben Ford, Martin Barre, Paul Gilbert), virtuoso bass guitarist Dave Marks (Hans Zimmer), and guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses, Asia, Sons of Apollo). He first met Darby and Bumblefoot at a rock festival in Poland.
Troy cut his teeth and refined his style over the last few years, playing festival main stages and blazing a trail across Europe. He’s also become a well-known draw on the UK blues rock festival circuit, playing alongside the likes of Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant.
The album’s striking cover has already received positive responses from fellow musicians such as Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen and Troy’s slide guitar hero, Denny Walley of Frank Zappa fame, after Troy had put it on social media.
Cambridge-based fans of Troy Refern will have a while to become familiar with the new record as the artist isn’t scheduled to perform here until next March. Speaking to the Cambridge Independent from his home near Hereford, on the Welsh border, he says of the new LP: “It’s been crazy, the amount of work involved – all the PR and what-not.
“It’s the first time I’ve done anything that I’ve promoted as much; I’ve released albums before but [this time] I got Peter [Noble, music publicist] involved and he will hopefully take it to the next level.”
Like many other artists, Troy managed to keep busy during 2020, but not too many others can claim they released five albums in a year. “It wasn’t an intentional thing...” he explains. “What happened was I’d got a support tour with a band called Willie and the Bandits, and that was going to be a six-week tour.
"This was the beginning of 2020 and I needed an album to take out and promote and sell on tour, so I released This Raging Heart. Then three weeks into the tour, lockdown happened so everything came to a grinding halt.
“Once lockdown happened, I did a few livestreams but instead of that I decided to focus on making an album – a physical product – for two reasons really: to keep momentum and just to use that time wisely, instead of just waiting for everything to resolve.”
Troy continues: “I wanted to do something slightly more acoustic, because I’m kind of known for blues rock music and I wanted to do something that was a bit more laidback, so I recorded an album called Island.
“Then, as the year went on, the next thing I released was a thing called Deep Cuts, which was the songs that didn’t make it onto This Raging Heart – there was enough for a full album – and then I did an improvisation album.
“It was just one 30-minute track, on a resonator with the intention of seeing if I could improvise for 30 minutes without repeating myself. So it was more for my benefit really, just to hit record and have a time of 30 minutes and see if I could do that – so I decided to release that.
“And then, at the end of the year, I decided to put out an instrumental album [Thunder Moon]. I’ve got my own small studio so I record everything here, except for this new album that’s coming out which was done in Rockfield, which I’d recorded over the previous five years and it had just been stored on the hard drive.
“I thought it seemed like a good time to put that out because it was a completely different aspect of what I do. It was a bit risky really because I’m known for doing one thing and that was slightly left-field.
“It was with cello and percussion and things like that – so it was definitely a bit more ‘out there’. But that’s gone really well; in fact that sold the best out of everything I released that year, which is surprising.”
Troy says he first got into slide guitar at the age of about 14. “A friend of a friend lent me Son House album, on vinyl, and I was first exposed to that kind of music,” he recalls. “I’d heard Jimi Hendrix and that kind of blues music, but I’d not really heard the source material.
“Hearing the Climax Blues Band, they were another angle to that sort of music – it was all electrified slide playing – and as a 14-year-old I was listening to lots of Los Angeles rock music, Aerosmith and all that kind of stuff.
“And I remember the guitar player from Mötley Crüe, Mick Mars... They’re known as a ‘hair band’ but he’s an absolutely great slide guitar player, and I remember hearing his stuff back then, which probably informed more the rock thing I do; that kind of high-energy music mixed with blues.”
The Fire Cosmic is out on August 6. Troy is scheduled to appear at The Junction’s J2, as support for Willie and the Bandits, on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Tickets: £15 in advance.