“Beyond Berkeley Guitar” Interview : Lucas Boilon

by Raymond Morin

We’re entering the home-stretch of our series of interviews around the new Tompkins Square compilation Beyond Berkeley Guitar. Today we talk to Lucas Boilon, whose track “Studies of the Oak as Pertaining to Druidic Rites of Passage” is one of my favorites from the collection.

W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it

It’s a Gibson Blueridge Custom that my father gave to me when I moved back to California. It’s not super fancy, just a nice sounding, working-man’s guitar. I think my pops got it in ’73 sometime, and gave it to me in 2003. It’s fantastic and I love it.

W&W : What is the tuning / capo position (if any) on your track?

I tune to Drop D for one half and open D for the other. I haven’t really ever used a capo proper-style.

W&W : How do you know Sean Smith? How did you get involved in Beyond Berkeley Guitar?

My buddy B.Eastman told me that Sean was looking for some finger-style stuff, and I had never really released an EP of music called Wolf Harmonies, and so I gave that to a friend to give to him. I had seen Sean around town for years, but never really met him.

W&W : Please describe the recording of your track. Home? Studio? Home studio?

I recorded the song in my living/dining room with a close microphone and two stereo-mics in the corner on a bookshelf. Thick tone.

W&W : The words “American Primitive” are thrown around a lot these days in reference to modern acoustic guitar music. What, if anything, does “American Primitive” mean to you?

I actually hadn’t heard the phrase “American Primitive” until I saw reviews for this record.

W&W : Please discuss ways that you go about constructing a guitar instrumental, or alternately, what do you think makes a great guitar instrumental?

It usually starts with new tunings, then I’ll scrap everything in that tuning and go back to open D. Good songs have mystical properties that draw you in; I don’t know more than that.

W&W : Along with the one by Trevor Healy, your track sounds more composed, with established themes and emphasis on counterpoint and bringing in lots of different voices on the instrument (as opposed to a droning or boom-chick bass w/ a simple melody over the top, which is the formula for a lot of today’s solo guitar music.) Your musicality seems very developed to me, can you talk about your classical guitar training?

I studied under Rick Schilling at UMASS Lowell for three semesters. I was certainly his least advanced student (I failed my entrance auditions), but he took me in anyways. When I left UMASS and came back to California, I didn’t play classical or finger-style guitar again until 2005. The most important thing he taught me was to use open strings whenever possible. That was really good advice.

W&W : I really like the evocative title of your track. Can you talk about it a little bit?

I play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. Every Wednesday evening. I’m really into fantasy and realms of the unreal.

W&W : There are several different sections in the piece, is the structure of the different movements meant to be linear, or are you really dealing in more disparate “studies”?

It’s very much a case of the latter. These are two songs that developed at the same time but are totally different directions. More like studies of the roots of the Great Oak and studies of the canopy of the Great Oak.

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