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Music is my life: an interview with John Mayall

What does it mean to you that the Bluesbreakers has been a breeding ground for other classic bands?

Catch John Mayall at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival
Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images

As a bandleader, you pick musicians that best represent what you're trying to say musically. It's the same thing with this band. We've been together five and a half years and we're cooking up a storm.

Compare the new album to previous albums.

The new album represents far more intimately than any other band I've ever had. It's totally exciting to get up on stage with these guys. We have such great chemistry. It's been a great experience. We just have a great time playing. We've been together so long, we can read each other. We recorded it in three days. Pretty much everything on the album is a first take because we know each other so well.

I always enjoy albums that are done quickly and well, where you can tell that the band didn't labor over it in the studio.

That's always been the case. When you struggle with something, you might as well realize that it's not going to work as when it sparks right away. If you have to go to two or three takes, you should probably make the decision to move on. It's the only way to capture the spirit and the spontaneity.

Also, I think it's easy to tell if an album is overproduced. It feels like all the soul has been washed out of it.

I know what you mean, yeah.

Who are some modern blues artists that you enjoy?

The standbys: Buddy Guy, B.B. King. Also, there are young players too numerous to mention, which is a good thing. If youth are taking to the blues, that means we'll have another generation coming up. When we travel around to festivals, there are always up-and-coming musicians.

What would you be doing if you weren't making music?

It's really hard to tell. Music is my life. I have always designed my own album covers, so I would probably be doing something with art.

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