Interview with Aynsley Lister

With his eighth studio album Eyes Wide Open being released on October 7th and with an extensive 41 date UK and European Tour kicking off in September, things are pretty busy for Aynsley Lister right now.  In fact pretty busy … period!

Image by Alexandre Coes

Eyes Wide Open sees him confidently pursuing his own musical path. Self-assured, inventive and richly-textured, it is an album that is as electively refreshing as it is brilliant not least in its mixing, performance and engineering.

“I’ve always tried to create an album that’s different from one track to the next, because that is the type of album I would want to listen to,” Aynsley explained via Skype. “If I have to listen to a whole album from start to finish, it has to have something about it that’ll keep me interested. If it is the same kind of thing for ten tracks – no matter how well played it is or by whoever it is by – it has to keep my attention.

“What I try to do is take all the little bits I like from what I listen to then mix them up. Eyes Wide Open is probably a good example of all the little influences I’ve picked up over the years. Some tracks are bluesy some are more rock. For instance, Il Grande Mafioso has a bit of troubadour, storytelling kind of thing going on which I quite like.

“I had the idea for that song around two years ago and knew exactly what I wanted to write.  I could hear the music in my head and had the first two or three lines, I just wasn’t sure where I wanted the story to go. It has a fair bit of swagger to it, in a laid back kind of way, so I envisioned this card game taking place in a smoky bar.

“A guy’s playing cards and owes loads of money but can’t tell anyone because then his number’s going to be up. I just liked the scenario and I spent a long time on the lyrics, to the extent where I actually wrote the whole thing out almost as a prose story. It was the most fun song to write on the album.”

The lyrics throughout Eyes Wide Open are beautifully crafted, deliciously descriptive and, above all, pretty much cliché free. “I started writing my own songs when I started out performing professionally at eighteen and around the same time I started singing. At that time though, everything was geared towards the guitar and the singing and song writing was still in development.

“About six or seven years ago, I actually started properly reading live notes and that’s when I started to concentrate more on writing than I had been, and should have been. A lot of those I read by some great artists are pieces of work in their own right.  Some artists have strong imagery and powerful meanings On the other hand there are others who – and I include myself when I began – have a lot of words that don’t really say anything much. They’re okay, but there’s not a lot of depth going on. Now when I’m writing lyrics, I spend a lot longer on them than I did and I think it shows. At least I hope it does.

Image by Andy Hibbs
Image by Andy Hibbs

Although primarily known as a blues artist, there are clearly a great many influences that define the Aynsley Lister sound. “I like rock, jazz, blues.  Although I’m not a particularly speedy or flash player, I can appreciate that style of playing as long as the music is different each time.

“I don’t like to be too predictable, but then you can’t be too off the wall either. I try and give people something on the albums that they can relate to. There’s a guy called Guthrie Govan who is a genius with a guitar: very fast, very technical, very slick. But what he makes is really musical and really easy for me to listen to. I can listen to Spanish guitarists as well and I sort of grew up learning listening to Freddie King and Peter Green and those other great players. As I’ve grown up though, I’ve started to incorporate little bits of style of the other fantastic musicians who are around.”

Aynsley was brought first brought up in Yorkshire, but then moved to the midlands. It is his dad though who not only introduced him to music, but also to playing the guitar … if quite literally by accident.

“I live just outside of Leicester but was actually brought up in Bradford until I was around 10. My love of music basically stems from my dad, who is a huge music fan. So much so that just about every album and cassette he owned he then bought again on CD.  Then he’d get the Remasters. Then he downloaded them onto mp3 and whatever else. The upshot is that he has six or seven copies of just about every album he’s ever owned and, believe me, he has a massive collection. His way of relaxing was having the record player on, so for me growing up, there was hardly ever a time music wasn’t playing in the house.

“He doesn’t play though, although I think he might have always wanted to. He had an old guitar knocking around but never got the hang of it. In fact I’d pick it up and mess around on it, until one day when I was seven I dropped it and it snapped in half! Obviously he wasn’t best pleased, but I said if you buy me my own guitar then I’ll learn how to play it properly and take lessons in school. I got one for my eighth birthday.

“My first gig was at thirteen in a school concert. This guy in the audience came up to me, said his son was also in the show, but that he had a band who were playing in our local pub a couple of days later, The Bull’s Head, do you fancy getting up and playing? I had no experience of pubs whatsoever, so my parents took me down and by the end of the gig they asked me to join.”

A notable ingredient of Eyes Wide Open is that Aynsley has just written and performed it but also mixed and produced the album. As a result, there is real tightness and confidence that exudes from just about every track

“I’ve worked with so many different fantastic producers I think I’ve sort of got it now just by learning from what they do. I’ve normally got a pretty good idea of what it is I want to achieve and can hear it my head. I’ve also produced a couple of my own albums before and the more you do something, the better you get at transferring what’s in your head into what’s coming out of the speakers.

“Getting things set up properly, like having the mics in the right place and what have you, that has taken awhile to hone and craft. With this album though I had very clear idea of what I wanted. I didn’t mix Eyes Wide Open on my own either, which was great. Adam Ellis has a great set of ears and was brilliant to work with and bounce ideas off.

The size of the sound, with tracks such as Everything I Have to Give incorporating its horns and its Hammond organ, and the tempo and beat of Handful of Doubt, is something that is truly astonishing at times. “From the off I wanted it to sound edgy, exciting, not too polished and punchy.

“It is really easy in the studio to go over and over stuff until it is as close to perfect as you can get it. The thing with that is that the end result can become sanitised. I wanted to create all the energy, excitement and spirit of a live recording by using minimal takes. It’s a fine line sometimes but I think it works here. It’s almost like a live album, but studio enough not to be seen as being too rough.”

On September 22, Aynsley hits the road on a 41 date tour across Europe and the UK. Alongside him will be his band and his wife, Steph, who has also contributed to the creation of Eyes Wide Open; an album that won’t have been generally released when the tour kicks off. Does that provoke extra nerves?

“I do get nervous, but in a good way. I think whenever anybody does anything creative they’re putting a part of themselves on the line, so nerves are bound to kick in. There’s always that bit of ‘I wonder how this one’s going to be received’ when an album is due out. You are always judged on your last one. My last, Home, was released in 2013 and is something a lot different to Eyes Wide Open. So it’ll be interesting.

“As to being nervous about the tour, that’s more adrenaline driven. It’s quite tiring on the road because you quite literally don’t stop for five or six weeks. The one thing I never have a problem with, and no matter how I’ve been feeling during the day, is that half hour before going on stage when the feeling is one of pure excitement.

“I’m really lucky that 95% of the time Steph travels with me. It’s not something that would probably work for everyone, but it’s great for us. The thing is, if you don’t try these things you’ll never know how it’ll turn out. You have to have a good relationship and understanding for that kind of thing to work. We have our own areas so don’t overlap too much and have a fantastic time. Steph runs the record label as well and is responsible for the all artwork.

“The deal is I do the music and she does everything else. She’s a graphic designer by trade and asked Anthony Greentree to paint me from a photograph. He went away and created three images which she then took away and turned into the album cover. She does everything that’s not got anything to do with recording the music really. She deals with the promoters and distributors, the press, tour manages, runs the label … everything. On paper it shouldn’t but it does. It’s great.”

 

Eyes Wide Open is available from October 7th, 2016

UK TOUR DATES

 

www.bandsintown.comAynsleyLister

 

CHISLEHURST BEAVERWOOD CLUB

Thursday 22 September 2016

Ticket Price: £12 adv / £13 door

Venue Box Office: 0208 761 9078 / 0788 865 7952

Book Online: Beaverwood Club

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Beaverwood Road, Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 6HF

www.feenstra.co.uk

 

SUTTON BOOM BOOM CLUB

Friday 23 September 2016

Ticket Price: £12 advance / £13 door

Venue Box Office: 0208 761 9078 / 0788 865 7952

Book Online: Boom Boom Club

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The Borough Sports Ground, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2EY

www.feenstra.co.uk

 

CORNUCOPIA FESTIVAL

Saturday 24 September 2016

Ticket Price: £45 day / £99 weekend

Venue Box Office: 01377 217406

Book Online: Cornucopia Festival

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Burton Constable Hall, Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire, HU11 4LN

www.cornucopiafestival.co.uk

 

MILTON KEYNES THE STABLES

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Ticket Price: £16.50

Venue Box Office: 01908 280800

Book Online: The Stables

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The Stables Theatre Ltd, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, MK17 8LU

www.stables.org/Home

 

CHESTER TELFORDS WAREHOUSE

Thursday 29 September 2016

Ticket Price: £13

Venue Box Office: 01244 390090

Book Online: See Tickets

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Tower Wharf, Chester, CH1 4EZ

www.telfordswarehousechester.com

 

BURNLEY MECHANICS

Friday 30 September 2016

Ticket Price: £14 advance / £15 door

Venue Box Office: 01282 664400

Book Online: Burnley Mechanics

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Manchester Road, Burnley BB11 1BH

http://burnleymechanics.co.uk

 

GUISBOROUGH RHYTHM & BLUES CLUB

Saturday 1 October 2016

Ticket Price: £14

Venue Box Office: 07815913981

Facebook

Guisborough Town Football Club, Howlbeck Road, Guisborough, TS14 6LF

 

BLAKENEY HARBOUR ROOM

Friday 4 November 2016

Ticket Price: £10

Venue Box Office: 01263 741666

Book Online: Blakeney Harbour Room

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139 -141 High Street, Blakeney, Norfolk NR25 7NU

www.blakeneyharbourroom.co.uk

 

 

PUTNEY HALF MOON

Thursday 1 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14 advance / £16 door

Venue Box Office: 020 8780 9383

Book Online: Half Moon

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93 Lower Richmond Rd, Putney, London, SW15 1EU

http://halfmoon.co.uk

 

  1. HELENS CITADEL

Friday 2 December 2016

Ticket Price: £12

Venue Box Office: 01744 735436

Book Online: The Citadel

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Waterloo Street, St Helens, WA10 1PX

www.citadel.org.uk

 

DERBY THE FLOWERPOT

Saturday 3 December 2016

Ticket Price: £12

Venue Box Office: 0844 412 4642

Book Online: We Got Tickets

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25 King Street, Derby, DE1 3DZ

www.rawpromo.co.uk

 

NEWCASTLE THE CLUNY

Sunday 4 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14 advance / £16 door

Venue Box Office: 0191 230 4474

Book Online: The Cluny

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36 Lime Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ

www.thecluny.com

 

KENDAL BOOTLEGGERS

Thursday 8 December 2016

Ticket Price: £12 advance / £15 door

Venue Box Office: 01539 723824

Book Online: Skiddle

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24 Finkle Street, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4AB

www.bootleggersbar.com

 

DARLINGTON RHYTHM ’N’ BLUES CLUB

Friday 9 December 2016

Ticket Price: £15

Venue Box Office: 01325-363135

Book Online: Darlington Rhythm ’n’ Blues

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Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington, Co. Durham, DL1 1SG

www.darlington-r-n-b-club.co.uk/home.html

 

NORWICH THE WATERFRONT

Saturday 10 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14

Venue Box Office: 01603 508050

Book Online: The Waterfront Studio

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139-141 King St, Norwich, NR1 1QH

https://ueatickets.ticketabc.com/listings/

 

LEICESTER THE MUSICIAN

Sunday 11 December 2016

Ticket Price: £12 advance / £14 door

Venue Box Office: 0116 251 0080 / 07970 529 760

Book Online: We Got Tickets

Facebook / Twitter

Clyde Street, Leicester, LE1 2DE

www.themusicianpub.co.uk

 

FARNHAM MALTINGS

Monday 12 December 2016

Ticket Price: £15

Venue Box Office: 01252 793430

Book Online: Boogaloo Promotions

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Bridge Square, Farnham GU9 7QR

www.boogaloopromotions.com/blues/gigs/

 

SOUTHAMPTON THE BROOK

Thursday 15 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14 advance / £16 door

Venue Box Office: 023 8055 5366

Book Online: The Brook

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466 Portswood Road, Portswood, Southampton, SO17 3SD

www.the-brook.com

 

SHEFFIELD THE GREYSTONES

Friday 16 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14 advance / £16 door

Venue Box Office: 0114 266 5599

Book Online: The Greystones

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Greystones Road, Sheffield, S11 7BS

www.mygreystones.co.uk

 

MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3

Saturday 17 December 2016

Ticket Price: £14

Venue Box Office: 0161 832 1111

Book Online: Manchester Academy

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University Of Manchester Students’ Union, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PR

www.manchesteracademy.net

 

EDINBURGH THE CAVES

Sunday 18 December 2016

Ticket Price: £13

Venue Box Office: 0131 510 6969

Book Online: Tickets Scotland

Facebook / Twitter

8-12 Niddry Street South, Edinburgh, EH1 1NS

http://unusualvenuesedinburgh.com/whats-on/aynsley-lister

 

 

EUROPEAN TOUR DATES

 

RANKWEIL ALTES KINO (AUSTRIA)

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +43 05522/45387

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook / Twitter

Bahnhofstrasse, 6830 Rankweil

www.alteskino.at

 

FRICKS MONTI FRICKTALER BLUES FESTIVAL (SWITZERLAND)

Thursday 6 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +41 62 871 04 44

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Kaistenberg Strasse 5, CH-5070 Frick

www.fricks-monti.ch

 

RUBIGEN MUHLE HUNZIKEN (SWITZERLAND)

Friday 7 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +41 900 325 325

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

CH-3113 Ruhigen

www.muehlehunziken.ch

 

LINTHAL BLUES LINTHKRAFT LOUNGE (SWITZERLAND)

Saturday 8 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +41 55 643 26 86

Book Online: Bands in Town

Klausenstrasse 1, CH-8783

www.linthkraftstiftung.ch

 

HABACH VILLAGE (GERMANY)

Sunday 9 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 8847 725

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook / Twitter

Obermuhle 1, 82392 Habach

www.village-habach.de

 

HAIMING GEWOLBE (GERMANY)

Monday 10 October 2016

Book Online: Bands in Town

Eisching 4a, 84533 Haiming

 

MUNICH GARAGE DELUXE (GERMANY)

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Friedenstr. 10, 81671 München

www.garagedeluxe.de/site/

 

JABLONEC NAD NISOU KLUB NA RAMPE (CZECH REPUBLIC)

Thursday 13 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +420 605 960 357

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Jiráskova 1466 01 Jablonec nad Nisou

www.klubnarampe.cz

 

CESKE BUDEJOVICE HIGHWAY 61 JAZZ AND BLUES CLUB (CZECH REPUBLIC)

Friday 14 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +420 7206 29045

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Jirsikpva 2, (KD Slavie) 370 01 Ceske Budejovice

www.club-highway61.unas.cz

 

PENZION SMOLOTEL, SMOLOTELY (CZECH REPUBLIC)

Saturday 15 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +420 7206 29045

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

262 36 Smolotely

www.club-highway61.unas.cz

 

POSTBAUER-HENG KISH (GERMANY)

Sunday 16 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 9188 3321

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Centrum 22, 92353 Postbauer-Heng

www.kish-live.de

 

WOLFACH KLAUSENBAUERNHOF (GERMANY)

Monday 17 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 7834 47639

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Ippichen 1, 77709 Wolfach

http://kult1.kultgast.com/index.html

 

METZINGEN-GLEMS HIRSCH (GERMANY)

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 7123 959132

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook / Twitter

Eninger Str. 11, 72555 Metzingen-Glems

www.zbglems.de

 

STUTTGART LABORATORIUM (GERMANY)

Thursday 20 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 711 505 2001

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Wagenburgstrasse 140, 70186 Stuttgart

www.laboratorium-stuttgart.de

 

SCHÖNENBERG-KÜBELBERG GASTHAUS SCHLEPPI (GERMANY)

Friday 21 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 157 8594 1438

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Saarbrücker Straße 80, 66901 Schönenberg-Kübelberg

www.anderswelt-event.de

 

BRASSERIE LE NEUMUNSTER (LUXEMBOURG)

Saturday 22 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +00 352 26 20 52 981

Book Online: Bands in Town

28 Rue Münster, 2160 Luxembourg

www.anderswelt-event.de

 

OSNABRÜCK LUTHERHAUS *SPECIAL SOLO SHOW* (GERMANY)

Saturday 29 October 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 0541 2001 831

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Jahnstraße 149080 Osnabrück

www.lutherhaus.info

 

OLDENBURG CHARLYS (GERMANY)

                                                                                            Friday 18 November 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 441 2171 630

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Wallstr. 26, 26122 Oldenburg

www.charlys-musikkneipe.de

 

HAMBURG DOWNTOWN (GERMANY)

Saturday 19 November 2016

Venue Box Office: +49 4027 5056

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Otto-Wels Str. 2, 22303 Hamburg

www.eventcenter-hamburg.de

 

APELDOORN BLUESCAFE (THE NETHERLANDS)

Sunday 20 November 2016

Venue Box Office: +31 55 578 5014

Book Online: Bands in Town

Facebook

Nieuwstraat 74a, 7311 BT Apeldoorn

www.bluescafe.nl

 

ANYSLEY LISTER – “ONLINE”

Official Website: www.aynsleylister.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Aynsley-Lister/115089540303

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AynsleyLister  / YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/AynsleyLister

About Chris High

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