Foghat – Scott Holt

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Music lovers know the validity and importance of great music. So does Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Scott Holt along with his bandmates in Foghat. This world renown rock band first brought this concept into the music world over fifty years ago when two members of Savoy Brown (Dave Peverett and Roger Earl) left to form Foghat in 1971. In 1972 they displayed their incredible talent with the release of their self-titled debut album. They continued accumulating several hit tunes that spawn from albums that earned Gold and Platinum status. Today’s current lineup of Foghat is still going strong with extraordinary talented musicians, as is apparent on their latest album SONIC MOJO which was recently released on November 10th. They are also touring across the country, and Florida fans will have the opportunity to see their new show on January 13th, 2024 at The Center of Anna Maria Island in Anna Maria.

Catching up with Holt in the midst of the tour and just prior to the album release, he revealed some details about the new album, the new singles and videos, as well as what fans can look forward to with the current show that he and founding member Drummer Roger Earl, Guitarist Bryan Bassett, and Bassist Rodney O’Quinn will be performing.

SFL Music: What inspired this new album SONIC MOJO?
Scott Holt: We’re in a really creative period, this band. We have a place down here in Central Florida. It’s kind of a living quarters/rehearsal space/recording studio and when we’re down here, the amps are always on. The drums are always set up. The guitars are laying around and we’re just always creating. We’re always making music and that’s just been the MO for the entire time I’ve been involved with these guys. I’ve known Roger since 2014. We’ve always just been writing partners and just creating new music, and Bryan and I as guitar players, we’ve hit it off immediately when we started playing together. It’s just a creative situation. So, when we started working on this record, we put the twelve songs together that we felt really strongly about. We liked the way they sounded. We’re excited for other people to hear them.

SFL Music: That was at Boogie Motel South?
Holt: Yeah. It’s like the fortress of solitude (he laughed).

SFL Music: It sounds like it’s very inspirational.
Holt: Very much so. It’s funny, I tell my wife all the time. I tend to write more songs down here than I do at home, and it’s just because you’re always creating and the ideas are just sparking off of everybody.

SFL Music: I heard the third single “I Don’t Appreciate You” that is just out. Was that inspired by an annoying person?
Holt: Absolutely! Somebody very specific which I can’t tell you (he laughed).

SFL Music: I won’t ask.
Holt: Roger brought this lyric idea to me and it was about somebody in his life that he had some very hard feelings for. Roger is such a positive, loving person that this was about the closest he could come to saying something rude to this person. I just thought it was a very polite way to tell somebody to F – off, but I didn’t know the person that he wanted to write the song about, so I couldn’t really sink my teeth onto it because I wasn’t mad at them. I can’t be mad at a total stranger. So, I picked somebody that I didn’t care for (he laughed) and we wrote it. I was talking to my wife this morning and she said, “that could be about this person or that person” I said, yeah, its universal. Just pick the person that you don’t care for, and this song is for you.

SFL Music: That’s helpful to many people, right?
Holt: Yeah, exactly. If you get stuck in traffic, you could be singing about everybody around you.

SFL Music: I also heard the first two singles “Drivin’ On” and “She’s a Little Bit of Everything”. I like how “Drivin On” has a bit of that bluesy sound with the slide guitar and “She’s a Little Bit of Everything” was a little more rockin with a bit of bluesy guitar too. Those were co-written with Kim Simmonds. How did that come about?
Holt: Well, Roger and Kim go all the way back to the beginning. Roger was drumming for Savoy Brown back in the late ‘60’s and very early ‘70’s, and then he peeled off and formed Foghat, but him and Kim stayed friends throughout the years. I had the opportunity to get to know Kim kind of pretty well when we were working together. He was always around the Foghat camp, and so we got to know each other. We got ready to do this record, and Roger really wanted Kim to write a song and play on it for the record because he had done some stuff for UNDER THE INFLUENCE (released in 2016). So, Kim sent us three demos of songs that he had written and they were all good and we loved them all. So, we were kind of like, lets pick one out to put on the record and we said, well let’s just put all three of them on because they are all good. Unfortunately, Kim passed away before he had a chance to record with us, but we took those songs and I mean, I really believe his sprit was in the room with us when we were working on it because they just almost created themselves. Roger and I were sitting there, for “Drivin’ On” specifically, we were sitting there in the room and we were listening to the demo and trying to figure out how we were gonna get into this song, and we both just looked at each other and said, Slim Harpo and John Lee Hooker. I said, there you go. That’s kind of where we started with that song. “She’s a Little Bit of Everything” Kim, I’m pretty sure wrote about his wife. She’s a beautiful lady and that’s another universal song. I mean, I’m happily married. Roger is happily married. We could both easily apply the lyrics to that song to our wives, and I think anybody out there can. That’s the cool thing about music is there’s these universal truths. They can apply to everybody’s life.

SFL Music: What would you say inspired you to become a musician in the first place? You have a blues background. You have a ten-year tenure with Buddy Guy.
Holt: Well, what made me pick the guitar up was Jimi Hendrix. When I first heard Jimi Hendrix, I was like eighteen years old. Had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I had really no passion for anything that I had been exposed to up until that point. I come from a really solid southern Christian background, so porn was out of the question (he laughed). So, I listened to Jimi Hendrix and I said, I want to learn how to play guitar like that. Shortly after that I got to see Buddy play live for the first time and that was just it for me. I got to meet Buddy. He gave me a guitar lesson. Like the second day we met each other, we were in a hotel room together and he was giving me a guitar lesson for about four hours. I just knew. I went home from that, I was like, I’ve got to put a band together. I want to play music. I wasn’t very good obviously, when I started out. No one is. I didn’t want anybody to hear me practicing and I was afraid to tell anybody that that’s what I wanted to do because I knew how bad I was, and I thought well, they’ll just laugh at me and shoot my dream down, but I kept working at it. The time that I started playing, I had just graduated from high school, wasn’t going to college and was in that sort of limbo period in your life where you don’t have any family responsibilities. You don’t have real bills. You’re still living at home, so you’ve got plenty of time to practice. So, for eight to ten hours a day, I just practiced guitar and just played and played and played. I would fall asleep with the guitar and wake up with the guitar, and I still do to this day. They make fun of me on the road ‘cause I still sleep with my guitar, but it just became like a best friend to me. When you’re in a bad mood, you can play and it will pull you out of it. When you’re in a good mood, it just makes it better. All the friends that I have in my life, most of them have come through music. The people that I care about the most and spend the most time with, are all due to my guitar. I’ve been all around the world. I’ve played in every country and that’s because of the guitar. I owe everything, and it saved my life. As an eighteen, nineteen-year-old kid with no prospects, it was probably, join the Army or I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t have any idea.

SFL Music: Did you teach yourself how to play or did you have lessons?
Holt: I actually started trying to teach myself because I read something where Jimi Hendrix taught himself how to play the guitar and Buddy taught himself how to play. I tried that for a minute, and I remember my dad came in my room one day and he was real serious, and he said, “you’re gonna get lessons to learn how to play that thing or I’m throwing it out in the yard because I’m not gonna listen to this.” So, I had a friend of mine, a classmate. He was my age and he’s still one of the best guitar players I ever heard play, but he taught me how to teach myself which was the best way to learn. I went to him the first day and he said, “what do you want to learn on the guitar?” I said, I want to be able to play whatever I hear. When you’re young, you’re naïve and you don’t realize what you’re saying. I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. I didn’t realize what I was saying. He said,” ok. Bring me a tape of a song you want to learn.” This was back during the cassette days. “Bring me a tape of a song you want to learn and I’ll show you how to play it.” So, I got to watch his process for figuring out how to play it and then showing me how to do it, and that was kind of the leg up that I had. Then throughout my career as I got better at playing, I learned enough to know that you can always learn something. So, I sought out guitar teachers throughout the years. Of course, sitting next to Buddy in the dressing room, I tormented that poor guy with you know, how did John Lee Hooker play this chord right here? He’d show me. How does Freddie King do this and he’d show me. You played a leak last night; how did you do that? He always answered my questions. He never said, hey man I’m too busy or hey I’m Buddy Guy, I don’t need to be teaching you anything. He was always just a really, really cool spirit to me and I owe my career to buddy. He gave me my start. He taught me everything. I tell people all the time, they go, what’s the biggest lesson that Buddy taught you? For me, I’d never been away from home. I never left home before in my life. Never been away from my parents. Had no idea how to navigate the world, and then through Buddy, I learned how to order in a Chinese Restaurant, check into a hotel, wake up on time and iron a shirt. Everything that you need to know to get through life.

SFL Music: That was a question I was going to ask you.
Holt: I beat you to it (he laughed).

SFL Music: You did. Thank you. How about the singing because you have a great voice. Did you train yourself?
Holt: Thank you. Still to this day, I’m a guitar player that sings as opposed to being a singer that plays guitar. Guitar is my primary form of expression. The vocal, when I was with Buddy, he would get me to sing one or two songs during the shows when I played with him. Then when I left Buddy to start my solo career, I knew that I had to sing because I didn’t have a singer and that’s one more guy you got to pay. You got to keep costs down. So, I started singing then. Both my parents have great voices, so hopefully there’s some genetic thing that comes through, but it was really when I got with Foghat that I focused on my vocals. Over the last almost two years now that I’ve been in this band, I think my vocals have gotten better. They’re definitely stronger, but that’s just because the nature of what we have to do and it’s a pro-ball situation. You’ve got to make sure that your instrument’s in tune, and I have some nights where I’m not as good as I wish I was, but every night I’m doing the absolute best I can. It’s not a situation where you ever mail it in. That’s the cool thing about this band, is everybody in this band is playing at the absolute top of their game all the time, and they’re coming at it with an intensity that if you let up, you’ll get left behind. So, you got to stay on it.

SFL Music: It seems like you really clicked with Roger when you met him in 2014. Foghat has three generations of fans.
Holt: I know. It’s crazy.

SFL Music: They have one Double Platinum, one Platinum, eight Gold Records. They’ve been extremely successful. I remember seeing them play “Fool For The City” in concert back in the day. What would you say is the secret for the longevity and success that Foghat has? What would you say attributes to that?
Holt: The short answer is the songs. I mean, the songs hold up and good music doesn’t have a shelf life. That’s the reason why formats like classic rock exist. “Stairway To Heaven” is still a great song. “Hound Dog” is still a great song. So, “Fool For The City” and “Slow Ride”, these were the sound track to a lot of people’s youth. Rodney makes the joke every night onstage when he’s introducing “Stone Blue” that “remember when you were driving in your Camero and you had your eight-track of Foghat,” but he’s right. It conjures up that memory. To me, that’s one of beautiful things about music is, music transcends all boundaries not just language barriers and cultural barriers, but time barriers. I mean, if you think about it, there’s songs that when I hear ‘em I remember when I was dating my wife or when I was trying to get her to go out with me, and it brings me back to a moment in time. Or when my father passed away or when my daughter was born. Just all kinds of emotions and that’s music. For one thing in our world to be that powerful and that just magnificent, I can’t think of another energy that we have that does what music does.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to a new musician or new band to be successful?
Holt: This goes beyond music. I’m saying it like this because my daughter is just graduating from college. I’ve just given her the same advice. Find something that you would do for free, and then figure out a way to make it pay. As a musician, Roger and I were just sitting here talking a minute ago about the lean years because every musician has those. We’ve all been in the van with four other people and you got to load the gear out and load it in. You’re doubling up in hotel rooms and you get paid a frozen pizza and fifty bucks. The real musicians do that willingly (he laughed). You know, voluntarily. We were talking about the low pay that we had to pay our bands at some times and I was thinking in the back of my head yeah, but I would do it anyway. I would do it now unfortunately. My wife doesn’t like for me to say that, but It’s true. This is a passion. It doesn’t have a dollar figure on it. I’m blessed to be in an opportunity where it is a successful situation, but the music comes first. It’s the passion of that, hitting that stage every night and playing those songs and looking out at the audience and like you said, the Foghat fans run the gamut. I mean, you’ve got the people who have been with them since the beginning. Since the seventies, and then they bring their kids and they bring their grandkids and, in some cases, their great-grandkids. It’s this whole range of fans. You got the kids that found out about Foghat from Guitar Hero (III) or the people that saw Dazed and Confused and know “Slow Ride” and that’s amazing to me that this band has touched people across all those generations. It goes back to the power of music. It transcends the boundaries.

SFL Music: I did notice on the Foghat website you all have wine (and people can order). I saw Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. How did that come to be?
Holt: Well, that’s Roger and Linda’s thing. Linda is our manager. Roger and Linda came up with this idea of they wanted to do some wine. They ran into a wine maker out in California and they got together and they put out Foghat wine which I have sampled for quality control purposes, and I will tell you that its excellent wine. I hope they keep making it because it is really good.

SFL Music: You will be playing in Anna Maria. What can fans look forward to with this new show?
Holt: We’re real excited. That’s going to be after the first of the year, so usually in January we convene down here and we try to put together a show that’s a little bit different from last year’s show. We play the staples that everybody wants to hear, but then we bring some deep tracks in and now we’ve got a new record out. So, we’ve got twelve songs that are gonna have to get some kind of sunshine on them at some point. So, we’ll put together a great set list and then the thing is, like I was saying before, every single person in this band is proud and excited to be where they are, and it will be a great show. I guarantee it, and we will have more fun than then audience.

SFL Music: Are there any more new singles or videos coming out?
Holt: I’m pretty sure there are. Those decisions are usually a little above my paygrade. I just do what they tell me (he laughed) but yeah, there will be some other stuff coming out. Linda and all the people in the office have been working really hard to promote this record, and I’m just real excited about it. I’m talking to you on Wednesday. Friday is the day that it comes out and I’m excited about that, and then Sunday we do our first record release party in New York and I can’t wait for that. So, it’s just a really good season and I’m real grateful to be a part of it.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want to add?
Holt: Just that we really appreciate the fans and the support. I’m just blown away that Foghat is celebrating their fifty-first trip around the sun as a band and the songs are holding up. We play “Fool For The City” every night and it never gets old and it never sounds dated, and it’s just pure one hundred percent rock and roll. I guess the only thing I would say is just thank you to the fans because they’re the ones that allow us to keep doing what we’re doing.

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