Rick Holmstrom Interview

(Originally aired on December 20, 2012)

As a kid, Rick Holmstrom absorbed the sounds of rockabilly, surf, folk, and the Beatles. But when he discovered Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins as a college senior, he began a musical journey that took him deep into the blues and roots rock. After graduating, he migrated to Los Angeles where he started backing some of the top blues musicians on the West Coast. In 1996 he released his first solo album, Lookout! Three other albums followed, and on each he explored different styles of music, including hip hop and electronica mixed with blues.

On his fifth solo disc, the recently released Cruel Sunrise, Holmstrom continues his sonic explorations, this time delving deeply into songcraft. A mesmerizing mix of dirty, tremolo-drenched twang, spooky grooves, and dark, introspective lyrics, Cruel Sunrise delivers great guitar playing and powerful writing in equal measure. Holmstrom is currently the bandleader in Mavis Staples' touring and recording ensemble, and she adds her cosmic voice to two of Holmstrom’s songs on the new album.

In our exclusive interview, Holmstrom describes recording Cruel Sunrise and details how he developed the songs for the album. We'll hear selections from Cruel Sunrise throughout the interview.