Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By Garret K. Woodward
FCE Staff 

Off to the Other Side: Former Nocturnal Scott Tournet returns

Where did he go?

 

Last updated 11/4/2016 at 5:52am | View PDF

Scott Tournet- Brendan McCourt – BPM.photo

Where did he go?

It has been a questioned posed countless times to me, when asked what happened to former Grace Potter & the Nocturnals guitarist Scott Tournet. As a founding member of the popular North Country rock group, Tournet was the key sonic element to the juggernaut act, showering audiences with his razor sharp licks and heavy tone, an attitude that truly propelled them into the national and international spotlight for the better part of the last decade.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Tournet vanished. Some thought it may have been in reaction to Potter taking on a more mainstream Hollywood sound. Many wondered if Potter herself kicked him out. Others pointed to perhaps drugs and alcohol. And a few said all of the above.

Recently tracking down Tournet in San Diego, he'll be the first to tell you it just might have been "all of the above," but, more or less, it came down to being happy - something Tournet found increasingly elusive as his time being a Nocturnal wore on.

In his latest project, Elektric Voodoo, Tournet finds himself fronting an ensemble - though rock-n-roll at its heart -that ventures into the realms of Afro-Cuban, Blues and modern funk. The self-titled debut album picks up where other past solo releases left off. It also brings to it the urgency and "rock'em-sock'em" punch that made the Nocturnals so captivating, and the curious "devil-may-care" nature of Tournet's beloved, yet short-lived, side band Blues & Lasers.

Elekric Voodoo is a melodic postcard of sunshine and optimism - of hard work and determination - from Tournet, with a simple message scribbled in the small space on the back - "Life is good. Stay tuned."

Garret K. Woodward: Where have you been the last couple years?

Scott Tournet: When I got off the road after 13 years I decided to take a little time off from touring and stay in one place for a while. It has been really nice. Musically, I started studying pedal steel guitar and engineering, which are both lifelong endeavors. Before I went on tour for a living I used to practice, write, and record all the time. I really missed that solitary side of music.

GKW: What's your state of mind these days, especially when reflecting on the last decade or so in the Nocturnals?

ST: I don't think enough time has passed to reflect on it yet. Right now, I'm really enjoying being able follow my own creative muse. I'm very grateful for this time to focus on my own expression.

GKW: If you mind me asking, what happened or led to you parting ways with the Nocturnals?

ST: I can only speak for myself. I like to write music. I like to write songs. I like to produce albums. Lately, I've been making some videos and having a blast doing it. I've written a couple articles. I've never been short of ideas. I could put out two or three albums a year, no problem. There's only so much time. I need to follow the muse and express myself. Things become unbalanced inside of me if I can't. On a personal note, I got sober from drugs and alcohol about three years ago. A lot changed when that happened. My priorities changed. I started figuring out who I really am and what I really want. A big thing that I discovered was that I'm more of a leader than a follower. I need to have a voice. That's very important to me. I want to say things through songs and art that push me and push the audience. For better or for worse I'm really honest and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I can't fake it. It would be so much easier to pick a genre, stick to it, and play shows where I yell, "Wave your hands in the air, wave'em like you just don't care." I'd get more gigs and I'd make more money doing it that way, but I just can't. It doesn't work for me.

GKW: What did being in that mainstream spotlight with the Nocturnals show you when it comes to pursuing your artistic and professional dreams?

ST: Trust your instincts. Stay connected to your roots. Don't forget your original intent.

GKW: With Elektric Voodoo, what was your intent coming into this project? And how has that intent, physically and emotionally with The Band, evolved into where it stands today?

ST: At first, I just wanted to make music over undeniably powerful rhythms. I was bored of basic rock and roll rhythms and really burnt out on the modern dance music thing that seems to be permeating everything these days. I was listening to Fela Kuti, Sly Stone, James Brown, and it is the funkiest, grooviest rhythms on earth. They weren't using computers. They didn't fix it until it was perfect. It was human. There were mistakes. The tempo would push and pull a little. It breathed. I listen to all this computer perfected dance music and I don't feel what I feel when I listen to Sly, James and Fela. There is something that we humans bring to the table that a computer can never emulate - soul. So, that was my intent. Anti-dance/dance music. Heavy original rhythm. On top of that though, I wanted to change the recipe. I wanted to write a five-minute song with a chorus and a bridge on top of an Afro-beat or Latin groove. I wanted to bring rock and roll guitar solos into the mix. How about an analog synth? Let's get psychedelic. What would the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles do to this track? Let's reverse the vocals and add a ton of reverb. Let's put some country and western pedal steel on top. Harmonica? Let's set this whole thing inside of an old Clint Eastwood movie.

GKW: What has a life immersed in music taught you about what it means to be a human being?

ST: That music in its purest form is powerful and beautiful, and something I'm very connected to. The music business and trying to be popular and make thousands of drunk people happy is not always beautiful. People can be nasty and shortsighted. We also have a great capacity for love and empathy. There are moments of beauty and moments of ugliness. Ultimately, it's more important to me that I'm a good person than a good musician.

 

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