Michelle LaRose talks with Scott Maybrey for Road To Jacksonville
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Even though the legendary drummer for Blackfoot, Jackson ‘Thunderfoot’ Spires is no longer with us, his legacy lives on. Thunderfoot was the brainchild of Jackson Spires and aptly named for his drumming style and nickname.
Thunderfoot guitarist Scott Maybrey made sure that the beloved southern rock legend’s dream would continue forward and his never before published works would be heard by his fans across the globe.
We were able to sit down with Scott Maybrey and find out what the continued plans are for Thunderfoot. We also learned about Mr. Maybrey’s prestigious Dean Guitars endorsement.
Scott: Oh wow. [Laughing] You put me on the spot here. I don’t know anything about Thunderfoot.
RTJ: Your pleading the 5th
Scott: Yeah. Pleading the 5th. Some things can’t be repeated on tv or in a magazine. Thunderfoot is made up of four guys. We wore out one guitar player slash keyboard player, he had to retire. He can’t take the beating from the road that we generate. The band started out five years ago, it will be five years in March, with Jackson Spires drummer for Blackfoot. Excuse me. The milk was just delivered. [Laughing] You are going to be editing this aren’t you? By the way, your milk is like, I don’t know if that is two percent or whole but it looks pretty tasty. It has better color than my water.
RTJ: You want some?
Scott: Just pour some in my water.
RTJ: [Laughing] We are at a restaurant.
Scott: Interview over sandwiches. Mine would be on wheat, toasted with fries.
Scott: You had to ask me something that I had to think about.
RTJ: That was supposed to be the easiest question I have for you.
Scott: The next question is going to be, “So how would you describe your music?” And I’m going to go, “Um.”
RTJ: That’s a good question…
Scott: We call it Kitchen-Sink Rock because it’s everything from yesterday and a little bit of today. Myself and Jackson Spires and one of the former bass players from Blackfoot Lenny Stadler in Charlotte North Carolina; We got together and recorded what is the current Thunderfoot CD. Just shortly after finishing the drum and bass tracks we were going home for a couple of weeks; and Jackson unfortunately had a brain aneurysm that burst when he was descending into the Orlando airport. Which took his life three days later. At that point I went back to Charlotte and finished the project. You got me in the hot seat here. So skipping forward, I put a band together, finished the album and have been touring ever since. Is that pretty much the question answered?
Scott: Southern Rock Allstars. Everyone knows who the Southern Rock Allstars are. I was very fortunate to join the Southern Rock Allstars because originally, the band I was in called Tank N Steele was opening shows for them up in the Nashville, Muscle Shoals, Alabama area. I got to be real good friends with the guys and they also knew that I was a sound engineer in another life. Besides rocking on stage I rock out at the front of house too. So they hired me as their front of house engineer, which was in 2002. The food is here.
RTJ: Finish the question and then I’ll let you eat.
Scott: Anyway in 2002 I went out with the Southern Rock All Stars as the Front Of House engineer. And in 2004 I took the stage as the second guitarist after Duane Roland, one of the original guitarist for Molly Hatchet broke his hip. He was in the Allstars at the time so I replaced him because he had to retire until he got his hip replaced. He never did come back with Southern Rock Allstars. Jackson Spires was our drummer in Southern Rock Allstars also. So with his untimely passing everything kind of fell back in our laps because Jackson was really the leader of the band. So at that point all of the management, duties and bookings and everything fell in my lap. So I grabbed the bull by the horns and have been going ever since. We don’t too many shows any more. We’ve had some health issues in the band. Jimmy Farrar former lead singer for Molly Hatchet had a stroke so we didn’t do any shows for a good year anyway after that. He’s bouncing back but we don’t know if we’re going to be doing too many more shows with Jimmy fronting. You know, we’re all getting older. That brings us up current with SRA. We do play some shows, probably a dozen every year. It’s more of a nostalgia thing. We just get together and do shows here and there, fly in and do the festivals and that type of thing. But really Thunderfoot is the main gig now and we are touring relentlessly as we speak. I don’t think it ever stops.
RTJ: When I talked to you in ‘06 the Thunderfoot album wasn’t out yet but it’s out now. Tell us a little bit about that.
Scott: Well that was the original conception of the band. The actual band was going to be called something else. I’ll leave that un-announced right now. But with the untimely passing of Jackson Spires… his nickname was Thunderfoot Spires because of how hard he could hit the drums and his kick drum was so heavy. On a number of occasions he put his foot right through the drumhead. So he had very powerful legs. Anyway we finished the album and now its out and its really just available either online or through us personally. It’s Jackson’s last work or the last recording to date. There are plenty of recordings of him earlier on throughout the years. So that was the last works he did before he passed away. I felt it was important to get it out so his fans could have something. There’s a few songs on there that he was actually singing lead on, and that’s something that not too many people witnessed because he was just always a background singer and drummer. So we’re pretty proud of that and we’re working on a new album right now. The direction has changed on the new album somewhat since it new members. It’s a little heavier, a little edgier, a little more funky. It’s got all of the elements of a kick ass rock album. So I’m looking forward to that later on in 2010 releasing that. We have some songs about some werewolves, because that’s the big thing now. Everyone has to have a werewolf for a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a vampire or something like that.
RTJ: Are you going Goth on us?
Scott: Just on one song.
Scott: There’s just a wide variety of stuff on the new album and we’re really looking forward to it because we think it’s going to kick some major ass.
Scott: Oh geeze. The list is just… I’d really have to compile it. It’d probably take me a few days to put all the pages together. I’ve engineered for… I was Front Of House engineer for Blackfoot for a short period of time and the road manager for them as well. Gator Country, Front Of House for them. I’ve done shows for Clarence Carter, The Temptations; R & B acts quite a few country acts, Montgomery Gentry, um… A lot of “um’s”, those bands are everywhere. Ask anyone and their going to mention “Um.”
Scott: That’s it. They’re a killer band.
Scott: So just to name a few. Geeze… the list, I’m drawing a blank here but it’s very long. I’ve been engineering for approximately fifteen, sixteen years professionally. But my real love is entertaining. I’d rather be on stage than behind the scenes. But some folks that have seen me engineer say, “Man, your like one of the guys on stage back here behind the console your head banging and all into your job.” I say, “I enjoy what I do and I give a hundred and ten no matter what.”
RTJ: You are going to the Dean Guitar Factory today. Explain why.
Scott: Well, they had pity on me. [Laughing] Actually, friends of ours in the band Blackfoot, they got endorsed by Dean Guitars. With them getting their endorsement, our guitar player for Southern Rock AllStars Jay Johnson, who was also in Blackfoot for a couple of years there sharing the vocals and the lead guitar work… He told the people at Dean about us, myself and Charles Hart from the band Thunderfoot and the Southern Rock Allstars. They called us up and talked to us, gave us an interview and here we are. It’s an artist endorsement. We don’t have an endorsement for the band. I guess Blackfoot probably has a band endorsement but Charles’s and mine are just for our names. Our individual names. So whenever we call up the Dean factory to talk to the rep they ask, “What band do you play for?” and we say, “We have an artist endorsement that’s under our name.” So that’s how they pull us up. They have a web site, obviously, Dean Guitars dot com and under the artists will be Scott Maybrey it has a little bio there. I think it brings some extra hits to our web site, compliments of Dean. Nice people over there and they build awesome guitars. Originally I was playing a ’69 Les Paul Black Beauty, what a chunk of wood. It’s all I have to say. The tonality, everything was great. But what a back breaking experience after two hours of jumping up and down with that on your back. So I played my first Dean guitar and it was a Cadillac! I thought, wow this feels like a Les Paul but its lightweight. It had the sound, the tone, and lots of sustain. I said, “Well I think I’m going to replace the Gibson.” And so that’s what I did. I put the Gibson up then after that is when we got the endorsement. So then of course I was fortunate enough to get some other Dean guitars with the endorsement and the rest is history. We fly their flag proudly and we’ll see where the future takes us. I love my Dean guitars. Kiss, kiss, ex, oh, ex, oh.
RTJ: Tell us about some bands that you like.
Scott: It has been many years since I have been just deeply impressed with a band. From my background of running sound and working in the studios and touring all over the place, you see lots and lots of talent and great musicians but none has just stuck me, you know, left me in awe. So I went and I heard Halestorm it was a band out of Pennsylvania that just got signed with Atlantic Records. So I went to one of their shows at a local club and I just stood there basically with my mouth open the whole time in awe of the vocal ability and just the overall show that they put on. For a young band it was pretty phenomenal and I think they have a big future ahead of them.
RTJ: Do you have any plans of touring over seas?
Scott: There have been lots of emails we’ve received from over in Europe from many countries asking us when we’re going to be over to Europe. People would like to see us over there. We are getting a fan base over there. There is some interest to get us over there. We might try to do some USO type of tours for the military. Nobody needs entertainment like those guys and girls over there. One thing is, we’re not scared so we’d love to go over there and do some entertaining. So we’re looking into that right now as well as touring the United States and maybe something down in Mexico. So we’ll see you around the world somewhere.
RTJ: Do you prefer playing larger shows or smaller shows?
Scott: I love playing smaller venues because you’re more up close and personal with the fans and you can interact more with them. When you’re at the larger amphitheaters and festivals where there’s just thousands of people out there you can only see the first few rows of them once the lights get in your eyes. It’s just so much more intimate at the smaller venues. It’s too bad that there’s not a lot of them that stay around, they kinda’ come and go like dirty diapers, they change quite often.
Scott: Oh yeah. If you have thousands of people out there and they’re all into it, there’s a lot of energy there. But I’ve seen it happen in a small club too. Like Thunderfoot. Our philosophy is we’ll play anywhere, anytime with anybody and that’s the way we go through life with our musical careers. We just want to play, that’s what we love doing. I’ll play for ten people and I’ll play for ten thousand and it’s really all the same to me because it comes from the soul and the heart.
RTJ: You’ve played with so many bands. Who are some of the bands you have played with?
Scott: In Southern Rock Allstars, we’ve shared the stage with many, many artists such as Starship a couple times. I don’t think they’ll do shows with us anymore. [Laughing] But I can’t tell that story either. [Laughing] That Jackson Spires, he was a character! That’s all I have to say about him and Mickey Thomas. They weren’t the best of friends I don’t think. But anyway… We’ve done shows with Alice Cooper, Seven Mary Three, numerous country artists. I can remember playing a baseball field down in Florida, I can’t remember the exact place but it was a baseball stadium. We played there with a country artist and it was real bad for that country artist after we got on stage because we were opening for him. He was pretty big at the time; he had a big hit out. We’ll leave him un-named at this point.
RTJ: Willie Nelson [Laughing]
Scott: Not Willy, he’s a good guy. [Laughing] But we’ve left audiences standing on their heads basically; just screaming for more. It really wasn’t good for the country artist to go on after us playing that “crying in my beer” stuff. Our set list, as we always say, has all the hits in it from the different bands like Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Skynyrd, and Marshall Tucker. So people can relate to all those songs. They’ve heard them all their lives so that’s what turns them on and we like turning people on. What else would you like to know?
RTJ: You tell me. You’re full of stories!
Scott: A lot of them I cant say until most of us are gone. We’re going to write a book. We’re going to change the names to protect the innocent. It’s going to be real ugly. Ohhhhh the stories I can tell. The people that were probably hurt.
Scott: Nah. We never hurt anyone. We’re nice guys. But there’s been food fights.
RTJ: Can you safely tell us about some of the pranks?
Scott: Safely? Hmmmm. Well I did get hit with a burrito in Taco Johns. One of our singers, he used to get upset with us because we all acted like children; he was a little older than us. If anyone knows about the dance called ‘Flatulence Boogie’…
Scott: Sometimes I’m kind of proud of that. It’s just not right that I’m talking about this, but there’s times when passing gas is kind of a funny thing. Especially when you’re on the road and your tired, everyone’s cranky and ornery. There’s nothing that brings light into a mood than a good… uh, yeah, ahem. So the guitar player let one rip on the singer and he didn’t like it so he proceeded to cover us in burritos and tacos launched from about forty feet away. Needless to say the restaurant cleared out immediately and we’ve never been back there since. So I want to send out my apologies to Taco John himself.
RTJ: [Roaring with laughter]
Scott: We didn’t mean to leave such a mess. You hear stories about people throwing tv’s out windows of hotels. We never did any of that but I have seen tv’s short out because of coolers of water being poured into them and whatnot. That never really happened by the way.
Scott: Not on my watch anyway. We’re all actually grown up… no we’re not. I’m going to stay a kid forever. That’s part of the coolness of playing music for a living because you never have to grow up.
RTJ: Thank you so much for taking time to speak with Road To Jacksonville today Scott.
Scott: The pleasure was all mine. Thank you.