A brief interview with Clive Carroll

A brief interview with Clive Carroll

Nick Campling, G7th Founder and Chairman, had the opportunity for a brief interview with the incredible fingerstyle guitarist, Clive Carroll.


I’ve known Clive for a number of years now; I've attended one of his weekend guitar workshops and numerous concerts, exchanged emails on capo related matters and he’s played a house concert here at G7th HQ. So, when asked who I’d like to feature in a G7th Newsletter, Clive is a natural choice!

Clive’s toured with John Renbourn and Tommy Emmanuel; he’s played duets with John Williams on his latest CD, “The Furthest Tree”; he’s teaching at the “Renbourn Guitar Workshop” on the island of Crete in June and at the Swannanoa Gathering Guitar Week. Then, in September he’s running his own residential guitar course in the beautiful Cotswolds here in the UK. Clive is also a true gentleman by definition in that he’s a very capable banjo player… but rarely plays it!

Nick Campling: Who has been the most exciting guitarist to work with?

Clive Carroll: Fortunately, there have been many! When I was really young my sister and I sometimes created duo guitar pieces to play. I had no idea about theory… instead it ran along the lines of: if I play this melody up and down the 2nd string and you play the same thing on the 3rd string, that sounds really cool!
A couple of decades later, playing alongside John Renbourn and performing harmony parts that he had written out for me was pretty special. Pieces like ‘So Clear’ and ‘Lady Nothynges Toye Puff’. ‘Lord of all Hopefulness’ was also great as there was space for him to improvise. Come to think of it, backing up Renbourn and listening to him improvise has been some of the best times I’ve had on stage.
I recently recorded a couple of tracks with Tommy Emmanuel, which was amazing. He’s got a great vibe in the studio and the ‘one-take’ approach to recording ensures that there is plenty of vitality and freshness! I also had the pleasure of playing with the great D’Gary from Madagascar and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt from India and so many more. I’ve been very lucky to work with players whom I admire greatly and I guess the excitement comes from playing off their various styles and unique voices, creating something new.

NC: With all the touring, do you get much of a home life?

CC: There’s no regular annual routine, that’s for sure. I guess the summer is a little quieter because it’s festival season and apart from guitar festivals, everyone else tends to book acts that are LOUD. When I am at home I have to try and musically ‘shut down’ by doing more family orientated things. As any musician will tell you though, there are always tunes or pieces you’re writing in your head that get in the way and dictate your mood. Perhaps it’s best to write slow dirges out on the road in hotels!

NC: What exercises would you recommend for someone wishing to improve their fingerstyle playing?

CC: Practice everything slowly. Use a metronome and record yourself. If you hear imperfections, work out what’s wrong and correct them. I find that about 3 hours ‘practice’ a day is more than enough. I can’t concentrate for more than that. Some days I might ‘play’ for much longer but that cannot be labeled as ‘practice’. They are not the same thing. If you make sure that you discipline yourself to the art of ‘practicing’, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, make a plan, iron out a technical issue and you’ll get a lot better, a lot faster.


This is a recent video of Clive playing a beautifully nuanced version of 'Embraceable You' by George Gershwin.


You can read more about Clive on his G7th Artist page.