Interview with Howard Eynon

early kid shots

When did you first start playing the 12 string guitar?

Probably about 17 - as soon as I'd earned enough money to buy one.

You have your own tuning, how did this come about?

My after we arrived in Tasmania, my mother bought my dad a cheap guitar for his birthday. I would pick it up and muck around with it. Apparently during his airforce years in the middle east, he was handed a guitar for the purpose of playing bawdy songs which he did so well. He didn't know conventional guitar tuning, so tuned it as close as he could to the banjo he used to play years earlier. So I picked up a guitar tuned irregularly and began making up my own chords. Later when I discovered the right way to tune a guitar, I was not interested in starting over. The tuning did not suit a 6 string, but was interesting on the 12.

How did you find 'your' style of music? 

I didn't even know or think about having a style of music. It was just what I did, it was those who wanted categories that sat me under the psycadelic folk label. I started using 11 string only because not doubling up on the top string gives me some clarity when needed. I only started this practice a few years ago.

Do you still use your own tunings, can you tell me anything about it?

Mainly yes. It's E, A, C#, E, G#, B
It makes for quite a good droning style in E or A. I do tend to favour those keys a bit as a result. It does give the guitar a different voice which has caught the attention of a few of our local musicians who I've come to know recently.

What guitars do you own/perform with?

The old Gibson 12 I've had for years. It's been patched up quite a few times but still has a lovely tone. I bought a mini Maton 12 string for practice a couple of years ago, and prior to last years European tour I was lucky to find a 10yo Maton messiah. The Gibson at the time was in need of some work, which it has now had thanks to Rick Bartolo, an extremely skilled guitar surgeon on the central coast. I also have a couple of other 12's - a Danelectric - and some 6 strings mainly for other people to play.

What is different between your album from the 70s and what you're producing now?

I find that hard to answer. You do what you do. I'm a lot older now and still writing and playing. So I guess there may be a few more angles in some of the songs. I think some of them  will make their way into a sort of rokopra/musical - is what I'm thinking about anyway.

How come Mick Jaggar is said to have known about your album?

That was picked up by the man whose name i now forget who was getting me gigs in Melbourne around 1975. The Stones had arrived in Melbourne ready for their first tour of Australia. He called me on a Saturday very excited and asked if I'd heard the interview with Mick Jagger that had just been aired. I hadn't. He said that the interviewer asked Mick what they were going to do while they were in Australia, and Mick answered they might go to Tasmania to check out the Apricot Jam. That was really nice!