Rockabilly Renaissance Man
Guitar World|February 2022
CANADIAN GUITARIST PAUL PIGAT GETS BACK TO BASICS ON COUSIN HARLEY’S LET’S GO!
Alan di Perna

“I WANTED TO take all of the sophistication out of it,” Paul Pigat says of Let’s Go!, the latest album by his rockabilly trio Cousin Harley. But few, if any, would call the disc’s 10 retro-rock scorchers unsophisticated. Pigat has a knack for crafting dazzlingly tight guitar solos that sit gemlike within well-honed songs that he dashes off with apparent ease.

“I took a little lesson from AC/DC on the solos for this record,” he says.

“And that’s to make the solo completely different from the rest of the song. Rather than just soloing over a verse or bridge progression, there’s a new harmonic change for the guitar solo. You haven’t heard anything like that so far in the song. AC/DC were always great at that.”

Pigat’s approach to the rockabilly idiom is adventurously eclectic, incorporating elements of everything from hard rock to Western swing. A doting Dutch fan dubbed them “The Motörhead of Rockabilly.”

“I’m not a purist by any means,” Pigat admits. “I’ve always been interested in taking the parts of American music that I love and mashing them together. Country, blues, rock... a little bit of everything in there. We’re still a country/rockabilly/rock ’n’ roll band, but the last few records were very Western swing. With Let’s Go!, however, I wanted to make another rock ’n’ roll record. So this one is getting back to our rock ’n’ roll roots and what we originally started with, which are raunchy and aggressive. But we kept a little country tinge to it too.”

By the time Pigat discovered rockabilly, he had already earned a degree in classical composition and paid his dues in numerous rock bands. But from the moment he heard rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon’s late-Seventies/early Eighties work with British guitar ace Chris Spedding, his fate was sealed.

“That was my very first taste of it,” he says. “I fell in love with that and started working my way backwards. I grew up in Toronto, and Toronto had a good little rockabilly scene. But then I moved to Vancouver, and the scene there is what really solidified it for me. There was so much going on. It was a deep scene.”

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