Jay boasts a massive collection of guitars. The Fijian-born musician’s ‘Off The Cuff’ features 57 guitars alone, 9 of which will be joining him on stage at Fringe. “I have things like dulcimers, dulcitars, cigar-box guitars, shovel guitars, and, as of yesterday, a cricket-bat guitar,” says Jay of his collection of unusual instruments.
“Everything I have played has been made by somebody. A lot of them have come to me just through touring. My passion with touring is a lot of third-world countries and unusual places, and through that I get to see a lot of unusual instruments.
"When I find something I like I try to find the person who made it and get them to either make me that instrument or something they think will suit me even better.”
The self-described ‘Xavier-Rudd-meets-Metallica’ has been playing guitar for much of his life. “I gravitated towards the guitar as soon as I could walk. "It was just guitar or organ that we had in the house growing up. The organ was cool, but it was one of those big, old organs. I guess it was from there that I developed my interest in stringed instruments.”
For 'Off The Cuff’, Jay not only got to show-off his guitar skills and collection, but also collaborate with New York Blues Hall Of Fame member and personal guitar hero, Chris Finnen. “Chris and I were introduced by a mutual friend. Unfortunately, a few years later, the friend passed away.
“I just had a thought one day – it was actually while crossing the Nullarbor – we should record an album for our friend who has just passed. So I called Chris, and he was keen.
"We wrote half the songs each, and we didn’t hear each other’s songs until we hit record in the studio. We basically went to town without any judgement or pre-conceived ideas.”
Jay is full of admiration for Chris as a guitarist and a person. “Chris got awarded into the Blues Guitarists Hall Of Fame alongside Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, so he’s a monster. "I was honoured and very nervous to work with him. He’s a dear friend, but the only time I seem to get nervous these days is when I’m working with someone at that level that intimidates the shit out of me.”
One area that Jay is far from nervous is his live shows. On stage, Jay explodes with energy, playing drums, guitar and didgeridoo simultaneously, often improvising the show. “I just let it roll; I never write set-lists. I just get on the stage and look at the crowd, see what’s up. I’ll see what I feel and what the people I’m seeing would enjoy and just let it fly.
“I’m using both hands, both feet, and my mouth, so it gets pretty hectic. It’s got that rootsy edge, but man, it’s just massive walls of riff-rock distortion.”
Jay Hoad plays Hotel Victor 24 Feb, Old Bush Inn 25 Feb and The Barker Hotel 4 Mar. All shows are held as part of Adelaide Fringe.