Lead guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, sideman, slide player extraordinaire — Ariel Posen has worn many hats in the music world over the past few decades. And his skill has only grown! Today, he’s regarded as a modern-day guitar hero, and we got the pleasure to sit down with him and discuss his latest album, Reasons Why, his approach to songwriting, and his unusual invitation to the Crossroads Music Festival from Eric Clapton himself! Check it out now:
The new Ariel Posen album: Reasons Why
Back in September, Ariel Posen released his third studio album entitled Reasons Why. The new album features ten songs with Posen’s signature genre-blending bluesy style, complete with killer guitar riffs, slide solos, and vocals.
Reasons Why features most of the same musicians from Posen’s previous albums, which is why it sounds so good! Posen also co-produced the album with longtime friend and collaborator, Murray Pulver.
If you want to hear the concoction this amazing group of musicians came up with, you can now stream Reasons Why wherever you like to listen to music:
You can also pick up a hard copy of the album directly from Ariel’s website (opens in new tab) — or anywhere else you like to find CDs.
Ariel Posen’s writing process
How did he do it!? How does Ariel Posen always nail the lyrics and music on his albums? Well, lots and lots of talent, obviously. But he also has a specific writing process he likes to follow. And we asked him all about it.
We always like to ask artists if they start with the guitar, lyrics, idea, or whatever else you make songs out of. In Ariel’s case, he likes to start with the guitar. He typically comes up with the main riff and the rhythm part first. Just some of those little parts you hit while practicing that hits just right.
From there, he likes to add they lyrics. Sometimes, he’ll even reach out to friends for help. When it came to writing the songs on Reasons Why, the pandemic really helped. Everyone was stuck at home, so Posen had tons of time to sit down quietly and write. Whenever he needed some help or wanted to collaborate, he could reach out to anyone and they’d respond right away because they were doing the exact same thing he was: NOTHING.
With the songs flushed(ish) out, it’s time for demos. Ariel likes to demo the first round of songs mostly by himself. He’ll do the vocals, guitar, bass, and sometimes drums — but he also occasionally asks a drummer to sub in. These demos are just rough drafts. They’re basically outlines for where he wants the song to go.
Ariel likes to have the songs basically done when they hit the studio. He shows his demos to the rest of the band and basically says, “Here’s what I want, but make it good!”
There’s a lot of back and forth in the studio to really put in the final tweaks, but Ariel definitely likes to do most of the work beforehand to make things more efficient in the studio.
Take one listen to Reasons Why and it’s easy to see that this process is certainly a slam-dunk!
Recording Reasons Why
For most of Ariel’s albums, he likes to record in Winnipeg. For Reasons Why, however, he split the recording between two studios in Montreal and Winnipeg. He told AMS that he actually enjoyed splitting the recording because it’s easy to get “too comfortable” at your favorite studio. It’s nice to get out of your comfort zone occasionally to inject some new ideas.
One of the hardest parts of any album is to choose the songs. Posen had about 30 songs that he wrote during lockdown, but that’s way too much for an album. He had to weed them down.
Posen managed to bring his song list down to his favorite 15, but five of the songs didn’t seem to fit with the other ten to make a cohesive album. So rather than make a disjointed album, he put the top ten into the Reasons Why album, and the other five became Downtown EP (opens in new tab) — which you can also listen to on YouTube (opens in new tab), Spotify (opens in new tab), or any other music streaming platform.
When it comes to recording, Posen likes to go live! The first track of the songs are completely live. The band will play to a click track, but everyone will play together. This is mostly to get the bass and drum parts down with all the energy and inspiration of a live performance.
Once the first “draft” is down, Posen will go back and rerecord the vocals and sometimes the guitar parts to get the final master version of the song.
The gear that drives Reasons Why
We couldn’t help ourselves. We just had to ask Ariel about his gear choices for the latest album. Historically, Posen likes to use a Fender Jazzmaster, especially for his more instrumental music like on the album Mile End (opens in new tab).
However, Ariel doesn’t like to be tied to any specific sort of gear. It’s more of a “go with the flow” process when choosing what he wants to record with. It all depends on the sound and feel he’s going for with a certain song.
Over the course of Reasons Why, Ariel uses a wide assortment of guitars:
At the end of the day, the gear that would sound the best (and was available) is what Ariel used to record Reasons Why — and that’s the “reason why!”
An unusual invitation to play Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Music Festival
Everyone knows that Ariel Posen is a serious guitar player. And where do all the serious guitar players go to perform? The Crossroads Music Festival!
The Crossroads Music Festival is a who’s-who of all the best guitar players in the industry today. Of course, it’s also the brainchild of one of the best guitarists to ever grace the planet: the one and only Eric Clapton.
Before the 2023 Crossroads Music Festival, Ariel Posen had quite a strange encounter. He got a message from someone claiming to be Eric Clapton through his website’s contact form. Nobody conducts official business through a website contact form, especially someone as legendary as Eric Clapton. So Posen thought it was “for sure bull****.” But just on the off chance it might be the real deal, he had someone check it out.
Turns out, it really was Eric Clapton! He wanted Ariel to play the 2023 Crossroads Festival! Posen said he still wasn’t convinced it was real until the contracts were signed, and even then it still felt surreal.
The entire festival went by quickly, but Posen said it was a ton of fun! He grew up watching the Crossroads Festivals on TV and DVD, so it was a huge honor just to be invited. He got to listen to and hang out with a bunch of incredible artists. He even almost got to play on stage with ZZ Top, but unfortunately it fell through…
Check out Ariel Posen’s latest album: Reasons Why
From his ridiculous slide guitar and catchy rhythm grooves to bluesy guitar tones and deep-cutting lyrics, Ariel Posen is definitely one to watch in the modern rock scene. And his latest album Reasons Why is just another great example of what makes him such an incredible musician.
We want to thank Ariel for taking time out of his busy touring schedule to come talk to us in the AMS Tone Labs. We had a blast and learned a bunch about songwriting, slide playing — and telling whether that email from Eric Clapton is spam or legit. Hopefully our email is coming soon!
Don’t forget to check out Reasons Why wherever you like to listen to music and subscribe to the AMS YouTube channel (opens in new tab) for more exclusive artist content and gear releases like this!