Since he released his 2012 debut Blak and Blu, a lot has happened in Gary Clark Jr.'s life. He's become a huge live draw, toured the world multiple times, won a Grammy, played with everyone from the Foo Fighters to the Rolling Stones, got engaged to model Nicole Trunfio and became a dad. "I forgot what sleep's like, but it's cool," he tells Rolling Stone of fatherhood.
Now, Clark reveals, he's almost done with his second album: "I'm finishing up a record. I think it's going awesome. I get to make noise and see what happens. I think it's dope."
Blak and Blu was recorded largely in Los Angeles with producers Rob Cavallo, a longtime Green Day collaborator, and Mike Elizondo, who's had a hand in everything from 50 Cent's "In Da Club" to Tegan and Sara's Heartthrob and Avenged Sevenfold's Hail to the King. While the record helped establish Clark's potential, it didn't quite match the fire of his live show. This time, the guitarist has opted to record in a more familiar setting and take more control behind the boards.
"I'm producing," he says. "I've got a squad of guys that are helping me translate the visions and the sounds in my head and make it blast back out through the speakers, so it's been good. I've just been hiding out in Texas. I had to bring it back home." Clark adds he's been recording at Arlyn Studios, "the place where Stevie [Ray Vaughan] cut records. It's really good."
Last week, Clark paid tribute to Vaughan at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, playing with Vaughan's old band, Double Trouble. For Clark, it was the closest he's ever felt to his hero: "I never got the chance to play with him or see him play live – I was a young dude chasing girls on the playground.
"It's a trip," he adds. "When I first started playing in 1996, I turned on the TV and all those guys were playing on a Stevie Ray Vaughan retrospective. That changed the direction of my life.... I was trying to hold back emotions [onstage], man. It's a heavy moment. Those guys are the real deal and paved the way for a lot of young guitar players. Those are the guys that put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears in for a guy like me to be here talking to you."