I was born on February 18, 1984 to two great parents who provided me with all of my first influences for wanting to become a guitarist . They were into Emerson Lake & Palmer, Rush, Steely Dan, Tom Petty, Joe Satriani, Led Zeppelin, among many others. My father bought my mom a guitar when I was around 6 or 7 years old. That’s when I realized what all those cool sounds I heard on the records were coming from and thought I could try it out too. Then I kinda just thought about it for a year or so and started jamming on my “Hot Keyz” a whole lot (stand up keyboard thing with effects and bender). Then when I was in a combination class with some older kids I saw them bring their gutiars for Show and Tell. They would perform the songs that were currently hits at the time. This was 1993 so those bands were Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, Metallica, etc. I thought it was so cool and yearned for a guitar of my own.
I got my first guitar for my 10th birthday in 1994. A Peavey Predator with a Peavey Rage 158 Amp. I couldn’t stop playing the thing. With one finger I would pick really fast while blasting the volume and just slide that one finger around for hours. Then I got a book haha. Learning songs became so much fun. I jammed with older friends for a couple years. Then in my middle school years a friend of mine showed me how to get guitar tabs on the internet. Then basically I couldn’t stop.
Professional Guitarist sounded like a title I wanted. So I read many articles on how to become a professional guitarist. Had all the subscriptions to magazines and learned many songs via tab online. My next addiction was the Guitar Pro software. My first compositions were made in Guitar Pro. John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, and Paul Gilbert were my favorite magazine contributors because of the consistency of beneficial information I was able to get from what they had to say about how they went about practicing and what was important to do etc.
“Practice Schedules” were a thing I created for myself, based on the knowledge gained from these professionals, where I could lay out everything I had to work day to day to achieve the abilities that I wanted with the instrument. For the next 6 years I spent at least 2 hours every day working on this material. Somehow I skipped completely over learning music theory, but I learned a lot about technique and gained much flexibility and control over the instrument by learning solos and riffs from all my favorites.
There was a good handful of musicians at my high school (Canyon High in Anaheim Hills, CA) who were into many of the same styles so we began to cover and create our tunes. Somehow along the way I ended up in a death metal band called “Sacrifical Slaughter” which lasted for the last 2 years of high school. We had a blast playing all the metal clubs in the SoCal area and even did some traveling for festivals and things. We used to spit fake blood all over the crowd and at eachother on stage hahaha. We were crazy kids just having a good time.
It was around this time (2001) that I heard about Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood, CA. I think I was reading a Paul Gilbert column and noticed that he attended and taught there. Mom and Dad took me to an open house and we were sold. So after I graduated High School in 2002 I started that next fall. I must’ve been practicing for about 10+hrs a day for that whole year and a half. Best time I ever had learning music. I got to play with names like Carl Verheyen, Scott Henderson, Derek Sherinian, Ken Steiger, took a lesson with Marty Friedman, Jennifer Batten, Dan Gilbert, Carl Schroeder. I graduated with a “Professional” certification!
Let’s talk about Schroeder for a second (yes the Peanuts piano kid was named after him). He was an amazing musician. A friend of mine named Khoa recommended that I play in the Schroeder Jazz Class (more on Khoa in a minute). At the time I could only define tonal centers and jammed away. Since my background was basically rock music, it was a little weird to solo with a clean tone. I faired pretty well though. But the main point is that I learned how cool jazz music was. The way jazz musicians think and play was a whole new thing to me. A whole new level of opportunities and things to try was introduced to me through this avenue of study. I asked Khoa what I had to do in order to be able to solo more fluently over the “Changes”. He told me to practice connecting arpeggios together as the chords change. Basically stay in one fret range of the guitar and play arps in eigth notes and as the chords change connect to the closest note of the new chord’s arpeggio. Okay….this was gonna take a while. But I did it. I spent about a year just working on making this happen all over the fretboard with Herbe Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”. Every time I talk to Khoa it seems that I get years worth of things to work on. Fusion listening really made this style very appealing to me because Fusion merged my old style with these new Jazz concepts and Funk Rhythms. Jazz, Funk, and Fusion were introduced to me at MI and have been my main focus for the last 6 years since my graduation.
During this post MI stage and currently I have been working with a band called Statistition. The members met working at Target. I worked there on weekends while I was attending school but only knew one of these guys because he had gigged with Sacrificial Slaughter on bass. I had known Garret Sadler for about 7 years at this point but had never had a band where he played keys (well accept for a cover song or two with friends, but nothing official). He has been studying piano for basically his whole life and is always getting better and better. He had met Roozie Tehranian (drummer) while working at target and they began to jam together and then were looking for a guitarist, which is when Garret suggested that they give me a ring.
This was the perfect opportunity for me to employ these new styles and techniques that I had been working on. Couple years later we settled on a bass player named Keith May. Now after 4 years of making music and playing concerts with these guys, we really have some solid material. We went from jam nights where we just were trying to be as creative and spontaneous as possible, to using concepts that we developed as a group to start writing our own material.
We named the band DUG and moved to Colorado to develop a foundation and following in the Denver metro area. We’re busy handing out free demos all around town as well as playing 5-7 concerts per month. Things are off to a great start! Follow us at our website DUG and become a friend at Myspace.
Spitting blood at age 16 to starting an original jam and funk band was a long highway of transition. But these new travels will bring many new opportunities and great music. Keep watchin!