Saturday, December 15, 2012
Yesterday I had the awesome privilege of interviewing Will Rauser, a guitarist who has been playing for thirty years but still considers himself an amateur! He has a lot of great advice for amateur guitarists (and going by Will’s standards, if you’ve been playing for less than thirty years, then consider yourself still an amateur!) and also for baby bands. Check out the first part of the interview:
On playing guitar and guitar heroes:
Mildred Achoch: How's your music coming along?
Will Rauser: I am playing...just not as much personal practice on guitar. Playing bass for a friend's church on Sunday morning, then guitar in my own on Sunday night. My band is taking a holiday break
Mildred: How long have you been playing guitar?
Will: 30 years
Mildred: Wow! Do you ever get bored with it? Or is it a constant learning experience?
Will:Well, let's see: Do I ever get bored? Yes, sometimes...but when I do, I will either put it down for a short time (never too long), or I force myself to work on something that I just can't do (like a classical technique or a country lick) Yes, it is a constant learning experience.
Mildred: Who are your guitar heroes?
Will: My heroes are mostly rock guys: Edward Van Halen is my #1 guy; followed by Neal Schon, Jake E. Lee, George Lynch, Micheal Schenker, Gary Moore But I also like Phil Keaggy (I have seen him 3 times, met him once)
Mildred: Ever heard of Steve Vai? I don't know much about guitars but I think he's pretty awesome!
Will: Have I ever heard of Steve Vai? LOL...of course...I love his work He IS a genius!
Mildred: he he he. Yeah I knew the chances of you knowing Vai were like 100 percent
Advice for amateur guitarists and baby bands
Mildred: What advice would you give to a baby band in general and to an amateur guitarists in a baby band in particular?
Will: Well, that is two separate things, but they aren't mutually exclusive, but let's see if I can give you something…For the amateur guitarist (of which I am still one, BTW...lol), I would say that you practice what you don't know. In other words, if you can already play something well, don't keep regurgitating it...that's not practice, that's playing. Always work on things you are not good at.
I would also say to practice new skills slowly...worry about speed later...slow and steady win the race. It's much better to be accurate than fast
Think melodically...playing melodies with feel makes you sound faster than you actually are.
And I would say that you should learn chord/scale relationships....my musical knowledge has always made up for a lacking in technique.
Mildred: Eeek! Does that mean learning to read music?!
Will: I don't read music real well...I can decipher notes on a page, but I cannot read just looking at the manuscript paper. However, I CAN read key signatures, and I do understand how to apply scales to chords, and I can solo in just about any key.
Mildred: Wow. Did you consciously seek to learn this or was it a necessity as you continued to improve your playing skills?
Will: I sought to know my instrument as well as I could, because I figured since I didn't have the physical talent, I could make up for in study and practice...it worked. As far as [advice for] a baby band, my advise is play, play, play...gig as much as you are able. Even free gigs...just play. Yes, you WILL have bad gigs...those lead to experiences that you will one day cherish. Don't play bad gigs IF you KNOW they're going to be bad gigs...but I mean, there will always be gigs with bad weather, sound issues, broken promises, and sick band members...play them anyway.
Mildred: Any advice regarding band cohesion/band drama? But how can you tell a gig is going to be bad? Are there any signs?
Will: Well, this is just my opinion, and how our band works is not everyone's cup of tea...but my advise is to find players that you gel with rather than those who have immense talent but are buttholes. Personally, we don't put up with drama...everyone should share the vision or else they can get their own band. Certain personality traits and conditions are okay to deal with (like, say, someone being less humorous than others) and should be respected...but some things are just not an option to deal with.
Mildred: In your opinion what are the deal breakers?
Will: The deal breakers? That can vary, but allowing someone's girlfriend or boyfriend (or spouse) to interfere with the band business. The band members are IN the band, their spouses are not.
Mildred: Ah. The Yoko Ono syndrome. lol! Are there any other deal breakers?
Will: Another deal breaker would be to not learn their parts of the music...if they keep coming in and they have not learned their parts, you are wasting valuable time trying to make up for their lack of discipline. Another deal breaker is lack of professionalism: You can be an amateur band and still act like professionals. Be polite to whoever brings your band in, treat other bands with respect (even if they don't deserve it), be ON TIME (that is a huge one), and never act like you're superior (even if you are)
I would also recommend that "democracy" doesn't always work in a band situation...yes, there is a certain amount of that, but everyone cannot have an equal say...sometimes a leader has to make a call, and others need to submit to that...argue about it later (well, not argue, but discuss)
Mildred: Should each member buy their own instrument or should the band collectively chip in to buy the instruments?
Will: I personally believe each member should have their own personal equipment (like guitars and amps)...HOWEVER, sometimes it is necessary to help a member out when things are tight. But, things like the guitarist having his own guitar is pretty obvious. Our singer uses a wireless microphone...and he always forgets to buy batteries (lol)...we remind him...it's a small thing, but sometimes we have to say, "Hey, man...I buy my own strings and replace them...I have my own picks...I buy my own cords...all you need is batteries..." lol
Look out for part two of this interview where Will Rauser will be talking about the best and worst gigs! Meanwhile, watch this !!!