It turns out that you can get to work on cool stuff just by going to a client and saying, “What if we did this?” I did that a couple of months ago. Ever since, I have been working on a special project for a client.
My justifications for why this would be worthwhile:
- It plays to my strengths as an introverted geek who likes to interview people and gather information
- As a fan of this band, I would love this
That was it. Green light given.
Of course, I was ready to answer any hard-hitting questions…
“Have other artists had success with this?”
I’m not sure anyone has done this before.
“Besides you, would other people like this?”
Possibly. I have no idea.
Cris Cohen: Did you ever have actual lessons or was it all...
Kryz Reid of Third Eye Blind: No. All self-taught. No, it was just watching Jimi Hendrix on (video tape), rewinding the fucking thing, and going, "How is he doing it?" That kind of stuff. But the thing is, when I started learning to play the guitar, I had already had a few girlfriends. I had been deeply in love. I had my heart completely smashed and all of that. And I'm an arty little fucker. I was always drawing and sketching and stuff like that as a kid. So, for me, (music was) the perfect conduit for all of that.
Download the full free ebook of this interview
You can now download a free ebook (pdf) of my full interview with Kryz Reid of Third Eye Blind.
- How being in the band has influenced his guitar playing
- The impact Prince continues to have on him
- Making the album "Screamer" and how they worked to "keep it weird"
- And more
Here is an excerpt...
Cris Cohen: Right. And speaking of your setup, just because I was watching just now in soundcheck, that guitar is slung really low on you. I mean, it's like at knee level.
Kryz Reid: Yeah, I've been hearing that more and more recently now than before. I've always slung my guitar pretty low. I'm from the Jimmy Page school of guitar playing. Greasy, as we say.
It just looked cool to me. I mean, Tom Morello is the only guitar player I can think of who does what our bass player, Cavy, calls a studio set up, where you wear your guitar really high, because you're in the studio. You don't want to look cool. You want to play well.
And I've just always slung it low. So one of my guitars is a Fano JM6. It's kind of like a Jazzmaster sort of thing, that Dennis Fano made. And I noticed that is particularly low-slung because of where the hoist points are on the body of the guitar. So, when I play it out, I'm going like, "F---ing hell, man. This is way low."
Cris Cohen: But not enough so you'd want to just bring it up a notch on the strap?
Kryz Reid: No, it's not uncomfortable. That's the way I've always played the guitar.
Cris Cohen: I think Dave Matthews, he's another one where the guitar is really up here. And supposedly that's ergonomically better in terms of how your arm is positioned, how your wrist is positioned, and things like that. But…
Kryz Reid: Man, if you go down that rabbit hole, you'll find, this is the optimum pose for playing the guitar. (Mimes having the guitar almost at his neck with his legs crossed.) No one's getting laid sitting like that. At all.
So, it's not an issue. I play Les Pauls mostly as well. It's kind of Jimmy Page's kind of thing. When I see a picture of me on stage, I go, "Yeah. F---, yeah." I don't go, "Goddamn, that thing is low." It just looks cool.
Admittedly, the content I develop with my clients leans toward my own biases. For bands, I develop content I want to see as a music fan. For businesses, I develop content I want to see as someone who is interested in the people behind a business.
Most people do not approach content creation this way. Most people develop content that they think will get clicks or (more often) that someone else said would get clicks. That content usually bores the hell out of me.
An artist could probably get a massive amount of engagement by posting the question “Which song of ours best fits your political beliefs and why?” Not only would people answer that question, their answers would lead to some massive fights in the Comments section. And the social media algorithms reward big fights in the Comments section. “Social media: Amplifying hate for over a decade.”
The stats for that artist would spike. So would my boredom.
I look for more. I want to read about the songs, the recording process, and the concert experiences. I might be in the minority on that. Of course, I am also part of the minority who cares about sound quality and buys actual CDs and records.
Cris Cohen: With the “Three Fates Project” and other such stuff, spending a lot of time working with Keith Emerson, how did he, a keyboardist extraordinaire, influence you as a guitarist?
Marc Bonilla: All through my early formative years. I still have my vinyl of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Tarkus,” “Trilogy,” and “Brain Salad Surgery” with the binder paper that I had in high school with everything written out. I copped all of his keyboard parts. I would play them because they were just beautiful. I could play all of those records. I couldn't even begin to tell you how much he influenced me. And he was a keyboard player, but he got me into classical music, which was a number of the people that he opened (me up to). You know, “Who's Mussorgsky? ‘Pictures at a what?’ ‘Fanfare for the Common who’?” And then I would go back and I would listen to the originals and go, “Wow! This is great!”
He opened so many players up to the classical world, either opened the door from the rock into classical or from classical into rock. In Munich during the “Three Fates,” so many of the players were coming up to him and going, “If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here in the orchestra.” And he was floored. He wasn't expecting it.
So my thing with him was to try to pay that back a little bit. He'd never really been in a four-piece band. He was always shouldering the load, you know, in Emerson Lake & Palmer. But now he had a guitar player. We could do stuff together. And his favorite thing was to comp, let me go out there and do stuff and comp and play chords behind it. He could relax a little bit. Then he would come back out and do his thing.
You can now read my full interview with Andy Summers of The Police.
Conducted in 1999, we discussed:
- His solo album "Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk"
- Playing songs on the guitar that were created for the piano
- Internalizing the Thelonious Monk repertoire
- Why he mixed the album twice
- Getting Sting to sing on “Round Midnight”
- Jazz guitar versus rock guitar
Read it here
Cris Cohen: You also teach master classes. What do you find most students that attend these need to work on?
Gregg Potter of The Buddy Rich Band: What I see with just players all around, when they come to take a masterclass from say a guy like me, it's kind of like shopping for a Ferrari. When you go into that dealer you're not going, "I need something for everyday (driving)."
Usually when they come to me, we're talking about technique. When you see something fast and it sounds like there's a lot of things going on there, usually people want that. Like the magic trick explained.
But the most important thing for any drummers, anywhere, anytime, is just that you really do need to be a timekeeper. When you listen to Buddy play, when you take the drumming pyrotechnics away from that man, his concept of time, he was able to lay that foundation for people to play over. Keeping time, being solid, is the backbone for any group, whether it's a jazz group, a rock group, a funk band, a country band.
With every great Beatles song, at some point you go, "That Ringo guy really just made it move." That's kind of my masterclass format: Technique and keeping time are pretty much my focus.
Client John Papa Gros: The way I was taught from George Porter Jr. from the Meters when I was with his band is you start a song, and all of a sudden doors can always open and give you opportunities to go see what’s in another room, investigate what’s over here, investigate what’s over there. So we make sure we definitely have space in the set to do that because then that’s where the unexpected, that’s where the new energy is found. That’s what live music is all about.
When I was in high school and college during the late 80s / early 90s, the best way to get information about my favorite musicians and their work was to scour magazines, newspapers, album liner notes, etc.
Now it is 2021. We have websites and social media. And the best way to get information about my favorite musicians and their work is… by scouring magazines, newspapers, liner notes, etc.
I know it is a rough time to be a musician. The pandemic eliminated concerts for the last year. Most people consume music by stealing it or streaming it, which, in terms of artist income, are almost identical.
But I think many musicians are missing an opportunity to talk about their music. So many band websites and social media accounts consist of just a few promo photos and then a pitch to buy stuff. Why not also use those properties to talk about your music, your songwriting, your recording experiences? I love reading about that stuff. I am guessing some other people do as well.
Advice I give to clients regarding the best use of their content…
Whether you are a business or a band, use your content to:
• Attract genuine fans
• Over-deliver to those genuine fans
First of all, do not obsess on getting the viral video, overnight success, or a following in the billions. That is not in your control. Also, if you cannot survive without a billion fans / customers, something is very wrong.
Next, create consistent, solid content that tells the story of who you are, what you do, what you know, what you have experienced, etc. If they are genuine fans, they will like this.
Then use that content to guide those true fans to your website, blog, or newsletter… a property you own. Once they are there, give them something extra.
Objections people have with this approach:
1. A lot of people will not click over to your property.
That is okay. Those people would probably never spend money with you anyway.
2. Posts on social media that link to other places are pushed down by the algorithms.
Again, that is okay. For one thing, even if you play by their rules, the social media sites will not show your content to all of your followers anyway. Organic reach for every site is in constant decline. They want you to pay money to reach all of those people, even the people who said they want to hear from you. They hold your followers for ransom. And if you are going to put money behind a post, you might as well link to your own property.
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Anyone can publish a post. We can tell your story.
See the full list of Bands To Fans interviews