Hayden Maringer: “My goal is to bring guitar solos back to popular music – I want them to be at the forefront”

Hayden Maringer
(Image credit: Press)

Hayden Maringer is on a quest to keep guitar alive and well in modern music. He has played some of the largest stages in the world, shredding alongside A-listers like Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez and Bebe Rexha. 

It was when he made the leap to Los Angeles at 17 that he began ascending the industry ladder. With a six-string in hand, Maringer committed himself to bringing a variety of skills to the industry’s fickle table. With vast knowledge of production and recording under his belt, Maringer formed his band Evaride – with the single Heartless exceeding six-million Spotify streams. 

This opened doors for major primetime network syncs, including the Tokyo Olympics. He harnessed acting to further showcase his ability through musical roles on Glee and NBC’s This Is Us. This evolved into a passion for film scoring, landing jobs with Universal on projects such as The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and TV show World of Dance.

Maringer is adamant that “the industry constantly changes, and you need to be able to adapt rather than bring just one thing”. He describes music and guitar as “a journey with no end goal when it comes to knowledge and growth.” 

Here, Maringer sits down with Guitar World to discuss music directing, composing, his new music, and how to stay afloat as an artist in an ever-changing landscape.

Evaride's new single, Vertigo, is your first release since the pandemic. Tell me about the guitar elements on this song and what you used to record in the studio.

“We had all the music recorded right before the pandemic, and then Covid hit which affected so many musicians. We have around 20 songs done and Vertigo was our first ‘re-engagement’ song to get into the swing of releasing new music again.

“The guitar elements on this song particularly are really cool, and it’s weird how I came up with the process. The singer in the band, Shawn, came up with the riff. The tone is this crazy fuzzed-out sound.

“On the record, I used a lot of vintage gear. For example I have a Vintage Arbiter Fuzz, and a Phase 90, so lots of that feel. Once we got the mix back, I actually added more guitars because I thought it needed more. I added guitar in the bridge, a crazy ’80s chorus-sounding clean guitar, plus some additional lead toward the end.”

Noe Hervas sent you a stunning custom Eddie Van Halen Tribute guitar for This is Us. What’s the first thing that wowed you about that guitar?

“I saw a video – 3D Frankenstein on YouTube. He shows the process of building the guitars from a bare piece of wood to a functioning, incredible instrument. That’s what really had me like 'Wow!'”

Music is a journey with no end goal when it comes to knowledge and career growth

“I asked him how I could get one of the guitars, and he said it would be an honor for me to have one, so he sent me one. He basically replaced all the white on the Frankenstein with acrylic, so it’s see-through. It’s pretty crazy. The craftsmanship is insane; it’s an art piece. It was awesome for him to see it played on This is Us.”

Speaking of This is Us, what was your experience like playing on the show? Who are some other talented musicians that you worked with throughout the process?

“For the band, they were looking for an all older cast, so I didn’t originally make the cut – however, I was asked if I knew anyone. I thought to myself it was the perfect opportunity to help all the music directors that started my career and helped me! That’s pretty much what I did.

“I got Joe Wilson, who put me on my first gig when I was a kid. I also got Bryant Siono who put me on the J.Lo gig, and Nisan Stewart. I put together this supergroup band, including several other people for guitar.

“Once I formed this band, the casting director was like ‘Actually, you work for this.’ Thus I was lucky enough to get the part! I could work with my mentors who essentially started my career. It was an awesome experience. The entire cast consisted of great individuals.”

Hayden Maringer

(Image credit: Press)

Alongside Bebe Rexha, Jennifer Lopez, and Demi Lovato, you have an impressive list of powerhouse artists you’ve directed musical performances for. How do you go about directing a musical performance, and do you sit in to play on stage? 

“I run a company called Maringer Music, and I also oversee the bands. I’ll put together the group for an artist and send them out on a tour with a guitar player. I kind of fill my schedule out around these groups. 

“For example, I’ll jump on a Bebe Rexha performance, and the next day I’ll fly somewhere else to do another gig with a different artist. I’d have subs for every gig, and I’d step in for a TV performance where I’m needed. 

“Music direction isn’t just ‘I’m going to call some of my buddies and jam.’ It’s a lot more in-depth than that, so I’m programming shows, mixing shows lots of the time, and doing all the production. A lot of bands now use tracks, which at the end of the day requires a lot more programming. There is a big laundry list of things to do.”

I feel that a lot of people now focus just on technique. Sometimes they don’t realize that in order to play fast you need to play slow, and visualize the riff in your mind

The Today Show, the same show you directed musical performances for, once played Evaride’s song Warrior. The track was also featured in promotion for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. As a guitarist, what steps did you take to ensure that your dreams became a reality? 

“What it comes down to is a few things. One, meet people. Meeting people and connecting with people is more than just ‘Hey man, put me on a gig.’ The biggest thing is to play. If you’re not showcasing what you do continuously, then you are not progressing. 

“Keep playing as much as you can – if there is a jam, go to it. When I was a kid, I would go to coffee shops and perform. Keeping a good mentality is so important instead of thoughts along the lines of ‘Oh darn, another bar gig.’ You never know who will be there during your performance, and you never know what’s going to happen. 

“Having a good sense of determination and not giving up is essential. Stick to a plan and then execute it. Music is a journey with no end goal when it comes to knowledge and career growth.”

Your music sounds like the perfect blend of modern pop and older rock. It’s almost comparable to a fusion of Journey and OneRepublic. If you could name your three biggest guitar influences, who would they be?

“Ever since I was a kid, Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page have inspired me. I also learned a lot of bluesy stuff from players like Elmore James. Whoever I liked, I would then study their influences and trace their sound way back. 

“Van Halen was a huge Clapton fan, thus I enjoy all that stuff. The last one would have to be Guthrie. I transcribed his entire record when I was about 12 or 13. I considered him such a mentor to me. I met him several times, once at a masterclass. 

“His style opened up a whole new world for me, such as jazz and fusion, and now I consider myself a fusion guy, but I love all music. It’s like knowing a bunch of different languages, so you can go anywhere. With music, if you know all the different styles, it’s very similar.”

Thanks to Nisan Stewart and Questlove, you shredded a Prince solo at the Encore Park Amphitheatre. What was that like, representing one of the greatest artists of all time live? 

“It was crazy, and it was a full tour! The Prince estate was putting on a tour for Prince, so I got to meet all of his original bandmates. Questlove sat in for a few of the shows, which was an insane experience. It was intense, too, actually. Nisan called me to the gig and it was a reading gig. 

The industry constantly changes, and you need to be able to adapt. Don’t bring just one thing to the table. Continue to play, dream, and push forward. Be hungry to learn and grow

“We rehearsed in Jersey for about two weeks and the entire gig was a chart... I was the only guitar player and I was in front of an Orchestra. Each city there would be a different one. A majority of the time if I wasn’t soloing, I’d be reading charts, and songs would be changing super-fast. 

“I had never really done a gig like that but I was so stoked to do it. I feel like I finally got to read music live while honoring one of the greatest artists of our time. Plus, I’ve always dreamed of playing with a full orchestra. It was truly a gig like no other!”

What’s a shred technique or exercise you’d recommend to any up-and-coming player?

“I feel that a lot of people now focus just on technique. Sometimes they don’t realize that in order to play fast you need to play slow, and visualize the riff in your mind. A teacher once told me that visualization is very important. Visualization is 80 percent of your mind while physically executing it is 20 percent

“When I was in high school, I’d be visualizing guitar in my head, pretty much the whole time. If you can’t get it and if you’re hitting roadblocks, take a step back and just think about the riff played slow, and then fast. 

“If you can’t visualize it note for note really fast in your head, you probably can’t physically execute it either. With that said, visualization is my best advice. I don’t have a set practice routine, other than running through my scales and using a metronome often.”

Hayden Maringer

(Image credit: Press)

You've also collaborated with Justin Derrico, lead guitarist for P!nk, Luca Mantovanelli, an official Ibanez artist, and many more. What is something that you have learned while constantly being surrounded by such great musicians? 

“Something I learned is that everybody is so different musically, and I feel like that’s so cool. Whenever I see shred collabs with the same track and everyone on a different section, seeing each player's unique touch is awesome to me. You won’t ever sound like XYZ because, well, you are you! Everyone has different influences which helps to shape who they are as musicians.”

From the looks of your social media, you are playing in the studio again. Are there any new solos that you are working on? What kind of vibes can fans expect from the next record? 

“I liked your description of ‘Journey and One Republic’ because that’s not far off from what we are trying to do. The vibes consist of modern pop sounds with lots of guitar elements and soaring vocals. Journey is that, and they’re definitely an influence. 

It was never my goal to be just another actor guy. I took my existing playing and had it be supported by something different

“At the same time, having our production be more current-sounding is the direction we are taking. It’s maybe what Journey would sound something similar to if they took a more modern approach, with a OneRepublic groove. My whole goal is to bring guitar and guitar solos back to popular music – I want it to be in the forefront. It is making a comeback for sure.”

Tell me a bit about your acting on Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. How did you get into the TV/MD department, and what advice do you have for guitarists wanting to take this route? 

“I’ve been playing since I was three. It’s something I’ve always done. When I was about 17, I moved to LA and started doing commercial auditions and a bunch of creative things in the industry. It was always centered around music, so I was always going in for the part of the band dude. I felt going for these parts would accentuate me as a player – it was never my goal to be just another actor guy. I took my existing playing and had it be supported by something different. 

“My advice is that there are so many different avenues within music, and you should strive to be the best musician possible. The industry constantly changes, and you need to be able to adapt. Don’t bring just one thing to the table. Continue to play, dream, and push forward. Be hungry to learn and grow.”

  • Vertigo, the latest single from Maringer's band Evaride, is out now.

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