Spotlight: Xander Burgess of Johnny Hunter

Johnny Hunter. Credit: Tom Wilkinson
(Image credit: Tom Wilkinson)


HAILS FROM: Eora/Sydney, NSW
PLAYS IN: Johnny Hunter
SOUNDS LIKE: New-wave pop with a tasteful grit
LATEST DROP: Want (LP out now via Cooking Vinyl)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
It’s a 1996 Fender Stratocaster in midnight wine, which I saw for sale at a shop out in West Sydney. I’ve always preferred Strats for their snappiness and versatile tones, but I fell in love with the deep purple on this one a few years ago and haven’t looked back.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I fell in love in year seven music class. Being able to play multiple notes at once was something that really intrigued me, and I was always interested in writing originals over learning hot solos. My first axe was a cheap Stratocaster-shaped beginner electric, which mum bought me when I was 15. I think she was just sick of me playing an old acoustic with four strings…

What inspires you as a player?
As a guitarist I’ve always been interested in rhythms and chords, and favoured simple and repetitive melodies. I listened to a lot of David Bowie and Talking Heads growing up, and later fell in love with The Cure, so I feel they are the primary influences that really come through in my writing.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
As a young guitarist I never had an ear for finding overdrive tones, but when I couldn’t even get close to sounding like The Cure – with their chorus, flanger and reverb combos – I started to fall in love with pedals. My favourite would have to be my Boss CE-2 Chorus. It’s a simple pedal but it’s become such a staple for my sound that I actually start to feel weird when it’s not on.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
I’d love to get my hands on an original Starcaster. Huge fan of the sunburst.

What would your signature model look like?
Definitely a Strat, the shape is perfect. Deep red. Cream pickguard. Gold hardware. Roasted maple neck with a dark wood fretboard. I’d add in a Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB humbucker on the bridge, and a sustain switch because why not?

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Jimi Hendrix has always had a place in my heart. No doubt we’d play Are You Experienced front to back.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…