The Clutch guitarist talks to Guitar World about his early days.
What inspired you to first pick up a guitar?
I just wanted to be a musician.
What was your first guitar?
Some cheapo beginner guitar from Sears that I got when I was 14. It was sort of a Strat copy, and it came with a two-watt amp. That’s what I learned on.
What was the first song you learned?
I think it was “Jingle Bells.” But the first rock song I learned was “Foolin’” by Def Leppard.
What do you recall about your first gig?
It was pretty embarrassing. My band played a school cafeteria with six or eight other bands, and it was just stupid.
Ever had a nightmare gig?
If I do an improvised solo and I hate what I play, it’ll ruin the whole show for me. But as far as specific shows, the toughest crowd we’ve ever played for was at a Nickelback show in Knoxville, Tennessee. The audience hated us. We had entire families throwing coins at us. We’ve played with Nickelback a few times, but that’s the first time we had that problem.
How have you grown as a player?
Nowadays, my playing is more riff-oriented, whereas on our earlier records, the riffs themselves would be chord progressions as opposed to one-note rock riffs.
What’s your proudest moment as a player on Strange Cousins?
My guitar solo on “Struck Down” is probably one of my favorites. I thought the phrasing was pretty cool for something that I basically improvised. Usually I’ll lay down a solo and then decide I hate it and go a completely different route for the live show.
What’s your favorite piece of gear?
A Marshall JTM45/100 reissue. It’s a 100-watt hand-wired head from a few years back.
Do you have any advice for young players?