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Brett Garsed - The Humble Genius

1. Brett you have contributed so much to instrumental guitar music and influenced so many great guitar players. Your latest release "Dark Matter" shows your amazing guitar technique, but never at the expense of the songs. Could you talk a little about your approach to writing and recording this release?

Brett: I wrote the songs for the album quite quickly and only used 3 songs which were from a few years ago but even then I ended up re-writing those songs quite a bit so they would fit in with the newer compositions. I just enjoy the freedom that comes with the rock/fusion genre in that you can explore any kind of direction within one song. That's why my songs tend to go on some pretty radical journeys from one section to the next, unlike your average pop song or jazz standard. I also love overdubbing lots of layers and textures as I'm as fond of ambient music as I am of improvisation so I like to blend those elements together. My main focus is always a strong melody however, and I'll sometimes spend days working until I get a melody that I consider unique and memorable. I recorded all the guitar parts at home using my Bogner Ecstasy amp with a Hughes & Kettner Statesman 4x12 cab which I put inside a sound proof box so I could work at night without someone calling the police! My approach is very low-tech so it was simply a Shure SM 57 into a Pre Sonus interface using Logic 9. Ric Fierabracci and I mixed and mastered the entire album using Logic.

2. Back in 1991, you recorded Centrifugal Funk with Shawn Lane and Frank Gambale on Legato Records. This is one of those CDs that will go down in history as one of the greatest of all times. Could you share some thoughts about what it was like working with Shawn Lane and Frank Gambale?

I was absolutely blown away to be able to appear on an album with Frank and Shawn. I recorded my solos first which was just as well as I probably would have just stayed at home if I'd heard what Frank and Shawn were about to contribute. It was one of the rare occasions where the producer is saying, "More! More!" instead of telling you to not play so much. I was grateful to hear the final album and realise that my identity as a player held up against two of the greatest musicians that have ever existed. It also provided me with the opportunity to meet both Frank and Shawn and get to know them as people.

3. Learning how to play guitar can be rather intimidating for beginners, what advice would you give someone starting out who wants to be a great instrumental guitarist?

Brett: I guess the best advice is to stick with it and it will happen. It may take a very long time and I'm still struggling and practicing after 30+ years but it's something that I love to do so its time well spent. Look at the long term and realise that any goal you may have is achievable even if it takes decades. As long as you're getting the desired result emotionally from what you're doing it's very much worth the effort.

4. I have talked to many players that suffer from anxiety issues and worry and think too much when they are playing. How can players avoid these traps and shut out the "White Noise" that tries to interfere with the communication to the soul?

Brett: Well, if you ever figure it out please let me know! No one has more negative stuff going through their brain while they play than me. I often think if I could record that internal dialogue it would make a much more entertaining album than anything I could write! I try to remind myself that it's just music and to enjoy the moment and the privilege of being able to play music for people in any circumstance. That seems to loosen me up and makes me stop taking myself so seriously. It seems to be then that I can take more risks and something interesting has a chance of happening.

5. I always believed that there is no wrong or right way to practice and that the goal of a musician is to learn how to tap into their emotions. How do you feel about practicing and can you offer any advice to get the most from practicing?

Brett: I suppose making sure you keep working on things that you need to work on rather than returning to what you do best. Then again, if doing what you do best is providing you with a career and people are lining up to see it then by all means continue doing that. My solo career can't support me so I have to be as versatile as I can be so I can work as a session musician which means working on things that are outside of what I really want to do and also outside of what is natural for me to do. I do however consider myself very fortunate to have had a career as a professional musician for as long as I have so I'm not complaining. I just would've hoped that my own music and what I consider to be my own original approach to playing the guitar could have provided me with a career which would allow me to just be myself. I've made originality my main focus all my musical life so trying to do the things that other people do is a struggle for me. I find it much easier to be original.

6. What can we expect from Brett Garsed in the future?

Brett: I'm not sure. I may do another solo album in the future but I guess I'll have to wait and see if people are interested enough to justify the financial and personal sacrifices that are needed to make that happen. I've been doing regular gigs with Phil Turcio, Gerry Pantazis and Craig Newman in our fusion band "Damage" which I really enjoy so I'd be more than happy to pursue that exclusively. It'd be great if we could get some touring happening but as usual it all comes back to the almighty dollar and since travel and accommodation are getting more and more expensive touring looks less likely. Perhaps we can do a live dvd in the future. I would really like to get a gig playing slide guitar for someone as I feel I have a very original sound and approach in that regard. Perhaps it's too original and people just want to hear the same old stuff, I don't know.

7. Tell us one thing your fans don't know about you and keep it clean LOL.

Brett: I'm a mad science fiction fan! I've been a fan of "Star Trek" ever since I was a child and have since become addicted to the show "Fringe". I was always the odd kid who wasn't interested in cowboy shows. If it didn't involve a space craft or laser guns I wasn't into it!

For more information on Brett Garsed visit his website