INTERVIEW WITH AUSTRALIAN
GUITARIST GRAHAM GREENE
Graham Greene is such a great guitar player that he doesn't need any voice on his notes, because his six strings communicates us much more..Rising to notoriety in the 80's in outfits such as Flash Harry and Ice Tiger, he has gone on to perform with his band The Happy Sinners, as well as record and release a diversity of original guitar-driven albums, reflecting both his virtuosity and changing view of life.
AngelDevil: Hi Graham, I’m very pleased to talk with you about your music. I think that the majority of people adore you for your melodies. Something about your musical career?
GG: Thank you, Angel. It’s great to meet you. I picked up the guitar when I was about fifteen, and it was like a religious experience for me. I immersed myself in the instrument and the music it made, and within a few years was regularly gigging with bands around town. I turned pro in 1982, and pretty much have made a living out of music in one form or another ever since. I have worked as a band member, sideman, session player and singer, producer, music journalist and web designer. Since 1994, I have also written and recorded solo stuff, the most recent of which was my last CD, Leap Of Face.
AngelDevil: Can you tell me something about your favourite song of that record? Which song does represent your style better?
GG: That’s a difficult question to answer, as each track on the album was recorded using different guitars, so each tune was a different and unique experience. The guitars were all made by Perry Ormsby of Ormsby Guitars in Western Australia, and were amazing to play and write with. If I had to pick one track that represented me, I have to say “Impressive Hair”. It’s fun, funny, and it rocks.
AngelDevil: How would you describe your sound? What are the trademarks that make your music stand out?
GG: Describing yourself is always hard, but the players I get compared to the most are guys like Vai and Satriani. Personally, I think we are all very different, but we all try to get as many sounds and emotions out of our instruments as possible in the pursuit of complete expression. I receive a lot of comments about my melodies and arrangements, so I think that more than sheer technique is my trademark – I write songs, it’s just that not many of them have words.
AngelDevil: Can you tell me something about your feeling with your guitar, what does playing it mean to you, which emotions do you get?
GG: The guitar feels like a part of me – it’s the instrument that I have a personal relationship with. I play a few instruments, but I have to work at playing them well. The guitar has always felt totally natural to me… it just makes sense. The feeling of performing live is one of freedom, being able to put your soul out there and touch people. A good night onstage, when everything is happening just right, is an exercise in euphoria. It’s why we get onstage and do it. I get a great deal of joy from performing with the guitar, and it’s a pleasure and privilege to share it with the people that come to see me play.
AngelDevil: Which is your favourite guitar model and why? What you believe in the fundamental technical know of a great guitarist?
GG: Well, my Signature Series guitars by Ormsby Guitars are my favourites, and it would be pretty hard to pick between them. I have two six string models – the GG6 and GG6FG – and the GG7, which is a seven string guitar. With these guitars I can get any sound I imagine, and they’re perfectly suited to my hands, my playing style and my music. Perry Ormsby is a genius, and a great bloke to boot.
While technique is not the be all and end all of guitar playing, a great guitarist has to know his way around the guitar, and also have a knowledge of what he or she is working with – namely, music. Having a sound grip of music theory and being able to sight read is definitely a huge plus, but not having those skills is not the death knell for your career. You just have to find another way to get the knowing, and learn enough to be able to communicate musical ideas without an instrument in your hands. The same applies to all the latest highly technical guitar gymnastics that some guys are coming up with these days. It still comes down to the songs, and whether or not the music speaks to you. That can be done with a thousand notes, or it can be done with one.
AngelDevil: Which musicians do you get most of your inspiration from? Who are some current artists you admire?
GG: For harmony and composition, I still listen to the great composers a lot – Beethoven, Liszt, Paganini, Bach, Mozart – those guys knew how to throw a tune together!
In contemporary music, I was inspired in my youth by bands like Deep Purple, Rush, Yes, Led Zeppelin, then later by Dream Theater, Mr. Big, Vai and Satch – bands and artists that played hard rock with substance a degree of virtuosity. Today, thanks to modern media and the internet, we have been flooded with so much music that it’s hard to distinguish one act from the next, but a few have caught my ear. Players like Guthrie Govan and Andy McKee are really doing something good with the guitar, forging ahead while paying tribute to those that went before. I like that in a musician.
AngelDevil: What's the highlight of your career so far?
GG: There have been many memorable moments so far, but I guess a career highlight would have to be winning the 2008 Star Music Awards Best Rock Instrumental award for my tune “Impressive Hair”. I’ve been nominated four times for local awards, but winning one in the US is pretty, um… impressive. Playing with Bon Jovi and Meat Loaf were high points, as was the 2008 tour to Viet Nam.
AngelDevil: I know
that you have been playing for many years. What would you say is the most memorable show that you've ever done?
GG: I just mentioned the Viet Nam tour – I did that with my band Resonance Project, which features my wife Donna on vocals. We played at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, which is the biggest arena in the country. We had a crowd of fifteen thousand, and a VTV1 viewing audience of six million. We were treated like stars, and the people of Viet Nam were beautiful. It’s an experience I’m not likely to forget in a hurry.
AngelDevil: What's your favourite hobby away from music?
GG: Two things – books and my three-year-old grandson, Zakk. I read a lot, and I love spending time with my little man. He loves cars and guitars, so we have fun doing ‘boy things’ together. It’s a source of constant joy, and it definitely keeps me grounded and in the real world. Oh – I also cook a lot.
AngelDevil: Very good!! Can we expect new album in the near future? And will you be collaborating with any artists in the near future?
GG: I don’t have any current plans of my own, but I am working on an album project with a US-born singer/songwriter called Jac Dalton, who now lives in Adelaide. We are in pre-production at the moment, writing and recording demos for the album, and look like going into the studio around June/July. The album is being mixed and mastered in Nashville by Gregg Brown, who is a hotshot producer over there, and is set for an international release. Jac and his crew are terrific folks, and I’m looking forward to getting the CD done and getting out on the road as part of Jac’s live band. I’m having quite a lot of input into the writing and arranging, so it’s intense but immensely satisfying.
AngelDevil: Ok Graham, that’s all. Thank you very much for your availability.
GG: My pleasure, Angel. Grazie. Ciao.