Music has been a huge part of my life since the beginning of time. Well, at least my time. This is little blurb about how I got started with music, specifically guitar. I’ll touch on some of the bands I played in, music projects I was involved in, and my influences.
In the Beginning of Metal…
I was born (1975) and raised in Pensacola, FL. It wasn’t until a little over 15 years later that I would discover my love for writing music and playing guitar. But I had actually discovered music at a much younger age and remember recording songs off the radio as early as 7 years old. We had these ancient devices called cassettes back then. In a strange yet natural way I was drawn to music. I say strange because I didn’t listen to it the way most people around me did. It was something much deeper than that; something I felt. Even then it was as if I became part of the music, creating this imaginary realm from it (the theme from Tales from the Darkside should be playing here…).
I was 15 when I picked up my uncle’s old acoustic guitar with 4 rusty strings (E, A, D, G…it was missing the last two). I learned Black Sabbath’s Iron Man fairly quickly and then started picking out other melodies. We restrung the guitar and it wasn’t long before my parents bought me my first electric which was a bright red Gremlin (I had the choice between that and an older, used Ibanez; back then I had no clue what Ibanez was so I went with the one with the shine; Gremlin).
Part of what sparked my interest in learning guitar was a friend and mentor in my church growing up, Ron Goodman. He’s a phenomenal musician and when he hit those notes on his Fender Strat through his Roland Chorus amp, I was in complete awe. * * He played an Elite American made Strat with push-button pickup switches; this later became my guitar as a birthday present which I traded it back to him for an Ibanez he had several months after. I wish I still had that guitar.
Metal Influences & Relentless Hours of Practice
My main influence and reason for pursuing the axe was heavy metal music. I was friends with a couple of metal head guitar players during my 9th and 10th year (I was a strange kid that didn’t quite fit in anywhere) and I loved the music they were into. The first metal albums I was introduced to were Metallica’s Master of Puppets and …And Justice for All. I became obsessed with these albums and of course got into a hand full of other hard rock and metal bands like Testament, Metal Church, Joe Satriani, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dokken, Scorpions and Guns n Roses (just to name a few!), and of course this was the hair band era, which I admit I was into as well. I have to point a moment when my dad’s Ronnie Miller, who had went guitar shopping with us, threw in Satch’s Flying in a Blue Dream album. That was yet another defining moment for me.
Guitar was the only thing in my life that made sense; it was the only thing I was good at. I was too small and uninterested in sports and wasn’t the smartest kid in the world either (making C’s for me was probably equivalent to A’s for most with the exception of creative writing). I practiced guitar ALL the time, literally, every chance I got. I played metal at home and also played in my church (insert contradiction here). Playing in church forced me to learn the fret board better due to the different styles of music and various keys we played in. A few of us formed our own band and called ourselves Revelation. It certainly wasn’t metal or even rock, but none the less, it was a group of us dudes playing music and having fun.
I became known as a ‘shredder’ very quickly, like within my first year of playing. I didn’t put myself out there like I should have, but the word was indeed getting out. It wasn’t until 1993, the year I graduated (which is still an untold mystery of how that happened) when I auditioned for my first real band. ‘Real’ as in we actually played shows and got paid.
Palin Genesia 1993-94
The band was called Palin Genesia which means ‘A New Beginning’ in Greek. One of my life-long friends Eddie Gray introduced me to them after hearing me play (he was the band’s manager). It’s funny how we became such close friends after only crossing paths once in high school; our 9th grade year we were both sitting at the Loser table in LMS class.
Palin Genesia was considered a Christian alternative rock band. I’ve always had a severe dislike for the term alternative in regards to music. This was when grunge was taking over and guitar solos were being outlawed. However, since I was the lead guitar player, we had guitar solos! And in all reality, though we were labeled alternative, we were really just a hard rock band. Unfortunately we didn’t last very long, maybe a couple of years. I think we were all wanting to go different directions with our lives, or something like that. The members were Ben Webb (singer), Jason Minter (bass), Steve Robertson (drums), Eric Odom (guitar) and me.
Fire Escape – 1994
Once our prior band came to an end, I still wanted to be part of a band and so did Eddie. Eddie played guitar but picked up bass as we needed a bass player. A good friend of ours, Derek Paden sang for us and we went through a drummer or two. We called ourselves (yes, this is extremely cheesy) ‘Fire Escape.’ This project was short-lived (it seemed the fire indeed escaped…bad pun). I think we only played one show but it’s worth mentioning because we had the crowd pumped and I believe had we continued this, we may have actually gone somewhere.
The Guys – 1996-99
Throughout most of the 90’s I was also playing lead guitar for Harvest church in Pensacola, FL in which Will Pufall was the band’s leader and frontman (R.I.P. Will, you were one of the best and I appreciate everything you taught me. Your influence and guidance is a huge part of the musician I am today). Eddie also joined our music group soon after I did. As Eddie and I were finally playing music together, something sparked and we decided to start out own venture. The Guys.
I had began writing more of my own songs, and Eddie and I eventually formed our own band called ‘The Guys.’ We went back and forth on the name but this, for some reason, kinda stuck with us. Eddie and I were the main characters in this project and we had a few drummers at various times (Beau Brown, Mike Desmond, Darryl Harrington). The Guys were more of an original rock band and we played some 80’s covers. We mainly played at festivals and events but we didn’t play out as near as much as we should have. The band seemed off and on and much to my own fault as we never had a clear direction.
Our band was somewhat ignited when a new rhythm guitar player came on board. In 1999 I met another life-long friend whom I deem as a brother to me, Tom Sherman. We shared the same deep rooted passion for guitar-based music. Tom came over one day to jam and I threw it out there that we could use a second guitar player for a major gig we had coming up in 2 weeks. We had a 5 song set; Tom came over and practiced every night, learned the songs flawlessly and we played Spring Fest 1999 in Pensacola, FL. We played a few decent sized gigs after this before the band split, mainly due to me moving. I was also writing a lot of solo guitar music on my own and even laid a few guitar tracks for some local projects and artists.
My true desire was to play heavy metal music but it just wasn’t coming out with our band. I blame myself, as I wanted to be the lead guitarist and lead vocalist, but I just didn’t have what it takes to be a true metal vocalist. So I ended up writing songs that catered to my voice. This is something I beat myself up for to this day. We should have wrote heavier music and brought in a real metal vocalist. This would have freed me up to focus more on metal chops and leads.
Pensacola to Tampa, & Dark Times
I ended up moving to Tampa, FL in October of 2000 for personal reasons. I had made some very poor decisions on top of more bad decisions both before and after moving. None the less, I felt I needed a fresh start (which again, I royally screwed up). I played off and on with Bridgeway Church for several years (I responded to an ad looking for a rock-style lead guitarist). But I never formed a band outside of that. I did play acoustic gigs here and there; this was sporadic because I’ve never been a fan of playing covers. I wasn’t writing much during this time and I felt my passion for music, and passion in general, had been lost.
Turning Point & Writing Metal Music
In 2008 life went from complete numbness to a spark of desire that had been buried for so long. I met my soulmate that summer, Candy. My passion for everything expanding beyond what I could ever imagine. I started writing a ton of music and built a small home studio, which was in the dining area of our first apartment. I knew I had to get something out there so I started recording my first album.
It’s noteworthy to mention I also started an online marketing business related to working out, which is another passion of mine (I created TheMuscleProgram.com in 2010, and in 2015 I formed my first business, Uncle Jason Productions, LLC).
Apocalyptic Dreams – 1st Album
In December 2013 I released my first official album Apocalyptic Dreams. This album is a melodic metal instrumental album and is a compilation of songs I had been writing and recording up to four years prior to it’s release. Apocalyptic Dreams is a tremendous milestone for me. There was a ton of effort poured into this album. And I can’t tell you how many times I recorded and re-recorded tracks in the search for the guitar tones I wanted. I was also new to software-based recording so this in itself was a great challenge (I wanted to throw my computer over the balcony so many times!).
Heavy Metal Workout – 2nd Album
I February 2016, I released my 2nd studio album, Heavy Metal Workout. This is also an instrumental metal album but with a twist. It’s somewhat of a concept album as I’ve combined my greatest passion (music) with another passion (weight training). My goal here was to create a small niche with heavy metal music. Heavy Metal Workout is the first metal instrumental workout album.
I’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming up! First, I’m working on a follow up to my last album called Extreme Metal Workout. I don’t have a release date but the music is in it’s final stages of completion. This will be faster and more aggressive.
I’m also toying with the idea of doing a metal Christmas single this year (2016). And another idea is a Thai metal song. I’m learning the language and have noticed I have a lot of fans from Thailand, so I want to reach out to them! More to come…