It’s that time of the year again and Music Connection is proud to present exclusive interviews with a diverse array of guitarists and bassists who offer valuable insights for you players out there. This year’s group of acclaimed musicians: The Fabulous Miss Wendy, Bobby Balderrama (Question Mark & the Mysterians, Joe “King” Carrasco, Robert Lee Revue, the Semi-Colons), Kern Brantley (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, etc.), Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna). Each is truly an individual in terms of style, discipline and a general approach to their craft. CLICK HERE FOR BONUS INTERVIEW WITH Amanda Ruzza (Leni Stern, Global Noize)
The Fabulous Miss Wendy
Contact: Lee Runchey, [email protected]
Whether it’s headlining the Viper Room or on tour opening for legends like Slash and UFO, the Fabulous Miss Wendy always performs like she’s on stage at The Fabulous Forum. She’s a double-edged sword––a songstress and a shredder. Wendy is also the protОgО of the Lord of Garbage, the King of the Night Time World, the producer/svengali/mad genius Kim Fowley, who has discovered and nurtured many a great guitarist––Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Jackie Fox (on bass) of the Runaways come to mind. He’s also co produced (with Mike Wolf) and co-wrote several songs on her latest full-length, No One Can Stop Me, which is out on iTunes but will be released nationally by Not Dead Yet Records on April 29.
What have you done in the past year to become a better musician?
A lot of people practice stuff just because they think they need to learn it, like a particular scale or blues lick that’s cheesy as hell. The big thing I believe in is that I don’t play/practice anything that I don’t want to listen to.
Do you enjoy jamming with other players?
At NAMM this year I did a shred with Judy King, Lady Gaga’s violinist, over at Mark Wood Violin (of Trans Siberian Orchestra). It started out trading solos and then we just played together and it worked. If you’re jamming with somebody for the first time, it’s all about listening.
How much do you plan ahead?
Definitely plan ahead, especially when you’re trying to get everything right on the first take, since you are paying for the studio time. I’m always ready to go. I write all the parts and all the harmonies in my head, then I test it out on a four-track, so that by the time I get into the studio I know exactly what I’m playing. It works every single time.
How can a player develop a distinctive sound?
I got kicked out of Hebrew school for smoking pot on a retreat, so my dad grounded me. But my mom took pity on me and found a guitar teacher who would come to the house. He said “I can teach you how to play other people’s songs, but I’m going to teach you how the guitar works so you can write your own music.” I’d be like, “I wanna be like so-and-so” and he’d say, “No, you wanna be like Wendy!” And I’m glad because I think it helped me be more of an original artist.
Tell us about your guitars
I have to thank Parker Fly guitars. They’ve been so supportive to me. I love that guitar because I had back surgery and since it’s carbon fiber it’s like the lightest guitar on earth. Now I play a custom-made GMP “Cheetah” guitar. I need a lot of depth of sound. I’m looking for clarity and I’m looking for loudness. And I’m looking for a lot of responsiveness too. It sounds elementary, but when you play a note you want it to come out of the amp at the exact same time. If there’s a microsecond of any latency, I just can’t deal.
What’s your preferred amp?
My amp is a custom made Roccaforte that’s pink and sparkly––people don’t think it’s gonna rock, but it’s heavy. Doug Roccaforte is an incredible amp maker, and I came in and said, “I’m looking for something like a Peavey 50, but warmer,” and he said, “Shh, shh, I know what you want.” He’s the amp guru. He would call me up and say, “This amp is so hardcore, the pregnant chicks in the audience are going to go into labor!”
When I come off tour and rip off my guitars to get fixed up, the guys have to dislodge the volume knob from the wood (because I’m so rough on it), and they have to take it outside and use an industrial strength blower to get all the sweat and glitter off of it. It’s just filthy gross.
What’s it like being a female guitarist?
People would always pre-judge me as a girl and think I couldn’t play the guitar. So I did lot of experiments to test people’s prejudgment. If I put on a skirt people would think I was a better guitar player than if I just wore pants. When I opened up shows for Slash I put on this big trench coat and put my hair up in a cowboy hat. I kept my back to the audience and I just shredded. The audience would think, oh, some guy’s up there shredding, but then I’d turn around and pull off the hat and you’d hear thousands of people, like, “Wow, it’s a girl!” I forced them to hear me before they even saw me. And that’s why my show is guitar solo after guitar solo. I hardly even talk, because when I start speaking my “Valley” speak, people think I’m dumb and can’t play guitar. – Daniel Siwek