I was never strong with academics, and it was easy to tell where my attention was focused just by glancing at a report card of mine. Outside of school the only activities I ever showed interest in was drawing, martial arts, and music. I started at a very young age playing alto saxophone, and soon after devoted my creative life to percussion. As I got older there were more opportunities to learn other instruments, and each one was essential in building a foundation which would later give birth to Autumns Eyes.
I started playing around third grade, and I can remember my music teacher giving lessons in the gym storage closet since there was no official band room at the time. It was a dark room with a single snare drum surrounded by rubber kick balls and soccer nets. I practiced on a daily basis, and when it came time for High School I had to make a decision on whether to join football or pursue the drum line in marching band. Thankfully I made the decision to stick with music, and honing my skills in percussion provided a strong rhythmic background to start learning other instruments from.
It wasn’t that I was getting bored with drums, I just sought out a bigger challenge musically by attempting to learn guitar. My brother and several of my friends were guitar players so I was lucky to have enough reference around me when I needed it. Since most of my time behind the drum kit was spent learning Mike Portnoy’s parts for Dream Theater songs, I used the same blueprint for learning guitar. Not long after I picked up the guitar was when I received a four track recorder as a gift, which soon became the starting point for Autumns Eyes.
Lots of guitar players, myself included at one point, are extremely cocky towards bass players. They assume bass is nothing more than a downgraded version of the guitar, and would be simple to master overnight. I had a similar mindset when it came to recording bass parts for the first couple songs I wrote, but soon found that bass was much more than just mimicking what the guitar was doing. My brother in law, who is also a musician, was the one who inspired me to check out bass players who used their fingers instead of picks. This opened up a whole new level of respect towards the craft, and from that moment on gave me enough reason to learn without a pick while focusing on what best suited the songs backbone.
Growing up I can recall my mother casually playing piano in the house, and even dabbling with the flute at times. I messed around with keys from a young age, but had nothing more than very basic melodies in my tiny bag of tricks. For the most part I was self taught, but there were times where my mother would show me basic chords and arrangements. After learning guitar, I came back to the keys with a creative revelation. Everything seemed much more connected, and I quickly picked up the ability to write parts that complimented each other.
Lets get something straight, I am not a singer by any means. Just because I can spew out some words with tone in them doesn’t put me in the same category as one who has talent in this field and practices every day. I approached singing with a mild anxiety since it wasn’t something I could pick up and hold in my hands. The notes were inside of me, and I needed to figure out how to spit them out without sounding too much like a jackass. Screaming over heavy metal songs proved to be much more challenging than singing in key, and took an enormous amount of time to find my own voice in that department. At first I was throwing all I had into the screaming which would end up destroying my vocal chords in a short period of time. It wasn’t until later in my recording career when I started practicing endurance techniques that would train my voice to last longer without serious damage.
The one aspect I love more than any other about being a musician, is the constant progression and ever expansive environment to learn new techniques. It never gets stale, and Im always making time to explore uncharted areas. As Ive stated numerous times, I don’t consider myself a virtuoso in any of these fields by any means. I hold so much respect for musicians who devote their life to learning one of these instruments alone, and mastering every aspect of it over time. Hopefully one day Im lucky enough to find a few of these devoted musicians who would be interested in taking Autumns Eyes to the stage with me.