While he may not be a household name yet, Brandon McHose seems to possess that rare quality that all singer/songwriters secretly wish they had: the ability to move back and forth between softer material and shredding guitar licks.
Originally based in Austin, he now makes Chicago his home and after listening to tracks from his two CDs, we asked him to to take a break from his touring and recording schedule to sit down and answer Seven Questions In Heaven.
Describe your music for our readers who may not be familiar with you.
"John Mayer dipped in a country river and a little heavier" (someone said that to me once). A lot of emphasis on the guitar. My music has variations of contemporary rock and is very regionally influenced (i.e. Southern rock), but has west coast flare at times as well.
Who are your musical influences and idols?
Joe Walsh, John Fogerty, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Brad Paisley, Brandon Boyd/Incubus, Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits, Vince Gill, Sting, Foo Fighters, Stephen Stills/CSNY, Johnny Rzeznik, Matchbox 20, and others.
What was the first album, cassette or CD you bought with your own money?
Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Hot Minute. STILL LOVE THAT RECORD! My two favorite songs on it were "My Friends" and "Aeroplane."
You were based in Austin for quite awhile before the move to Chicago. As these two places are like night and day what, besides the size of the market, influenced you to pick the Windy City over the charms of somewhere like New York or LA?
Day and Night would be about the best way to put it. I chose the Midwest originally to work with a music management firm, after a disappointing experience there, I decided to stay up here and really give this place a shot regardless. It seems to have worked out since the Midwest is very accessible. I don't consider Chicago a music city like I would Nashville, NY, LA, or Austin, but I think there is something to be said about Chicago being an untapped market. I have no idea how long I'll stay here. In the end, it's about "where do I come home to" not where I live. If I'm out touring, I only want to play the city I live in once in a blue moon. With Chicago, the biggest advantage is population, and an incredible amount of festivals and big venues.
It's pretty evident after listening to your music that you are in some possession of some mad skills. If you could raise one guitar player from the grave for one night on stage with you, who would it be and what venue would you play together?
First of all, thanks for the very nice compliment! That's a really good question! If I had to raise one guy from the grave I suppose I'd have to go with Jimi Hendrix. After all, most of my guitar idols are still alive. Chet Atkins or Jerry Reed would be a VERY close 2nd place. The stage I'd want to play on? Royal Albert Hall! That would be unbelievable.
My husband is a musician and he recently had to bury his Les Paul after one too many accidents. He was heartbroken and it took him months to get a replacement. Have you ever lost a guitar or piece of gear that left you gutted and feeling like you could never find another?
Funny you ask: I managed to have the majority of my music equipment stolen from me twice in Austin. Once, at my "high security" storage unit and the other happened in my driveway when someone broke into my car. I felt lifeless for about a month each time, and still have a bitter taste in my mouth about how it was handled afterwards. Regarding my 3 Les Pauls ('57, '73, and 2010), they somehow were under my bed in both instances, so the only guitars I lost were ones I could at least buy back (Fender Custom Telecasters). I did lose two really incredible amps, but I was able to buy them back again.
Before you go out on stage to face a crowd during a live performance do you have any rituals that take place to get you in the right frame of mind?
I don't have any rituals but there are two things that are pretty consistent. I always change strings the day of the show on my acoustic, which breaks the guitar pundit rule book. I also don't like getting to my show too early. I like showing up within 30 minutes of playing so I keep a strong focus level going into the show. If I'm there too early I feel like the energy level lags at the beginning because I've been sitting around.
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