The US Americans
Roy’s (Guitar) Answers to UltraVulgar’s Quintin Goynes Aka ManIntheMiddle[qg]
1. When and why did you start playing?
Roy: I started around 14. Just cause I wanted to piss off my dad because he didn’t like the idea of spending money on a guitar he said I’d never play. I probably do most of the things I do in my life to piss him off.
2. Which instruments do you play?
Roy: I can toy around with anything that has strings. Guitar and bass are my strong suits. In this day and age, I figure effects are an independent instrument themselves too.
3. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Roy: “Knockin’ on Heavens Door” and “No Woman No Cry”…but the ‘Guns N Roses’ and ‘Fugees’ versions respectively. I didn’t yet know who Dylan and Marley was…. thank the universe for the guy at ‘Sam Goody’ mistakenly turning me on to the originals.
4. Is your family musical?
Roy: Not musical, but they are artists. You can learn more about music from watching a master painter paint than a shitty musician play. My mom and grandpa are master visual artists.
5. Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.
Roy: My mom is from Brazil and her parents are from Egypt. I was raised on samba, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern rhythms because of her. My dad is from NY, saw all the greats play in the 70s….’Stones’, ‘Zep’, ‘Floyd’, ‘The Dead’, ‘Zappa’…. but when I ask him about it, he says he never cared that much for those bands. It’s YES that tickles his fancy the most. He also passed along to me his disdain of ‘Creedence’ and Billy Joel (vomit). He comes from a Jewish Afghan/Uzbek background and a lot of what I do with Jeff harkens back to the call-and-response type stuff I heard in synagogues growing up. . . Plus, I’m constantly chasing the Uzbek’s use of microtones in their singing and trying to apply it to guitar.
6. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Roy: Phish, because of even more than 30 years into it, they’re writing new songs for their live acts that the crowd is totally enamored by. And if it wasn’t for them, real actual musicianship would pretty much be dead.
Sufjan Stevens, because he makes records in the classic sense of cohesiveness and reinvention. Every record is a daring feat of studio beauty and never ever has a tune that I wanna skip, even though I usually decide that life is too miserable and I want to kill myself by the third track
David Gilmour because of his unending search of tone perfection.
The ‘Clash’ because you can write pop tunes and still be a badass.
‘Snarky Puppy’ because of they so damn fresh, just wish they would indulge their melancholy a bit more.
7. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
Roy: All of them, especially the bad ones.
8. Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?
Roy: The Internet. This was before youtube when the internet was just getting its sea legs….the ‘Netscape Navigator’, ‘Compaq Presario’, and ‘Excite.com’ era. There would be all these lessons available on the internet. Once I grasped how to read tablature, I got attracted to theory and harassed anybody I knew who knew more than me to give me the keys to the guitar kingdom.
Also, this lady, Mrs. Graber I think was her name. When I was in the super orthodox all-boys yeshiva, she was the only bastion of normalcy in the school. She taught literature, had dreads, and used to run a record store down on the Jersey Shore. She was so supportive of my curiosity in music. Was the first person who ever encouraged music in my life.
9. Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.
Roy: Crappy ‘Yamaha’ acoustic starter pack. Still, have it, the Japanese make good stuff even in the cheap quality. At 17 my mom bought me ‘Mexican Strat’ and I returned it the next day because Strats are pretty much trash. I used the $ to buy a 70s ‘Univox Hi-Flyer’ and some crappy amp that a buddy’s younger brother went postal on during a particularly confusing acid trip.
10. What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Roy: The first time I ‘got’ Phish…..mid epic glowstick war during ‘Ghost at IT’ in Maine. It was a feast for all the senses…..and I mean all 6.
The first time I heard ‘Black Dog’ while waiting for the F train in ‘Forest Hills’. I didn’t know music got that heavy. I didn’t have a clue about what the fuck Plant was whining on about, still don’t. But when I heard Page and Bonham’s synchronicity and chemistry, my life changed…from ‘Sam Goody’s’ $4 CD rack… If it wasn’t for that store I probably wouldn’t be answering these questions today.
Smoking weed with my buddy Ezra and getting weird to “Wild Child” by ‘The Doors’ when I was 16.
Oh, and Jeff will probably deny this, but that time we tripped balls at my folk’s house and I locked Jeff in my bedroom for 30-minutes to listen to a Mike’s Groove (Phish suite. He protested at first, but by the time I can back to check on him, he had that “holy shit that was bonkers” look on his face.
11. Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Roy: Unearthing my Dad’s ‘Grateful Dead’ tape collection was huge for me. I abused those tapes like crazy.
Had both my parents record collections. Blew my mind when I found my Mom’s ‘Beatles Collection’ liner notes and lyrics written in Portuguese.
12. Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CDs?
Roy: This question annoys me.
13. Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
Roy: I compete with myself and never win.
14. Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?
Roy: Yes. No, thank you. I’ve heard of those.
15. Do you play for dances? Step-dancers? Describe the differences.
Roy: I always make a push into making our music more booty-shaking-centric. Girls tend to gravitate to booty shaking bass, bottom heavy, drum driven songs. Men like the guitar stuff that lives in the higher frequencies. But more than that, men like women. Make the ladies happy, then the men are happy. Me, I’m never happy.
16. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Roy: I never make mistakes. I play a lot of totally unexpected avante-garde jazz notes, though.
17. Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
Roy: I don’t get nervous, I get even.
18. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Roy: Stop convincing yourself that anybody, but you gives a shit.
19. Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?
Roy: Yes. Allowing smoking of any variety and a spacious studio.
20. How often and for how long do you practice?
Roy: By myself? Every day. With the group? As often as they’ll allow me to. I wanna get to 40 hours a week practice minimum but my bros keep holding me back.
21. What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Roy: Anything and everything. Favorite stuff to practice is not music sounds.
22. Do you teach music?
Roy: I tried but wasn’t for me. My 8-year-old student’s fingers were too small for his guitar and his ADHD is worse than mine. I stuck it out because his mom is a Playboy Playmate who would sometimes give me sex instead of payment; but, then, the husband got mad.
23. How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
Roy: Uh… balance? What’s that?
– End of Interview with Roy of ‘The US Americans’ –