Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Neykov session

I meant to put this blog up awhile ago, but I got so tied up with the release of the Trainwreck album I never got around to it....
...Not since Lionel Richie has a man named Lionel crafted such catchy and beautiful pop/R&B songs. Ok...There's been better intros to blogs, but for real, this kid's got something. Spiker and I got the call on this one from producer George Drakoulias, who we worked for on the Runaways session this summer. We were both really excited about this particular session because we haven't had a chance to work in this style since we had our own band, The Spiker-Konesky band; An R&B/Blue Eyed Soul group we formed when we lived in Columbus, and performed with for a short time out here in L.A.
One thing has been a mainstay when working with George: The session will take place in an amazing time-warp studio somewhere in the valley. This job was no exception. The vibes in these places are incredible. Dave's studio was originally built by George Duke in the early 70's, from what I heard, and appeared to be unchanged since, save for some new gear, in addition to the old classics. I'll just let the pictures do the talking...

Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm gonna keep this one brief since I like my blog to stay more positive and music related, but I just had to do a quick one about the accident I was just in.
As a guitarist, my hands and arms are my most valuable asset. At some point I will have them insured. For now, I'm just gonna be really careful. That does not mean, however, that accidents can't happen... The other night I came dangerously close to losing the left half of my body to an erratic, cholo-gang-banger, ex-con, who somehow got the job driving a city bus. The worst part is, technically I'm at fault(according to the city) because of all the loopholes designed to protect the city's interests. Oh well, there's worse things than having to pay your deductible, I could be in a hospital bed.
I think it's important to explain that my written attack on the driver is not unfounded. Normal, mature, and evolved adult humans, who can handle themselves in situations of heightened stress, know that fighting doesn't solve anything. IT NEVER DOES. Our city bus drivers on the other hand subscribe to a much different moral code. One that apparently says: Be sure to try to attack someone if they ever threaten your low-paying shitty job. Which, not surprisingly, is exactly what happened. The man raised his voice and threw his arms in the air and literally came at me. When I tried to walk away he kept pursuing until finally a cop had to hold him back and explain to him(In much nicer words Im sure) that he's a fuckin' idiot and is risking getting in more trouble than he could ever imagine for just being in an accident.
In my humble opinion, these personality types are what's wrong with our beautiful world. Destructive, aggressive, impulsive, and down-right dumb, with little to no desire to better themselves.
So, be careful around busses. They can be very dangerous when driven with no regard for pedestrians. But in addition, be careful around these types of people. They are leftovers from a time when man didn't know right from wrong, or that coexisting peacefully was good for the betterment of the species. Unfortunately this makes up a large percentage of our population I'm afraid.
Ok, Warchild is in the shop getting a fresh wing. I'm glad I don't need a new one, because we don't have the technology. Here's her battlescar.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'll admit that I've heard that before. Or, "It sounds a little notey," or "It's kind of noodley." Not often, but on occasion. Most guitarists who have any interest in guitar solos probably went through a phase where they didn't exactly play the best thing to serve the song. It's ok. It's part of your growth. When you love Mahavishnu Orchestra as much as we do, how could you ever see it as a bad thing.
Of course this all depends on the type of music, and the type of gig. And it CAN be a really bad thing.
In my first years as a professional guitarist, I played really notey solos and was eager to show what I could do. This worked to my advantage because I was in a band that asked for that kind of thing. This is also where I got the unfortunate nickname of "Shreddy," and a bit of a reputation as a "fast" guitar player. Not at all a bad reputation to have. Definitely a bad nickname to have.
As a musician, and a listener though, I had long since gravitated away from your Steve Vai's, and was becoming more moved by The Band, Leon Russel, James Taylor, and other artists who "wrote songs." Not that Steve Vai doesn't write songs, but his songwriting will always take a backseat to his guitar playing. And why shouldn't it, it's what his fans want.

Now here's what I want... I want to be able to write, play, sing, and on occasion take a tasty little solo. Then every once in awhile, bust out a mountain-top-face-melter.

Too much to ask? I don't think so. Lots of people have done it. In my opinion, that's what Led Zep, Deep Purple, and their contemporaries figured out years ago, and probably the reason why the best hard rock and heavy metal all happened around a time when the finest songs ever written were being crafted. I'll spare you the argument that music today sucks, etc. Most people agree that it does. Or at least it's not as good as it once was.

Now, the difference between a face-melter, and shredding is pretty substantial to me. Melting faces comes from an emotional release channeled through your guitar. It'll rarely be perfect, It'll sometimes be notey, It'll often be sloppy, but always impressive, and most importantly, It'll move you. Shredding, on the other hand, is a more fluid and calculated release, seemingly designed to express how much you know about the guitar. It can be melodic, and even really cool to listen to, but it wont make you sweaty.
Please don't get me wrong, I'm fan of many types of guitar playing, and my intent isn't to put any one way of playing on a pedestal.
That being said,
I've been insulted on a number of occasions by people who just assume I only like fast-guitar-player-music. They don't know they're insulting me, but they are. Anytime someone figures I wont like something because I've played fast guitar solos before, has inadvertently insulted me. i.e.> "You probably wont like this. It's a really good song with a great melody, but it only has three chords." ....Hey, Fuck You! I LOVE music. I like lots of different types of music. In fact, probably more than you! And why am I not allowed to be moved by the same melody that moves you, just because I spent time practicing my guitar... jerk.

I recently attended a live workshop with my old guitar teacher from when I was much younger. His name is Bob Murnahan and he's arguably the greatest guitarist I've ever known. He happened to be teaching this class with a partner, and his partner actually said something that I really dug.
He stopped after a particular demonstration and took the time to explain that while he and Bob may play a lot of notes in their solos, that doesn't mean that YOU have to do that. He went on to explain that it's something that they like to do because it's fun for them. It's the way they like to play the guitar, and it's their choice. They also took the time to explain their lessons much slower, but more importantly, I think the lesson solidified the most important thing about playing the guitar. If it's not fun for you, don't do it. And now of course these guys can have fun playing at slower tempos, and I'd never assume otherwise, and nor should you. Both are also very capable of playing a simple, tasty rhythm guitar part and appreciating the lyrics of Bob Dylan as much as you, but they're not gonna make excuses about playing a ripping solo from time to time just for fun.

The moral of the story is, no one deserves good music more than anyone else.

For me, music is perfect when it has a great melody, real emotion, great lyrics and a good hook, and some really great guitar playing, Not everyone requires the great guitar playing part, but it sets a great song over the cliff for me. I don't have to make an excuse for this. It's just one of the MANY aspects of MUSIC that I like. I don't like any one thing over another, but when all the elements are there, it really hits me.
I'll leave you with the Deep Purple classic "Child in Time." Without a doubt, this is Purple's Stairway to Heaven. Way too long, great melody and chord progression, FACE MELTING solo at about 5:00, and moving throughout.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The maiden voyage

Hello Internetters.
As it says on my website, my name's John Konesky, I play the guitar. It's all I've ever done, and it's all I've ever really cared about. But I guess the older I get, the more I realize that it's not just the guitar I love, but everything that comes with doing it for a living. And no, not the cliche sex and drugs part, I mean the part that allows you to go to the bank at noon on a Monday when no one's in line. And having a spare moment to refinish an old chair you found on the street because, in another life, you were a master craftsmen like Norm Abrams, except in this life you only have the WANT and not the SKILL SET.

My dad always told me, "do what you love for a living and you'll never work a day in your life," or something to that effect. He's a jet pilot, so I think he should know. That ranks up there in the cool-jobs-to-a-12-year-old hierarchy along with Astronaut, Cowboy, Race Car Driver, and yes, Rock and Roll musician. This put him out of town a lot though, much like touring does for me when I can get the work. That wasn't anything I ever had a problem with though, because it allowed me to explore the idea of independence at a young age.

"Rock and Roll", up to this point, has allowed me to pay my rent, eat food, and have a couple luxuries, but by no means, made me rich. Being a session musician, or even a "hired-gun" as I'm sometimes referred, is the music world's equivalent to having a decent, mid-level job at, let's say, an architectural firm, but no one's ever sure of the future of the company. You LOVE your team, but there's "just not a lot of business right now." Sure I have my mainstay gigs. Playing with the D has made some of my dreams come true, but conversely, when they're not working, I'm not working, and have to find side jobs (much like teachers sometimes do in the summer, except where they have 3 months off, I have 11).
This can make life very interesting.

Fortunately, enough calls come in to keep my bills paid, and I get to play with different musicians every month. It's really pretty rad. For example, over the summer I got a call to play on the session for the upcoming biopic about the Runaways. They had to re-record some of their songs for reasons I'm not %100 sure of. Next thing I know, I find myself in the studio with Joan Jett, and I'm playing the role of Lita Ford on guitar. How cool is that, to get to be a Runaway for a couple days? This job definitely has its perks. And the pro's far outweigh the cons. I have to remember that sometimes, when I'm draggin' ass because I went a month without playing a show or doing a session.

Someday I hope I can have my own band that can tour and support itself; I'm still young enough I think, but if for whatever heinous-twist-of-fate that doesn't happen, I could be content playing with a million different people every year. If for nothing else, it's a great way to meet cool new people.

I'm very much an "odd jobs" type of guitarist right now. Like the bagger at the grocery store who mows lawns on the weekend to make a few extra bucks, I do that with my music. Lately I've been "mowing" some film score work to fill in the holes. Not major John WIlliams kind of scoring, but small documentary and indie film scoring. It's really hard work, but it's an awesome challenge and I feel it really pushes me as a musician. Not to mention it's immensely satisfying. Here's the movie poster for my first score. The score was a partnership with a talented director/composer named Brent Mccorkle. The film was directed by Greg Kwedar.

Ok, so that's some stuff I've been up to lately, but I think my biggest reason for wanting to start this is because I feel I have some valuable insight for anyone wanting to pursue this hectic, nerve-wracking and absolutely glorious field. Most of the people who seek me out online and write me are aspiring young musicians. 90% of THEM are people who make me field questions about Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the other 10% really want to know how to break into this world. If 1% of THOSE people read this then I'll feel I've made a contribution. My point of view can be seen as unique because, A: I've played in everything from a living room to an arena, and I've traveled in everything from a van to a private jet to do so, and B: I've not yet made it to a point where I'm too far away from the ground. I'm right in the middle of failure and success, teetering some days one way, and the other way the next. It's always exciting, and never boring, and if the world were to end tomorrow I would have no regrets because I can confidently say I've given it all I have.

There's my first post. I promise future posts wont be as long winded and self-serving, and will be rich with content beyond text and a single tiny picture! I hope you enjoy!