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!


  1. welcome to the blogosphere, fellow blogger!

  2. John,

    Hi and thanks for your candid post. I've lived the way you described for many years as a freelancer writer, so I get it. It must be great to be connecting with such a wide variety of great musicians, even if you sometimes have to cope with unexpected down time.

    I'm not going to ask you about the D--really, don't those guys put everything on the screen you'd want to know anyway?--but I've gotta tell you The Metal is one of my fave rock and roll tunes ever. That riff it's based on is mindblowing. (You had a hand in it, right?)

    Anyway, I'd love to profile you for our new magazine focused on the music biz's unsung heros--such as sharp studio guys like yourself. We haven't launched yet, but the prototype is at www.remixedmag.com/dev -- if you're up for it just let me know.

    If you're interested, all I'd need is to chat with you via phone or IM for 15 mins or so, a photo (even your Twitter one is fine) and get a copy of your bio.

    If that sounds cool please write to me at anne@remixedmag.com -- would love to talk or exchange e-mails. Regardless, consider me a fan. :-)

    -Anne Zieger

  3. Oh, and P.S., that Deep Purple tune moves me too. Thanks for passing it on.