In Part 1 of 2, Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick are joined by Brent Lyons of the “Solving Sounds” podcast to discuss his podcast, the Seattle music scene, approaches to lead guitar and music theory, and guitar effects.

Brent tells the guys about the different sub-scenes in Seattle, from indie rock to heavy sludge rock to folk and acoustic. He also talks about the transforming landscapes within the scene, including old venues closing down due to gentrification, and the challenge of “pay-to-play” gigs.

The guys talk about Brent’s Solving Sounds podcast, its release schedule, and some of its memorable moments.

The episode ends with an in-depth discussion on approaches to playing lead guitar, learning music theory, and Brent’s favorite guitar effects pedals.

Check out Solving Sounds on your favorite podcasting app or at:
https://www.facebook.com/SolvingSoundsPodcast/
http://solvingsounds.libsyn.com/

 

 

Hello and welcome back to another
episode of Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name
is Aaron Sefchick, my name is Joe McMurray,
and today we have a fellow podcaster
from Solving Sounds podcast, Brett
Lyons. Welcome Brent. Oh thank you so much
for having me. This is really fun.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I met you through
some of the forums and I figured
we’d make contact with each other
and get some good information going.
So yeah, by all means, I’m excited about
today’s conversation because you, like us,
dive into this whole musical journey of
musicians. You’re based out of Seattle?
Yep, that’s right. Awesome. So if you could,
for our audience, kind of set us up a
little bit and tell us a little bit
about yourself. Yes, so I started
playing music when I was about 15. I
started with the drums just because I
was a pent-up teenager with a lot of
energy and I just wanted to start
hitting stuff and so I started taking
lessons and had some high school bands
and stuff and we were pretty crappy as
you’re supposed to be I suppose
and I remember we used to just record on
a boom box that had a microphone. Those
are my first recordings is just studying
a boombox up in the middle of the room
and hit and record and you know that was
but under under a cassette onto a
cassette yeah yeah that’s awesome yeah I
remember my mom had some old Kenny G
tapes that she didn’t want anymore so we
would record over those over time what
would be like 90% our music but then
like 10% you could still kind of hear
like Kenny G like yes basis yep yep so
that’s how I got started and then a
couple of years have to do and that I
was getting kind of frustrated as a
drummer just because I always felt like
I was kind of coming in and responding
to what the guitar player was bringing
in you know his wrists and stuff and I
was like man I don’t really get to be as
creative as I want to be mm-hmm
as a drummer as just a songwriter so I
switched to guitar and started taking
guitar lessons I upgraded to a task ham
for track recorder
doing some real complex recording to my
you know 17 year old brain or whatever
at the time that way um and just went
from there that’s kind of where I
started recording by myself just for fun
doing whole songs by myself that first
Foo Fighter record that Dave Grohl did
all by himself was really mind-blowing
for me that was the first time I had
heard of anyone doing something like
that
and from there I just played in
different bands throughout the years and
I made a lot of acquaintances in the
scene as you do you know it’s like you
go to shows and you want to talk to
people but it’s like super loud because
everyone’s like rocking out and stuff
and yeah and so I started this podcast
to be able to sit someone down and ask
them everything I ever wanted to know
about them and kind of figure out how
they learn instruments and stuff and
it’s like how did you write that song
how did you record that album how did
you meet your band mates you know so
that’s that’s kind of how I got to where
I am now well that’s that’s awesome
not to mention that yeah you are in the
Seattle scene obviously that’s been a
Connick in the past what what what is
going on there musically now I mean
obviously it’s still thriving but do you
see a change in all happening yeah
definitely I think the biggest change
I’ve seen is just this breaking off into
many different scenes happening all at
the same time you know there’s
definitely still kind of like the heavy
sludgy rock thing happening but there’s
a huge like indie rock thing happening
there’s a huge like funky kind of in
acoustic thing happening and yeah I
would just say instead of everyone just
playing you know like grunge music or
whatever there’s a ton of different
genres and scenes happening all at the
same time yeah yeah yeah as usually I
mean everybody knows Seattle for The
Grudge Rock but obviously there was a
whole lot more going on at that time you
know obviously because of Pearl Jam and
Nirvana they kind of made that whole
thing happen yeah but obviously there is
a whole lot more going on yeah and one
other huge change is a lot of the venues
that used to host all those 90s bands
are closing because of you know
Microsoft and Amazon it’s like Seattle’s
going through this weird transformation
now where a lot of those historic
buildings are getting torn down for you
know condos that no one can afford right
so there’s definitely that element to
the scene where it’s getting harder and
harder to to place shows and and have
active venues that want to bring local
bands in yeah that’s a shame that’s like
what happened in Arlington with iota
cafe yeah I was like one of the cooler
clubs for local bands to come in and I
think the whole block was bought by a
developer and people were like trying to
protest and social media and stuff but
didn’t do anything now money speaks
louder than words unfortunately you know
you do see some of these iconic studios
and venues that that are unfortunately
just being bought and tore like I said
torn down and condos are being built it
is a shame you know these are iconic
places that have you know been a very
big placeholder in history in terms of
what’s been going on in rock and roll
and music in general yeah and you really
see you know our artists can only afford
kind of cheap living to survive so you
know we used to see so many artists in
places like Capitol Hill and downtown
and stuff and it added so much cultural
value and currency to the community and
then you see just it becomes so much
more expensive to live here that it kind
of drives the artists out and you kind
of lose so much of that identity and
everything just gets kind of plain and
boring and all the artists moved to you
know another cheap place to live and
kind of create it all back up again yeah
yeah it’s it’s happening all over you
know it’s like going back to the 60s or
70s that happened with San Francisco
right and LA it’s happening right now
currently with Nashville Nashville used
to be fair
affordable now it’s just a booming town
and you do see a lot of the musicians
moving outwards into the suburbs and
whatnot like that I know with Nashville
I haven’t followed up with it lately I
know there was a big thing going on if
anybody in the audience knows email me
but I know with Nashville they were
going through this big thing of how they
were shutting Studios down that were out
of houses since we’re kind of talking
about that today any businesses that
were in a house and there were studio
there or some kind of city ordinance
against that and they were shutting
people down I would just which is really
weird for a city of music well yeah
which was the whole hubbub about the
whole thing is this like really where
the where the city of music we’re known
for this and you’re starting to go after
people who are you know recording music
out of their houses and making
businesses out of it so it’s it was this
whole I know a couple months back it was
this whole thing and I don’t know if
whether anything has become of that or
not but yeah it’s it’s a shame what’s
happening in terms of the money that’s
you know kind of unfortunately having a
say over history mm-hmm yeah and art
especially yeah in in Seattle is the
scene the type of scene where you as a
band go out and play and you’re paid to
play or is it more of a pay to play
scene or is it is there some of both
depending on which of those sub scenes
you’re talking about it’s a little bit
of both there’s definitely a few clubs
that make you sell tickets that’s you
have to like yeah yeah you have to like
buy the tickets in advance and then sell
them to like make the money back yeah
well unfortunately there’s only like one
or two that still do that but the thing
I see a lot more now is venues just have
really expensive not fees but they just
take a lot off the door and they usually
say it’s for like the sound guy or like
a room fee or something like that but
it’ll I’ve seen it be like 80 like a
hundred dollars Wow
the door which is pretty gnarly wow
that’s that’s pretty steep
yeah but there’s there’s definitely
places I always kind of call more like
house party shows where they’ll be like
this cool tavern that’s a little smaller
and they’ll just have the band come in
and play and you know the band gets all
the door and the venue just gets you
know the bar cells of course but I’ve
seen that with the more small venues
less kind of like corporate venues and
and that’s been working out great but a
lot of times you’ll see like the sound
quality won’t be as good like the PAS
won’t be as powerful especially if
you’re in like a rocking band you know
the guitar amps will like blast the
venues like piays so you kinda have to
be conscious of that and like the
monitor systems won’t be as good so
that’s it’s a give and take so you’re
obviously going out and active within
the music scene and seeing some good
bands out there is there anybody I don’t
want to put you on the spot but is there
is there anybody on your radar that
you’re like oh these these guys are
really good and I think the an
up-and-coming band type of thing yeah I
just interviewed her name’s Julie
Bartlet from a band called guest
directors and they’re there like right
up my alley they’re super kind of like
shoegazing and Spacey like they kind of
have like a swerve driver cure thing
going on and they have the speaking of
scale grunge um
the guitar player from the band tad Gary
Thornton s’en you know tad no they’re
kind of in the same vein as like do you
know Mudhoney yeah yeah yeah so they’re
kind of like the grunge bands that were
happening before Nirvana like they kind
of like brought Nirvana up yeah yeah so
anyway the guitar player from Ted is in
this band guest directors and I just
think they’re awesome they just put out
a new EP and they’re really good there’s
another heavy band called stereo creeps
they’re just about to put a new album
out called suck and they’re super cool
they’re kind of
avant-garde but still like heavy at the
same time like they have really weird
arrangements and stuff they really work
against the kind of verse-chorus
verse-chorus thing yeah yeah yeah on
let’s see there’s one other band called
Warren Dunes they’re kind of more upbeat
up-tempo kind of like I don’t know how
do I it’s like
upbeat indie rock with kind of like a
jazzy kind of feel to it um they’re
really great to you so I would recommend
all those CLL bands sling lookout for
them I think they’re gonna be doing some
cool stuff cool yeah definitely have to
check those guys out awesome and so okay
just before we quick jump in so you have
your podcasts offing sounds and that
comes out weekly every other week I I
would like to do it every week but as
y’all know I’m sure it’s hard
I feel like if I did it every week the
commitment of just the like
administrative work I’m like emailing
people recording it editing it like
honestly I dread editing podcast you
know I really and I’d barely do any
editing at all um but just like
recording the intro and all that and
writing the show notes hate doing that
but I just kind of felt like if I did it
every week it would be kind of it would
turn into a stressful thing yes I feel
like every other week it’s a little bit
more casual I can kind of take my time
pick my moments and it always kind of
feels fun so to answer your question I
release every other Tuesday that’s my
schedule okay okay wonderful beautiful
yeah yeah we’re fortunate we have if two
of us yeah helps a little bit sarin
Aaron still takes the brunt of it but
yeah the editing yeah it’s got me doing
everything I can I like it that way yeah
you have control yeah exactly right I
listened to your episode with Lance
Hofstede oh I really enjoyed that and I
did feel like your show has a similar
kind of vibe and overall goal to our
show just to explore other people’s
thoughts about music and really to dig
in yeah I really loved that episode he
was the first person I had on that I had
actually been in a bandwidth in the past
and so I thought it would be kind of
cool because I was so close to his
writing process and I respected him so
much that I really felt like I could
really dive deep into the nitty-gritty
and he’s such a unique guy like you know
we were talking about like the bullhorn
and stuff that those his megaphone that
he yeah yeah yeah he’s just completely
original that way so um I was really
proud of that episode because I thought
we really got to talk about some cool
topics and kind of his original approach
to songwriting and a lot of show
dynamics you know how do they get people
interested in the show and kind of
breaking the fourth wall and audience
participation all that kind of stuff for
our listeners who haven’t heard that
episode you should listen to that
episode but the bullhorn that he was
referring to in order to get the
audience involved in the show and
because you know you’ve all been at a
show where everybody sit you know
standing towards the back of the room
and the band’s up there playing they’re
really trying to get all the audience to
come forward and dance and enjoy
themselves so the guide Lance actually
comes in from the back of the room with
the megaphone and like points at people
and tells them to come up to the front
of the room and like really he just
starts saying yep yep yep yep yep yep
yep makes eye contact with people and
points at them and it’s always great
because the audience is really kind of
thrown off right away
oh yeah and at first they’re like is
this dude in the band is this some like
crazy dude off the street like who is
this guy and then you kind of see this
arc where they kind of figure out like
oh no this is all like part of the show
and it just kind of breaks this kind of
preconceived notion about what a show
should be and I think people get like
excited and kind of you know Shepherds
them up closer to the band and it’s just
this to me I always thought it was a
great way of just kind of breaking
people out of their comfort zone and
everyone’s kind of like on their heels
like what’s about
happen yeah what’s happening right now
and I just love that yeah it’s it’s it’s
actually brilliant cuz you’re you’re you
right from the get-go you’re pulling
them in yeah that’s great that’s great
yeah I am trying to rethink some of my
some of my ways that I
I need more audience yeah I don’t know
if I’m gonna copy that one at least for
my fans by myself that would be a little
a little over the top for you know I’m
usually the guy in the corner of a bar
right now or somewhere I don’t need
people it’s all coming form a dance
floor
yeah but in a band situation that there
are times where some sort of gimmick
like that would have been very useful
mm-hmm well it’s hard I think people
naturally like want to stand back like
they’re afraid to get really close to
the stage and I think just kind of
letting people know that it’s okay and
that you want them to get involved is
really helpful yeah go ahead Joe I was
gonna say we had a guest Joe Hamm of El
Sistema
on several weeks ago and I got that I
had the opportunity to play with him a
couple times and a jazz quartet but we
also got into some pop stuff and more
modern stuff and he actually in the
middle of the show he’s like we’re gonna
let’s try this thing so he he calls out
to the audience and he has somebody say
one topic and somebody said something
about aliens and then he calls on
somebody else and they brought up
something to me we ended up like in we
improvised the song and her singer sang
about aliens doing whatever that I
forgot what the other person said but it
was really it worked really well cuz
people were actually invested in the
song because they had brought up the
topics from the audience right right and
it was it was one of the more successful
things I’ve been involved in wow it’s
pretty cool improvisation and exercise
right yeah yeah not exactly easy to do
on the spot that’s for sure
originally the the singer is pretty good
with her lyrics yeah yeah we just had
the bass players started a riff and we
kind of came up with the groove and she
made it up about aliens that’s
it’s interested there’s uh there’s a
that’s really cool there’s a podcast
that I listened to recently called song
salad and it’s it’s an interesting
concept they actually have a random
generator of genres so those like 500
genres well though randomly pick a genre
music and then they’ll go to google and
put in a random generator from Google
and it’ll come up with a random subject
and they have to write about that
subject in the random genre each week
and it’s it is a little strange
sometimes sometimes they succeed
sometimes they don’t but it’s it’s a
good idea because in terms of the
musicality behind it I listen to it
because of when they do have a genre
that like last week they had a typical
March like basically what you would
think like for the military or something
like that and then he kind of dives into
all the properties that make up a March
and it’s kind of interesting so that’s
the reason I listen to it it’s kind of
get a better idea of all the genres are
out there and what kind of makes up and
constitutes that actual genre so yeah
it’s it’s not easy I was just talking to
someone about the positivity of putting
creative constraints on yourself mmm
because sometimes you can kind of get
stuck in your own way or you get kind of
I don’t know in your comfort zone or you
figure something out then you just hit
that same button over and over again and
when you put constraints like that on
like choosing a random genre or random
words it kind of makes your brain work
in a different way and even if the end
result isn’t exactly what you want just
kind of pushing the limits like that can
really help your creativity and maybe
that spark something that you end up
using or liking yep yep I listen to as
well
Graham Cochrane of the Recording
Revolution and he does that type of
thing a lot where he’ll actually tell
his audience to you know only use stock
plugins from you know Pro Tools you’re
not allowed to use any you know
third-party plugins or you know Joe
Gilder will tell you same types the same
type of thing
but putting those constraints on any
musician will actually kind of sometimes
push you further because you only have
so many things that you can work with
and then you have to push yourself as an
artist to to really work those tools
mm-hmm yeah same thing with like analog
versus pro tools like only having a
certain amount of tracks that you have
available versus like Pro Tools where
you can just create an endless tracks
it’s like you kind of drive yourself
crazy with the endless possibilities
yeah but only having a set amount of
tracks can enforces you to make creative
decisions in the moment you know yeah
yeah I like putting uh physical
restraints on myself in my practice
sometimes like I’m not allowed to use my
second finger something like that oh wow
it can be an interesting exercise to
just try to get you at and to not play
in a certain position on the guitar
right that’s one of the most effective
thing yeah it’s especially helpful in
like I’m soloing over jazz tune that
I’ve played over a lot like if I stay in
the same spot like there’s a tendency to
want to do certain types of licks and if
you just move into a different area the
fretboard that you’re not used to
playing in for that tune it makes a huge
difference like you just you’re forced
to play something completely different
ya know I ask you guys a question I am
NOT a virtuoso guitar player I’m more of
like a rhythm guy and who kind of like I
never took like classic training or
anything yeah and so I’m always
fascinated by people who like do a ton
of so lean or lead plane and I was
curious how you figured that out like do
you I’ve heard a lot of people talk
about like the boxes probably leaves you
know and that always seemed crazy to me
because I remember my guitar teacher
tried to show me just like finger
positions for her scales and stuff and
that just like didn’t resonate with me
it’s like I wanted to know what the
notes were in the key and like why I was
doing that and so it’s like that’s sort
of like the longer and like harder way
to do it I never quite mastered it so
like how do you guys like solo is it
just kind of the the box thing or what
are you thinking about do you want to go
first there go ahead good all right well
I mean when I’m teaching a student to
improvise the box is very helpful
because it gives them you know kind of
puts restraints there’s there’s a finite
number of options so I mean I literally
give them one note at the beginning I’d
say if we’re playing you know start with
something simple something in the key of
a minor or something and give them the
note a and make them play a solo using
the note a and the way you do that is by
changing the rhythm of how you play that
note and changing your pick attack and
things like that then I give them two
notes maybe a and C the root and the
minor third and then I let them play
around with that and you know the the
roots gonna be very it’s gonna feel very
resolved when you land on that it has a
sense of feels very final very like the
end yeah whereas if you land on the
minor third it’s not quite as stable
sounding and you kind of build from
there not I’m often thinking about the
intervals within the key if it’s a if
it’s a single key kind of song so I’m
I’m thinking about like a lot of call
and response a lot of like you know you
play a flurry of notes and land on the
two which in the key of a minor is the B
and which sounds very unresolved and
then I’ll play another maybe a similar
kind of lick and land on the a or the C
to give it a sense of question and then
responds mm-hmm there’s a lot of that
for me and you know I I do try to follow
the chord progression as well it
sometimes that can sound too jazzy in a
rock situation but you know if you have
a chord progression and you try to play
the chord tones of those chords it’ll
sound good mm-hmm so I mean there’s a
bunch of different approaches what do
you what do you think hearing well Brent
you were saying you know in terms of how
you wanted to learn it was the notes and
like you’re in the minority
[Laughter]
all of my students just want to know the
pattern just for me the pattern I’m
always like no it’s it’s more than the
pattern you need to know the notes so I
would love to have a student like you
but it’s the longer and harder road to
take right it is but you know you know
exactly you’re learning the language you
know right it’s you you are more fluent
and how you are able to construct these
lines for me I I’m a I like to feel it
I don’t think about the intervals and I
don’t think about the route and the
third I’m I just kind of let my mm-hmm
ear take me where I need to go I like to
explore the neck for fun I try not to
stay in the same shapes and I do move
from quote-unquote box-to-box but I’m
not really hard fast on any of that I’m
usually just letting my ear kind of
guide me in terms of the sound that I’m
looking for whether I should be playing
an E on the fifth string or that same e
on the fourth string or how I want it to
come across I think that for me just
that that overall feel is really what’s
important to me if I play something now
this is all improv of course but if I
play something and I hear something what
I try to tell my students is is that
once you hear something that you like
try to repeat it try to repeat it a
couple times try to repeat it and you
know like two times or four times and
try to make that lick come alive the
more that you play it so if you hear
something that kind of piques your
interest go back to it and run it again
and then kind of you start to get into
these kind of lines that are repeatable
and the listener actually can kind of
identify with it as well because it’s
already been played and they hear it
again like whoo that’s kind of nice I
like how that was you know I already
have that
tief stuck in my head let’s hear it
again so yeah for me it’s more of a feel
type of thing when I jump into the
guitar is just like I already know my
patterns now just forget the patterns
and just kind of just play mm-hmm I I
think it is really important to learn
earn some act some licks from other lead
players oh yes I think that you have to
learn how to make your fingers move in
that way and then you can start creating
your own licks in that style you know
it’s I mean I I think it’s important if
you want to play like jam band kind of
lead guitar it’s pretty helpful to learn
a couple Stevie Ray Vaughn or Albert
King kind of licks BB King licks and
then you you know you have those as you
can go to them and then you can maybe
start one of those licks and take it
somewhere new but you got to understand
how to get that sound in order to make
up your own things that sound good in
that genre mm-hmm yeah it’s interesting
for me I don’t have a big theory
background it’s like I know what song a
key isn’t it I’m writing but normally
when I write a lead I just really sit
down and just kind of go note by note
and just kind of figure out like what’s
working and just it’s like I’ll figure
out what notes are in the scale and then
just kind of bounce around and it’s real
kind of trial and error for me but it’s
a very kind of slow process but that’s
kind of my style in general I was just
talking to someone it’s like there’s a
lot of people that just like to kind of
like get in a room and jam with people
and kind of see what happens whereas I’m
kind of more the type that likes to like
go in my room and kind of hide yeah you
kind of come up with something and yeah
kind of do the trial and error thing
yeah and then when I’m happy with it I
then like present it to people yeah
that’s kind of my approach and I kind of
take that that same approach with
writing leads where it is very sort of
trying they’re just kind of sitting
there kind of the hard way just kind of
piecing it together yeah you’re actually
the keys you’re actually composing a
piece you’re actually making sure all
the part
sound right versus and there’s
advantages to both where you can you
know like you say go into a band
environment when you guys kind of all
jam it out that’s that’s very good in
terms of exploratory you might hear
something from somebody else that it
sparks an interest or an idea in you and
you can kind of go off and do that I’ve
had success with that I’ve also not had
success with that in terms of when I
teach bands because a lot of the times
people aren’t really paying attention to
other people they’re kind of just paying
attention to themselves and that can go
on for like an hour and you don’t really
get anything done right exactly it was
more just like okay we just Dan for an
hour and okay sure hahaha I’ll probably
forget everything that I just did so
there are there are pros and cons to
that but then at the same time there’s
the whole you know composition and
writing something out and there’s many
ways to go about doing that I’ve also
played with people in the past were like
no I don’t like that approach because I
think music should be more of an organic
type of thing I don’t want to go to a
concert and hear the same thing every
single concert so you know to each their
own and they’re you know however you
want to write is completely up to you
and how you go about writing a lead or a
solo or something like that a lick
there’s many ways to do that as well
sitting down with note by note and and
kind of figuring out what note comes
next that’s that’s perfectly fine
sometimes all I’ll hum something or I’ll
whistle something in the car and I’ll
you know throw in voice memo I’ll just
kind of record it and I’ll later on the
night sit down with my guitar and try to
figure out some of those licks because
you do want a lick to be somewhat
hummable you won’t be able to you want a
listener to be able to walk away and
kind of sing it themselves you know that
that whole earworm type of thing yeah
there’s there’s many ways to go about
writing a solo or a lick
yeah I think for me I would just like to
get more of a theory background just I
was always kind of the impatient
teenager who just wanted to like play
the song it’s like for my teacher it’s
like just show me the
I just wanna play the song you know yeah
and I really regret not taking the time
and having the discipline to learn more
theory and it’s something I would like
to do now as an adult and just kind of
have in my back pocket and just be more
loose with my plane cuz right now I just
feel like my plane is very intentional
or something but it’s like it’s hard for
me to just kind of explore in the space
like like I was saying earlier I’m much
more comfortable kind of like in my room
figuring it out and then bringing it you
know and and it’s it’s fine that way I’m
there’s nothing wrong with it but yeah
just for me personally I’m kind of at a
place where I’d like to kind of open up
my plane a little bit and just be a
little more loose and just kind of have
the knowledge in my back pocket that I
can just kind of rely on in the moment
yeah yeah I think that having the theory
it allows you to I think it speeds up
the process I think you can get there
either way but I think it it when you do
know that the theory it it just happens
faster yeah if you’re trying to lick you
kind of know your options and it’s a
little less trial and error you kind of
know one thing’s gonna sound one way
right but you may not you know sometimes
you get stuck following the rules a
little too much and you do have to yeah
try to not think about it so much in
order to write something different yeah
yeah I remember my guitar teacher told
me you need to know the rules before you
can break them yep yeah I thought I was
a good very crew say that every day I
mean it’s the Tucson it’s the two-sided
sword knowing theory you obviously know
all the tools and you’re in your tool
chest and you can use any one of them at
any time and it’s good to be able to do
that but the other side of that sword it
is is that when you like Joe was saying
once you start to know the rules you
have a tendency to follow them a lot
right and it’s hard to break them I know
for me like when I was young and I
didn’t know any theory it was just you
know no rules I could to make anything I
want and I can go back and listen to any
one of those songs that I were when I
was younger and I go where’s the theory
behind that like oh my gosh I was I was
thinking of some crazy chord changes the
may not go together or maybe instead of
like a lead line guitar wise moving in
from chord to chord it was like a vocal
thing that led me to the next chord
which has nothing to do with that key
now later in life I’m just more you know
theory this is the way this works and
this is why this works and I kind of go
it at a different approach so there is
that yet
you know that innocence that is good to
have because you have no rules so like I
said it’s a double edge it’s a
double-edged sword you there’s benefits
to knowing theory and at the same time
not as I will say the benefits
definitely outweigh but yeah it’s it’s
an it the whole theory thing is
interesting you fight it especially at a
young age you fight it for so long and
then like you said getting older and
life you kind of sit there and go I wish
I would have paid a little more
attention to it yeah just having more
discipline one area where I really see
it come up is when I started to sing and
do you know melody is over my songs
because like you’re saying as a teenager
you can kind of it’s easier to get away
with writing guitar parts and bass parts
or keyboard parts and like wacky
non-linear scales or something but then
when you try to sing over it at least
for me it became really obvious like oh
I can’t do the punk rock thing of just
opening my mouth whenever comes out is
great I actually need to like really pay
attention to the key of the song and
then I became very focused on melody and
how that was kind of counter to the riff
like when I would write a vocal part I
would actually write write it on a
keyboard first like I’d figure out the
key of the song and then write the
melody on a keyboard and then I’d
actually record that as sort of like a
backing track that’s perfect
and then I would I would write the
lyrics so the syllables matched the the
keyboard part that’s all that was that
was a huge breakthrough for me because I
feel like when I was just
singing randomly I felt like that lack
of theory wasn’t helping cuz I’d be kind
of pitchy and not know it but then
actually figuring out where the exact
notes were on the keyboard and singing
to that that was like a game-changer I
recommend that to all of my vocalists
and all the bands is to do exactly that
sit down with a piano and actually
figure out the melodic line that you’re
singing that it helps so much your
confidence just goes through the roof in
terms of knowing exactly where I need to
be vocally it’s night and day
and I feel like it really helps you
write better melodies I think a lot of
the time in the past the melody would
kind of cater to the rhythm or sounds of
the words like I was thinking more about
like the enunciation or something like
that or like the mannerisms of saying
the words as opposed to what the melody
lines actually were like they weren’t as
like hooky I would I think I think I was
thinking more about the words as opposed
to the sound and the melody yeah yeah no
that’s perfect it really is it’s they
marry so much they marry so much better
that way versus trying to you know put a
square peg into a round hole you know
it’s like well these lyrics they’re just
gonna work and it’s like oh okay sure
but if it was crafted you know like
you’re talking about it’s just gonna
sound so much the flow of the song is
gonna be so much better mmhmm yeah
totally yeah I learned my lesson the
hard way like when I was in my early 20s
like I would just write songs and TOI
did the punk rock thing of just whatever
came out of my mouth that’s good enough
and yet it’ll work you know and yeah I
quickly got smacked down like oh this is
not anything like an instrument and
spend you know years working on it you
know like I totally it was just like wow
just you know whatever comes out is good
and it’s like no no no like I have a
whole new respect for singers just in
terms of that discipline and also the
vulnerability like it’s so much more
vulnerable to sing as opposed to just
like plucking a string or hitting a drum
you know it’s
yeah you know if you pluck put your
finger down in the right spot if your
guitars in tune and you pluck that
string it’s gonna sound the right note
will sound yeah but singing you are a
lot other factors I find that with the
piano or at least going back to what
you’re saying about knowing the actual
melody that you’re singing or playing on
your instrument I find that it it is
very helpful to see the music or to play
it on the piano and then you kind of
know where you can create variations a
lot of times you know I’ll create a
vocal melody or a just a instrumental
melody and it’ll be okay but then at
once you know what it actually is you
can actually adjust and add little you
know little what do you call it uh
melisma
not I’m Elizabeth something like you
know when you hear Alicia Keys sing and
she does all the fancy vocal runs ya
know like little riffs off the main
melody you it’s hard to do that without
knowing the actual melody yeah at least
where you are within the chord mm-hmm
yeah so I think it just it helps you to
take your melody and maybe like your
last course you want to go up and make
it extra climactic if you know what the
original melody was you know you can go
up like your prop your voice probably
can’t go up an octave to sing the same
thing an octave higher unless you’re
like Freddie Mercury or something but if
you go up maybe if you were singing on
the fifth of the chord you know that’s
the time maybe that last chorus go up to
the root of the chord and kind of sing
kind of what would be a harmony line but
because it’s the last course and if
you’re the only singer just sounds extra
climactic right yeah same thing with
like harmonies as well I would think
yeah like kind of having that foundation
to then work off of like you’re saying
way easier to write harmonies know what
notes you’re the original melody oh my
gosh
way easier I was I used to like not
understand at all how people sang
harmonies and then like once I figured
it out it was like
ah like you’re like even just knowing
the first note of the line where that
sits within the chord and like I said
jumping up to the next note within the
chord if you’re singing if the melody is
on the root of the chord try singing off
the third and just try to sing in tune
from there is the simplest way like to
get started you can write it out but
yeah the piano or the guitar is very
helpful blows my mind when people like
when people don’t want it they’re scared
of the the piano or they’re scared of
the guitar and they they push it aside
it’s like too much work mm-hmm like
you’re you’re creating more work for
yourself in the long run by not
utilizing the tools that are available
to you yeah here you’re at least
limiting your potential yeah you can’t
go wrong by knowing more thoroughly
that’s really feel like in the long run
whether it’s theory or technical ability
knowing more practicing more can’t
really hurt you now how long did it take
you guys to get that theory foundation
what do you say before you felt
comfortable well that’s two different
questions it took me probably I’d say
the better part of two to three years to
get to get the theory part of it down
but to be comfortable with it oh my
goodness I’d say upwards of five to
seven years Wow
I don’t think I could quantify what it
is but I do know that you can get a
grasp of diatonic chords pretty quick oh
yeah if I can sit down with a teenager
and in about an hour have them
understand diatonic keys you know the
one chord two three four five six seven
and like maybe after a couple of sins
you can you can get into how dominant
seventh chords can help you change keys
but oh my gosh no I’m late for your C’s
you and I have a little bit of a
different approach like the whole
diatonic chords I I takes about a month
to a month and a half to T
all that yeah you’d have said that you
take it much slower I like to get it I
just have a hard time holding my
students interest I try to get the
information there and then try to get
them playing using that and like they
don’t have it just because the one
lesson but I try not to like stay on
that topic for too long without playing
the instrument yeah I find that if I
give them all the information just like
method books it’s just that I can ask
them the same question in two months
time and they have no idea they’re just
like yeah I forgot all the information
yeah whereas if I take them through the
entire process now sometimes it is
painstaking but nonetheless if I take
them through that process of intervals
and understanding exactly how to build a
court and why the third is so important
and and just that process with every
single chord you know two months three
months down the line if I ask them
they’re like yep got it root third fifth
Dada these are the chords one four five
okay and I’m like that’s what I’m
looking for
do you guys have any books or resources
that you would recommend theory I’m
actually writing something myself right
now
oh then we’re gonna we’re gonna edit our
Erin and I are gonna edit it and release
it as kind of a yeah we’ve everybody’s
handbook yet we’re gonna try to make a
workbook so it’s uh you know all this
stuff is is easily understandable I mean
there’s tons of stuff out there but it’s
always about how its presented and
exactly what we’re talking about right
now is is the process that we’re going
through yeah it’s really cool I can’t
wait to check that out I’d be happy to
send you an advance copy and if you
wanted to give me some feedback on what
might not make sense to you because to
me it makes perfect sense yeah it would
be helpful actually yeah that sounds
awesome writing something it’s been
interesting writing about these things
because you do I think I started out
writing about diatonic chords and then I
realized okay if you know you know if
someone was to read this depending on
what background they have would they
understand
the basics that I use to do that so then
I had to go back and I kept having to go
back until I ended up writing from like
the very beginning of music yep like the
key of C oh yeah laughs whoa laughs what
are the notes available what are the
notes of music and then like yeah yeah
it’s been an interesting thing and it’s
helped me being able to teach because
you know when you put it down on paper
it’s helpful but I I do think that you
know what works for me doesn’t
necessarily work for you and it it’s why
I have I have like 200 books beside me
and I mean I’m I’m a bookworm but I
everybody’s got a little different
approach and depending on what you’re
trying to use it for in the long run
some approaches work better yeah like I
think different ways if I’m improvising
lead guitar I think about it differently
than if I’m sitting down to write songs
right I know I know for me Brent when I
was going through this whole process I’m
the kind of personality where I have to
I have to go through it on a hands-on
type of thing that’s just the way I
learn so for me method books they more
of a reading approach did not work for
me what did work for me in terms of
books was what we’re doing right now is
the whole workbook where you would
actually have to go through and fill out
the answers and go through the process
and apply to your guitar and hear it and
then you know that whole process over
again work it you know fill in the
answers play it on the guitar hear it
and that back and forth and actually
applying it that’s actually what worked
for me so work books the things that
actually make you go through the process
that’s that’s what made it make sense
for me at least yeah I think that really
makes sense yeah it’s one thing to just
read on the page it’s another to kind of
live it and try and work it through and
hands-on you know just kind of engage
your brain in that way of kind of
bringing it to life yeah yeah that’s
that’s exactly it you know I would
read multiple method books and it would
all be up here but I didn’t make sense
really until I actually applied it in a
workbook you know going stage by stage
by stage actually making me go through
that process it was kind of like oh oh
now it makes sense okay cool yeah it’s
very helpful so if you if you’re going
back to the lead guitar thing if you
want to play lead guitar aside from
knowing how to play some licks that
sound good like you have to really
understand what key the song is in and
then what your options are for playing
that key and like the diatonic chords
thing is so helpful because like if you
got a chord progression that’s like CFG
you can essentially play C major scale
notes you can play because that’s the 1
4 & 5 chords of the key of C major c d e
f g and so if you do that
you can you know you can use C major
pentatonic scale but your eventually
you’re gonna be it’s gonna all sound
bland after a while so you start to
learn like you can also use like a C
mixolydian scale you start learning all
the other things in that theory like you
just have to know where you can use
certain things playing in playing lead
guitar tube and like somebody will throw
out a chord progression and they’re like
play a little lick over this and you
know you could trial and error just like
loop it and play around but if you
really know your theory you’re like okay
this is in this key I can do this to
make it sound Allman Brothers II I can
do this to make it sound more stevie ray
vaughan or it’s just it’s very helpful
to know the theory into not necessarily
I mean Aaron likes to write it down but
I like taking it and then just like
trying to play over something using what
I was learning about yeah but that’s
more for a lead guitar kind of yeah
that’s why I’m interested seen so how
long have you been playing the guitar
Brent
I started when I was about 17
so that would be 17 years ago yeah where
how did some math yeah okay yeah and I
started taking lessons and it’s kind of
funny I came up and the right when like
AOL came out and stuff and I remember I
kind of did myself a disservice because
I would always start to look tabs up on
the internet for songs so it kind of
hurt my ear train a little bit just like
looking back like I took like every
shortcut I could yeah cuz I was all
about I just wanted to learn and play
songs I was just always in like
songwriting dynamics like sequency and
that was always my thing and still is
for the most part but um but yeah I just
wanted to learn songs right away once I
learned you know like the power chord
it was just on you know in terms of like
meets crappy record punk songs you know
that works man it works
yeah and I always got really into like
the shoegaze the spacey thing for some
reason like I’m not super into gear but
I love like delay especially in reverb
and kind of playing with that
atmospheric type of things yeah yeah for
sure you have anything in particular on
your pedal board that sounds awesome I
have this Danelectro reverse delay pedal
let’s see let me look at it real fast
it’s just called a back talk I guess but
that thing was just so crazy to me
because it plays the signal straight the
first time and then every other time
it’s backwards and you can kind of set
how many times it plays it and like the
frequency and stuff like that and that
was just a really weird cool Spacey
thing I use a lot um I guess so it’s
funny I’m not a big Ivanhoe’s guy at all
but I have a few of their pedals and I
have their a de 7 delay pedal that I’ve
always used I got it when I was 17 or 18
and I still use it and it’s it’s a super
solid pedal I was actually looking on
YouTube recently and it kind of has this
like vintage quality about it like
it’s kind of funny to me cuz I think I
paid like 50 bucks for it and what mm I
don’t know two or three some I thought
yeah and now it’s like super expensive
comparatively it’s like doubled or
tripled and volumes like oh well it’s
crazy like I always thought of as just
this kind of like functioning thing
right but yeah I it’s funny I was
talking to a friend about this like when
I was a teenager I like was shocked that
I had to pay $100 for the like chromatic
tuner pedal I was like a hundred bucks
for a tuner pedal that’s like insane but
I know I still use it to this day and
it’s you know crucial stuff why I would
have never bought the teeny pedal but
somebody in my old band was like wanted
me to have it and gave it to me as a
gift he has a so I played at his wedding
and it was like and now that I have it I
would never go back but it’s like you
can buy a snark for like you know 20
bucks ya know why do you need to pay so
much for a pedal that does the same
thing yeah but it is nice as a muting
pedal exactly not to say that why yeah
it helps kill the signal yeah yeah yeah
cuz I used to mess around with volume
pedals live and I don’t know I just
didn’t like it like I just always found
myself coming erotically like stepping
on it to make sure it was at a hundred
percent right kind of worried it would
kind of slightly go down and alright
eighty or ninety percent but yeah you’re
right it’s a great like kind of kill
switch and that is where we’re gonna end
it today for part one with Brent Lyons
of solving sounds podcast be sure to
head over to any one of the podcasting
apps and subscribe to solving sound
podcast join us next Thursday as we get
into part two and we start talking about
the recording process of Brent’s album
in flow and if you’ve made it this far
by all means
you guys should head over to fret buzz
the podcast calm
and click on the old submit button and
submit your songs we would love I would
love to sit down and hear what you guys
have it doesn’t matter if it’s finished
or if it’s just an idea or whatever I
tell all my students the more you write
better you get
everybody always seems to get stuck up
on this it’s not so good it doesn’t
matter put it out there I know it’s
sometimes a little hard to expose
yourself but the more and more you do it
the easier and easier to come so by all
means head on over to fret buzz the
podcast com submit your songs if you
haven’t already follow us on Instagram
Twitter Facebook yeah thank you for
listening we’re closing in on episode 50
we’ve got some really good guests coming
up fret buzz the podcast is labor of
love for me I really enjoy the process
and I couldn’t do it without you guys
as always if you guys have any topics
that you would like us to cover or any
guests that you have in mind that would
be great for the show hit me up at Aaron
at fret buzz the podcast comm I’d love
to hear from you or even if you have
just something to say give us some
feedback or just say hi to me by all
means let me know I’d love to hear from
you guys
other than that thank you once again for
listening to prep buzz the podcast it’s
been a pleasure and I can’t wait for you
guys to hear the guests that we have
coming up thank you have a good one and
we’ll talk to you next time on fret buzz
the podcast

 

 

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