Morning Coffee with Adrian Galysh, the Man Who Taught his Guitar to Sing

with Carox Rox

Los Angeles-based guitarist Adrian Galysh is an in-demand solo artist, session guitarist, published author, and educator with an illustrious career spanning five studio albums. Praised by artists like Carl Verheyen and outlets like Guitar Player and Fireworks magazines, Galysh has a successful trajectory that includes numerous collaborations and performances with industry giants like Uli Jon RothYngwie MalmsteenRobben FordMike KeneallyGeorge LynchWarren DeMartini, and many more. Galysh is also a Guitar World Magazine online lesson columnist and Education Coordinator for Guitar Center Lessons. He's the author of the book Progressive Guitar Warm-Ups and Exercises. He uses Brian Moore Guitars, D’Angelico Guitars, Suhr Guitars, SIT Strings, Seymour Duncan pickups and effects, Straptight Straplocks, Voodoo Lab and Morley pedals.

Carox:  I woke up this morning and I played So Close…So Far before this interview. That is a great song to wake up to! After so many interviews (congratulations), I wondered if there were any questions left for me to ask, and I found that there still were. My first question to you this morning - is there a particular song or band that started your love of guitar playing?
Adrian: I would say there were specifically two. The first being the guitarist Randy Rhoads with the Ozzy Osbourne band.  I tell most people that when I first heard songs like Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley with these extended guitar solos at the age of nine or ten, I just could not believe what I was hearing. I was like “oh my god, music can be like this, and guitar playing can be this exciting and it really peaked my curiosity and I was like if it’s this exciting to hear it, it must be just as exciting to play it!” I really felt like I was drawn to it and I remember begging my parents to get guitar lessons. Then I would say quickly after that early Van Halen of course, most guitarists in the 80’s were influenced by him and hearing him. Early on those two made me want to do it the most.
Carox: Now where did you hear that music - was it on the radio?
Adrian: Some of it would be on the radio, but I had two older brothers, one was four years older than me and the other was eight years older than me. So when I was eight or nine they were already in high school and listening to that type of music. I think that is where I started since they began to buy and collect records and cassettes and I was just sort of there and I would do it too!  I think any time I had some extra pocket money, there was a record store close to the grocery store in the neighborhood where we lived, so every time my mother would go to the grocery store I’d go to the record store. And so every three weeks or so I could buy something.
Carox: I remember that too. It was always so exciting to buy a new vinyl - you would open up the package and be like giving yourself a present.
Adrian: That, and at the time I was probably too young to watch MTV then, especially in this day and age if you want to know about music you can find it in so many places! But back then, all you had to go on was the pictures on the front and the back or inside of the album cover to go on, and you had to use your imagination what these people were like!

Carox: I think that kids today are still getting inspired by music. Now my second question I have is about the debate about the genre of your music. I have seen a couple of comments about it being instrumental rock or progressive rock. To me, progressive rock is a very distinctive genre that people have written books about. Do you have a genre?
Adrian: The best way to describe the music is to compare it to similar artists. A lot of my music jumps around stylistically - there are a couple of songs that are more classical, a couple are more on the jazz bluesy side, and the acoustic and rock side or even new age. Then I do have some other albums where there are vocals and they are just plain old hard rock or melodic rock but there has always been a progressive edge to it. It is not just simple pop music or 80’s music or anything like that. There are complicated parts and arrangements to it. My first three albums were instrumental. Instrumental as a genre that covers everything from Miles Davis to Joe Satriani… it is hard to pigeonhole. But if people are curious to know what it sounds like, I’d say if you like guitarists like Steve Howe from Yes, or Jeff Beck or Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson then you are probably going to like this a lot.
Carox: I noticed when I was listening to your music that it is very diverse which I really like.  I think that when music get pigeonholed into progressive rock people think it is going to be very long extended sets, zero vocals, and very highly technical and they might not be technical enough to really to understand the music. People are afraid to review progressive music in many ways because they feel they do not have the words to do it.
Adrian: You know I can’t ever see myself going in the direction of bands like Dream Theater or Frank Zappa. I mean to me there is some progressive rock out there I enjoy, but it is more the melodic side. There is a whole other side that is “muso” orientated but I feel like I have taken my state SAT test after I have listened to it. Your brain fills up pretty fast.
Carox: Yes, when I started listening to your music I was wondering what it would be like and really it was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed all the music on it.  So your love of guitar and mastery of it, you have brought that into your daily life. You are a guitar critic, a teacher, and mentor of others. Do you think a lot of kids today are still as keen to play guitar as they were?
Adrian: I don’t think it is maybe as popular as it used to be. Interestingly enough I usually have 30 to 40 students and half of them are young like ages nine, ten, eleven or twelve and the other half are adults. The adults are in their 40’s 50’s and 60’s. The adults are the ones revisiting this instrument from their youth after their kids have grown up. Any time I have a young student (or anybody) I ask them “why do you want to play guitar and take guitar lessons?” I think the answer is now different than it used to be, it is now  “…I don’t know, I like music.” I will ask if there is a specific guitarist or musician…the answer is “no”. Now when I was younger the answer was definitive – it would be “Jim Hendrix died and that was the moment I wanted to play guitar” or “I saw Eric Clapton I wanted to play guitar. Or I heard Eddie Vah Halen playing Eruption and I wanted to play guitar”. There were these moments in time that struck the world through the radio or TV where it was a definitive moment. Kids now are just on their phones, that is where they listen to their music, and they might get inspired to play guitar because they heard songs on a video game, it is just strange. Like they really don’t know specifics about the band or the guitarist they like or the band they like. They are just kind of curious about it. There are a few younger students that are keen to who all those people are but it’s usually because they have pretty hip parents who are letting their kids listen to their stuff and telling them all about it.
Carox: Well I think the love of music is something that generations need to pass down to each other. Now, do I need to be technically savvy to enjoy your music?
Adrian:  I don’t think so. I am such a melody person and for me, there must an element in each song that moves me as a listener. I just want it to be interesting. So whether it is the vibe of the song or the melody that has some twists and turns that provokes a feeling - that is what I aim for. There are bands that tend to write music that is challenging for the sake of being challenging for themselves. While I do like to challenge myself it is not the end goal for me.
Carox:  Right like you don’t want to challenge the audience. Earlier on did you used to go and do lots of gigs in LA?
Adrian: Well I still do. I have been in LA since 1999 and so as soon as I got to town I found a couple of band members and started doing my thing. I do play pretty regularly.
Carox: So anyone in LA can come and catch a show. I saw that you had enjoyed the company of Uli Jon Roth and I was wondering about that experience. He is such a nice guy! What did you learn from him?
Adrian:  I like this question!  Cos I did learn something from him. Let me preface by saying, I am a huge Uli Jon Roth fan since I was really young. Around that time I was just discovering Randy Rhoads and Van Halen I heard the Scorpions I bought the Blackout album and Love At First Sting? with all the hits on it  and then that little record store I talked about, well I would go over and sometimes I would not have enough  money to buy the new album but they would have some of the old records. I would buy the old albums, the ones with Uli on them from the 70’s. My friends would say, “What is this?  it is not the Scorpions!” and of course it does not sound like Rock You like a Hurricane. But a couple of years later I really got into them.
How I ended up meeting him was in 2006 Uli did a series of shows called Uli Jon Roth and friends for three nights here in Hollywood. I kept seeing all these announcements for all these new guest artists. At a certain point, I was like “you know what, I know some of these guys and I’ll be damned if they play with my favorite guitarist and I don’t!”
So I sent an email to his website and he responded, “hey I listened to your tunes,  you sound great” a so he invited me onto the show. He did that for a few years in a row and he knew that I was such a huge Scorpion fan and I knew all the songs. There was even a song where he could not remember his solo and I ended up playing it for him. So back in 2011, I ended up touring with him. What I learned from him is that he expects the band and performers to always be performing at 100 percent. So if there is a part I don’t know and I am just trying to play the right notes – he will show you how - he will always be playing with feeling and with the right tone to him there is no difference.

Carox:  That must have been a wonderful experience.
Adrian: Yes he is just a guy who is what he is. You look at him now and wow  - is he really wearing the same clothes from the albums covers in the 70’s? He really is. He still sounds like him and he still has that tone. That kind of thing is ageless.
Carox: Yes, he is an extremely authentic musician. Now I understand that you have put some of your songs together remotely in a home studio?
Adrian: Generally, I record as much as I can in my home studio.  I can’t do drums here cos it’s in a house. All the guitar parts, bass parts, keyboards and even vocals in previous records - all of that gets done here I get it as close as to how I think it can be even with programmed drums and once it is as far as  I can get it we take it to a real studio where somebody is going to set up drums and a microphone for it. So that is what I did for this record went to a studio for one day and had (Alice Cooper stickman) Glen Sobel track drums. Then I have digital files at home, then I might adjust things according to how he played. If he is putting in his version of a groove then I have to kind of adjust it. Then when I had Stu Hamm playing, we did it over over texting and stuff, and emails, he would send it to me and then we would make comments and then any changes we would make the changes.
Carox: Are we going to see a time when you bust out as and go on tour with that album?
Adrian: Two weeks ago we did the CD release party and performed the whole album in the first set, but what I usually end up doing is going around the country, with guitar workshops, festivals, schools and colleges clinics and master classes.
Carox: Might be fun for you to hop on a tour bus, I’m sure everyone would let you go!
Adrian: My credit card would not like it but yes. 10 years ago I did short eight or nine days for my album Earth tones with two other guitarists and it was a ton of fun. I drove the van, everybody piled in. There wasn’t a map app on the phone; you had to print out directions! You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. As expensive as it was, but was it was a good thing was a good thing!
Carox: Adrian, I really enjoyed listening to your album and talking to you today!
Adrian Galysh Venusian Sunrise: 20th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: 7/10/2018
"So Close...So Far" Press Release: