Paul 'TFO' Allen: On Being an Entertainer

March 17, 2011
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 Over the years, I have delved into very advanced guitar techniques and have spent a lot of time learning how to execute them to the best of my abilities.  After all of that work, I'm still the happiest when I get to play three power chords and scream at the top of my lungs.  That's what made me want to start playing guitar—it wasn't the shredders or the guys doing all of the fancy tricks.  I related to the energy of the punk songs and the hooks, and that is what still keeps me going.

On a recent gig I got to play "Rock 'n' Roll" with Dee Snyder and Gretchen Wilson, and then we played Gretchen's radio hit "Here For The Party."  I've played that song with her many times in the past, but this night's version had been injected with the an extra dose of Zeppelin juice.  By the end of the song, my guitar was completely out of tune and I had split my index finger's cuticle open. I spent the last half of the song bending all of the notes to pitch until I had an opportunity to tune, which was fine with me.  After doing so many shows, you learn how to keep the train rolling no matter what happens.  I don't let things like that ruin my gig because my first obligation as an entertainer is to, you guessed it, entertain

In John Rich's set I do everything from AC/DC power rock to playing snippets of Justin Timberlake songs, and whether I'm playing rap, rock, country, punk, or pop, my attitude is always the same: Play everything with authority and confidence.  If I make a mistake, it's gonna be a loud and obvious one, because nothing to me is worse than a player who timidly pecks around on their instrument.  That lack of conviction makes the artist you are playing for very uncomfortable because it makes them worry that you don't know the material and there is going to be a big train wreck in the middle of their song.  

The point here is that if you have aspirations to play music for a living, make sure you dedicate equal amounts of time to educating yourself about equipment and music history, studying your craft, practicing your instrument, and most importantly, learning how to be an entertainer.  —Paul “TFO” Allen      

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