“I started playing when I was 12,” says
LaLonde. “My motivation was from seeing
bands like Rush and Van Halen. I was
really blown away and I wanted to be
those guys up on stage. So I started taking
guitar lessons, learning songs I had
“When I began taking lessons from
Joe Satriani, things changed dramatically.
He was so advanced and innovative, with
these crazy scales and giant bizarre chords
that I never knew existed. I had never
heard anything like what he was doing.
Also, watching the most amazing guitarist
on the planet three feet away from
me in a tiny lesson room gave me the
confidence that real people could be even
cooler than the guys with the hairspray
and leather and fog machines. He really
opened my eyes to the idea that the guitar
was a piece of wood with strings and
pickups that could be used in any way
that you were able to dream of, and he
gave me many tools to do that. After that,
I was only into music that was unique
and weird and honest. My musical heroes
started to be people who were innovators
and risk takers, and my goal became
trying to have my own thing and not
worry about hitting the big time, since
that was a pretty far-fetched idea anyway
with the music I was interested in.
“When it comes to soloing, I love Frank
Zappa and Jerry Garcia. They both have a
way of taking what could be thought of
as a traditional guitar solo section and
orchestrating on the spot in a way that
never becomes noodle-y or sounds like
filler. Their solo sections become a different
piece of music every time. On more
song-oriented guitar parts, I like Adrian
Belew and Robert Fripp. The textures and
melodies they create—with great voicings,
effects, and counter-phrasing—can go from
very beautiful to mind bending. For what
I would consider extreme or truly alternative
note and sound choices, I really like
East Bay Ray and Snakefinger.
“To get into this mindset, force yourself
to do things that don’t come naturally
or are uncomfortable to play. If you play
a pattern or a chord that looks or feels
like the opposite of what you were about
to play, you’ll start to hear and play things
that you have probably never heard before.
At the same time, your guitar vocabulary
and fingering abilities will start to expand,
making it easier to translate your vision
from your mind to your guitar. Things like
fame and success can be dictated by many
different factors that are out of your control.
If you are able to create sounds and
feelings on the guitar that make you happy,
you’ll have something you can really use.
I think this is the most important aspect
of guitar playing.”
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