Galen Weston covers all the jazz-rock bases on his 2015 CD
entitled, Plugged In. The CD sounds very inspired
by the jazz-fusion guitar school of fretboard greats like Carl Verheyen
and Eric Johnson, but clearly, on the twelve track Plugged In CD,
Galen dives deep into a number of music genres. The all-instrumental
nature of the album is greatly enhanced by first rate sonic support
from a number of musicians, including drummer Al Cross. The
cover art of Plugged In features Galen in the throes of his
art and the CD features in depth liner notes from noted jazz scribe
Bill Milkowski. Speaking to mwe3.com about the wide range of
influences on Plugged In, Galen explains, "I think because
it was my first album and I was so excited to be doing it there was
a lot of things I wanted to say musically. My first jazz
albums is coming from my influences
Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton
and Mike Stern. I love that music so I wanted to cover those influences
with Song For Daphne and Rose Garden. Then
there was the finger-style era which came to me via Tommy Emmanuel
so I did Country in that style
well the best I could!
1970s and 80s fusion with Galens Vice. Eric Johnson
is one of my biggest heroes and my tribute is Rock Jam
and Funk Opus #2. Mark Knopfler gets Yellow Guitar.
George Benson inspired Bensonite but it morphed quite
a bit during the recording process. Joe Satriani and Steve Vai inspired
Tasteless mixed with Macedonian music from my wifes
family. There is still more I want to do so I am working on the next
album now." With the 2015 CD release of Plugged In, Toronto-based
guitarist Galen Weston is off to a great start and hes promising
more high quality sounds in the future. www.GalenWeston.org
presents an interview with
Can you tell the readers where youre from originally and where
you live now and what you like best about it? What other cities and
countries do you like to visit?
Galen Weston: I currently live in downtown Toronto. I grew
up in Freelton Ontario a small rural town just outside of Toronto.
Toronto is a great city I love the multicultural aspect. I also love
Europe. I recently spent some time in Italy, Switzerland and Greece.
mwe3: If you dont mind me saying, its a bit unusual
for a debut CD to be this good! When was the album written and recorded
and how do you feel Plugged In represents you and your music?
Galen Weston: Well I appreciate you saying that. It took me
two years to finish the album and I really grew as a musician during
that time. I was fortunate to own the commercial studio in which I
recorded it in. roseroom.ca
I was able to spend the time required to get it just how I wanted
and in some areas raise the level of my playing through practice to
achieve that goal. I am not a native Jazzman although the album is
not really traditional jazz. So for me, I love jazz but I have to
work at it because I grew up playing rock and roll. So maybe we will
call this rockin jazz!
mwe3: Your music is very authentic sounding yet theres
a kind of musical déjà vu spirit on Plugged In.
How many genres do you think you cover on the CD? Its very fusion-y
sounding but theres some great bluesy wailing as well. How do
you feel Plugged In covers all the bases of your guitar style
and compositional approach?
Galen Weston: I think because it was my first album and I was
so excited to be doing it there was a lot of things I wanted to say
musically. My first jazz albums is coming from my influences
Pat Metheny, Larry Carlton and Mike Stern. I love that music so I
wanted to cover those influences with Song For Daphne
and Rose Garden. Then there was the finger-style era which
came to me via Tommy Emmanuel so I did Country in that
well the best I could! 1970s and 80s fusion
with Galens Vice. Eric Johnson is one of my biggest heroes and
my tribute is Rock Jam and Funk Opus #2. Mark
Knopfler gets Yellow Guitar. George Benson inspired Bensonite
but it morphed quite a bit during the recording process. Joe Satriani
and Steve Vai inspired Tasteless mixed with Macedonian
music from my wifes family. There is still more I want to do
so I am working on the next album now.
How important is melody in a guitar instrumental say, compared to
mood, ambience or technique? Do you find your approach to musical
content favors melody over style or technique?
Galen Weston: Interesting question. I am extremely focused
on the melody. To me that is the story you are telling. Melody and
rhythm are the most important aspects of the song. I get bored pretty
quickly when listening to ambient guitar sounds. Technique is important
to a point. You have to be able to have enough technique to tell a
story. I dont get caught up in it beyond that.
mwe3: Which guitarists were important to you while you were
growing up in Canada and what guitarists and bands today catch your
ear? Do you think the golden days of the guitar are a thing of the
past or is the future bright ahead?
Galen Weston: From the rock era it was Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy
Page, Slash, Joe Satriani and many others. Great era. Then Eric Johnson
was the next major influence. I got into jazz late. I was in my early
20s when I started to get serious about it. Today I still listen to
Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and others. Carlos Santana I have been recently
enjoying. I think the future is bright for guitar. When people get
sick of their computers they will start focusing more on the guitar.
Everything goes in cycles and the guitar will have many more.
mwe3: Youre featured on the cover art of Plugged In
playing a yellow Strat. What can you tell us about your yellow Strat?
Has it been modified or worked on? You even dedicated a song to it
on Plugged In! What strings and amps and pedals / effect do
you like to plug in to the Strat?
Galen Weston: That guitar is magic. I bought it on Ebay, it
is a John Cruz master built. Nothing can touch the sound and I have
quite a few guitars including a 65 Strat. It is mostly original.
I changed the bridge pickup to a Dimarzio HS2. I cant say it
changed the sound all that much. I don't get that caught up with strings.
Someone gave me a big box of Ernie Balls and I stick with them. 11s
to 52s I think, so fairly heavy. I have tons of pedals but I
realized I don't need most of them. I always thought growing up
if only I had that pedal. I can now confirm the sound
does not come from the pedal. I have 20 delay pedals and I can get
the same sound from every one of them. But the irony is I think I
needed to buy all those pedals just to learn that!
Do you have a preference regarding acoustic guitars and can you see
a day when you might have your own signature Strat?
Galen Weston: I would love to have a signature Strat. I think
I would make the exact same guitar but try out more neck radius. I
used a 61 Gibson 335 on song for "Daphne". I used
a guitar from Borne Custom guitars on parts of "Funk Opus"
and "Late and Never". For acoustic guitars I have a Larrivee,
Collings and Martin. They are all great. I used the Collings
mwe3: Who recorded Plugged In with you? The playing
is excellent all around and I read in the liner notes where you mention
these musicians are some of the best session musicians in Toronto.
Galen Weston: When I first opened the studio Al Cross came
in on a session for someone else. We started talking. He is an easy
guy to get a long with and a great drummer. He recommended David Woodhead
on bass and I went with that recommendation and I am glad I did. They
work great together. In college I used to follow a band called 5
After 4, a fusion band from Toronto. I really appreciated Matt
Horners keyboard playing so I hunted him down. Richard Underhill
is a great sax player. I knew of him and just contacted him and asked
him to play. We get along really well.
mwe3: You were active working in the online world before you
decided to go back to the guitar? What brought you back the guitar
and the recording world? I guess its our advantage that you
did come back to the recording world! Were you active in the guitar
world even while you worked in the internet world? Seems like the
2 worlds are so closely united these days!
Weston: I think being mostly a self-taught musician being an entrepreneur
comes along with that training. Its a similar skill set. You
gotta figure things out on your own. I graduated music school and
needed a job. The live music industry in Toronto was dead. I was tired
of being poor so I had to figure it out. I ended up in the financial
industry, which led me to the idea of marketing for financial advisors.
The internet was still new but somehow I figured out how to generate
leads for people looking for help with their finances.
After ten or so years of working very long hours I finally took a
fairly long vacation in Greece. A month into it my mind just opened
up and I remembered who I wants was. I immediately committed myself
to getting back to music to finish what I had started. When I got
back to Toronto I started building a world-class recording studio.
That way there would be no turning back! And here we are four years
mwe3: I hear a definite rock instrumental energy in your originals
while, theres also some tributes to great jazz composers like
Keith Jarrett and Jimmy Van Huesen. On Plugged In, are you
trying to link together the various genres of jazz, maybe in an effort
to expose younger ears to greats from yesteryear and put it all into
context? Theres a lot of music over the past 60 years!
Galen Weston: Its funny I was going through my iTunes
trying to find jazz standards to record and practice to. I was looking
for songs I could make my own. Country is not really a
standard but I happened to click on it. I picked up an acoustic and
started trying to transcribe Keiths playing because I loved
it. A month later from practicing it day in day out I was able to
play it. Like Someone In Love I also just clicked on.
And for some reason I thought it would sound great played like ZZ
Top. It was kind of cool but I toned the rock part down a bit. To
be honest I was not thinking about other people
I did those
two songs to challenge myself. I dont think about the guitar
in terms of genre. To me it almost is the genre. It ties all music
together. That is what I tried to do on Plugged In.
In the liner notes, you close by saying you have a lot more to do
in the guitar / recording world. So now that youve made one
of the great jazz-rock guitar fusion albums of 2015 with Plugged
In, what sights do you have your eyes and ears set on next?
Galen Weston: Well I am working on a tour now that might be
the most advanced theatrical visual show the jazz guitar world has
ever seen. My uncle has animated a story that I have written in little
segments about learning jazz. He has done movies with David Bowie
and Roger Waters. He also animated Guitar Hero 3 by Van Halen.
Stay tuned it is going to be special. I will also be introducing new
material that I would say goes much deeper into the jazz world. I
am pumped about it because I have been working really hard on some
elements of my playing that will allow for me to enter new territory
and merge all the influences tighter then I have. Also I have a lot
more live experience that will be evident in these recordings. Should
be finished in May to June.