This is an interesting time in music. Flash and artifice have taken the place of actual talent in many cases. It’s just as common to watch someone lip-synch their way through a tune in the latest designer rags while they mime guitar playing. It’s a living tableau of that classic ‘Addicted to Love’ video by Robert Palmer, itself a send up of 80s MTV culture that spawned a generation of rock stars that wouldn’t know what to do with a guitar if it jumped up and bit them in their D flat ass.
But fear not, music fans, there are still people out there who can play, sing, and write. And one of the new stars on that horizon is Brandon McHose, a singer, songwriter and very accomplished guitar player. McHose released a 4-track EP earlier this year called ‘Late Night’ that has garnered him quite a bit of acclaim and a burgeoning fan base who love his soulful, melodic music.
“I was able to work on my singing with a great vocal coach, while continuing to be around an incredibly creative atmosphere of musicians…”
McHose comes by his talent naturally. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he was tutored by his father on guitar and took to it immediately. It wasn’t long before the young musician hit the stage to try out his craft in front of an audience. He was just a kid when he made his debut at a place called The Club Car. “I was in 6th grade,” he recalls. “I played ‘Show Me the Way’ by Peter Frampton as my first song, followed by ‘Tequila Sunrise’ by the Eagles.” While he may have been ambitious, the experience was pretty daunting. “I was so scared to sing and play. It was a neighborhood grill near our house where I grew up. The audience was very gracious to me, and I’m sure my guitar playing had to have been the only highlight, because I was very new to singing at that time.”
Soon, the young musician realized he loved being onstage, and a few years later he relocated to Austin, Texas—itself a hotbed of creativity—to hone is craft. “There are many great songwriters down there and I learned so much about how to be vivid and storytelling (in certain songs) with my own lyrics,” he remembers of his days in Austin. “I was able to work on my singing with a great vocal coach, while continuing to be around an incredibly creative atmosphere of musicians that were playing both similar and different genres to my own.”
“I was raised listening to authentic music, so that definitely plays a large part in how I perceive both the recording process and playing live.”
McHose networked and jammed with some of Austin’s best players while fine-tuning his skills. It was during that time he found his sound and came to realize the importance of being authentic with his music. It’s a key to his sound both onstage and in the studio. “I was raised listening to authentic music, so that definitely plays a large part in how I perceive both the recording process and playing live,” he says of his musical ethos. “My favourite musicians are all incredible live, and I figure, if you can’t be just as good live, you probably shouldn’t even tour. Nothing would be worse than someone leaving my show and saying, ‘Wow, his recordings are so much better than his live show’. The live show is supposed to be memorable, so my aim is to always make it that way for my audience.”
It’s no wonder he feels that way about performing considering who some of his big influences are: Joe Walsh, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Stephen Still and Brad Paisley, to name a few. They are each performers with a unique way of playing. This really resonated with McHose. “I have always had a love affair with the guitar, but when I started writing my own tunes, I wanted to sing them as well,” he says. “This ultimately magnetized me to artists who could play really well and sing. My approach with my influences was and is really simple, ‘don’t study a player so long that you start sounding like them!’ Stay unique.
“Get out and play, work hard, and you will get noticed.”
McHose’s latest video is for a song called ‘Goodbye’. It’s a melodic, mid-tempo tune that showcases both his voice and his favourite guitar. “I have a ’74 Les Paul that was used in the ‘Goodbye’ video,” he says. “It sparkles with its clarity, but adds just enough kick to make it sound ‘rockin’’. I’m typically a Telecaster player and have all sorts of them, but if there was one guitar right now I could not give up, it is this one.”
‘Goodbye’ has become a Youtube hit in relatively short order, racking up several hundred thousand views and counting. Its timeless message of loss has really hit a chord with fans. “It’s really about closing chapters and moving on with experiences in life,” says McHose about the lyrics. “We aren’t always given the choice, but in the end we only have one choice and that is to move forward. While this song has personal meaning to me, I really hope others can pull from it as well.”
McHose has captured a big audience with venues like Youtube and other social networks featuring his music. And while he knows the importance of social media and technology in spreading his music around, there is one thing he says is essential to a career: live performance. “You have to tour! I’ve said this before; no one can become a legend in their parents’ basement! Get out and play, work hard, and you will get noticed.” That’s the credo of an authentic musician.
Andrew Vail’s writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites.