So lately one of my guilty pleasures has been trolling this website called Chatroulette.com. It’s comedy gold for somebody like me. But the other night while I was looking for people to harass, I was completely blown out of the water by this musician named Travis Tidwell from Nashville, Tennessee.
Sure, there’s a lot of YouTube prodigies out there nowadays, but I have no doubt in my mind Travis is on his way to becoming an amazing metal guitar player. I can’t say enough about this guy’s attitude and drive. Travis turns nineteen this week, and he already has his own signature guitar line and other endorsement deals on the way. He’s also our guest this week in five questions.
FOH: How did you first get into the type of power metal that you play? Were you a fan first and just decided that you had to learn how to play?
TT: Well I actually started out on the piano when I was about 10 years old, I grew up around music my whole life, my dad always played bars, if not for that, I wouldn’t have had some birthday presents and Christmas presents, I had a few of my birthday parties at bars where my dad was playing. So I was bound to get into the music business. When I first started exploring my interest in music, it was quite a challenge, my dad started me out with a small 3/4 sized Epiphone Les Paul guitar and tried to teach me some chords on it…I absolutely hated it! Then I tried drums, and I thought I liked it, I know my parents sure didn’t like it! But they weren’t for me, When I was about 10, I thought I’d test out the piano and my parents got me a Yamaha keyboard for my birthday. I was always being told by my dad that I picked up quick, I was self taught by ear, and I was into guys like Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Little Richard, and I would learn the songs and just fantasize about performing! When I was about 11 or so, my dad and I realized that my passion was for music. He knew about a guy who was a professor, who had taught at some California college, my dad asked him if he’d teach me, but he wasn’t into teaching kids. But he got me in there and decided that I learned fast and decided to teach me. After about a year, one day he told me to just go home, that he couldn’t teach me anymore, he made the comment that I was now teaching him more than he teaching me, and that I had mastered many college levels of music, playing wise. I didn’t know what it meant at the time, I thought he was mad at me. I guess one day, I kinda got bored with the piano and started messing with my dad’s guitar, and I’ve always liked metal, even in the piano days, I was raised on it, thanks to my dad! I was always into the 80’s metal and stuff like that, I remember my dad making me check out Randy Rhoads, when I listened to the Blizzard Of Oz album, I was more than blown away, it literally changed my life. I just didn’t understand how a human being was capable of making such music. In those days, I was never into classical music…that I knew of. But I finally realized that Randy Rhoads was incorporating classical music influences in heavy metal. Nowadays, I’ll admit to classical being my favorite kind of music, for many reasons. Back then, I honestly did not listen to power metal, It wasn’t until my dad and his friends started bringing up bands that weren’t very popular in the mainstream eye, I remember being shown Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stratovarias, and guys like that, I was blown away, as if I were rediscovering Rhoads all over again. I was instantly drawn to power metal because of its classical influence and amazing caliber of musicians.
FOH: Who do you consider to be your biggest influence and why?
TT: For me, I’m a Christian, so, to me, God will always be my number one influence. My biggest influence though, it’s really hard to say just one. Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen are probably my biggest playing influences. The reason being is because these guys truly innovated guitar playing, Rhoads brought in this eerie, yet beautiful sounding classical influence to the guitar, while Yngwie went raw with it, with the huge Paganini influence, they are both geniuses. There are of course other guys I truly respect and look up to as well, but these two masters are key in my mind.
FOH: How do you view the current state of music in general at the moment?
TT: Well, I’ve come to conclude that music, is like a pendulum. So what is “in” today, probably wont be in 5 years. However there are guys, who innovate music on the way and their names will forever be written down in history. That’s why one of my personal mottos goes, “Be a trend setter, not a trend follower.” I personally am not really into a lot of the mainstream music, but at the same time, I fully respect those artists who are making it doing what they love to do, and the fans for supporting such hardworking musicians and artists, and expressing their musical opinions.
FOH: How do you view the current state of heavy metal music at the moment?
TT: It all goes back to what I said about the pendulum. And also history repeats itself. I prefer clean vocals over the heavy ones, but right now, the heavy vocals are popular, and like I said, I respect those guys, it takes talent to do what they do. I also don’t hear a lot of “shredding” in today’s heavy metal like you would back in the 80’s, but I feel like the pendulum is making another turn, I seem to be hearing hints of it more and more, also when I look at a music gear catalog, I see that these companies that were huge in the 80’s are now coming back with the 80’s themed guitars, so I take it as a hint of shredding possibly being back and bigger than ever!
FOH: What will the state of heavy metal look like, eight years from now in 2020?
TT: Music, technology, generations, and ideas are always progressing, I can’t depict exactly what it will look like, but I do see it still being one of the top leading genres in music, like it always has been. The thing about the pendulum, is even though it seems to come back, you never know where it’s going next, or for how long.
FOH: What is the most important and/or surprising thing that you’ve learned about the music business so far?
TT: Well I think one misconception about the music business is that all of the people involved in it are “jerks”. It not completely true, if you are looking to be in this business and you’re trying to make connections and they aren’t responding to you, it’s not that they are trying to avoid you, you have to keep in mind how busy that person might be, also, there are certain ways to go about things, I’ve come up with my own person and successful formulas for these things, I did a lot of research and homework on this subject. One thing that everyone has to know is that you do have to work for it, nothing is handed to you really. I’ve not made it, but I hope that I may say, not just yet! The most important thing about the music business is, it’s clearly stated, it’s a BUSINESS, and it has to be treated like one, and with that in mind, put forth the work and effort and you’ll start to see the light of things!
FOH: Could you describe the Nashville music scene in one word? (Obviously feel free to elaborate after that, about maybe what it’s like to be a metal guitarist in such a country music city or whatever…)
TT: CRAZY!! Yes, it’s true you do have your county music here, but we have a metal scene here as well, not as big of a market as country of course, but it’s there. Nashville is stereotyped about only country music being the main thing around here, there is something for everyone here, as far as listening. Being a guitar player in the Nashville area is nothing new, there’s tons of guitar player here, there are some who play downtown who make decent money at it, and there are those who are absolutely amazing players who are playing for tips in a pickle jar. It’s a crazy city. As a guitarist and being in the area where legendary session guitarists work daily, I knew it was important to be versatile, because if you are, you’re more likely to have a steady job at it. I won’t lie, I love chicken pickin’, I don’t believe that I’m great at it, but it’s good to know, but metal is my forte!
FOH: You’re somebody whose obviously become known because of the internet. What’s your take on the downsides and upsides of the internet when it comes to people buying and selling their music?
TT: Technology has greatly progressed since the guitar age of the 80’s. Back in those days, I assume you had to just go out there and play, I wouldn’t really know because I was born in ’93! Today however, you have these sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, it’s a lot easier to keep up with people. I’ve tried to use Facebook and YouTube as tools. Sure they are mainly used for keeping up with friends or for your own viewing pleasure, but in my mind, I can connect or be connected with nearly anyone because of it, and I’ve made some amazing connections because of the internet. The downside of buying music or selling it on the internet is that it doesn’t always happen. File sharing sites are huge, and people download things illegally so much these days, that affects an artist not getting the royalties or even just respect that they deserve, musicians who have made it, made it on support. Everyone has an artist that they really like, one they support, show it! They work hard for you!
FOH: I’ve seen on your YouTube videos some people have been pretty harsh in the comments section, specifically the Ozzy Osbourne audition. But I’ve noticed that you seem to handle the criticism very well, is this something you’ve learned from other musicians or were you a pretty positive person to begin with?
TT: First things first. You cannot please everyone. It’s impossible. Naturally, I think we all try to, but it just doesn’t work that way due to people’s right of opinion. But, at the same time, it should inspire you. The internet is world wide, anyone can see it. The music business is a people business, so getting super angry at what someone says about my music and playing would be useless, it’s their right to think that way, and to express their opinion. Also, I believe that being mature about it, and not trying to “get back” at them is the way to go. If someone is watching you, and can potentially help you in what you’re trying to do, bashing the people that you are trying to get support you probably isn’t the thing to do. But I would also say that I’m a very positive person, I always try to look on the bright side of things, especially in this business. Criticism only makes you stronger, that’s the way I think everyone should feel about it. Feed off that and work hard so that when you accomplish what you’re going for, you can thank them in the end for shaping out the great things you’ve done.
FOH: What’s next for Travis Tidwell in 2012?
TT: Hopefully some amazing things and experiences, and another path cleared on the way to making my dream happen!! But for sure, more hard work will happen! I hope that in 2012 more people will know my name, and that you all will support me! Wish me luck!
Travis on Youtube: www.youtube.com/TravisTidwell01
Check out Travis on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TravisTidwell01
Follow Travis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TravisTidwell01
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