Name: Andy McKee
Town: Topeka, Kansas
Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
At what age did you start playing guitar and why?
I started playing at age 13. I had just moved back to Kansas from New Mexico and the middle school I attended actually offered a guitar class. So on my 13th birthday that year, my dad got me a guitar.
An Aria nylon string.
My early influences would have to be Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pantera... a lot of bands like that. After playing for awhile, I heard about Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Then I went with my cousin to go see Preston Reed play on my 16th birthday. He blew my mind! Then I got into Michael Hedges, Don Ross, and Billy McLaughlin.
Me and a few friends played "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. None of us could sing so it was an instrumetal version... HA!
Acoustic Guitars you own:
Ayers Andy McKee signature guitar, Andrew White Prototype Jumbo, Larrivee LV-05, Guild F47RCE, Ron Spiller's Harpguitar.
Favorite Guitar: I am extremely comfortable with my Ayers. It plays so well! My Andrew White guitar has an amazing tone and volume.
Your Style, and how you developed it:
Your Style, and how you developed it: My style... I'd say I have been heavily influenced by the modern acoustic guitar masters so I have a similar sound perhaps. But over the last few records, I've really developed my own sound. I like to do interesting things on the guitar. I've never been satisfied with playing G, C, and D so I try to do something interesting sonically with every song I write. At the same time, I have re-learned the importance of communication with music. In the end, that's what it's really all about. Communication. So I think it's good to have a nice melodic idea in my music. Masaaki Kishibe is one of my favorite melodic guitarists. I've had the chance to tour with him a number of times now and he really reminded me of the importance of melody. It's not all about virtuoisty, you really need to say something when you play. So although I am sometimes writing really difficult things, I am trying to always express something to the listener.
8 hours of video games a day. Ha! Ok no really, I am at a time right now where I am not really practicing too much. Usually when I pick up the guitar, I am trying come up with something new. A new song or tuning to play with. I don't really go over my songs or anything like that. My memory keeps 'em pretty well. I probably should practice more though, just to make sure little screw up's don't creep in.
My four main influences are Michael Hedges, Don Ross, Preston Reed, and Billy McLaughlin. I also get tremendous inspiration from these people: Stephen Bennett, Masaaki Kishibe, Kotaro Oshio, Isato Nakagawa, Jacques Stotzem, Bjork, The Crash Test Dummies, Dream Theater, Vince DiCola, Tchaikovsky, Eric Johnson, King Crimson, Michael Manring, Victor Wooten, Peter Gabriel and I still enjoy some of the old metal bands I used to listen too...
As you can guess from my earlier joke in the Practice Regimen section, I am a video game addict. I just got an Xbox 360 for Christmas! Woo-hoo! If I am not playing guitar, I am playing video games.
As for my views on today's music in general, I guess I am not really into it too much. Like the stuff on MTV and whatnot. It seems to not really have much depth to it, at least to my ears. But you know, there are a lot of people out there that find it compelling so what do I know. It's cool about Kaki King though, getting on Conan and Letterman. That's really freaking awesome for all of the fingerstyle guitar community. Hopefully more and more people will discover how amazing and expressive one person with one guitar can be! Without vocals even! It may be wishful thinking, but I am a "glass is half full" kind of guy.
Visit Don's website at www.andymckee.com to learn more about Andy and his music.