Making its way back to the Caulfield Racecourse for its fifth consecutive year, the Melbourne Guitar Show is eyeing August 2019 off like a dog eyes off its dinner. Poised to be its biggest and best jaunt yet, this year's show – kicking off across the weekend of August 3rd and 4th – promises a (quite literally) jam-packed lineup of performers and exhibitors, with an emphasis on getting punters hands-on with the enormous array of axes on show.
In the lead-up to this year's Melbourne Guitar Show, Australian Guitar is going full steam ahead on the hype train. Every Tuesday and Friday, we'll be going head-to-head with one of the top-notch fretboard warriors making their way to the show, in the pursuit of getting to know a little more about who'll be melting out minds when they take to the stage. In this edition: Jeremy Barnes.
Hell hath no fury like the rock ’n’ roll riffage that Jeremy Barnes is capable of. With a full band to back him, Barnes’ chief talents lie in jazzy, improvisational licks and sharp, searing solos that are impossible to keep up with. He makes dancing across the fretboard look like walk in the park, his expressions enviously blasé as he puts some of the world’s greatest soloists to shame. You might have some trouble headbanging along with all the cataclysmic time signature-hopping, but rest assured, Barnes’ top-shelf playing will stick to your soul like toffee between teeth.
What are you most looking forward to about the 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show?
I’m looking forward to catching up with the other players – a lot of whom are good friends – and meeting lots of new faces. I’m very much looking forward to trying out all the gear that the guitar and amp companies have on show, too – this show is always a guitar player's paradise. And of course, playing with my band on Sunday. We have some crazy new material to play for everybody.
Why do you think events like the Melbourne Guitar Show are so important for guitar lovers?
Because it gives them a chance to get up close and personal to the players that they may be watching on social media and YouTube, and in magazines. And with the workshops, they have the opportunity to ask questions and get insights from players that they like and guys they may not have heard of. It also exposes players to other kinds of music that they may not find themselves. And of course, there’s the opportunity to talk to brand reps and try out lots of gear.
What can punters expect from your performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show? Do you have any exciting surprises or curveballs up your sleeve?
I'll be playing a lot of new music that hasn’t been released yet, with a killer band featuring Pete Drummond (one of Australia’s premier drummers) and Nick Delaney (an insanely talented bass player, guitarist and composer, who also plays in a band called Kardinal). Punters can expect lots of odd timings, progressive compositions and many, many notes. It’s a bit of an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride for everybody – including us! And yes, there will be a surprise guest or two appearing in the set as well. It'll be loads of fun!
What are you most excited about in the guitar world right now?
I think it’s exciting that there seems to be a resurgence in guitar playing and guitar music. There seems to be a real love of excellence towards the instrument, which puts the future of it in good hands. I don’t think it’ll be mainstream again anytime soon, but there is tons of great guitar music coming out all the time, so the scene is definitely healthy. Also, the major advancements in gear, and the variety of tones now available at the touch of a button.
What innovations would you like to see companies take with the guitar in the near (and distant) future?
There’s not a lot I can think of that hasn’t already been thought of and done – the options on the electric guitar, from colours and finishes, to auto-tuning heads, to pickup types and configurations, to the number of strings... It's already mind-boggling. Companies are doing amazing things already, but honestly, the older I get, the more simple the guitars I like become. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more into Strats and Teles with less bells and whistles. I’m happy if you can split coils for more tone options.
What guitar(s) are you playing on at the moment? Do you have any particular go-tos or favourites?
I’m really loving Charvel instruments at the moment. I’ve always been a fan, but the new So Cals and Pro Mods are amazing instruments, and they play and sound great, so I’m pretty much using them for everything right now. Having said that, I was with Godin guitars for a long time, and I have two Godin Progression Strats that I still play a lot. They’re great guitars, and playing those two in particular always feel like coming home. They also record really well, so I use them in the studio a lot along with the Charvels.
Let’s go way back: what was the first guitar you bought, and what was it about that guitar that reeled you in?
Ha, that is going way back! The first guitar that I actually bought myself was a Yamaha RGX 312. There were a couple of things that drew me to it – it had a pointy headstock, which at the time was very cool; even more importantly, it had a whammy bar, which I thought was the best thing ever. It was also red, so what was not to love for a 16-year-old?
What’s does the rest of your rig look like?
Again, as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten simpler with my rig. I use Simpletone cables. I used to have the whole rack thing, with two quads that used to drag around with me to every show. Then I went with digital effects for many years, and used pretty much everything in that realm. But about two years ago I went back to actual pedals, and I haven’t looked back since. I have a pretty simple setup, so I can just grab it and jump on a plane when I need to. For anyone who’s interested, the signal chain is: TC electronic Poly Tuner, MXR Dyna Compressor, Dunlop Crybaby mini wah, Precision Drive (Horizon Devices), Strymon Sunset Drive, Spam drive (made by Sam Spencer from Spencer pedals), AD-6 delay, Strymon DIG delay, Boss FV-50L volume pedal. It's very simple, but very versatile. For amps, I've taken to using Fender Hot Rods and Devilles, as they are amazing pedal platforms and really easy to get a great tone out of.
If you could design the ultimate guitar, where nothing is impossible with it, what would you put on it?
Well, I would pretty much stick to what I like in a guitar. I would probably get someone like Charles Cilia to build me a Superstrat with some kind of buckeyed burl finish, with humbuckers you can split for versatility in tones, and a tremel-no type system where you have the option of floating or fixed trem. It would have a reverse Strat-style headstock, and an onboard boost system like the EMG Afterburner. A guitar like that would pretty much do whatever I needed it to, depending on what the gig was.
Who are your favourite up-and-coming guitarists? Anyone we should be keeping an eye on?
Not that he’s really up-and-coming as he’s been around for a while, but Andy Wood is awesome, and really getting out there with his solo stuff right now. There’s also young guys like Stephen Taranto and Matteo Mancuso, who are doing some pretty amazing stuff. I feel like the guitar is in good hands!
Melbourne Guitar Show 2019
Stars (ft. Mal Eastick, Nick Charles and Roger McLachlan)
James Norbert Ivanyi
Cartridge Family (ft. Sarah Carroll and Suzanna Espie)
Simon Hosford’s Fair Warning
Saturday August 3rd + Sunday 4th
Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
Tickets on sale via australianmusician.com.au