Mobile, AL native, Chris Lockwood now calls Nashville, TN home. Chris has developed a well known reputation for being an accomplished guitarist, and has claimed his stake in the music industry while being one half of the CCM music duo of 8 years, 33Miles. In between touring with 33Miles, Chris fills most his time with writing, producing, creating new musical ventures, and spending much needed time with his wife and 2 children.
Most people know you as one half of the group 33Miles, but that's not all you have going on. Fill us in on your other musical projects and pursuits.
Well 33 has definitely taken up the majority of my time over the last almost 8 years, but I'm always planning, dreaming, talking new ideas over, preparing for the next step. I just finished a guitar proficiency video for a new church music school here in Nashville called NPWI (National Praise & Worship Institute). I spend a LOT of my time writing songs, working on production, demoing, playing sessions, bouncing between 2 churches and helping with their worship programs, networking, etc. I also have a few projects in the works that I'm not allowed to talk about right now, but I'm honestly more excited about these than I have been in a very long time. I'm a chicken with his head cut off... the typical "working musician".
Let's back up a little bit. When did you first get into music and what inspired your musical interest?
Music was a part of me from day one. My mom always had everything from Rod Stewart, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, to Patsy Cline, Phil Keaggy, or Lynyrd Skynyrd playing in the background. Growing up, she and I would always entertain our friends and family singing. What really did it for me was always getting to go watch my mom and uncle rehearse with their band. Being right there and getting to experience music like that really fed my hunger to start going for it.
At what point did you realize that you wanted music to be your career? How did you then get from point A (wanting to be a career musician) to point B (actually being one)?
It was very early on when I was like "I'm gonna do that for the rest of my life", it's like it was just in me to do it. I begged my dad for a guitar when I was seven or so and he got me a red Fender Squier for me on my birthday. I just started going for it. I would work 5+ hours at a time trying to figure things out on the guitar, learning songs, writing songs, and I've continued to work like that to this day. Somewhere along the way I guess all the hard work just started to pay off and point B slid into the picture. What's funny is that being a "creative" person means you have to create then create again... it's this vicious cycle that never ends... so in a weird way I feel like I'm always starting back at point A and working towards point B again. It's crazy!
What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to become a career musician?
Practice and work hard to exceed people's expectations... but do it with humility. There are a lot of extremely talented people out there not playing music because they were too much of a "diva" for there own good. Nobody wants to work with a jerk... doesn't matter how good you are. Your reputation always precedes you, so make sure it's a good one.
As someone who has made the move to Nashville, what myths about Music City can you confirm or deny?
I plead the 5th.
As long as I've known you, you've had the reputation of being a dedicated student of the guitar. What did you practice when you were developing as a guitarist? How are you practicing these days?
The 80s were the last decade where music really welcomed the "guitar solo". So... growing up as a child of the 80s, I had a plethora of solos to choose from and learn. For 10+ years, I just listened and learned the tricks of other players, such as Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Vai, and Eddie Van Halen. Then from 1996-98 I went through a musical identity crisis and started singing more, completely sold all my gear, bought a cheap acoustic, and just strummed for a while. In 1998 I realized how stupid I was, started buying gear again, practicing for as many hours as I could, and eventually dove into jazz theory like crazy. I found that the more you know, the more options you have, and the more creative you can be... studying jazz has been one of the best decisions I ever made, musically speaking. At that point I was writing jazz tunes just for fun... much like what The Yellow Jackets or The Dave Weckl band would play.
I studied classical guitar for 3 years in college and really submerged myself in that. Same thing... 5 hours a night, really going for some serious musical pieces. I worked at a church for 6 years in Mobile, and we played a lot of Brooklyn Tab, Gospel choir sorta stuff, so I was really getting to practice reading intense charts like crazy. Those were some good growing times. Then when 33 started, we were jumping into this country/pop world, so I, again, dove in head first. Listening to whatever I could get my hands on and practicing chicken pickin' and all, so that when people heard me play they'd be fooled into thinking I'd been doing it all my life. It's been a blast too. I love playing that stuff, where as I didn't even care about it before. What's funny is I don't listen to country music hardly at all, but I definitely appreciate the musicianship.
Today, my practice times are not quite as routine or intense. Every once in a while I'll spend a few hours working on something specific, but most my time is spent writing, producing, and session work. I don't spend a lot of time listening to other guitarists that much either, if any. I think I've found my voice as a guitarist so it's more or less elaborating on top of what's already there. I love the diminished scale, so when I really sit down to practice guitar, it's more or less some good warming up time, then uncovering the mysteries of the diminished. Every once in a while I'll choose a classical piece to dive into as well. More or less, I've always challenged myself to be a chameleon sorta guitarist, and have developed a foundation of tools and a work ethic in that no matter the challenge, I can now step up to the plate and knock it out of the park.
In your opinion, what is it that separates the good guitarists from the great guitarists?
The will. One, the will of God and His plans for you. Two, your own will. Nothing good comes cheap. The great ones, the really great ones, have worked their butts off. If you want to be great, you don't stop... you work, and you work, and you work, even when you feel like, as some would say, you've arrived... you keep going for it.
Who are some of your favorite guitarists, and what is it that draws you to these players?
Pat Metheny has a musical depth that is endless; you can hear it in his playing. Wes Montgomery inspires me to want to play every time I hear him. Eric Clapton has this easiness about his playing that I can't NOT like. John Scofield gets me because he's got this intentional laziness about him that's freaking amazing. I love session players too... the great ones, like Tom Bukovac.
Describe your approach to songwriting. Do you have a formula, or is each song created in its own way? What makes a song great?
There's no formula... a lot of blood, sweat, tears, writing, rewriting, swearing, and so on. Like I said, it's an addiction... one that somewhat destroys me, but the high you get when you finish a good song is AWESOME. A great song is in the eyes of the beholder. It's so hard to say what makes a great one. They all come in different shapes and sizes. Great songs never cease to amaze me though.
Back to guitar...when you're creating guitar parts or improvising a solo, how do you visualize the neck?
I don't really visualize the neck. I listen for the music inside me and then deliver it on the neck where it belongs. The neck is so second nature now that I don't really think about it.
And now, the inevitable shop talk. What gear are you using these days? Do you get attached to your gear or are you constantly buying/selling/trading?
I don't really care for gear. If I see or hear some thing of quality that I think might be of use to me... I look into it, and if it holds up, I get it. I haven't bought guitar gear in a while because I've got what I need. I have 2 main electrics, a Duesenberg and a 50s model tele made by Danocaster... they more than get the job done. I have 2 Taylors... again, they work for what I need at the moment. I have several pedals, but typically only use my Xotic RC Booster, with my Keeley modded DL 4... my amp and guitars handle most of the tone. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but I've not had any complaints thus far... at least, that I know of.
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting great tone, regardless of the gear being used?
Quality guitarist = quality tone. All the other stuff should be there to compliment, not color or distract from what's already there. If your fingers suck, no matter how great the gear, the end result will still suck. Your gear should be quality, but it's still up to the player to work it all out properly.
How can we stay in the loop with your music?
www.ChrisLockwoodMusic.com... the site is a work in progress but it gets the job done :)
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview! Do you have any final words of wisdom to leave us with?
The Internet has changed the game for the working musician, who is typically more of an entrepreneur than the average musician cares to realize. Learn how to be a wise business person. Accept the world the way it IS and not the way you wish it was, make the necessary adjustments, then go knock 'em dead.
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