We caught up with musician J.T. Pinkham following the release of his magnificent single ‘Face It’. Read the full interview below!
Tell us about yourself?
I am from the little Texas town of New Boston. I started playing the guitar when I was 11 years old. I had always been exposed to music from a very young age.
My dad always played classic country songs on the guitar and sang. I grew up listening to him singing Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Charlie Pride, and some other country songs he had written.
I remember writing a country song with him about a howling dog when I was probably six years old. I always took an interest in him playing the guitar.
My older brother moved out of the house when he turned 18 and left a Telecaster behind. So I picked it up and started playing. It has been intoxicating ever since.
What is your songwriting process?
Most of the time, it comes from just sitting down and playing guitar until something comes out that strikes me. In my younger years, I always obsessed on practising technical proficiency and things that were just difficult to play.
As I grew older, I learned that those things didn’t matter so much to me. So I started to just sit down and play the guitar or the bass just to hear things I wanted to hear. So it usually does start with just sitting and enjoying playing. But sometimes I do lay in bed sleepless with something in my head.
There have been songs that I have written that were written because they had to come out so I could go to sleep. And then there have been a couple of songs that were written from dreams I have had. I recall the dreams and write the music to express the emotions and overall demeanour of the dream.
Tell us about your latest release?
So ‘Face It’ is the latest release. This song was written in the midst of a troubled relationship. I was also going through some dark spiritual times when I wrote this song. But even though the times were dark, I wrote this song trying to grasp at freedom. So it’s talking about already ‘being sold’ but at the same time ‘living to die before we get old’.
So even though times were bleak, I was writing about living life to the fullest with freedom no matter what the cost. And even in dark times, there is usually someone to confide in to help you through. Even if you don’t think there is… you just haven’t met them yet.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
You know I hope that my music brings hope to people. I have had my share of dark times and try to convey that even though you feel alone in these times, the human condition is ubiquitous.
Feelings of abandonment and loneliness are temporary and should be weathered with a spirit of diligence. I have future release endeavours that I hope bring feelings of freedom and happiness.
Who are your musical influences?
My first musical influences were my parents. Like I described before my dad played guitar and sang a lot at home. My mother always played piano and sang. She has two sisters. When we would go to church with them, I would always appreciate the vocal harmonies they would hit when singing. It was a church with no instruments. Just a congregation of people singing. And it really introduced me to how you can make chords without instruments. When I got older and started playing guitar I became amazed by Hendrix.
When I heard those famous songs; Foxy Lady, Voodoo Child, Burning of the Midnight Lamp, and so many more; I wanted to know how to make a guitar sound that way. So my dad took me to a guitar shop and bought me a strat, a small amp, a wah pedal, and a Hendrix teaching video. Kurt Mitchell teaching video. I learned everything on it and started playing with the scales he taught and everything. Later on, I was introduced to Zakk Wylde. I was floored. It was so aggressive and unbelievable.
I kind of went backwards and started becoming amazed by Randy Rhoads. I studied his playing a lot. From there I started searching for all of the other players and got into people like Clapton, Slash, Vai, Satriani, Eric Johnson, Dimebag, Billy Gibbons, Scott Henderson, Jake E. Lee, Stevie Ray Vaughn.
I remember my first album was a Kix album called Blow My Fuse. I had that at home at a pretty young age too. So I was also into the metal scene. My first Metallica record of having was And Justice For All… It blew me away. So that really introduced me to a completely different aspect of guitar playing. Fast and heavy. And of course, I loved Alice in Chains and Soundgarden when the Seattle wave hit. But I really related to Jerry Cantrell’s playing. I have always been a fan of Jerry’s playing and his overall approach to music.
Who are your non-musical influences?
My older brother was always a huge influence on me. He never played anything but always introduced me to great music. He is also a walking song lyric library. He knows more song lyrics than I do. So, of course, as a younger brother, I always looked up to him for cool music to check out.
Otherwise, I think the human experience is a large influence on my playing and writing. From feelings of being cheated, feelings of anger, feelings of love and happiness, it all comes from the human experience. People love music that speaks to that because they can relate to it. Thats why I love the music that I love.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
I think the best one I remember playing was when I was the lead guitarist for the Jason Helms Band. We opened a show for Tracy Lawrence. I finally had a chance to play on a big stage and experience the feeling of a bigger show. I remember I was so pumped after the show.
I was just worried about clearing all of my gear off of the stage to get out of the way for Tracy’s guitar player. I remember a man telling me ‘good show’. I said thank you in a hurry while clearing all of my gear off the stage.
When I looked up at the stage later, I saw that it was Tracy’s guitar player that told me good show. Of course, I was just thinking of everything that I could have done better, but I still felt good.
What is your funniest gig moment?
So I used to be in a power trio band called Recession Proof. I played bass and sang in this band. We had landed a gig way out in the sticks. One of many ways out in the sticks.
The place was called the Smiling Shark. It was way out of any city limit. The owner was kind of a lush and had us provide someone to sit at the door to collect a cover charge. So the guitar players wife was sitting at the door. We are on stage playing, and some cowboys walk up wanting to get in but don’t want to pay. They are not allowed in because they don’t want to pay.
Apparently, this pissed them off, and they left after cursing the guitar players wife and just being buttholes about it. Of course, we don’t know anything that’s going on until a break, and we kind of hear about it. But you know we don’t really worry about it because we were told they left and everything is okay. So we start out the third set.
In the middle of the third set, this drunk idiot cowboy comes through the door of the bar on the back of a full-grown horse. Straight through the front door… on a horse. He rides through the centre of the bar, and the horse is screaming and raring up in the air. The guy is screaming something. We were in the middle of playing a song. He comes in, knocks some tables over and rides out the door.
Well, it turns out it was one of the guys who didn’t wanna pay to get in. So I guess that’s where the funny parts end. After that, I ran outside, and they had already loaded the horseback up into the trailer and were heading down this long bumpy dirt drive. Well, I started chasing them on foot. And all I had on me was a Texas toothpick and a whole lot of pissed off. Nothing else. So I got to the truck and out came one of them from the driver’s side.
Then another one and another one started coming at me. They started coming at me, and I threw out my knife blade. Well, the driver decided he would reach into his truck seat and grab his pistol. At that point, I just put the knife in my pocket, turned around, and ran back to the bar.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
Well, we all have the obvious obstacle. The COVID virus has really put a damper on everything. But other than that I think it’s just trying to reach an audience. Everything is moving at such a fast pace now. You have to do everything you can do to grab your audience’s attention and really appeal to people.
That’s what I am trying to do with my music. Every time I sit to write a song. How can I appeal to people and relate to everyone. Granted I take lessons from The Stones and The Beatles who did that so magnificently. I think it still works that way when combined with a modern context.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
Write from the heart and write with honesty. Don’t take yourselves too seriously and leave room for lightheartedness. And I also have taken advice from people like Hetfield…. you have to find your voice. I think that is so important. Just keep playing songs and writing songs until you find that thing that you do really well.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
So I have another single to drop in a month or two. I am really excited about it. It is featuring lead guitar from a great Texas blues player named Wes Jeans. He has had music out for a long time and has played on so many stages across the country. He is a really great player and musician.
I am very honoured to have him on this next single. After that, I have a three-song EP that I am finishing up in the studio. I would like to drop that by November or December. After the EP release, I have a list of songs to record. Given time and budget, I will have those songs recorded and released as soon as it is feasible.
I am currently in pre-production with my band. Paul Holder is a fantastic drummer and great friend of mine. I have played with Paul for years. Paul has played all over the country and overseas. He has been a studio session player for many years. He is always spot on and makes my songs sound good every time.
We also have a great bass play Stephen Torres that is working with us in pre-production. Hopefully, we will be able to get things going for a new and different studio experience and hopefully for some live shows in the near future.
FV Music Blog September 2020
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