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Gary Cain Interview

Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career.

I've been playing guitar since I was a kid, gigging as soon as I was old enough to be allowed into a bar (and actually a little before that). I took a gig in Dubai playing in a cover band - it was good money and we were playing 6 nights a week, but it burned me out and I realized that I wanted to really take a shot at playing my own music. That's what I'm doing today. I've been an International Blues Competition semi-finalist, and toured across North America and Europe.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Angus Young of AC/DC is the player that first lit the fire in me to play the guitar. Other huge I influence along the way included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chris Duarte, Danny Gatton, Scott Henderson and Eric Gales. Non-musically, I've been lucky to have very supportive parents growing up, and a very supportive wife now.

What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?

I think AC/DC's live "If You Want Blood You've Got It" album was what really got me excited about playing guitar as a kid. The energy on that album is just incredible and those solos are burned into my DNA at this point. SRV's Texas Flood, Albert King's Live Wire Blues Power, and Chris Duarte 's Texas Sugar Strat Magik were all huge influences and inspirations too.

Is there a particular song that has resonated with you for a long time?

I think Little Wing is maybe my favorite song to play - it's got some different changes outside a standard blues for which is fun, and there's a lot you can do harmonically. It's a really great vehicle for communicating emotion through the instrument.

What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?

Being named #4 independent blues guitarist in the world by Lee Ritenour's Six String Theory was amazing, as was being a semi-finalist at the IBC's, but maybe what I'm most proud of is self-booking the tours I did in 2022 - it was a ton of work but so rewarding.


Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.

I think when I opened for George Thorogood at Massey Hall in Toronto that was one of the moments I'll always remember - being so close to my hometown and getting to play for that packed iconic space was really special. What's new in the recording of your music?

My album Next Stop came out in May 2022 and blends a lot of different styles - being generally thought of as a "blues" player there can be a lot of stylistic expectations and limitations people want to put on you, whether it's press, promoters, or fans. I like to play from the heart so in any moment I draw on what I'm feeling in that moment - and that might come out as a twangy country thing, maybe something funky, maybe a really dissonant fusion thing, or of course something that would be considered "blues". All my favorite players pushed the envelope and brought together influences that moved them, and that's what I'm trying to do.

I've got a bunch of new tunes I'm working on and hope to have them out to the world in 2023!

How has your music changed over the years?

I've put a ton of time into getting better and expanding my vocabulary on the guitar so hopefully that's reflected in the music I'm releasing. I've also been influences by many more styles over time, as well as had a lot of experiences and had the chance to travel which has given me a perspective that I share through my writing.

What inspires you to write the music you write?

Musically it all comes from strong feelings, and lyrically it's often driven by injustices or frustration I've observe in my life, or in society around me. A big part of it too though is just sheer joy - playing music beings be such a great fulfillment and a lot of my playing is just an expression of a joy I feel that I can only get out through musical expression. It's why I work so hard on the instrument - the more I can hone my ability to play, the more deeply I can express the way I feel, and that, for me, is the whole ballgame.

What made you want to play the instrument you play?

I got such an incredible feeling listening to music as a kid, something I really couldn't describe. When I first heard Angus Young from AC/DC play the guitar I just latched onto it - I was like "that's it!". There was just so much energy, fury, joy, and personality in his playing, and it was accessible to a younger ear as well. I had dabbled with piano and drums, but when I heard him, from that point forward it was GUITAR!!

How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past?

I think Next Stop is a little harder and more aggressive, more "rock" than my earlier stuff. Coming out of a pandemic I think I had a lot "pent up" that I needed to get out!

How are you continuing to grow musically?

I practice a LOT - it's my therapy, my escape from anxiety and stress. It's meditative. I'm always exploring new musical ideas, playing with lots of great players, and exposing myself to as much music that moves me as I possibly can.

Are there any musicians who inspire you that are not famous? What qualities do you admire about them?

I'm inspired by people I play with all the time. Listening to your band mates is a huge source of inspiration and what makes the music a conversation - it's want makes the love show such an exciting thing and so much more than just listening at home.

Describe your worst performance. What did you learn from this experience?

Early on I had a gig where things just weren't clicking for me, and I got into my head and it was really unpleasant. I learned if that happens to start finding the energy somewhere around you - key off someone in the crowd, someone in the band that's got good energy, that is having a good time and let that influence you.

Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today?

My first real guitar teach was a guy named Jeff Casey, who taught me the major modes and pentatonic scales - as a self-taught player, I was doing a lot of these things already, but he gave me names for them. He also had a great passion and interest in music that I appreciated and I think is so important in a teacher.

If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be?

I'd really love to tour in more places in Europe - I absolutely LOVED touring the UK and met so many amazing people on my tour there in the summer. As far as who I'd like to play with, I would probably gravitate to really groovy drummer's, so Nate Smith, Brannen Temple, or Carter McLean would be top on my list.


If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?

I wish it was possible to make any money at all from streaming! Also it would be great if governments/border services were a little less prohibitive and adversarial about musicians coming into their countries to play. It's so hard to tour already, it would be nice if ONE aspect of it wasn't asuch a headwind lol

What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?

Getting attention, getting heard when there is so much noise out there. Also just the financial challenges of how poorly streaming pays plus the cost and other obstacles to touring.

What do you think the best aspects of the music business are?

I think the promoters, fans, and media that are really into the music in a way that comes from the heart. As hard as it is, as impossible as it seems sometimes, there are some amazing people that will help you out or give you a lift just when you need it to keep going. In the UK we had an amazing couple offer us rooms in their home for a few nights to help with the tour. We have concert promoters go the extra mile, treat us like family. Things like that are a huge boost.

What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are?

I am fanatically dedicated to practicing and honing my ability on the instrument. I work my butt off to get better because it's just something I have to do. I've always got my ears open and never stop learning.


Do you have any weaknesses that you're actively working to improve on?

I think I need to be more active on social media and do a better job promoting myself. It's something I'm working on and really aiming to make a bigger impact on 2023.

Describe your favorite and least favorite part about being a musician.

I love the energy in the room when you're playingive for a crowd that is into it. That connection is what it's all about for me. Probably the polar opposite of that is the logistics of booking and routing gigs. Gotta be done, but it can be a slog!

Do you have any anxiety about performing live?

Not really - I used to when I was younger but I've done it enough now that I feel very at home on stage. Sure if it's a particularly big gig or a famous player is in the crowd the nerves can start to work, but I've trained myself to experience that as excitement and energy, and can use it to fuel the performance. You've always gotta remember, for all the work it takes to get you to that stage, once you're there, this is the fun part!!!

If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why?

Live for sure. I love them both but there is nothing like connecting with people live.

What do you think about online music sharing?

I think streaming was inevitable - it's just so convenient as a consumer. It doesn't pay a damn thing though, unless you're a really large act on a label. So I really hope there can be a more equitable payout scheme brought about somehow - but the cat is out of the bag and we aren't going back I don't think.

Describe your creative process when you write new music.

I often record snippets of ideas on my phone, whether it's singing into it while in the car, or playing guitar, or sometimes I'll hot down lyric ideas into a note to work on later. Ideas come whenever they want, so you have to be ready!

The hard work of putting it together I do at my little home studio, using Cubase. I work best and most creatively late at night, so a lot of my stuff is created between midnight and 4am lol

Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up?

Probably a hockey player. I was a goalie and huge fan of the Boston Bruins.

Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry.

Oh man, I think staying organized with software tools like a good CRM to manage your bookings, and make sure you do every job involved in booking, managing and promoting yourself so you understand it before you hire someone else to do it.

Also, just be er lose sight of what drove you to choose music as a career in the first place. If you are driven by money, there are a million better choices.

What is your favorite piece of gear and why?

My strat is probably it. I bought it when I was 18 and paid it off in $100 weekly instalments making money from a brutal manual-labor job that I hated, so I really appreciate the guitar lol! It just allows be to be expressive and playing it is like the best therapy.

Also really love my Fractal gear - incredible tone and complete control over volume.

How do you prepare for your performances and recording work?

Beforehand I'd warm up on the guitar for maybe 10-15 minutes, but I just try to be present, and get into a good mindframe. Let go of too many expectations and allow what happens to happen as far as improvisation goes. Letting go and trusting yourself to just play is harder than it sounds, but it's the key I think.

What does your practice routine consist of?

I probably average between 5-8 hours a day depending on what else I have going on - I work on picking mechanics, time displacement, bend accuracy, scales, arpeggios, chord voicings you name it! I always make time to jam as well - I think you need to "practice playing" and be careful you don't just get good at practicing.

What do you like most about your new album?

I think the energy on it captures how I was feeling in the moment, and I think the songs are really strong. Also there's a real diversity of styles, which I like, although some in the blues world may not lol

What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?

Scott Henderson, Albert King, Eric Gales, Greg Koch, Allan Holdsworth, Lettuce, Tower of Power, Marcus King all get frequent rotation from me.

How do you promote your band and shows?

I use social media, Bands In Town, email and my website.

What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.

Following me on Bands In Town, and Facebook or Instagram, and signing up for my mailing list!

Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?

Currently booking festival dates for 2023 so tours will be built around those - but stay tuned for new music sometime in 2023!

What's next for your band?

I'm working on new music for 2023 and hoping to develop a wider audience.

What are your interests outside of music?

Does beer count? I love to travel, meet new people and try new foods. Live comedy is something I really enjoy and need to go see more of. Other than that, spending time with my wife and our dog keeps me busy and happy.

Are there any artists outside of your genre that have not had much influence on your music that you enjoy?

I think just a out everything I listen to influences my music, but I definitely listen to lots of music that is outside my genre.




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