New Zealand’s very own guitar hero KARA GORDON has shared the stage with some of the world’s greatest musicians and with G-TARanaki just around the corner he’s about to do it again. NZRock caught up with the man himself to find out about the KARA GORDON story so far…
NZRock: This will be your second appearance at G-Taranaki. How does it feel to be coming back to play at the festival again?
KG: It feels really good, what can I say its always an honour to play in such great company.
NZRock: Tell us about your band the KARA GORDON TRIO. Who else is in the band and when did you start it up?
KG: We’ll I pretty much have been touring all over NZ with different rhythm sections so it probably started 4 or more years ago, but it took a long time to get a great band that compliments me and mystyle, while they can both bring their musical chops to the table. The drummer “Mean” Dean Blake has been working with me for about a year, he’s a real old school drummer coming from the likes of IAN PACE, JOHN BONHAM sort of drummer, but still has some really cool modern double kick ideas and basically is the loudest drummer I’ve played with, with ass kicking attitude. Ross Larsen is the modern day JOHN PAUL JONES meets JACO, much like Dean, Ross has got all the old school rock roots Zeppelin, Hendrix, Purple mixed in with some really clever neo classical arpeggio ideas (not that common these days in bass) , But when it comes down to it he’s solid as a rock and perfect for my band.
NZRock: I hear you’ve got a new recording and a video coming out soon. Can you give us some details?
KG: Yeah we have been working on an album, we plan on releasing a single called “The Man” on the radio and we have been kindly offered to have a video done for the song also.
NZRock: So what was it like playing on stage with GLENN HUGHES at the first G-Taranaki? I remember you guys playing ‘Burn’ which was awesome!
KG: Thanks for the compliments, what can I say Burn has got to be one of the greatest rock songs of all time, It was an amazing experience to play with Glenn alright, he’s gotta be one of the greatest rock vocalists ever .
NZRock: Did you get to do much rehearsing / jamming with Glenn before you played the set or did you have to learn all of the songs well in advance?
KG: Well I pretty much learned the set in my own time, had a rehearsal with Simon and Nathan Koretz (guitarist and drummer also playing with Glenn). And then on the week of the gig met up with Glenn and his keboard player Anders, had one rehearsal then not long after we were on stage.
NZRock: Have you kept in touch with Glenn or any of the other overseas guitarists that you met there?
KG: I have been in touch with Glenn, his keyboard player Anders and a few other guys here and there, but I guess in the reality of things these guys are busy men, so its not all the time but I’m sure we’ll catch up on the road sometime.
NZRock: G-Taranaki was instigated by the late GARRY SHARPE-YOUNG. I still remember him saying he’d seen this amazing guitarist play which turned out to be you. What doors did he open for you in the music industry?
KG: Garry was a great guy, I was really lucky to meet him and he’ll always be missed by many. I first met him when he was one of the judges for the rock to Wellington guitar comp. After seeing me play at rock to Wellington he offered me the slot to play with Glenn and play for the first G-Taranaki.
NZRock: Prior to G-Taranaki you were one of the guitarists who opened Rock2Wgtn. At that show your guitar was stolen right before you were supposed to play. How’d you end up scoring POISON guitarist C.C. DEVILLE’s axe instead?
KG: It was a real mess up alright, I told the security guard to look after the guitar as I went off to do some interview, when I came back the guitar was gone. C.C. had a guitar out back that I got to borrow, I never in my life thought I’d be happy to see a white Les Paul custom (usually I play strats or super strat sort of guitars), the problem was it had no strap so I took my shirt off (longsleeve, I had my t-shirt on), made a make shift strap and shredded my heart out to 30 000 plus people, it was insane
NZRock: Did you ever get your original guitar back?
K.G: I filed a police report but never seen it again.
NZRock: Your career is in no way restricted to Rock2Wgtn and G-Taranaki. You’ve spent some considerable time overseas already studying at Berklee College in Boston, MA for four years and graduating with an masters degree. What was the whole US experience like and what opportunities did you have to perform while you were over there?
K.G: Man it was an amazing time in my life, I was just a kid back then earning my stripes. Playing with all sorts of musicians in different styles, jazz, blues, rock, flamenco, latin, metal, fusion, I was pretty much hungry to play with anyone (also I was a guitarist for hire mainly). I learned a hell of a lot from some of the greatest proffessors teachers and players. Engrossed in lots of theory and learning musical concepts from all the greats was all I did. But the main lessons came on the road, getting out there playing to the people and playing with more experienced guys.
NZRock: What are some of the other highlights you’ve had so far as a guitarist?
K.G: Well in 2008 not long after the last G-Taranaki I entered a worldwide guitar competition online called the Dean guitars shredder search (originally won by Dimebag Darrel), judged by MICHEAL ANGELO BATIO, VINNIE MOORE, TRIVIUM, VINNIE PAUL (DIMEBAG’s brother) LESLIE WEST and RUSTY COOLEY.
NZRock: Out of 5000 plus entries from around the world, I was in the top 15 finalists the only one considered from Australaisia.
K.G: In 2009 I came 8th place in the Music box worldwide guitar competition out of 5000 entrants. Not so long ago I got an email from JASON BECKER (one of the greatest shredders of all time) saying he really thought my playing was great after seeing one of my vidoes on Youtube.
NZRock: After the last G-Taranaki VERNON REID described you as JIMI HENDRIX reincarnated and Joe Satriani called you one of the most prolific young players he’s ever seen. Those are huge compliments! Have you got any plans to take your talent overseas again?
K.G: Let me just point out I am still hugely honored and humbled by these compliments by such great men. And yes I do have plans to head overseas hopefully next year, its really about getting this album together and raising the funds at the moment.
NZRock: Which guitarists are your favourites from this years G-Taranaki line-up and why?
K.G: I gotta say I really like most of them, SLASH is one of the great rock players in the last 20 years, great feel and nice bluesy licks, VINNIE MOORE is a real Shredder, JENNIFER BATTEN is an amazing shredder, love to see her multi tapping and TONY LEVIN is one hell of a bass player, look forward to jam with him.
NZRock: So when did you first pick up a guitar, what inspired you? and how’d you get so damn good at playing it!?
K.G: I first picked up the guitar as a kid of about 6-8, it used to be a bit of a toy, but when I was about twelve I decided I wanted to be the next JIMI HENDRIX (still do ha ha) and I would practise seriously in my teens anywhere between 6 to 15 hours a day. I just wanted to be like my heroes, JIMI HENDRIX, JEFF BECK, EDDIE VAN HALEN, JIMMY PAGE. So I would constantly play to their records, then I got a bit more serious and learned to read and write music, with all the theory behind it. And started to play gigs.
NZRock: Who are your favourite guitarists of all time?
K.G: Here are some of them… JIMI HENDRIX, JEFF BECK, JIMMY PAGE, ERIC CLAPTON STEVIE RAY VAUGHN, DIMEBAG DARREL RITCHIE BLACKMORE, EDDIE VAN HALEN, RANDY ROADS, JASON BECKER, PAUL GILBERT, CHRIS BRODERICK, JEFF LOOMIS. Some guys who are not that known but are phenomenons on youtube are MURIS VARICIC, DANNIELE GOTTARDO, DAMJAM PECONOWSKI, SYLVIO GASQUEZ.
NZRock: What advice can you give to young guitarists who are just starting out?
K.G: Have fun with it, practise heaps if something deters you try something different then come back to it, never give up if what you want to do is play guitar.
NZRock: What’s your ultimate goal that you hope to achieve with your music career?
K.G: Be the greatest Artist I can be, be known to the world for my talents and substance, have a career that lasts the distance because of the integrity of the music and hopefully inspire others to pick up the guitar and play.