UA alum debuts new single
Former Wildcat Brett Lashley debuts rock single “The Wait”
University of Arizona Alum Brett Lashley released his first rock single Friday, Oct. 26th. Lashley, originally from Illinois, graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's of Music in guitar performance in 2013.
He is currently living in Tempe, where he gives lessons on song writing and playing instruments like the 'ukulele and guitar. Lashley recently set up his own independent record company, Evil Industries, through which he produced and released his single.
DW: Why did you decide to move to Tempe after attending school in Tucson?
BL: I had been to school in Tucson and only moved back to Tempe after finishing graduate school in Illinois. I had previously taught in Tucson, but I felt like my business wasn't going to grow beyond the size that it was when I was teaching in my undergraduate days there in Tucson. So, we moved up here for a larger market, and it’s been quite successful. My studio is probably twice the size than what it was in Tucson. It was definitely a good business move.
DW: How did you decide on studying for a BM?
BL: I played the guitar my whole life to prove I was good enough to be a professional. With a BA you can definitely play pretty well, but to actually have a performance degree from a good school, it really gave me the boost that I needed to actually go out there and do what I wanted to do with my life.
DW: Did you ask for your first guitar or was it a Christmas surprise from your parents?
BL: I did ask for it, actually, yeah. That year they had asked me and my brother if we wanted to play an instrument. It’s funny, because I often ask my brother, why didn't you play something? He tells me, “Well, I thought they meant band instruments.” He didn’t want to play the clarinet or something. So, I took the opportunity to ask for the guitar, and he tells me years later, “If I’d have known that, I would have asked for the drums!”
DW: What influenced you to go toward the heavy metal and rock genres?
BL: Growing up, watching musicians, I kind of grew up during that first MTV generation. Guitar players were on TV all the time, and that really was a central instrument. Going back to the 50s and 60s, a lot of my professors at the U of A would say that they saw Benny Goodman, so they all wanted to be clarinet players or horn players. For my generation, it was much more guitar-centric. We were very focused on the guitarist as the primary melody maker. It really caught my attention, and if you see a lot of the guitarists from the 80s and 90s you can see how they can capture a young kid’s imagination pretty easily.
DW: What musical influences went into your first rock single?
BL: I was mainly into 60s and 70s super groups. This single has really lush 60s and 70s, really full harmonies, piano, organ, several guitar lines, etc. A lot of sounds similar to the Rolling Stones or Tom Petty or bands like Traffic, things like that. Really, kind of based on lush, thick harmonies.
DW: Do you think growing up in Illinois had any influence on you as a musician?
BL: Absolutely. I grew up an hour away from Chicago, and when I was in grad school I was about an hour from St. Louis as well, so the wife and I would take tons of weekend trips and see lots of Blues players. It was a really great chance to get really immersed in really great Blues guitar playing. We even made a couple of trips down to Memphis, since that was only about five hours away. Of course, there’s some excellent music down in Memphis. I’ve definitely gotten influence from all over the place and really tried to seek it out.
DW: What was your favorite part of the writing experience?
BL: On this first single, I actually made every single sound that comes out. Every single sound, whether it’s a background track, a piano, organ or bass guitar. All of it comes directly from me and out of my recording studio. The layering process really is pretty cool, it’s one of my favorite things about this. You start with a basic general sketch of a chord progression and some words, maybe a few notes of a melody, and as you start to put it down, you really start to hear this thing come alive. It’s really rewarding to hear yourself coming back. To say, “Wow, I actually like this,” is such a rewarding feeling. Especially after all of those years of studying.
DW: What was the most challenging part of the recording process?
BL: Definitely going through all the legal stuff. I set up a record company and had to form a corporation to actually make sure that all the money generated from this actually comes to me rather than a third party.
DW: Do you think it is ever too late to pursue a career in music?
BL: I don’t, especially today. Twenty years ago, definitely. Twenty years ago, once you got to about thirty years old you were done. You weren’t pretty enough to put on a package. What's happening these days is you have more and more people self-publishing. However, we don’t have many of the huge stars, so that same money is being distributed across thousands of people that used to go to one or two people. So, now, there are a lot more people making a living but not getting super rich. In today’s environment, it is never too late. Just get out there, if you have a good product, somebody’s going to want to buy it somewhere. You can make it available to anyone, distribution is not a problem.
DW: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists trying to get out there?
BL: My best advice is just to keep on learning and keep trying. Don't wait, get out there and start playing and start talking to people. You’ll learn a lot more by doing than by waiting.
DW: What was the most valuable piece of advice given to you as a musician?
BL: I think the most valuable thing is to believe in yourself. Don’t listen to other people, especially when you start. Everybody’s got an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. But if you continue to pursue the avenues and styles of music that you like, you will eventually get better at what you want to do. People tend to respond to the authenticity as opposed to just trying to make everyone happy. Take constructive criticism, but remain true to yourself.
Brett Lashley uses the things he has learned throughout his experience as an independent artist and music student to help guide his students in the right direction. He hopes to recruit more artists to his Tempe-based record label to expand in the future, “I’m open to whoever has a good sound and would like to record,” Lashley said.
Lashley’s debut single “The Wait” is now available on every music streaming service worldwide. Lashley is currently working on his first EP, which he expects to release by next summer.
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