When we think of rock stars, it's easy to get lost in the mystique, the larger-than-life personas, and the notion that they were born into this world of fame and music. But in a recent candid interview at the Guitar Summit in Germany, Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher peeled back the curtain, revealing the hard-earned secrets of his journey from a small town in Western New York to the international stage.
Kelliher's advice was simple, yet profound: "Play every day. Practice as much as you can." It's a mantra echoed by countless legendary musicians. Instead of trying to emulate guitar heroes, focus on becoming the best version of yourself through relentless practice.
"Don't get sidetracked like trying to be somebody else. For me, for the longest time I wanted to be all the guitar heroes I looked up to. It's all attainable. When I was a kid, I was just so intimidated by these guys on stage. I was, like, 'Oh my God. These guys are rock stars and they're touring.' And I just thought everyone was born like that. Like you're born into royalty, like Led Zeppelin. And they want it to look that way. That's why they put you on the stage and they put you in the big tour bus and all that stuff. But, man, I'm just a nobody kid from Western New York, a little tiny town with a population of a couple thousand people." he explained.
"It's a lot of hard work. It's not a weekend type of gig. If you really wanna be a musician and an artist, just record everything that you write, even if you don't think it's that great. Just record everything because you might go back to it someday. That's one thing I wish I had done more. I didn't have cell phones when I was growing up, so just to be able to record all those ideas when they're fresh in your head… A lot of it's about spontaneity." Kelliher added.
In an era of instant gratification and overnight success stories, Bill Kelliher's words serve as a reality check. Becoming a true musician and artist takes time, effort, and patience.
"I don't read music. I never took any guitar lessons. I play and play and play until something gives me goosebumps, and I feel like, 'Oh, this is really cool.' And then I record it and I stuff it away and I just keep playing until the next time I get that feeling. And then pretty soon I've got a song and I show it to the guys and then we've got a record."
So, if you've ever felt intimidated by the music industry's ruthlessness, take a page from Kelliher's book – start with your unique talent and work tirelessly to develop it. Your individuality might just be your ticket to real success. Embrace it, record it, and let your music do the talking.