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“Sometimes I’ll hear an idea without even having the guitar in my hand,
so then it’s just a matter of finding it on the fretboard,” says Andy McKee.
Your acoustic playing is your trademark. How did it feel to introduce your electric side?
It was kind of liberating and fun. It reminded me of when I was younger, and it’s a completely different approach for me, just trying to play those nice melodic lines on electric guitar is very different from trying to cover all the bases on an acoustic guitar. You have a bit more control over what you’re saying in the melody and how you’re expressing it. And you’ve got the whammy bar and all the different ways you can manipulate the melody.
What guitars did you use on “Lumine” and how did you get the electric sound?
The acoustic guitar is the baritone again, and it’s the same one I used for “Mythmaker”—a Greenfield G4B.2. The tuning for the acoustic is G#–E–G#–B–E–B, and there’s a capo on the 3rd fret. On the electric, I used a Music Man LIII through a Fender G-DEC practice amp. It’s preset 8, if I’m not mistaken, a kind of Eric Johnson sound.
The solo piano piece, “June,” was even more of a surprise.
I wrote it just last year. It’s dedicated to my maternal grandmother, who sadly passed away before I met her. To be totally clear, sadly, she committed suicide. I was thinking about that subject and my grandmother who I never met, and it’s just a sad thing. So it’s dedicated to her memory and just the sadness that people can experience. It’s unfortunate that people get so depressed or so down that it happens, but that’s where it came from.
Andy McKee performs “Mythmaker,” the title track off his new EP, and showcases his aggressive acoustic attack on his Greenfield GFB.2.
Do you ever play something on the guitar and try to learn it on the piano, or write something on the piano and try to bring it to the guitar?
I’ve come up with an idea on piano and put it on the guitar. It’s more of an exercise, I guess. Come up with a line on the piano and try it on the guitar—that kind of thing. But my approach on both instruments is the same. I know a fair amount about theory and chord construction and things like that, but when I’m writing, I try to use my ear and let things happen as naturally as I can.
How do you maintain and develop your techniques? Are you still developing new ones?
I don’t really try to develop new ideas spontaneously. If a new technique comes up, it’s because I’m trying to make something happen that I’m hearing in my head. I definitely learned a lot of different techniques just from listening to guys like Michael Hedges and Don Ross and Preston Reed. I can’t really say I’m this great technique pioneer in any way, but I learned a lot from those guys and tried to use those techniques to write the music that I want and the music I hear in my head.
Is a full-length album in the works?
I’m trying to stick to this idea of releasing EPs, like four or five songs, and doing that more frequently, rather than waiting so long to put an album together. We’re so used to getting new things so rapidly with the internet. I think getting new music out faster is the most important thing right now.