Photo: Maroon 5 tech Mike Buffa (left) and guitarist James Valentine (right) get friendly with Matchless' Phil Jamison.
Appleton: When it comes to being a tech or aspiring tech—be observant and learn from other techs and players around you. If you don’t know the answer or how to do something, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Never think that you know it all—that is the day you should work at grocery store. When it comes to being a player, talk to everyone and shake hands because being friendly only helps you get you more gigs, open more doors, and add professional contacts.
Buffa: I can’t begin to think of how many doors and opportunities have been opened for my career and me just because I went up to someone and talked to them about gear or guitar. It seems so simple and trivial, but whether it’s getting gigs when I was in a band, meeting one of my current best friends [former Mesa/Boogie rep Mark Snyder] because I had problems with an amp and he was the company’s rep, or talking to other techs while at gigs and festival and lining up other jobs that way. I can tell you how and when I got every gig—it might not happen when you meet someone, but people know people so be personable and meet as many people as possible.
Francis: It all started for me when my brother and I piggybacked off his success. He was mixing front of house for the Joe Perry Project in ’83 and I just got to know Joe because we always talked guitars. At one point he needed a tech and because we had covered the topic so much, Joe approached me about tech’ing for him and I’ve been doing it ever since. [Laughs] He trained me pretty well. If nothing else, don’t be afraid to open doors for yourself and just talk shop with people—you’ll never know who’ll you’ll get connected with.
Trejo: Always be willing to help someone out—even if it’s not your job or it’s an opening act—it could pay off. For me, I was in El Paso, Texas, watching my friend’s band called At the Drive-In. I was one of five people in the club. I remember seeing Omar flailing onstage and then he broke a string. He grabbed his only backup and broke a string on that one, too. He started to change the string in the middle of the song! [Laughs] So I decided I had to step in and help him out. After the show, the thankful guitarist asked if I’d come to the next show. And I’ve been right there for him ever since—14 years and counting.