What can you say about Greg Koch? One of the most unbelievable guitarists you’ll ever hear, amazing clinician and one of the funniest men alive! Yet people outside the guitar planet probably don’t know his name. In a perfect world, Greg would be a star. Whether he’s pummeling the listener with a ferocious run of inventive and twisted licks or having them doubled over in laughter… he IS a star in our camp! We were lucky enough to be able to chat with him back and forth for a few days earlier this year and get this interview. Enjoy & FEAST!
You’ve got a new album out called, “Plays Well With Others” featuring some killer guests. What can you tell us about that?
This record is different for me in many ways. I collaborated with a great lyricist named John Sieger who ended up singing all the tunes except one. The songs have plenty of guitar salvos on them but it is more of a song oriented record. I called in some favors and had Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, Paul Barrere, Roscoe Beck, Brannen Temple, Jon Cleary as well as my local Milwaukee squad play on it which includes my 18-year-old son, Dylan on drums…
I’m sure a lot of people may have first heard of you as a Fender clinician or from your amazing instructional books, cds & dvds. You’re so good at teaching and doing it in a way that’s not boring. Where does that come from? Did you have an interesting teacher growing up?
I had some great teachers growing up but I think it’s because I enjoy talking guitar as well as playing it so much that it comes across when I do clinics etc. I never taught a ton of individual lessons over the years but some how when it came to clinics or group sessions it just clicked…
What was it like getting your own signature model guitars?
Well, as much as it’s really flattering, I’ve always been leery of it to be honest because I don’t really want to be tied to one thing. When Cream City Music in my home town wanted to do a limited run of two different Fender Custom Shop models I had used over the years, it seemed to make sense. I may do that again in the future through Wildwood Guitars. I have been helping a local builder named Rick Land whose company is called “Landric”, develop a new guitar named “The Chief”. It’s a glorious hybrid of a lot of different things but I think it is a truly unique, great sounding and playing ax worthy of running with all the big dogs.
Your influences seem to be all over the map… as you are able to play just about any style that’s asked of you. However I seem to hear and see a love of Albert King when it comes to your bends. Who are some of the others that you were listening to early on and helped you get to where you are now?
My first main guys who I was really trying to assimilate were Hendrix and early Clapton. I then went headlong into older electric blues guys: Albert, BB King, T-Bone Walker etc. I was really into Mark Knopfler and Albert Lee and that led me to Chet, Jerry Reed, Jimmy Bryant, James Burton. I loved George Benson, Charlie Christian, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, John Scofield and Mike Stern early on…I should also mention I was a total Allman Brothers fanatic and harvested all of their records for licks etc….Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Neil Young, Johnny Winter…the list goes on.
Joe Bonamassa has said, “I believe Greg Koch is pound for pound the best guitar player in the world today. His, tone, feel and style are unrivaled in today’s guitar playing community. He is scary good. It was a true honor to do shows with him.” What do you think of Joe and who are some of the other great guitarists out there now that you dig?
That was unbelievably kind of Joe to say but when someone says “the best” I think it’s a really nice way of saying favorite. I think Joe is a phenomenon. He’s got it all and has been brilliant in his strategy for world domination. I dig a lot of players… too many to mention but Jack Pearson, Robben Ford, John Scofield, Ronnie Earl are some that I’ve listened to in the recent past…
How cool is it to have you son Dylan in your current touring band?
It’s very cool. He plays great and I’m proud of the way he’s developing as a musician.
What advice would you give to the kid that comes to one of your clinics and leaves saying, “That’s what I want to do!”?
Everyone has to find their own path in the music business and many times the one that pans out is not the one you had originally conceived. Work hard, treat people right and stay positive and anything is possible!
VISIT GREG ONLINE: http://gregkoch.com/