When you reminisce, you don't say, 'Remember that time you got sued by so-and-so?' No, you say, 'Remember when we played here and it was unbelievable, and we went out for that incredible meal and that funny thing happened?' Those are the important moments.
When I was younger, and Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and all that stuff was coming out, I was learning all those songs and trying to play guitar and develop my chops. I was a big fan.
We toured with Iron Maiden and we opened and they'd come in later and I didn't have a lot of time to get to hang out with those guys. Whenever you did, whether it was sitting down at catering or something, you tried to take advantage and just hang out and talk and trade stories.
You know, as kids were weren't jazz musicians or anything. But, the circle of friends and the neighborhood I lived in, we were really big Rush freaks and Yes fans. We would listen to 'Close to the Edge' and 'Hemispheres' and '2112' - the more artsy, progressive stuff. Some of the guys were into King Crimson and Genesis and all that.
Don't get stuck in a rut. If you started yesterday's practice playing arpeggios, start today's with scales. Also, try to make a song out of what you're practicing to help break the tedium.
It's one thing to be recognized by your peers over the course of your career, but the Grammy is something else altogether. You have the Recording Academy, along with a huge cross-section of producers, writers, engineers and musicians from all different musical genres and backgrounds who are making a decision. It's an amazing feeling.
In order to become a well-rounded musician, you have to master the three major aspects of guitar playing: the technical side, the musical side and the creative side.
You can go on YouTube now and see young kids with massive technique. There's literally eight and nine year olds who can play amazingly. There's no limit to where you can take it.
Sometimes just allowing yourself to noodle without any structure will enable you to stumble upon great new ideas, culminating in creating your own distinct voice on the instrument.
Guitarists use downstrokes and upstrokes to play fast patterns, but doubling up on down- or upstrokes might be essential to the sound of a specific melody. So as a player, you've got to sharpen your picking skills as much as you can.
The guitar is a funny instrument because you have bendable strings and distortion - there's a potential for noise. It is more exposing. Actually controlling the instrument, using proper vibrato, bending notes in tune, not fretting too hard, controlling the noise is a skill in itself that takes many years.
Oftentimes, whenever I do interviews with guitar magazines and we discuss my influences, I mention people like Steve Morse, Alex Lifeson, Al Di Meola - but John Scofield's name never comes up. And that's funny because he's so amazing; he's the epitome of a really cool guitar player.
As teenagers, we used to listen to entire Rush albums, entire Pink Floyd albums and shut down the lights and it was great.
Just because you have developed the craft on your instrument doesn't mean that you don't have the ability to be expressive emotionally on that instrument, or vice versa.
Chopin was a master of melody, harmony and voice leading - the art of smoothly moving from chord to chord.
You can approach the guitar like a voice. That's the best way of looking at it. If you are singing, you can't keep going a million miles an hour. You can only fit so many syllables in, so think about what you can sing through your guitar. Players like David Gilmour and Neal Schon are great at that kind of thing.
I started to get turned on to a bunch of different bands when I was in middle school/high school. I was turned onto The Who and Black Sabbath and Yes, and stuff like that. But Rush I obsessed over. I wanted to have every album. I wanted to know storylines, read all the lyrics, learn the songs and everything.
After you've practiced for an hour or so, turn down the lights and record yourself playing. Improvise and go nuts, then playback what you've recorded and listen for your strengths and weaknesses.
To me, there's no question that using a metronome develops your speed and accuracy. If you're learning scales or you're jamming on parts that you can't quite pull off, it's a must.
I'll never forget when I heard Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs for the first time. I was just blown away, and it changed my whole approach to guitar.