How to make a living out of playing guitar: Alastair Greene interview


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Lots of us want to ‘make it’ as guitarists and as rock stars. But what does that actually mean? Having a string of platinum albums and playing your own songs and solos to 20,000 people every night? Because most of us have no chance of ever achieving that. To become a modern-day pro six-stringer, you need more strings to your bow – way more, in fact, as Alan Parsons Live Project lead guitarist Alastair Greene told us when we sat down with him before a show…

Alastair Greene is currently in the process of ‘making it’ as a musician. Well, he’s actually been making it for years now, but bigger things are happening for him these days.

His day job, so to speak, is his work as lead guitarist with the Alan Parsons Live Project (APLP), the progressive pop rock kings who play shows all over the world every year.

In between that, Alastair’s own blues rock Alastair Greene Band is going places, and he also does session work and tours with other artists.

This is what life is like as a professional axe-slinger these days: unless you’re Slash, you really have to wear more than one hat.

Gotta be flexible

This often means playing music you might not be all that familiar with. As Alastair states in our interview, it was something of a challenge for him to get to grips with the APLP material when he first got the gig in 2010.

But that’s what being a pro is all about: flexibility. Of course, Alastair also does blues, country and slide sessions (among other things), and these are genres he slips into more naturally.

Our interview with Alastair took place on the last night of the APLP Europe tour, and we were keen to also quiz the man about his gear, his life on the road, and his future plans. Here’s what he had to say:

 

Alastair and APLP really went on to kill it at the show that night. It was an outdoor concert for about 2000 fans, and pretty windy, but the sound was incredible – especially considering it’s an 8-piece live act and there’s often 6-way harmonies going on.

But perhaps a great sound is to be expected with a man like Alan Parsons at the helm. He did engineer some of Pink Floyd and The Beatles’ finest studio moments, after all.

Alastair’s rig

Despite the band’s complex arrangements and soundscapes, we were interested to see that Alastair uses a fairly simple rig: guitar (we spotted just the one electric and one acoustic all evening), amp, and a handful of FX pedals.

And, as Alastair alluded to in the interview, it’s a setup he can use for any setting, show and audience size – his TubeMeister’s handy power soak always making sure he’s not deafening the crowd.

While we weren’t able to shoot any footage of Alastair and APLP playing live ourselves, we did come across this cool video showing some of his best live chops from the past few tours:

 

As you can see from the video – and you can hear on his solo records – Alastair’s also blessed with a fine set of vocal cords, which can only help guitarists looking to play with other artists.

Play to your strengths, and have many of them

In short: if you’ve got vocals, use ‘em.

It comes back to that flexibility thing again. As well as being an awesome guitar player in many styles, we’re pretty sure having a great voice didn’t harm Alastair’s chances with Alan Parsons. Hell, he even takes lead vocals on a couple of songs in the APLP live show.

Maybe this is what being a modern-day rock star is all about: less drug binges and throwing TVs out of windows, more having the skills, and being able to make use of them whenever and wherever you’re called on.

As Alastair says: “This is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to play guitar, and I’m getting to do it – and I feel very fortunate to be in that position.”

Sounds good to us.

Check out the video for the Alastair Greene Band’s Trouble At Your Door single below, and if you want to find out more about the man, head over to his website at agsongs.com

First published: September 18 2015. Most recent update: September 18 2015.

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