Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Jon Gomm
Bandzoogle Member Since: 2011
Genre: Acoustic / Singer-Songwriter / Experimental
From: Leeds, United Kingdom
Jon’s favorite Bandzoogle Feature: Download codes.
Favorite section of his website: Store (“Not because I’m all about the money, just because it’s SO much better than my last website”)
Jon Gomm is an acoustic singer-songwriter with an incredible virtuoso guitar style (i.e. his guitar playing will make your brain hurt). He uses one acoustic guitar to create drum sounds, basslines and sparkling melodies all at the same time, and combines styles from blues and jazz to rock and pop.
He tours Europe, playing at festivals from Rome to Athens, has a huge cult following and is regarded by those in the know as one of the world’s most talented and innovative acoustic guitarists. His videos are watched thousands of times within days of appearing on Youtube, and his home-recorded CD “Hypertension” has sold over ten thousand copies with no industry backing. And we’re mighty proud that he's a Bandzoogle member.
Q: So when and how did you start playing guitar?
I got my first guitar when I was two years old (it was a ukulele actually!) and started taking lessons when I was four. So – pretty young!
Q: It sounds like you grew up in quite a musical household, what was that like?
My dad was a frustrated musician. He has the biggest record collection I have still ever seen, and he used to take me to gigs at an early age, but he can’t play a note! He became friends with local concert promoters, and he’d offer to accommodate touring bands at his house. So I knew guys like Bob Brozman and Walter Trout pretty well by the time I was 11 or 12 years old.
Q: You certainly have a unique guitar playing style, where do you learn to play like that? Was it self-taught?
It’s a mix of everything I have ever learned, and I’m far from self-taught – lessons, music colleges, the works. I just love guitar music so I’m always learning new things. There’s a bit of innovation in there hopefully too – I always loved players who broke the rules, from Stanley Jordan to Tom Morello.
Q: Are any companies that make guitar tuners sponsoring you yet?
Ha ha! No, I don’t do as well as I should for sponsorship because most of the equipment I love is handmade by tiny companies, so they don’t have a budget for sponsorship. The tuners I use are handmade by banjo legend Bill Keith, he’s a wonderful, friendly guy!
Q: Who are some of your influences as a guitarist? Is there even anyone else out there that plays with a similar style?
The two players I probably sound most like are Preston Reed and Nick Harper – two very different guitarists but both geniuses. I’m hugely influenced by Michael Hedges, and I’m part of a “new generation” of post-Hedges guitarists – most of us seem to know each other and are friends. Guys like Erik Mongrain, Thomas Leeb, Andy McKee, Pino Forastiere, Amrit Sond...
Q: On your Twitter you mention that you named your guitar “Wilma”, where did that come from and how long has Wilma been in your life?
Wilma came into my life by a bizarre series of coincidences, 10 years ago. She’s named after my first love. When I was about 6. Wilma Deering from Buck Rogers In The 25th Century.
Q: On your site you’re going to have a section for guitarists only. Do you teach guitar? Is educating other aspiring guitarists something that you want to focus on in the future?
I used to teach guitar, these days I don’t often have time but I do give guitar workshops, and I go into The Guitar Institute in London for a few days each year to teach contemporary acoustic techniques. I love teaching, a lot of young guitarists are more interested in acoustic playing at the moment, which is great!/
Q: How do you approach songwriting? Do you come up with the music and percussive elements first, then add lyrics later, or do you build the music around lyrics?
I always write the melody and lyrics first, and I’ll have some idea of harmony and groove in mind, and even genre – I might think “this song would work in a bluesy context” for example. Then all the guitar arrangement comes afterwards, it’s a separate process. I never want technique to rule the song. It’s always the other way around.
Q: In terms of your career, what do you think is the most effective promotional tool at your disposal?
The best method is word of mouth. Social networks are a great way of helping with that. My favourite thing about online promotion is the ideas and influence I can get back from fans and listeners. The website facilitates that too – people can leave comments on my blog, for example. My new videos were all made by people responding to my plea for help in my mailout! People are just great, so keen to help and be involved.
Q: What area of your music career generates the most income for you? Music sales? Live shows? Licensing? Other?
I make most of my income from gigs, then sales comes in second. I love touring, so that’s not a problem for me.
Q: What’s one of your favorite career highlights so far?
Two things. Getting to perform with and become friends with musicians I think are incredible is a huge privilege. For example, recently I took Angelo Palladino (a criminally little known blues singer) over to play a concert on The Isle Of Man. Then secondly, just touring – playing in different countries, making new friends in far flung cities, learning to understand different cultures so I can communicate with them from the stage.
Q: You’re an independent artist that has sold over 10,000 copies of your debut CD, and also tour throughout Europe. How do you manage your career? Do you have a team that helps you?
I have a manager, Natasha, who also happens to be my wife! She books most of my shows and organises a lot of stuff, as well as being a wonderful musician herself. I have booking agents, PR people, all that stuff, but most of them work for me for peanuts! For which I am eternally grateful!
Q: Tell us about the The Domestic Science singles series? And why did you decide to go with a Pay-what-you-want model?
I was gradually persuaded over to the PWYW idea by various friends, mainly Hope And Social, a band from the town where I live. It seems like a great way of bypassing music piracy issues, and giving people the opportunity to hear and share my music without having to pay first – they can pay later if they want to! It’s an experiment for me, but I have high hopes. And anyway, there’s always the chance somebody will pay a million bucks for a song!
I’m going to be selling PWYW downloads at my shows too, using download codes. I think they are a fantastic idea – it’s not a marketing fad, it’s a real way of selling music.
Q: What’s next for Jon Gomm? Any plans for touring North America or other parts of the world?
I would LOVE to come to the U.S. and Canada. I don’t have any definite plans, but I am sure it will happen some day. It’s quite daunting for us Brits you know – that continent of yours is just so darn BIG!
To get a sense of Jon’s guitar playing ability, check out this video for his new single “Passionflower”
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