Lance Reegan-Diehl – The Korea Guitar Interview

Lance Reegan-Diehl is a Canadian guitarist / composer / producer / clinician living in Seoul.  He owns a studio (DEELEEBOB  Studio) there, runs the HBC Music Festival, has recorded 11 solo albums, performs with Lance Reegan-Diehl band and has appeared on 5 Korean #1 hit singles.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for Korea Guitar.  Read on and find out more about him at www.LRDmusic.com or visit his Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/LRDyt

Tell us a little about your history. Where did you come from?
LRD: I originally come from Vancouver, British Columbia. I lived in a quiet part called West Van. I studied music there, I performed there, played many, many, many shows. Some as opening act, some as headliner. This was the ‘Seattle” Grunge era back then, so a lot of bands would cross pollinate on the border. I was playing stages with bands from Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and L.A. The notable stuff was opening act for Shrapnel records artists, Greg Howe, and for Mr.Big. I also shared a stage with Tool way back in the day. This was the time when Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden were forging their sound on Sub-Pop records. I was always rejected by record labels. So I went ‘indie’ release. Many of these shows helped sell my own first record which enabled touring and performance in Canada to happen and radio play as well as T.V. spots.

When did you start playing?
LRD:  I picked up the guitar at the ripe old age of 8years old. I didn’t know much about it, and used to just try to plunk out something, mess with tunings. I didn’t know what they did. My family played music for fun and a hobby, so I had influences in my family. I seemed to like messing with guitar so, lessons followed in my 9th year. I was also required to take piano lessons for 2 years as well. At the time, I didn’t like it so much, but I’m glad I did. I still play some piano, too.

What was your first instrument?LRD_Swing_6sm
LRD:  First instrument? Hard to say. Guitars were always there, but: Harmonica, violin, accordion, piano, auto-harp, banjo, standup bass. They were all around us as kids.

Who were your influences?
LRD:  Music influences take place real early on, and I would say that I had access to the singles my parents collected. Singles as in 45RPM records. Sam Cooke, Jan and Dean, Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis. Then Rock hit me. Ozzy, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Rush, AC/DC, Led Zep. It’s all there, first jazz record was Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. That record took my imagination away, man. First time I heard John McGlaughlin, too, who I had a chance to meet most recently. Loved it. Favorite guitarist is still Joe Pass. I met him twice, and did get to visit with him before he passed away. It feels great to meet these people that gave you music and turned you on to playing guitar!

Why and when did you make the move to Korea?
LRD:  I wonder if there is a when or a why myself. I never planned to be here. The shortest possible story is: I was in a touring band that had played many countries before and after Korea. I had done this in a few groups. However, it so happened by chance that I ended up recording for a Korean record company way back in the year 1999. I was passing through Korea and it was something outside of the touring band. This interested me to play my own compositions and put my own brand on some classic jazz/fusion songs. And of course record them for someone who would release them nationally in a foreign Country…”KOREA”
Some time after, I was touring in Thailand. I had come across a fella by the name of Tommy. Tommy Emanuel. We hit it off, and still remain friends. He sat in with the band on some nights. He was in town recording and doing work for Sony records. And at the time I didn’t know the extent of his career. We were just hanging out late at night jamming on guitars up in the hotel and just becoming friends. Well, he did listen to my recordings from Korea. And at the same time I was told that my recording in Korea had interested some music people in Seoul. That recording had also gotten over to Canadian radio. I had no idea that my recorded version of ‘Blue Bossa’ by Kenny Dorham was sitting in a number 3 spot for adult contemporary jazz, it stayed there for 3 years. So, at that point I came back to Seoul to see what I could get going. I was shortly signed to an entertainment agent. I began doing session work for Sony records, IVY Entertainment, SM Ent., and EMI, on acoustic guitar and some electric. Over the next 10 years I would play on many recordings, stages, TV broadcasts, radio, etc. I contributed to 5 number one hits in Korea and Japan. I have also become sponsored by music manufacture companies from my Signature Swing Guitar, to the amplifiers I have helped develop, and my string and accessory sponsors that keep me moving. The past 8 years I have played stages in many different countries up to 10 trips per year I was going on to perform as a guest artist. U.S.A., Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Germany, Italy, and France.

Can you tell us some cool behind the scenes stories from recording sessions or live performances?

LRD:  Working on the first BOA album and the first single she had. “My Sweetie” BOA herself was a very young kid at that time. Pretty quiet, and a bit shy, but one heck of a voice. This was around world cup time, and her single took off and kind of became a world cup song. These were all fast moving times as her popularity shot up like a rocket. I remember doing 4 stages per week with SM Ent. In those days, and it lasted for about 80 shows total. Plus my own shows that year I was on something like 360 stages and shows in 2002. I still maintained a friendship with BOA and her team for many years. Her original manager was a good friend to me. I think a lot of people still remember him and his spirit for music.

How is the music scene in Korea and other places you’ve played in Asia?
LRD:  Every music scene I know anywhere, from Vancouver to Frankfurt, to Catania, to Tokyo, Taiwan, and Seoul all have the same issues. Live music is getting squeezed into the underground again. It’s almost like your dirty if you play live music or play in a band. No one wants to pay, or give anyone space to perform. Is the DJ killin it? Well no. What people see as music is very different to what you saw 10years ago. You actually saw bands on stages. And what you see on the larger pop/corporate sponsored stages today is not really a band, I will say it in a nice way…no one plays the music live anymore. It’s more like high profile Karaoke, and the current pop culture revels in it. I think Mili Vanilli would hit so big these days.
In Seoul, with my company, I own and run a live independent music festival known as the Hae Bang Chon Festival. http://www.hbcfest.com Live performance artists from around the world gather to play for 3 to 4 days in Yongsan-Gu and many businesses turn their space into a live music stage for the event. Next year it will be in it’s 10th year running and I hope to continue the live music in a bigger better way. The Fest. is a direct contributor to the music scene in Seoul Korea. Especially the independent music scene. For HBC fest, one goal is to have bands, solo artists, and indie groups come to Seoul for that week and perform, live, play, and experience another music scene in the world.     Personally I don’t think there is anything great about the Hae Bang Chon festival, I think the greatness and uniqueness of it come from the people who take part in it and perform ‘Live’ music. And in some sense this next statement makes sense; drive the musicians underground, let them create, and stew and boil. Then when they pop out something new and different sounding come along and record them all, create a new sound, and a new chapter in pop music culture. This will clear out the underground and then it starts all over again. This actually was how Grunge started! And when it started no one wanted to hear it, I know. I was there. We were all pushed down and kicked around by the other complying, pop/rock format music types. Heck even Mike Reno from Canadian supergroup “Loverboy” used to come out and watch my shows, he would often hangout after my shows along with his brother Steve, and tell me “Never stop doing what you are doing Lance.”

lrd2Tell us about your studio in Seoul?
LRD:  I started my own studio in Seoul Korea in 2007. The time leading up to 2007, I always had gear to do demo’s and to work out session material before going over to the larger production houses to work. But the actual space for drums, and a system with rehearsal and recording possibilities started in 2007. Over these last years we have always kept a healthy amount of rehearsal clients, the recording is a little more specialized for company promotions, product releases. We do record bands from time to time though, and the occasional singer songwriter comes in for my quality of production. Keep in mind, originally it was my own private studio, to do my own art in. And it sort of still is today. Bands at my place are there because they know me, and they like a private facility. Recording work is from corporations to private individuals. The entertainment side is basically events, and private parties. We still handle various contracts in the Country from time to time. And I still do some session work for the larger places in Seoul. The studio itself is one large track room, one super silent isolation room. The repair bench and tool room, along with the main mix and master area.

Talk about your solo albums. How many?
LRD:  My solo records date back a few years. I have completed 6 solo recordings, and 4 albums that feature my band, and one with a writing partner John Valentine. Total releases are 11 recordings. We are currently working on a 12th release. Mainly all band recordings this time. I may include a few guitar tracks as well. Still TBA at this point. It was supposed to be done late 2012…oh well. And I should add that very recently my recordings have been included in the Library of Archives Canada. Pretty cool for me to become ‘historical’ content.

How do you find musicians to record with you?
LRD:  In the early days I had a ‘band’ but there are always changes in members.(drummers) and for the most part I have always taken to hiring people to play shows with me or we have similar musical interests and also go out doing professional work, and or artist showcase dates and the like. I have recently been in touch with on of my long time early band mates from Vancouver bassist Dan Yaremko. He will actually guest spot on a recording I am making right now. He is going to record bass parts in Vancouver and send them over to me for mixing on my digital re-release of ‘Widgets and Wooden Nickels’.
My band has had many members come and go over the years. Yes,…lot’s of drummers. It’s not a myth. I can say for the current lineup we started off being friends, and years ago I had a gig so we all joined and played. David Dauberman has been playing bass with me for almost 15years. I have known our drummer Karl Auger since 1998. And vocalist Megan Kim came along a couple years after Dave and I were gigging together so, she has been rocking the front stage for about 13years now. We stick with each other, we are a good band and get along well. 2015 is the 15year mark for the actual ‘band’ formation. On occasion we have other session musicians we know work with us, and for the most part it’s based on personal relationships, trust, and yes…it is who you know.

What does the future hold for LRD?
LRD:  We have decided to release some material that hasn’t been recorded fully and formally. There are many ideas abound. 2015 will be the release of music we have not yet performed live. I think we will probably have a few sponsored stages to get this stuff out there and let it rock one more time as it were, in 2015. I decided long ago I would continue to record and release music always, one per year if possible. That end of my art is a personal love. I also love gigging and being on various music shows, as well as have my band cover a variety of situations. The one thing I do know, there comes cycles of when we are so busy and things are so upside right, that we really appreciate a few months of coming home, go to the office, mix, record, write, play an odd show. Not having to be somewhere or rushing from show to show. We are planning a 15year show, hopefully it is an eventful one. Swing Guitars, Sound Drive amplifiers, Graphtech and Olympia Strings will take a part in it. I can anticipate continued involvement in endorsement promotions and a few trips abroad.

Discography:
Widgets and Wooden Nickels – Sept., 1992 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.
L.R.D. From Canada – July, 1999 Monk Munch Records Korea.
Unreleased Seoul – Aug., 2002 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.
Innocent Bystander – Sept., 2003 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.
Freak – July, 2004 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.
The Monday Night Blues – July, 2005 Lance Reegan-Diehl / L.R.D. Band, LRD Music.
Internal Construction – Nov., 2005 Lance Reegan-Diehl / L.R.D. Band, LRD Music.
Chasing My Reflection – Dec., 2007 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.
From Me to You – Dec., 2009 John Valentine feat/Lance Reegan-Diehl, KBS records.
Uploaded – Dec., 2011 Lance Reegan-Diehl, LRD Music.

K-Pop Discography:
BOA – Single “My Sweetie” 2002-2003 SM Entertainment, Korea. #1Hit 2001/04
Fly To The Sky – Live/Session, 2003 – 2004 SM Entertainment, Korea.
RICH – Single “I Don’t Cry” 2002 IVY Music, Korea. #1Hit 2002
People Crew – Single “Last Train To London”(remix) 2002 IVY Music, Korea. #1 2003
Lisa – Live performance and MTV music video’s 2003 and 2006
Sung Shi Kyung – Live/Session performance 2003 – 2004
Evan – Single “Eternal Sunshine” 2007- 2008 TN Entertainment, Korea. #1 Hit 2007
Tony An – Single “Melody” 2007- 2009 TN Entertainment, Korea. #1 Hit 2007

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