Seek Irony is a hard rock band from Austin, Texas, via Tel Aviv, Israel, that mixes elements of electronica into their tunes. I know what you’re thinking. “Hard rock and electronica? Can’t work!” I felt the same way until I heard their debut album,Tech N Roll. Seek Irony is for real. And guitarist Alex Campbell is a monster. Great tone. Great chops. And a great band. I’m converted. You should be too. Here’s Alex Campbell’s 21 Questions. Enjoy!
- Who was your biggest musical influence?
It is difficult to pick just one influence, especially since influences change over time. Since I have to pick one, I’d say David Gilmour. His playing and music is the reason why I picked up the electric guitar.
- Can you remember your first guitar?
My first electric guitar was a FirstAct Stratocaster copy in tobacco burst. I still have it, though I think my father is the only one who uses it.
What are you playing now?
Nowadays, I play my Ernie Ball Music Man JP7 Ltd. Edition (all rosewood neck) in mystic dream. It is a truly remarkable instrument.
- Can you give people a brief history of Alex Campbell?
I’ve always enjoyed music and began by messing about with my father’s classical as a kid. My interest in guitar continued to grow and I eventually switched to electric guitar. At that point I was hooked and started playing in bands when I was 13. I started looking for challenging music and began practicing 8-12 hours a day from then on. I continued to play in bands, getting a few awards here and there, and eventually found myself at the Berklee College of Music. Now I have three Grammy nominations for Music Education and I get to work with some of the best people in the industry.
- What was the first concert you ever saw?
I believe it was an intimate acoustic guitar and piano concert with Eric Johnson at a church in Austin, TX. It was an all instrumental evening and very interesting to see him so accomplished at both instruments.
- Do you remember the first show you ever played?
Hah, surprisingly yes. One of the bands I started, Maiden Austin (laugh away), played a Christmas party for the local fire department. We played for about three hours, which consisted of a mess of cover tunes and attempted improvisation. The night was definitely a learning experience towards professionalism.
- I’m a big fan of band name origins. How did the band decide on the name Seek Irony?
The name Seek Irony has a message behind it. There is a lot of twisted irony in the world we live in and we try to inspire people to seek that irony. In doing so, we hope they can find the truth between the lines.
- I must admit, when I first heard that Seek Irony was a modern rock/electronica band, I was skeptical. But you totally changed my mind when I heard Tech N’ Roll. How did the idea for hard rock mixed with electronic develop?
I’m glad to hear we changed your mind! The mixture of rock and electronica was forged by Kfir and Rom, our singer and drummer respectively. They grew up in Israel listening to Metallica and Pantera, as well as some of the more prominent electronic artists of that time, such as Depeche Mode. They created the idea and the rest of us have brought it to the level it is at now.
- What are the most important things beginner guitarists should learn on their quest to become the next guitar hero?
I believe in finding a balance between dedicated practice and life experience. In other words, understanding theory while still being human. It is easy to get caught up in learning harmony, phrasing, and substitutions, though one might find that they are losing what made them pick up the guitar in the first place. On the contrary, reaching your full potential without paying attention to theory can harm you just the same as knowing too much. Strive to find the balance between performing like a musician and performing like a human.
- List 5 albums that you think every guitar player should own?
In no particular order,
1. Pink Floyd – Pulse
2. Joe Satriani – Crystal Planet
3. Yngwie Malmsteen – Trial by Fire
4. Dream Theater – Scenes from a Memory
5. Guthrie Govan – Erotic Cakes
- What’s in the future for you and Seek Irony?
I’m currently working on a new soundtrack at Warner Bros. Records. Not much else I can say about that at this time, but you should hear more about it as we get closer to 2016. As for Seek Irony, we are beginning to write our follow up album to Tech N’ Roll. There are a lot of things moving behind the scenes that we are really excited to share at a later time. Other than that, we are in the process of booking a couple more tours, one of which is confirmed with Project Independent this October.
- What’s the biggest joy in your professional life: Writing, recording, performing or teaching?
I’d have to say performing. While I am dedicated to all of my students, I rarely feel as alive as I do than when I’m on stage. At that point, everything you’ve done in your entire life comes out for all to see, feel, and hear. It is a very open, yet rewarding experience. There’s nothing like it.
- How’s life on the road these days? How have the crowds been?
It is certainly life, haha. Sharing just about every waking moment with four other people is exactly as one would think, but as with most things, it is what you make of it. Everything is a learning experience, so I like to think I come off tour a bit more knowledgeable than before I left. The crowds have been great! Every city on the Tech N’ Roll tour has been so welcoming and receptive. We’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people. Moments like that absolutely reaffirm the reason why I play music.
- With all your teaching, recording, touring, you seem like you’re pretty busy. How do you unwind after a show, or session?
The unwinding from a show rarely comes as soon as I’d like haha. When the time finally comes, it usually involves something light to eat, hydration, and going over the itinerary for the next day. I suppose the real unwinding comes during travel time to the next show. As for after a session, I’m much more easy-going. If it is a WB session, I like to listen over what we did, take notes, than switch my life to normal. Other sessions are normal for me, so I never really think of needing to unwind.
- How do you prepare for a show? Do you have a chance to get out and see whichever city you’re in?
Once we are backlined and the stage is set, I usually go to the bus. From then on, it is a lot of introspection and quiet. At an hour before the show, I start warming up various rudiments and exercises, get dressed and do the social media dance 15 minutes before the show, and then hit backstage. Depending on how well we were able to follow the itinerary for the day, I occasionally get the chance to head out and see what makes the city what it is.
- There have been a lot of comments recently about the state of RnR. Is it still a healthy genre??
I think rock is as healthy as it has ever been. I think the main cause for such speculation comes from the state of album sales. Music isn’t being distributed in the same fashion as before, when it was more of the genre’s “heyday”. With the age of digital distribution, piracy is easy. Besides that fact, various economic complications for the average concert goer impedes the growth of artists. I don’t think that effects the genre, but more of the individual artist. There will always be a fan base for the genre.
Is it possible to earn a living the way that the industry is going?
I absolutely believe it is possible to earn a living. It may not be as simple as before, but it is certainly possible. I find a lot of people crying foul because their music is not bringing in millions when it just simply isn’t possible. Instead, they should be focusing on other avenues for financial stability within the industry, such as teaching, licensing, scoring, producing, session work, etc. Limiting yourself to just your band isn’t realistic. One must open themselves up to a broader revenue stream than solely laying hope on the label.
- What’s the most embarrassing that has ever happened to you on stage? A Spinal Tap moment, if you will?
I was playing in a metal band before I left for Berklee. Our singer happened to have quite the infatuation with alcohol and would partake before shows, which is something I obviously don’t condone. Anyway, the lad thought it fitting to treat the stage as a mosh pit and knocked over my speaker cabinet, head and all, during a song. Not once, but twice in the same show. I’m not sure what was more embarrassing; the amp falling over or having to explain how it happened afterwards.
- If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
I’m a huge fan of astrophysics, so I’d probably be doing something in that field. Perhaps it is rather out there, but there is something to be said of looking up into the night sky, and while seeing nothing, everything is there.
People can expect to go to a blend of a rave party and rock concert. It is a show that will leave you dancing and banging your head simultaneously. We have a massive light show, designed and programmed by Adam, our bassist, and myself, as well as transitions to keep the music flowing nonstop. Simply put, you can expect to leave the show saturated in delightful sweat.
- If you could have written one song in Rock N Roll history, which song would you choose?
I would say “Stairway to Heaven”, but then I suppose I’d be in the middle of a copyright lawsuit right now. So, I’d go with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”. Blackmore’s solo and unison with Lord is still so epic.
- What’s the greatest guitar song ever recorded?
This is a tough question and only reflects how I feel at the moment. However, I’d go with Al di Meola and Paco de Lucia’s “Mediterranean Sundance”. You just couldn’t beat those guys when they were together.
- What’s the best Alex Campbell guitar song? (A song of yours that your especially proud of)
Hah, I suppose a tune called “Risqué Bouquet” is probably the most guitar-centric song I’ve written. I don’t normally write based off of guitar, so that is the one that would probably speak the loudest for someone who wanted just myself and the guitar.