For Adam Wessen, singer, guitarist and founding member of the group Grouplove, music was almost always present. “I was born and raised on the surf scene in Los Angeles and got into punk rock a lot when I was a kid,” he told me as we chatted on the phone on a Friday morning. “I remember seeing a few shows, like Smashing Pumpkins, back then, and it changed me as a kid. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I ended up living in the Greek Islands for a while in 2008, living with all these other musicians, and everyone who ended up forming Grouplove was there in Crete. We did a record in LA a year later and I guess the rest is history now, you know, four albums and tours and everything later. I started playing music around the age of nine and never stopped.
If you’ve always wanted to play an instrument but, on the other end of the spectrum, never started, Wessen has some words for you: “Stop apologizing. Anyone can play music and there has never been a better time to start. People see learning to play guitar or whatever, they think it’s a tough task, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be fun, it’s an outing, a connection.
In short, the barriers you perceive are just that: your perception. And that includes the common misconception that good instruments and good instruction are just too expensive.
“My first guitar was a Mexican [Fender] Strat, ”Wessen said. “I used my same guitar and amp from the late 90s to record Grouplove’s first record. And I also used it on tour for the first few years. Fender has been part of this story from the start. And today, I am still learning. I was originally a pianist. My grandmother was this amazing pianist, she played for USO concerts during WWII and toured all over the place, and she always played by ear, which is kind of where I go. have also. I have never had any formal training and maybe because of that I can appreciate the tools that anyone can use, YouTube, Fender Play, there are so many things like that.
“Playing music with a Juilliard teacher is a sort of strict, precision-driven, perfection-oriented musical experience. This angle is great for people who want to master music, and I can understand how some people might be envious of this opportunity, ”Wessen continued. But he also says that not having access to a high level musical education is not a good reason to avoid learning a new instrument or taking your playing to the next level.
“Fender Play is this amazing resource for people because you learn by playing songs. I mean, I know there are people out there who can stay home and learn the chords and the theory and that’s one way to do it, but most of us learn things contextually. Learning by playing the music you love, learning that only a few chords in different orders make up most of the greatest songs, it opens up the world of music so you can just live with that passion, songs are meant to inspire even if you are just starting to play. And without being overwhelmed by it. And there are guitars you can afford – it’s something anyone can do when using these resources. “
And if you need a little more motivation, consider making music as a sonic beacon of hope for the extended pandemic. “Music in general is like a long-term companion,” Wessen said. “It gives you relief and release and there has never been a better time to learn to play. And because the guitar is just that universal instrument, it’s probably the best one to pick up right now. Everywhere you go in the world there is a guitar leaning against the world. The guitar community is truly the whole world, and you can be connected through this music. “
Once you can travel again, that is. Which is something to look forward to soon. What is Adam Wessen waiting for?
“I just got out of this nightmare. Seeing the ending coming makes me really excited, the idea of going back to those rooms, of playing together again, of having an audience there. And not just play, I mean go show myself. It will be exciting to come back for all of us.
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