Interview: Jeff Scheetz

Dan McAvinchey: Jeff, when did you first begin playing the guitar?

Jeff Scheetz: I didn't start playing until I was 17, kind of a late starter! I had played cornet in fifth grade and was terrible! I didn't think I was very musical, but when I started playing guitar it was like I had found my voice.

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars and amplification are you currently using to get your sound?

Jeff Scheetz: I've been endorsed by Yamaha for several years and am currently using a Pacifica 1221 for my main guitar. I also used a Strat plus for a lot of the funk and blues on the new record. I used several amps including a Yamaha Soldano, a 5150, and a Vibrolux.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you hoping to achieve musically?

Jeff Scheetz: I just want to be able to always express myself through the art of music.

Dan McAvinchey: What are your most recently completed projects and what are you currently working on?

Jeff Scheetz: My new album is called "Pawn Shop", and is out now. I've also just produced a band called "Lament" for a label in Australia. I'm currently doing a blues project and am working on an instrumental Christmas CD.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you compose your music?

Jeff Scheetz: It comes in many different ways. The one thing I always try to do is be in a creative state of mind. It seems that the ideas flow better if you are working on it on an ongoing basis. For a lot of my instrumental tunes, I sometimes get a mental picture of something in my head, and then ask myself what music goes with this scene. This is much like scoring for film--except the film is in my head!

Dan McAvinchey: Do you prefer recording at home or renting time at a commercial studio?

Jeff Scheetz: I was fortunate enough to have convinced the last label I was on to put the recording budget into my studio instead of someone else's. So I have a pretty cool setup, with three ADATs and controller and a ton of outboard gear. However, the one thing I've found after doing lots and lots of recording in a lot of different studios, is that it's usually not the gear that gets the good sounds, it's the person running it!

Dan McAvinchey: What went into the decision to form your own record label and release an independent record?

Jeff Scheetz: My last three records had been on other labels, and I was always thinking things could sometimes be done differently. So I decided to do this CD on my own label. This way if there's a problem, I know who to blame!

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Dan McAvinchey: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Jeff Scheetz: The big advantage is that you call the shots, and do whatever music you want. You are ultimately responsible for your art (as art should be).

The disadvantage is that you are limited in what you can do from a financial standpoint. You might think it would be a good marketing idea to run full page ads in all the guitar magazines for 6 months, but at several thousand dollars per ad, you can't afford that idea! And obviously you don't have the connections or distribution mechanisms in place to blow 25,000 units out the door on first shipment, so it is a slower pace you have to travel at.

Dan McAvinchey: Care to share any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Jeff Scheetz: Be prepared to give away a lot of copies! Seriously though, you have to get people to hear it in a sea of thousands of other CDs. Web sites like this one that support underground music are great! Contact everyone you can to see if you can get some ink. It's not easy, you get rejected (or worse yet, ignored) by so many people that it can be frustrating. But if you dig what you do, you just have to keep doing it and believe in yourself.

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Guitarist/producer/record label owner Jeff Scheetz, headquartered in Kansas City, has just released his third solo CD, entitled Pawn Shop. Covering a plethora of musical styles from blues to funk, rock to acoustic, Pawn Shop epitomizes instrumental guitar music, rocking hard with heart, soul and musical taste. In addition to his own releases and a recent production gig with the band Lament, Scheetz also finds time to write a guitar column called "Licks and Tricks" for hm magazine. Interestingly, after three records with other labels, Scheetz decided to form his own label, Bam Zoom! Music and release the highly enjoyable "Pawn Shop".

Scheetz shared with Dan McAvinchey his compositional method, the life of an independent artist and some words of wisdom for those seeking quick fame and fortune.