There's so many times where I write beyond my current capability, I shoot way further than I can actually make. And then I have to make up the difference, like by the time tour rolls around, I have to be able to play this fucking thing. You do have to tell yourself the ridiculous stuff. If you want to create something good or do something cool, you got to dream big.
My first instrument that I started on was violin. My mom made me pick that up at age three and kind of forced me to play it my whole life. And I really just hated it, because it was just a couple of hours a day. As a kid, it's like most of your life, it feels like. After doing that till I was 10 years old, my dad just brought out a guitar one day. I had no idea that he even played.
My dad would go and play with his band, and occasionally he'd take me and let me just play with them. And I always just wanted to solo over whatever they were doing. My upbringing was very dad rock, dad guitar, with the Boomer bands and everything. That's where I learned that. That was one of the first things I ever learned
In 6th grade, my friend group's parents were asking us what we each wanted to be when we grew up, and I said I want to be a rockstar. And of course everyone rolled their eyes, or something stupid. I was just dead ass serious, though. I had this idea in my head that I wanted to be the best guitar player on earth. So I think I had watched School of Rock, because that came out around then, and Pick of Destiny, and just the Jack Black movies were really influential. And then I watched Crossroads, with Steve of course, and just the idea of selling your soul to the devil or whatever and then you were the best, I just thought that was so cool. From age 10 to 13, I just practiced with the intention of becoming the best guitar player in the world.
I wanted to start my own bands. And in middle school, everyone, at first they were into Green Day, and then they got super into the emo stuff with Cheotos and From First to Last, and that whole scene thing. And so we all wanted to start bands like that, so we did that at first. We were doing covers of those songs at church lock ins. That was one of the first times I ever played for a group of my peers. Then I joined a worship thing for a youth group. And I don't give a shit about any of that, but I just wanted to play, and it was an opportunity for me to play every weekend. Eventually, we started Polyphia in high school, and it started out death metal, because that's what we were really into at the time. And then it just eventually got less blast beaty and more groove-oriented, and then evolved to what it is today.
I think we've been playing Ernie Ball strings since we were teenagers going to Guitar Center and buying strings. I remember picking the Cobalt and being like, "That's the fucking one I want," because at the time we were really wanting to gent, and that just takes so much ... you pick the shit really hard, and then the Cobalts were strong enough to deal with it without going dead, with as much as we were practicing, the next day. I remember being in high school, and just the Ernie Balls were the superior one that I'd spent money on.
Yeah, I would say Compassion and Transcend, I think, from just the super early days, I remember that got us our first endorsement with Ernie Ball. We were playing Music Man back then, and I remember just thinking, "Holy shit, we made it. We're endorsed by Ernie Ball Music Man." And it was just the coolest fucking thing to be able to customize a guitar.
I'd say we know who we are now, at least musically for what we're doing right now, so that's a nice thing, to not throw something at the wall and see what sticks. But that's also the fun part about creating, is maybe on the next record we'll just want to fucking start from ground zero and just do something completely different. So we'll see.
I think that our not sticking to the same sound through each record has definitely helped us grow. And it's been a lot of finding out who we are as artists, and a lot of weeding out the naysayers of the fan base. Through doing that, we've found the people that have stuck through each era. And those are the die hards that really keep us going. So it's a nice thing to be able to journey through those different styles.
I think the most important thing as a young player or musician or composer, producer or anything, creator, is to find your voice, to find your style. And the way that you do that is you learn your favorite things, you learn your favorite styles. And it helps to be into a lot of things so that you can pinpoint contrasting stuff, because eventually you get good at all these different things that you like stylistically. They're going to make their way into original playing. And then you might have an original voice.
We've been lucky that we've been able to follow or participate in certain trends throughout the years without it feeling like, "Oh, we're just following that trend just like everybody else," because our thing is so far detached, if we're taking influence from whatever's going on in the pop world or in the hip hop world. We're not even in that world, so when we take influence from those trends that are happening there and apply it to our style, our voice is so drastically different than what else is happening over here, that you can't even make the comparison. Yeah, I'd say we've been lucky in that regard. And that's really the thing that you want to do, is find super contrasting influences.
Guitar playing to me is more of a means to an end, the end being the creation of music. The guitar is a tool to execute my ideas and bring them to life. If I was good at any other instrument, I'd be playing that instrument, but I'm only good at guitar, so that's the one that I use. It's more of a vehicle than anything, for just the expression.
I just have to make stuff. And I make too much stuff to fit under one project, even though it takes us four years to put out a record. There's just so much music that I make. And I don't really care about progressing the instrument or pushing the boundaries of what it's possible to do. That's more of a byproduct that happens from me just wanting to make stuff and trying to figure out how it's going to work and what's possible. When it comes to collaborating with people outside of the band, I have so many ideas that I want to do, so many things I want to make. And it's just a nice thing to be able to get in a room with someone you've never even met before.
Making music is such an intimate thing, and you really have to be somewhat vulnerable to open up to let it come out with someone you just met. And sometimes the vibe is really sick and sometimes it's not and it's an awkward session, and you just don't really do that again. But sometimes you get really cool stuff out of it and end up making a bunch of dope shit. My favorite thing is leaving the studio and it's just like, "Damn, I made some dope shit today." That's my favorite feeling in the world.