I grew up in a time warp, there's no question about it. My dad had an incredible vinyl collection, so I would just go through all the vinyl rack was and sit there and just put them all on and get sort of carried away by them and take into this different sort of realm and comforted by them.
Guitar playing to me, is endless possibilities. When I first picked up the guitar, when I was six years old, it just felt like it was magical. You could create any sound out of it. And, after I saw Jimmy Hendrix and when I heard Santana play and all the different sounds it created and how it was really healing for me at a really young age, because I was pretty shy as a kid so holding a guitar gave me a lot of confidence and it made me feel like, I don't have to express myself a certain way. And, when you find your own fingerprint after listening to tons of records and then you step away from them and just sit with a guitar by yourself, you kind of feel you find your own sound, and then you're able to express yourself that way. Guitar playing to me is kind of pretty much everything.
When I first picked up the guitar, my dad taught me three chords. So, it was A, E and D and you can write so many songs with those core progression. And, so I would just start writing songs. It was kind of a journey of just discovering where I wanted to go with the guitar. And, rolling into university like TAFE University in Australia, where you study classical when I was 10 years old for two years. And, then from there I played in an orchestra pit with Oklahoma and I was the youngest member and you'll be sight reading and playing and those actors up on the stage and dust falling into the pit and all of that. But, it was such a learning experience.
Then to 14 opening for Steve Vai at Heaven nightclub in Adelaide. Then 16 opening for ZZ Top around Australia. You know what I mean? And, I just was obsessed with guitar. Let myself away in my room for about six or seven hours, maybe more. I'd actually purposely get in trouble so I get sent to my room so I could just play my guitar for longer. I would do things that were just not right. So, "Go to your room." I'm like, "Perfect, great."
Yeah, I dropped out of school when I was 15 years old, it just didn't feel right to me. And, I was playing in three or four different cover bands and earning quite a bit of money and just having so much fun learning songs. I felt that was my calling and so I did some homeschooling, but dropped out of school because of the hours. You're playing until two or 3:00 AM pretending I was older than what I was, that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I knew it. I knew that was my calling.
I started playing Ernie Ball strings on tour, I remember in 2010. You play so many different types of strings and different techs come in, they set up your guitars differently and whatnot. But, I remember saying to my tech, "I really dig these strings because they just have lot flexibility." Lot of grip to them, they just have a certain situation where they kick their brightness, the band ability of them. I mean, I abuse my guitars. Anyone has seen my shows or whatnot, I really like to bend the crap out of the strings. And, they stay in tune and everything, they just kind of don't break as much, which to me is everything because I'm always... Before I was always breaking strings and when my techs put on the Ernie Ball's, they stayed. So yeah, that's why I love them.
I think there was one Nam show up at Anaheim, I jammed with Santana, Dave Navarro was there a bunch of people were there and there was an A and R guy called [inaudible 00:04:53] and he was in the audience and he worked with Ron Fair and Jimmy Iovine. So, he was watching the show, came out to me afterwards, gave him the CD and he's, "I really think you have something. Let me take this record to my boss and see what happens." I waited a year. So, he sent me an email saying, "I love it. We'll see what happens." I waited a year. That year was really hard because I didn't know it was going to happen.
Went back home and I don't know, I was kind of losing my mind a bit and it was actually a pretty funny, weird story, but I had a lot of animals in Australia, like a mini farm. And, we had this rabbit that my sister rescued and this sounds strange, but this happened, it's a true story. And, the rabbit bit the phone cord of our phone. So, we didn't have a phone for a while so no one could call us for anything. This fricking rabid sort of crazy feral rabbit, it's called Gaston, just bit the phone cord and Interscope were trying to call me that I got the deal. I didn't know, for three or four days.
We finally got the phone call fixed and I think I got an email or something saying, "We're trying to reach you." We were, "I'm so sorry, but the rabbit bit the phone cord." They're, "Where do you live?" I got a deal and went over and then met with Ron fair. And, I went to Jimmy Iovine's home and played in his basement through his kids' speakers with a backing tape. And, he was sitting on a bean bag and they were having a party. People dressed his dinosaurs. It's really weird but after that, I got deal. That's a true story.
I don't think I've made my best record yet. I don't think I will until I'm 80 and I'm about to die. So, I feel I could always do better. I could always be a better guitar player. Better writer. Better singer. A performer. And, I'm obsessed with that. Music has brought me such comfort and it's something that is really magical. So it's one of the most powerful forms of magic and it's definitely going to church, but it brings people together.
And, I feel I'm at service to people because when you get messages, "Oh your song helped me. Your song saved my life." Some of those really dramatic messages you get where, "Your song came on the radio," like Courage, a song I wrote a long time ago, "Saved my life." Or, "According to you made me feel empowered. I was going through a breakup." That was the breakup song. Empowering people and inspiring people and all of that. That's what music's about and bringing people together and there's no divide. That's it for me.