Rain City Ambience

Seattle-based Northwest music source established in 2005

Local Spotlight

David McDaniel

Genre: Rock/Metal
From: Seattle, WA
Posted on by


LTD H307 (Dimarzio D-Activator/Liquifire pickups)
DBZ Bird of PreyFM (D-Activators)
DBZ Barchetta 7
Fender Telecaster

Bugera 333XL infinium
Blackstar HTV 4×12

Pedaltrain 3
Xotic BB
BBE Green Screamer
TC Electronic Hall of Fame
Boss DD3
MXR Noisegate

How’d you start playing guitar? You’re self-taught, yeah?
Yes, I’m self-taught. I took theory classes in high school though.

How long have you been playing?
About nine years.

So since you’re self-taught, what inspired you to start?
Honestly I got started, this is way different from now, but with grunge, like Nirvana and Alice In Chains, and I just started playing little riffs that they played. As I evolved I started listening to other music, like more 80s metal. I’m not sure how that worked, but it went from Alice In Chains to Guns N Roses, and then from there came Ozzy Osbourne, and then from there came Randy Rhoads, then Yngwie Malmsteen and all of the shredders of the 80s, when I was around 16. I just started playing every day for like, 6 hours. You know how it goes, just every day; just doing little scales Plays an example on his guitar that instantly goes from a manageable tempo to unbelievably fast in seconds.

You did some serious shedding.
Oh absolutely, hours. Not anymore, it’s kind of cool cause I kind of have it down now. When I was a kid, like from 15 to 17, just every single day, I gained like 20 pounds just sitting in my room and playing guitar for hours, and nothing fun- no fun things, no vibrato or phrasing or anything like that, just tech- scales and arpeggios, and then later in life I started doing vibrato and little nuances, but that was after just shredding for years in my bedroom.

Ok wow. So if you’re that disciplined that young, I’m assuming you had a goal, something you were shooting for. So what’s the goal?
Uh, now the goal is just to give lessons and play in my bedroom, doing the kind of thing that Keith Merrow or Jeff Loomis does, just in the bedroom recording cool things and maybe touring with it later, and maybe join a band later and tour with a band. But when I was a kid I wanted to be a big rock star, obviously, but that’s not really the case, I would rather not be that at this point.

Getting back to your practice habits, you didn’t take any lessons but you can obviously play. Did you delve into different kinds of styles, or was it just pretty much the stuff you listened to?
It was a bunch of different styles, but kind of the same niche, in the rock genre. It started with rock and more blues-ish stuff, and as I heard new things I was excited by the possibility of it because I had never heard it before. I would try to learn the new things, and just work on that. I’m still doing that.

Would you just learn stuff by ear or would you find tabs?
I had one tab book when I was a kid; it was a speed mechanics book. It just basically had cycling patterns- scale cycles, and that was unnecessary but those were the only tabs I ever looked at, I never really learned songs or anything. I usually just made things up, and the theory helped, from the classes I took in high school. I went from just playing chromatic scales to actually knowing what notes are diatonic and what notes aren’t, and the modal scales and such. That helped a lot.

Obviously you’re good with where you’re at, but do you ever feel like you missed out on anything by not taking lessons?
I don’t feel like I missed out on not taking lessons at all, I actually feel like I gained a lot in terms of creativity from not taking lessons.

But that’s just my opinion on guitar; you only need someone to tell you how to work on things and that’s online now. You can go on YouTube and look up lessons online and get exactly the same things that you’d get in real life, really. Just as long as you watch yourself in the mirror, watch your hand and your picking and the little intricacies and pay attention to what you’re doing, you don’t really need lessons, I don’t think.

I do wish I had learned more fusion stuff, like Guthrie Govan stuff and Marco Sfogli stuff, that’s what I want to get to next. Doing more fusion and awesome jazzier things.

But for that kind of stuff you have no desire to go find a teacher, you’ll just YouTube it or something?
Yeah I’ll just YouTube it and just sit there and try and replicate it. Knowing theory, again, helps. You can hear like the melodic minor scale and what they’re doing and just be like “oh that’s what they’re doing.”

Did you ever have any problems trying to figure out certain techniques, or did you just watch it and try to emulate it by looking in the mirror?
Alternate picking is always kind of a struggle.. Picking really fast. I can do it really well but there are certain things that are really hard, like awkward patterns, but probably the hardest is really fast picking. That’s really hard to do, even the best at that will only do a few things really well, they can’t do everything at it, besides like Paul Gilbert and those guys, but they’re just dicks though laughs.

Who are your three favorite guitar players and why?
John Petrucci is number one probably, and it should be a given as to why, because he’s just amazing and very creative but also extremely good at soloing and all that jazz.

And he plays for Dream Theater right?
Yes he does play for Dream Theater. Yes, he’s fantastic. Especially his younger solos, which are wonderful, from the 80s and 90s, they’re just ridiculous.

Number two would probably be, maybe Yngwie Malmsteen when I was a kid, not so much anymore but definitely from like 16 to 19 I was obsessed with him and that’s just cause he was really fast and clean, had a really good vibrato too though, like a great tone, which he’s never looked at for but he had great vibrato and great phrasing and great note choice and great tone, but he also shred his ass off. That first album he had in ’84 that he came out with, nothing sounded like it at that time. He just came out and destroyed the scene with how good he was, no one could even compare to him until like 1987, so that was pretty cool.

And then number three, probably Bulb from Periphery. Misha Mansoor, just cause he’s really creative and the tones he’ll get are really cool. He definitely helped get that Meshuggah kind of sound out to a higher audience, like me, and I just think he’s a really good player.

What are you involved in now musically?
Not a ton, just my band A Sense Of Gravity is all I’m in right now. I’m starting to open up more though as I’m aging and getting more spare time, but right now I’m just doing A Sense Of Gravity. Our album is coming out soon.

How long have you been in that band?
I started it about two years ago, two and a half years ago? Our demo came out about a year ago but we started.. Just say two years ago.

It looks like for the album you’re doing everything yourself?
We’re going to have it mastered by Jens Bogren, who mastered Scar Symmetry and Devin Townsend. His resume is nuts, but we’re going to do the mixing by ourselves; Brendon (ASOG’s other guitarist) has a really good ear for mixing. And our equipment is fantastic; we have everything we need to mix. But mastering is kind of a bitch so we’re going to have him do it for us.

Are you programming drums?
No we’re doing real. We recorded them at Fastback Studios and we’ll have it mixed and mastered by that dude. They did a really great job, they sound fantastic. Even our drummer is like “that sounds pretty good actually” which is hard for drummers to do, I’m sure you know laughs.

Yeah we are very picky.
Yeah for sure, drummers are crazy when it comes to sound.

Anything you want to say before we wrap this up?
Go ahead and check out A Sense Of Gravity’s band page and look out for our album coming out fairly soon, probably in the next four or five months. I’m starting to give lessons too, hit me up for lessons and we’ll figure something out. I’m in the area pretty much anywhere between Shoreline and the U District.

Kelly Mason

About Kelly Mason

Co-Founder and Owner of Rain City Ambience. Passionate about photography, music, the Pacific Northwest, Paseo sandwiches, jewelry making, and skateboarding. @kellehhh on Twitter - @kellymason on Instagram

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