Comes at you with full-forced Southern-infused Roots Rock with a soul strung voice, signature raunchy guitars, wailing organs, epic hooks, sweet 3-part harmonies, clever lyrics and superb story-telling. His distinctive sound embraces multiple eras and genres, including blues, rock, country, folk, Americana and jazz, all of which he is well-versed. The Rock and Roll Report says “John Gaar has created something in his latest CD release that will be hard to top,” – and gave it 5 out of 5 stars.
In late 2018, the new “Roll Like That” album launched along with the World Video Premiere of the same title. Artistrack says "Incredible showmanship, an excellent rock album, boasting a wide range of styles and a stunning production!"
Scott - Hi John, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com.
JG: Scott, thank you so much for asking me to this interview – I’m so pleased to talk shop!
Scott - Give our readers a short but descriptive label for your style of music.
JG: Well I guess because of my roots, being from Louisiana, born and raised, it really defined my taste, interest and ultimately culminated into my overall style to where it exists up until now. I’d call it Southern Americana Roots Rock.
Scott - Where do you live and hang out with other musicians?
JG: I’ve made a home for my wife, myself and my 2 Standard Poodles in beautiful Austin, Texas. Musicians are everywhere here! My life pretty much revolves around music so there’s music and musicians in every aspect of my life.
Scott - How did you first get into the music business?
JG: My older brother Burton Gaar (you can google him!) was a HUGE influence in me becoming a musician because he was a singer/songwriter and career professional musician. I started playing guitar at 13, but at 14 I realized I could sing. In my senior year of high school I was playing gigs 4 nights a week in a house band.
Scott - What is the name of your band and where do you tour or play live?
JG: My band name is John Gaar. I’ve toured with this version of my band mostly regionally and also have a coveted weekly residency gig at the legendary Saxon Pub here in Austin for the past 8 years.
Scott - Please introduce the members of the band...
JG: Ron D’Argenio – produced my last 2 records and plays keys. Been with me since 2002.
Brannan Lane – drums.
Miss Lynne Davis – bass guitar.
Deann Rene – acoustic guitar, vocals.
Michael Cross – bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals.
And of course myself on lead guitar and vocals.
Scott - Can you tell us how you got started with your current line-up?
JG: Yes, every summer for several years I would play the Republic of Texas Biker Rally (ROT Rally), a large event and music festival in Austin, TX. In 2010 I was asked again to do 3 full band shows for the ROT, but at the time due to some of life’s circumstances, I didn’t have a full band and was only doing duo gigs. I made some phone calls, grabbed a rhythm section along with Ron D’Argenio on keys, and an extra back-up singer. That’s pretty much the format of the band and the group I now have had for 8 years, which are also on my latest album release “Roll Like That”.
Scott - The vocals and vocal harmonies in your songs creates some very special moments in the music. Would you say that is your signature sound?
JG: Absolutely! I grew up playing music that was full of beautiful backing harmonies, so that’s always been an aspect of my own original compositions. I think it makes an enormous statement within the whole of a song and helps deliver the dramatics of the melody. I love love love me some harmonies!
Scott - Do you have any new music out there?
JG: Yes, I just released the album “Roll Like That” in November this year and at the same time released the video premiere of “Roll Like That”, the title cut, as well. You can go to johngaar.com to see and listen to all my content.
Scott - What type of Guitars do you play live?
JG: I have 4 main guitars I play live. I know it sounds like a lot but as a “tone junkie” I enjoy applying certain tones for certain songs. Here’s what I am playing:
1. Collings City Limits in natural wood grain w/ThroBak Humbuckers.
2. Collings 290 Black w/vintage wound P-90’s
3. Fender Strat Hwy 1 body, custom TeleNeck and w/blackface Lollar pickups
4. Fender Roadworn Tele with fat frets and Lollar t-Style pickups
*Waiting on an Elliott Royal Haver w/Handwound Elliott P-90’s
Scott - What type of amps and effects are you using while playing live?
· Custom Ace Pepper John Gaar Edition – a simple 30watt 6L6 Fender styled tone with a solid state rectifier head into a 2x12 Austin Speaker Works cab loaded w/Austin Speaker Works Custom Speakers
· Elliott 1x12 18 watt Veralux combo
· Elliott 1x12 18 watt Pinetop combo
*I play these two combo’s together linked with an AB box
· Rocktron Unity Tuner
· Fulltone 2B Jfet Booster w/limiter
· Durham Electronics reddverb (Austin TX)
· Strymon Lex
· Fulltone Clyde Vintage Voice Wah-Wah
· Boss DD7 Digital Delay
· Wampler Tumnus Boost
· Zendrive Overdrive
· Shin-ei Screaming Sister 8ctave Boost (Austin TX)
I’d like to also mention the folks that support and endorse me: Collings Guitars, Waterloo Guitars, Warm Audio, Elliott Guitars and Amps, Shin-ei Pedals, and Ernie Ball Strings.
Scott - How many days a year are you playing out in music venues?
JG: It has varied over time. Recently I have been spending more time in the studio and less time playing night clubs, but it really depends on the time of the year. Summer is prime festival season and City Art and Community-type concert series. I’d say about 100 a year and that always picks up after my new album releases.
Scott - What were your favorite recording artists and or bands as a teenager?
JG: My formative years I was soaking up so much music! For me it was:
Allman Brothers, ZZTop, Led Zepplin, Marshall Tucker, Eric Clapton, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Wet Willie, Montrose, Fog Hat, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Dr. John, Skynard, and so many more!
Scott - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
JG: Wow, you know what, in this business, it starts with family and loved ones that truly believe in you, even when you doubt yourself.
· Burton Gaar -- My oldest brother, that I looked up to and who took me on tour at age 18 and I never looked back!
· Alexandria, LA – The town I grew up in where music was everywhere – house parties, BBQ’s, crawfish boils, honky tonk’s of all stripes and more. Lots of musicians from my home town went on to do big things in the music biz. The musical education I received in that environment was paramount to my career.
· Chubby Carrier – 2-time Grammy Winner from Lafayette, LA. I toured with Chubby for over 5 years playing the funkiest Zydeco ever made. I did one album with him and learned the rules of the road from – playing 300 nights a year. He’s family to me.
· Malford Milligan – Vocalist Extraordinaire, with Storyville, Double Trouble, The Bone Shakers and other great ventures. Mentor, brother from another mother, true friend.
· Royce Richmond – Warm Audio. Always lookin’ out for great opportunities, career consultant, great friend.
· Mark Althans – Collings Guitars, Austin, TX. Artist Rep, amazing guitarist, wonderful friend that knows guitars and knows what guitars will make me a better player.
· My Wife Saundra – without her, I would not be the human being I am, which helps me be inspired to create my music.
Scott - What are you listening to these days?
JG: I’m such a creature of habit, I listen to what I dig! My most recent is Ryan Adams Prisoner album. But honestly I am a listener of songs and I do that by the albums. Eagles – Hotel California; Steely Dan – everything but lately it’s been Aja, Gaucho and Royal Scam; and the Allman Brothers “Brothers and Sisters LP”.
Scott - Has the music business model of today helped you and your band or has it hindered you and your band in the way of exposure to the masses?
JG: There’s more and more people vying and competing for the attention of the public. But, change is inevitable, so you embrace the digital mediums to get a foothold, create a presence, sustain visibility, reach audiences, and create a fan-base. Then it’s up to your own capability, time and effort to take advantage of social media and all aspects of the digital world. It’s dive in or git left behind!
Scott - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
JG: I’m an advocate for several issues. I believe in helping people. Many times it’s through my music that I do get to do that, whether through playing benefits for certain causes, or feedback to my lyrics that helps someone through tough times or just makes them happy. I like the personal aspect of getting involved – in the past I’ve helped cook at a homeless shelter, donated my time at Coats for Kids and also at Capitol Area Food Bank. I’ve also helped support friends/musicians down on their luck by buying or cooking meals and even offering a place to lay their head for extended stays.
Scott - I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
JG: Thank you Scott again for inviting me to have this discussion. Music is universal. It has no lines or boundaries. People can pick and choose what they want and don’t want to listen to. Music is cathartic and therapeutic. It reaches to the depths of our human soul. I am so fortunate to be able to create something that other human beings really want to listen or watch over and over again and on so many different mediums. How great is that! Creating music from nothing to a completed song, then to record it and have it last forever, that is something! I’m totally enamored with the complete and entire process from a thought, to a recording, to a public recitation and performance. That’s what makes me happy – Thank you!