Jon Gomm is an English singer-songwriter that was catapulted into the spotlight with a single one word tweet: “wow” by comedian Stephen Fry. He uses a single acoustic guitar to create drum sounds, bass lines and melodies simultaneously, his songs draw on a range of influences and styles including blues, soul, rock and even metal.
Jon talks to the Acoustic Uprising about the benefits of understanding where your music comes from and the inspiration he finds in the contemporary FingerStyle community.
AU: How important do you think it is to understand the history of the instrument and players that came before?
JG: Everybody owes a debt to the people who invented stuff before them, musical tools they can use to make music. We all owe a debt to that tradition and we should really respect that. For me, it's really interesting to look at those roots. I don't think it matters in terms of how much an audience is going to enjoy a gig. However if you delve down into the roots of what you do, you develop a deeper appreciation for the music your making and you develop a greater respect for your own music.
I don't like my own music. I wouldn't listen to it. I think it's pretty rubbish but I think that's more to do with my personality. I am really, really self critical, I'm a perfectionist. A lot of musicians are like that. However, I respect my music as an entity because I know where it comes from.
AU: Do you think there is a line between technical innovation and a gimmick on acoustic guitar?
JG: There's always been gimmicky things that you can do with a guitar and there's always been technical innovations. There is a fine line between gimmicks and technical innovations I think, I guess it's how you use them.
You still get it, you still find kids will go to open mic night and play a bit tapping on acoustic guitar and people will come up to them and say 'wow you're a genius', and some of those kids believe it because being told you're a genius is pretty intoxicating and it's happened to all of us. I've had it where you get this stunned reaction. Hopefully it's getting less now and these technical innovations are becoming more part of the canon of acoustic guitar repertoire and techniques.
“We have seen the future of acoustic guitar playing, and it is called Jon Gomm” Blues Matters
JG:The internet was a place where geeks that were interested in one subject that nobody else they knew liked. You know I'm into Michael Hedges, you can't talk to your friends at school about him, nobody knows who he is so we find a place. And that's what the internet was always great for - uniting people who have a common but unusual interest.
I met Andy Mckee on the internet in about 2000. So before Youtube existed, Facebook was 7 years away. We met on a Michael Hedges message board called rootwitch.com. We would talk with a bunch of other guys about Hedges Fingerstyle techniques, contemporary fingerstyle, stuff, altered tunings, extended techniques. The internet has been a huge part of my life.
AU: Are there any contemporary FingerStyle guitarists that inspire you?
JG:I learn stuff from not only my peers but people that are younger than me. So people like Calum Graham. I learned one of his tunes, brought the tab and learned it and emailed him and told him. I think he thought that I might be taking the piss because he was so shocked, and then finally I met him in canada having convinved them I learned the tune. We played the tune together.