Randy Neal is a freestyle musician with impressive guitar and composition skills. His YouTube Channel is loaded with live, impromptu performances and original music, and we were blessed with the opportunity to interview him to find out more about his journey so far. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Randy – thanks for the chat! For those who don’t know, how would you describe your sound or style as an artist?
I would like to proudly state that I am a voiceless story teller, but honestly –
I have heard my music best described as “the organization of chaos”. I have yet to be accused of sounding like anyone else.
How long have you been playing guitar, and what other instruments are you proficient at?
I got my first guitar at about 8 years old, so like 25+ years – wow, I should be better…
I also play some Bass, Mandolin and some Percussion, but these have all been recently picked up and I make no claim that I am proficient with any of them.
You’ve done a few impromptu live sessions on YouTube – do you prefer to create in the moment, or with a little time to slowly compose something intentional?
Creating in the moment, for sure, I think there is something beautiful about going into something new without any restrictions and allowing the music to take over. Songs like Loomis took a bit longer and those projects that take more time to intentionally compose always feel like I could have done more or should have done less and really never feel perfect for the story.
Who or what would you say have been the most consistent sources of inspiration throughout your life?
My mom would get annihilated drunk and play the same Rolling Stones concert (Steel Wheels) on a VHS (1990) instead of a kids show, so by the age of 6, I was building Lincoln Log Guitars and Smoking a white crayon, Keith Richards was my Dora or whatever kids watch these days.
Through the years there have been a lot of other artists that have altered the course – as a teenager, Wes Borland’s riffs and guitar effects captivated me.
Where are you based, and what’s the live music scene like there right now?
I grew up in the Sacramento, CA music scene, and I was in bands that were Openers and Headlining Local Shows at 15 years old, Sacramento has a great local scene, I live in Crescent City, California now (population 7K) , and the music scene is literally 2 cover bands, that is why I started just doing my own thing.
Do you enjoy performing to a live audience?
I loved it, I miss it, I hope to be at it again sometime soon.
How do you decide what ideas to focus on when writing something new?
Sometimes I build sections of drums (not a drummer) and Riff over them from scratch and build a song that way, sometimes I pick up the acoustic and it builds from there. Either way the focus is on how the journey progresses naturally rather than to go into something with a finalized vision.
Rainy Ass Monday is a personal favourite – it’s the sort of piece the listener can really get lost within as you do. Is this something you can re-create at any time, or was it purely a one-off?
Thank You! This is how most of what I do looks like, but I hardly ever remember to set up or charge the cameras, this is kinda the way I just play when I am alone. I started recording myself primarily because sometimes when I allow myself to do and not think, I often can’t remember what I did, so in this case, what started out as reference for me has become entertainment for others.
Some of your work is a little more distorted and heavy – do you have a preferred style that reflects you the most, or do you like to toy with different moods and genres?
I think that my preferred style would be a perfect blend of all of it together, there is a time for happiness and love, there is time for sorrow and reflection, and sometimes there is a time to throw the horns up and say fuck it!
What was your thought process when composing Smiles Through The Silence?
I started by playing with effects to make the opening acoustic guitar picking sound like it was recorded on an old turn table, and then I wanted the “voice” to fill up a ton of space as to be demanding to be heard, screaming, instead of smiling silently – I wanted to capture the feeling of being unheard and rebelling against it.
Have you played in bands before, and if so – how does this compare for you to working solo?
I was in a band through High School, we played more local shows than I can remember, we had some good times and bad ones. I think there is something intimate about playing with other people consistently and getting to know and challenge them as artists and musicians, I miss that aspect of being in a band.
Is there an aspect of music or a style you’re yet to experiment with but would like to?
I am mainly working on improving recording, mixing and mastering, I am about a year into all this home studio stuff.
If you could collaborate with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose – and why?
Joe Letz, go watch that guy’s drumming! That would be a whole album of beautiful chaos!
What are your thoughts on mainstream radio music right now?
LOL! Billy Eyelash and all the “lil’ mumblers”, it is a straight joke, maybe it’s just me but as a musician I never hear this shit and think “wow, that was cool, how did they achieve that, that must have been magical.”, The real art there is that they tricked everyone into thinking it’s real artistry.
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you invite – and what would you ask them about?
Master Oogway, about everything and I think all other answers would lead to regretting not making this one. Noodles, Don’t Noodles.
What’s next for you?
Maybe a few pending project ideas, but for now I am planning on continuing this solo journey.
What’s the best way people can support you?
I think at this point, if you like what I do or think you know someone that might, just let people know that I exist and give me feedback on what I am doing.
Is there anything else we should know?
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