Interview: Dave Paris

Dan McAvinchey: Dave, congratulations on releasing your debut album ("Jury Of My Peers") in February of 2015. When did you start working on the tracks for this album, and how did the recordings unfold?

Dave Paris: Well, I'm not quite as bad as Tom Scholz, but I did start getting serious about the release in 2014! My band "The Dave Paris Group" has been playing since 2006, and we'd released an EP in 2010 of vocal and instrumental tunes. A lot of the songs on the new CD we'd been playing live, but putting the CD together had a lot of distractions. I would do some session work and basically whenever someone paid me, my project got put on the sidelines! I did a new country album for an artist named Mitch Goudy, and then the producer, Justin Hill, did a symphonic rock-type Christmas album, and I had a few other little projects come and go in the time. I'd also tried, unsuccessfully, to relocate from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but it was revealed this is clearly my home!

I'd began over time recording the songs, then re-recording them. Writing, recording, and dropping songs. Playing them live, seeing what worked, etc. Then I had a few players in mind to guest spot, which was another nightmare. When you're famous and have unlimited budgets, I assume it's easier to get the people you want, but when you're indie and everyone has day jobs and families and other bands and commitments, it gets complicated. Not to mention, going through three drummers!

But in 2014 things generally opened up. I was able to get focused and I was able to get a plan in place, and everything really came together.

Dan McAvinchey: What did you consciously do differently on "Jury Of My Peers" compared to other albums in the genre you were familiar with?

Dave Paris: I wanted this to be an all instrumental guitar album, but I really wanted to emphasize the other musicians. Rick Long, a former LA drummer and Modern Drummer columnist now living in Kansas City, he played on a couple tracks. He would say, "Most of the time when I do sessions, the producer always tells me to play minimally; you're the only one who tells me to overplay!"
I had Jeff Scheetz contribute a solo to "Chapter and Verse", and my wife takes a couple of keyboard solos, as well as playing acoustic and electric bass on some songs, even taking a bass solo on "Last 2nd". I wanted well-written songs, with strong melodies and arrangements non-musicians would like, and musicianship from outside of the guitar playing community - hopefully that creates a well-rounded product.

Dan McAvinchey: What is your approach to constructing a great solo?

Dave Paris: On my Facebook page, I once put a "What people are saying" post, about the most common things I would hear at my shows from audience members. One of the things I would hear is: "Most guitar players, when they solo, they just ramble on, your solos actually go somewhere! They have melody". I do try to work on strong melodies in solos, and when you're doing instrumental music, you really have to think about the arrangement. I also get really sick of hearing myself play guitar, so I use a lot of variety. I swap between acoustic and electric, alternate tunings, slide, and various techniques. This CD features dobro, eBow, talkbox, even a cigar box guitar! Cedar Rapids has an active blues community, and this weird sort of metal scene, but there's plenty of singer/songwriters as well. I find myself entangled in all of them, and that affects my playing. That's good, currently; being an indie musician. I can play and write and record a lot of different styles and I don't have any higher powers pigeonholing me.

interview pic

Dan McAvinchey: Does traditional media (print, radio) play any part for you in getting the word out there about your new album?

Dave Paris: Every avenue is important. I'm reaching out and submitting this project to print media for review, and radio stations that will play indie music. Of course, these places have online versions, so they go hand in hand. Cedar Rapids has a vibrant blues scene, and there's some blues publications in the area that I have gotten into, and my blues and funk songs have been played on our local jazz/blues station, so it always comes down to finding the people who listen to what you create.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using social media sites to attract attention to your music?

Dave Paris: Of course! My official site at has links to my YouTube videos, my Facebook page, and my ReverbNation page, to name a few. I think you can even pin me on Pinterest! Again, with a release like mine, it's not bubble gum music that appeals to all, so there are specific avenues we are pursuing to find listeners who enjoy this music, and that's one of the best things social media has provided.

Dan McAvinchey: Will you get the opportunity to perform these new tracks in front of an audience?

Dave Paris: Live music is funny; even classic artists are forming cover bands! Sammy Hagar has that project that is doing Montrose and Zeppelin covers, so it seems getting new music out is tough. Honestly, we experience that. My band, "The Dave Paris Group", has been going since 2006 doing instrumental songs and female-fronted vocal tunes of mostly original music, and the opportunities have really dwindled over the years. We just completed a series of shows in honor of the release where we played songs from the album with other originals and some covers, so it was fun for me to take out my friends and represent these songs. It's tough being in such a specific genre, shows are hard to come by, and there's so many acts vying for the slots, but the band and crew still want to plug on, so we keep booking.

Dan McAvinchey: Beyond what you've accomplished on your solo album, are you able to collaborate with other artists?

Dave Paris: Yes, as I'd mentioned earlier I worked with Hill Music Productions, who had me playing live with Diana Upton-Hill's "Pop Orchestra". It was a Christmas concert series in a Mannheim Steamroller meets Trans-Siberian Orchestra kind of thing. I did some recordings for them, Diana's album, Mitch Goudy's, a hymn contribution, and live work for them. I've also done some sessions for local gospel, country, jazz, and singer/songwriters. Plus, I do some small pre-production recording and editing, and arrangement. My website contains a selected discography of some projects I've been involved in. I also teach private guitar lessons, and have done music/guitar clinics.

Dan McAvinchey: Does the fact that the majority of music now is consumed through downloading of mp3s rather than physical media change the way you prepare and record an "album"? Does the concept of an album have the meaning it once did, when an artist can release a couple of tracks at any time?

Dave Paris: Unfortunately, I am learning this right now! The attitude of the very CD has changed. Used to be, you could release a product and show it to people and they would want to buy it just to support you, but now people see you coming and they just get uncomfortable! Guitar players are a different breed, because fans of sub-genres, they'll dig to find the stuff they're really into. But for the general public, music isn't about the relationship, like it used to be - back when music fans knew the names of all the band members and the story behind the songs.

I put out my product for fans of musician-oriented music, and it's been met with positive reviews, and now, the challenge is to find the people into that style of music. Social media, places like G9, live, it's all part of that. But at the same time, versatility is important as well. My release has a lot of different styles to it, much like when you look at someone's playlist and they have the Bee Gees, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Stone Sour in a row together. Someone might lock into a single and download that without getting the rest of the album; I know my 2010 Dave Paris Group "Words and Music" EP, the most purchased song was "Greater Than Angels", a hard rock instrumental featuring talkbox! So it's important to hit as many markets as you can, if possible.

Dan McAvinchey: If a fan of hard rock has never heard of Dave Paris, what are the two
or three tracks off of "Jury Of My Peers" that you'd say a listener would have to hear?

Dave Paris: The song "Last 2nd" is a great representation of my group. It was added onto the album at the end, we'd just gotten drummer Brent Harknett, whose musical resume includes working with Jeff Watson, Blue Cheer, and John Elefante, so I wanted to put on a track that features the players who represent the songs live, with him, and my wife/bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Barbe Paris. Barbe is a big fan of Myles Kennedy (vocals) and Brian Marshall (bass) of Alter Bridge, and I wanted to write a song in that vein for what she's into.

"Free B" is a straight-ahead modern rock tune, with no-frills, melodic soloing, and lots of double-kick. A friend of mine made an "unofficial" music video with the song, and it's available on my website as well as a live version of us performing at the Cedar Rapids baseball stadium. You can get a demo version of the song on my Reverbnation page as well.

Of course "Roman's Road", that's good ole' fashioned shred in the Satriani meets Van Halen style. That song was inspired by my nephew Roman, who was born four months premature. I released the single and donated the proceeds to charity, and we made a music video for it, which is also available on my site, along with the story behind the song.

Dan McAvinchey: Finally, what is up next for you this year?

Dave Paris: I'm working with some great friends in my music right now, and we're excited about the opportunities for exploring and finding creative outlets to getting this music into the ears of listeners who are into guitar-oriented rock and blues. We're booking shows, seeking out online and traditional radio, promoting the videos, getting reviews, and contacting places like G9 to reach out to people looking for stuff outside the norm. The guitar crowd, sure it's a smaller fanbase, but it's more dedicated and more sincere, and we want to grow within it, be a part of it.

Thank you for allowing me to share about my new release, and my website, Facebook page, Reverbnation, there's plenty of opportunities to contact me with feedback as well.

interview picture
Guitarist Dave Paris, based out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has made musical contributions that have been part of national and international projects, and now has put forth his debut, full-length album, entitled "Jury Of My Peers". This recording features action-packed instrumentals, guest guitar solos, and even a talk-box.

Dan McAvinchey met up with Paris in cyberspace to conduct this interview in which Paris opened up about the benefits and challenges of independence he has dealt with over the past nine years.