Andy McKee

Andy McKee – Interview Transcript: HAD A TOTAL “BRAIN FART” RIGHT ON STAGE!

Craig (00:00.778)
Hey everybody, this is Craig Garber. Welcome to Everyone Loves Guitar. I got a very well-required guest today, Andy McKee. He’s been requested by lots of people over the years, so we’re really happy to have him on. I wanted to say a quick shout out and thank you to Monica Hopman for connecting us. Originally from Topeka, Kansas, Andy’s an awesome fingerstyle guitar player. He’s released seven albums and two EPs, and he’s also played on records by Josh Groban, Lee Ritenour, and he hosts a lot of guitar workshops. He initially became well-known, excuse me,

When a few of his videos blew up on YouTube back in the early 2000s, including his song drifting, which has over this is like I’ve never said this number 60 million views. And at one time the top three videos on YouTube were all Andy McKees, which is nuts. This is open up doors him to play literally thousands of concerts all over the world. And he shared the stage with artists like Prince, Eric Johnson and Dream Theater.

And he’s got a new fingerstyle super group album out featuring himself, Colm Graham and Trevor Gordon Hall. The band and the album are both called Triplicity. We’ll talk about it today. Hey man, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you coming on the show.

Andy McKee (01:09.982)
Thanks for inviting me, man. It’s my pleasure.

Craig (01:11.618)
Yep. All right. So you started playing acoustic at age 13 and you got so into it over the next few years that you quit high school and got your GED so you could spend time playing more guitar. Your mom gave you permission to do that, which I found fascinating and like extremely open minded of your mom. But that being said, I’m sure there’s more to the story that then meets the eye. Love to hear how that all went down and what your thoughts.

Your thoughts are on this as you reflect on this all these years later.

Andy McKee (01:46.745)
Yeah, I guess I was a part-time student at best, you know, starting at about age 11 or so. And actually, I’ve got two older siblings and we were all not too fond of going to school, I guess. We all like to learn. The school environment, you know.

Craig (01:53.047)
Ha ha ha.

Craig (02:08.078)
That’s awesome. Ha ha.

Andy McKee (02:13.824)
just I didn’t enjoy it so much. And so, you know, we just like missed the bus somehow and things like that. And, but yeah, when I discovered the guitar, you know, I just really wanted to play as much as I could and just, you know, stay in my room and try to put on, you know, cassettes or CDs and try to figure things out. And so, you know, after a few years of, you know, my,

parents, they were divorced but both my mom and dad wanted us to go to school and it was a struggle. It wasn’t just like, oh okay fine, don’t go to school. It was like, gotta go to school, gotta go to school. So when you turn 16 you can get the GED and so they’re like, oh go ahead, alright, it’s clear this is gonna be a bad old one for the next few years if you keep it up. So they let me get the GED and yeah, I just went from there. When I was 17 I started teaching guitar so it’s just kind of been guitar ever since then.

Craig (03:06.306)
That’s cool. So it was more like they surrendered. It wasn’t like, Oh yeah, you should get a GED. It was more like, you know, wave the flag. Like this is the lesson, you know, please just leave us alone. Just, you know, like we can’t, we can only handle so many of these notes and like meetings with the Dean or whatever. Right. That’s pretty funny. Do you have kids?

Andy McKee (03:09.817)

Andy McKee (03:21.524)
Yeah, exactly. I do, yeah. Yeah, I’ve got two boys.

Craig (03:26.898)
So how would you, you’re one of your kids, what’d you say you have, what? Two boys, all right, so one of your sons comes to you with the same proposition, what do you do?

Andy McKee (03:30.563)
Two boys.

Andy McKee (03:36.636)
Well, I’d honestly look at maybe homeschooling options. Both my kids do really well in school. They’re getting good grades. They’re 10 and 13. My one boy just turned 13 a week ago. So they do well, and they pay attention and stuff like that. But I know they feel awkward. I think they’ve got the same feeling that I had, too, where it’s just people getting their cliques. And if you’re not like everyone else, you get an outcast. So if you have a question, you can

Craig (04:05.534)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy McKee (04:06.768)
Yeah, that kind of stuff. So, you know, I would yeah, I would look at the homeschooling stuff and then you know If they want to get into playing an instrument, let’s do it

Craig (04:13.758)
Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, it’s interesting because you always hear like, oh, high school is the best time of your life. And I think it is for like, maybe like the top 1% of students for everybody else is pretty friggin miserable. I mean, you know, your body’s changing, you have pimples, it’s like, you know, you don’t know your place, you have no coping skills, your communication sucks, at least mine did. You know, so I always used to read that I’m like, God, high school was horrible. I couldn’t, you know, yeah, so I know.

Andy McKee (04:26.078)

Andy McKee (04:33.748)

Andy McKee (04:40.033)
Totally. It was the same.

Craig (04:44.868)
What were some of the most important lessons you learned from that entire experience of getting your GED and then basically starting your life as a really young man?

Andy McKee (04:58.732)
I guess even by, like I started playing when I was 13. And by the time I was 14, I just had a feeling like the guitar was what I was gonna do and I didn’t know if it was gonna be just teaching guitar lessons at a guitar store, here in Topeka or maybe something more. Maybe I could get into a band and maybe you could start a prog rock band like Dream Theater, something like that, a dream. But I just felt like it was what I had to do kind of. I just.

felt like I loved it, you know, and it would be a waste of time to do something else, kind of. So, I guess that was kind of the lesson I learned from even when I was 14, that was going to be what I was going to do with my life. But yeah, I guess, you know, I’ve always kind of been kind of…

Decisive with things too. You know, I had a real job for one day. I worked at a fast food place

Craig (05:59.054)
You’re like, I had a real job for one day. That’s great. Would you like a lid with that shake? Was that like, oh my God.

Andy McKee (06:13.634)
Yeah, I was just like, man, I don’t know, I can’t do this, man. And so, you know, I had a friend, fortunately his parents had a music store and they offered me an opportunity to start teaching entry guitar lessons and stuff. So, yeah, I guess I learned, you know, just being decisive, you know, is part of my personality.

Craig (06:33.526)
Man, that’s an incredibly good trait being decisive. You know, it serves you very well throughout your life. So were your parents musical, by the way? Like, how did you get into guitar?

Andy McKee (06:46.104)
No, my parents, neither of them really played an instrument at all. I did find out that my dad got a guitar from my mom not long after they got married, but he never played it and never had lessons or anything, so it was always just in the garage. But other than that, neither of them were musical at all, but they both loved music a lot. And so they would have parties on the weekend and have friends over and have music on and you know.

Craig (07:07.234)

Andy McKee (07:15.02)
I just hear all kinds of music growing up because of that. You know, they put stuff on the record player, Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac and Earth, Wind and Fire and Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash and you know, just a whole bunch of stuff. So, and then my sister, I have a sister who’s about eight years older than me and so she would have MTV on and there’d be a lot of eighties pop and also rock and metal and stuff like that. So, you know, a bunch of music like that.

Craig (07:18.478)
That’s cool.

Andy McKee (07:43.332)
But when I started playing guitar, I had an older cousin that moved here back to Kansas from Kentucky, and he had been a guitar player, and he was super Eddie Van Halen fanatic, and had his tone and technique and everything. And so when he moved back, he would come over and show me some stuff, and he started learning some classical guitar at a university here.

Craig (07:56.654)

Andy McKee (08:07.408)
And so we’d sometimes get together and he’d say, oh, I’ve got this Bach duet for two guitars. You want to work on it? And I’m like, oh, sure. And so we learned a couple of those, you know, and then a couple of fingerstyle guitar things. But really at that time, I was mostly playing electric guitar, but you know, he kind of got me back into some acoustic stuff at that time. Yeah.

Craig (08:14.19)
That’s so cool.

Craig (08:26.774)
That’s really cool. That’s a great opportunity. So I’m gonna apologize for the next question, because I know you’ve been asked it 1000 times, but I want to I don’t know if anybody in my listeners have heard it. You initially grew up listening to metal, I was curious what prompted you to switch over to acoustic and alternative and open tunings. And as you just mentioned, it’s probably from your cousin, but what did acoustic give you emotionally as an extra tool of expression that you know, the electric wasn’t able to do?

Andy McKee (08:57.684)
Good questions there. Yeah, so that same cousin that I had moved back here and was showing me some Eddie Van Halen and classical guitar things, he had told me about a guitar workshop that was gonna be happening and it was from an acoustic guitar player named Preston Reed and you know we was just something to do kind of. I was like sure I don’t know anything about that.

So we went and checked it out and little did I know my life was going to change that night, essentially, man. Preston, he sort of pioneered a technique of incorporating percussion and slap harmonics and tapping and all this stuff. You know, I’m inspired by Michael Hedges, but really another style. It didn’t really sound like Michael Hedges. It was his own thing. And I just saw it and it just, that was it. I was like, that is everything.

you can do on a guitar, I think that’s incredible. I just never had seen anything like it. There’s like melody and harmony and rhythm all at once. And I was just blown away. So the technique side of the guitar player side was like totally stimulated. Like this is not even, I can’t believe it. But I also just felt something too, of the fact that it was one guy and it just felt so direct. It was like, this is a message coming from.

Craig (09:52.93)

Andy McKee (10:17.64)
you know, one person, there was something real personal about it that I love that too. So he was the first guy that made me think, man, acoustic guitar has got a lot of potential here that I just had no idea. So I went home that night and tried to emulate something I saw, but I had no idea he was using different tunings. And so I was trying to do it in standard tuning and it just wouldn’t happen. But about a year later, I went and

and found a video of his where he taught some of his tunes. And so that got me rolling and then picked up some more of his tunes from the CD and just then kind of went down the rabbit hole of acoustic guitar and been on that ever since. So, but yeah, again, the kind of the thing about the acoustic guitar that really for me that you get is that direct kind of thing. And I just felt like, when I write music usually I have some feeling or emotion that I wanna get through.

and or a story and I guess I did it’s like when an author writes a book or something usually it’s not by committee it’s just one person writing that story you know so with the acoustic guitar I feel like I can kind of tell those stories uh real directly I guess and get them across better

Craig (11:22.626)

Craig (11:31.874)
Thanks man, it’s a very cool answer. You mentioned you said, I went out and my life would change that day. And to some extent, we all have life changing events. Sometimes you don’t know what they are. You made a left turn instead of a right turn to change your life. You never find that out. You know, there’s no, you can’t connect the dots on that one, for the most part. But you were definitely able to say, hey,

this literally changed my life directly. When stuff like that happens, what is your personal viewpoint on that? Do you look at it as, you know, serendipity or, you know, higher power or, you know, what or just right place, right time? How do you look at events like that?

Andy McKee (12:16.128)
Ah, that’s a very philosophical question, I guess. You know, I don’t know, I just feel like, yeah, I guess things, just events, you know, unfold. You never know how they might, but I just, I try to be open to every moment, you know? I try to live in the moment as much as I can too, so if something like that happens, I can let it affect me as much as it can, you know? Yeah.

Craig (12:36.779)

Craig (12:41.41)

Andy McKee (12:42.812)
So, but I don’t know about a higher power or things or if we’re just living in a cycle and this is all gonna happen when the universe is born again, I have no idea. But, yeah, just open to experience.

Craig (12:51.598)
Sure, sure, yeah.

Craig (12:57.762)
That’s cool, man.

Craig (13:04.106)
Had you played professionally prior to getting discovered on YouTube?

Andy McKee (13:10.76)
Mm-hmm. Excuse me. Yeah. I had started to write some of my original music about 2001. And it was really just kind of playing in coffee shops and whatever little gigs I could round up. But I was trying to think, how can I turn this into a career, you know, maybe? And I heard about this.

guitar competition that’s held in Kansas as well. It’s the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championships and people come from all over the world to it. And so I was like, oh, maybe I could try that. And if I do well, I could help put that on the website, whatever. And so I went down there and I got third place in the year 2001 and that was pretty cool. I won a nice guitar and trophy and whatever. This

Craig (13:39.362)

Andy McKee (13:59.072)
It was about a year later, this guy in Taiwan emailed me about coming to Taiwan to perform and I was like, sure, wow, what’s this all about? And he said he heard a guy playing my music in a cafe. He heard this guy playing guitar and he could tell it wasn’t, he already had a feeling that it was Western music, it wasn’t guitar player. He said, what is that? He said, it’s this guy, Andy McKee, I heard him online and da da. So that’s how he found me. I was like, wow.

Craig (14:19.616)

Andy McKee (14:28.124)
And so he wanted to bring me to Taiwan and publish transcription books of my music and all this stuff. I’m like, yeah, cool. So I had to get a passport, you know, and all that. And yeah, flew out there.

Craig (14:38.666)
Wow. That’s like so random getting a message like that. Like you must’ve been like, like that’s not a normal thing you’re used to, I don’t think.

Andy McKee (14:44.96)
I was… Not at all. I mean, I was living with my mom. I was like, Mom, what are you doing? I gotta get a passport and fly to Taiwan, I think. So, yeah, it was just nuts. But, yeah, I ended up doing, you know, I can’t remember how many shows, but somewhere around 10 maybe. But I was on tour with a couple of other guitar players, a Belgian guy named Jacques Stootsum and a Japanese.

Craig (14:52.374)

Andy McKee (15:13.268)
guy named Isato Nakagawa. And, you know, we had a great time and I came back again and he invited other guitar players and so, you know, I just started to get this opportunity to go over there and I ended up going to China as well with him a couple times. And this was all, you know, about 2002, 3, 4, in that kind of time frame. And so that was all before YouTube stuff. So, but yeah, you know, I was still kind of

getting comfortable on stage and stuff. You know, it’s been 20 years now, I guess, but a little more comfortable now.

Craig (15:50.306)
What an amazing experience that must have been, man. Like out of nowhere. Wow, good for you, man.

Andy McKee (15:54.544)
Yeah, it was definitely a culture shock. You know, like going from Kansas to Taiwan. Yeah, you know, it was definitely a trip. And I had to learn how to use chopsticks and all that stuff. But it’s definitely something in my eyes though, you know? And you start to realize that people over the planet are letters that we have a lot in common, you know?

Craig (16:05.41)
That’s cool, man.

Craig (16:11.87)
Yeah, we really do man. I’ve had close to a thousand guests on the show from all over and And I grew up in new york city and everybody’s from all over and it’s not like too many different, you know There’s maybe eight categories of people or something like that. We’re all not too different man, you know I agree with you 100% of that

Andy McKee (16:24.777)

Andy McKee (16:28.928)

Craig (16:32.492)
You opened for and played with Prince on his Welcome to Australia tour in 2012. What was that experience like and what was the most important thing you got out of that?

Andy McKee (16:43.208)
Well, that was totally nuts. It just seems I’ve had too much crazy stuff happen in my life. I’ve got crazy stuff all over the world. Yeah.

Craig (16:51.801)
That’s awesome, man. That’s great. Hey, I think living in the moment’s the best way to make sure that happens. So keep it up.

Andy McKee (16:57.428)
Yeah, I think you’re right. You’re definitely right. Yeah, so I guess 2012, maybe in February or so, my manager had hit me up and said that he was contacted by Prince’s manager and that he was interested in working together and so, you know, we got connected up in Paisley Park there. He had me fly up there and met with him and the bass player and the drummer and

kind of jammed a bit and played him some of my solo guitar stuff and played some ping pong which he was very avid fan of and really good at. And he asked me if I was busy that year, what I was going to be doing. And I was like, oh.

Craig (17:44.258)
What’s going through your head when he asks you when Prince is saying, Hey, do you have any time open on your schedule to come tour with me? That’s got to be surreal.

Andy McKee (17:46.249)

Andy McKee (17:50.524)
Right, yeah, I was like, I didn’t know. Totally. I didn’t know at that point, if it was like, are we gonna record something or like tour or, you know. But the other crazy thing was that the only real obligation I had to think so far at that point was I had a tour in Asia with Dream Theater. So it was like already that insane. Like I had that coming in the spring. But so I said, you know, I got this going on, but other than that, I’m open. Then so he’s like, all right, well.

Craig (18:12.703)

Andy McKee (18:19.272)
we’ll get ahold of you, you know? So I go back and the next thing I hear, he’s booked these like nine shows in Australia and there’s like three in Sydney and three in Melbourne and three in Brisbane, like three nights. And so it was like, yeah, we’re gonna bring you back up here and rehearse some. And so we got a medley of I think four or five, six tunes, something like that. And so they were gonna like bring me up in the middle of the stage and, you know, play this medley with the band and then go back underneath.

just, you know, I was like, this is insane.

Craig (18:52.254)
Yeah, what’s good? What do you like the first time you go up there and they’re like Prince’s bass player and the drummer like You had to be nervous. Is like what but other than nervous like I don’t even know like

Andy McKee (19:04.712)
I don’t, yeah, I mean, there was some, I mean, I didn’t, honestly, I didn’t feel too nervous because, I mean, I didn’t, I mean, I just wanted to go be myself kind of, you know, cause they, it was like, they called me up, you know, I don’t know, I can’t be. Yeah.

Craig (19:18.878)
Yeah, right. It wasn’t like you begged them for an audition or something like that. You know, I didn’t mean nervous, like competency wise playing. I meant nervous, like what the hell’s going on here? Like, what am I? I mean, I’d be like, what, you know, you’re like in Topeka one minute and then you’re in Paisley Park the next. It’s like.

Andy McKee (19:25.684)
Just what are we doing? Like, what’s gonna happen?

Andy McKee (19:32.56)
Yeah. Yeah, you know,

Andy McKee (19:37.925)
Yeah, definitely surreal man. I mean, I didn’t know what to think, you know. And, you know, I guess what I would say was I guess I just kind of felt a bit awkward most of the time though too, because I don’t think I’m, you know, I’m not real great at improvising and jamming. I’m like, okay. But so, you know, I like to kind of write tunes and like think about them and, you know, evolve them over time a bit. So.

Craig (19:40.206)
I just, yeah.

Craig (19:51.38)

Andy McKee (20:05.724)
I did feel a bit nervous about that. Like if they’re wanting to jam, do these prolonged like things like that, I’m just, it’s not really my strong suit, I don’t think. So that was something I was a little bit nervous about her. But yeah, so you know, the drummer was John Blackwell and the bass player was Edan Nielsen. So yeah, you know, unfortunately, John passed away a few years ago, but he was incredible and Edan is incredible too, of course. So

But we got this medley put together and I go out and the shows in Australia were going to be right at the end of this run with Dream Theater. So it was like I was going to finish in Thailand and then just go to Australia and do these shows with Prince. When I was in Thailand though, so it was just like a couple days before going down there, I got this email saying that they wanted me to wear this 50 foot cape and open the show and

And I was like, whoa, this is gonna be like… Yeah, I really just felt like really awkward about it. I was like, I’m gonna be like the, you know, the star of the start of the show, like some like Superman in a… You know, I just felt too strange about it. So I passed on the cape, but I did start the show.

Craig (21:06.564)
You’re like, I’m not a 50 foot cape guy. Sorry.

Craig (21:20.827)
Right, right.

Craig (21:27.242)
Yeah, good move. Well, that’s not you. So it would just be so like, so like uncomfortable really.

Andy McKee (21:32.976)
Yeah, right? Yeah. Yeah, that’s kind of how I’ve always felt about it, you know? And there’s been a couple of times where it’s like, now maybe I should have done it just to have that crazy experience, but it wasn’t really my thing though, so. Yeah, 50 foot cave. Yeah, yeah, I’ve got this email where he’s detailing like the whole thing and he’s like saying, you know, we’re gonna project stars and flames and stuff on the back of the cave.

Craig (21:47.914)
Yeah, that’s so funny, man.

That is wild.

Andy McKee (22:03.652)
And then we’ll lower you down and the band will pop up and all this. But no, they just kind of brought me up and I played Purple Rain like a solo acoustic version and people were, you know, the crowd was freaking out. And that was crazy too. It’s like 20,000, 30,000 people or something, you know. It’s just a whole other level up there and I’m kind of more used to the 200, 300 people kind of thing, you know, or something like that. More into the crowds. But it was awesome, you know.

Craig (22:27.362)
Sure, sure.

Andy McKee (22:31.916)
I, you know, it’s just like a, it’s almost like a badge, you know, I can’t believe like print, like a badge of Prince seal of approval here. I can always, you know, which is just crazy. You know, I can’t, uh, can’t believe that all happened, but, um, but it was, yeah, at the end of it though, you know, the end of the run, I did tell them like, if you’d ever like to do a, an acoustic album or something like arrangements of your old tunes, or if you want to write new tunes and want me on it or something to do an acoustic thing, let me know. But, uh, I don’t.

Craig (22:41.004)

Andy McKee (23:01.44)
I think this is really my gig kind of, you know, I get to write stuff and that kind of thing. So I figured I’d never hear from him again, but there was an email about four months before he died where I got, and he was talking about doing the album. And so, yeah, but didn’t come to be in the end. So what a trip.

Craig (23:04.298)
Yeah, right.

Craig (23:16.254)
Oh my God, wow.

Craig (23:21.762)
Wow. Is he like, hey, I’ll stop by. We’ll hang out in Topeka. We’ll have some burgers and then we’ll go. And then we’ll go in your bathroom.

Andy McKee (23:27.504)

Andy McKee (23:31.324)
Yeah, oh man, that’d be true.

Craig (23:35.922)
Yeah. Wow. What a great story, man. Good for you that you got to have those experiences. Hey, I went through your catalog. I want to talk about a few of my favorite songs of yours. And there was a bunch of them. So this is tough. You have a song off the Common Ground single record. It’s called Hana Flower. And man, that is such a beautiful, such a pretty song, man. Tell me about that track. It was so pretty.

Andy McKee (23:39.252)

Andy McKee (23:45.21)
Oh, sure.

Andy McKee (23:53.153)

Andy McKee (24:01.472)
Oh, right on. Well, actually, you know what? That was a cover that I did. That one was written by a Japanese guitarist, one of the guys that I got to tour with in Taiwan early on. So, yeah, that one was written by a guitarist named Masaki Kishibe. He still tours and performs in Japan. And so he was he was brought over to Taiwan in 2004, I think it was. And I remember first hearing him play, we were

Craig (24:13.171)
Oh cool.

Andy McKee (24:28.488)
We were in Taipei and I was backstage getting my guitar out or something and he was soundchecking. And I just heard him from backstage. I was like, whoa, I’d never heard him before. And it just his sense of melody, you know, just incredible, just beautiful. And like that sort of telling of a story that I was talking about earlier, it’s just it’s in his music, you know. So I always loved that tune. And yeah, I wanted to put it on a recording over here so people can hear it too, you know.

Craig (24:49.496)

Andy McKee (24:57.652)
So it’s called Hana, which is Japanese for flower. And he dedicated that to his mom, I believe. So that’s a bit of the story on that.

Craig (25:01.688)

Craig (25:06.742)
Beautiful track, man. You did a great job on the arrangement. It’s really nice. Really lovely. You have a song off of Joyland called For Now. Another pretty track. I felt like it was very reflective. And I was also trying to figure out the time signature. I’m gonna throw a dart. Is it 12 eight? I don’t know, but I, you know. Tell me the backstory to that track. It was really another pretty one.

Andy McKee (25:09.025)

Andy McKee (25:31.26)
Yeah. Oh, thanks, man. Yeah. That one, I think it’s six, eight. And yeah, it’s a tune. It’s one of those tunes where it came to me like in an hour or two maybe. A lot of times I’ll write tunes and it’ll take sometimes like a year, you know? Like you’ll come up with an idea and you’ll develop it and you’ll come up with another part for it. And then you’re like, gosh, I had…

Craig (25:38.195)

Andy McKee (25:58.972)
no idea where to go with this at this point. And you kind of shelf it and then come back to it and that kind of thing. But anyway, that one, I was just working on it and it all came together pretty quick. But I wrote that one when I was finishing up that album and I was feeling a little bit drained and I was like, oh man, I need to get another track. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I need to finish this up. People have been waiting on an album and it was kind of a bit of a.

stressful time I guess trying to get the album done and that one just kind of popped out and came together like that so it’s in a in a tuning that’s kind of a C, C minor 11th for any guitar players that are curious is C yeah, C, C G D F B flat D is the tuning C G D F B flat D

Craig (26:42.414)
a C minor 11th open tuning, wow. How does that even come about? Tell me again, CG.

Craig (26:57.546)
Okay, so how does like, how do, I mean, it’s probably not as complicated for you, but for me to sit and, how do these tunings come to you? Like, or are they like experiments or is it, I’m so far removed from that. I don’t, that’s not my, I don’t have any skillsets in that area on guitar.

Andy McKee (27:17.756)
Well, usually, you know that there’s I have a lot of influences that you know been in the alter tunings and actually most of them My influences they can draw a line back to Joni Mitchell. She’s kind of the cool, you know Getting things going with altered tunings on the guitar But so, you know Sometimes I’ll find ones from my influences and be inspired and try stuff in those tunings or maybe I’ll make alterations to those and so that

tuning is pretty similar to a tuning from a piece from Don Ross called So Little Time and the tuning on that one was C G E flat F B flat D so I just changed the fourth string there but I haven’t said all that though really there’s really just a few kind of bass areas that you can start from to get some altered tunings

Craig (27:51.808)

Craig (28:00.85)
See half step. Yeah.

Andy McKee (28:13.96)
like the D, A, D in the bass. So you have like the drop D, and then you can kind of mess with the top three in different chord voicings. And then the other real common one is C, G, D in the bass, so like in that one. And so there you have an automatically a suspended second chord that you can start to build on and modify it as you wish, kind of. So there’s like a C, G, D, G, A, D that’s really cool.

I mean, there’s just, I don’t know, I could go on for a long time here, I guess.

Craig (28:45.022)
Yeah, I’m sure. I mean, I’m just like trying to write some of these down. But it’s so cool. I mean, it’s just I just it’s a new it’s like another language to me that i’m not yeah

Andy McKee (28:48.512)

Andy McKee (28:54.032)
Yeah, it’s really a different approach entirely, you know, and that’s what I like about it. It’s kind of like you have to explore and find new stuff, new chord voicings and what can you do in this new tuning. You have to be into that kind of approach, I guess, but for some people it’s just like, man, I wouldn’t even want to touch that because all the stuff that you know so well is suddenly gone and that, I totally get that.

Craig (29:14.842)
Yeah, that’s yeah, everything you know, and just the whole like you have to be pretty bright. Because because of that, everything is gone. But yet, yet you have to still know like, where to put your face, you know, where the notes are, which is difficult.

Andy McKee (29:32.436)
Well, I think, speaking for myself, and I think maybe a lot of players that use altered tunings, you kind of start to use your ear to guide you. You know, you start to hear ideas and then you can start to also use your musical knowledge. It’s like, oh, okay, well this now is the minor second or whatever. So now I want to go to the whatever the fifth, I got to come up this many frets. And okay. But usually you don’t think about that too much. You’re trying to intuit it a little bit.

Craig (29:54.595)

Andy McKee (30:00.144)
And then it’s like, oh wait, oh that strings this, I gotta do that. So, but you know because I do that with the guitar, that doesn’t really lend itself to jamming and improv, I think that’s why I’m so bad at it, it’s because I’ve spent so much time messing around with these altered tunings and coming up with pieces that way. But uh, really.

Craig (30:04.5)

Craig (30:10.242)
Like, yeah.

Craig (30:16.11)
Sure. Interesting. Okay, yeah, I can understand that now. Okay, so you’re not, you don’t have a note here that my teacher told me. It says don’t overthink it, just play it. And it sounds like that’s a lot of what you’re doing.

Andy McKee (30:29.224)
Yeah, yeah, when I’m composing and trying to come up with new stuff, just trying to feel it and let it guide me, kind of discovering the music in a way, I guess.

Craig (30:39.774)
Yeah, that’s beautiful, man. You have a really on the new record, Triplicity, a very sad, beautiful ballad called For My Father. Was that actually written for your dad?

Andy McKee (30:50.268)
Yes, yeah. So the Triplicity album, it’s mostly a bunch of tunes that we all wrote individually as solo guitar pieces and then we’ve turned them into trio pieces because we’ve kind of had opportunities to tour over the years and whenever we would, we’d want to play together. So we’d say, hey, let’s play that tune. I came up with a little part for it. And then we’d be like, ah, that’s so cool. And so, yeah, let’s do an album. So that’s how it kind of came together. But so anyway, yeah, for my father, I originally wrote as a solo piece.

And yeah, my dad got me my first guitar when I was 13 and you know, I was always so grateful for it. So when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 I started to compose a piece, you know trying to write something for him and eventually came up with that and it was able to play a form for he passed away in 2005. So

Craig (31:40.918)
Man, I’m sorry about your loss. It’s a really nice story. Yeah.

Andy McKee (31:43.844)
Oh, yeah, thanks man. Thank you. Yeah, it’s uh, man, I you know, like you mentioned earlier drifting Which really took off on youtube and 60 million views and stuff But I gotta tell you whenever I do shows it’s always for my father people are like man for my father. It’s just for my father

Craig (31:59.354)
All right, dude, it’s a it’s such a sad it’s like It’s I mean i’m like getting a little emotional now. It’s a great track man. It’s really pretty So I have a question about all those tracks. I just mentioned I don’t even know if you can answer this question they’re like Music you can sort of get lost in and I guess get lost in is kind of vague. You can’t define that but Is there? Do you have any idea why?

Andy McKee (32:07.958)
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Craig (32:29.659)
brings that out? I mean, is that even an answerable question?

Andy McKee (32:33.436)
Yeah, that’s funny you mentioned that. I was just kind of revising my bio the other day and trying to put some quotes from notable guitar players in there. There was one from John Petrucci where he said, what I like about Andy’s music is it takes you on a euphonious journey. And I really liked that. I was like, okay. And then I checked your questions just before we hopped on here and it reminded me of that. So I think what that is is…

Craig (32:59.683)

Andy McKee (33:01.96)
I’m really just trying to tell a story, I guess. So you can kind of get lost in the story. I think really people can kind of create their own story too with instruments, with our music. So you can start to make pictures or ideas of whatever this song might mean to you. And I might have my own meaning for it, but since I don’t have any words with it, it becomes your own interpretation and you can incorporate it into your life. It can have its own.

Craig (33:15.069)

Andy McKee (33:31.42)
relevance, you know, and story. So I think that might be what you’re hinting at there. And that’s what that’s always been the real beauty of instrumental music at all to me, you know, and I got into instrumental music when I was young. My first cassette I bought was the Rocky IV soundtrack because I loved the instrumental music on there. So.

Craig (33:37.033)

Craig (33:49.474)
Yeah, you do that track by, I can’t think the name. Who’s the guy who wrote? Yes, yeah, I’ve seen you do that, yeah.

Andy McKee (33:53.472)
Yeah, Vince Nicola. The Vince Nicola man. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I just always loved instrumental stuff for that reason that you could kind of make your own story and paint your picture that way.

Craig (34:07.234)
Thank you. Question about, you mentioned how you guys play together. How do you decide, like, how do you handle arrangements? Because, you know, if you got a guy on bass, drums, it’s like a more of an organic, inherent thing, but you got three, like, excellent guitar players. How do you, how do you make arrangements for that? That’s not easy, I don’t think it’s easy.

Andy McKee (34:32.575)
Yeah. Well, that’s why it works, I think, with me and Trevor and Callum is that.

I don’t want to sound pretentious here, but I don’t know if there’s, I’m trying to find the right way to deliver it, but it’s like we all three really do want the music to be the point, you know? So if that’s the focus, then you know, you don’t really need to play the guitar, you know, so fast, you know, or you don’t have to showboat, you know, it’s so if somebody’s got you know, a part and like I said, these were all solo pieces originally, except for one of them.

Craig (35:00.833)

Andy McKee (35:09.904)
You know, so let’s say we took one of Callum’s pieces and he’s got a full blown solo guitar piece here. So what are we going to do to add to it, you know, without taking away anything? So you just try to look, you know, maybe I could play like a baritone guitar on this one and add that kind of texture, color, tone. And you know, and then Trevor has like this kalimba-tar thing where he’s got a kalimba and a guitar at the same time and he can play that on there. And so, you know, and you just, you’re paying attention to what’s Callum doing in this section.

You know, can I harmonize with that or should I play something just kind of the root note? You know, just whatever, whatever can add a little bit of color, you know, or whatever it needs, just that’s the thing. It’s not about the players. It’s about the music. So.

Craig (35:49.727)

Craig (35:53.694)
Yeah, okay. That makes it so it’s like how do we you know the old how do you serve the song? Yeah, okay totally get that it’s funny you mentioned don rost I literally just got referred to him this morning like an hour before we spoke Yeah to have him on the show, so I haven’t reached out to him yet, but that’s pretty funny Do you know? Is it do you know steve bell from canada? Fingerstyle guy

Andy McKee (35:58.417)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy McKee (36:06.341)

Andy McKee (36:11.248)
Oh cool man, yeah, he’s one of my biggest influence.

Andy McKee (36:19.058)
Man, I don’t…

Craig (36:20.522)
Yeah, really good finger stop play. Here’s a guy who hooked me up with him. Top three musical experiences you’ve had, Andy. What are your top three?

Andy McKee (36:23.426)
Okay, I gotcha.

Andy McKee (36:33.596)
Well, I’d say the first one I’d mention would be getting to tour and perform and befriend Eric Johnson. He’s, I think he mentioned earlier, he’s the guy that made me want to play guitar. When I was 12 years old, you know, I heard Cliffs of Dover on the radio and that was just kind of it. I was really into Metallica at that time.

Craig (36:49.578)

Craig (36:54.791)
Oh god, yeah.

Andy McKee (36:59.728)
and bands like that. And so I was into rock and stuff, but I didn’t really think about playing an instrument at that point, but hearing Closet Dover just like hit a switch about playing the guitar. And I liked instrumental music and everything too. I’d mentioned that too, but it was just, I never heard instrumental guitar and the expressiveness of his playing and the way he tells the story with his playing too.

there’s a million great guitar players and there’s just a handful or so that I think can really do that storytelling thing real well. And like that Aviva Musicom album, Enos Nile, just so good. So after my career started to pick up, I had this idea to start a thing called Guitar Masters, where we would go out on the road with some great guitar players and

Craig (37:40.895)
Yeah, that was a great record.

Andy McKee (37:54.336)
So the first version of that went out with Papino DiAgostino and Eric Johnson. So, you know, getting.

Craig (38:00.742)
I had Pepino on the show here a long time ago. He’s a really good guitar player. He’s got a good story of good life story as well.

Andy McKee (38:05.312)
Yeah, Italian dude, you know. So, yeah, getting to meet him down in Austin, I remember the first time really just even meeting him there and then it’s like we’re going to start the tour and to, you know, I saw him in January with the G3 reunited down in Las Vegas and just getting to see him again. And then just last night my wife put desert rose on in the car.

Craig (38:08.49)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy McKee (38:30.292)
That solo is the best guitar solo in the universe. It’s so good. But yeah, so you know, just getting.

Craig (38:33.354)
That’s cool. So your wife listens to the, your wife listens to the same kind of music you do.

Andy McKee (38:39.78)
Oh yeah, sometimes, you know, by proxy, she’s kind of… She’s not… Yeah, yeah, you know, or by osmosis or something. Yeah, she’s into Eric Johnson and Dream Theater too. You know, she truly loves images and words. So, yeah, so, yeah, man, that’s definitely one of the biggest things for me in my musical career.

Craig (38:44.859)
I was going to say that’s pretty unusual. Yeah, by proxy. Okay, that makes more sense. I’m sorry.

Craig (38:59.372)

That’s cool.

Andy McKee (39:10.18)
Getting to be a part of the Michael Hedges documentary, which is soon to be coming out, and being friends with his family is real big for me. Michael is my biggest musical influence, really. And so, being interviewed for that, and getting to know his sons and brothers and his sister, it’s been really, really cool. And, and.

Gosh, I guess there’s too many, but I guess another big one would be John Petrucci, being friends with him and getting to text him a stupid joke now and then and have him laugh at it. Yeah, those are probably the things and get to tour with Dream Theater a few times. It’s really cool.

Craig (39:52.046)
That’s cool.

Craig (40:00.286)
Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you, those are good. Was there ever, you know, imposter syndrome, it’s a common source of anxiety for musicians. Was there ever like a point in time where, bless you, you had to overcome any kind of self-doubt or imposter syndrome in order to keep at it once things started taking off? Because I get the sense it was like.

Andy McKee (40:02.368)

Craig (40:23.262)
like a very steep curve there. Like once it happened, it wasn’t like a gradual, it was like zero to explosion, you know?

Andy McKee (40:30.656)
Yeah, yeah. I guess on that, as far as that term goes, I do actually, I feel mostly out of place, like on stage around other guitar players. You know, whenever there’s like a jam thing, you know, I keep going back to that, but I just, I just no great jammer at all, you know, and a lot of times when you’re with other guitar players, like, oh, yeah, it’s jam at the end of the night, and I’m like, okay. And so I feel like an impossible thing.

It’s like, yeah.

Craig (41:01.371)
Yeah, but you do know your level of like looking at that is like multiple lengths greater than like anyone in the audience is having that same criticism of your playing. You realize that, right?

Andy McKee (41:15.026)
Well, yeah, I guess, you know, but yeah, there’s always other…

Craig (41:20.182)
Like I don’t think anybody’s walking out of your concert saying, love the show, that guy can’t jam. I doubt, I was like really confident that that’s not happening, man.

Andy McKee (41:29.316)
Yeah, yeah, I hope so. True, but yeah, that’s, I guess that, but that would honestly be where I feel like, um, people might think I’m better than I am at something, you know, and so I feel like I’m an imposter at that. But, um, but you know, as far as going out and doing my thing and being Andy McKee, I don’t, I don’t feel like an imposter at all at that. So that’s fine. Yeah.

Craig (41:33.684)

Craig (41:42.93)
Right. Sure.

Craig (41:53.326)
That’s great. That’s awesome. That’s all that counts, man. Low points. What were some low points or dark periods you’ve had to deal with in life, Andy, and how’d you get through them?

Andy McKee (42:03.028)
Oh, hmm. Well, I guess, I guess the, you know, reconciling parts of my career and family life, you know, my parents were divorced, you know, pretty early actually when, after I was born. And so, and my dad wasn’t the most, most faithful, unfortunately, of husbands. And so,

For me growing up, it was like, man, I really want to be around for my kids. I want to be a good dad, be funny and lovable for my kids and all this stuff. But then I also wanted to be a musician and be able to provide music with meaning to people and stuff like that. And so it’s like, well, you got to be on the road a lot. And so it was like,

Craig (42:37.675)

Craig (42:42.99)

Andy McKee (42:59.22)
being on the road so much for the last 15 years or so, started to be like, nah, I don’t know, I gotta find a better balance. And so, tried to kind of bring it back a bit on the road and maybe be out for just a couple weeks at a time. Because also being a solo guitar player, you get kind of lonesome out there. You might have a tour manager, unless you start developing some friends on the road that you might see every time you come through, you’re just kind of like, uh, hotel room, hotel room.

Craig (43:20.235)

Andy McKee (43:29.308)
tower room and it’s just like, oh, it’s not, you know, yeah. And, you know, I, I wasn’t necessarily a person to go out much, you know, as a teenager or even in my twenties, you know, I was mostly staying in and playing guitar or, you know, I’d always have a handful of friends, but they’re close friends, you know, it was just a few close friends type thing. So, you know, going out and then suddenly on stage in front of people, which is fine with me, but, um.

Craig (43:30.11)
Yeah, it’s not an easy life.

Andy McKee (43:55.928)
But then if you’re supposed to go out and hang out and hobnob and all this stuff, it’s not really my thing so much. So if you’re out doing the show and then it’s like you kind of just want to be alone a little bit but maybe you want to see your wife or a friend or somebody, you’re like, oh, just start feeling lonesome as heck. So yeah, so I had to kind of find that balance, you know, and I’m still figuring it out a bit. Like, you know, there’s a whole…

side of like online stuff I think I don’t know much about as far as Patreon maybe and other ways of making an income as a musician. Just because yeah, I got a manager early on when my stuff took off and it was like you gotta hit the road, you gotta hit the road, you gotta hit the road, you know. I was like okay, yeah, let’s do it. So yeah, you know just that finding that balance of life, you know, I guess was got pretty dark or difficult, you know, sometimes and

Craig (44:49.133)

Andy McKee (44:50.62)
So that was one. Trying to think what else. Oh, I guess even to this day, I have some difficulty with the social media stuff. I think you and I mentioned that earlier, talking about like, I don’t really have a TikTok or so much or whatever. Maybe that was before we started recording you and I just talking about that. Yeah, again, going back to just like being kind of an introverted person. These days it’s like.

Craig (45:08.235)

Andy McKee (45:17.352)
you know, it’s like you’re expected to be on these things all the time. And I’m just like, I don’t want to be in everybody’s face all the time. I’d rather chill out over here, you know, work on a song or do whatever. So, um, it starts to look a bit, bit grim, you know, if it’s like, you’re expected to do that all the time and you don’t want to, you know, well, how am I going to be a musician in this world here like this, you know, so, you know, that stuff kind of gets me down sometimes when it’s like, do I have to do that? So, yeah.

Craig (45:44.418)

Craig (45:48.471)
Yeah. Well, man, first of all, thank you for being so candid on that answer. It was really, really kind of you. And Pat yourself on the back, because I’ve done a lot of like work on myself over the years, man, and I can tell you now that not many people. Most people, it’s like wash, rinse, repeat.

Andy McKee (45:52.62)

Craig (46:07.914)
with their upbringing. It’s like, my dad wasn’t faithful, so you become not faithful. No judgment on your dad. It’s just like, that’s what people do. You watch, rinse, and repeat. And the fact that you made some active decisions, man, pat yourself on the back for that. And I share your, I am never on social media. I mean, I have, somebody helped me post the shows. Maybe once every three, four months, I’ll make a like.

Andy McKee (46:09.28)

Craig (46:37.874)
I just like, I’d rather spend my time hanging out with my wife or like playing guitar or going to the gym or going for a walk or talking to my like, you know, in the end, and again, I’m older than you. So you start thinking like this. You’re like, your time is like, not that nothing’s anything’s going to happen, but you’re like, when you’re on your deathbed, are you going to think about, Oh shit, man, I remember in 2023, I made this killer post on Facebook.

Andy McKee (47:04.24)

Craig (47:04.726)
That’s just not gonna enter my mind like ever, you know, but like hanging out with my wife for half an hour, that is, you know, so I totally get that, man. I don’t live on social media at all. And I know probably I’m suffering for it, but I’m just not gonna do it, it’s not my thing. Here’s a photo of me at dinner, like who gives a shit? I mean, like everybody’s eating dinner presumably, you know? I mean.

Andy McKee (47:24.917)

Andy McKee (47:28.459)
I know.

Craig (47:34.246)
I don’t feel like my dinner is that earth shattering or anyone’s business to be honest with you, you know? So I might totally share your thoughts on that.

Andy McKee (47:38.451)
Thank you.

Yeah, I’m hoping, I’m thinking maybe people are starting to get a little burnout on it across the board. You know, I’ve heard about YouTubers quitting and things like that. We’ll see. Hopefully we get a little more connected in real life.

Craig (47:50.558)

Craig (47:55.318)
Well, that’s the big problem, man. Like, you know, even with my kids, my kids are older, you know, and like, um, I want to, I’d rather call them. Then, but you know, especially my daughter, the youngest, she’s 24. She’s all about texting, you know? And I’m like, and I’ll just call her and she goes, Oh dad, let’s text. And I’m like, no, I need to hear your full, you know, I mean, I’m not going to remember your text, but we may have a connection on this.

Andy McKee (48:03.497)

Andy McKee (48:14.41)
Thank you.

Craig (48:21.65)
conversation that will be pretty meaningful for us and make our day a lot better. So, you know, so I’m totally with you on that, man. 100%.

Andy McKee (48:25.893)

Craig (48:33.418)
Let’s talk about gear for just a few minutes and playing. Is there anything you’re working on now for like your personal enjoyment on the guitar as opposed to stuff that you’re working on or you wanna get like a certain level of performance for a gig?

Andy McKee (48:48.84)
Yeah, actually yeah, there was a, I guess a couple months ago, and my son was watching YouTube in the morning before he went to school, some video, I don’t remember what it was, but it had this clip of some music playing in the background, and I instantly recognized it from the Nintendo Wii, the video game console, 20 years ago or so. It was some music from that, and I was like, man, that is really…

really catchy and kind of funny. And I said, man, I’m gonna try to work on that while you’re at school. And I came up with an arrangement for it on a baritone guitar. And it was just… Yeah, yeah, he loved it.

Craig (49:27.89)
Oh my God, he must have been so psyched to come home to that. Yeah, see, that’s a good thing to use. Imagine if you would have taken that time and said, Oh, let me make a bunch of posts on Instagram like you would have been robbing your life and your kids. Yeah, man. That’s sorry. But.

Andy McKee (49:41.233)
Yeah, no exactly. Yeah, it’s like I thought it’d be funny and it was fun. It was crazy because the key was in B, which is the baritone is already in B. So it was actually not that hard to make an arrangement pretty quick out of it. And but yeah, it turned out great. And then I actually did post a video of that on Instagram. Kind of ties it together. I guess, but you know, people were like, oh, freaking out thinking it was neat.

Craig (50:03.796)
Oh, that’s so cool.

Andy McKee (50:07.168)
And so, you know, and I’ve always been, it’s been my other hobbies, video games. I don’t watch too many movies or TV, but the other bit of entertainment is some video games. But so I’m gonna do this EP of some video game music arranged for guitar and, you know, it’ll just be something kind of fun. And I think people are into that out there. They seem to really freak out. That’s what.

Craig (50:30.93)
Yeah, definitely. That’s very cool, man, very cool. All right, let’s talk about your guitar. What is your go-to guitar right now and what other two would round out your top three?

Andy McKee (50:40.96)
Sure. Well, my main guitar is, I actually have a signature guitar model with a builder. His name is Michael Greenfield. He’s from Montreal, Quebec. He has a brand called Greenfield Guitars. You can go to gree if your listeners want to check it out. I discovered his guitars in 2004 at the first Canadian Guitar Festival. And I went up there to

to check out Don Ross playing and actually to compete in the festival there. They had a contest, which I think I got second place that year. But anyway, he had his guitars on display and I saw them over there. I went and tried it. It was just incredible. They’re pretty expensive. So I was like, man, maybe some decade I could get one of these. But after a career took off a bit though, we started talking. And so I’ve been playing his guitars since 2008.

Craig (51:16.704)

Craig (51:29.425)

Andy McKee (51:36.992)
And we did the signature model just about four or five years ago, I think. It’s a jumbo. Yeah, thank you, man. It’s incredible, man. I’ve been playing that model. It’s pretty much the, we used to be called the G4, but we just turned it into the Amy McKee model, so it’s kind of like a jumbo shape and it has a bevel for your arm underneath, you know, right here. And then there’s a…

Craig (51:44.622)
Congratulations, man.

Andy McKee (52:04.152)
bevel on the backside where if you’re hunched over playing for a prolonged amount of time it doesn’t cut into your chest. And then it also has a fan-fret guitar neck so it helps with the intonation. And what else? It’s got Macassar ebony back and sides. And I think that’s about it I guess. But yeah, just incredible, incredible guitar. Sounds so good. It has a K&K Pure Mini pickup inside as well.

Craig (52:12.558)
That’s great.

Craig (52:33.838)
K and K pickup.

Andy McKee (52:34.276)
That’s the main squeeze. And then I’ve got a baritone guitar as well from him. That would be my second one. And it’s really the same model, essentially, but longer scale, 27 inch neck. Same fan fret guitar neck with the bevels as well. And it’s tuned from B to B, well, from low to high. B, E, A, D, F sharp, B, same intervals as a standard pitch guitar, but a fourth lower.

excuse me, and then I guess my third one would be the harp guitar that I have from Michael Greenfield as well. So it’s, yeah, it’s…

Craig (53:11.882)
Oh wow. So you got, you’re a big, man, that’s pretty, you know, that’s a pretty big deal for him that, you know, you’re like, I mean, it’s not like you can’t have your pick of the litter at this point in time. That’s pretty, it’s a pretty resounding endorsement.

Andy McKee (53:19.727)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy McKee (53:25.564)
Yeah, yeah, he’s my man. He’s really good. He’s built a guitar for Paul Stanley and Keith Richards. He’s really got quite the roster, I guess you could say. But he’s built me, I had to twist his arm a bit, but he finally built me a harp guitar several years ago. And it’s got a coa back and sides and six harp strings. And the.

Craig (53:51.17)
Those are beautiful guitars just to look at them in general. The harp guitars, yeah, pretty impressive. Yeah, it really is.

Andy McKee (53:52.348)
Yeah, yeah, it’s like a work of art really and it’s got six sharpening levers as well on that one. So the harp strings actually have little levers, like a hip shot kind of on a bass guitar where you can just hit it and it’ll sharpen it by a half step or flip it back and it lowers it a half step. Yeah, yeah, I’m working on a piece. Yeah, I want to incorporate those into a piece, you know, just for fun. Just kind of, whoop, kick it up a half step.

Craig (54:12.502)
That’s so cool. I didn’t know that, that’s really cool.

Andy McKee (54:22.285)

Craig (54:22.674)
Yeah, that’s really cool. It’s a good challenge for you, man.

Andy McKee (54:24.56)

Craig (54:29.117)
Do you remember the first album you bought?

Andy McKee (54:30.504)
Yeah, yeah, it was the soundtrack to Rocky IV. So, yeah, just maybe a comment on that. Yeah, it was the, in particular, the scene in that movie where Rocky was training in Siberia and he was pulling up like logs on a sled through the snow, you know, and all that. There was some music and the music was called Training Montage and that was the scene, I guess. It was a training montage.

Craig (54:35.518)
It was that soundtrack. Okay, cool. All right, tell me the, go ahead, sorry.

Andy McKee (54:58.836)
The music was by Vince DiCola and I just had to be able to hear that, you know, at a moment’s notice so I was like, I gotta get that set. And I had a Sony Walkman, you know, so I could put it on and just put it on whenever I wanted. And yeah, I was just obsessed with that piece. I still am. I don’t know what it is. Something about that piece just stirs me up. Yeah, yeah, I did. Yeah, just a few years ago did a cover of it with Vince. He played on it and I played electric guitar on it.

Craig (55:07.147)

Craig (55:19.17)
Didn’t you do it on one of your records? You covered it on one of your records. Yeah, it was really cool. Yeah.

Craig (55:30.338)
That’s awesome, man. All right, most embarrassing or funniest thing that’s happened to you on stage or in the studio?

Andy McKee (55:30.981)

Andy McKee (55:38.428)
Mm-hmm Excuse me, so I Think probably in Munich Some years ago now is like 2010 or so I Was you know doing the show there? It was I think was even sold out. It was pretty packed in there maybe 400 500 people something that you know going through the set and just everything’s great and get to a I was playing drifting and

totally brain fart, like blank. Like I don’t know what happened. Like just completely forgot where I was, what I was doing and had to stop. Like, I mean, I’ve had moments in tunes where, you know, maybe you have an error or something, but you don’t stop. You just keep going and it’s like, nope, it’s already gone. Nobody even knows. But it was like a total brain fart. And so I had to stop and say, whoops.

You know, I had to say, I think I made a joke like, I was just wondering if I left the oven on, give me a second here.

Craig (56:40.466)
Oh, that was quick. I mean, that was at least humorous. You get a pass after that. Like you’re just being human, man. This shit happens. Wow.

Andy McKee (56:46.384)
Right, yeah. That was exactly it. It was like if you have those sort of things, as a solo guitar player, you know, you’re the only one up there making any noise, so you got to do something. Yeah. Best best option is to make a joke. So that’s a good one. So I yeah, I was able to recover and keep it going. But it was, you know, it’s like the one everybody knew me for drifting.

Craig (57:00.202)
That’s pressure, man. That’s a ton of pressure. Wow.

Craig (57:07.61)
Yeah, that was a real yeah.

Andy McKee (57:15.488)
just a few years after it broke on YouTube and couldn’t remember it all. And people are like, what? But it was all good.

Craig (57:19.843)

Craig (57:23.334)
I think people are a lot more forgiving than we, you know, we tend to put on, when you’re driven and you know, you have like a type A personality for your work at least, I think people are a lot more forgiving than stuff like that, you know? All right, top three Desert Island discs, no particular order and just for right now, because obviously that changes all the time.

Andy McKee (57:25.684)

Andy McKee (57:35.997)
Yeah, yeah, I think you’re right.

Andy McKee (57:46.249)
Okay, do Aerial Boundaries from Michael Hedges, Avi and MusiCom from Eric Johnson, and Images and Words from Dream Theater.

Craig (58:00.642)
Very cool.

Tell me, uh…

Okay, let me ask you this, this is an interesting one. You know, everybody, when you’re recognized as a great guitar player like you are by the media and by the internet, is there anything you intentionally do or stay mindful of to sort of keep who you are and what you do separate? Because it would seem that if you’re…

Self-esteem only rises and falls with the what you do part It seems a little dangerous because you can’t always control that You know I you put out something it’s not as popular. It’s not you know, or it’s not up to your standards so is there anything because you seem super like non-celebrity like oriented You know, what do you do to sort of keep yourself in you know in reality and not get caught up in?

Andy McKee (58:52.085)

Craig (59:02.915)
people liking you sort of.

Andy McKee (59:03.772)
Yeah, yeah, that is a good question. And let’s see, I guess. I think there’s probably a part of my personality that does like it when people like me, of course. It feels good, but I don’t, I think at some point, I guess in the last several years anyway.

just kind of got more like, didn’t need that sort of validation, I guess. Yeah, you know, it’s because yeah, I guess when my career took off, it suddenly felt like, well, everybody loves me, you know, like millions and millions of people love me. Oh, my goodness. And that was a trip for sure. And I guess, you know.

Craig (59:40.578)

Craig (59:51.059)
Right, right, right.

Andy McKee (01:00:01.268)
It may have messed with my mind a bit. I don’t know like to be totally honest with you like You you might assume that everybody loves you or something, you know, but it’s like you might

Andy McKee (01:00:15.716)
might cause issues with your work in some ways. I think maybe I took it for granted or something and maybe sometimes I got a little too lazy or something. So I don’t know, it’s like you have to stay focused on the music and the craft. What’s the point of making music? Is it just for approval or is it because you wanna say something?

Craig (01:00:36.588)

Andy McKee (01:00:44.868)
And the point of playing guitar too, and there was certainly a period where, at least through like my teenage years and early 20s, it was like, maybe the focus was like the guitar and like, and becoming good and becoming someone that everyone would think is really good at the guitar. But then at some point it’s like, when you started, when I started to write music, actually, it’s kind of when it started, it was

More like, well, I want to become good at writing a song or telling a story with this thing, like Eric Johnson or like Michael Hedges. It’s not just that they can play real well, it’s that they’re telling a story. So that became my focus really. But I think when the YouTube thing took off and everyone was kind of, especially drifting, like was the big one.

It was definitely the technique thing was unusual and it was like a visual experience with YouTube. And so that was one thing, but it was kind of funny because that was really the only tune I wrote where I was banging on the guitar so much and doing that percussive thing. But I kind of, people thought that was what I did, but I had one song. And my arrangement of Africa, I was doing some percussive stuff on that too. So I kind of wanted to…

Craig (01:01:48.182)

Andy McKee (01:02:11.624)
say, well, that’s not my only thing. I’ve got, there’s For My Father, Rye Land, all this other stuff, and Into the Ocean, other tunes where I don’t do percussion at all. So, I didn’t wanna just write another percussion tune and another one and another one, because that’s what people expected from me. It was like, I wanted to write music that I felt serious about, and that I…

Craig (01:02:19.01)

Andy McKee (01:02:40.436)
it wasn’t just thrown together for the hell of it or whatever. You know, so, um, so yeah, I, I’ve, I have felt a bit like the whole celebrity thing, uh, I could have maybe chased it more or, you know, tried to be putting stuff on Instagram or, you know, tick tock. I think I have two videos on there that I’ve just put up just almost as a joke. Cause I think the platform, I think the platform is a joke to be honest. I don’t like it at all. Um, I think.

Craig (01:03:08.546)
When everybody, you know what? All these young kids, and I hate to sound like an old man, but like my daughter will come, hey dad, I bought this supplement. I’m like, where’d you hear about it? TikTok, I’m like, you know, there’s no barrier to entry there. Like, you know, I can get on there and talk about construction equipment and I know nothing about construction, but you know, like I’m an authority. And I’m like, you gotta do some research on this. You know, like, you know, you have the internet, look it up, you know?

Andy McKee (01:03:21.218)
That’s right.

You’re right, you’re right.

Andy McKee (01:03:29.448)
That’s right, that’s absolutely right. Yeah, if you talk with enough conviction, you know, that’s all you need to do and then people will believe it. Yeah, so like, you know, the kind of music that I like and that I like to write is a little more serious most of the time, you know, a little more introspective. So, you know, when you have these platforms that, you know, people are just like this and you’re like, why would I even want to put my music on there? It’s just going to be…

Craig (01:03:36.118)
It’s quite funny on there. I agree with you. It’s like weird.

Craig (01:03:41.716)
Yeah, you’re an expert. Like, right.

Andy McKee (01:03:58.78)
scrolled through in a matter of seconds and who cares, you know? So it feels a bit like the music is devalued on those kind of things. So, you know, I have a hard time fitting in on those platforms and seeing that, you know, makes sense. But, so, yeah, I know. I’ve been rambling here a bit about celebrity and stuff.

Craig (01:04:04.024)

Craig (01:04:23.73)
No, no, it sounds like what you’ve done is you stayed focused on you, representing you, like what you want to put out there, you know, communicating, expressing yourself. You know, it sounds like that’s how you’ve kept this, you know, kept your stuff together, you know, focusing on not how many people like it, but you know, what you have to say musically, which I think is great.

Andy McKee (01:04:31.308)

Andy McKee (01:04:43.88)
Yeah, yeah, that’s always gonna be the point, you know? And that’s, you know, I think sometimes that part is lost too on these days, the fact of creating stuff. A lot of the big guitar things that you might see on the social media stuff for people playing other people’s music, it’s like the act of actually creating something and pulling it out of yourself and something new, you know, people have kind of forgotten about that art form, I guess, with what’s cool on social media.

Craig (01:05:12.33)
Yeah. And you’re super prolific too, which is not easy to crank out as much original material as you have in the time that you’ve done it. So pat yourself on the kudos to you, man. Thanks. I appreciate you. These have not these are not easy questions. And I know that’s I appreciate you answering them. Thank you very much.

Andy McKee (01:05:26.596)
Oh man, I love it dude, I love getting serious on some of this stuff. It’s good.

Craig (01:05:33.286)
Okay, cool. I mean, I don’t wanna talk about like with string gauge or something like that. I don’t know. All right. Something about yourself people might be surprised to hear or find a little.

Andy McKee (01:05:35.017)
Me neither.

Andy McKee (01:05:53.699)

Kind of an open book, to be honest. I don’t know.

Andy McKee (01:06:02.024)
I’m really into Pantera? I don’t know, I guess most people know that, but if you only know me as an acoustic guitar guy, you might not know I’m really into Pantera. I got Dimebag in a year. Here we go.

Craig (01:06:14.703)
Yeah, that’s funny. There you go, man. Holy crap, that’s pretty cool. What’s the happiest moment or happiest time in your life?

Andy McKee (01:06:26.268)
I guess when I got married. You know, yeah, I’ve been with my wife just together for gosh, 23 years, but we got married in. Yeah, thanks man. Yeah, it’s been awesome. It’s so cool to be with someone for such a long period of time, you know, and just the experiences you’ve had, you know, it’s, yeah, you do, yeah.

Craig (01:06:34.222)
Cool, man.

Craig (01:06:41.918)
Oh man, congratulations, that’s awesome. Really nice to hear that.


Craig (01:06:53.07)
And it works, I know, when it works, that is cool.

Andy McKee (01:06:57.964)
Thank you.

Craig (01:06:59.022)
Congrats, that’s awesome, man. Most important thing you learn from your dad, or maybe learn not to do from your dad, I guess, even.

Andy McKee (01:07:07.086)
Well, I guess my dad was really personable, you know, and I guess maybe I got that from him genetically a bit, but maybe also just from watching him, you know, how he interacted with people. He was a bar, he owned a bar for a few years, and so, you know, having that sort of skill of being a bartender and interacting with anybody that comes in, you know.

Andy McKee (01:07:34.332)
That’s right. Yeah. I think we kind of me and my siblings all have that sort of personality. So, you know, just trying to relate to people. That’s the first kind of, you know, when you meet somebody you don’t know, like get to know them a little bit. What do you have in common?

Craig (01:07:34.538)
Yeah, that’s they’re like everybody’s therapist when you come in, man. Yeah, totally.

Craig (01:07:54.114)
Sure, yeah, very cool. How about mom? What’s the most important thing you learned from her?

Andy McKee (01:07:59.594)
Hmm. Well, she raised me mostly, me and my brother. So, she taught us mostly about, the golden rule, I guess, is a big one. And just treating people with kindness first, and respect. And…

and just how to be kind and loving, you know, that kind of thing. She taught us all that.

Craig (01:08:28.363)

Craig (01:08:32.95)
Hobbies outside of music or interests?

Andy McKee (01:08:34.056)
Yeah, video games, definitely the big one. So yeah, I’ve been playing games since about 1984, and I’ve owned all the console video game systems, and spend way too much time playing games, probably. I’d probably be really good at improvising if I didn’t play video games.

Craig (01:08:38.613)

Craig (01:08:50.006)

Craig (01:08:55.218)
That’s quite funny. I don’t know about that. I think you’re pretty good at improvising. Hey, you’ve been all over the world, man. What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled?

Andy McKee (01:09:01.055)

Good question, yeah. Probably, I usually go back to Japan, is my favorite. There’s, it’s kind of a three way tie, usually like Germany and Scotland and Japan. I love those three a whole lot. Yeah, but three really great, you know, people there in those places, they’re all pretty hospitable and friendly. And in Scotland, there’s just a real charisma too, you know.

Craig (01:09:20.95)
Wow, three really different places. Yeah.

Andy McKee (01:09:32.396)
to the people and Ireland too has that. And I’m speaking real broadly here. I hope I’m not offending anyone. It’s not like the other two don’t. Yeah, I know, right? I know, right? Yeah. Really? Yeah. You know how charismatic the people in the federated states of Micronesia are?

Craig (01:09:43.67)
You are somewhere, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. Why did you pick Scotland and not my country? How dare you like

Craig (01:09:58.139)
Yeah, right.

Andy McKee (01:10:00.493)
Who knows? Go on now.

Craig (01:10:02.11)
Yeah, touche, man. I mean, like, you know, thank God I didn’t ask you what your favorite food is, because I mean, how could he like meatballs? That’s ridiculous, you know, yeah. Ha ha.

Andy McKee (01:10:05.641)
Yeah, really.

Yeah, I like, I like Japan quite a bit. Uh, you know, the food and the culture and the language too, actually, I like the sound of the language and like, I can barely speak a tiny bit, but, uh, yeah, probably Japan.

Craig (01:10:27.99)
You know what? That’s, that’s the number one favorite country of, of people when I asked that question, it’s always been Japan. Yeah. And it was interesting. I was talking to a buddy of mine, a musician, and I was, uh, and I was talking about it, this guitar, I guess got a Japanese strat, which I love these Japanese strats from the mid nineties or eighties. Anyway, uh, he was saying, you know, Craig, if, cause he’s traveled the world, uh, several times himself and he was saying, you know, and I’ve never been to Japan. He said,

Andy McKee (01:10:31.669)

Craig (01:10:56.042)
You know, you can be playing that guitar on a bench, a park bench in Japan. You put the guitar down, you wanna go across the street and grab something to eat, and you come back and your guitar is gonna be there. And I was like, what? And I was like, that’s amazing. I guess, you just have higher expectations and you instill that into children when they’re younger, then you don’t, that’s not an issue. But I was like,

Andy McKee (01:11:03.252)


Andy McKee (01:11:21.78)
Yeah, it’s really, really nice that the respect type thing, you know, just general respect for people and their property and all that. It’s nice, you know, that’s how I try to live my life over here, you know, and, you know, hold the door to people or whatever. Yeah.

Craig (01:11:25.898)


Craig (01:11:39.074)
Right, but it’s, of course, of course, I mean, but that’s not, I mean, I’m from New York City. So I was like, what? I was like, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, you know, you know, leave anything. I wouldn’t put down a piece of garbage there that I wanted because it’d be gone, you know, I, you know, I remember I went back to the city with my son and a buddy long time, maybe 15, 20 years ago. And it’s actually 15 years ago and

Andy McKee (01:11:43.678)
Yeah, right.

Andy McKee (01:11:51.189)

Craig (01:12:06.538)
I spaced out, we were in a bar at night, and I left my phone on the counter. I turned around for like five seconds and it was gone. It was because I had, you know, I moved out a while ago and I forgot, you know, my Spidey sense, I had forgot it, you know? And I was like, shit, stupid me. And that’s, I was literally turned my, turned around five seconds and then the fricking phone was gone. So, yeah. So hearing that about Japan, I was like, oh my God, what a great place, what a great standard that people set.

Andy McKee (01:12:18.47)
Thank you.

Andy McKee (01:12:25.5)

Andy McKee (01:12:31.196)
Yeah, I love it. You know, every chance I get to go over there, I just look forward to it. You know, actually last place I played before the pandemic, you know, kind of shut everything down, I was over there and things were kind of, it was like late February of 2020. And anyway, I was there and I had been, you know, picked up at the airport, limo and

Craig (01:12:54.711)

Andy McKee (01:13:00.264)
I was playing at the Cotton Club in Tokyo for like two or three nights and you know they got the driver and they hand you this card like, Dear Mr. McKee, we’re so honored to have you and it’s just all this you know and has the schedule for every day and you know they’re driving you to the hotel and it’s just you know they’ve got gloves on and bowing you know just it’s just like the way they treat you is just unbelievable. Yeah, yeah definitely.

Craig (01:13:06.047)
Oh, wow.

Craig (01:13:15.392)
Oh my god.

Craig (01:13:28.766)
Yeah, that’s pretty amazing.

Andy McKee (01:13:29.838)
That part’s nice for sure. But yeah, the food and the culture and the language, everything’s super cool.

Craig (01:13:34.612)
Yeah, man.

Andy McKee (01:13:36.757)

Craig (01:13:37.45)
Yeah, I love the food myself there, man. Love Japanese food. Biggest change in your personality, Andy, over the last 10 years, and has that change been intentional or just a natural part of aging?

Andy McKee (01:13:48.724)
Hmm. I think, yeah, the biggest change probably is I used to be more of a push over, to be honest, you know, pretty much my whole life. I was just more of a, yeah, sure, yeah, sure. But, you know, just had to be more, you know, firm and saying no to things. And when you’re going to be in a position that’s not good or uncomfortable or whatever.

And so I don’t know if that’s age. It’s probably just age I guess you know and you’re becoming more aware that if you say yes to everything you’re gonna be Compromised in some way here or there you know or something not gonna be good So it’s just better to be honest up front and say no, you know I don’t think that’s good for me or you know, it’s not gonna work out and that’s you know in realizing that that’s okay Yeah, it’s

Craig (01:14:28.715)

Craig (01:14:38.115)

Yeah, man. No is a complete sentence. That’s it. Yeah. Absolutely. It’s funny cause uh, my, I’ll see, uh, like my son, he, we have a granddaughter, she’s 10 and my son will be like, he’ll say no, and then he’ll give her an explanation. And I’m like, Hey man, you’re, and then she comes back and I’m like, well, if you give her an explanation, basically you’re telling her the doors open for negotiation. You know, I’m like,

No, that’s your answer. You don’t like you’re the boss man. It’s you don’t that’s it. No is a complete sentence, you know And uh, that’s good, man. I think that’s a healthy thing good for you. I’m glad that you’re doing that man Yeah, for sure. Definitely. It’s not easy to do that, but it’s good Uh, hey listen, I can’t thank you enough for your time any uh final words of wisdom

Andy McKee (01:15:10.549)


For sure. Yeah. It’s good.

Andy McKee (01:15:27.58)
Oh gosh, well, just do what you always feel is right, I guess, and you’ll have no regrets at the end.

Craig (01:15:39.51)
Thank you, man. Hey, I can’t thank, I want to talk to people. I want them to turn on to your music. But thank you so much for being so kind and open. I really appreciate your time and, you know, everything. So thanks for a bunch. I would love everybody to check out, first of all, if you haven’t listened to Andy’s music, check out his catalog. Yeah, he’s a.

Andy McKee (01:15:48.021)

Craig (01:15:56.738)
beautiful musician and he’s a great songwriter and he’s incredibly talented at what he does. But please check out the new albums called Triplicity, T-R-I-P-L-I-C-I-T-Y. It’s available anywhere you listen to music. And also Andy. What’s that?

Andy McKee (01:16:09.388)
Sorry, Craig. We spell it funny. It’s T-R-I-P-L-I-C-I-T-I. That’s okay.

Craig (01:16:18.802)
I’m so sorry. I apologize. Thank you. Thank you for correcting that. Thank you triplicit. TRI PLI CIT. I thank you, man I’m sorry also, you could find You could find Andy on Facebook and Instagram sort of You can find his accounts on Facebook and Instagram but on a serious note if you guys are interested in getting together and going to one of Andy’s master classes

Andy McKee (01:16:23.753)
Yes, that’s good.

Andy McKee (01:16:28.96)
You can do it in the office. You can do it in the accounts.

Craig (01:16:47.502)
please go to Andy McKee’s musicarium and I’ll spell that out for you because he runs master classes quite often. Do you have any of this stuff like online, pre-recorded? Or like, I mean, do you have teaching stuff? You do.

Andy McKee (01:16:58.688)
Yeah, yeah, well, I’m glad you mentioned that. Yeah, I do. I do a lot of stuff with True Fire. So if you head to, actually just yesterday, I don’t know if this is going out whenever, but as of recording this, just yesterday we released our Triplicity instructional course with True Fire. So all three of us are teaching our tunes and you can take one of us out and you can play the part and you know, whatever.

It’s pretty cool, yeah, and the sheet music, the tablature scrolls along and you can play it and so forth, so pretty cool.

Craig (01:17:27.062)
Oh, that’s awesome.

Craig (01:17:33.73)
That’s awesome. So check Andy out on True Fire. It’s Andy McKee, MCKE. And also here, let me spell that Andy McKee’s musicarium. Please go there. It’s Andy McKee’s MCKEES musicarium. M-U-S-I-C-A-R-I-U-M dot com. And you can get, go to one of his get togethers and next time it’s open. And anything else before I close out?

Andy McKee (01:17:54.972)
I don’t think so man, just want to say thanks so much for having me Craig, it’s been a lot of fun.

Craig (01:18:03.362)
Likewise man, pleasure’s mine. Thank you so much. Hang on one second. We’ll wrap up everybody Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed it, please share this or spread this around the internet with your friends and family Thanks very much to Andy McKee for spending time with us and most important remember that happiness is a choice So choose wisely be nice go play your guitar and have fun till next time. Peace and love everybody. I am out Andy Thanks for everything brother

Andy McKee (01:18:23.786)
My pleasure.

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