GRAHAM GREENE
Guitarmony

Soon to head to Sydney for the Guitar Heroes:Guitar Fest And Music Lifestyle Expo, Graham Greene performs at the Railway Hotel this Friday September 14, with support from Emerald City. BOB GORDON reports.

Graham Greene has been playing guitar for most of his life. Rising to notoriety in the 80's in outfits such as Flash Harry and Ice Tiger, he has gone on to perform with his band The Happy Sinners, as well as record and release a diversity of original guitar-driven albums, reflecting both his virtuosity and changing view of life.
"When I was younger, playing the guitar was a total obsession," he recalls. "I ate, drank and slept the guitar, which made me a nerd at school and not all that popular with the ladies... of course, all that changed once I started playing in bands (laughs).
"Now, the guitar is still a very big part of my life - always will be, I expect - but I am much more relaxed in my approach to the instrument and music. If anything, I'm enjoying it more, because I'm less intense about the whole thing and am taking more time to smell the musical flowers, as it were. I'm also playing better and making better music, so all in all, things are more fun now."
In recent years Greene and his wife/musical partner Donna G have embraced a spiritual side. This has naturally had an impact on the music that springs from within.

Graham Greene

"Spirituality has always been important to us," Greene explains. "I think part of my maturing as a musician has been the expression of my feelings toward the universe and my fellow man. My more ambient albums (Gaia Rising, Music Of The Numbers) have been a great outlet for that, as well as the music we have made for the Stop Child Executions Campaign (www.stopchildexecutions.com) which Donna and I am a part of.
"When I experience one of those moments when a recorded take comes back through the monitors perfect, it's a huge buzz, but I don't take 100 per cent credit for it. I do owe some thanks to the universe for inspiration, whatever form I receive it in."

Described as "The Satriani Of The South" by Australian Guitar Magazine, Greene is heading to Sydney later this month to appear at the Guitar Heroes:Guitar Fest And Music Lifestyle Expo, held in Balmain from October 1 - 9. He'll be sharing the stage with bands such as Matt Finish and Sydney 70's legends Kahvas Jute featuring Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osbourne, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, Gary Moore), making endorsement appearances and performing shows with Donna (vocals), Saxon Smith (guitar) and a rhythm section of Sydney friends including James Pool (ex-Ice Tiger) on drums.
Greene will also be conducting master classes. He feels it is important to pass guitar knowledge forward.
"Very important!" he says. "More than just passing on my tricks of the trade, I feel that my life experience as a guitarist, musician and entertainer contains a lot of valuable information for those that will be taking up the torch after I have gone. Today's kids are the stars of tomorrow, and if I can help some of them to avoid the pitfalls and make the most of their opportunities in an ever-changing industry, then I feel it's my responsibility to do what I can."
From the time he was a young player until now, Greene has been influenced by a diversity of of guitar players from Ritchie Blackmore to jazz players such as Larry Carlton and Al DiMeola, through to Earl Klugh and back to the harder (progressive) likes of Dream Theater. Who does he feel is taking the art of guitar playing forward in this day and age?
"My tastes have always been eclectic," he says, "so I've drawn
influences and inspiration from what may seem to be disparate sources. Today, it's hard to see who's actually taking the guitar forward because the media's attention span is so short, and you don't get to see an artist develop and grow before they're replaced by the 'next big thing'.
"A couple of players have caught my ear, though... an English chap called Guthrie Govan is just amazing on the electric, and I've heard some stuff from an acoustic player called Andy McKee, who blows me away with his (US acoustic guitarist) Michael Hedges - like technique and composition. There are some stunning technicians out there, but whether or not they are actually advancing the art of  guitar is really up to the ear of the beholder. For me, it's about melody, harmony and inspiration."
Greene indicates that his musical ambitions have changed somewhat over time. From the party-time days of yore through to the more spiritual embrace in recent times, it is a musical life that he leads and one that he's clearly appreciative of.
"I intend to continue doing what I'm doing," he says, "growing as a person and a musician while finding more ways of getting the music out there. If I was a gorgeous young thing with a belly-button ring, I'd be chasing commercial success, but that's no longer on my list of priorities. It's more about the message, that music is a universal language and can bring people together in a positive and sharing way.
"I'm hoping that the tour to Sydney will help on that front, giving the music the exposure it deserves on the eastern seaboard. Basically, I still love music, and there's a lot more to come from me yet."

2007 Xpress Magazine

Feature Interview - Xpress Magazine 22nd birthday issue - Sept 2007