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Phantom success. The trend of the day. Wave goodbye to bad business practices.

Posted: September 1, 2023

We live in a period when music is no longer authentic. Phantom success is the trend of the day. Not in a good way mind you. There has been an obvious trend occurring among all genres. Copy-cat artists are everywhere. It is very popular to follow what others are doing. Regardless of if it is right or wrong. Phantom success will lead you to a “pot of gold.” At least, that is the message the industry tries to sell you on.

The music industry calls for a cookie cutter image because it works. The record labels are not stupid. Some may have dishonest business practices, but they are not stupid. Money will always rule the day. However, do not be fooled. Non-authentic trends may work in the short term. But they will leave you penniless and forgotten soon thereafter. Isn’t it better to be authentic and unique, and be remembered for your accomplishments? Authenticity equals long-term success.

I may be opinionated, but I state my opinions based upon experience. I have seen it. I have worked in the music industry for many years. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out what is happening. Maybe it does. Because there are many agencies signing up for a piece of the action. That is, while it lasts.

If you go back in time, you will determine that artists copy the sound of other successful musicians or artists. Stealing riffs or lyrics is not new. Neither is the cookie cutter mentality that the music industry has adopted. Unfortunately, it has only gotten worse. Many call themselves artists when they really are just a fabrication of someone else.

While we continue to suffer with this trend, there are artists that buck the system. They refuse to be categorized or labeled as a “copy.” They deny phantom and short-term success for what they will enjoy for a lifetime. My friends, Brian Quinn is an original. He is authentic. You may identify his sound. Brian has released many successful albums. You will notice that he has a style and sound of his own. Brian has performed with some of the greatest artists in the world. Each could be called an architect of his genre. Though Brian Quinn is distinguished, and the word “phantom” wasn’t part of his vocabulary or music success … and never will.

 

ABOUT BRIAN QUINN

Brian Quinn is a multi-dimensional touring and session guitarist who has spent his career writing and performing in globally recognized bands across various genres of music, including rock, metal, blues and country.

He first picked up the guitar at the young age of five and was playing sold-out shows by the age of 15 with his hardcore band Burial Ground (1990-1996). He spent six years performing in the hardcore circuit and released an independent album with a huge fan following before moving to Philadelphia, PA.

Soon after arriving in the city of “Brotherly Love,” he co-founded the Philadelphia-based rock band Octane (2000-2005). Still considered one of the most successful bands to come out of Philly, Octane sold more than 20,000 copies of their independent debut release and enjoyed more than 1,000 spins of the single “I For One” on Philadelphia rock station 94.1 WYSP.

During this time, Quinn was named “Best Guitarist” in the region by the Philadelphia Music Awards in 2001 and 2004 and was praised by fans and critics alike for his signature guitar technique, especially on slide guitar, and dynamic stage presence.

After enjoying five successful years with Octane, Quinn left the band to found a blues-based, hard rock band that would later become known as Fosterchild. This project quickly gained national attention and the band was signed to the SMG/ILG/WARNER record label from 2007-2010. After touring the country numerous times with Fosterchild, the band culminated its journey with a special invitation to perform for the U.S. troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where the group played in front of thousands of soldiers.

Today, Quinn is the lead guitarist for multi-platinum, Seattle, WA-based rock band, CANDLEBOX. Quinn provided the critically acclaimed guitar work on CANDLEBOX albums Disappearing In Airports (debuted at #9 on the Billboard Charts), Disappearing Live, and Wolves (peaked in the top 10 on two Billboard charts “Hard Music Albums” and “Alternative Albums”). CANDLEBOX has recently released their eighth and final studio album, The Long Goodbye, and is currently on an extensive North American tour with 3 Doors Down.

During his career, Quinn shared the stage with such acts as: Slash’s Snakepit, Gene Simmons, Metallica, Kid Rock, Disturbed, Judas Priest, Chevelle, 3 Doors Down, Seether, Sevendust, Shinedown, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Alter Bridge, Godsmack, Deftones, Black Label Society, Buckcherry, Warren Haynes, Marshall Tucker, Devo, and many other notable performers.

In addition to performing with CANDLEBOX, Quinn routinely guests with the American Vinyl All Star Band, featuring Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan/Doobie Bros.), Barry Goudreau (formerly of the band Boston), Robert “Mousey” Thompson (Wilson Pickett/James Brown), Leroy Romans (The Wailers), Tim Archibald (Peter Wolf/RTZ), and Danny Beissel (Fosterchild).

Quinn is currently endorsed by Gibson Guitars, DR Strings, Milwaukee Guitar Company, Landry Amps, Planet Waves Accessories, and LPS Clothing.

 

INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN QUINN AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

GT: Hello Brian. We are grateful for the fine example that you have set for all musicians. Not just within the rock genre, but genres of all kinds. No matter your vibe, you can still be authentic. You have become the voice of originality. Thank you for joining us today.

Brian: Thank you, very much appreciated. Glad to be here.

 

GT: I know about your accomplishments. However, I don’t know the foundation for your love of Rock. I have read about your accomplishments with countries the world over. However, there must be something engrained in a person to really choose a specific genre of music. Especially, when they are authentic in nature. What drew you to the Rock genre?

Brian: I have two older brothers that were both huge fans of rock and metal. They both listened to the “cool” bands of their respective eras and I just fell in love with all those bands, as well. At the same time, I was discovering all kinds of different rock & metal bands on my own.

 

GT: There countless Rock artists that came before you. Who were your favorites? Of those favorites, who have you been able to perform with on stage or on an album?

Brian: I always say I paint a very wide stroke with my musical influences. My favorite band ever is Black Sabbath, and any of the Ozzy solo material. It was one of my earliest dreams, and still is, to get a chance to play for him one day.

Past that it’s really broad. I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan, The Band, The Byrds, The Allman Bros. Band, Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Creedence, The Tea Party, Alice In Chains.

The earliest bands I performed with as a teenager coming up in the hardcore circuit, I also listened to like Minor Threat, Youth Of Today, Inside Out, Biohazard, and Life Of Agony. I fell in love with skateboarding and its accompanying thrash metal from Slayer, Metallica, Testament, etc. I also love Cannibal Corpse and Sepultura. I could listen to that type of stuff all day long and then throw on Depeche Mode, Duran Duran or even Andres Segovia performing all the Bach classics on guitar. If it makes me feel something, I like it. I don’t really care what genre it is.

I’ve been blessed enough in my career to have shared the stage with almost every one of my musical heroes. That’s one of the things I love about getting to play the big festivals. You’re knocking bucket list stuff off left and right.

Aside from actually playing some songs with Ozzy, I would hope one day to get on a bill or jam with Guns N’ Roses and The Cult. In all of my travels and touring over a quarter century, they’re two bands we’ve never landed in the same place with. As a guitarist, there’s a whole bunch of “wish list” guys it’d be cool to jam with, but getting a chance to play with James Burton (Elvis’ guitarist from 1969-1977) on one of the American Vinyl All Star gigs would be pretty special.

 

GT: I don’t want you to be considered controversial. However, is there anything in this topic that seems familiar to you? Have you noticed an increase in artists with a cookie cutter approach to music?

Brian: I have, and I don’t feel it’s being controversial to shine a light on something that’s already so glaring. A lot of the newer bands, production wise, sound very much the same to me. There’s very little diversity in what would be considered “active rock” today. I especially feel the huge advances in recording technologies over the last 20 years have had a great deal to do with it. Certain engineers, mixers, etc. have their “go-to” plug-ins for every artist they deal with and that leads to mixes that are very linear, repetitive, and dull to me.

With the music from the 60s & 70s, and even the 80s & some 90s stuff, there was more of a sense of adventure and trial and error in producing art. It’s always sounded more meaningful and well thought out to me. There’s little, to no danger, with newer rock music anymore. I like to think we’re [Candlebox] doing our best to keep that spirit of rock music alive.

Candlebox is one of the last actual rock bands out there doing it like this. No slick production, no backing tracks, no empty stage, no modeled amps or dummy speaker cabinets, etc. Once bands like us are gone, due to whatever the reason, that’s it.

It’s why I fell in love with rock and metal. It’s supposed to scare your parents a little, make you feel something you can’t explain, and let you know you’re alive.

That’s actually the biggest reason why I’m so bummed Kevin [Martin, Vocalist] is packing it in after this album and tour cycle. Obviously, I’m going to miss seeing, performing, and creating with these guys. We’ve all become intertwined in each other’s lives and families. We’re like one huge, weird family (laughs).

 

GT: Artists are always receiving bad advice. Not just from family members, but from the “professionals.” Booking agents, PR firms, Managers, Labels, etc. are all known for dishing out bad advice. To the detriment of their client. I also know, there are great professionals out there, that have the success of their client at heart. What has enabled you to avoid the pitfalls?

Brian: (laughs): I didn’t avoid any of them. In fact, I landed in every one of those pitfalls multiple times. The majority of the business end in this industry is figuring out what NOT to do. There’s no “formula,” per se, you just have to get out there and take your lumps. It’s part of the process. Talent really does have a lot to do with it, despite some people’s opinions. A bit of luck in being at the right place, right time has a hand in it. Most importantly, a voracious appetite to get out and network is key, and at the end of the day, the songs HAVE to be there.

 

GT: The music industry isn’t a “one size fits all.” So, what worked for you, may not work for someone else. However, you are an excellent example of musical success. Do you have any advice that has worked for you?

Brian: Yeah, very true. My advice is to put in the work. You’ll only get out of it what you put into it. Be coachable, and surround yourself with like-minded artists that have come before you. Those people are what the books can’t teach you. The knowledge is invaluable.

 

GT: What is the best thing you get from being an artist? At the same time, what is the negative aspect of being an artist?

Brian: I love being able to create and make a living doing it. I particularly enjoy having the opportunity to share my art, and love of it, through live performances. I’m constantly immersed in and surrounded by music. It truly is the universal language.

The negatives. There aren’t many. Every job, no matter what you do, has a price. The negative side of it is being away from my wife (and cat), and family for really long stretches of time.

Every time you see the kids in the family, they grow exponentially. You start thinking about whatever and say “oh, yeah, that was just a couple of years ago.” And, in reality, it was like a decade ago. Time is really jumbled up on the road. Once you’re out long enough, you never know what day of the week it is. It’s unnatural and it’s the weirdest job I’ve ever had. (laughs).

 

GT: How would you describe who Brian Quinn is, and what drives you to be the best artist that you can?

Brian: That’s a great question. I think I’m still figuring that out. With every new project and challenge, I learn a little more about myself, and where and what my fault lines and borders are. I have an open mind and a huge heart and do my best to convey that into the music you hear. I’ve never really known where I fit in, so I just went ahead and hung out with everyone.

Even though I took very purposeful steps to position myself to be able to do this for a living, I just did it. Tough to explain, but honestly, I didn’t really think about it…I just did. I wanted to create, and I have a wonderful muse in my wife to do just that.

 

GT: Whether you are on stage, or in the studio, do you have a specific “go to” guitar? If so, which brand is it and why do you select it?

Brian: Oh yes. My “#1,” “Red,” “Ro,”… she has a host of nicknames. My ’89 Gibson Les Paul Standard Cherryburst. It’s the first Les Paul I’ve ever owned and it is my ride or die.

My Aunt Rosemary (my mother’s little sister) bought it for me when I was 14 years old, just about to turn 15. She believed, saw, and encouraged me that I was going to do something special with it. That guitar has traveled all over Earth with me. My Aunt Ro passed away from cancer at the insanely young age of 45, and it was life jarring for me at that age. I chose to honor her by learning to play it to the best of my ability, and make sure she never felt she wasted her money.

That guitar changed everything for me.

By sheer coincidence (maybe not), it is the best sounding and feeling Les Paul I’ve ever played. I constantly refer to it as the most perfect piece of interactive art I’ve ever touched.

 

GT: Are you currently working on an album? Do you plan on any tours?

Brian: Candlebox just released our eighth and final studio album, The Long Goodbye, a week ago (August 25, 2023). I am very proud of the work we did on it. We went way out there with it, and held ourselves to zero creative bounds while writing it.

We had a wonderful experience making it at LaLa Mansion Studios in Nashville, TN. Our dear friend Don Miggs (Whole Damn Mess) produced it, and we were honored to have the legendary Mark Needham mix it.

We’ve been out on tour since the 1st of June with our buds from 3 Doors Down. The North American leg of this tour wraps up on 24 September in Sugar Land, TX, then on to South America in the Fall, and am hearing whispers of a run in Australia in the winter (fingers crossed).

 

GT: Excellent. That is great to hear.

 

GT: Needless to say, it has been my pleasure to interview you. I want you to know as well, that we will be including this interview online and in our next issue of Guitar Thrills Magazine. I would like to interview you soon. We must keep in touch. Would you be interested in another interview?

BRIAN: Yes, thank you. So excited to be featured in the magazine. Another interview would be great! I rarely get to talk about all of this stuff.

Since things are wrapping up with Candlebox after this tour cycle, I’ll hopefully be able to chat about whatever new project lies ahead for me. Par for the course for a hired gun. “Have guitar, will travel.” (laughs). For now, I’m just enjoying this wonderful ride I’m on.

 

GT: Awesome. Thank you so much. We wish you continued success in all your endeavors.

BRIAN: Thank you. Much appreciated. Had a blast chatting with you! Be well.

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