12 March 2014 (released)
12 March 2014
Just ahead of his UK tour Music News caught up with guitarist Andy McKee.
The interview is conducted by Colin Besley on behalf of David Spencer. Tour dates are below.
Even if you’re not a fan of acoustic guitar, you cannot help but be impressed with what Andy McKee produces and the way he does it.
He has developed his style by plucking, strumming and tapping the strings and body of the guitar to become one of the world’s best instrumental soloists.
“When I was sixteen year’s old I saw a guitarist named Preston Reed who was doing just really amazing stuff with the acoustic guitar, using altered tuning and using different techniques that I’d never seen before. It just really amazed me and made me want to check out the acoustic guitar, having played mostly electric guitar before that. The way he covered harmony, melody and rhythm all at once I just thought it was fantastic and want to try it myself.”
Andy became one of the first big You Tube sensations when a video of his performance of Drifting picked up more and more hits – and now has more than a hundred million views.
“We didn’t have any big expectations or anything. It was back in 2006 and You Tube was fairly new at the time. Within a month Drifting was featured on the front page of You Tube and people were linking to it and sharing it and it was just amazing to see it keep going an going – and is still going. We hoped that fans of instrumental acoustic guitar would pick it up but the way it’s crossed over to people who maybe didn’t even know about the genre is amazing. It’s really changed my life. I was just a guitar teacher back then and it gave me the opportunity to go and perform all over the world. One of the first things was coming to the UK and opening for Tommy Emmanuel, which was a huge honour. It’s been crazy. I still can’t believe it sometimes.”
Andy performs original material as well as covers, including versions of 80s hits Africa and Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
“I’ve always enjoyed trying to do arrangements for solo acoustic guitars - I’m considering singing as well at some point! I’ve got a new EP coming out entitled Mythmaker and the theme behind it is creativity. As well as acoustic guitar, I’ve got a solo piano piece that I wrote and performed as well as electric guitar.”
As someone who is learning the guitar myself, it’s easy to see why Andy’s held in such high regard by everyone from guitar aficionados to people who just appreciate guitar music.
“I guess the biggest thing about what I do is that it’s just kinda different but most guitar players can pick up some of my songs. It’s just a few different techniques to figure out. I hope that my bigger appeal is the music that I actually write using these techniques. I think people connect with what I’m doing melodically and that’s why it’s had a bit of staying power and how I’ve been able to turn it into a bit of a career and perform and meet people. It’s mind-blowing that someone has even named their daughter after one of my tunes, Rylnn. When I wrote it I dedicated to a friend of mine who had a daughter of that name.”
Andy’s back on tour in the UK for the first time since 2012, when he was part of the Guitar Masters Tour alongside Preston Reed and Jon Gomm. It begins and ends in London, opening with a show at the intimate Tabanacle and finishing up at the larger Union Chapel.
“I’m excited to be doing a solo show. I’ll be doing some of the big You Tube numbers and some new music too from the EP, as well as incorporating some of my lesser-known tunes that I really haven’t done much on tour for people to hear live.”
2014 looks like being another busy year for Andy.
“I’ll be home for April for mine and my son’s birthdays and then I’m going to Israel, France, Greece, some stuff in South America and Canada - so hitting it hard with touring and performing”.
Andy’s music is definitely worth exploring – after all, 100 million views can’t be wrong!
Tues 11th March London The Tabernacle
Weds 12th March Brighton St George’s
Thurs 13th March Bath Komedia
Fri 14th March Wimborne The Tivoli
Sat 15th March Birmingham Town Hall
Sun 16th March Cardiff Glee Club
Weds 19th March Manchester RNCM
Thurs 20th March Leeds City Varieties
Fri 21st March Clithero The Grand
Sat 22nd March Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
Sun 23rd March Glasgow Òran Mór
Tues 25th March Edinburgh Pleasance Theatre
Weds 26th March Gateshead Sage 2
Fri 28th March Derby Derby Live
Sat 29th March Cambridge Junction
Sun 30th March London Union Chapel