Everybody Loves Wiley Griffin: An Interview With One Amazing Guitarist
ZF: Where are you from? How and when did you start playing the guitar?
WG: I’m originally from Maplewood, New Jersey; A small town in the heart of Essex County. I started playing guitar at 10 years old. I had been listening to the Grateful Dead, Phish, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles for as long as I can remember. One day I was jamming out to a Phish tape playing air guitar in the mirror. My older brother caught me and said, “you know? Trey is the man, you should play guitar!”
I immediately asked my mom if I could get guitar lessons. She dropped what she was doing and said, “Get your jacket, we’re going to Milburn Music”. That day changed my life.
ZF: What kind of guitar do you play and why?
WG: I play an Ibanez GB 10 George Benson Signature Model. It’s a really great guitar. I really enjoy playing it because of its look, feel and tone. Anyone who plays it has a similar reaction, ‘it’s like butter.’
ZF: Who were your biggest musical influences as a teenager - Any specific bands/guitarists?
WG: There’s a lot. I was definitely very much into Wes Montgomery, Jerry Garcia, Trey Anastasio, Eric Krasno, Jimi Hendrix, & Jimmy Page in high school. At the time I would say I was really getting into Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae, Soul, Jazz, and ‘Experimental Music’. Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, D’angelo’s ‘Voodoo’, Soulive, Lettuce, Bob Marley, OutKast, Blackstar, Medeski Martin & Wood, Scofield, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker & Charles Mingus - those were among the music that I was experiencing and listening to daily.
ZF: What is your favorite style of music to play?
WG: THE GOOD KIND, pretty much anything that makes you feel. I’ve been really experimenting with genre within a given performance lately. At Disc Jam I started with an unreleased electronic beat “check my cloud out”, then played a solo acoustic version of the Phish song, ‘My Friend My Friend’. From there I had Sean and Adam from Teddy Midnight bring the bass and beats; segueing a duo version of the Disco Biscuits’ 'Little Shimmy in a Conga Line' into a live band trance fusion jam! - Big ups to my homie Eliot Kushner from Green Stop Sign on keyboards, him and Scott Hannay of Mister F crushed that set. I guess you can say improvisational music is my favorite ‘style’ of music to play. People can watch the Disc Jam set on MK Devo’s Page on YouTube!
ZF: Where's your favorite place to play? Where do you feel like you get the most love?
WG: I’ve been really enjoying playing the Northeast. So far in 2015 my main plays have been in Albany- Shouts to Anthony Slurff and Everything Under the Sun Productions - Also to my homie Liam Bancroft who hosted a really great Suicide Prevention benefit up there. New Haven, CT- I love Stella Blues and The Pacific Standard. Garcia’s in Port Chester, NY is like a home away from home. Jigs Music in Manchester, New Hampshire is always amazing. Last but certainly not least, my home girl Suzy Greenberg’s parties with her Phar Out Productions; she’s been throwing some really great events this year at the Outer Space in Hamden, CT. Be on the look out for their ‘luvaTHIS!’ private party this August.
ZF:I know that you put a lot of work into your old band MUN and now it's over, what's the next step for you? Are you in the works of forming a new band or joining an existing one?
WG: KODI is the new band.
ZF: For now, will you continue to do solo gigs throughout the northeast?
WG: YES! I’ll also be playing with my ‘side-project’ We’ll Meet In Our Dreams (STS9 Tribute).
ZF: As somebody who attends a lot of shows in and around the city, I've realized that you have a lot of fans and are well liked by most everybody, how does this make you feel?
WG: It is seriously the best feeling ever. My musician friends, music industry people, guitar students, friends, and fans all keep me humble and I’m very stoked to move onto the next step of my journey. With all my recent success, I’m more motivated than ever to get this show on the road.
ZF: Recently, what bands have impressed you the most? Is there a specific band that you feel is really locked in as a unit with constant progression?
WG: JRAD is mad decent. I’m also in love with the creativity that bands like Lespecial are bringing to the table. As far as consistent progression goes, Twiddle, Tauk, and Dopapod have been making major strides.
ZF: I know that you've sat in with a number of bands over the course of this past year, who are your favorite bands to play with? Who are three bands that you'd love to sit-in with that you haven't already?
WG: Sitting in with Twiddle over the years has been fun. People think I just started sitting in with them; the first time I sat in with them was in 2008, if I’m not mistaken. They’re good friends of mine and I have a lot respect for their music. I have also had a blast sitting in with Mister F, Formula 5 & Lespecial so far this year. There are a lot of bands that I would really like to sit in with! My top three would be The Werks, Kung Fu, and Dopapod.
ZF: As a musician, where do you hope to see yourself in one year? Are there any new projects brewing on the horizon?
WG: Hopefully I’ll be playing regularly and working on the craft. KODI is killing it right now; everything we’re writing is so different and super dope, I’m just really excited to see how it develops.
ZF: What festivals will you be at this year? What are some festivals that you would love to eventually play at in the future?
WG: Coming up I’ll be at Wild Woods Music Festival with both Wiley Griffin Acoustic (WGA for short) and We’ll Meet In Our Dreams. After that I have Catskill Chill with WGA! I’d really like to play all the major festivals, both big and small. We’re hoping 2016 will be a big year for KODI
ZF: Now that you're older, if you had to choose two guitarists that you’d try to model your playing after, who would they be?
WG: Yngwie Malmsteen and Prince
ZF: I know how passionate you are about guitar, can you tell us how much music means to you?
WG: I honestly don’t think there are words to describe what music really means to me. How does one describe something that can make you move uncontrollably while simultaneously experiencing an extreme range of emotions - all at the drop of the dime, the flick of the wrist, or the beat of a drum? Omnipotent? Music is divine in nature. To be honest, it’s my everything!