Interview with Guitarist and Instrumental Musician Ronny North
Joseph Timmons: Xombiewoof Magazine
I first saw Ronny a year ago. His name was not unknown to me, but I had no history of him nor was I familiar with his sound. Then, at NAMM 2013 in Anaheim, I saw North perform to a crowded house. From the moment the amp started to hum to the last ear splitting tone of the green machine he is known for, it was an experience. The audience was wild with delight. I was blown away.
Ronny North first became interested in music at age 13, when, a young and athletic skateboard enthusiast, he went to a KISS concert and instantly found his calling. Within days, Ronny got his first guitar. Within a year, he was playing on stage, performing in the same clubs as his inspirations. Primarily an instrumental artist, Ronny North has worked with numerous musicians and graced many stages across the entire USA with his genius performances. His hypnotic and melodic style, widely popularized by artists such as Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen, has a unique flavor all of its own. That performance I saw at NAMM was not his first time there: he is a standard that convention attendees and public fans come to see there every year, since he started attending the event in 1989. With packed shows at NAMM and in the local clubs, Ronny North has a loyal following, which makes him a huge success and, consequently, a very busy person.
When I picked up the phone to call Ronny North for this interview, I was not sure how well it would go: in my experience, interviewing LA Rock Musicians can be a bit overwhelming and normally tends to turn into a “ME”-fest. Not this time, however: from the first moment on, I was in for a surprise, for Ronny North is not the norm, in any sense of the word. When connected, I found myself talking not to a “Los Angeles dipped in glamour icon,” but to a warm and personable human being. With fame in abundance, he does not allow it to affect his priorities, the most important of them always being music. For the first time for me, the phone interview took a turn I did not expect: at some point, I was no longer asking him questions, but found myself answering his – about my likes, dislikes and, most of all, my opinions on music. It was like talking to an old friend… except we have just met.
During our talk, Ronny shared his experience of being an LA musician. Living in Lost Angeles is not without its troubles for musicians. With LA’s “Pay to Play” mentality even the most talented have problems booking paying gigs. But for Ronny, it’s not about the money. It’s all about the show, the energy, the love of his music. “The scene is hard and low, bands need to really work it hard, clubs are closing and tickets are getting too high. It’s the nature of the beast”, he says. In this environment, Ronny North follows his calling, playing gig after gig, making sure nobody misses the chance to hear him.
Ronny North’s live band consists of key members Johnny Zell on Bass and Dave Goode on Drums. For the production of his recent release, his newest album Inertia, the Drum tracks were played by Charles Wiley. Ronny also played Bass on some of the songs alongside Johnny for an added depth. The CD was engineered by Ronny North in his own studio (NBN Studios) and mixed/mastered by Jim DeCicco at Pyram Axis Studios in Redondo Beach, California. Ronny especially mentioned credits to the cover art, created by his longtime friend, artist Todd Thompson. He adds, “It is my favorite CD cover because of all the detail and hidden images in the cover and pull out sleeve.”
Originally a digital only release concept, the album Inertia did so well, the physical CD was added to the offerings and will be released very shortly.
During our interview conversation, here are some of the questions that Ronny answered:
Q: Your look, like your music, is original and very unique. How does your stage persona differ from your daily life personality, or are they one and the same?
Ronny: (light hearted chuckle) Welcome to LA, man! I am my persona, you need that in LA, you have to be yourself and feel free to express it. I dye my hair and paint my nails, I live the life, but it’s all real and it’s all me.
Q: What were some of your influences, and do you feel you have any special familiarity with the artists you appreciate?
Ronny: There are many artists who I would say are an inspiration, and I look to being an inspiration to others. I feel blessed to have worked with so many great people. An example: I went to dinner at the Rainbow with some executives in the music industry, and after a moment I looked up – and Rikki Rockett was standing at the end of my table. In an environment that is so tightly wound you treasure those that support you and you recognize each and every one for who they are and what they mean to you. In the real world there is a bond between LA musicians that are a great support.
At this point I mention to him the quote made by vocalist and musician Neil Turbin of the band Deathriders, to get his unprepared reaction.
"Ronny North is a Shredding Green Machine"
"Ronny North is the hardest working shredder in guitar business. His dynamic guitar playing is incredibly melodic and super tasty yet masterful without overplaying. Considering he plays instrumental guitar music, this is quite an accomplishment. He is constantly on the go and sometimes performs many numerous gigs and venues in a single day, weekend or for weeks straight, zipping all across the map. Ronny is always Rockin’ his green North guitar somewhere”.
“Ronny is a one hell of a kickass guitarist and fun to watch”.
Ronny: WOW! Neil said that, he’s one that I look up to! He has been a great friend and support to me over the years.
Q: I won’t compare you with other artists, but your instrumental style is Vibrant and Harmonic, when many other artists are going for Dark and Foreboding. Was this by choice or chance?
Ronny: I have been really lucky when writing. I take from experience and let the music flow naturally and see what happens. I have to say that it’s not all me - I have so many people to thank for my success - and it is all teamwork. I want to thank my assistant Karen for keeping it all organized (I definitely couldn’t do it without her for sure) and all my fans and sponsors for all their support. I definitely need to thank Neil for his comment, man that’s really cool of him.
Q: Your album Inertia – will this release be supported by a tour? If so, who will be involved?
Ronny: Yes, a supporting tour will be coming, but I don’t have the details ready for the public. I am also working on some additional projects. I am doing music and the score for a cartoon TV show called Rod Kingz, - well, doing the music and possibly a voice over for a character. There is also going to be a Video Game for a major release that my music will be in. I do a lot of charity work and music clinics in local schools, as well as lots of shows and some guitar clinics coming up for Peerless Guitars, as well as for a few of my other sponsors later this summer. I find my time is so tuned in, and everything is all coming together, - too busy!
Q: The song and title track from your upcoming release that you shared with me – “Inertia” – has Middle Eastern flavor synchronized with sound of rock and roll notes. You must have worked hard to get it to sound so good. Would you care to elaborate on your idea for this piece?
Ronny: Again with the details (another chuckle), oh man, I don’t know, it just comes to me, I play it all and it just flows out, like the air that I breathe. It’s hard work, but life hands me the notes, I just put them together.
Q: Who, out of many people you have worked with, would you like to tour with, given the chance, and where would your gig of a lifetime be?
Ronny: I want to open for KISS, which would be awesome. As far as places to play, I would like to perform at Madison Square Garden or somewhere in Japan.
Q: What’s next for Ronny North, what’s the next wild ride?
At a time when artists fall prey to their egos or to music companies that make stars who rise quickly and fade just as quick, Ronny North is here for the long haul, playing his entrancing rhythms for the people. Despite his accolades and a long list of endorsers, he retains the humble nature of an Eagle Scout, taking time to work in his community, supporting charities, and staying true to himself – a hard-working artist truly worthy of his supporters.
Ronny North’s album Inertia is available now as a download on I-Tunes and CD Baby, available on CD soon. For info on all things Ronny North go to www.ronnynorth.com. Also, check out his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ronny.north and his YouTube Channel that is being developed now.
As a special treat, Ronny North has given me 2 musical tracks to share with Xombiewoof Readers and Followers: The Title Track from his forthcoming CD Inertia and a previously and very rare track Rocket Ride, with Vocals by Neil Turbin of Deathriders. These Tracks will only be available for download until the end of September 2013, and then links will be closed.
To download tracks, right click on link and select “Save As” and save to your desktop.
Inertia: Ronny North guitars, Johnny Zell bass, Charles Wiley drums, written, produced and engineered by Ronny North
Rocket Ride written by Ace Frehley , Ronny North guitars , bass Johnny Zell, drums Scott Palacios , vocals Neil Turbin produced and engineered by Ronny North , mixed , mastered and co produced by Scott Palacios