Your Lore Chapter 5: Scott Metzger
Your Lore Chapter 5: Scott Metzger
Having lived in NYC I had heard Scott Metzger’s name for years but had not crossed paths with him for one reason or another until about five years ago. A funny story that Scott doesn’t know is that I was looking for a guitar player for a gig around that time and Jason Crosby suggested Scott. I went on his website and listened to some tunes (note this was before JRAD) and I had a hard time telling what his “thing” was. As you’ll see below I was not just being a dolt (although I have that propensity) It turns out Scott doesn’t have “A THING” he has many. I remember saying to Jason “he sounds amazing but does he speak jamband” After seeing Scott perform with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead in front of 30,000 people losing their minds I think its safe to say he does. That said of all the material below the video that blew me away the most is Scott playing and singing Richard Thompson. It gave me the chills. In any event in April of 2013 Assembly of Dust was playing the Bowery in NYC and Crosby asked Scott if he would sit in for a tune. He sat in alright - he and Adam Terrell where practically humping each other with their guitars. Buuuulazing version of Second Song below. Needless to say he and I were fast friends and have played together several times since. Scott’s star is aflame musically as he continues to melt faces with his bros in JRAD and a plethora of projects. Beyond his genius level talent, his freakish professionalism and his amazing success what I’m struck by most about Scott is…. wait for it... He’s a great dude. The cliche spinal tap notion of musicians is that they are by default self involved narcissistic dbags and believe me many of them are (note, I occasionally do find myself yearning to experiment with the mani pedi) The truth is I find the most talented players are often also the most gracious - Scott checks the box on both. Congrats to Mr Metzger on a heroic few years and more to come. With that I bring you Scott Metzger on the lead rock guitar... -Reid
Reid: I know you’ve played in or with a zillion bands and artists- to name a few JRAD, WOLF!, Amfibian, Scott Metzger Solo Acoustic, The Showdown Kids. How did you meet Tom Marshall and come to be in Amfibian?
Scott: I was playing in a coffee shop, Small World Coffee, in Princeton, NJ with a bass/drums/trio called F-Hole. We made a few records. This was '97 or '98. The bassist, Matt Kohut, had gone to school with Tom and invited him out to the gig. I think to his surprise, Tom not only showed up, but brought Trey with him. After the set Trey and I went outside and talked for a bit, just the two of us (we had to fight through the crowd - he couldn't walk two feet without someone asking for a picture or autograph), about some real guitar nerd stuff. What kinds of pickups we liked, what guitarists we were listening to at the time. When we went back in and sat down with Tom, Trey looked at him and said something to the affect of "this is your guy." Turns out Tom was putting together Amfibian at the time and still needed a lead guitarist. So that gig was sort of my audition, though I didn't know it?
Reid: You’re primarily known as a guitarist. Do you play any other instruments and what led you to guitar as the “go to”?
Scott: I play pedal steel, some - mostly just for fun. I love the sound of the steel so much. When it's played properly it's an incredible sound. And I love playing bass, but only in the company of friends - never out in public. After having played saxophone from the third grade on, I picked up a guitar at 14. I knew immediately that this was the instrument for me. But those formative years of playing sax were really great for me - I have a good handle on music theory, can read music, etc because of that.
Reid: How did you learn to play guitar- Lessons. Self taught. School? All of the above?
Scott: All of the above. I started picking out stuff that I liked off of tapes & CD's by ear and eventually took lessons with some local teachers. I went to William Patterson University in Patterson, NJ for jazz studies, too. I studied with some INCREDIBLE teachers while I was there - Gene Bertoncini, Vic Juris, John Abercrombie, Peter Bernstein. These were all guys I took lessons from in varying degrees in that time, either at WPU or privately.
Reid: I know you’ve played with a gazillion bands and a trillion musicians. Who are a few that people might know and what’s 1 or 2 that stand out as epic?
Scott: Yeah, I've been all over the place. I've toured with grammy winning Gospel singer Mike Farris, I was in New Orleans favorite son Anders Osborne's band for a couple years, traditional country act Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon), punk band ring leader Ginger of UK's infamous the Wildhearts and Gene Ween's solo band. I did tours of Europe, Japan, & Australia with the incredibly talented Trixie Whitley and tons of gigs in between. I never said 'no' to a gig for years and years. They're all epic in their own way to me - I have a lot of stories, ha.
Reid: Do you have a preference- performing as a band leader, solo acoustic, a lead guitarist- or do you like the variety? How would you describe the difference in each role?
Scott: No preference - I get something out of doing all of it. I guess I like to wear different musical 'hats', so to speak. I like variety in general and I also like working with different groups of people since I learn different things from each of them. I'm just always trying to learn a little more each day. You have to know when to step up and fill a leader role, and when to hang back and just be a sideman guy and the difference between the two. There's an art to that.
Reid: I know you're a big Richard Thompson fan - what is it about his music that calls to you? I’ve seen you perform some of his material solo acoustic. Do you have a particular recording or video you like best?
Scott: My friend Chris Harford gave me a copy of 'I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight' in the winter of 2007. That was a REALLY important record to me. I still know every note of it. There's a live version of 'The Calvary Cross' at the end of the cd (a bonus track, I guess) that has a 7 minute guitar solo that was so lyrical and intense I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. It just keeps building & building in the most tasteful way. The intensity he plays with, and the fact that he never plays cliche 'guitar hero' licks are what really makes him stand out to me. He's a master musician, and, as you know, songwriter. His enormous catalogue has some of the smartest and most emotional songs that I know of in it.
Reid: What are a few musicians - good bad or ugly, your fans would be surprised you like?
Scott: I'm a HUGE Prince fan. I don't know why, but people are always surprised by that. I saw him 20+ times live. I don't know if I'll ever see anyone THAT special live again. Seeing that dude live was beyond description. I like Charlene a lot - I've never said that out loud though. Gene Ween turned me on to her. If you've never heard her, it's worth checking out. You'll probably hate it, but there's a lot of truth in her lyrics. Especially "I've never been to me." I'm an enormous fan of NRBQ, but that might not be that surprising. I like a lot of Chopin.
Reid: Do you believe it’s biophysically possible to get a good bagel outside of the greater NYC area?
Scott: A 'bagel' outside of New York. Is not a bagel. It sometimes looks like a bagel, but it never is. You can't trust em. They'll break your heart - I've been hurt before.