SEGAS interviews Johnny Hiland!

SEGAS: Did it ever occur to you to NOT play guitar because of your disability?

HILAND: No, guitar is just something I couldn’t live without… when I was two or three years old, I was always the little kid dancing around with a toy guitar.

SEGAS: What was it about guitars that drew you to them at such an early age?

HILAND: As a young boy, I was given my Granddad’s ’39 J-45 and I was instantly hooked… I pretty much used that guitar like Linus used his blanket … it was instantly obvious to my parents and my siblings that guitar was going to be a big part of my life. It all started from there.

SEGAS: How were you able to listen and be exposed to all different types of music growing up in Maine?

HILAND: My parents had an old 8 track tape player, us kids would dance around to the music.My Mom had some Bee Gees tapes, while my Dad had Skynrd, Blackfoot and the Outlaws. Then my Grandfather gave me an old bag full of country music 8 track tapes … I became a huge Don Williams and Merle Haggard fan at four years old! I first got on TV when I was seven, playing country music!

SEGAS: So, how did you end up in Nashville? Did you have a plan for how you were going to make a name for yourself?

HILAND: I had no plan … I was attending the University of Southern Maine, just to please my parents, honestly… But, what I was actually doing with the money that my parents were sending me for food and stuff, was buying gear like crazy. I was focused on my playing and thinking I would be a studio guitarist, since I felt that being legally blind would be a big hinderance on the road. So, when I turned 21, I said this was what I really wanted to do, and I quit school. My parents were really mad about that. So, a good friend of mine in my band at the time drove with me down to Nashville, and we just started hitting all the live music clubs on Broadway and stuff started happening for me pretty fast after that.

SEGAS: Currently, what’s your favorite guitar that you own?

HILAND: I have an Ice tea ‘burst Ernie Ball Silhouette with a birdseye maple neck that they actually enlarged the dots on the neck, so I can see them better. It’s really my favorite guitar now, I just can’t put it down …

SEGAS: Do you collect?

HILAND: I’d like to think I do … I currently own around 30 guitars. I have a few old acoustics that I just love. I know, people think “Johnny Hiland” and assume I’m an electric player. I have a ’39 Gibson J-45 that my GrandDad owned which is really cool. He used to play it on the radio back in the ’30′s, he went by the name Hike Hiland. I was partially named after him, but in High School everybody used to call me Eddy Van Hiland…

SEGAS: What qualities are most important to you in a guitar amplifier?

HILAND: I’m currently playing some old Music Man amps from the ’70′s.I really love the tone of those. The solid state preamp allows the amp to remain clean, which is what I’m going for. I have a pretty large pedal board, and it’s full. There’s alot of stuff on there that I use, so the amp has to be able to accept pedals well. Most people these days are doing the ‘Boutique Amp’ thing with 18 watts or less, but I’m the exact opposite… I’m looking for 100 to 150 watt amps! I don’t push them hard, so they stay cool and clean, even over a four hour gig which is pretty common in Nashville. Tube amps change their tone as they heat up, and can really change over a long gig.

SEGAS: So, what’s on the horizon for Johnny Hiland?

HILAND: I’m actually heading back to Ireland after my appearances at the Guitar Show at the end of September. I’ve really begun to experience the Irish love of Country Music and chicken pickin’. I did my first show there this past June, and I just absolutely love it over there. I’m going back to my country roots, and also working on a new album, called “Running and Gunning” that’s just bone country with more vocal tunes and some serious guitar on it!

September 13, 2010 in 2010,News | Comments (0)