Q&A Scene: Guitarists’ Special: Nick Johnston

Melbourne Guitar Show

Leading up to the Melbourne Guitar Show, What’s My Scene will be celebrating GUITARISTSStay tuned for our exclusive Q&As, Vintage Guitar Scenes, Snap Scene features, and much much more.

Nick Johnston answers our questions:

How long have you been playing guitar? Why did you first start playing guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. Which means I’ve been playing for 16 years now. I started playing because the family that had recently moved in next door to me had a son and he played guitar. I used to hear him playing from his basement window. One day I worked up the courage to go and ask If I could watch him play. He said yes. That was all it took.

Which guitarists most influenced your playing?

My biggest guitar-playing influences have been Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen and Jeff Beck for over 15 years. I sound nothing like those guys, but I’m massively influenced by them.

Describe your favourite guitar.

I have a signature custom shop guitar with Schecter, and it is truly my dream guitar. The weight, shape, feel and sound of it are exactly what I’ve been after for many years. It’s an S type guitar with a wedge neck/ebony fretboard, true single coil pickups and an alder body. I love it!

How do you prepare for a show?

At this point, I just try and enjoy each show and not overthink it too much. Of course, I practice and rehearse with the band, but other than that, I just try and have fun. I don’t have any rituals. In fact, outside of soundcheck, I don’t play guitar backstage. My guitar stays on stage after soundcheck. I find that warming-up or practicing before going on oo much puts me in a weird headspace.

Which artist/band was/is your favourite to play guitar with?

My favourite band to play with is made up of the same group of guys I’ve been playing with since high school. It’s always a blast playing with those guys. So many good memories too. It doesn’t happen much these days, as everyone has different priorities in their adult lives, but when it does, it’s really special to me.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

My sound is like a stir-fry. All sorts of ingredients throw in a pan to create something different. Sometimes it’s delicious, sometimes it’s a bit off. I never really follow a ‘recipe’ with my playing and music. I kind of just go for it and see what happens!

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

I accidentally incited a riot at a university in China. There was a group of students blocking a few older attendants view of the stage, and they didn’t like that. The proceeded to throw some trash at the students, an act which they believed would make the students move. However, the students thought some other students did this which started a chain reaction. Apparently, there were a couple rival gangs at this school, and one gang blamed another gang for hurling garbage at them. The next thing I new, the entire crowd rushed outside and had a full out brawl. Afterwards, I went out to see the aftermath and there was blood everywhere and for some reason, a crashed car where they were fighting. It got pretty out of hand. All the while, I was playing my guitar.

What, or who, inspires you?

Books, movies, music, life, travelling, food. All of these things inspire me. I had some health issues over the past year which really put things into perspective for me. I just try and enjoy my life and see where that takes me. That provides all the inspiration I could ever ask for.

Which song do you wish you wrote the riff for?

I’m going to go with something a little different. I wish I was capable of writing something as cool and stylized as the prelude from the ‘Pyscho’ soundtrack. Bernard Herrmann is my all-time favourite film composer. I listen to his work and think, ‘That’s what I’d like to be able to do!’.

If you had unlimited money, what would your dream guitar setup be?

I have zero interest in building a big rig. I’ve got a good amp and a guitar. I’m set! I’d probably put the money towards my next album production!

What’s next for you?

Lots and lots and lots of touring. The second half of 2017 is completely slammed with tours. Which is really exciting. I’m also writing a new instrumental record. So basically, more of the same! Can’t complain.

What is the best thing about the Melbourne Guitar Show this August? 

For me, getting to visit the show! I’ve never been, and I can’t wait to check it out and meet lots of cool people. Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world, and that’s a huge plus!

It was big in 2015, huge in 2016, and today the Australian Music Association has announced the 2017 return of the Melbourne Guitar Show to rock Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6 – and this year, it’ll be bigger than ever.  Proudly presented by Triple M and Australian Musician, the line-up boasts not only an incredible haul of local guitarists, but also massive international artists – UK’s legendary Steve Hackett (Genesis), Canada’s renowned Nick Johnston and UK superstar Alex Hutchings.  

In addition to some killer performances, MGS will also hold a monster exhibition that will feature a gigantic variety of electric and acoustic guitars, effects pedals, amps and more state-of-the-art guitar technology, both home-grown and from around the world.  It will continue to be Australia’s biggest guitar pop-up shop…and that’s not all.  In addition to this, the Melbourne Guitar Show will host information seminars, demonstrations, and live performances from Australia’s most talented guitarists, including: Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles and Bob Spencer with many more to be announced.

This year will be extra special as the Melbourne Guitar Show welcomes UK guitar royalty, namely, the original Genesis guitarist and successful solo artist in his own right, Steve Hackett, in a very special premium ticketed event.  Hackett will be touring Australia for the very first time with his lavish Genesis Revisited tour, playing classic Genesis prog-rock tunes as well as selected material from his 25 solo albums.  For the Melbourne Guitar Show however, in a more eclectic and informal setting, Steve will play an exclusive up close and personal acoustic-based show featuring musical director Roger King on keyboards and woodwind/ brass virtuoso Rob Townshend.  This will be the only Australian performance by the Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio.Genesis, only ever made it to Australia once, in 1986 – years after Steve and singer Peter Gabriel left the band, so Steve is making it up to fans by bringing some Genesis magic to our shores.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for long serving Genesis fans and aficionados of 70s prog-rock.  Steve will also participate in an onstage Q&A session following his guitar show performance. Excited about the upcoming tour, Steve says, “I’m thrilled to bring my Genesis Revisited tour to Australia.  I’ll be playing there for the first time and I’m hugely looking forward to it!  It’ll be great to meet fans and friends, and I know it’s an incredibly beautiful country.  I can’t wait!”

Another star joining the stacked line-up is the Canadian guitar virtuoso Nick Johnston.  Known for his catchy, melody-driven instrumental music Nick has been able to carve out his own unique style within a crowded landscape of instrumental guitarists.  Nick’s playing has attracted sponsorship from massive international brands including Friedman Amps, D’Addario and Schecter Guitars.  Also on board this year, we welcome world-renowned guitarist Alex Hutchings (UK), a modern fusion guitarist par extraordinaire, lauded by many as one of the finest players in the genre.  His international following has exploded in recent years thanks to millions of YouTube views via both his own channel and JamTrackCentral (alongside such contemporaries such as Guthrie Govan, Andy James and Jack Thammerat). Regularly touring around the globe, Alex performs under his own name and as an international demonstrator for BOSS/Roland.

Drawing over 5,500 guitar lovers and enthusiasts to last year’s exhibit, the Melbourne Guitar Show is gearing up for the biggest event yet.  The voice of the Australian music products industry, the Australian Music Association (AMA) will be teaming up with Australianmusician.com.au and presenting sponsors Triple M and Aon to present this year’s guitar-centric weekend.  “We are looking forward to a show this year that builds steadily based on the merit and popularity of the first two and on the presentation of the best people we can find”, says AMA executive officer and MGS organiser, Rob Walker.  Not only will the 2017 MGS provide a hands-on chance to see, hear and play a broad range of the world’s favourite brands, it will also see exhibitors offering great show deals, plus an opportunity to get close to some hand-crafted, locally made instruments and epic guitar and gear collections.  Describing the exciting developments, Rob continues, “We will have more exhibitors this year, as well as bigger stand presentations by many brands.  We are in discussions with an increasing list of players who want to be a part of it, so we are sure this show will provide great value for guitar enthusiasts once again.”

The first artist line up announcement includes: Steve Hackett (UK), Nick Johnston (Canada), Alex Hutchings (UK), Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles, Bob Spencer, Shannon Bourne, Lloyd Spiegel, James Ryan and many more to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Melbourne Guitar Show will be held at Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6.  

Tickets are on sale now!

Online ticket prices when pre-ordered:: Adult day pass $20, adult weekend pass $30, family day pass  $35, concession day pass $10, concession weekend pass $15, premium ticket** $40

**Premium tickets include admission to Steve Hackett show – limited tickets available







About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.