Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed of being part of your favorite band? Well, some parents on the Eastside have a shot at that dream so long as they don’t mind living vicariously through their children.
“I started paying guitar around 11, just because I thought it was super cool; I was into Kiss. I just wanted to make that guitar sound like what I heard on the record,” said Davey French of Everclear fame. “I bought a $40 pawn shop guitar, brought it home, had no amp, plugged it into the stereo, and it sounded horrible. I was like, ‘how do they do this?’ I was obsessed with how they made that sound.”
French went from garage bands in Bellevue, to becoming the lead guitarist for Everclear. He’s been touring with the band for years. But today, he’s married with a 12-year-old son and lives in a quiet Snoqualmie community.
“I just fell in love with the scenery and the people,” French said. “I’m on the road a lot, but when I’m home, I love to be here.”
French said he’s been playing guitar eight hours a day for as long as he can remember. When he’s not on the road, he’s sharing his musical gift with the next generation. He teaches guitar lessons from his Snoqualmie studio right across Railroad Avenue from the old train station.
Anytime I have a guitar in my hands, I’m happy,” he said. “And the more you can get it into your hands the better you are going to become. It helps me. I actually learn, because people bring in different things that challenge me. And I love seeing the progress the kids make. Some kids are not real confident, but once they get something and ‘Wow, it’s starting to sound like what I hear on the radio,’ or ‘I can play that chord now,’ I love to see their confidence just jump. That makes me feel really good.”
French admits that guitar has always come easy to him, but he says it also took a lot of hard work, and a little luck, to play with bands like Everclear, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, and Stone Temple Pilots.
“It’s just easier for some people than other people, but that doesn’t mean that people who struggle with it in the beginning won’t turn out to be great guitar players,” French said. “I know one kid, I taught him, he lives in the neighborhood and I really thought he was struggling a bit. Then I had another guy who was just a natural. The natural didn’t practice, the kid who was struggling did, and now he’s just amazing. Today, he’s just amazing … It just shows you hard work overcomes lack of ability.”
French’s son Preston has also picked up the guitar. He’s interested in starting his own band. Of course, French offered to set it up.
“I’m still cool, but I don’t think that’s going to last much longer,” French said. “I’ll take being cool as long as I can. Because once you reach a certain age, dads just aren’t cool.”
French is looking for kids aged 10 to 13 years old. Just like the old garage days, he’s not expecting perfection.
“Really, it’s just about being able to get through a song, mentally knowing the arrangement; if you are a vocalist, memorizing the words, just getting through it,” he said. “Doing it just the way I grew up. Get a bunch of guys, you got a guitar, you’re in the band. You got a bass, you got an amp, you’re in the band.”
And even Preston doesn’t get a free ticket to ride.
“If you don’t work hard, there’s always someone right behind you who is glad to take your place,” French said. “He’s got to audition just like everybody.”
As for the music the new band will play, French says it probably won’t be easy listening. Beyond that, it’s up to the kids.
“I’m going to let them pick some of the songs,” French said. “Of course their parents have to be OK with it; no swearing, no bad lyrics and stuff. But it’s got to rock. Kids love AC/DC I find, Green Day; just that easy pop-rock stuff. Not too challenging, but once you get into it, it’s harder than you think.”