Gareth Pearson Interview
Every so often a musician comes along who grabs your attention. Someone who stands out from the crowd through their talent and their ambition and restores your faith in music. Two years ago I sat at a festival campsite and watched a young guitarist named Gareth Pearson who fitted that description. I caught up with him before his show at Bar 1:22 in Huddersfield.
Four years ago 14 year old Gareth was sat at home when his father put on a video of Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. 'It really hit me, his finger picking style, the way he approached it, he was playing country music like rock music. When I saw him play it inspired me.' explains the now 18 year old from South Wales, 'Not long after that I begged my dad, I said I wanted a guitar. He bought it for himself thinking that I wouldn't play it but the plan backfired because I ended up playing it 24 hours a day.'
Since that day Gareth has not looked back. He knew from that moment that he wanted to become a professional musician, 'I thought 'I've got to get the work, I've got to realise what I have to do in order to be able to play concerts for people and make money so I can live of that'' he admits. His ambition to succeed in his dream is second to none. His progress is nothing short of phenomenal. After five months of playing he was taking part in open mic nights, folk clubs and guitar clubs, 'I really put a lot of work into it' he admits, 'If you've got a graph of where I picked up the guitar and schoolwork it shoots down! I really did love [the performing]. Hanging out with people older than me. I never really hung out with people my own age. All I really cared about was getting ready for playing folk clubs. I was completely focused.'
A year later he was playing support slots for various artists including his inspiration Tommy Emmanuel. Gareth cannot hide his pride when discussing it, 'he was my inspiration and now I was playing with him. I remember when I was 16, I was opening for [him] and he saw me on stage and was so chuffed to see a Welsh kid play Chet Atkins music. He recommended me and I ended up playing the Chet Atkins Appreciation society in Nashville.'
The trip only fuelled Gareth's ambition but he returned to Wales knowing he would have to cut down on his guitar practice. 'I came back and was playing 14 hours a day' he explains 'the next thing you know I had to go back to sixth form and I didn't want to do it. I went to sixth form but that didn't really work out because all I could think about was music. What I was doing was going to college, coming back and trying to make up the 14 hours of practice after 7 hours of school which I actually did for two days and got myself ill. My parents thought it was best to pull me out of school, I didn't know what lessons I was going to half the time! A couple of days after I dropped out I got a phone call to support Ray Davies of the Kinks which was a big weight off my shoulders. Since then I've been alright. For the last year I've been a professional musician. It's kind of working out now, at last!'