Ronnie Main – husband, father, guitarist, retail mogul!
So tell me…are you really Scottish or is it something you do to pick up chicks?
Ha, the accent is totally legit. I’ve had it for quite some time. It only works over here in the states, it worked on my missus.
You have an interesting story. Tell me a little bit about how you came to Houston from Scotland, how you met your wife.
Great story, if you ask me. We actually met in an MSN chat room for alternative music (back when that was cool). I didn’t know anyone with the name “Renee” and I decided to talk to her. Several back and forth messages, emails, care packages etc over time and I pestered her into loving me. I decided to move here once we got married because she was still in school.
Once you arrived in Houston, what was and is your impression of the local music scene? Do you feel it has changed at all since then? If so, how?
In all honesty, I wasn’t fully in the scene when I arrived. It wasn’t until after I started working at Guitar Center that I began to get more involved and more so once I joined a band. There’s a huge array of talent here and different styles/genres of music to choose from. If you’re into something you can definitely find it in Houston. As a musician it’s tough to break through in any city and Houston is no different. However there are some great avenues. It’s definitely grown over the years with the introduction to social media but, the musician is still definitely underappreciated and underpaid for the efforts put forth.
Tell me about your musical projects? How did you go about meeting musicians after arriving in Houston?
I tried the site like houstonbands.net at first and met with a few folks but none of them every really panned out…just never clicked and as you know chemistry is a huge part. I did eventually get together with a few folks and it first happened a GC. I was playing something i write and a Patrick (my drummer) overheard and we got to talking. I honestly blew him off for a few months until I saw him again while eating dinner. We met up at GC again and I played him a few things then we set up a jam with a few of his friends. That jam later turned into Raging Apathy. I’ve played with 3 bass players, four singers and two guitar players in that group but the foundation was always Patrick and myself.
As far as any other projects goes it’s only ever been my own writing.
You’re the general manager of Guitar Center North Houston. Tell me about your career, how Guitar Center fits into the local scene and what you do to make sure you stay grounded in the local scene despite the company being such a large national chain.
I’ve worked at almost every store in Houston now but I started in Clear Lake. Almost all of us are musicians and we love talking about gear. I personally love talking about gear! GC has given us a place to enjoy and freely test out the equipment we all want before we buy it and without the hassle. In the scene you’re always known as the “guitar center guy”, which is quit funny.
What inspired you to play? You have a very unique approach to both acoustic and electric guitar. Tell me a little about what and who shaped your style?
My uncle had a guitar so I’ve always been around it as I grew up but I never really touched it other than accidentally breaking a string. My first concert was Guns n Roses in 1992. Slash came down to the front of the crowd while playing and I reached out and touched his shoulder as he walked past. I always joke that this was the moment, but that concert started me down a path I wouldn’t change. We arrived home from the show the next morning and I asked my uncle to show me some chords. I taught myself from books, watching MTV unplugged sessions and crudely written sheets with song chords. So, my first influence would be by uncle, then Slash. His style has definitely shaped my own over the years. I learned what I could form songs and bands that I loved.
Best local band out there right now?
That’s honestly a tough question. My ego says my own, while we were active. There are a lot of excellent talent in Houston and I couldn’t choose one in particular.
Best local venue out there right now?
House of blues has to be the best mid size venue in Houston. I love the layout and the sound system there. I also love Scout bar. It is a great stage, great lights and great sound system. The owner knows the struggle of being in a band and shows some great appreciation to the local acts by giving them the chance to get out there and even play with national acts.
With social network being what it is and there being so much content out there from big bands and aspiring players out there on youtube, soundcloud and every other site, how can a musician help themselves cut through the noise and connect with their audience? How can they distinguish themselves rather than passively hoping their music gets noticed? How do they get beyond their friends and families to strangers who will come out to see them, click their tracks and download their music?
Sometimes having a gimmick can help, but I am a strong beleiver in having great music and a very hard working attitude. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. Get yourself out there, spend the money on a quality product and get your music to as many people as possible. It’s a lot easier to get your music out there these days but it’s a lot tougher to “make it”.
Most important advice you can give to an aspiring musician? He’s just learning to play, just getting started writing songs and riffs…
Work hard, simple as that. It’s not easy, but if you work hard at learning your instrument and using the tools at your disposal, it’ll pay off.
Essential gear for a guitarist? (Here’s your chance to get some folks out to GC North Houston!)
Quality instruments. It pays to have a good guitar, good cables or a good pedal. Save up for what you really want. It took me a long time to get my Les Paul, but it was well worth the wait.
What are the benefits to going to a studio compared to recording everything on your ipad or on your own home computer? (Here’s your chance to get some folks to Cathedral Records haha)
It takes a good ear and years of experience to put out a good product. Let the engineer you’re paying for worry about how to get that guitar part to fit with the vocals, you need to worry about the music. Also, sometimes having a producer is very helpful with the unbiased outside perspective.
Beatles or Stones? (You know I had to ask haha)