Guitarist Richard Chambliss is one PRA Audio’s WiC enthusiasts in the Seattle area. Richard is known for skillful play on the 7-string guitar, and Joe Satriani and Steve Vai-inspired solos. Richard and his bassist brother, Cliff, formed Convergence to advance his progressive playing and song writing style.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your latest projects?
My band Convergence started four years ago. We are a five-piece band: vocals, keys, bass, guitar, and drums. My brother and I knew the singer and drummer in junior high – we just had never played together. Our style is a combination of progressive rock and really heavy, black metal. We just finished opening for Chris Jericho, and we just opened for Amorphis at El Corazon in Seattle.
What got you into music in the first place?
Neither of my parents play any musical instruments, so I never grew up with musicians. I have a little bit of a foundation in music education from school. I took formal lessons for about three years, and then I taught myself from there. I played sax for 3 years just to prove I was serious about music.
What was your first guitar?
It was a Hondo black and white Strat. I got it for Christmas, and I played it until I broke the neck (while I was practicing back bending).
Who were some of your influences?
Joe Satriani and John Petrucci, Dream Theatre. Growing up, I listened to R&B, but I had to learn about guitar players when I learned to play guitar. I actually switched to 7-string when I was twenty, because of John Petrucci on Dream Theatre’s album “Awake”.
How would you describe your own style?
I’m a sucker for melody. I like a lot of heavy riffs and big grooves.
What is it like being in a band with your twin brother?
Haha…um… It’s sort of a love-hate relationship. He’s an amazing player, and we get along well creatively. Being twins helps us be compatible, because we speak the same musical language. We started playing together when we were fifteen. We both started with guitar and finally we realized that if he switched to bass, we would have half a band! So, he switched. He won an international solo competition for bass when he was eighteen.
Do you play locally in Seattle/do you guys ever tour?
We primarily play at clubs and open for national acts.
Who writes the lyrics/music?
The band writes as a group. We usually come in with a starting idea. Then, we just jam on it and think of different ways to influence it. Everyone can bring up ideas for anyone else’s instruments. Everyone plays 7-string, so there’s no shortage of critiques. Sometimes, our ideas do clash. For example, there was a song we were trying to write, and in the middle of jamming, my brother and our drummer started grooving as a joke. Eventually, it turned into this crazy, jazz odyssey, and I really didn’t wanna use it.
What was your most memorable performance?
My most memorable show was probably when we opened for OTEP [touring, heavy-metal band from Las Angeles] at Studio 7 in Seattle. The crowd was massive; you know it’s going to be a big show when they are setting up guard rails in front of stage. There was amazing energy in the crowd. It was such a fun show to play.
I know you play the 7- string guitar, what guitar do you use?
I use an Ibanez with custom-built Terminator series setups from Mad Hatter electronics, DiMarzio pickups, and Transformer 53 on 2 guitars.
What effect does the 7-string plus down tuning accomplish?
Half of the songs I play are in standard tuning, but I also tune B down to A, because it helps with some chords and riffs.
What piece of gear do you never leave home without?
I never could leave home without Fractal Audio AX8. That, plus the WiC, sounds great… They’re basically meant to go together.
Can you tell me a little about your experience with the WiC?
My brother and I both play wirelessly. With the shows we are playing, you have to be quick on the setup and tear down. Everything you need is already there in the wireless: holster, batteries, and cables. You wouldn’t think it’s a big deal to have that holster, but it is.
What’s coming up in the near future with the band?
Our singer is moving to Boston, so he’s leaving after the show on Thursday, but we found a new singer with a similar range who we are going to audition.
As a woman, I always wondered if the “screamo” death growl is as painful as it sounds?
No, the screamo voice actually isn’t painful. You just have to relax your vocal chords and let the wind carry it… Like this, “Grrrrrrrrshooooooowoowwwssshhhh” [Richard proceeded to demonstrate his death growl for me – flawlessly, might I add.] At least that’s how I think you spell it.