My pedalboard breakthrough ... or lack there of

  This is an interesting post for me to write because of how I am defining breakthrough. So let me make it clear for you all what I mean by breakthrough. For the last year my pedalboard has not changed. I know .... mind blown 🤯. In reality that doesn't sound like much, but for me it is a big deal. I have spent A LOT of time on my pedalboard. I have gone through probably around 50-70 different pedals, almost 10 different pedalboards, and over a dozen guitars all in that never ending chase for tone. But this last year has been different. I have spent more time diving into my playing and less into my pedals. I have tried to improve how I fit into a band, recording, etc, with what I play more than my tone. I am very fortunate that when it comes to worship music, I can replicate a majority of the sounds in worship albums today. You need me to sound like Bethel, piece of cake. Need me to sound like The Belonging Co, well let me pull out my strat and add some chorus for songs like "Beautiful Story". I have learned a lot when it comes to tone, and it is helpful, but learning to play with your bandmates is even more important. I don't care how incredible your tone is, if you don't learn to blend with your bandmates then the overall sound of the group will suffer. I had a couple friends of mine who were very complimentary, explaining to me that I do a very good job playing with a band. I won't go into a ton of detail, but I appreciated that compliment because it is something I have worked on. It is easy for musicians to get caught up in playing the cool part instead of the appropriate part. Sometimes the best thing to do is play a simple chord, swell, or even stop playing. I try to go into these sets with the mentality of supporting the group and picking my spots when to stand out. I still have a lot to learn there but I believe I have improved a lot over these last couple years. So I wanted to give a couple quick tips of what I have done to help myself improve, and I hope they help you too. 

1. Lower yourself in your monitor mix

This may sound simple but it is a struggle for a lot of people. I was very big on hearing myself, and don't get me wrong, I still have myself pretty high in my mix. However I noticed when I pulled myself down in my monitor mix, that I heard a more realistic idea of what the audience is hearing, and how my guitar fit with the rest of the group. If you don't hear your bandmates, how will you know if you are clashing or enhancing the sound of the group??

2. Actively listen to your bandmates

There is a weird concept where you actually care about what your bandmates are playing. Too many bands/worship teams just do their own thing, play their part, and believe it will all magically come together. Does not work! Spend time listening to your bandmates, and I mean ACTIVELY listening! It is one thing to hear, and a completely different thing to actively listen. Don't assume they are playing the part you would play if you were the bass player, keys player, etc. Take the time to communicate with your bandmates during rehearsals. I find myself more than ever communicating with my bandmates between songs or even during songs and adjusting accordingly if needed. 

3. Get rid of your ego!!

I can't stress this enough. It is very easy to get a big ego being on stage week after week. But if you go in there with the right attitude, then you will vastly improve the overall sound in your group. If you are a member of a worship team, remember the reason you are there. You are not there just to play an instrument or sing, you are there to worship God and create an atmosphere where others can worship God. If you are in a band, remember that you are there to support your band members. When you go in there with the attitude of "how can I support those around me?" the more likely you are to enhance the sound of your group. 

I don’t care how incredible your tone is, if you don’t learn to blend with your bandmates then the overall sound of the group will suffer

 

 

HSM Summer Camp 2018

  For the second year I was blessed to play guitar for my church's annual high school ministry summer camp. This is easily one of the best weeks of the year. 300 students and 60+ leaders come together for a week where we grow together in God's word, worship together, and destroy one another during our crazy rec games. This year we had a very different worship team, with only 3 of us returning from last years band. So I wanted to take a quick moment and share with you some of my highlights from camp, because it was awesome and I want you all to see what a great week we had in Murietta Springs. 

What is Tales of Apollo?

  Tales of Apollo is my latest music project. My goal is to release an EP later this year/early next year starting this month with the single “You Don’t Feel the Same”. Before its release, I wanted to take a moment to explain the idea behind Tales of Apollo. I’ve been asked if the name/project is inspired by the Greek god Apollo, the god of the sun, light, music and prophecy. The answer is ... well ...no. The name has a very complex and profound beginning. I thought it sounded cool. See …. I told you it was profound. However, even though the name was random, I have a special bond with it. I’ve always been fascinated by space. I love watching movies like Apollo 13, Interstellar, the Martian. We as a society are fascinated by the seemingly endless possibilities space can offer. We look at the stars and wonder what could be out there. It brings up questions about life beyond this earth, whether a higher being is out there, etc. However for me, when I look at the stars, I think of people. I like to think each star, planet, etc is a reflection of an individual here. I think we spend too much time looking up at space, wishing our lives were as unique and fascinating as the stars in the sky. In my opinion, our lives absolutely are as unique and fascinating. I think we have just lost sight of life’s true value. We are truly blessed just to wake up each and every day. We are blessed just to take our next breath. Too many times, we get lost in our daily routines that we miss out on experiencing the beauty of life. Yes we have ups and downs, and sometimes our lives can feel like an all out rollercoaster. Personally, I think that’s the beauty of it. We all have a different story to tell. We’ve all experienced different twists and turns that I think need to be shared. The goal of Tales of Apollo is to tell those stories. I have partnered with different artists, producers, musicians and songwriters to be featured on this EP. Some are friends that I’ve met in my time here in LA, and others will be strangers that I’m meeting for the first time. Either way, my goal is that each individual will help bring these stories to life. We all have stories to share, and I think it is powerful to hear them. The highs, lows, and everywhere in between.  I hope you will join us for the ride.

 - Travis Boothman

3 Ways to Improve Guitar In Your Church Without Touching a Guitar

Make a new best friend …. with the sound guy

 One thing I have observed at churches is there is a lot of division between the stage and the booth. Let’s face it. Sometimes musicians and sound guys can be tough to work with. However the reality is that we all are trying to serve in the church, and create the best possible worship experience. A simple way to improve worship in the church is to improve these relationships. Over the last couple of years I have noticed that some of my closest friends have been sound guys. These relationships have given me a much greater understanding of the ups & downs of audio in that church. It has also opened up a consistent line of communication for improving guitar tone in the mix. I try to ask the sound guys every week how my guitar sounds and if there is anything I can do on my end to help. When they see something can be improved it allows me to adjust to the overall sound rather than just my own personal preference. A very important part of this is to actually MAKE THOSE CHANGES! Don’t just listen to their opinion and then completely ignore it.  Sometimes its as simple as messing with the EQ on my amps/pedals or even playing certain parts an octave higher or lower. Either way these simple questions have shown the sound guys that I care about how my tone affects the overall mix, and that goes a long way 

 

Listen …. a lot 

  One of the best classes I took in college was Critical Listening. This class was designed primarily to listen and identify frequencies. Listening to white noise over and over again was very redundant but it is one of the most beneficial classes I ever took. The goal of the class was by the end to be able to identify frequencies and how they affect different sounds. This class allowed me to understand where my guitar needs to lie in the mix and how to quickly improve my tone. I have seen on too many occasions people who know what sounds good but don’t know how to get there. Today I have a much better understanding of what I am listening to and if I need to adjust on the fly I can make educated decisions rather than going by trial and error. This also helps me in communicating with the sound guy. Instead of just telling the sound guy mixing monitors my guitar sounds muddy and hoping he can read my mind and guess what I want, I can ask him to pull down 400hz 2 db in my monitor. Quick educated decisions are always better than trial and error.

 

Be a team player

I wish I didn’t have to write this one since it is so blatantly obvious but be a team player. Understand that we want to bring the best possible worship experience and sometimes that means laying down your pride, tone, style, or parts that you worked hard on. I had many times that I was playing at church and the other guitarist was completely stepping on my parts. I played with a blues player once who is very used to playing at all times and riffing throughout the song. If I played the lead parts I normally do it would mean 2 lead parts happening at times and no rhythm. So instead, I switched up playing all the parts I practiced, and I switched over to rhythm when the song needed it. Too many times we think the best sound is the most complicated sound. Worship music is very very simple, and that means the best thing for the song could be not playing at all or just strumming a simple chord every bar. Be humble and play what is best for the song not what is best for you and your style. I can tell you that I am not a “shredder”. I am not gonna go up there and blow your mind by my licks like Mateus Asato but I can tell you that I will play something that enhances the song. Maybe it’s doing swells, playing a basic arpeggio, or cranking my distortion pedal to 11. Be a team player. It goes a long way not only musically but also relationally when others see your desire to work as a group rather than just playing what you think sounds coolest.