Interview with Innovative Musician Gabriel Guardian
By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
NAfME Council for Guitar Education Chair
Gabriel Guardiola, a native of Harlingen, Texas, who goes by the stage name Gabriel Guardian, is a textbook example of an Innovative musician. Ambidextrously and simultaneously, he performs on an electric guitar and angled electric keyboard to create his own style of progressive metal with M-Theory Audio recording artists Immortal Guardian, as well as for his other modern musical projects. He is pushing the boundaries by dazzling audiences as a live performer and receiving rave reviews as a recording artist. His talents have been featured in music print publications such as Spin, Revolver, Metal Hammer, and Guitar World. Multimedia and electronic sound processing help Gabriel create this unique art form that has depth and substance beyond the limits of being a novelty act.
Thank you, Gabriel, for sharing your story with the NAfME membership and NAfME Council for Guitar Education.
Please tell us about your early music background and family history.
My father is an amazing Latin rock drummer. He is the man who got all us kids into music growing up. Drums were my first instrument because of him, but it was also my brothers’ and sisters’ first instruments too. When it was time to form a band as a kid with my brother, it was an obvious choice that my older brother was the better drummer and that bands only have one drummer, so I picked up the guitar.
What inspired you to play the keyboard and guitar simultaneously?
Honestly, it was something I did as a teen for a talent show or something, but I remember after doing it and expecting a comedic reaction, nobody laughed! People were really into what I was doing, and they took it seriously. I remember in one of the first Immortal Guardian shows we did I was feeling lazy, and I didn’t bring the keyboard and only played guitar that night, and fans at the show were so upset I didn’t do the simultaneous thing. Nowadays, it feels so weird to play only one of the instruments.
Watch Gabriel perform Metal Mozart:
What role did public school music programs in Texas play in your life?
Unfortunately, I was not in band or orchestra because I did not play any band instruments, only rock band instruments [LOL]. They did not need guitars, bass, drummers, etc., but when they (Harlingen High School South, Harlingen, Texas) opened spots in the Mariachi and Jazz programs, I was the first kid to jump on it. It was a very wonderful experience that I always encourage youngsters to try. It was an after-school thing that took up a lot of time, but it was so worth it. Playing music together like that at an early age was life-changing for years to come.
You perform in a progressive metal band called Immortal Guardian and have shared the stage with many of your musical idols. How does that feel to you when you reflect back on those accomplishments?
It is a privilege to do what we do, and I could not be more thankful to all our fans who have kept us going. I still can’t believe some of the wild things we have done and where it is headed. But I do know that hard work and laser focus always works.
“It’s never been easier to go buy a computer, record music in your home, put it on platforms, and get discovered than it is today. And I think that is just amazing!” – Gabriel Guardiola
What is your typical approach to songwriting?
Ninety percent of my music comes from keyboard first. Even some of my guitar riffs in Immortal Guardian songs were written on piano first. It’s just a nice way to play the melody and think in advance with the left hand what the chords/bass line would be. It is an amazing songwriting tool. I do like to get lost in the guitar world and come up with some cool stuff, but it mainly comes from the keyboard.
Watch Gabriel cover Guns N’ Roses:
Do you have a normal practice routine?
I wish I did! I try to practice for a few hours a day like I did as a kid, but nowadays I get so busy with other music industry stuff that I can go days, sometimes weeks without touching the guitar. When I’m programming shows, editing videos, traveling for meetings, etc., that can take me away from the guitar long enough to miss it.
Watch Gabriel cover The Beatles:
Do you have anything you would like to say or share with the next generation of music students who are currently honing their skills?
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! You literally won’t just magically get better if you don’t practice and expect it to happen overnight. Practice, but practice smart! I think one thing that always messed me up when I was learning something difficult is that I thought too hard about it. If you are playing something over and over again and you can’t nail it, walk away and take a breather, or play something else and come back to it. Ninety-nine percent of the time your brain will “reset” and be able to try better and not be “stuck” on stinking over and over again on the same part. That’s something I’d tell younger me in a time machine if I could say anything.
Any other final thoughts on the state of music in our society from a worldwide view?
The music industry is absolutely insane right now and I love it! All the old school ways don’t work anymore, and the new school ones are still trying to figure it out. It’s a nice free-for-all market. It’s never been easier to go buy a computer, record music in your home, put it on platforms, and get discovered than it is today. And I think that is just amazing! I’ve discovered so much amazing music and artists that I probably would have never found if I didn’t have the kind of access to them that we have today. A lot of people hate on the way things are turning, but I think it’s natural for things to change. We just have to adapt as musicians and find new ways to thrive in the digital world.
Read past articles by Thomas Amoriello:
- The Patriotic Guitarist: Master Sergeant Alan Prather of “The President’s Own”
- Interview with Progressive Funk-Rock Guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight
- Heavy Metal Guitar: Neo-Classical Style
- Heavy Metal Guitar: From Times Square to Netflix and Beyond
- Make a Sound! Interview with Drummer Michael Bland
- What about the Electric Bass?
- An Article for Jazz Educators: Interview with Guitarist Kevin Eubanks
- Hip Hop Empowers: Interview with Harlem-Raised, Boston-Based Hip Hop Artist Billy Dean Thomas
- Heavy Metal Guitar Style: Virtuoso Shred Guitar with Toby Knapp
- Adult Education: Rock Camp
- Musical Adventures with Children’s Picture Books
- Empowering the Musician in Your Classroom
About the author:
Thomas Amoriello Jr. serves as the chair on the NAfME Council for Guitar Education and is also the Chairperson for the New Jersey Music Education Association. Tom has taught guitar classes for the Flemington Raritan School District in Flemington, New Jersey, since 2005 and was also an adjunct guitar instructor at Cumberland County College, New Jersey, for five years. He has earned a Master of Music Degree in Classical Guitar Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Rowan University. He is the author of the children’s picture books A Journey to Guitarland with Maestro Armadillo and Ukulele Sam Strums in the Sand, both available from Black Rose Writing. He recently made a heavy metal recording with a stellar roster of musicians including former members of Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, and Dio that was released on H42 Records of Hamburg, Germany. The record released on 12-inch vinyl and digital platforms has received favorable reviews in many European rock magazines and appeared on the 2018 Top 15 Metal Albums list by Los Angeles KNAC Radio (Contributor Dr. Metal). Visit thomasamoriello.com for more information.
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