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Gretchen Menn

Rapidly gaining praise in the world of instrumental rock and beyond, Gretchen Menn isn’t your average guitar hero on the rise. She once flew regional jets to support her six-string habit and has studied the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Jimmy Page, and more. In this episode we speak to Gretchen about her work with the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella, discuss her concept album Abandon All Hope, hear her perform a couple songs live, and much more.

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Transcript

Speaker 1:
Welcome to an Ernie Ball podcast. It starts, now.

Evan:
Hello, I'm Evan Ball. Welcome to Striking A Chord, a podcast presented by Ernie Ball. Today I'll be speaking with guitarist and composer Gretchen Menn. Gretchen is the guitarist of Zepparella, a popular all female Led Zeppelin tribute band. And she's also released two solo albums, "Hail Souls" and "Abandon All Hope." We'll talk about "Abandon All Hope," which is a very unique and ambitious and amazing concept album inspired by Dante, the 14th century poet. We'll also get caught up on what she's working on now and Gretchen will perform a couple of songs for us, which will be a first here on Striking A Chord. Also, we have a surprise mystery guest join the conversation. Who could it be? You'll find out soon. Finally, as a guitar player or any kind of player, it's easy to plateau and not get much better. So what does it take to break through? You'll want to hear Gretchen's insights on practicing and how she's even dipped into the science of expertise. So let's get to it. Ladies and gentlemen, Gretchen Menn. Gretchen Menn, welcome to the podcast.

Gretchen:
Thank you for having me.

Evan:
Yeah. So how did you first get into guitar?

Gretchen:
I think I, well I, I remember actually that I went to see a Joe Satriani show and Eric Johnson opened up for him. I didn't know who Eric Johnson was at the time, but when I heard him play I was like, "Okay, that's got to be like the happiest person in the world to write music like that." And then I thought, "Actually, maybe he's so happy because he can play guitar so well."

Evan:
Oh that would make me happy.

Gretchen:
So it was like, "I want to be that happy."

Evan:
So, Satriani though. So, you knew Satriani as a non guitar player?

Gretchen:
Yeah, I think I had gotten into kind of guitar oriented music in high school, kind of the requisite age where your ears are wide open and you're just listening to anything and everything. And I was listening a little bit to Joe Satriani and to Steve Vai and my dad had been at Guitar Player Magazine when I was a little kid. And even though he left actually shortly before I started playing guitar, he knew about that stuff. So, when I started getting into music, he was really quick to say like, "Hey, I've got this collection of music, check it out."

Evan:
But he's not the one who exposed you to it?

Gretchen:
I think it was more like, once I developed a little bit of an interest, he was really quick to point me in the right direction, but I never felt like it was something that was pushed upon me.

Evan:
So we've actually known each other for quite a while. Having family in the guitar biz, I think we started playing around the same.

Gretchen:
Did we? Yeah, I think so. I think we met when we were nine and I think our families met because my dad did an article on your grandfather called, "What's In A Name." And for a while actually we had hanging, at my house, this really cool drawing in that, the old eagle, the Ernie Ball eagle thing. And it was of my dad and the Ernie Ball eagle and it was something like, "Hey, who's Don Menn?" It's like, "Oh, the greatest editor in chief in the world." And somebody at Ernie ball had done it for him. I don't know who it was, but I'm sure we still have it.

Evan:
But teenage years we, I feel like we were both kind of at peak guitar geek, maybe. We were playing for a little while and some of the names you're mentioning, I'm probably biased because that's when I was most tuned in, but I feel like it was kind of a high watermark for some of the instrumental stuff. With Steve Vai's Passion and Warfare. Steve Morris had what? Southern Steel. And Eric Johnson obviously with Cliffs of Dover. Satriani was big. I remember being really into this stuff as we were learning guitar. But quick sidebar, I soon went and joined a punk band and learned how to move a power chord around the fretboard and you went on to basically learn like everything.

Gretchen:
No, I remember you've always been really good. I remember you coming up with it. You had one of those, I don't even know if I'm allowed to say what model it was of Ernie Ball, but I remember you had one, it was the purple one, it was an Eddie Van Halen one, an Axis.

Evan:
Yes, a prototype of an axis.

Gretchen:
Right, exactly. Exactly. You had a gig the next day and you came up with this killer solo. It was so melodic and you played it three times. You're like, "Okay cool, I'm going to go gig with it." And it blew my mind. I'm like, "Oh my God. I would have practiced that for like two months."

Evan:
That's funny. Well the gap quickly widened between our abilities, but anyway. I'm wondering, have you always been drawn towards that genre of music? More instrumental, high proficiency, serious guitar playing?

Gretchen:
You know, I think I have always been drawn to it, but I've been drawn to a lot of other stuff as well. I think as a guitar player it's a very independent type of music you can play. In any other band when you're playing with a singer, you are totally at the mercy of finding an amazing singer, front person who hopefully is a tolerable human being, which basically means a unicorn. And although, I'm very lucky to have worked with amazing singers, like Anna Kristina in Zepparella is just one of my favorite human beings and a killer singer. But playing instrumental guitar is something that you can actually get your mind around if you're not a singer. Being at home and coming up with parts and putting things together and actually creating music. And I've always gravitated towards stuff that was kind of compositional in nature though. It doesn't mean that things have to be, but I think I like stuff that challenges me just a little bit or things that on repeated listenings you discover more and more kind of nuances.

Evan:
And then you decided to study music in college. So, what were you concentrating on?

Gretchen:
I went to college thinking I was going to be a sociology or english major, a double major. And I found out because in high school I was a super geek. I got to college with enough credits to graduate a year early. So. That meant that it's basically as soon as I got to college, I had to declare my major. And at that point going across the country, going to college, like there were so many things that had changed and admittedly I was probably a little disoriented and so I was like, "I'm just going to follow my heart." So I declared a music major, but I'm glad I did. I think I kind of knew that my undergraduate, it didn't really matter. I could still go on to whatever, do other stuff with just with an undergraduate degree. And so I thought, "Well I'm just going to do what I want to do."

Evan:
Could you focus on guitar in the major or was it more general theory?

Gretchen:
Yeah, it was a general music major. It was a small school. What I liked about it is that you had very small classes and nothing was taught by TAs. I mean nothing against TAs, but it's great when you can learn from the guys who actually wrote the book. And so it was a general music major, but I was taking a classical guitar lessons with Phillip de Fremery, who's an amazing, amazing teacher. So I studied some theory, harmony, composition, counterpoint, history, a little bit of everything

Evan:
And that will show up when we talk about your latest album. And also you have a video series that I came across for acoustic guitar, right? That's kind of a primer on theory and scales. So yeah, we'll link to that in the show notes. There's a lot of good stuff online. Let's talk about Zeparella. So, this is an all female Led Zeppelin cover band. You have played all over the country. World? World, international?

Gretchen:
Canada.

Evan:
Okay. Alright.

Gretchen:
We're trying to do more stuff.

Evan:
So, lots of places in North America. You've put out one studio album, a few live albums, right?

Gretchen:
Maybe we have one studio album. It sounds like you know better than I do. Whatever you said, whatever you said is right.

Evan:
So you also have some videos and I think the videos go along to the studio album now

Gretchen:
Let's see, we have a few different videos. Well-

Evan:
You have a video with 14 million views on it. Are you aware of that?

Gretchen:
I was aware that there were a bunch of views.

Evan:
Yeah, there's a lot of views. So I imagine you had to do a pretty deep dive into Led Zeppelin. Do you have basically like a PhD in Led Zeppelin at this point? What'd you do to prepare yourself for this role?

Gretchen:
I locked myself, well before my first gig, it was Clementine's idea, she's the drummer, and before my first gig she gave me eight weeks and said, "Here's your set list. I just booked our first show, learn these 15 songs." Mind you, I'd been playing in bands at that point. I'd gone to college for music and everything, but I hadn't like gotten on stage. So, I'd been in a band for about a year and a half before that, about a year actually. And I was like, "Whoa."

Evan:
Is this Lapdance Armageddon?

Gretchen:
No, that was later. This was AC/DShe.

Evan:
Oh really?

Gretchen:
I was in an ACDC, yeah. That's where I cut my teeth. And so I just locked myself in a room, tried to learn as best I could. But it's a constant process actually, of learning. And now that we're doing these instructional series on the Zepparella Learning Channel, it's a great opportunity for me to go back in and really like reevaluate stuff.

Gretchen:
It's easy to play songs you've been playing for a long time as the player you were when you learned them. Even if you improve technically to just be like, "Oh, well this must be right because I was so sure it was right?"

Evan:
"I already learned this."

Gretchen:
10 years ago, right? And so you notice as you grow as a musician your ears grow. And I notice things when I pause and say, "okay, I'm about to go on video and put this out to the internet." I want to make sure I, I've done the best job I can do. And we just did a new series yesterday we shot. And there was a little detail in the song that I'm like, "Oh my God, I've been playing that wrong for 10 years." But I got it right now. So-

Evan:
You're probably digging into Jimmy Page's tone and equipment.

Gretchen:
Less the equipment and the tone in a general sense. I feel like that our ears now are totally different from the ears, well, I mean this is before our time, but let's just say that if I were to play things as clean as they actually are, I wouldn't have the same effect that I think that music-

Evan:
No, interesting.

Gretchen:
I mean you listen to something like Immigrant Song and you're like, "Oh my God, that is a very, very clean."

Evan:
So you mean just how music has progressed, we would assume that he's playing with more distortion than he actually did?

Gretchen:
I feel like we remember it. At least I do. Like when I think of Immigrant Song, I imagine this like just hammer of the gods riff, right? And it still has that power, but it's packaged in a way that I think is more characteristic of the time. And we've had Pantera now, so were tuned for a little more distortion. I mean I don't get all metal on it, but you know it's still in the same ballpark but maybe a little more muscle.

Evan:
You had to learn how to use a bow on a guitar too.

Gretchen:
I did.

Evan:
So that's an endeavor, I would think.

Gretchen:
Yeah, I've learned that delay is your friend. Without delay it sounds like first year violin student, it's all bad. So, it was a lot of trial and error and trying to watch live Jimmy Page and just trying to figure it out.

Evan:
Have you met him?

Gretchen:
No.

Evan:
Okay. You have met some of your other big influences, haven't you? Like Steve Morris. Didn't you play on a stage with him?

Gretchen:
I did. That was amazing. I was totally freaked out. I actually opened for him a couple of times too with a Lapdance Armageddon, acoustic duo.

Evan:
Do you have moments where you think, this is so cool? Like thinking back, listening to Steve Morris long ago and then sharing a stage with him?

Gretchen:
I almost can't let myself go there. Already I'm nervous enough and if I really start telling myself this story of it all, I'm like, "I'm just going to have an anxiety attack." Let me just be in denial, finish the show, and hopefully not embarrass myself too much.

Evan:
So I think you said you might play us a song.

Gretchen:
Yeah, if you want.

Evan:
Yeah, that'd be great. And we'll come back and talk about your album, but yeah. What song are you going to play for us?

Gretchen:
I think it makes sense to do an arrangement of a song that your great-grandfather wrote.

Evan:
Great-Great. Yes.

Gretchen:
Great-great-grandfather, Ernest R. Ball. "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Evan:
So that would be Ernie Ball's grandfather.

Gretchen:
Yeah, exactly.

Evan:
Alright.

Gretchen Guitar:
[Music 00:12:35]

Evan:
Alright, let's take a quick break and we'll come back and talk about Gretchen's album, "Abandon All Hope."

Evan:
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Evan:
So let's talk about your latest album., "Abandon All Hope." It's very cool, very unique, not what one would expect in the instrumental guitar genre. It's definitely guitar driven in many places, but it's kind of hard to explain. And it's not on streaming platforms, I would say for good reason because it's an album that you really need physically. You need the physical thing, you need the booklet, you need the images and the words. So could you just maybe describe the concept and how it came about?

Gretchen:
So after my first album, "Hail Souls," which the title is taken from one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes about, one of my favorite quotes about guitar, which you know conveniently comes from Shakespeare and it says, "Now divine heir. Now his soul is ravished. Is it not strange that sheep's guts should hail souls out of men's bodies." Isn't that so great. You know, the idea of something so earthy and so unromantic you know, driving our souls from our bodies. And I think that I was already toying around with the idea of doing something conceptual, kind of joining my love of literature and music and also recognizing that instrumental is, I love abstraction but not everybody does. And I think without lyrics to guide people or for something more concrete to latch onto. I think instrumental music alludes some people.

Gretchen:
And I thought well giving things a storyline, I don't have an artistic issue with that because I love the literature. And so I thought well there's maybe the possibility for something kind of cool there. So I've been playing around with like maybe I should do something with like F. Scott Fitzgerald or J.D. Salinger or whatever. And then Michael Molenda, who at the time was editor of Guitar Player Magazine, he asked if we could have a meeting, cause he had a like a project to pitch to me. And so I steeled myself for what I thought was going to be another lecture on why I need to learn to sing and write more popular, appealing music. And so I was, I was going in with all my typical retorts. "My goal is not to be as famous as possible. I just want to create stuff that you know, that I believe in."

Gretchen:
Instead he sits me down and he pulls out a piece of paper that I still have and it said the date and it said Gretchen Menn, Dante's Inferno, a journey in 11 different musical moods. And it was full body chills. I knew exactly what I was going to do for the next couple of years. And not just in terms of, "I know how the album is going to sound." I'm like, "Okay, I got to go way deeper into composition." I have had those leanings, but it's like, "No, I'm going to resume counterpoint study." I'm going to do my proper study so that I can even conceive of pulling off something like this the way that I would hope to.

Evan:
So who wrote the words again?

Gretchen:
Michael Molenda. The editor of Guitar Player Magazine.

Evan:
It's based off Dante's Inferno. So, he's sort of interpreted his own version of that. And then you wrote music concurrently with him or did he write lyrics first? I read that there were words.

Gretchen:
No, I wrote, what I did is I read Dante twice and what I tried to do. He'd given me the scenes that he had envisioned and then I added some other things that I thought, transitional pieces that I thought would be important because I wanted it to flow as an album. I wanted it to feel like a complete work, even if there were still tracks. And so, I added that and then I went and I tried to extract from each different kind of vignette that, which was different about it. I did not have any interest in writing an hour worth of fire and brimstone. I mean there's just, it's like you want a little bit of that light and shade, you know?

Evan:
For our listeners, this is basically a poem of someone going through these different, what? Stages of Hell?

Gretchen:
Well, it's Dante, the poet.

Evan:
Is he 14th century?

Gretchen:
I believe so. 14th century. We have an Italian here. The Italian doesn't know, I should check it out.

Evan:
We'll reveal who the Italian is pretty soon.

Gretchen:
It's an Epic poem in the style of like Virgil and Homer. And so Dante, the poet, he's a character in it. And he has Virgil, his spirit guide. He's at a place in his life where he's kind of fallen off the true path. And he has Virgil, the poet and spirit guide, take him on a journey through, well first the Inferno and then Purgatory and then Paradise. And along the way there's, it's just rife with political stuff and things that were really important going on in the time. It's huge. Dante is all sorts of commentary, the footnotes themselves are like longer than the text. I mean it was a lot to chew on. And the good thing about it is that it wasn't just all this journey of, "and here's suffering and here's more suffering and here's another type of suffering." I mean that's there, but there's enough other stuff there that you could latch onto musically where you can use that to present something that just doesn't sound like just different interpretations of the same theme.

Evan:
Such a cool concept. So, our listeners can probably understand why you'd want to have the physical copy in front of you and the words so you can better understand and experience this album.

Gretchen:
It was meant as a concept album and the imagery is by Max Crace. But what I did offer and why I don't have it on streaming platforms, it is on iTunes, but on my website, there also is a download you can get, but if you do it through my website, then you also get the album art and libretto and album credits because it's like you said, it's not just a guitar album. Like everyone's like, "who is that first violinist?" Because the violin and string quartet, you know, they do amazing stuff. So, you want to see. That's Glauco Bertagnin by the way, an Italian violinist.

Evan:
So did you have to, because you are going through these crazy chapters, did you have to put yourself in like a dark mood to write some of these?

Gretchen:
I didn't have to put myself in a dark mood. Honestly, it happened to coincide with the worst time of my life. No, I mean I'm laughing about it, but no, there was a lot that was going on with me. Losing some people I love very, very dearly at that time. And it's funny how the times that I feel like I've suffered the most are the times that I've also learned the most. So every time, you know, I guess I feel like that if you can translate suffering into art, into wisdom then it has a good purpose.

Evan:
Yeah, definitely a powerful album. So what's next? What are you working on now?

Gretchen:
I'm working on a counterpoint to that album after doing something that was so dense and so orchestrated and so compositional, I don't think I'm ever going to abandon compositional, but I was interested in doing something that, that really did focus back on the guitar. And so I'm doing a series of pieces that are almost exclusively for solo guitar.

Evan:
Solo guitar, like no band.?

Gretchen:
Yeah. It's also very performable cause when people are like, "When are you going to tour with "Abandon All Hope?" And I'm like, "When I'm a billionaire." I can't pay 10 musicians and do it properly. I mean it's not all for pr- I mean there's a practical consideration. It's great to be able to perform stuff on solo guitar. It's terrifying as well. But also it was kind of nice to say like, "Okay, I've done these much more largely realized pieces. How much of that growth is a composer, can I apply to my home instrument and how much can I learn now for that?" So I think my tendency is to go in one direction and then want to try something that's contrast.

Evan:
That's so great. You get to mix it up like that. How far deep into it are you?

Gretchen:
Oh man, I wish I were further, I had intended to have it done this year, but it's been a really busy year. I have a few pieces done and I think it's going to be 12 pieces long. A couple of them are finished. Probably about half are midway through and a few are only just ideas at this point.

Evan:
Okay. I noticed a Daniele Gottardo was sitting next to you right now.

Gretchen:
Oh my God.

Evan:
What is he up to these days?

Gretchen:
Are you in my living room? Say hi.

Daniele:
Hi guys.

Evan:
You were just walking by and I'm like, "Hey, that guy looks like a guitar player. Let's bring him in here."

Gretchen:
I was like, "Hey, free guitar lessons forever." So we met at a NAMM show, which sounds super kind of sleazy, but we, we met because we, well we met significantly other than sort of knowing I knew of you before because somebody who knew Daniele's compositional depth and sensibilities and knew what I was starting to work on with "Abandon All Hope" was like, "You guys need to geek out together," or whatever. And so, we struck up a friendship for like a year and now we're married.

Evan:
Yeah. If you want, I'm just putting you on the spot. What are you up to these days? Music-wise.

Daniele:
Like Gretchen, I'm working on music, original music, and I'm working on a new solo album that is taking an eternity to be done.

Evan:
It's going to be good.

Daniele:
I hope. I don't know. My last solo album was in 2014. I did another album in between that was completely different. Then I have been working with Gretchen for the production of "Abandon All Hope".

Evan:
And you played bass on the album, right?

Daniele:
Yes. But in between I was working on a new album that, like "Abandon All Hope," is the idea of crossover music. It is crossover, is between classical instruments, instrumentation and electric guitar.

Evan:
So are you recording this in Italy?

Daniele:
Yeah. Just before to come here in the United States, to the United States. I recorded most of the classical ensemble in Italy. Then here I am editing everything and working on the pre-production of the guitars.

Evan:
So you think it will be released this year or next year?

Daniele:
I think in the beginning of the next year. The very beginning, hopefully.

Evan:
Great. So Gretchen was kind enough to offer I think one more song?

Gretchen:
If you would like, yes. If you would like, yeah.

Evan:
When we come back I want to get her ideas on maybe some guitar tips and some album recommendations. So what are we going to listen to next?

Gretchen:
This one is called "Bures-sur-Yvette," which is a small town in France where I lived and it's going to be on the next album.

Evan:
Great. Awesome. For the record, Gretchen's playing a Silhouette Special.

Gretchen:
My Silhouette Special. My number one.

Gretchen Guitar:
[Music 00:26:16]

Evan:
The new album, it's just you, but are there overdubs done by you or will it be basically one track?

Gretchen:
I'm trying to have as few as possible, although somebody might play on a track called "Venice."

Evan:
She's pointing to someone next to her.

Gretchen:
Some Italian who lives in my house.

Evan:
Oh, that's exciting.

Gretchen:
Might play on a track called "Venice."

Evan:
Why not? I mean, he's so close.

Gretchen:
Right, exactly. Just a little overqualified to play second guitar, but it's fine.

Evan:
Can you recommend three albums to our listeners that are either influential or just three albums you think people should know. about?

Gretchen:
The first one that comes to mind, you're going to feel me on this, is Steve Morris Band, "High Tension Wires." It was his first solo, well, he says it's his first solo album. "Standup" was also there, but to me it's just a perfect album. It is so beautiful. Some albums just have a magic. Any Steve Morris album is great. There's just something. Maybe it's when I heard it, maybe it's where he was when he wrote it. It's just a perfect album to me from a guitar perspective and also I think it was part of why I became so interested in composition is I realized my favorite guitar players were also, they didn't just sound like they were soloing over a backing track. Steve Morris is so compositional. He's so musical. He surrounds himself with musicians where you know he where he celebrates them as well, so I love that album.

Gretchen:
I have to say, and I'm sorry it's not just cause you're sitting here, but "Non Temperato." Which was his most recent album is-

Evan:
Who is he again?

Gretchen:
Oh this is Daniele Gottardo. Oh my gosh. It's an amazing album. I've never heard anybody do what he has done with combining chamber orchestra with electric guitar in a way that is absolutely legitimate. The compositions are amazing. I don't know anybody, any guitar players with his harmonic vocabulary in depth, some of what he's doing compositionally, harmonically and stuff. It's really mind blowing and it's-

Evan:
He's blushing a little bit too.

Gretchen:
And it's beautiful. I mean the pieces are beautiful. It's like as sophisticated as they are. I've played them for non-musicians and they're like, "Oh my God, this sounds like a magical fairy land," or whatever. And they do have that magical quality because of some of the chromatic harmony and stuff that he uses that is really a delightful album to hear as a guitar player and as a non-guitar player too.

Daniele:
Thank you, thank you.

Evan:
He says, "Thank you" everybody.

Gretchen:
I love Django Reinhardt. The Quintette of the Hot Club of France, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. I have been listening to that as long as I've been listening to Led Zeppelin. I never tire of Django. And now also having written for and recorded violin. I have this huge appreciation for Stephane Grappelli, his intonation, his consistency, especially with an instrument. It's like we think guitar is a monster of an instrument. Oh my God, try just listen to some of the best violin players warming up. When I was getting ready to record my album and I'm hearing them kind of going through parts and everything and that you have this moment of being like, "Oh my God, I hope this is going to be okay." And then magic comes out. But that's a beast of an instrument.

Gretchen:
So Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli for sure. And then just for something different, how about "The Rite of Spring" by Stravinsky. I mean whether or not you're into composer music, if you like metal, to me that is a metal album before there were electric guitars. I shouldn't say album, it's a metal composition. I mean, "The Dance of the Adolescence." It's like I still- Oh yeah, yeah. Daniele's saying, "It's very djent." It's great. I mean I feel like that's the kind of thing that any guitar player who likes heavy stuff, go check that out if you haven't.

Evan:
Here's one more. I've played guitar for a long time, but I find it's really easy to not get better. Do you have any guidelines or tips for our listeners on how to push forward and get better on guitar?

Gretchen:
I think really you have to want to continue to get better and you have to be constantly working on things that you can't do. I think it's really easy as adults to get your just basic human chops up enough that you're not working hard, you know how to drive your car or you know how to do these things that when you're a little kid is like, the whole world is new and difficult and tying your shoes is like this insurmountable thing and to keep that kind of beginner's mindset of being willing to suck at something in order to get better at it. And it's hard to do because it's not rewarding for most people, especially as a professional musician. Being a musician requires so many things beyond practice time. Sometimes I'm fighting for my practice time because I'm having to deal with just the business of doing music.

Gretchen:
And sometimes when you sit down to practice you want it to be fun and enjoyable. And for the most part, well, I shouldn't say the improving isn't enjoyable, but it's kind of a masochistic type of enjoyment and so really challenging yourself. I'm doing things that are uncomfortable to do. A lot can be learned by setting a goal and then working towards it in manageable increments. And that's something. And actually tracking it. There've been all sorts of studies that show that if you hold yourself accountable by just simply tracking something you'll make better use of your time. I'm also a fan of reading about the learning process and how our brains work. I'm the daughter of a psychologist, my mom's a psychologist, so some of how we learn what music and the brain do together is something I'll, yeah, I'm a dilettante about that stuff.

Gretchen:
But I like reading books about it and I feel like some books have helped me practice better. There's a book called "Peak" by Anders Ericcson and it's about the study of expertise. There's one called, I feel like rather unfortunately titled but very well researched and written called, "The Talent Code" that is great. And one I recently read called "The Practice of Practice" by Jonathan Harnum, I think. And all of them talk about a certain deliberate practice, which is hard to do. We mostly sit down and we want to play, we want to do something we're good at, we want to watch a movie while we noodle. We're not really getting, we're not making the same kind of strides that we could be if we were really kicking our own butts.

Evan:
I mean there's only so many hours in a day and it's so easy once you have that time to just play stuff you already know and not maximize that time.

Gretchen:
But also you can make good improvements with consistent goals and good focus. You really can. There's a lot you can do in 10 minutes if you choose the right goal. So, if I have 10 minutes and I'm trying to actually make the best use of it, I'm probably not going to run through a song unless it's something I'm about to play on stage. If I have 10 minutes, I might take a one measure lick that has been feeling uncomfortable or that I've been screwing up and I'm going to play that at 50% speed for five of those minutes and then work up little by little and then you've made the best of those 10 minutes. And if you do that every day for a week, suddenly that measure's never a problem again.

Evan:
That's great. Before I let you go, where can people keep up with your work online? You have a lot of content up there.

Gretchen:
Fortunately, my name's uncommon enough that I am gretchenmenn.com. No extra anythings.

Evan:
Instagram, Facebook?

Gretchen:
All of it is just my full name.

Evan:
And I'll throw out there too. You mentioned it earlier, but with Zepparella, you have this series where each band member does a deep dive into a particular song. So if you're a Led Zeppelin fan, definitely, you want to check those out. Those are really cool.

Gretchen:
They're fun to teach because we do it all. It's all do it yourself. Yesterday I was in a very hot studio for 12 hours filming my bandmates and then doing my little segment too. But what's great about that, even though it takes a lot of time and you know sometimes at the end of the day are like, "Oh my God, is anybody going to watch this" is you learn. And I knew this going into it is that I knew it would make me a better guitar player. It would make me a better teacher and it would make me be a better bandmate. If I know what my drummer is thinking during this fill, if I hear her fill in isolation, I'm going to be playing so much better with her. So yeah, we do these deep dives. For me, it's usually in three parts. So far it's always been in three parts. With the first one just kind of being like straight up, here's how you play the rifts, the second one dealing with leads and then the third is usually my gear, live performance, structural stuff. Anything that's like that you would to know if you were going to perform this song live on stage. Those are up there, Zepparella page or the Zepparella YouTube channel.

Evan:
So there's a Gretchen Menn YouTube page and there's a Zepparella YouTube channel I should say. Alright, Gretchen Menn. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Gretchen:
Thank you Evan. Thanks for having me.

Evan:
Thanks again to Gretchen and thanks to Daniele Gottardo for jumping in there. If you haven't heard Daniele, you should. He's pretty amazing. Check him out. He's been doing these one minute mini lessons on social media. If you want a little taster of what you can do, we'll put a link in the show notes and thanks again for tuning in to Striking A Chord.

Evan:
[Music 00:39:14]

Gretchen:
God talking about "Kashmir" for forever yesterday

Evan:
Do you guys speak a mix of Italian and English throughout the day?

Gretchen:
No, my Italian-

Daniele:
I just speak bad English.

Evan:
You speak English more than she speaks Italian?

Gretchen:
Yes a lot more. I mean, I know how to say like the offensive stuff in Italian.

Evan:
Like what?

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