Trace Bundy on the impact of YouTube, rocking a mullet and getting his start playing metal
Boulder-based guitar virtuoso Trace Bundy has been a YouTube sensation for a few years now with more than twenty million views of his various videos -- an extraordinary feat that few artists can boast of achieving these days. Bundy has forged an enviable international career that has dragged the staid world of folk and classical music kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Combining classical guitar with digital looping pedals, iPhones and avant-garde playing techniques has vaulted the young guitarist into rarefied air as one of the world's most prestigious and respected fretboard maestros.
In advance of his appearance at this year's HeavenFest this Saturday, we spoke with Bundy about his favorite memories of playing music abroad, the importance of YouTube in advancing his professional career, his childhood love of heavy metal and the effect fatherhood has had on playing guitar.
Westword: You've successfully toured on quite a few different continents over the last few years. Any special memories on and off stage from any of the places you traveled and performed at?
Trace Bundy: I've loved the opportunity to travel all over the world. I've been able to play shows in 21 countries now. Off stage, I've been chased by elephants in Gabon, hiked with lions in Zimbabwe and visited castles in Wales. It's important to me that my family and I always take time to learn about the places we visit. We take time to eat local food and get to know new friends.
We are thankful to have dear friends all over the world. This is especially true in Guatemala, where we partner with the organization Agros International to sponsor a village. We've been able to visit three times and always enjoy throwing a big concert at the end of our stay. The villagers are incredible musicians as well, so we are able to share music and connect beyond language and cultural barriers.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, how would rate the importance of YouTube to your professional music career?
Wow. For me it's been a solid nine. YouTube launched my music into markets I could never have reached on my own. I hear from fans everywhere from Indonesia to Germany to Australia who found my videos -- it's pretty incredible. I now have over 23 million views of my YouTube videos. Because my music is so visual, YouTube allows people access to that dimension of my songs. YouTube has also connected me to other musicians. Sungha Jung and I met because he found my music on YouTube. Now we've toured three times in the US and three times in Korea.
How old were you when you first picked up and learned to play chords on a guitar?
I was ten or eleven. My brother and I bought a $10 acoustic guitar and started playing heavy metal songs.
What were the first songs you learned to play on the guitar?
We bought guitar magazines at the grocery store and started teaching ourselves heavy metal songs. "One" by Metallica was the first song I learned. A few years later I started playing more acoustic stuff, like Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, etc.
Can you tell us about any embarrassing music/fashion phases you went through growing up?
Well, when I was young, I lived seven years with a mullet. Seven years! But in high school, tie-dyed shirts were a definite favorite. I had long hair and went through a hippie stage. For my senior prom, my best friend Jonah and I both took the same girl as our date, and we wore tie dyed shirts under our tuxes. Pretty classy.