Rob LaFond: Jimi Hendrix Inspired, Without the Burning Guitars

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Los Angeles based musician Rob LaFond recalls, “I grew up on hip hop, rap, and pop music in the ‘90s. Everything from N.W.A. to Vanilla Ice. My first concert was The New Kids On The Block, and it was Donny’s birthday, and I got hit with cake.” His influences are diverse, and one can hear a little Tom Petty in “Open Road,” and his dramatic “She’s Dangerous” recalls a blues-rock overtone of Dire Straits.

Jimi Hendrix was LaFond’s very first inspiration when as a boy, he got the Ultimate Experience compilation. “After I got the album I begged my Dad to buy me an electric guitar, and when I got it, I tried to mimic all of Jimi’s riffs on that album. I secretly practiced some of his guitar moves too, trying to play behind my back and with my teeth. I’ve always like a bit of showmanship in a performer, especially if it’s done in a cool way. I’ve incorporated some of it into my performances, but no burnt guitars yet.”

Like many artists, he started out writing songs in the style of those he admired most, and in “Sky,” the first track of his Shadows in the Room CD, you can hear how he was influenced by the spoken-word rap in the Beastie Boys’ “Namaste.” LaFond describes his process: “I usually get into a very specific person and then I will listen to them over and over again, trying to learn their intricacies as an artist. Then I put a twist on it and try to incorporate it into my own style.” Those influences can be heard for example, in his “Springtime in LA,” where one might imagine Led Zeppelin with the dropped-down open tuning. “I think musical style comes out of people trying to sound like the ones who influence them, but when they put it through their own lens, it becomes something new and unique,” said LaFond. “It’s most important to be yourself as an artist.”

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