Thanks to his own invention, guitarist Brett Lashley has reinvented himself.
The Starved Rock Country native, recording as Evil A, recently released “The Wait,” his first rock ’n’ roll single.
For Lashley, who resides in Tempe, Ariz., the single differs greatly from the music he’s been involved in for more than a decade.
“I decided to release a rock album after more than a decade of training exclusively as a classical guitarist, because I wanted to return to what first caught my attention about music,” he said in an email interview. “The electric guitar and all of the fantastic music from the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s that I heard being played by my parents and older siblings.”
A big part of “The Wait” is double harmonic, a new guitar technique Lashley invented.
“It is done by playing two adjacent strings at the same time, which is commonly called a double stop. But this no ordinary double stop. On one string an advanced right-hand picking technique called a pinch harmonic is played. A pinch harmonic is when a guitarist plays a note with a pick and very light touches with the side of his thumb just as the pick releases the string. This technique is prominently featured at the end of the ZZ Top song ‘La Grange’ as well as many other rock and heavy metal guitar lines,” Lashley explained.
“On an adjacent string a natural harmonic is played. A natural harmonic, simply known as a harmonic, is played by lightly touching a string with the left hand and pulling it away from the guitar, which allows the open string to produce an eerie, ethereal tone quality, as heard throughout the hit song, ‘For What it's Worth’ by Buffalo Springfield.
“The combination of these two particular frequencies produces a harmony (combination of notes) which cannot be produced anywhere on the fretboard,” Lashley continued. “I am currently working on a video for my Evil A YouTube channel, which will show how to perform this technique so other guitarists can use it.”
Rock ’n’ roll caught Lashley’s attention as a child, especially sounds of the electric guitar. A favorite album was “Let It Bleed,” by the Rolling Stones.
“I love that record. The interplay between the guitar and piano is pretty awe-inspiring. Also, I was also lucky enough to catch one of the last Tom Petty concerts ever in Del Mar, Calif. It was originally the last stop of the tour, according to dates on the back of the T-shirt I bought.
“I was lucky enough to be about 50 feet from the stage, and his wall of vintage Fender amps had a really profound effect on me. I had seen Tom Petty years before, but he was really on a whole new level of musicianship this time. He was a true professional. It was a great experience for me at just the right time. The sound quality was simply amazing.”
Born in Mendota, Lashley lived in Paw Paw, La Salle, Ladd, Oglesby, Spring Valley and Seneca, and he attended Illinois Valley Community College. He moved west and eventually earned a music degree at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Lashley taught guitar while attending graduate school at Illinois State University before returning to Arizona and opening Lashley Limited Guitar Studio. He still maintains his local connections.
“My grandparents, the McCaslins, have lived in Ottawa off Route 71 for many years,” Lashley said. “… My parents still live on farm between Seneca and Marseilles, and I have several other relatives all over La Salle County. I frequently visit the area still to this day and am looking forward to performing at some of the great local venues … during my next trip.”
Lashley credits a couple of IVCC music instructors in helping him.
“My most influential music teachers during my time in that area are definitely Kim Codo, my first guitar professor, and Mike Pecherek, my first music theory professor. They both opened my eyes to whole new ways of thinking about music. When I met them, I finally started to understand the music instead of just trying to emulate what I saw and heard others doing,” he said.
Lashley’s momentary focus is on rock ’n’ roll, yet he plans to be active in other genres, including classical.
“I will be releasing an Evil A album (EP) in next year and a solo classical guitar album, which I hope to have finished in late 2019. I am also producing an album for a country music band from Phoenix, which will be released under my Evil Industries record label in 2019,” he said.
Additional Evil A information can be found on Facebook, fb.com/Evil-A-430193644051631. Lashley also can be followed on Twitter, @GuitarLashley.