Brett with his Ibanez AH-10 Guitar.EXPAND
Brett with his Ibanez AH-10 Guitar.
Luxicon Photography

Brett Seamans of Mind Upside on Why Playing Sax is Like Meditating

In Pound For The Sound, Phoenix New Times gets technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature style.

Mind Upside's Brett Seamans can't seem to make up his mind in his love affair with music. The guitarist and saxophonist is a respected player in the Tempe music scene, performing and recording with a multitude of bands. And when he isn't working, the musician's constantly practicing and building his chops.

Seamans is a Tempe native. He started playing music at 14. That's when he picked up his first guitar, which was acoustic, and started learning to play. As a teenager, he was into punk rock bands like Leftover Crack, Propaghandi, and NOFX. And as a young songwriter, he gravitated heavily toward that sound. That didn't last forever though.

He took guitar lessons to improve his skills. But after a while, he decided to branch out. While working at City Music, he started to take an interest in the saxophone. He found all of his music theory and guitar training almost instantly transferred to his new musical pursuit. And after some lessons he never looked the other way. Seven years later, he says, there is "so much more to learn."

Seamans also performs regularly with jazz outfit Trio Salado and "Top 40" cover band Groove Museum, so when Mind Upside is not playing, he is playing somewhere else, building his chops and actively gigging.

On Friday, November 10, Brett, and the rest of Mind Upside, have a dual CD release party at Last Exit Live with a stacked local line up of reggae-rock bands from the Tempe and Phoenix scenes. With the new record recently dropping, New Times was able to get some words in with Seamans via phone and email about his love of two instruments, meditative breathing, and his band's new EP.

New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Brett Seamans: My gold Theo Wanne Durga 3 mouthpiece paired with my Cannonball Alto Sax “The Raven." It gives me the ability to cut through the mix of the band in any venue or the studio. The versatility of my Theo Wanne mouthpieces never ceases to amaze me. The colorful, rich timbre the gold Durga 3 emits is the largest component of my signature tone.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
My Ibanez AH-10 Allan Holdsworth signature model guitar “The Spider.” Allan was a huge inspiration to me and will always be my favorite composer and guitarist. The guitar was produced from only 1985 to '87, so they are hard to find. It has taken on a deeper value to me since Allan recently passed. Coincidentally, the guitar shares the same name as our single “Spider”.

Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
I’ve acquired an assortment of Keeley and Analogman guitar pedals that have all been fantastic. I grew tiresome of dealing with an extensive signal chain and large pedal-board, so now I run through a Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler. I purchased my Orange TH30C 30-Watt 1x12 Guitar Combo in 2010 and have yet to have any issues with it. It’s a beast of an amp that’s been through hundreds of shows. My Orange is essential to my setup, sound, and performance. I couldn’t imagine a gig without it.

Just listened to “Spider” off of your upcoming debut album, Stuck In the Web EP. Great track. How did the horn/woodwind arrangements come to life? Also, did you also record guitar on this track?
Jordan Perry played an American Elite Strat HSS and one of Bob Hoag’s old Jazz Masters on that track. I only used my Cannonball Big Bell Stone Series “Raven” Model Alto Sax. We recorded our practices and listened back to what we improvised in the infancy of the song. I also spent one on one time with our front man Jordan, using guitars to compose horn melodies. Our producer, Bob Hoag, contributed to constructing additional horn harmonies during the recording process. It was a blast layering the horns and the song took on a new life in the studio.

When we spoke, you said that you found the rhythmic breathing to be extremely meditative and soothing. Can you please expand on this?
Practicing saxophone is an increasingly enlightening and introspective experience that I look forward to daily. Whether holding long tones or playing extended phrases; you’re doing deep breathing exercises simultaneously. It is both exciting and relaxing at the same time. Playing is therapeutic for me, it's my meditation. Improvising generates a sensation and takes me to a place that I will forever be chasing.

Mind Upside has a CD release party this Friday at Last Exit Live. Any words you wish to share with readers about your upcoming performance?
We switch things up at every show to keep it fresh and interesting for ourselves and our audience. November 10 at Last Exit Live is a dual CD release show with our buddies Good Rust. Twelve bucks will get you entry to the show and both our EP, Stuck in the Web, and Good Rust’s CD as well. Our friends Clint Stevens, Why Worry, and Howard 'Til Midnight are included on the bill. Check us out all over the internet for audio and video content: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, etc.

Mind Upside will perform at Last Exit Live on Friday, November 10. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and showtime is 8.

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