Interview – Darin Morris

InterView – Darin Morris

Darin Morris grew up in Modesto and was one of the key musicians in the late 70s and 80s music scenes. After graduation Beyer High, Darin attended the Guitar Institute Of Technology and became an amazing guitarist and one of the regions best. Darin also earned a bachelors degree in classical guitar performance from California State University Stanislaus. Darin has been a member of many local bands and earned MAMA Award as a member of Donnie and the Wayrads. He is married to Kristie and has 4 kids and is active in community life and is well known as a teacher and performer. Today, he is helping the next generation of music become professional musicians and bands. As the leader of VMI Music Institute, bands are created, taught and learn the music business and performing from top to bottom. The future of music is here. Let’s meet Darin.

ModestoView: When did you start playing music? Darin Morris: I took guitar lessons for about a year when I was eight years old but then didn’t really take it seriously again until I was 16 in 1977. That’s when, fueled by my love for Aerosmith, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie, and Boston, I started playing 2 to 5 hours a day and jamming with my friends. It was a little different back then, we had to learn everything by ear or by showing each other our ideas, and it was all records and cassettes.

MV: What was your first band? DM: My first band was Crossfire, which later changed its name to Axis, with Dave Amaro, Ronnie Martin, Phil Boussard, and Jim Kee.

MV: What made you want to dive in and become an expert guitarist and performer? DM: Like a lot of kids, I didn’t feel any yearning for any type of obvious or standard career. The only thing that I was passionate about was music and guitar.

MV: Did you have a lot of support from your family to learn music? DM: I did have support from my family. I feel that that’s a very important ingredient to any young person’s success. In 1979 the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, which later changed its name to Musicians Institute, had just been open for about a year. I had read about it in guitar player magazine and talked to my mom about it, about how cool I thought it was an wouldn’t it be nice if… And so on. I had just finished high school and she surprised me by signing me up and shipping me off to LA. it was very thrilling, exciting, and scary to me as an 18-year-old

MV: What do you see in the youth of Modesto that gives you hope for the future. DM: There is so much talent here, we think of the truly great musicians as being one in 1 million but I think it’s probably more like one in 1000 or one in 100. You just have to find them and give them opportunities to grow and play and watch their talent become what it can. If you give them an outlet, or an opportunity, the child who’s considering diving into music can actually do it, or the kids whose interest in music is waning can be invigorated with new enthusiasm and excitement.

MV: What is a common misconception about youth musicians that needs to be corrected? DM: I hope that parents and leaders realize that a young person’s enthusiasm for music is not frivolous or strictly recreational. Taking music seriously, practicing studying and interacting with others, seems as important as taking any field of endeavor seriously. Sometimes a kid will get in trouble and the parents will take away their music because that’s what they truly love. I don’t know if kids get in trouble and their parents would take away math but I look at it as sort of the same, Something that is hard work that an individual can invest themself in to better themselves.

MV: Can anyone learn how to play? DM: I think so, it definitely comes easier and more natural for some people, but sometimes the people have to work a little harder at it, develop a little more serious work ethic and are actually able to go farther.

MV: Being in a band is so much more than just the music, what are the key elements? DM: Well, they say one of people’s biggest fears is public speaking. Standing on stage and playing your instrument, playing songs all the way through in a setting where you can be heard the whole entire time, is a similar daunting task to public speaking. There’s the time investment, the practice, the working with others and being part of a team, and then the courage or willingness to get up on stage in front of hundreds of people and share what you have developed. I am so proud of so many of the kids I work with, because I know how hard they’ve worked, I know how much they’re putting himself on the line, and then on the day of a big show they take it to a whole other level and turn in their best performance ever. It’s truly inspiring and I’m getting a little weepy just thinking about it.

MV: What do you hope to see happen over the next few years in the local music scene? DM: More, more, more. When kids are looking for an activity I want organized rock music to be an option on par with soccer and baseball. I want it to be totally normal to be in a band and for there to be an even larger community of Youth musicians who support and interact and encourage each other.

MV: Why is music and art good for our community? DM: I think we want a vibrant and colorful and interesting community. Music and art take us out to interact with others and to develop our creative side and for things to be interesting which lends itself to interesting people.

MV: What can people to do make a difference? DM: Just support the local goings-on and support your children and friends when they are interested in attending or being part of these musical and art oriented events.

MV: Tell us about your upcoming shows. DM: On July 4, VMI Rocks.com/Valley music Institute will have a pretty amazing float in 4 July parade with some very talented young people doing some serious rocking. On July 21 we will take 20 bands of kids of all ages to heroes for a seven-hour marathon of mayhem which is my way of describing a super fun And rocking rock experience. On July 26 we will take over 10th St. place and have a rock party on Friday night from 7 to 9 PM. On August 4, the day after X fest, we will put on the third annual mod stock music festival with 30 bands and carnival rides and booths of arts and crafts. And all day celebration of peace love and music, that is free and we would love to see everyone at.

MV: Beatles or Stones? DM: The stones are fantastic, Mick Jagger is one of the best performers in rock ‘n roll ever, I love Keith Richard and the interplay of the two guitars, and they have so many great songs. But can we please be serious? The Beatles are the best band of all time with the possible exception of Led Zeppelin. That is such an obvious truth that I do not think it’s even debatable

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