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Photograph by: Cassidy O’Hara

Interview by: Samantha Toy

Veracious Magazine: Hi Lonny, how are you doing today?

Lonny Eagleton: I’m doing well, thanks for having me!

VM: How did you get into the music industry, and playing guitar for Shawn Hook? Did you have any close connections with him or his team?

LE: I began playing guitar at the age of 13, it was my first love. From the time I learnt my first riff, AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, it was all I ever wanted to do. Once I realized that you could make a living playing guitar for artists, I made it my sole mission in life to make that happen. Right away I started playing with anybody who would have me, and it kept me very busy throughout high school and my college years. I would take any gig that I could get, with the intention of building up experience so that when I finally got my big break I would be ready for it. There were times where I would play 7 gigs in 7 days with 7 different artists. There were other times where I would play 3 gigs in the same days with 3 separate bands. It was a lot of juggling, but I could always feel myself improving musically and getting closer to my goal of one day landing a gig playing for a big name major label artist. I wanted to play on television, I wanted to tour on a bus, I wanted to hear a hit on the radio and be able to say “I play in this guy’s band”.

The day I met Shawn Hook, it was a classic example of being in the right place at the right time. We first crossed paths at a recording studio in Vancouver, during the spring of 2015. I remember him telling me about his new single, Sound of Your Heart, and that it was starting to do pretty well on the radio. I told him that I would check it out, and that he should keep me in mind in case he ever needed a guitar player in the future. When I got home I checked out his music and instantly became a fan. I actually liked Sound of Your Heart so much that the next morning I made a video guitar lesson for it and put it up on YouTube. Anyways, about a month or two later I got a text from an unknown number saying “Yo Lonny, Shawn Hook. How’s it going? I have a gig at the Commodore Ballroom on August 13th. Putting a band together. Are you available to play guitar?” I accepted the offer, and was unbelievably excited because I knew that this was the big break I had been waiting for. I spent the weeks leading up to the show preparing like I’d never prepared before. I learnt every guitar part on every song that he had ever recorded, learnt all the covers he did that I could find on YouTube, learnt all the vocal harmonies and keyboard parts. I was determined to make a good impression. As a session musician, you never know what you’re going to be asked to play, so it’s always a good idea to over prepare, especially in this case considering our first show together was essentially my audition. I remember even turning down a couple paying gigs with other bands at the time just so that I could have more time to prepare.

Thankfully the show went very well, and not only have I landed a great gig but also some great new friends. Everybody in this band is a total pleasure to work with.

VM: Do you play any other instruments aside from guitar?

LE: Guitar is definitely my main party trick, but I also play some harmonica, mandolin, trumpet, banjo, background vocals, and keyboards.

VM: What was it like going on tour with Lindsey Stirling? 

Oh man, the Lindsey tour was absolutely incredible. We toured America together for 4 weeks as her support act, and every day was like waking up in paradise. She and her crew were all very welcoming towards us, as were her fans. It was also my first time touring in a tour bus, and that had been a dream of mine for quite some time. I’ve literally fantasized about touring in a bus at least once a day since I was a teenager, so for it to finally happen was incredibly self-fulfilling.

Another aspect about that tour that I really enjoyed was getting to see a lot of the American cities and states for the first time. I got to experience Florida, Manhattan, Nashville, Memphis, the White House, so many amazing places that I would most likely otherwise never have gone to had it not been for music. I also enjoyed meeting a lot of cool new fans on the tour, as well as getting to play iconic venues such as Hammerstein Ballroom, Palace Theatre, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. If you’re interested in seeing some behind the scenes footage check out my Tour Journal series on ThatsMyGig.com. It’s a series of vlogs that I did, aimed at giving people an insight to what life is like when you’re on a major tour.

VM: Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years? Still playing with Shawn or performing with other amazing artists in this industry?

My goal is always to play bigger and bigger shows. I want to play on the Grammys, I want to do a headlining arena tour, I want to play on The Tonight Show… I’m always thinking about self-advancement and how I can create longevity for my career. I have many more goals that I’d like to fulfill, and whether I fulfill them with Shawn or somebody else I’m going to keep on working towards them.

That being said, I am very excited about where things are at right now. This past year I have had some amazing experiences such as playing on Jimmy Kimmel, the Juno Awards, the Much Music Video Awards, and countless others. It’s been so self-fulfilling that I can’t even put it into words. I absolutely love playing in Shawn’s band, and I will definitely keep accepting the tours for as long as he’ll have me. It’s nice when you can build up chemistry with somebody, and I feel as though we have that together.

VM: If you could do a guitar collaboration with anyone, who would it be?

That’s a pretty cool question. My brother Miguel plays guitar too and we have always said that one day we would make an album together. Apart from that, some of my primary guitar inspirations over the years have been Jimmy Page, Slash, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, BB King, Jacky Vincent, and Jimi Hendrix. To work with any of them would be pretty cool, apart from the dead ones, that would just be creepy.

VM: You’ll be going on tour with Marianas Trench soon, how excited are you for it?

So excited! Those guys are super cool and I really dig their music. I can’t wait to get back on the bus and hit the road again. Our tour bus feels more like a home to me than my home does.

We’re going to be trying out a new song on this tour, it’s one that Shawn wrote with Ryan Tedder from the band One Republic, and it’s pretty rockin’. I’m also very excited to see the Canadian Maritimes, and to play more arenas. I love the size of an arena, and playing in them really makes me feel like I’ve arrived. Back when I used to only play in bars I would sometimes close my eyes during a song and imagine that I was playing in a sold out arena. For it to finally be happening in real life is pretty cool.

VM: What’s something you must pack when you hit the road? Do you have any good luck charms?

The one thing that I must pack is my blow dryer, The Revlon 3000 LE. Shawn always forgets to pack his, so he’s pretty reliant on borrowing mine. If I ever forgot to bring that, the entire band’s hair would go to hell in a hand basket.

As far as good luck charms go, I try not to put too much credence into that stuff. One thing that I do enjoy doing before a show though is putting on my jewelry. It’s kind of like a ritual that helps me get in the zone. I have two eagle rings that I always wear on my right hand, plus several bracelets on my left wrist, a wallet chain on my left side, and I always hang a necklace out of my right pocket. Whenever I have all of those items in place I’m ready to melt faces.

VM: Since the holidays are coming up shortly, do you have any special plans?

No, not this year. All I care about is playing guitar and working towards improving the show. Nothing else is really that special for me, at least not at this stage in my life. There’s discussion of us playing a new year’s concert this year somewhere, so I’m really hoping that that happens. If we aren’t playing a show of our own, then usually I enjoy watching the New Year’s Eve celebrations from Times Square on TV to see all of the musical performances. It’s like homework for me. Ever since I was a teenager and to this very day I try to catch all the musical broadcasts and awards shows because I like seeing what the side musicians are doing. I like to study what they wear, how they interact with their artists on stage, see what they’re doing that I’m not, and see what I do that they don’t. It allows me to keep an eye on the competition, and points out things that I can improve upon.

VM: Thank you for chatting with us! Do you have any last comments for your fans?

My pleasure, thanks for having me! What I want to say is keep an eye out for new music from Shawn Hook in early 2017. His new stuff kicks ass. Also try eating frozen blue berries mixed with vanilla ice cream. It’s so good!

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