Canadian guitarist Darren Michael Boyd has toured and recorded with a variety of artists, such as Black Ju-Ju, Creeping Beauty, and Famous Underground (featuring Juno award-winning vocalist Nicholas Walsh). He was invited multiple occasions to privately audition for platinum-selling artist Fefe Dobson, and asked to write songs for Alice Cooper’s daughter Calico Cooper, and long time bassist Chuck Garric’s band Beasto Blanco. Darren received a scholarship to Guitar Workshop Plus in Toronto, with some of the best players in the business as instructors (Paul Gilbert/Billy Sheehan/Sue Foley). He has shared the stage with such acts as One-Eyed Doll, Wednesday 13, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stryper, Harem Scarem, Beasto Blanco, and Lee Aaron. In the spring of 2019 he joined the Mississippi Mudds Theatre Group to play guitar for a sold out run of Queen’s We Will Rock You. The Mississippi Mudds won the Ottawa Faces Magazine award for Favourite Theatre Group for that year. Boyd is also the recipient of a 2019 ASCAP Honourable Mention.
We caught up with him for this exclusive interview…
Hey Darren! How has Darren Michael Boyd been doing during the quarantine?
I’m hanging in there, thanks! I’m surprisingly busy, since I always find ways to create more work for myself than I can possibly accomplish. But I really do miss performing live, and being able to just spontaneously go out to events, attractions etc… I know I’m not alone in that feeling! I’m optimistic for a better future though!
How’s the music scene in Ottawa, ON?
Currently, there isn’t much of one, but not for lack of trying by some venues. I think a lot of music venues (and small businesses in general) are seriously hurting. Naturally, a lot of local artists have become more active online, doing live streams – many with a great deal of success. Ottawa has no shortage of super talented musicians. We’re all navigating this current situation for the first time, like everyone else!
Tell us about the origins of your guitar playing. How did you get started, and who are your main influences?
I actually started on drums. I was about 8 and must have thought I was Peter Criss or something, bashing on pots and pans… my parents said if you’re going to make that kind of racket, you need to do it properly. They got me enrolled in drum lessons, which lasted a few years. Somehow, I knew I was a guitar player at heart. I was captivated by the sounds coming from the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Angus Young, and Brian May – just to name a few. I am a huge fan of guitar players with their own voice on the instrument, and luckily there are tons of them. Guthrie Govan, Paul Gilbert, Mick Mars, Phil X, Richie Kotzen… All make killer music. I could probably fill a book with all the players I love!
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
Wow, that’s a tough one. I remember listening to Kiss Destroyer and Alice Cooper Love it to Death over and over (the first records I owned) and trying to write songs like those, even though I couldn’t play an instrument. I remember I had lyrics, and sounds, all worked out in my head.
“The Earth is B Flat” was a huge success for you. How did that song come about? Is it a surprise to you, how well it’s been received?
I was probably watching too many old X-Files episodes or something, hence the sci-fi sound and title – which I happened to think was hilarious at the time. I even made sure there was at least one B Flat chord in the song, but I doubt anyone noticed.
The success actually did surprise me. Mostly because being an unknown artist writing heavy, quirky instrumental guitar rock, well, that’s not exactly like having a pop radio hit. It’s very cool to know people actually enjoy some new music that colours outside the lines a little bit.
Best concert you’ve ever been to? Worst show you’ve seen?
I’d say the worst shows are forgettable and I wouldn’t bother bringing them up – and sometimes we all have bad nights. The best shows are always Alice Cooper. The band, the theatrics, and the songs – it’s always fantastic. I also remember seeing David Lee Roth on the Skyscraper tour and that was outrageous! And Rob Zombie never disappoints.
If there’s one song you wish you’d written that you didn’t, what is it?
Oh, there are a lot! Apology by The Go-Go’s comes to mind.
Any plans to tour once 2020 is over and done with?
I hope so! While I was working on my new album, Wonders of the Invisible World, I kept a running word document of tasks and goals, and it started with “tour”. Obviously we know what happened, but I remain hopeful that this will happen.
Give us your all time supergroup lineup… who would you have in it?
I could just say “Prince” and leave it at that. He was a supergroup all on his own.
Let’s have a little more fun though… off the top of my head (only living people):
Paul Gilbert – guitar/vocals
Nuno Bettencourt – guitar/vocals
Nick Walsh – lead vocals
Michael Anthony – bass/vocals
Rufus Taylor – drums/vocals
Thanks for taking the time, Darren! Here’s to 2021!!
For more information, please visit https://darrenboyd.com/.