Meet The Next Generation: Four PRS Artists Under 20
Posted Sep 27, 2019
It takes serious skill to play guitar in front of 50,000 people at an NFL game, rock out on stages throughout the country with the Vans Warped Tour, sit in with Sevendust at a music festival, or win a student music award, but that's exactly what these talented PRS artists have experienced - all before the age of 20.
The future of music looks bright, read our interview with four talented (and young) PRS artists below.
PRS: How old are you and how long have you been playing guitar?
Aidan Fisher: I just turned 17 years old on September 1st and I have been playing guitar for about 9 years.
Liv Haynes: I am 14 years old. I started playing the acoustic guitar when I was 9 years old. Then, growing up listening to my Mom and Dad’s 80s hair metal and 90s grunge scene music, I was very influenced to pick up an electric guitar at age 11. My parents have been so supportive of my musical career and I can’t thank them enough for buying me my first ever electric guitar, the PRS S2 Custom 24 in Whale Blue! SO PRETTY!!!!!! A year later, at 12, I started my own band, Not Ur Girlfrenz, with my sister, Gigi Haynes (bassist), and our friend, Maren Alford (drums). I’m the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter. So, that’s 5 years total.
Xander Marsden: I am 14 years old and I have been playing since I got a guitar for my 7th birthday.
Landon Siebens: I am 13 years old and will be 14 in October. I started playing guitar around the time of my eighth birthday. So, I have been playing for around six years.
PRS: What was it about the guitar that first pulled you in?
Aidan Fisher: I had actually taken guitar lessons for about two years before I “really” got excited about it. On June 2nd 2013, my Dad took me to see Guns N’ Roses in Kansas City. We were in the front row on the rail for the whole show and during the last song (Paradise City) Axl Roses’s head security guy came and said to my Dad “Axl would like to invite your boy on stage”. I stood between Axl and DJ Ashba along with the rest of the band and bowed to the crowd to end the show. It was the energy from the crowd in that moment that I really felt the power of music. When I got home, I played guitar all day, every day, and that has continued until today.
Liv Haynes: Ever since I was baby, my Dad had played the guitar for me and my sister every night as a lullaby. One day, I decided “Hey, Dad! I want to learn the guitar!” So, he taught me some of the basic chords like G, C, and D, and from then on I’ve been hooked.
Xander Marsden: I started off when I was 6 playing on our piano at home. I had fun trying to play songs I liked at the time. My dad always wanted to play guitar but never did so he had me try and I loved playing it right away.
Landon Siebens: Ever since I was a toddler, I have loved hard rock and heavy metal music. I used to stand in the middle of our living room and headbang to Ozzy Osbourne when I was in diapers.
PRS: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Aidan Fisher: Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Jimmy Page, Steve Via, George Lynch, Satchel
Liv Haynes: Some of my biggest musical inspirations for the guitar are John Mayer, Ray Toro & Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), Matt Bellamy (Muse), Awsten Knight & Geoff Wigington (Waterparks), Taylor York (Paramore), Orianthi and so many others… It’s hard to choose my favorite guitarists because I think being a good guitarist doesn’t just mean you can shred. It means you can understand melodies, have good tone, and know-how to just simply make someone feel a certain emotion when you are playing - and shred too (laughs). I have much appreciation for guitarists who can play and sing at the same time. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s super fun!!!
Xander Marsden: I always found the guitar to be the coolest instrument and had heard lots of amazing rock bands when I was younger and especially guitarists like Slash, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, EVH, Alex Lifeson, Chris Shifflet and Neal Schon. As I got older, I got into the faster players and bands like Symphony X, Nuno Bettencourt, Steve Vai, Metallica, and Orianthi. Then I really got involved with blues, particularly British and Texas blues, and played a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Carlos Santana, Gary Moore, Peter Green, Joe Bonamassa and Joe Walsh. Recently, I have been playing some jazz, but I am working on my own sound so I have been listening to some of my favorite bands like Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182 as well as newer bands like Panic! At the Disco.
Landon Siebens: I would say Zakk Wylde was one of my earliest influences and made me want to play guitar. Since then, there have been a bunch of other guitarists who I admire and I consider influences, such as Slash, Mark Tremonti, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Clint Lowery. I’m sure there’s even more where that came from.
PRS: What’s been your coolest experience as a guitar player?
Aidan Fisher: I would say performing the National Anthem for the NFL. It is pretty amazing to think “all eyes are on you” when performing for a crowd of nearly 70,000. It will be my 5th NFL appearance when I perform for the Cleveland Browns vs. Seattle Seahawks on October 13th.
Liv Haynes: Playing the Vans Warped Tour was one of the most amazing experiences for me and my band. It has helped shape us as artists and touring musicians. The tour has such a supportive community surrounding it where everyone feels like family. We also played Vans Warped tour in 2018 and that was a summer we will never forget! We turned out to be the youngest touring band ever to play the tour… For that, we can’t thank Kevin Lyman, the creator of the tour, enough for giving us such amazing opportunities. And, Vans Shoes for sponsoring us! I actually named my PRS S2 Vela in Frost Green, Kevin - after Kevin Lyman himself!!!
Playing alongside greats like Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Waterparks, The Offspring, The Used, Simple Plan, Bowling For Soup, and Sleeping With Sirens on the tour’s 25th Anniversary was a dream come true!!!! Maybe one of the most special moments for me was getting to meet and hang out with Matt Armstrong and Frank Iero from Frank Iero and the Future Violents (and former member of My Chemical Romance). That was just amazing!
Xander Marsden: I’ve had so many great experiences and played with so many great players, but I would probably say the one that stands out is my opportunity to play at the Hermosa Beach Summer Concert when I was about 10. It was a great day and we were selected to play through a competition. There were over 10,000 people there at the beach, and we got to play an encore! It was a great feeling and I really played well that day.
Landon Siebens: It’s pretty hard to top the experience I had when I performed on stage with Sevendust at Welcome To Rockville in 2018. But Clint Lowery invited me to come back on stage a few months later at another Sevendust show in St. Petersburg, Florida. That time was really cool because I got to have my best friend and drummer, Liam, get on stage and jam. Both experiences were so awesome!
PRS: What do you do to practice - exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Aidan Fisher: Mainly scales, along with riffs and solos from my most influential artists.
Liv Haynes: I took lessons when I first started playing and learned all the notes on my guitar neck along with several scales. I think it’s important to know all the notes on the fretboard. It makes it a lot easier to write riffs and songs. To improve that skill, I run scales to a metronome to make sure I still have that muscle memory. Practicing to a metronome also helps practice my speed and rhythm. I also love simply having jam sessions to get my brain flowing. I am always constantly learning and practicing a new riff or chord that my family has to listen to me play over and over again around the house (laughs). The guitar is my therapy when I’m having a bad day… I love to get lost in the melody.
Xander Marsden: I have a great teacher, Shawn Fleming, who picks really challenging songs and exercises. When I practice I usually just play through some of the more difficult songs that I know then focus on technique of how I’m playing the notes which promotes better habits in my guitar playing. Jazz and some of the really great players out now like Guthrie Govan also keep my fingers challenged! As far as learning songs, I usually will either figure it out by ear or find tabs or videos. I’m not the type of person to want to play a cover song exactly note for note, unless the part is really famous. I do figure it all out, but I like to experiment with it and make my part my own.
Landon Siebens: A little bit of everything. I practice a lot of techniques to help me play faster and more intricate pieces. I still work every week with a guitar instructor to help me with music theory and just to make me a better and more well-rounded player. I’m constantly writing and recording songs and riffs on my phone, and whenever there’s a song that catches my ear — which is all the time — I try to learn it. I pretty much have a guitar in my hands a lot every day.
PRS: Favorite gig you’ve played?
Aidan Fisher: Rockfest Kansas City 2015! Incredible energy at that show!
Liv Haynes: My favorite gig I’ve played so far is probably the O2 Academy, Bristol in the UK. That show was one the dates on our ‘Almost Christmas’ tour with Bowling for Soup and Patent Pending. It was my first time in a different country and people were singing my lyrics!! When we played our slow song, ‘Somehow’, everyone in the building had their phone flashlights and lighters in the air as they sang the lyrics… I most definitely cried on stage. It was a dream come true. Fans also gave us gifts they had made for us at our merch table! They were all so welcoming and their accents were really cool too (laughs)! Plus we grew really close with the other bands on that tour, and each other!
Xander Marsden: I’ve been lucky to play a lot of great gigs. I’d have to say playing at the Whisky A Go Go when I was 11 was one of my best gigs. It was my first “Xander Marsden” gig. Also, playing the Hermosa Beach Summer Concert show when I was 10 was really exciting. There were more than 10,000 people in the crowd and we got an encore!
Landon Siebens: My favorite gig so far was probably when my band, Skeleton Curse, played a festival in our hometown. We did two sets on different stages and a lot of the people who saw the first set came back and made a pretty great crowd for our second set later that night. It was so cool to see some familiar and new faces when we played our second set. I really liked how we performed during that second set too. I feel like I usually perform better when I can feel the energy from the crowd which I did that night.
PRS: What is your favorite PRS model?
Aidan Fisher: SE Custom 24 “Floyd”
Liv Haynes: That’s a hard one!!! I love my PRS S2 Vela in Frost Green for live performances because it sounds amazing and it’s very lightweight so I can jump around and stuff. Not to mention, fans are always telling me how sick it looks after shows which is a really great feeling!!
Xander Marsden: My favorite PRS model is the 408 which has been my go-to guitar for almost every gig. I love its versatility with the coil taps and has many unique sounds with the 408 pickups. I love so many of the PRS models, though.
Landon Siebens: I really love my PRS CE24 and how it feels and plays. The pickups sound beautiful, the action is perfect, it looks amazing and if I were to ever have a custom guitar, it would be pretty close to this exact one. But I’m a big fan of every PRS I’ve ever gotten to play. I also have four SE models — a 30th Anniversary Custom 24, a seven-string, an AE55 acoustic and the 245 — and they’re all fantastic.
PRS: Why do you choose to play PRS?
Aidan Fisher: PRS guitars are light weight and comfortable. They are well balanced, they feel great in my hands, they sound amazing, and they always stay in tune!
Liv Haynes: All PRS guitars are just super pretty and sound good, so no matter what model you choose it’s gonna be fire!!!
Xander Marsden: They are so flexible and their tone is always awesome. I have 3 PRS guitars now, but I always have my eye on a couple others.
Landon Siebens: PRS makes a guitar that not only looks and sounds great but feels perfect. While hard rock and heavy metal is my favorite genre, I also like to play blues and other stuff, and these guitars do it all.
PRS: As a young player yourself, what piece of advice can you share with other young musicians who are pursuing a musical career?
Aidan Fisher: Be self driven; practice, practice, and practice some more; seek inspiration; and always challenge yourself to learn more!
Liv Haynes: Stay in your lane but not in a box. Also, you will encounter a ton of people that will underestimate you since you are younger and you just need to not care what other people think. I wrote a song about it called ‘No One Asked You Anyway’ for my band, so the joke’s on them - I got a song out of it!!! Also, practice, practice, practice and don’t let anyone take the fun out of it!!!
Xander Marsden: I would say that you should play your instrument in your own way because there will always be someone who is better than you at some specific skill, but no matter who you are, you are the only person who plays like you.
Landon Siebens: Well, here’s the advice I got from Slash when I called into Eddie Trunk’s radio show when I was 9 years old and I asked him what I could do to improve my playing. He told me to me to practice more than you want to, anytime you feel like you want to put it down is when you keep going. He also said to learn anything that catches your ear. That’s what I do and probably is the best advice I can share. Just never give up and have fun! Anytime I’m feeling down, I pick up my guitar and it makes me feel better. That’s why music is so great!
THE ARTISTS IN ACTION
Below, Aidan performs the National Anthem in front of thousands at at 2018 NFL game.
Watch the music video for "No One Asked You Anyway" performed by Liv Haynes and her bandmates in Not Ur Girlfrenz.
PRS: Liv, do you find it difficult to juggle school and your music career at the same time? How do you divide your time and keep on task?
Liv Haynes: I am homeschooled, so that makes it a lot easier to be doing what I am doing. Of course, I still do school though and it can be very hard to balance the both. Homeschooling is awesome because it allows me to make this article my writing essay for the day!!! Best class ever!!!
Below, watch Xander cover Santana's Europe in a live studio session.
PRS: Xander, Downbeat Magazine unveiled their 42nd Annual Student Music Awards this year and you were among the award recipients for Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist and Small Jazz Combo categories. What an incredible honor and accomplishment, what do these awards mean to you?
Xander Marsden: The Downbeat Awards were really amazing. It was a great opportunity for demonstrating my skills as a guitar player against so many other great players. I am always looking for chances to see how my playing is received by people who don’t know me and it was a great opportunity. It was also great because it wasn’t based on how you look or your stage performance. It was just your playing. I did it just to try to get myself out there and maybe get some feedback on how I can improve. When I won the awards I was blown away but it gave me some real confidence in my ability as a guitar player.
Watch Landon shred a solo on stage with Sevendust in front of 40,000 people at the Welcome to Rockville festival.
PRS: Landon, In 2018, you won the Gear Factor “30 Seconds to Shred” contest at Welcome to Rockville... how did you feel about being in a competition with older contestants? Were you nervous?
Landon Siebens: I was definitely nervous competing against such talented guitarists who were older than me, but it was neat to have a chance to show what I could do. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect at the 2018 competition, because I actually participated the year before at Welcome to Rockville when I was 11. That year, the judge was Riki Rachtman and I ended up winning a PRS SE 245, which was awesome. But yes, I definitely had butterflies in my stomach during that competition.