Music started running through Alex Williams' blood at a young age. He began with drums at age 3 and picked up the Alto and Tenor sax at age 11. It wasn't until he met B.B King and his band at age 12 that Alex was inspired to pick up the guitar - it instantly took over.
Alex recently graduated from Berklee College of Music in Fall 2016 with a degree in Professional Music with a focus on Guitar Performance and Music Business/Marketing. His current gig is with Hollyn of Gotee Records, but he also performs with Bel-Ami Music of Houston, Texas, Natasha Pheko, and his own band, Collective 6ix out of Boston.
5 MINUTES WITH ALEX
PRS: What inspired you to pick up the guitar, and at what age?
AW: Well, I grew up playing drums at age 3, as my grandfather was a blues drummer and he’d jam every weekend with my dad on bass. But at age 12, I went to a BB King concert and met the band after the show. I was in awe of the entire show and just thought that the guitar was the coolest thing I had ever seen! And that following Christmas, my parents surprised me with my first guitar!
PRS: Did you always want to be a professional musician?
AW: Well, I’ve always had an extreme passion for music but it wasn’t in my head as a career until sophomore year of high school, up until then, I had dreams of being an Air Force pilot, ha ha! But when I went to the Berklee summer program in 2010, I really fell in love with the guitar. That experience was really my first time being completely immersed in a community of people that do music for a living. It was also where I met my mentor Tomo Fujita! It showed me that playing music full time, even in college was a reality!
PRS: Who are your three biggest musical influences?
AW: Oh man, so many. Well, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather record was one of the first that I discovered when I began playing guitar and it changed the game for me. The soulful phrasing and blazing lines just set the tone for my playing as well, particularly since I had grown up on the blues! Second, I’d have to say B.B. King since I really grew up on him, I even got to meet him twice and he was very encouraging as I was getting started. His spacing and passion made way for a lot of my other favorite players. Lastly, Robben Ford is my main man! He has just been the perfect example of combining the heart and soul of the blues with the versatility and vocabulary of jazz which is the quality I’ve always tried to master! So many more though!
PRS: If you had to name one song (or record) that changed your life, what would it be?
AW: Ah man, definitely the Crash record by Dave Matthews Band. Being from Virginia and growing up on DMB were synonymous! They've always been my favorite band and that Crash record was huge for me because when I first heard it as a kid (playing drums and learning guitar) and the pure musicianship of everyone in the band on that album was just game changing! It grooves so hard! Tim Reynolds’ guitar work particularly in the background throughout the record is unreal. And the songwriting... ‘Crash Into ME’..come on!
PRS: Tell us a little bit about how you landed the gig with Hollyn...
AW: Well, Hollyn is signed to Gotee Records which is TobyMac’s record label and Toby is from northern Virginia where I grew up! And my good friend who used to live in that area, Cole Walowac is a producer signed to his label as well and he had kept up with me via instagram, so he called me to come audition with Hollyn in Nashville for tour and everything worked out!
PRS: When you aren’t writing music or touring, what do you like to do during your free time?
AW: Besides practicing guitar and listening to music, usually I’m spending time with my family, my girlfriend and my best friends. They are the most incredible and encouraging people in the world, so every free second I get, I try to spend traveling, going to museums and eating with them!
PRS: Why PRS, and what is your go-to model?
AW: Being from northern Virginia, Paul Reed Smith guitars have always been around me, right in my backyard in Maryland. They’re the home team, and the best home team I could ever ask for. I love the versatility of their guitars! Every vintage tone I could ever want but with such modern playability and craftsmanship that makes them extremely consistent and road worthy. The trem system floats like a butterfly and don’t get me started on how good they look!
I am obsessed with my 305! It is my favorite guitar I have ever had! It sustains for days and I’m a single coil guy so it's a perfect match. It is beyond versatile as well. The first gig I ever played on it was a concert with Philip Bailey from Earth, Wind & Fire, Jeffrey Osborne, and Bill Withers and Bill actually asked to play it and played Ain’t No Sunshine on my 305! Even he loved it! What a dream come true!
PRS: What is on the musical horizon for 2018?
AW: Well, I’m planning to move down to Nashville in early 2018 and do more touring guitar work with Hollyn, I also recently met a new artist on Capitol named Riley Clemmons, so I plan to work with her more in the upcoming months! As far as moving down to Nashville I'm really just trying to open myself up to new opportunities, and play with as many people as I can! I also want to balance spending some time in the Los Angeles music scene as well. I have a lot of studio work coming up in the future that I'm looking forward to!