Alex Linares

Finch guitarist Alex Linares has some basic but wise advice for upcoming guitarists: Be obsessed.

“I think you have to be obsessed with your instrument,” Linares told “You have to be completely, 100% dedicated.”

“I grew up in a time when computers just saw outside in the corner and were there to do school reports. I entertained myself 14 hours a day by playing guitar, and I think it takes that kind of dedication to be successful,” he added. “I think you have to have that kind of discipline with your instrument and craft, and I think that’s your key to success. I’ve been obsessed with my guitar since I was 12 years old.”

Finch are coming up on the release of their latest studio album, the Brian Virtue-produced Back to Oblivion, which will arrive Sept. 30, marking the band’s first studio record since 2005’s Say Hello to Sunshine.

Linares chatted with about the upcoming album and why he’s “totally a Les Paul guy.”

Alex Linares

Let’s talk guitars. What are your go-to models on the road and in the studio?

I have a couple cool Les Pauls. I’m totally a Les Paul guy. My favorite Gibson is a ‘97 Les Paul that’s a beautiful electric blue color. It’s USA-made, but I found it in Tokyo my first trip there. I had been searching for that guitar for years, and I saw a picture of it once in a magazine, and it was gorgeous. I loved it. When I found it, I almost wept! (Laughs) I’d been looking for it for so long! It’s been one of my main guitars for 12 years now. It’s been beaten, too. It’s been on every Finch tour and Finch recording since then, and its headstock got snapped off, and I re-glued it myself, and it’s been better than ever since then!

What makes Gibsons the right fit for you and Finch?

I think a lot of it is probably that the guitar players I grew up watching and listening to obsessing over were Les Paul players. The day I played my first Les Paul, it was a ‘62 Cherry Sunburst Standard, and it belonged to the studio where I was recording. It sounded so naturally compressed and even, and every string sounded perfect. Ever since then, I get why everybody plays a Les Paul. Aerosmith’s Joe Perry is the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place, and he’s obviously a big Les Paul player.

Finch got started back in the early 2000s. How would you describe the change in the music industry since Finch’s early days? It wasn’t that long ago, but a lot has evolved.

I think one thing for sure is most record labels are more careful with how they spend their money. There used to be giant budgets just for a photo shoot, and now, that budget for one photo shoot is your entire recording budget! They’ve had to learn to use their money more wisely and be less frivolous. I think it’s good, because I used to watch how they would throw money around, and it was crazy. It would make my head spin! I think the way must is more sustainable now. I think people are less afraid in 2014 than they were in 2009 of a collapse of the must industry and look at it more as a positive time for music. Even though music sales down, everyone has learned how to deal with it.

How does Back to Oblivion differ from Finch’s past albums?

I think it shows a more mature Finch, and that generally come with age. We’re better songwriters now that we’re in our ‘30s. It’s not all about being as loud as possible for the entire song. We’ve learned to be dynamic and write songs maturely. When we first signed our record contract back in the beginning, we were 19 and 20, and some of us had to have our parents give permission to sign the deal! We were so young, and those songs reflected that. So, we’ve grown up a lot, and that is reflected on this new record. We sound like an older, more mature band.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

I do today, but it will probably be different tomorrow! There’s one song, “Play Dead,” that’s midway through the record. It’s a slow, groovy, sludgy song. It’s one of the tracks I really like, and seem to enjoy it, too.

Listening back to the release, what makes you most proud?

Honestly, that we got it done! (Laughs) I’m proud of the fact we got 12 songs recorded, mixed and mastered. I’m not much of a pessimist, really, but this was our third attempt at making a third record, and there were definitely some serious mountains to climb along the way. I’m just thankful that we got it done and proud of it. I’m glad I actually like it, too! (Laughs) It would have been terrible to spend whole year writing and recording and album and then not like it.

What’s ahead for Finch?

We have a U.S. tour coming up that starts on the day of the record release, Sept. 30, and goes through November. Then, we have a short U.K. tour, and after that, it’s up in the air. A couple of babies are being born in the band, so we’ll probably take a couple of months off to attend to that!

Summary: Finch guitarist Alex Linares chats with about the band’s upcoming album, Back to Oblivion, and why he’s “totally a Les Paul guy.”

Photos by Iggy Garrett