Name: Anthony Biondo
Instrument/s played: Guitar, bass
What band/group do you play in: Ian Ippoliti and the Collective
What was your first experience with music? Around the age of six I recall listening to my sister's records. Among them were numerous hit singles of the era from bands like Skyhooks, Hush, Rick Springfield, Status Quo, and a stack of Beatles 45s. However, it was Deep Purple's Machine Head album that had my attention. As soon as I heard the songs and the virtuoso playing I was hooked.
Around that same period, my parents had a trip to Sydney and asked if I was interested in learning an instrument. I initially wanted a drum kit, but I guess it was lucky for everyone when they returned home with a small nylon string classical guitar. I went to lessons for a little while at the Hammond Music Centre but when my teacher moved away I stopped and found it too difficult to continue learning on my own. My interest in music continued into my teens. I discovered heavy metal and other guitar centric music that eventually rekindled my interest in learning to play guitar. I saved up some money and was able to purchase my first electric guitar when I was 15. This would spark a lifelong obsession with all things related to the guitar. I had a few lessons but mostly learned to play by ear, rewinding tapes and repeating guitar parts over and over until I'd worked it out. I'd occasionally get the opportunity to jam with friends, learning parts of songs and sharing what we had worked out.
After leaving school I was fortunate to have secured a job as the manager of a local music store selling musical instruments, this was a dream job at the time and allowed me to fully immerse myself in the local Griffith music scene. I had the opportunity to network with local musicians which led to an invitation to join a working cover band. This would be the start of a valuable learning experience as a musician building on my skills as a guitarist and establishing lifelong friendships through music. I also invested significant time in learning the craft of guitar repair. This would later develop into a part time business - Biondo Guitars where I specialise in setup, modifications and repairs. I tend to geek out over music gear and like to tweak guitars so that they feel the best they can, aiming to inspire the player to bring out the best in their performances.
During the past four decades I've transitioned careers, found my life partner, and nurtured a family. Throughout this journey, playing guitar and entertaining live audiences has remained a constant passion. I intend to keep playing guitar and performing live for as long as possible.
Who inspires you? When I first started to play it was a number of local guitarists that were my primary source of inspiration. I used to go to watch band rehearsals and be totally blown away with how well they could play, I'd go home and spend hours practising so I could do the same one day. I get the most inspiration working with local musicians that share the same passion and drive to perform. I was also strongly influenced by all the great Aussie bands I grew up listening to in the 80s. Ian Moss was a standout for me, he has such a unique way of phrasing and approach to melody.
Do you have a favourite song or style to play? It's too hard to pick any one song or style, when you play in a cover band you get exposed to so many great songs - they're all fun to play. When I'm practising I like to improvise over Rock and Jazz Fusion or Progressive Metal tracks, I find this is a great way to challenge myself and to learn new techniques.
Who do you listen to? Steven Wilson is my favourite artist, he is relatively unknown in the mainstream. I have a fairly eclectic taste in music and that extends to most genres but I lean towards heavier progressive music. I'm not a fan of commercial radio or most current charting hits.
Favourite gig and why? Too many to list, over a long period of time! I did have a few very good gigs playing at the Area Hotel with a number of bands over the years. Along with getting the opportunity to be the support band for a number of national touring acts. Supporting Dragon at Griffith Regional Theatre back in the 90's on their last tour with Marc Hunter was an interesting one.
How do you feel about the music scene in Griffith? The landscape has certainly transformed. Reflecting on the 90s, I recall gigging up to three nights weekly during its peak. Every generation of musicians seems to reminisce about the glory days of their era when life was simpler, and entertainment options were not as abundant as they are today. Live music has suffered amid cultural changes; with numerous avenues for music consumption such as online streaming and virtual performances, the pandemic further exacerbated the decline of live performances worldwide. It remains to be seen if live music will experience a resurgence in the wake of these challenges, we are very fortunate that Griffith has an above average number of talented musicians so I think we are in safe hands.
I'll certainly be flying the flag for live music and doing my best to prevent Griffith from becoming a cultural desert. Hopefully everyone reading this can do their bit by getting together with friends and heading out to show their support for live music and enjoying a night out.