Gary Arce and Band Yawning Man Give Advice to Young Musicians
by Declan Poehler
Gary Arce is a guitar player that got his start in the early ‘80s playing hardcore punk. In 1986 he drifted away from the punk scene and started to dive into English bands and The Grateful Dead leading to the formation of his long-lasting band, Yawning Man.
Starting music was an accident for Arce as he said, “I was just hanging around my friend Mario’s house and I decided to pick up his guitar when I was bored. He showed me some punk music and we just decided to form a band.”
When Arce was in a band he knew he needed more power than his friend’s acoustic guitar. “I got my first guitar coincidentally. I was in a McDonald’s parking lot in San Diego and a guy walked up to me in his underwear holding a guitar. He said I could have it for twenty bucks and that was exactly what I had in my pocket.”
Arce began playing parties and local shows around Palm Springs in 1982 and 1983. He said his influences were “The Germs and seeing punk shows. Seeing D.O.A. changed my life.” He also noted Husker Du as being another important show he saw.
When the punk scene began to die down around 1984, Arce decided to step in a new direction. “We drifted away from punk music, but we kept the punk attitude. We started to jam and found a style with a mix of The Grateful Dead and The Meat Puppets.”
The new approach was refreshing to Arce. “I got more into orchestral and instrumental music. The sounds meant more to me and they seemed to speak for themselves.”
With the band in a different direction, they needed a different name. “Yawning Man came from some movie about dolls. I don’t exactly remember the title, but there was a doll in the movie named Yawning Man who sang a song to put the rest of the dolls to sleep. It reminded us of what many people had said about our music in that it was so ambient it almost put them to sleep.”
The band didn’t release any official recordings until 19 years after their start. Arce said, “I, along with the rest of the band never thought we would get this serious. We were just a band that got together to kill time. Then we toured with Queens of the Stone Age and saw a lot of interest from labels in Europe.”
When asked what advice he would give to a young musician Arce said, “Don’t follow trends, stay unique and stick to what you believe in, pay attention to the business side of things when you start to get serious, and never sell your gear because it will be worth a ton of money in time.“