There are tremendous benefits when your gig is guitarist on America’s largest and most famous singing competition. For one, your work is continuously in front of millions of viewers week after week. Two, you are providing the music for someone who is to ultimately become the next major singing sensation in North America, if not the world. Another benefit of the job is that unlike the contestants, you are not on the chopping block. You can’t be voted off the show.
There is never a truly typical job when you make your living as a musician. For Brady Cohan, being the guitarist for American Idol means a truly whirlwind schedule 7 days a week while the season is taping. “Everything begins on Friday mornings, which is when the contestants choose which song(s) they will sing for the coming week. Once those are chosen, we come in the afternoon to the recording studio to cut the full-length tracks that are released on iTunes. We typically work until about 1 or 2am, and depending on whether we finish all of the tracks, we may have to come back in on Saturday. We essentially record an entire album in a night. On Sundays, I go back into the studio to record all of my guitar overdubs. Come Monday, we head over to the CBS lot where the show is taped. On Mondays and Tuesdays we rehearse with the contestants, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays we have a dress rehearsal and live tapings. Come Friday, we start all over and do it again!”
Now that the 12th season of the show has wrapped up Brady can find the time to devote to projects that are truly close to his heart. It might come as a bit of a surprise that the guitarist for a show whose single objective is to seek, find and promote the latest singing sensation has a real passion for scoring, song writing and production. The next few months will be spent promoting his work (with Ross Garren). The duo ‘Like Me, Like You’ has just released a new EP of instrumental recordings inspired by scenes from famous literature. ‘The Unseen EP’ is the result of those efforts and was approached much like the scoring of a film. “I’d love to be scoring feature films, TV shows, licensing my original songs, etc. It’s that area of my career that I’m really focusing on. As of right now, I’m really trying to write as much as I can. There will always be things in my career that I still want to do. I think that it’s important to always keep that focus and drive to do new things.”
“My favorite part of my career right now is getting to meet and play with some of the best musicians in the world. I consider myself very lucky to work with the calibre of musicians that I do. It’s really inspiring and is a constant reminder never to get too content, to always strive to be better. My least favorite part is that I often don’t have the time to work on the musical endeavors that are nearest and dearest to me. Being a professional musician is a very interesting thing. Music is how I make my living, but it’s also what I do for fun, and it’s also what I do for a creative release. Striking a balance between those things can be very challenging.”
On the show, Brady often plays a Traugott guitar. It just so happens his uncle is Jeff Traugott, a custom guitar maker in Santa Cruz, California. “I’ve grown up hearing and playing Jeff’s guitars, so I’ve been extremely spoiled in developing my tastes for what I think a steel-string should sound like.” But Brady found himself dissatisfied with the sound on amplification. “It’s always been a challenge for me to find a way to properly amplify acoustic guitars. I always felt terrible simply plugging those guitars into a standard DI box because they would never do them justice.” On Idol this year Brady added the Radial PZ Deluxe Acoustic Preamp to his set up. “My uncle told me about the PZ Deluxe right before the AI season began. The PZ Deluxe is the first piece of gear I’ve used that really adds a warmth to the tone while still maintaining the clarity and pristine quality of his acoustics. The difference is really pronounced.”
Brady’s commitment with American Idol also extends to off season work. With his Traugott guitar and PZ Deluxe in hand, Brady will be touring with the show this summer playing 40 shows within two months.