Guitar Hero

Under the Gun ax-slinger Jimmy Falco wins Mayhem Fest competition

Jimmy Falco performs on stages all the time with the popular local band, Under the Gun. But performing wasn’t the plan when he went to the Mayhem Fest at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on July 14. The festival featured Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon and more, but also featured a rock guitar contest that Falco couldn’t resist.

“We got there early and were drinking, went to the park, and as we were walking around, my friend pointed over to the {Jgermeister} tent and says, ‘You gotta do that,’” Falco says of the spur of the moment decision to participate in a rock contest.

There was a sign reading, “Are you a guitar god?” and Falco decided to find out. He auditioned for a man at the tent, who decided that Falco could make it onto the next round.

“I started playing, screwing around and the audition guy was very excited, saying, ‘You’re definitely in and I’m pretty sure you’re gonna win,’” Falco recalls.

The man told Falco to come back at 5 p.m. sharp to be sent to the main stage, where everyone in the competition would shred for 30 seconds to impress the crowd. They’d duke it out just before Zombie.

“I was like, wait, wait, what? Main stage? Shitting my pants kinda thing. I thought it would be right there, not on the main stage,” he says.

GuitarHeroIt was only 3 p.m. then, so Falco had a good two hours of nervous waiting before his chance to win the crowd. When the time rolled around, he was greeted by his competition, who all went to the tight-security backstage area together. Six contestants lined up on the stage in front of the crowd, on the stage Zombie would take just a few minutes later.

“They kept saying, ‘You have 30 seconds. Do something noticeable and memorable,’” Falco says. “So I get up there and start riffing it up. Behind my back, with my teeth, everything I can.”

It was enough to win the crowd over and to win Falco a Schecter guitar. “They gave me a brand-new guitar rather than the one we all sweat on,” he says appreciatively. “And it’s a great guitar. I thought it would be a piece of crap. It was a great experience. Very surreal.”

It’s been only a few weeks, but already the ax has made appearances at Under the Gun gigs. “It’s a great guitar, but I’ll only use it on special occasions,” he says.

Falco is from Syracuse and played guitar since he was 11, inspired ferociously by the likes of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. He has played with groups including Dead Rose and has been with Under the Gun for about a year. Speaking about how he joined makes him laugh.

“They called me last year on a Monday and asked if I wanted to join. Their guitarist had quit, and they had a show that Saturday,” Falco says. “Basically they told me, ‘If you wanna do it, here’s 60 songs. You’re in.’ I asked if we were gonna practice, and they said, ‘Well, you can practice.’” The outfit, although known as a cover band, is writing an original album. “It’s fresh,” Falco says. “It’s a new life for the band, whole different vibe.”

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