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Fletch Whipp Interview

By Devin Harrison Instructor

RockStarzUSA owner & senior teacher Fletch Whipp was interviewed recently through Pikes Peak Community College by Devin Harrison. Here is a transcript of that interview so our clients can gain further insight into the mind behind RockStarzUSA Studios,

Devin: Could you briefly describe yourself?

Fletch: Defining oneself can be a difficult task. Life to date has been defined by a true spirit of adventure. I possess a unique world view having lived in both hemispheres. In England for 8 years, Australia for 21 years and now the U.S for the last 8. I’m also an avid traveler and have spent time trekking around Europe, Asia & the South Pacific Nations.

Fletch Whipp, CEO & Founder

Fletch Whipp, CEO & Founder

Devin: When did you start playing guitar?

Fletch: I started playing music at 15, and very quickly realized this to be more than a passing interest or hobby, that I was answering a calling. I did not own a tape deck (pre CD player days) until I was 15. My musical exposure was nil other than what I saw on the early days of MTV. Within 6 months I was practicing 1-2 hours a day, and within a year I was doing 3-4 hours. In my senior year in High School a band I was in won a very big competition, and this was the solidifying moment when I decided to pursue music professionally, and successfully auditioned for the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney Australia.

Devin: How have your goals changed since you started playing?

Fletch: Like most teens the initial goals were being in a band and touring. I’m thankful that I did achieve moderate success being in a popular band, releasing songs, music videos touring, headlining festivals, & doing plane gigs (where you have to fly to the next gig) touring both nationally and playing internationally. Nowadays I would do a sober self assessment and consider myself a renaissance man by definition – a person who is skilled in multiple fields or multiple disciplines, and who has a broad base of knowledge. Today my goal is to be pure to my musical craft, and inspire others with both the music I write and in the way I teach.

Devin: To what do you attribute your success in the music industry? God? Education? Work Ethic?

Fletch: I grew up with zero Christian influence in my household, and I made poor choices that led me down a path of substance abuse in my teens that only grew stronger during college. I was a talented musician, and being a blend of both both sanguine & melancholic temperaments, substances accentuated my personality. I was rapidly heading downhill when God came looking for me, and allowed me to discover my real passion for music, and pull away the layers of junk that had attached itself to my craft that were diminishing my focus in this area.

Devin: As a leader in the Church and at RockStarzUSA, what are some of the challenges you face?

Fletch: It’s funny isn’t it? To be in leadership roles in both sacred & secular? I’ve jokingly said to others I am the most reluctant worship leader you’ll ever encounter. It is a call I’ve responded to, rather than developed, or sought out. I think being a follower of Jesus Christ, and making Him real to a world that doesn’t care about Him, without being one of the many proud, religious institutional, intellectual types is my challenge. As for RockStarzUSA, my challenge is to navigate a successful business model in an ever present changing world, and being led by the Spirit of God as He has propelled me down this path.

Devin: Do you ever feel burnt out? How have you overcome these feelings?

Fletch: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m incredibly fortunate in that area, so I can’t quantify or qualify burn out with the same rubric as others would. Having said that, perhaps more than others, I do reach periods of exhaustion differently than the average worker for two reasons. 1. Outside the U.S.A the remaining western working world rewards workers generously with time off and public holidays. In America it is more of a gift than a birthright. 2. Being a business owner means you don’t wrap up your day when, or as others do. Long after I close the studio down I have to attend to marketing/promotion/SEO/interviewing staff/managing B2B relations/talking with prospective clients/paperwork…and most importantly still practicing !:)

Devin: As a guitarist what kind of temptations have you encountered? 

Fletch: Perhaps the most challenging aspect is to continue to develop my musical voice, and balance that with the need to not repeat the footsteps of others previously. In other words creating original art. My own personal blend is one part rock, fusion, metal, pop and plain experimental mixed with electronica elements. The second challenge is to find time after hours to write new music, both worship, and instrumental.

Devin: How do you deal in achieving this?

Fletch: Time management, plain and simple, just as I’m setting aside the time now to respond to these questions. It is a matter of priorities, and what I place value in. It is not uncommon for me to work 80-100 a hours a week. The motto Mouse (my wife) & I have is work hard, and play hard!

Devin: Does your work and your faith ever conflict with each other? If so, how?

Fletch: Yes, at times. Many of my clients do not hold the same values I do. I value the relationships I have with others, and just as God does with us, I allow a person their free will. I accept others who choose lifestyle choices that conflict with mine, but I do not secede my beliefs in favor of allowing another to feel comfortable with me. I enjoy peace, but not peace at all costs. I don’t wish to compartmentalize my faith, but rather than ‘pushing’ something on another I choose to respond, when asked for opinion or advice to situations another is going through based on how I’ve approached that situation in my own life. I actually do have youth pastor qualifications, and this pastoral counsel aspect definitely comes out in relationships with my clients. Instead of pushing Jesus Christ as the penultimate answer to every crossroads or point of confusion a student goes through though, I try and respond in a way that honors the student where they are at, yet uses a Biblical model of choice…if that makes sense.

Devin: How do you feel you have grown? Are you happy with the person you are? 

Fletch: I am happy now. Like many artists, you wrestle back and forth with properly defining personal musical integrity. I am in a place where I’m very satisfied with my development musically, yet realizing I’m only 50% the way there, even now after 23 years of playing full time.

Devin: Does your hectic schedule ever conflict with your personal life?

Fletch: It could if I allowed it. Mouse, luckily is also a professional musician and works in the studio alongside me. For a career musician, I could not conceive being with another who is not highly musical. It would be a conflict of interests that would eventually erupt like the San Andreas fault. Having said that I prioritize time with Mouse every week. We are having date night after I conclude this interview for example. Mouse is the yin to my yang, and is a giant stabilizer in my life. I bounce so much off her, and we are accountable to one another massively, which allows me to keep perspective of what’s important, which is our relationship.

Devin: How did you find God and how has religion changed your life?

Fletch: One of my friends Roy who studied at the Australian Institute of music with me was a Christian, and my senior guitar lecturer Deiter Kleeman (very well regarded Australian guitarist) both assisted in answering my questions, and walking me away from personal destruction through substances. I became involved and then heavily involved in the Occult prior to becoming a Christian, and regularly attended a coven, and practiced seances, astral raveling etc, so my ‘spiritual man’ was already awoken. I just didn’t find any appeal in the dusty, musty, teachings of Christianity, nor the practices of worshipping during the whole ‘nail a jew to a stick’ day. I was very anti-Christian. In His loving kindness God reached out to me, and being at a point of exhausting my own efforts, I responded to His call. It amazes me to see how many guitar mentors He sent my way to reach me…. My main guitar teacher before I ever left for college was also a devout Christian… It has changed my life where I am aware of God every minute of every day, and I see his incredible creativity in everything around me, whether that is nature, color, music, design, I see God’s handiwork in everything I do.

Devin: What is the best piece of advise you could give to someone who wants to be successful in the music industry?

Fletch: Success rarely comes by accident, but by having a clearly defined set of goals, successful planning and proper execution. Be like a sponge, soak up every experience and take the lessons both seen and unseen from it. Look for opportunities, but always walk with integrity. Develop a healthy mindset of ‘I can‘, rather than justifications of why you cannot. Develop strong problem solving abilities, and study psychology of human behavior and up-skill yourself with your interpersonal skills. It is critical to learn the art of sales for it’s problem solving, negotiation, and interpersonal relations. Read, read, read, then apply apply apply.

Devin: Thanks for your time & valuable insight

Fletch: Thanks for the interview Dev. Apply some of these principles and you will reach your definition of success!

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