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How to sing like John Bush?

KevinGremKevinGrem Pro Posts: 217
edited October 2016 in Off Topic
John Bush is a heavy metal singer known as the lead vocalist for the traditional metal band Armored Saint. As my own voice continues to grow and my range expands, I am getting better and better at singing more and more metal songs. Right now, I am very impressed by Bush's vocal abilities, and I am nowhere near his capabilities. He can sing in the same register as Bruce Dickinson, yet unlike Bruce, John has a thickness and distortion to his voice that is really hard to imitate. In 1983 Bush was asked to be the lead singer for none other than METALLICA, but turned it down.


Listen to how he goes way up, all the way up to F#5 in some cases, and maintains a thickness and fullness seldom matched by any other singer in the genre. I would kill for that kind of throat.

How can I get that???


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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    Lots of practice and learning to relax into the sound. His distortion, although almost constant in this video, is actually a smooth sound, and he's not pushing to get there. Lots of support, very consistent sound. It's not overly-distorted, it's a mix of clean sound and safe distortion. He sounds like he's cutting back the air, which is what lets your voice be at ease while making a sound that "sounds like" you're pushing like crazy (when you aren't).

    It's the Grand Illusion. That means he's got ease from building his chest voice to make this upper mid-section of his voice comfortable and almost effortless for him, and he layers a little smooth, fine-grit sandpaper on there to get a great distorted sound safely.

    The video appears to be lip-synced, but still it sounds good if it's a studio recording, and I have no doubts that live recordings of him would reflect a similar sound.

    You have to grow your upper chest notes from small, seedling notes, sung at a low level, and give them time to learn to adjust your voice a little at a time, to introduce more "chest" sound into those notes. If you try to add more vocal weight too soon, the notes just fall apart, or you constrict the throat and just can't sustain the notes. It's when you can finally do an Open Throat sustain on the notes that you can learn to relax on them enough to quit constricting and forcing.

    So let the notes be tiny at first, and be patient with them. They take time, and if you kill them by hurrying, when what the new notes need is time to live and grow, you will keep defeating yourself. See yourself as a gardener of notes and it's not harvest time until you start seeing the first fruits beginning to ripen.

    That's when it's time to begin to gently "lean-in on the notes and turn the seedlings into more mature, beefier notes. Then they can begin to sustain some tone and girth. Then you will be more at ease singing in this range with better technique and wisdom to sustain more of this range.
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    KevinGremKevinGrem Pro Posts: 217
    But you're saying it is possible right?
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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    Yes, absolutely. The path is through the technique, and through learning to regulate your air quantity and pressure so that you don't have to overpower notes in order to get to them. It's more a matter of learning to finesse your own voice. It's an instrument, and it performs the best when adhering to the physics that govern the parameters that make that instrument "really sing" or honk and squawk instead.

    Learning good techniques and then finding the balance to apply those things properly, without overdoing things, without overblowing the cords, without overdistorting... Finding the right amounts of what you are applying to the clean sound... And don't forget learning your limitations, so that you can gently exceed them very gradually and safely, without going beyond the capacity of your cords to phonate well on any given note at any given tone quality, at any reasonable, safe volume.

    Yes, you can get there, if you follow the guidelines and go about it properly.

    People get impatient and want the ultimate goal right now, without giving the voice time to maturate and grow into the workload you want it to handle. It will come along, if you do the conditioning and the work to attain your goals.

    You have a good start, but need a little more confidence and patience with yourself. That can help you to avoid going too far at once, and give you a better chance of avoiding setbacks from reaching too far, too fast.
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    KevinGremKevinGrem Pro Posts: 217
    Haha, wow! I actually tried your suggestions and cut back the air more, and I'm already starting to improve and get closer to sounding like him. That's great!

    Didn't Ken once say that glottal compression is the "holy grail" of singing?
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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    Yes, he did. It's kind of counterintuitive that you can sing more difficult notes by cutting back the air and using very precisely-controlled regulation of the air pressure and THAT enables the cords to not be overblown.

    You do what you would do if you were underwater, holding your breath AS you release air to sing. Kind of using opposing forces to create a sum total that is more suitable than you can attain otherwise.

    With that kind of air flow, you can then relax more as you sing the notes, your voice lasts much longer, and you can relax at higher notes. If you feel tension, use that energy to push down more on your diaphragm and that helps make more relief for your throat.
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