Shred Lords: Patrick Gunderson
Written by Brett Kihlmire – Photo by James Pederson
Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, Patrick Gunderson is one of the lesser known shred lords to be featured in this series. A founding member of Slug Shell and H1Z1, he’s quickly making a name for himself with his thrash meets groove metal style.
An accomplished guitarist, Gunderson first picked up the guitar when he was just a few months shy of his thirteenth birthday.
“Whichever grade I was in, in the grade above me there was five dudes and all of their parents got ‘em guitars, basses and drums. They had a little band and I thought it was the coolest thing. I was like ‘man, I would totally like to play guitar. This is cool’ so I picked up an axe,” he recalls fondly.
His first guitar coming from a garage sale courtesy of his father, Gunderson’s father hated heavy metal and likely would have preferred him play The Beatles and Led Zeppelin over Pantera and System of a Down. Of course, the metal bug bit him and thanks to his buddies, Patrick started learning guitar with tabs.
For the first six months of playing, Patrick tried to teach himself but to no real avail. Eventually he discovered the work of Brendan Small (Metalocalypse) and started taking lessons with a couple local professional guitar instructors, John Moss and Earl Tardif, learning the correct way to read and play music. Though his lessons taught him well, they only lasted him until high school.
“I got to high school and went on my own and got my own band started. It wasn’t a good band, it was just a band,” he says with a laugh. “We didn’t know what we were doin’. It was just whatever, have fun.”
Though he jokes about his first band being just a crappy rock band, Patrick would move on to a new band in his sophomore year. This band would become the first of his two current and long running bands – Slug Shell.
Formed with good friend, Kyle Semski, Slug Shell would become Patrick’s main focus of creativity. It was with this band that he started writing real music, much due to Semski showing him how to take his ideas and put it to paper with coherent song structure.
“Since then it was just an epiphany. I just been writing and developing and figuring things out. I’m constantly trying new things out.”
Fast forward a few years and not only was Slug Shell a full band, but Patrick had formed a second band, Veloscocity, which is now known as H1Z1 but also went by H1N1 in the past. With both of these bands fully functional and separate outlets for his creativity, Patrick saw his music put to the test in a split extended play featuring both of his bands. The reception was less than favorable and nothing compared to what either band puts out today.
Fast forward to 2016 and Slug Shell made up for their stumbling debut with the outstanding full length ‘The Agony of Perseverance.’
“Putting that album was a major turning point, because that was when I realized things could get serious,” says Gunderson, who says the album received a great deal of praise.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positivity from The Agony. There were people that don’t even listen to metal, just friends of a friend or whatever, and the first thing they say ‘I don’t listen to metal, but this is really good’” he says with glee. “I really have yet to hear something substantially negative. The only thing I did see was when we put out an ad this guy was just ripping on my voice and calling it generic death metal.”
Having a good laugh about the criticism of his vocals, for he sees himself as guitarist first and vocalist second, but also because this particular critic trolled the band well beyond his initial comment. The trolling eventually led up to a challenge involving Patrick and the critic having a winner take all vocal throw down for lead vocalist position. Of course, nothing ever became of that challenge.
“I get it, I’m the not the best singer. I’ve never taken a vocal lesson in my life,” he says with a laugh. “But you gotta call the bullshit when you see it.”
With Slug Shell’s debut out it’s H1Z1’s turn to take precedence. As such, Patrick is currently in the studio recording their debut album with Bobby Peru Recording in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From what we’ve seen so far, Patrick’s playing with H1Z1 retains his signature groove style, but adds in elements of death and black metal as well.
Certainly a well-rounded guitarist, Patrick Gunderson earns the title of Shred Lord due to his decade of dedication to his craft and uncompromising yearning to make it as a musician. If you’re in the Midwestern USA then keep an eye out for H1Z1 and Slug Shell, these two bands rip and tear. As well, be sure to look out for Patrick’s video game guitar covers.
Patrick plays Slug Shell’s Mid-Evil from the debut full length ‘The Agony of Perseverance.”