Screaming For Vendera:
An Interview With Vocal Coach Jaime Vendera
Interviewed by EvilG
Questions by EvilG, HannTu, and Rick
I’m sure many of you have seen the Mythbuster episode where the metal vocalist shatters a wine glass with his voice? Well that dude is none other than Jaime Vendera. He’s been making a name for himself not only for his glass shattering vocal ability, but for his renowed vocal training and coaching. In this interview we talk about what brought Jaime into the vocal coaching world and of course all about vocals.
You started singing at 16 and at 19 you attended the Musician’s Institute (MI) in Hollywood California. After finishing at the MI, did you pursue a career as a vocalist or did you pretty much right away head into teaching?
Actually I never thought of teaching. Our band joke was "Those who can, DO and those who can’t, TEACH" Hahaha, wow wish I could take back my words now. It was actually just a fluke. In 1996, a friend of mine wanted to sing Dream Theater but couldn’t hit all the notes, so I showed him something I call the SIREN, which is just essentially sliding up in full voice one full octave. It is similar to Jim Gillette of Nitro doing those insane sliding screams of his. After showing my friend the SIREN, he gained like 5 notes in full voice. He went home and tried to sing that high and lost those notes as soon as he started singing. That lead to my assumption that applying open sounds like the SIREN will get you there, but in order to stay there, it will take lots of singing and lots of practice. Open vowels are easy to do, it is adding the consonants of words that make it tough to sing high. So that first unofficial voice lessons got me hooked and I started teaching more. Then, I saw a video by some guy who claimed he could turn you into a singing machine…It was horrible. I thought to myself, "I bet I could create a program that would help turn a singer’s voice around!" And Alakazaam, that’s how my book Raise Your Voice came about.
What hard rock or metal bands have you recorded with that people can hear? Many of us have heard/seen you do the glass shattering thing, and I’ve seen some youtube videos of you explaining and demonstrating some techniques, but I haven’t heard you signing an actual metal song. As a non-vocalist, I would find it interesting to hear you singing an original or perhaps some cover of a song that has what many would consider challenging vocals (ie. Victim of Changes, Painkiller, Run To The Hills, almost any Kiske-era Helloween song, etc..).
Not to sound like I don’t know what I am talking about, but all recordings I have of myself were pre-training and sound HORRIBLE. They make me wanna puke, haha. I have literally played in bars since the age since the age of 16, my last stint at around 34 (I am 38 now). Of course mostly cover tunes. Everything from AC/DC to Nickelback to Priest, Zeppelin and 3 Doors Down. I’ve written a lot of stuff that I want to record as well, but I have gotten so caught up in teaching that I don’t really think about performing like I used to. So, I know people are saying, "Well I bet he cannot sing" Well the best answer to that is to take an internet lesson with me and you’ll end up hearing my big mouth, hahaha. Or buy Raise Your Voice, because it comes with 9 hours of audio/video and you’ll hear me enough on there;) So, no I don’t have any recordings right now, but as things develop I WILL be releasing some material. My friends like Jim Gillette (Nitro) and Tony Harnell (TNT) have heard me. I sang Freight Train to Jim over the phone for his birthday and belted out a few lines from Tell No Tales to Tony over Skype, haha. I don’t sing as much as I used to. I miss it but like Jim said, I don’ have anything to personally prove. My job is to strengthen voices and I have helped tons of singers accomplish just that! I usually end up singing something during a lesson to help the student understand what they need to do in order to get the right placement and support. I never really think about it, I just do it. Maybe if I still wanted to be a performer, I’d have pushed to record stuff by now. My main focus is teaching and vocal seminars…If you come to one of my seminars, you WILL end up having to listen to me sing, hahaha. I’ll be doing different styles from Steelheart to AC/DC, to deth metal to modern rock, to show singers how to get the right piercing notes or right amount of grit.
Have any bands asked you to sing on their album as a guest appearance kind of thing? I think that would be great to hear as well.
I was recently asked by Dave Shankle to try out for DSG, but I declined. Ah, he probably wouldn’t have liked me anyways. I turned him onto a good friend of mine from Germany, a metal singer named Chitral Somapala. Chity is well-known in Europe. He has played in bands like Avalon and Firewind. We became friends when Chity got a nodule and was going to have to have it surgically removed. So I worked with him for several months and he was able to completely reverse and eliminate the nodule. You see, nodules are just calluses on the cords and if you take action immediately, you CAN reverse them if you are lucky. He was lucky and went on to record his Civilization One CD last year. I was also asked to sing a song with Michele Luppi on his next solo release. Michele is an amazing singer from Italy who also attended MI in Los Angeles.. We didn’t attend at the same time though, just became friends over the net. I am sure I will eventually do something with Harnel.
What motivated you to try smashing wine glasses with your voice?
I ALWAYS wanted to do it because I was crazy over the band Nitro back in the 80’s and Jim Gillette used to smash wineglasses via amplification on tour with Nitro. He was asked by the show MythBusters to perform on Good Morning America and shatter one live using an amp. He was too busy so trained me to take his place. The show went great and they wanted me to do the actual show to see if I could do it without an amplifier. We did the show, I shattered the glass and I set a world record. Now I have shattered 95 by voice alone and like 60 with an amplifier. It’s an addiction.
The main promotional event for this was your appearance on the show The Mythbusters. Did this show singlehandedly catapult your vocal career to new heights?
Yes it helped a lot and it gave me some credibility to a point as far as coaching goes. But it DOES get me a lot of television shows. I’ve done many American shows, several Japanese show, a show in Paris France and I am getting ready to fly to Istanbul Turkey for another show. I think it is shocking to people who see it live and instills curiosity in my coaching techniques. The only downside is that the sound is so darn annoying it’ll give you a headache. I would NEVER sing that way. Glass shattering is just to show power. The real credibility comes from my training methods in my book Raise Your Voice. I have had tons of rock stars and thousands of singers call/email me to tell me how it has improved their range, quality and power.
Besides shattering crystal wine glasses with your voice, have you attempted to shatter any other objects with your voice (ie. Windows, eyeglasses, skulls, ear drums? Ha!).
My old drummer is 50% deaf in one ear because of me…no joke.
As a vocalist who teaches other vocalists their trade, do you still go back to your own vocal teacher Jim Gillette (ex-Nitro) when you feel that you are getting ‘lazy’ or you feel that your vocals are just not right?
I don’t have to…he’ll call me and tell me I am fat and lazy, hahaha. He is VERY hard driven and stays on me to push harder to the top. He’s more of a life coach as opposed to a vocal coach. He keeps me focused on success. That pushes me to be my own coach. I am always researching new information and experimenting. I have gotten really good at teaching people to use ANY type of grit or scream without ever hurting their voice. So I have to do it as well to make sure I stay on top of my game. And I ALWAYS learn something new from every student I teach.
Do you think that it’s possible to teach anyone to sing? Is it a skill that can be learned or does the singer have to have a certain amount of natural talent?
I can teach anyone to sing, but I cannot teach everyone to sing well. Some people are more adept to singing, just like some people are better at basketball. I have had students who were amazing guitar players and songwriters, but were horrible at singing. It is usually an intonation (pitch) thing. It drives me nuts that a musician can play in tune and play by ear, but cannot sing in tune. But I am very patient and have really had to work for my money in some cases. In the end, it depends on how bad the person wants it…how hard they are willing to work. I am not that coach who wants your money so keeps you coming back for three years of lessons. I want to get you in, teach you the program and get you out as quick as possible because I want to work with and help as many singers as possible. I think I have really streamlined a way to get singers on the right track in less than a handful of lessons. That is the way it should be!
How do you evaluate companies that offer you endorsements? Does it have a to be a product or service that you would personally use or do you look at it in the broader sense of a quality product that might be of interest to your fans?
First off, I have turned down way more offers to promote products that I have accepted. That is because I have to truly believe in it. I have to try something out myself for a few months before I actually would endorse it. All of the endorsements I have so far, were all products I was using before I was even contacted by the company. I was using X20 additive for my water 6 months before they found me because it really helps to prevent me from getting sick and keeps me hydrated. Hydration is VERY important for singers. I owned a Voicelive vocal effects unit by TC Helicon before the approached me to be on their Voice Council, I wore Q-link products a year before that endorsement, I was doing Flowfit over a year before Vocal-Flow came about, I used Vocal Eze well before the makers contacted me, I flipped over the Vocal Acoustic Monitor the minute I got one in my hands, etc. In fact, I mention a lot of these products in my book, BUT I didn’t have any endorsements (except for TC Helicon and VAM Acoustics) from any of these companies, until the book came out.
Because you have such an in depth knowledge of the voice and vocals do you now find it hard to listen and enjoy music without dissecting the vocalist?
I am so used to dissecting the voice that it drives me bonkers. I examine strengths and weaknesses in every song I listen to. Not saying I am a vocal god, but it is just my job to do this and it has become 2nd nature. I guess I am the Halford/Dickinson of vocal coaches. I have a way of hearing what is going on inside the singer, which really helps me to correct flaws very quickly. Metal singers are vocal athletes and have to use a lot of energy when they perform. It is my job to show them exactly how to boost that energy and maintain their sound, while making it extremely powerful regardless of range, pitch or tone (clean/gritty), so they can perform night after night. I’ve told pros when they were off. It’s just the name of the game. So for this simple yes or no answer, I’d have to say yes. I still love listening to everything, but I don’t get to enjoy a good CD nowadays and play it over and over again like I used to when I was a kid, mainly because of the demand for my ear. I get tons of mp3s and CDs sent to me and I get calls from around the world from singers wanting more range and power and I have to do what I am supposed to do. You know what, I thoroughly enjoy it though. I guess the new thrill for me is when a singer learns to scream an outrageous scream without coughing, or when a singer finally hits that high Halford note after an hour of training with me; that note they’ve been trying at for years. That makes me happy to be spreading the metal around I used to want to be a rockstar. Now my goal is to be the “rockstar”of vocal coaches.
When a vocalist from a band on a major label comes to you for help is it initiated by the singer who wants to better themselves or does the singer’s label/manager send them your way? Have you ever had someone sent to you for help who at the outset thought they knew it all but by the end of their sessions were praising you for your help?
I’ve had singer and label contact me. Yes I have had one singer who blew me off several times although his management company pushed him. His name was Phil Taylor. He was in a grunge/metal type band called Future Leaders of the World, on Epic Records. I FINALLY worked with him on one of his last shows. Worked his ass over for two hours and he took it. I had to come on pretty strong, but he was really into it. So, needless to say, he hit every note and scream perfect that night, but he still ended up losing his deal. The damage was already done. Well, he continued to study with me and now he is in a band called Machina with ex-Evanescence guitarist John Lecompt. They are touring and he is nailing it 6 nights in a row! Never loses his voice anymore. He could barely make one night with his first band. Now his screams are outrageous and he NEVER loses his voice! They are getting major attention from several labels and are about to get signed;) I also do a lot of interviews with singers for thevoiceconnection.com. Every time I meet with a singer, we end up talking voice. I’ve talked shop with singers from bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Spread Eagle, Saliva, Shinedown, RA, Alter Bridge, etc. A lot of these singers have become good friends of mine and respect me as the top coach on the planet…Many of them have written articles for Raise Your Voice 2nd Edition.
You seem to be a big proponent of vocalists using the latest technologies. What are some of the most important technologies that a vocalist can use to get the best out of their voice?
I was always the kid into vocal effects and I always used my guitarist’s pedals. I am a huge fan of TC Helicon. They have really cool pedals out for singers now that you can check out at voicetonepedals.com . You ARE an instrument, so why not have the tools you need? I also am a big SHURE fan, but that’s just me. I think a singer needs a good mic of their choice, great personal effects and if in-ears monitors aren’t an option because they are expensive, check out the Vocal Acoustic Monitor. I LOVE this thing. It is like a waterslide for the voice. It is a hand-held piece of acrylic that goes from your mouth to your ear and it can also be attached to your mic. It allows you to hear yourself 10X better in noisy environments like a live performance, band rehearsal or in a choir. This will keep you from over singing and losing your voice, as well as help you sing in tune. And I am on their packaging, YEAH BABY YEAH. Okay I am calm now. Seriously though, check it out. It comes with a 15 minute vocal warm up by yours truly. If you get you a voice tone pedal, go to voicecouncil.com for great support and tons of free voice lessons by top vocal instructors.
What do you think about death metal growling as a "respectable" form of vocal expression? A lot of people have said that it’s "just growling", whereas DM vocalists claim that there is technique to it, and that the principles of breathing and muscle utilization are the same as normal singing.
I definitely think there is an art form to it. Most of these kids are completely trashing their voices because they don’t know what they are doing. It has to do with the support and placement and where the scream is created. The singers who are ruining their voices are singing from the throat by trying to “grunt” the sound. That’s not the way. There IS an art form to it. Deth Vocals are just “non-pitched” sounds, but they can be done in a correct manner. I teach it in Raise Your Voice and I am also finishing a program for all lead screamers for screaminglessons.com. The first phase is all deth metal vocal sounds.
Are there any DM vocals that you dig? The term "tortured vocals" is a cliché but do you think it’s possible to do DM vocals "right"? Who are the people you reckon are doing DM vocals right, and who are those who you think are doing it wrong, and what are the consequences of doing it wrong?
I think Lamb of God is cool. He studied with Melissa Cross, the queen of scream. I love her; she’s an awesome vocal coach! Also love Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. She’s brutal! Some of the newer stuff that isn’t considered full out death metal like Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold isn’t bad. I’d really like to work with both of those lead singers. I know Mat from Bullet had said he needed some guidance; that it was hard for him to go from his scream to a clean sound. That is just because he is doing it wrong. He still sounds cool on the record, but just think how he’d sound if he mastered it. I heard that Matt from Avenged had surgery to remove nodes. Don’t know if it is true, but you know what? A lot of singers have had nodules removed! That doesn’t mean his career is over. Although I have noticed that he doesn’t scream like he used to. His screams used to be wicked, now he’s tamed down. He really could still do it if he changed his approach slightly. So if either Matt is reading this, I am available for screaming lessons…haha!
Why is a falsetto easier than a head voice? Is it cheating somehow?
It is easier because less musculature is involved. The opening between the cords is wider on falsetto and doesn’t need a lot of “muscle” to make it work. Problem is, you are letting way too much air through the opening (glottis) and it could lead to trouble. Yes it can be considered cheating. The way I teach, I show you how to extend the range in Falsetto (because it IS a useful tool) then we transcend the tone from Falsetto to Full Voice, and then finally work strictly with Full Voice. My goal is for every singer I work with to have a choice at what color (Falsetto, full voice or a mixture between the two) at any volume (soft to loud) with any type of inflection (clean, gritty, vibrato) for the entire show WITHOUT losing your voice or waking up without one.
What do you personally think is harder, going to extreme highs, or going to extreme lows? This includes from your own experience, and your students, and the questions you get.
It is really dependent upon the student. For me it was the highs. But if you’ve seen my ”Glass Shattering Montage” on Youtube, you can hear me demonstrating a 6-octave leap from low to high…and they are all equally easy. It is just a matter of what you want, and how much you want to work for it. Some students hate practicing the lows and some hate the highs. You really need to work on both to balance the voice!
You have shown that it’s possible to be self-taught in singing, much like many metal and rock guitarists are self-taught. Yet there is always more of a danger of doing permanent damage to a part of your body if you’re not taught or aware of the dangers. What are your feelings on the multitude of how-to videos on youtube (which run the gamut from eating salty food and smoking cigarettes to drinking lots of water and using your diaphragm) as well as the oft-quoted Zen of Screaming by Melissa Cross?
Well, first off, Melissa’s stuff is dead on. I have watched a lot of the other stuff and there are a couple of kids who know what they are talking about but for the most part, these kids are dead wrong. Terms like ‘diaphragm’ get thrown around without actually explaining the real way to engage the breathing mechanism. Just because you can hit a scream doesn’t mean you can teach it. I recently had a student email me and had me watch a deth lesson on Youtube to see if it was correct. The kid giving the ‘lesson’ could scream but he tried to explain it in the one way that you will DEFINITELY lose your voice…Grunting. I hate that these kids are trying to become coaches when they don’t know the first thing about teaching and are just trying to get some popularity. That guy who emailed me, ended up coming to me for lessons and now he is on the right track. Bottom line, if you want to learn to extend your range or scream, find a good coach. And always remember this…”If it hurts, you are doing it wrong!!!” Stop and find someone who can show you how to do it correctly. It doesn’t necessarily have to be me, but find someone who can help. If you feel it has to be me, I teach all over the world online using a webcam as well as in person. Just email me at email@example.com to learn more.
How much hanky panky actually goes on in studios fixing vocals?
The question should be, ‘How much doesn’t’, hahaha. A LOT! With pitch correction today it is all over the place. I’ve known pro singers who have tracked the same vocal line 90+ times in the studio! That is no lie!!! Then I know of singers who only do one or two takes. As consumers, we want great music and great vocals, so there is nothing wrong with doing take after take until you are satisfied. Of course, I don’t care for the Ashley Simpsons and Paris Hiltons out there…mediocre to bad singers who use effects and pitch correction to mask their inability to sing. So if you are going to record, get to know your voice, take care of it, build your instrument and sing from the soul. Yes a studio can be frightening, but there are ways to become comfortable in the studio. I teach that too.
How do you feel about traditional metal singers trying to do opera and other styles of non-metal singing? For example, Eric Adams and ‘Nessun Dorma’, or Sebastian Bach and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
I think Eric and Sebastian are phenomenal singers. I think it all depends on the situation. Listen to Paul Stanley sing Broadway; he sounds amazing. In the end, it was just for fun, they all come back to the calling of the rock-n-roll, hehehe. I think it would be more absurd for a Tenor who has only sung Opera all his life to attempt a Man-O-War song. Some metal stars have that quality, Dickinson for example. He’s very resonant and robust. In a way, some metal singers are portraying those dark classical overtones of Bel Canto style vocals. Even Gillette studied Opera and turned it into metal.
Is it true the life of a singer on the road is an ascetic one? No booze, no cigs, no late night partying, no sightseeing in cold countries etc.
Yes and no. It depends on how smart the singer. I think people are learning from past mistakes. You know who is a great singer live, and he’s not metal, is Josey Scott from Saliva. He is an animal live, but he admitted that he stays on top of his game because he quit the drugs and booze. I get a lot of calls about vocal health on the road. People consider me more of a “Voice-Strengthening Specialist”. I am the guy who creates the road-regimen for warming up the singer and keeping them well. I recently helped Myles Kennedy on the road. He was dead sick and barely made it through the night I saw him perform and was going to have to go to a doctor and cancel some shows. I showed him a specific all-natural concoction he could gargle to help him through his performance and a few other things and he ended up singing 5-6 more shows before he was well again…and he didn’t have to cancel or go to a doctor. If you wanna be a pro, you have to treat your voice like an instrument and take care of it. Nuff said.
After this interview is published our readers can look forward to hearing from you on a monthly basis in a new column. What are some of the things you may be writing out?
Well, what I’d like to do, is give your readers a chance to write in with specific questions. We can discuss anything from overcoming stage fright, mastering the banshee scream, gaining more power, improving your pitch, making your voice fuller, the possibilities are endless. Let’s just give your readers what they need to get out there screaming!!!
To close, would you be able to give a short comment on the technique, strengths, and weaknesses, of these influential vocalists in heavy metal? While they might not all be the most talented, many would not doubt their ability.
Well, I don’t think I can make a ‘short’ comment because I talk and type a lot. As far as weaknesses, it is hard to tell from recordings. I usually find flaws from observing a singer during live performance up close. That means those live DVDs don’t count because many singers will go back and touch up parts. So with that said, here’s what I have to say…
Rob Halford (Judas Priest): The man! I like that he has an operatic approach and able to mix it up between full voice and falsetto, while having the choice to use either without being limited. I think his voice has gotten grittier over the years, which still sounds cool. Hope it isn’t from the smoking. But Rob’s a god, what can you say bad about him?
Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden): Bruce is the quintessential operatic frontman. I remember Samson and he actually sang higher and screamier. But I prefer him more robust as in Maiden, very full voiced tones. He’ll probably smack me for this, but I consider him the Steve Perry of Metal; such a great tone.
Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell, etc): Ah Dio, always imitated, but never emulated. I am a big fan of that down dirty over powering in your face almost bluesy metal approach. Ronnie is an advocate for “not warming up” from what I’ve heard. If you are a metal singer, you best warm up! Ronnie is in a league of his own. He has figured out what is best for him and that’s a rarity. Love what he’s doing with Heaven and Hell. He’s still got it. He doesn’t need to pass the torch as Tenacious D suggests, hahaha.
Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath): He’s an icon. He just has this superbly unique sound that no one else has. Is he technically correct? Probably not, but he’s just very distinct, like Rod Stewart is distinct or Joe Cocker. I think Ozzy is just more about the delivery. In fact, most of those older metal singers probably didn’t study voice. I think vocal training is more about showing a singer how to maintain. Style should come from the soul and should be about passion. That’s why you hear technically great singers that are boring…no passion. Ozzy is very passionate and less technicality. However, I did hear he was working with a vocal coach now. I remember a story a friend of mine told me years ago. The late Tim Kelly (Slaughter) was telling me that when Slaughter toured with Ozzy, that like clockwork, the Oz would cancel anytime he had 4 shows in a row because by the 4th show he needed a rest. I said, well why don’t Mark talk to Ozzy about warming up?” Tim just looked at me like I as a moron and said “Do YOU want to tell Ozzy how to sing???” I guess he had a point. But at least Ozzy knew his limits.
Geoff Tate (Queensyche): A close friend of mine is the protégé’ vocal coach of the coach that Geoff studied with. I don’t think Geoff did a lot of technical training. He got in, got what he needed and sang his ass off. I love Geoff for what he does. What I hate is that every other metal singer on the planet tries to emulate him. I want to hear originality. Geoff took the Opera/metal sound in his own direction/similar to Dickinson but completely different, and it worked great.
Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row): I just got his new CD and I really like it. This CD is a must for all Sebastian Bach fans, it rocks. His/Axl’s cover of Aerosmith’s "Back in the Saddle" is the best cover of that song I’ve heard!. However, the tone is different. He’s grown progressively throatier since Slave to the Grind. I miss the Bach from the first Skid Row record. He had this powerful, but innocent sound that set them apart. Don’t get me wrong, he has a great throaty sound now, but I personally liked him better early on. I know that he has a lot of training. He actually studied with Tony Harnell’s coach. One of my students is getting ready to interview him for my website, The Voice Connection. I think it’ll be a great interview. Only thing I’d ask, is “Common Baz, let me hear just one more I Remember You”.
Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween): We just interviewed Michael. I think he’s one of the few metal singers who could pull off hitting high falsetto banshee sounds while making it sound of substance and his mid-range screams are brutal. He’s a very dramatic singer, crazy vibrato. The great thing is he still sounds good! Wasn’t craze about the overlayering of effects on some of the latest stuff, but I know that wasn’t a cover up for lack of vocals, it was just an artistic thing in my opinion.
Warrel Dane (Nevermore): I first saw them on Gigantour I believe. I was always a range freak and leaned towards the high singers, so it took me a bit to warm up to Warrel. But during the last 5-10 years, I began to appreciate the lower singers like Mike Baker from Shadow Gallery. I think Warrel has that “Tate” type approach to an extent, but he learned to be comfortable with the range he has which I feel tends to make him a more emotionally dramatic singer. Nice dark overtones. I find nowadays that I don’t care if a singer has one octave or six octaves, as long as they can convey an important message.
Roy Khan (Kamelot): I have only listened to a few CDs, so I am sure I cannot make a good assumption. I am listening to Ghost Opera as I write this and it sounds good. He’s a very full voiced type singer with a solid mid-range. I have listened to so many metal singers that a lot of the pros still have a sound similar to the masters like Halford, Tate, Dio, Dickinson or Harnell. Guess it is hard to get away from so many iconic sounds. It is hard for me to find any new metal singers that really grab me. I do think that Daniel Heiman from HEED is an amazing singer. And I loved Tim Owens solo project.
Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish): A good solid voice. I like floating etheric type voices like hers. I like Amy Lee, Christina Scabia and ecletic singers like Loreena Mckennit. But I think there are other females more suited for metal. Angela Gossow is brutal and for a melodic but gritty female singer, check out Magali Luyten of Virus IV. That chick’s got some balls!!!
If I have anything left to say, it’s that I look forward to answering questions and helping out fellow metal singers. If you need some instruction, you can check out my training methods at raiseyourvoicebook.com and thevoiceconnection.com for private, phone or internet lessons, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It may take a month or so to fit you in, depending on seminars, glass breaking shows, and teaching, but I always try to be accessible as I can.