Dear Guitar Hero: Trey Azagthoth
He’s the founder of Morbid Angel and a death metal virtuoso who is consistently named one of the best guitarists in his genre. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…
How did you develop extreme speed in your playing? Were you always a fast player or did you have to consciously work up to it through practice techniques? —Art Martinez
As with any physical skill, it takes time for the muscles to develop that tone and for the mind to achieve that flow state. That’s the whole process of rehearsal, which also helps one develop a core of certainty and confidence that some call “talent.” The real talent would be the passion, dedication and the driving force within one’s self to make it all happen. People can manifest themselves into whatever form they are convinced they can achieve, even if their surroundings are not supportive and agreeable.
How’s the new album coming along? Do you have a title yet and what can we expect it to sound like? Any new tricks up your sleeves? —Bryan Memes
Things are going really well with the material. We’re exploring many new things, pulling from a lot of new musical inspirations and such. There are new kinds of beats, arrangements and, of course, riffing. I think with every record there are always some new structures to be explored.
At times your leads have a chaotic and frenzied attack that sounds very aggressive. How would you describe your methods for formulating your solos? For example, how much of what you do is improvised and how much is composed in advance? And do you have certain scales you like to use? —MetalChick1986
It’s been an evolution, beginning with identifying and connecting with the pure flow of the music I grew up on. I think that back then I used what would be called Creative Visualization: using my mind and my imagination to access a deeper place within myself, to open myself and allow myself to be moved by the vibes coming out of the speakers—not thinking in terms of notes and keys but rather just riding the waves. As with much in life, how we realize music is a personal thing. I “see” stuff coming out of the speakers, and it’s not something I even know how to explain. The things I grew up on moved me. I started out at a place that wasn’t based on theory and patterns but on a free and playful imagination. As the band progressed, I adapted more and more technique, but I still place that original, pure method of experiencing the music first over the externally fabricated filters of rules.
I’m 16 years old, and my greatest passion is playing the guitar. I want to play extreme music, but to do this I think I need to live in the U.S., where metal is recognized as a musical genre and people aren’t as close-minded as they are here in Italy. Is the U.S. still the right place to try to be a successful metal musician? —Andrea Riccardo Roman
There are all types of people everywhere, but I guess some places celebrate extreme things more than others. I guess it always helps to have a cool local scene and get started with that, but with the internet we can all instantly have the whole world in our personal room to explore. If you mean that there are not enough extreme musicians in your area to even put a band together, then that would be a problem. I don’t think you need to come all the way to the U.S., though; there are plenty of metalheads all throughout Europe. Try some new ways to make contacts closer to you before you invest in such a big move. Or just go for it. Make a good solid plan and just do it!
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