In 2008, Guitar World asked Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson to dissect several key songs from the band's past. Starting with "Fly By Night" (1975) and ending with "Test for Echo" (1996), he discussed his guitars, amps and effects. Here's how it went.
When news broke in the early evening of May 2, 2013, that longtime Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman had succumbed to liver failure at age 49, a shockwave of atomic force rippled its way across the metal community that left many stunned.
A large painting by Metallica bassist Jason Newsted hangs prominently in the front room of Joe Satriani’s San Francisco townhouse, just above the black, upright piano where Satch composed some of the music for his newest album, Unstoppable Momentum.
My sister gave me Fireball for my eighth birthday, June 30, 1971, and that day my life forever change. I knew immediately that I was going to be a guitarist for life and there would be no turning back. It's like one minute I was a kid playing with cap guns, and then someone handed me a fuckin' nuclear bomb! My life was never the same, to say the least.
I'd been into records by Black Sabbath, Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but Rocks sounded like the Rolling Stones, who had been my favorite band from age 3 to 13. It had the blues-based rock and roll thing, but turned up to 15. Aerosmith delivered the songs with such urgency, and the music had an almost punk attitude.
The first thing that I did was write a song. As far as I can tell, it was called “Bluebird.” I still have the piece of paper, and it’s a little difficult to decipher. It looks like the scribblings of a mad schizophrenic. I remember playing that for hours and trying to impress my family that I already started writing songs.
The sound of the guitar was so untamed, and it lit a fire inside me to approach the guitar like a weapon. The lore behind Let There Be Rock is that Angus and Malcolm Young would face a Marshall against the wall and crank the sucker all the way up. You can tell the amp was turned up unbelievably loud: you can practically feel Angus' fingerprints rubbing against the strings.
After the departure of longtime vocalist Josey Scott, Saliva's Wayne Swinny (guitar), Dave Novotny (bass) and Paul Crosby (drums) weren't sure if they'd be able to find a suitable replacement. Thankfully, after a month of deliberating, the search for a new frontman led them to singer Bobby Amaru, whose arrival kicked off a new chapter for the band, one that Swinny equates with hitting the lottery.
The Beach Boys had a really cool guitar sound. I also liked the guitarists in the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five. Then Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend hit, and it turned the guitar world on its ear. The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music and the broader my listening became. The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.
Jeff Pilson is a busy man. In addition to his regular role as Foreigner's bassist, he's also been dividing his time with a host of other projects. He's working with other former Dokken members George Lynch and Mick Brown on the next T&N album, and he's just finished producing the upcoming Kill Devil Hill album and Loveless Fascination, the first new Starship album featuring Mickey Thomas in almost 25 years.