Interviews en Joe Bonamassa Talks Fender Strats and His New Album, 'Different Shades of Blue' <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Joe Bonamassa story, plus features on Slipknot, Slash, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=JoeBExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><strong>The House Is Rocking: To celebrate the release of his new album, <em>Different Shades of Blue</em>, Joe Bonamassa invites us over for a look at his ever-growing collection of vintage axes and amps.</strong> </p> <p>“There’s nothing on my new album that’s going to outplay Clapton, Hendrix or the other greats,” says six-string roots-and-rock rabble-rouser Joe Bonamassa. “That’s not what I’m trying to do. My job in 2014 is to keep that kind of organic music alive.”</p> <p>For Bonamassa, that means fanning the flames of the blues. So after recording his new <em>Different Shades of Blue</em>, he headed to Colorado’s famed Red Rocks Amphitheater in late August to build a bonfire—playing a sold-out concert with a set list culled from the catalogs of genre giants Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf that was shot for DVD. </p> <p>“We had 10,000 people,” he says. “That’s what I call ‘proof of life.’ There’s always talk about the blues dying out, but it won’t. You just have to make it a little different. That’s where the Black Keys and Jack White have succeeded and I’ve failed. They’ve actually convinced college kids that they’re listening to hip music—but it’s just blues twisted a new way—while I’m playing for the college kid’s parents.”</p> <p>That’s not entirely true. Bonamassa’s broadsword tone, conflagrant licks, dusted-soul singing and cinematic songs have sliced through the striations of demography with an efficiency unseen by any roots-based guitar slinger since Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s a social-media darling who sells out auditoriums and amphitheaters in a flash. And despite putting out his own albums and DVDs, he’s hit Number One on the <em>Billboard</em> blues chart a record dozen times, sells more music than most major-label artists and was nominated for a Grammy in 2013. No wonder the guy owns one of every Gibson Les Paul made between 1952 and 1961, including the two 1959s—his beloved “Spot” and “Principal Skinner” Les Paul Standards—that he played on <em>Different Shades of Blue</em>.</p> <p>Bonamassa’s fortunes turned north when he kicked the beer-and-barbecue circuit in favor of partnering with his producer, Kevin Shirley, a decade ago. Their alchemical mix of music and marketing smarts has resulted in gold. But <em>Different Shades of Blue</em> has a slightly different sheen, raising the already high bar of their studio craftsmanship a few more clicks.</p> <p>There’s even an overture, signaling that something special is afoot, to set up the 10 original tunes. It’s an instrumental excerpt of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” that does justice to the original’s sharp-tooted Strat tones. Bonamassa keeps moving like a single-coil shark into “Oh Beautiful,” tastefully coloring his howling expressionist solo with a patina of phase shifter. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>The intro to “Never Give All Your Heart” recalls Pete Townshend’s <em>Who’s Next</em>–era high-wattage humbucker clangor as it takes Bonamassa back to his beloved Les Pauls. By the time the 37-year-old guitar slinger steps up to solo in that tune, his tone has shifted to a sophisticated-but-brass-knuckled distillation of British blues blasters, ranging from Jimmy Page to David Gilmour, yet his phrasing is the unique blend of elongated melody and textural grit that has become Bonamassa’s own trademark. As <em>Different Shades of Blue</em> ends with the ballad “So, What Would I Do,” it’s clear that in the two years since his previous studio recording Driving Toward the Daylight Bonamassa has revised his sound and refined his songwriting and vocal delivery to land on a new and very high creative plateau.</p> <p>After 20-something studio recordings, live albums and DVDs, Bonamassa and Shirley went searching for new fuel for <em>Different Shades of Blue</em>. They found it in Nashville, where Bonamassa traveled five times in the past year for marathon songwriting sessions with ace tunesmiths James House, Jerry Flowers, Jonathan Cain, Jeffrey Steele and Gary Nicholson.</p> <p>“Kevin suggested that I write all original songs for this album,” Bonamassa recounts. “I can write a decent song, but I’m also a touring musician and have a lot of other projects, so I needed help. These guys were brilliant, patient and inspiring, and, like it says in the title, they helped me make a different kind of blues album.</p> <p>“Most blues guitar players don’t concentrate on singing and melodies. And forget about the bridge—the bridge doesn’t exist. They go straight for the solo. This was all about writing great songs and then playing solos that I believe in and that really speak for the songs, and putting it all on analog tape, which is great for warm lower and upper-midrange guitar tones and still has the right brightness and articulation.”</p> <p>And Bonamassa’s guitars have never been more articulate, speaking throughout the tunes in big, clear, warm, perfectly burnished tones that covey the menu of joy, loss and hope in their lyrics. In part, that’s because he varied his usual Marshall, Dumble and Van Wheeldon Twinkleland amp diet for the sessions, adding new Dumbles—ultimately employing four Overdrive Specials—and, more important, a juicy main course of vintage Fenders including a 1965 Twin Reverb, a 1962 Vibroverb, a 1962 Deluxe, a 1958 Twin and a 1962 Reverb. </p> <p>“The sound of the Fenders was so inspiring that, for the first time in 15 years, I’m changing up my road rig and going out with all Fenders,” Bonamassa says. “I’m going to have to work a little harder, but the warmth and the presence is worth forcing myself to make it work. </p> <p>“Plus, every few years I feel like I need to throw a firecracker into my life, musically and otherwise,” he adds. “In the last year a lot has happened in my personal life, too. A relationship I was in for four years broke up, I moved house… I fear being complacent. If I feel like things are getting into a routine, I want them to be different. I need to keep improving and keep moving forward.”</p> <p>Another change on <em>Different Shades of Blue</em> was the increased presence of Stratocasters—a 1956 blonde Strat, a 1963 sunburst and a 1965 in Lake Placid Blue. “I know people associate me with the Les Paul, and I am a Les Paul guy to the bone,” Bonamassa says. “I love my vintage Les Pauls, I love my signature models with Gibson, and I think Gibson is making some of the best guitars they’ve ever made right now. But I also love the sound of a great Strat. To me, that classic Les Paul tone and that classic Strat sound cover pretty much everything I could ever want to play.”</p> <p><em>Photo: Angela Boatwright</em></p> <p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Joe Bonmassa story, plus features on Slipknot, Slash, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=JoeBExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-07%20at%2010.21.37%20AM.png" width="620" height="807" alt="Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.21.37 AM.png" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/joe-bonamassa">Joe Bonamassa</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> December 2014 Joe Bonamassa Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:36:44 +0000 Ted Drozdowski Bill Frisell’s Tele-Portation: 'Guitar in The Space Age'! <!--paging_filter--><p><em>"To you I shall put an end, then you'll never hear surf music again."</em> — Jimi Hendrix, “Third Stone From The Sun”</p> <p>Oh, Jimi … you would’ve loved this. Surf music? I’ll say! Straight from the valleys of Neptune. </p> <p>With <em>Guitar In The Space Age!</em>, Bill Frisell and his talented friends (drummer Kenny Wolleson, bassist Tony Scherr and fellow string wizard Greg Leisz) turn the collars up on their pressurized black leather space suits and head back to the future. </p> <p>The controls are set for the tunes of Frisell’s youth; the quartet’s sonic filters process the music and turn it into something very familiar and very new. As soft-spoken as Frisell is in conversation, he’s some kind of fearless adventurer with a guitar in his hands.</p> <p>There’s funked-up blues (“Messin’ with the Kid”), there’s Brylcreemed sneer (“Rumble”), there’s classic twangorama (“Rebel Rouser”) and happy burble (“Cannonball Rag”). But as recognizable as it all is, there’s plenty of new ground broken as well. </p> <p>Consider the band’s take on the Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting for You”; the original melody is offered up gently and wistfully … slightly psychedelicized, but straight enough for church. And then things begin to get a little glazey-eyed about three-and-a-half minutes in, wandering way off into the field of flowers as Wolleson and Scherr slo-roll-and-tumble their way along and Frisell and Leisz explore the inner soul of a tie-dyed raga.</p> <p>Sure, you’ve heard “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Surfer Girl” and “Telstar” before, but you’ve never heard them quite like this. Amongst the classics are two newly penned Frisell originals — “The Shortest Day” and “Liftoff” — totally kindred spirits. </p> <p>And you know what the coolest thing of all might be? Frisell covers all this wild-ass sonic territory with a very humble and familiar vehicle … but I’ll let him tell you about it. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but I want to hear the story from you. Folks might listen to this album and expect that you used an arsenal of guitars for all the ground you cover, but … </strong></p> <p>Yeah … [laughs] I ended up playing just one guitar for the whole thing. It's a Telecaster made by J.W. Black. I can't remember if I’ve told you about him before, but I met him a long time ago. He used to work for Roger Sadowsky in New York back in the Eighties, before moving out to California. He was around in the early days of the Fender Custom Shop … one of the first guys who made those relic guitars, you know? J.’s incredible … his knowledge of Fender stuff is outrageous. He’s restored many, many Fifties and Sixties vintage guitars, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who knows them inside and out the way he does. </p> <p>When he puts something together, it's like you’re getting to play one of those real old guitars … but everything is working right. [laughter]</p> <p>J only builds for customers in Japan these days, but I’m very fortunate to have a few guitars he’s put together. The Tele I used on this album is special because it has a Bigsby vibrato on it, which is so great for this kind of music. And it has a bridge that’s made by a guy named John Woodland.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Oh, Woody. The Mastery bridge, right?</strong></p> <p>You know about them?</p> <p><strong>I put a <a href="">Mastery bridge</a> on my Esquire last year after you mentioned it to me.</strong></p> <p>Oh, cool! [laughs] I’d forgotten we’d talked about it.</p> <p><strong>It was the same thing; it seemed like the perfect bridge to try after I installed a Bigsby.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, exactly. Woody makes a Tele bridge with the Mastery saddles on it that’s open in the back so it works with the Bigsby. It’s great.</p> <p><strong>How about pickups?</strong></p> <p>Those came from a guy named Jeff Callahan in Eureka, California — <a href="">Callahan Pickups</a>. He was another guy J. hooked me up with. I’m really liking Jeff’s pickups. I have them in this Tele, and I have some in a Strat, too.</p> <p>That came from this super-luxurious situation … [laughs] I went to J. Black’s place, and he had this guitar set up so I could switch out the pickups. He’d made it so that he could just slide the pickguards in and out. I tried about eight different Strat pickups that day. It was a total blind test. I didn't know what I was listening to or anything … just a couple hours of going back and forth and trying to figure out which ones I liked. The Callahan pickups just stood out like crazy.</p> <p>You know … J., Woody, Jeff … I’m so lucky to know people like that.</p> <p><strong>How about amps on this album?</strong></p> <p>I had this one amp that I really like. It’s an old Gibson … oh, boy … I think it's called an Explorer. It’s real low power and one 10-inch speaker. I used that and a Carr Mercury that was in the studio. That was the thing: we recorded it in Portland, Oregon. Usually I can't even use my own amps and stuff.</p> <p><strong>You were home, then … almost. [Bill lives in Seattle.]</strong> </p> <p>Yeah, almost. [laughs] It was weird, because usually it would be, “Now’s my chance,” you know — fill my car with guitars. But this time I ended up with just that Tele.</p> <p><strong>I love it. I’m a longtime champion of the versatility of the Telecaster and the Esquire … both of which are often labeled as limited in their sound.</strong></p> <p>That’s true.</p> <p><strong>And Greg was on a beautiful old Jazzmaster?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, he played that through the whole thing, along with pedal steel on some stuff. He played a 12-string on one song … I’m trying to think …</p> <p><strong>Oh, Lord, it had to be “Turn, Turn, Turn,” didn't it?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, just a little part in there. </p> <p><strong>Before I heard it for the first time, I wondered what the guitar voice would be on that song. The obvious was a take on Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rick jangle, but you had very little of that.</strong></p> <p>There’s not many overdubs on the record; 99 percent of what you hear is just the four of us playing, but Greg did overdub the 12-string in a few places. It’s the only part of the record that was done in the computer age. [laughter] Some of what you hear on “Turn, Turn, Turn," though, is just our two guitars — his Jazzmaster and my Tele together.</p> <p><strong>Undoubtedly you’ve burrowed into some of these songs over the years, but were there ones that you’d never actually played before?</strong></p> <p>That was part of the thing about it: when I think back to when I first heard that music, I think, “Wait a minute. Between, say, 1963 and 1968 — a five-year period — the amount of music I was moving through and moving past … wow.” [laughs] I mean, like, going from the Ventures to Miles Davis in five years … there’s no way I could play all of those songs.</p> <p>I kind of played some of it, but I had barely figured out how to push down the strings and then I’d be moving onto something else … push it away and move on to the next thing … really quickly.</p> <p>So now it’s like, “Oh, wait a minute — I want to look harder at this stuff that got me going in the beginning.” Like “Pipeline” … or “Baha” by the Astronauts? Those were songs that got me super fired up about the guitar way, way back — and I could never play them then.</p> <p>Now I’m trying to play “Baha,” going “Whoa, whoa, wait a second … this is a lot harder than I thought it was.” That happened with a lot of these songs.</p> <p>When I did the John Lennon album, that was another revelation: “Wait a minute … I don't know these songs at all.” There’s all kinds of stuff in there that you start uncovering and, man …</p> <p><strong>I think that’s the same thing with, say, Duane Eddy’s playing. You listen to “Rebel Rouser” and, on the surface, I think some folks think it’s relatively simple. But it's the tone and phrasing … not a million-notes-a-minute.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, there’s so much more than just whatever the notes are. And we didn't even do “Rebel Rouser” the way Duane Eddy does it; he’s changing keys every time through and we didn't do that. [laughs] That would’ve made it way harder. [laughter]</p> <p>There’s so much in this music. For me, it just keeps on going and going and going …</p> <p><em>A former offshore lobsterman, Brian Robbins had to wait a good four decades or so to write about the stuff he wanted to when he was 15. Today he’s a freelance scribe, cartoonist, photographer and musician. His home on the worldwide inner tube is at <a href=""></a> (And there’s that <a href="">Facebook</a> thing too.)</em></p> Bill Frisell Brian Robbins Interviews News Features Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:33:18 +0000 Brian Robbins Funk Brothers Legend: Guitarist Dennis Coffey Talks Detroit, Podcasts and Not "Playing Like the Record" <!--paging_filter--><p>Often recognized as the guitarist who introduced the wah pedal to Motown, Dennis Coffey played on hundreds of tracks as a member of the Funk Brothers, the studio band that recorded countless hits in the Detroit recording studio known as the Snake Pit. </p> <p>On his own, Coffey charted with the million-selling instrumental “Scorpio” and the soundtrack to Black Belt Jones, as well as session and production work for other artists.</p> <p>Coffey was featured in the 2002 award-winning documentary <em>Standing in the Shadows of Motown</em> and published his memoir, <em>Guitars, Bars and Motown Superstars</em>, in 2004. He was the subject of a 2010 podcast series called Premium Blend, in which he was interviewed about his years as one of the Funk Brothers and his life as a guitarist.</p> <p>In addition to regular gigs in Detroit with his band, recent projects include guitar work on the Cambodian Space Project CD <em>Whisky Cambodia</em> (2014), which he produced, and several U.K. sold-out dates in March 2014 opening for singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriquez. Coffey also was featured in <em>Searching for Sugar Man</em>, the 2013 Academy Award-winning documentary that chronicled Rodriquez’s life and career.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: What did your experiences with the Funk Brothers teach you about being a band member and a bandleader?</strong></p> <p>I always look after my guys. They get treated fairly and I'm honest. Motown treated me fairly. I got what I was promised, things were always delivered, and they did what they said they were going to do.</p> <p><strong>Is there a difference between what you play for the public and what you play for yourself?</strong></p> <p>For myself, I’m woodshedding. In front of an audience, most of the stuff has been tried, but not a lot. I play at home and with my musicians and see how it flies. If it doesn't, I stop doing it. I've come up with new approaches to my playing over time, and now it’s more dramatic and strong.</p> <p><strong>Do you play much acoustic guitar?</strong></p> <p>I have a few at home. I love writing with acoustic. There is something about the woody sound of an acoustic guitar that lends itself to me when I’m writing.</p> <p><strong>When did you begin working on the podcasts and what appealed to you about the idea?</strong></p> <p>Red Bull asked me to participate in their Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona with a DJ from New York who knew all the records I had played on. He played my records in front of these kids in their 20s, from all over the world, who were doing projects on their laptops. They were all from the digital age. They played “Cloud Nine” and all these records, and the audience had no idea who I was and what I'd done. They gave me a standing ovation at the end of my interview. </p> <p>Then they broke up into teams to do recording projects and asked me if I would overdub some guitar parts. I said, “Sure.” It took three hours to do a project, adding parts, and again they gave me a standing ovation in the control room. That was the beginning of people knowing who I am, because the new generation has no idea and they don’t know my history. The podcasts have the same effect. </p> <p><strong>What do you look for when hiring musicians?</strong></p> <p>I look for guys who want to create stuff and never tell me that they will play like the record. If you're playing like the record, you're not learning. We create new things every week, so we're not stuck in the paradigm of playing like the record. Even I don't play my songs like the record. I play them almost like acid jazz.</p> <p><strong>How far can you take your reinterpretation of a hit?</strong></p> <p>Audiences kind of expect that from me now. I guess it will be time to stop pushing the envelope when the place is empty. Then I'll know I've gone too far. Sometimes I'm on edge and I look out and they're clapping, so I keep going. If they all walk out, I won't push it that hard anymore. Right now, they seem to like it because it's different and fun. </p> <p>Detroit audiences are loyal, but they are a tough crowd. They see music every night, and you'd better be fresh and different and energetic for them. Two of the great players that influenced me melodically were Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery because they were so lyrical in their playing. You've got to get the audience’s attention and be melodic so that it doesn’t all sound like noise, and so that people can understand it and relate to it. </p> <p><em>Read more of this interview with Coffey <a href="">HERE.</a></em></p> <p><em>For more about Coffey, visit <a href=""></a> and <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Alison Richter interviews artists, producers, engineers and other music industry professionals for print and online publications. <a href="">Read more of her interviews right here.</a></em></p> Alison Richter Dennis Coffey The Funk Brothers Interviews News Features Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:56:45 +0000 Alison Richter Slipknot's Jim Root and Mick Thomson Talk Brutal New Album, '.5: The Gray Chapter' <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Slipknot story, plus features on Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SlipknotExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><strong>Shades of Gray: Between the death and departure of various band members, Slipknot have had a rough few years. With <em>.5: The Gray Chapter</em>, they channel the energy of deceased bassist Paul Gray and return with a brutal but multifaceted album.</strong></p> <p>“The future of Slipknot is always in doubt,” guitarist Jim Root says. “I always prepare for each album as if it’s gonna be the last.”</p> <p>It’s a minor miracle that Slipknot have lasted as long as they have. They have nine members in their lineup, each of whom lives up to the band’s aggro metal image in one way or another, and thereby contributes to the potential for volatility. </p> <p>Yet, they have endured since the group formed in Des Moines, Iowa, 19 years ago, becoming one of the heaviest and scariest bands in a genre crowded with heavy, scary acts. Some 13 years have elapsed since the band’s self-titled 2001 debut album placed them at the forefront of the then-burgeoning nu-metal scene. </p> <p>“With all the different guys in the band and all the different ideas of what’s what, it’s hard to get everybody on the same page sometimes,” Root says. “We are a very tight brotherhood, but we never know what we’re going to do.”</p> <p>However, nothing in Slipknot’s turbulent history has been as daunting as the death of their longtime bass player, Paul Gray, from a morphine overdose in 2010. The tragedy was compounded by the recent departure—somewhat acrimonious, apparently—of longtime drummer Joey Jordison. Because both Gray and Jordison were key songwriters for the band, Slipknot’s future has hung in the balance these past few years. </p> <p>But Mick Thomson, Gray’s coguitarist, says he never really considered packing it in. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>“Any devastating moment throws you into shock,” he says. “I was just hoping that no one in the band was going to get caught up in the raw emotion of the moment and make any kind of grand statement, like, ‘I will not go on without Paul.’ You say something in the heat of emotion, and sometimes later when you settle down, you think, Maybe I should take that back. Once you can think straight again, what do you do? Obviously, you gotta get on with your life. We all grieve differently. I mean, we still are grieving, every time we think about it. It’s not something you get over. You just find a way to deal with it.”</p> <p>With Gray and Jordison out of the picture, the bulk of songwriting duties fell to Root on Slipknot’s new album <em>.5: The Gray Chapter</em>. The title pays homage to the deceased bassist, and the music remains true to Slipknot’s disturbing legacy. </p> <p>Somber, sound-collage intros—generally assembled by Slipknot’s turntablist Sid Wilson, sampling maven Craig Jones and provocateur-in-chief Shawn “Clown” Crahan—lull the listener into a false sense of security. Then all hell breaks loose in a cacophony of car-bomb percussion as Root and Thomson’s down-tuned guitars chug and grind like some diabolic machine and lead singer Corey Taylor does his level best to projectile-vomit his tonsils out over his front teeth. </p> <p>“Once we get in the studio, it sounds like us,” Thomson says of <em>The Gray Chapter</em>. “Some of it is very classic us. Some of it is slightly more experimental us.” </p> <p>“We’re still evolving as a band,” Root adds. “I think that’s really important for a band to do, especially after being around for so many years. Paul, before he passed away, really wanted the band to experiment a lot more, musically, with the direction of where we’re going. We’d done Slipknot. We’d done Iowa. I think the closest thing we’ve done to a record that Paul was very excited about was probably The Subliminal Verses. It’s very diverse. It had a little bit of everything in it. And we’re still trying to find our way. For me, and for Paul’s legacy, it’s important that we continue to evolve.”</p> <p>In Gray’s absence, Root and Thomson handled the majority of bass duties on the new album, although the band did some early work with Slipknot’s touring bassist Donnie Steele. “Donnie’s a great guy,” Root says. “We brought him in to help us out in the studio for a while. But it wasn’t really jivin’. He wanted to go home and get married and do all that stuff. It’s just better off for us to kinda move on from Donnie.”</p> <p>The identity of the drummer on <em>The Gray Chapter</em>, as well as that of the bassist who will take Gray’s place once Slipknot hit the road, was still a closely guarded secret at press time.</p> <p>“We’re not saying who the new drummer is,” Root confirms. “Even if people find out beyond a shadow of a doubt who the new drummer is, I think we’re always going to deny who it is. He might not last. He might tour with us a year and figure out we’re all insane and he can’t handle being around us. Or we might shut him out. Who knows? For Slipknot, I’d say drumming is only 50 or 60 percent of the job. The rest of it is who you are and what your personality is. Will you clash with guys like me, Mick, Clown, Corey, Craig and Chris? We all have these strong alpha-male personalities.”</p> <p><em>Photo: Sean Murphy</em></p> <p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Slipknot story, plus features on Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SlipknotExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-07%20at%2010.21.37%20AM.png" width="620" height="807" alt="Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.21.37 AM.png" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/slipknot">Slipknot</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> December 2014 Jim Root Mick Thomson Slipknot Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:33:12 +0000 Alan Di Perna Slash Discusses His New Album with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, 'World on Fire' <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Slash story, plus features on Slipknot, Joe Bonamassa, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SlashExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><strong>Slash and Burn: Everyone’s favorite hard-rocking riffmaster returns with <em>World on Fire</em>, his new searing-hot album with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.</strong></p> <p>When <em>Guitar World</em> catches up with Slash, it’s still weeks before the release of <em>World on Fire</em>, his new and second album with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. And yet, he, Kennedy, bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz have already been out on the road supporting the album for more than a month, opening up a string of arena shows for Slash’s old friends in Aerosmith.</p> <p> “We hadn’t planned on being out this summer,” he admits. “But it sounded like such a great rock and roll package, and there’s so much camaraderie between the bands. So it was something we decided to tack on in front of the album release and tour.”</p> <p> For Slash, the extra gigs seem to be par for the course. Despite now being more than a quarter century into his recording career, the 49-year-old musician and established guitar legend is working and playing as hard as ever. In the past few years alone, he’s recorded and released a star-studded solo album [2010’s <em>Slash</em>], an effort with Kennedy and the Conspirators [2012’s <em>Apocalyptic Love</em>] and a full soundtrack album to a movie on which he served as producer [2013’s <em>Nothing Left to Fear</em>].</p> <p> And then there’s the new <em>World on Fire</em>. Slash began working on the album almost immediately after coming off the tour for <em>Apocalyptic Love</em>, and the result is another bold and unapologetically riffy statement, exemplified in high-octane barnburners like the title track, “30 Years to Life” and “Avalon.” But there’s also plenty of diversity in the album’s 17—yes, 17—tracks, from the epic “Iris of the Storm” and the cinematic, dark-hued “The Unholy,” to the soaring pop-rock workout “The Dissident” and the instrumental guitar showcase “Safari Inn.”</p> <p>It’s a varied, immersive and incredibly hard-rocking effort, and one that, Slash says, is a product of the exceptional musical relationship he enjoys with his current band. Working with Kennedy and the Conspirators, he says, “feels as solid, if not more so, than anything I’ve done in a really long time.” And so, while the outfit gears up for another worldwide jaunt in support of World on Fire, Slash is already looking toward the future. “I was backstage before our show at the Forum [in Inglewood, California] the other day, and I actually recorded the first new idea toward the next record,” he says. “So I’m excited to jam it at soundcheck with the guys.” He laughs. “Not that I’m thinking that far ahead.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>EXCERPT: You stayed out on the road for a year and a half in support of <em>Apocalyptic Love</em>, and it seems as if right after that tour ended you started work on <em>World on Fire</em>. </strong></p> <p>It did happen pretty fast. The tour finished up in July [2013] and I took some time to hang out at home. Because every time I go out on the road, I’m more or less gone for a year. So you come home and you chill out for a minute and decompress. But by September, I was getting anxious. I started picking through the ideas I had recorded into my phone on the road and seeing which ones I wanted to pursue. Then I think it was in October that I started going into the studio a couple days a week to jam with Brent and Todd. I didn’t have a deadline or anything like that, but we started jamming and it started moving. We had a lot of material pretty quickly. Then Myles came in and we started hashing out the arrangements. And the next thing you know, Mike [producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette] was over and we were knee deep in pre-production.</p> <p><strong>Did you say that when you’re on the road you record song ideas into your phone?</strong></p> <p>I do. [laughs] On an acoustic-electric. I have all the tools to record proper demos; I have Pro Tools on my laptop. But, you know, anything that takes more than two seconds to set up, I just hate doing it. If I have to pull out some guitar cords and hook the thing up, put some headphones on, do all that shit, by the time I’m ready to go I don’t even feel like it anymore. I have to strike the second the inspiration happens. And the phone is the fastest fucking way to just put down an idea.</p> <p><strong>Can you point to any material on the new album that came from a phone riff?</strong></p> <p>Every song. [laughs] Actually, there are two that have older origins. One is “Dirty Girl,” which came from demos I made back when I was doing the first solo record. The other is “Shadow Life.” The main riff in that song was actually a part of “You’re a Lie” [from <em>Apocalyptic Love</em>]. We were just about to record “You’re a Lie” and I started realizing the chorus wasn’t working. As much as I hated to do it, I pulled out the coolest riff in the song and came up with another idea for the chorus. But I’ve always loved the riff I pulled out and I didn’t want to lose it. And the thing is, I have a really hard time going back and revisiting old stuff. I hate doing it and I won’t do it. It’s like pulling teeth to me. </p> <p>But this one riff—when we started on this record everybody wanted to see where we were gonna go with it. And that riff became “Shadow Life.” That was actually the one song on the record that Todd had some input on as well. He wrote the verse, and that really sort of helped steer the direction of the song away from sounding like “You’re a Lie.”</p> <p><strong>This record has a lot of music on it, and also a lot of diversity.</strong></p> <p>It’s just what was coming out. I sit around in dressing rooms and hotel rooms—probably all the time I used to spend out at the bar—and I just write. And I write a lot of different types of stuff. I think that’s one of the reasons I jam with a lot of different sorts of people, just to not be pigeonholed into one style. It’s not a conscious thing, but I like different types of things and I like to play them.<br /> And with Myles, I’ve found that anything I come up with, if I think it’s good, I can present it to him and nine times out of 10 he’ll come up with a melody for it. And that really broadens the scope so that I can actually do a lot of stuff that I maybe wouldn’t be able to do with the likes of, say, Velvet Revolver. Even with GN’R, back in the day, there were certain songs I ended up doing with other people because they didn’t work with Guns.</p> <p><strong>Like what?</strong></p> <p>A good example is “Always on the Run” [which appeared on Lenny Kravitz’s 1991 album, <em>Mama Said</em>]. I wrote it during Guns, but I don’t remember there ever being any interest in it from the guys. So it was just a riff I had that Lenny happened to hear me playing. It wasn’t something I presented to him. He heard me playing it in the recording studio when I was doing “Fields of Joy” [Slash contributes guitar to this track, also from Mama Said]. I guess in between takes or something I was fucking with that riff, and Lenny was like, “Oh, what’s that?” And that’s how that happened. </p> <p><em>Photo: Travis Shinn</em></p> <p><strong><em>This is an excerpt from the December 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this Slash story, plus features on Slipknot, Joe Bonamassa, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Gilbert, Motionless In White, Electric Wizard and more, including lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from D'Angelico, Washburn, Boss, Morley, Lace Music and Carr Amps, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=SlashExcerpt">check out the December 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></strong></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-10-07%20at%2010.21.37%20AM.png" width="620" height="807" alt="Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.21.37 AM.png" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/slash">Slash</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> December 2014 Slash Interviews News Features Magazine Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:48:12 +0000 Richard Bienstock Stryper's Michael Sweet Talks New CD/DVD Package, 'Live at the Whisky’ <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">The Whisky a Go Go</a> is a legendary Sunset Boulevard club with a deep-rooted musical history. </p> <p>Everyone from Led Zeppelin to Van Halen has performed on its tiny stage. It also has served as the launching pad for bands like the Doors and Guns N’ Roses, to name just a few. In fact, one can argue that the Los Angeles rock scene began when the Whisky opened its doors in 1964.</p> <p>The guys in Christian hard rock band Stryper also cut their teeth at the Whisky. The small, intimate setting was the starting point for the band’s musical journey, back when they were called Roxx Regime. So it’s no surprise Stryper’s new live CD/DVD package, <em>Live at the Whisky</em> pays homage to those early days. </p> <p>Recorded at a sold-out November 2013 show, the 16-track collection documents the band’s first show in support of their latest album, 2013's <em>No More Hell To Pay.</em> <em>Live at the Whisky</em> features live performances of the some of the band’s classic hits, including “Calling On You,” “Free,” “Always There for You,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell with the Devil."</p> <p>Included with the live album and DVD are music videos for “No More Hell to Pay” and “Sympathy,” plus an interview segment the band — Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass) and Robert Sweet (drums) — recorded for Nashville All Access.</p> <p>I recently spoke to Sweet about <em>Live at the Whisky</em> as well as Sweet &amp; Lynch, Sweet's new side project with George Lynch, James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Tell me a little about the band’s history at the Whisky.</strong></p> <p>We go way back with the Whisky. I’ll never forget the first time I played there when I was 16. I was with my brother, Robert, in the band Roxx Regime and we played there with Kevin Dubrow’s Quiet Riot, which was what it was called at the time. We had this small dressing room and I remember Kevin kicking the door open and screaming at us because we were using too much hairspray [laughs]. </p> <p><strong>What do you like most about that venue?</strong></p> <p>Playing at the Whisky is such a unique experience. There’s a certain vibe there that’s hard to explain. You can actually feel the history when you walk through the doors. It’s a tiny kitty-corner stage with not much room to move around. You’re right in the corner bumping elbows all night long, but that’s part of the cool factor of performing there. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Were there any special concerns about recording the live album?</strong></p> <p>For as much as you try to beat down those nerves and stress, it’s still there. You always feel that little extra sense of urgency to deliver. But at the same time, it’s a little more fun because the crowd is also participating on a whole new level. It kicks things up a bit.</p> <p><strong>Some people might have questioned your guitar playing ability as it pertains to Stryper, but this package leaves no doubt that you know what you're doing.</strong></p> <p>I’m definitely a guitar player first. I actually started playing guitar before I even started singing. From the very beginning, we’ve always been a tag-team, dual-guitar band.</p> <p><strong>What would say is the secret to the band’s longevity?</strong></p> <p>I like to think it’s letting our faith do the talking and being the example. Sort of practicing what we preach and being able to work things out. It’s been a big help in getting us through these last 30 years. </p> <p><strong>What’s next for Stryper?</strong></p> <p>I’m getting into writing mode because we’re going to start work on a new all-original Stryper album in January. It will be the followup to our last album, <em>No More Hell to Pay.</em></p> <p><strong>How did your side project, Sweet &amp; Lynch, come together?</strong></p> <p>Frontiers Records sent me an email saying they were interested in doing “supergroup” albums and wanted me to be on one of the first. I had already done some previous dates with George. He’s a great guy and I think the world of him as a player. So I reached out to him and he immediately said yes. Then I reached out to James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy, because I knew they would make a great rhythm section. Everything just fell into place so easily.</p> <p><strong>How would you describe the sound of the Sweet &amp; Lynch album?</strong></p> <p>I hear flavors of the Seventies. There are elements of Bad Company, Journey and Van Halen, and I certainly hear some Dokken there in spots. It’s kind of like George, Brian, James and I all got in a time capsule, went back to the late Seventies and made an album. It’s got a “take you back to that period” kind of sound to it, but with today’s modern production. The song styles, melody and vibe is more old school but in a really cool way. We all dug deep within ourselves to pull out the best of all of us. I can’t wait for people to hear it.</p> <p><strong>Can you tell me a few memorable moments from your career with Stryper?</strong></p> <p>The moment I always go back to is the whole <em>To Hell with the Devil</em> era. When we made that album, the videos and toured, it was so magical, fresh and unique. It was such a special time in our lives and I’ll never forget it. I’m really a thankful guy. I always try to give thanks to God and appreciate the fact that we’re still alive and breathing and are able to still perform and make music and do what we love to do after thirty years.</p> <p><em>For more about Stryper, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> James Wood Michael Sweet Stryper Interviews News Features Mon, 13 Oct 2014 19:45:30 +0000 James Wood John 5 Shows Off His Telecaster Collection and Discusses New Album, 'Careful with That Axe' <!--paging_filter--><p>“It all starts when you get your first guitar for Christmas or your birthday,” John 5 explains. “You never know what that guitar is going to bring you. Is it going to bring you happiness or sadness, fortune or poverty?”</p> <p>In John’s case, that first guitar, acquired at the tender age of seven, has led to a stellar career as one of recent rock’s most admired and sought-after guitarslingers. He’s enjoyed high-profile stints with everyone from Marilyn Manson to David Lee Roth to k.d. lang to Lynyrd Skynyrd. </p> <p>Since 2005, he’s been guitarist-in-chief for Rob Zombie and is currently working on the score for Zombie’s newest horror flick, <em>31</em>. In the past decade, the man born John William Lowery has also emerged as a solo artist and all-around virtuoso guitar hero in his own right. He pioneered the now-popular, if unlikely, hybrid of shred guitar and wild country pickin’, and serves it up with his own twisted sense of campy goth panache. </p> <p>John’s newest solo album, his eighth to date, is called <em>Careful with That Axe</em> and features bassist Matt Bissonette (Joe Satriani, David Lee Roth, Elton John) and drummer Rodger Carter (Lita Ford, Gene Simmons, Glen Campbell). The album is packed with all the speed-demon riffology and feats of fretboard acrobatics that his fans have come to expect. “I wanted to make this record so intense,” he says. “You know, it’s a guitar record. It’s not like anything else. So I just wanted to make it absolutely insane. Really crazy playing.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>The album’s title is a nod to Pink Floyd’s 1968 tour de force psychedelic jam “Careful with that Axe, Eugene.” But given the macabre side of John’s persona, he feels that the name has a special resonance in his case. “An axe is a guitar, obviously,” he says. “But the phrase ‘careful with that axe’ could also be about ax murders, and some of the song titles revolve around ax murders.”</p> <p>While his over-the-top playing style is always reckless and daring, John has indeed been careful with his ax, steering it from triumph to triumph amid the meltdown vicissitudes of the music business. And he’s especially careful with the axes in his legendary collection of mint-condition vintage Telecasters. </p> <p>“I’m a Telecaster connoisseur, and I love my Teles,” he says. “I have one from almost every year since the very beginning, in 1950. I’m so obsessed with them. I just really enjoy the history of Fender—the story of Fender and how it all came about. I have a collector’s soul.” </p> <p>For <em>Careful with That Axe</em>, John mainly stuck with his favorite contemporary Fender, a gold John 5 signature model Tele. “I’ve had that guitar for about six years now, and it’s just worn in beautifully,” he says. “I play it all the time. I didn’t use a lot of other guitars on the album just because we were playing everything live in the studio and just this one guitar gave me pretty much everything I needed. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>"I only used one Marshall JVM combo amp with a Boss Super Overdrive, Boss Noise Supressor and Boss Chorus. That’s pretty much what I use live too, when I’m playing with Zombie, and I wanted to have that vibe in the studio. I didn’t use a lot of gear this time because I just wanted to do everything with my hands. I went into this kind of like a boxer. I trained and trained, and I rehearsed quite a bit with Rodger and Matt. I think they both did a phenomenal job with this, just sounding out of control at times, but then pulling back on the songs that called for that.”</p> <p>The album reflects on John’s formative years as a guitar monster in training, starting with the opening track, “We Need to Have a Talk About John.” A chaotic collage of wild sounds and spoken-voice snippets, it sets the mood for what’s to come. “When my parents gave me that first guitar, I became totally obsessed,” John says. “I would stay in my room all the time with it, and my parents were concerned. That’s why the track is called ‘We Need to Have a Talk About John.’ It’s just this weird intro—all this crazy stuff. That’s kind of what was going on in my mind at that time.” </p> <p> Other tracks pay homage to some of John’s earliest musical influences. The frenzied first single, “This Is My Rifle,” he says, “is a kind of tribute to Al Di Meola. And there are two covers of songs by [country guitarist/singer/songwriter] Jerry Reed—‘Jerry’s Breakdown’ and ‘Jiffy Jam’—’cause my dad used to listen to Jerry Reed a lot, and that’s what I heard growing up. And the song ‘El ‘Cucuy,’ which means ‘The Boogieman,’ is a tribute to Spanish flamenco guitar, which I really love.”</p> <p> For “El Cucuy,” John played a Martin nylon-string and a D-45 steel-string, while for the two Jerry Reed tunes, he busted out one of the rarest items from his vintage Tele collection: his 1950 Broadcaster.</p> <p> “For those songs, I wanted that traditional sound of the old Fifties and Sixties type of playing,” he says. “And of my vintage Teles, I would have to say this Broadcaster is my favorite. It’s got a small neck and I’ve got small hands. It’s just a great player. Fender only made about 150 of these guitars. Leo Fender loved TV and radio, so he named the guitar the Broadcaster. But Gretsch already made a drum set named the Broadkaster, so they sued Fender and Fender had to stop making Broadcasters immediately. So they’re very rare. The one I have is all original, and it’s in perfect condition. It’s the cleanest Broadcaster I’ve ever seen. I got this from Norm’s Rare Guitars, and even they said it’s the cleanest Broadcaster they’ve ever seen. It was the priciest of any of my guitars. I paid about $135,000 for it, but it’s worth it.” </p> <p> John’s vintage guitar collection is lodged in massive wooden storage crates inside a warehouse at a top-secret location. “The crates are kept off the ground in case of, God forbid, a flood or an earthquake,” John explains. “Because they’re all really expensive guitars. The best of the best of the best. I have tons of Telecasters but also about 50 Les Pauls, six or seven SGs and a bunch of Gretsches. I have pretty much everything, and I keep it all in this storage place. I’ll break one out every once in a while and play it.” </p> <p> Always a collecting maniac, John had previously amassed a horde of Kiss posters that he sold for $75,000 a few years back. He used that money to start his vintage guitar collection. Asked to name his top five Fender faves from the collection, apart from the 1950 Broadcaster, he’s quick to cite his 1961 Telecaster Custom with a rare sienna sunburst finish. The instrument is so pristine, it still has the original hangtag dangling from the headstock. </p> <p> “This is another one I got from Norm’s Rare Guitars,” he says. “This guitar had just one previous owner, who purchased it from Ernie Ball’s music store on Ventura Boulevard in 1961 for $200. [The shop, at 19501 Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, was the first music store in America to sell guitars exclusively.] The guitar came with the original purchase sheet. It’s just a beautiful piece of wood. Fender only did the sienna sunburst—with the red sides rather than the dark, almost black sides—until about 1962. So it’s rare to get one of these. It’s one of my most prized possessions.” </p> <p> Next up on John’s Top Tele list is a 1959 Telecaster in absolutely mint condition that he tracked down at Dave’s Guitar Shop in Wisconsin while passing through the state on tour. “I hunt all the time,” he says. “I do love the hunt. Sometimes I find a great deal. Sometimes I find a guitar that’s not such a great deal. But you gotta do what you gotta do, ’cause you’ll never find it again.”</p> <p> Like most lovers of early Telecasters, John has a special fondness for “blackguard” Telecasters/Broadcasters and Esquires—those produced between 1950 and 1954, which are recognizable by their black pickguards. His 1954 blackguard Telecaster boasts a particularly vivid and gorgeous blond finish. “The reason why the color is so light is that the guitar has not been out of the case so much,” he says. “So it’s kept its original color really well. They’re usually darker in color ’cause they’ve been out in the light. But this one is really bright.” </p> <p> Then there’s John’s 1952 Esquire. The Telecaster’s single-pickup cousin, the Esquire was actually Fender’s first foray into the solidbody Spanish guitar market, preceding the Broadcaster by a few months in 1950. Like everything in his astounding collection, John’s 1952 Esquire is in frighteningly mint condition. </p> <p> “I got a really good deal on this one,” he says, beaming. “I paid around $30,000 for it, but it’s worth a lot more today, especially in this condition.”</p> <p> Not at all hung-up on the past, John also has a penchant for designing brand-new custom Teles based on bizarre concepts. These include such curios as his famed Lava Lamp Tele. Its clear, hollow acrylic body is filled with green antifreeze, which produces trippy visual effects. He calls his latest creation Tele-Vision. </p> <p> “I had this Fender Esquire body laying around,” he explains. “I routed it out and put an iPad Mini in it. So when I’m playing this guitar onstage, I’ll have a movie playing on it. I just thought it made a lot of sense, since the Broadcaster and Telecaster were named for TV, and everything is so visual these days. Everybody’s watching downloads of TV shows, videos and movies. I think Leo Fender would be proud of this guitar.” </p> <p><em>Photos: Sean Murphy</em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john5">John5</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> John 5 October 2014 Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 10 Oct 2014 16:05:14 +0000 Alan di Perna Yes Guitarist Steve Howe Discusses the Making of 'Fragile' and 'Close to the Edge' <!--paging_filter--><p>“Somebody called me the granddaddy of prog-rock,” Steve Howe says with a laugh. </p> <p>“I’m not ashamed to be called that. But the thing that matters most to me is musicality. I don’t think prog is all about technical playing. Much more important are your musical ideas. What choices and decisions are you making in the music? If that’s still an intelligent force within the music, then I like being considered a part of prog.”</p> <p>More than just a part of progressive rock, Howe is one of the music’s great originators. </p> <p>From the moment he joined Yes in 1970, he staked out a bold and vast territorial range for the guitar in a musical form often dominated by keyboard virtuosos like Keith Emerson and his former Yes bandmate Rick Wakeman. What those guys needed banks of pianos, organs and synthesizers to achieve Howe could often attain with just six strings and a boundless imagination. </p> <p>His contribution, moreover, transcends prog-rock or any single musical genre. Steve Howe is one of the most distinctive and original guitarists in all of rock, a brilliant musical colorist whose evocative volume pedal swells and echoey textures possess all the subtle and complex expressiveness of the human voice itself. Howe’s palette has always been incredibly broad, drafting everything from classical and flamenco fire to psychedelic expansiveness to jazzy archtop electric abstraction into the rock guitar vocabulary. </p> <p>At age 67, he’s still in top form, as can be clearly heard on the brand new Yes album, <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>. On the disc, Howe is joined by longtime Yes members bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downs, who has been an on-and-off Yes-man since 1980. </p> <p>On vocals is the group’s newest member, Jon Davison, who joined in 2012 and does a superb job of channeling the dulcet melodicism of original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Davison even shares Anderson’s spiritual perspective on lyric writing and fondness of Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>While some tracks on <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em> evoke the prog symphonic majesty of Yes’ Seventies heyday, others skew in a lighter pop direction more in keeping with radio-friendly Eighties Yes recordings, such as their <em>90125</em> album. But in working with legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars, Smashing Pumpkins), on <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>, Howe had one supreme mandate.</p> <p>“I told Roy, ‘It’s gotta be Yes.’ ” </p> <p>The prominent presence of Howe’s guitar work on the album is a sterling guarantee that the disc does indeed sound like Yes. Howe’s inventive melody lines and otherworldly textures are woven deep into the polychromatic musical fabric. Never an overtly flash player, Howe will nonetheless sometimes conclude a tuneful guitar passage with a brief burst of sheer incandescent brilliance. The effortlessness with which he executes these dazzling little interludes offers understated testimony to his mastery of his instrument.</p> <p>“I don’t think guitarists should concentrate on being guitarists,” he says. “They should concentrate on being musicians. Being a guitarist can be a dangerous thing if you just want to race off and steal the show all the time on bended knees with your tiddly tiddly tiddly. I think that’s pretty dead in the water. I daresay most people agree.” </p> <p>Once famed for bringing a vast arsenal of guitars with him onstage and in the studio, Howe has taken a more streamlined approach in recent years. His rig is based largely around his Line 6 Variax guitar and Line 6 HD500/Bogner DT50 digital modeling amp and pedal board, which allow him to cover a wide range of traditional guitar and amp tones. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>“I think the Variax is one of the most overlooked instruments in the guitar universe,” he says. “The first time I saw it, I knew it was made for me. I like affordable guitars that can make lots of sounds and textures. I’ve got to tell you, the Strat, ’58 Les Paul and [Gibson] ES-175 models, in particular, are sensational on the Variax. Okay, it doesn’t feel like a Les Paul. But when you plug it in and it sounds like one, what’s the problem?”</p> <p>Howe does augment this digital setup with several “real” guitars in his live rig, however, all of which made it into the studio for the Heaven &amp; Earth sessions. These include his mid-Eighties red Fender Stratocaster; a 1955 Fender Telecaster which he has modified with a humbucker in the neck position, six-saddle bridge and Gibson-style toggle switch; a Martin MC-38 Steve Howe signature model acoustic; a Fender dual-neck steel guitar; and a Gibson Steve Howe signature model ES-175 electric archtop. </p> <p>“That one is actually Number One—the first-ever Steve Howe production model 175,” he says. “And I added a third pickup to it, because at the time I was using it cover the sound of the [Gibson] ES-5 Switchmaster that I used on Yes’ <em>Fragile</em> album.”</p> <p>This signature model 175 is based on Howe’s 1964 ES-175D, his first serious electric guitar, purchased new when he was just 17 and an instrument with which he has been closely associated ever since. These days he uses the guitar only in the U.K. where he lives, “because the airlines have been such an effing pain in the butt over the years,” he says. “But I have actually got a ’63 175 as well, which a friend of mine in Fort Wayne [Indiana] found for me. That was there with me in the studio as well.” </p> <p>Another key instrument for Howe onstage and in the studio is his guitarra portuguesa, or Portuguese guitar. Heard on the track “To Ascend” from <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>, it is also featured prominently on classic Yes tracks like “Your Move/All Good People” and “The Preacher The Teacher” and “Wonderous Stories.” Strung in six double-string courses, the instrument is tuned unconventionally by Howe: [low to high] E B E B E Ab. </p> <hr /> <p>“That one came from Spain,” he says, “My sister bought it for me when I was a kid. It has a slightly ringy, sitarish kind of sound that I really like. It has become a real identity thing with me.” </p> <p> To this array of instruments from his live rig, Howe added a few more items during sessions for <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>. “The only extra guitar was a Steinberger GMT that I really like,” he says. “And the studio had some really nice Marshall and Vox amps that I used. I also rented a Fender Deluxe that was customized by a good friend of mine, Rick Coberly.”</p> <p> So while Howe wasn’t exactly lacking for guitars and amps while making the album, the setup was minimal compared with the days of Seventies prog-rock opulence. “Usually I would do a whole setup for an album, which could be anything from 15 to 30 guitars—a bit extravagant,” Howe says, with a laugh. “Plus various amps—things I liked and had tried out. The whole fiddly process. But this time, we really didn’t have time for that. Nobody did in their own departments. Basically, we wanted to streamline the whole process.”</p> <p>Howe’s relatively compact live rig will also serve him in good stead on the current Yes tour, which will feature live performances by the band of two classic Yes albums, <em>Fragile</em> and <em>Close to the Edge</em>, in their entirety. Released in 1971, <em>Fragile</em> was Yes’ breakthrough record. It featured what for many is the classic Yes lineup: Anderson, Howe, Squire, Wakeman and drummer extraordinaire Bill Bruford. But what really put the album across at the time was its lead track and hit single “Roundabout,” a perfect amalgam of melodic accessibility, driving rock, deft arrangement and superior musicianship. </p> <p> “We’ve been playing ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ from Fragile for years,” Howe says. “But in performing the entire album live, I really wanted to revisit the way we actually did those songs on the record—to capture the understatement, the subtleties and the playing down. Because playing onstage is often—too often for my liking—all about playing up. But I really like the subtleties and less expected moments of tranquility and gentleness. I think people sometimes forget that that’s the key to Yes. There’s no bash and crash about Yes.”</p> <p> “Roundabout” is one of many classic Yes songs that Howe wrote in collaboration with Jon Anderson. “Jon and I were in a hotel room up in Scotland when we started writing that song,” Howe recalls. “We seemed to find a lot of time to do that in the Seventies. We had a private plane. We got to places. People sat by the pool. And Jon and I were in this hotel room, kind of going, ‘Well, what have you got that’s a bit like this?’ We used to quiz one another like that. We did those exchanges in our music, and lyrically as well. This was the era of cassettes, and I’ve still got all of them—Jon and me fooling around in hotel rooms. </p> <p>"And with ‘Roundabout,’ we had all these bits of music, tentative moments. I was big on intros back then, and the classical guitar intro I came up with for ‘Roundabout’ was really one of the most signature things. And I believe I thought of the backward piano [also in the intro], but I won’t lay 100 percent claim to that, in case I’m wrong. But basically the song just kept developing. Jon and I presented as much as we had to the band, and the band did a fair amount of input and arrangement. What Yes were brilliant at, even before I joined, was arranging skills.”</p> <p> Another key feature of Fragile were its solo tracks, written and performed by each of the five band members. Howe’s contribution was “Mood for a Day,” a solo piece he performed on a Conde classical guitar and which toggles neatly between baroque decorum and flamenco passion. </p> <p> “It was Bill Bruford who thought of the concept of doing individual tracks, not to mention the album title <em>Fragile</em>,” Howe recalls. “But his original idea wasn’t that each guy should do a completely solo track, the way I did mine and Rick Wakeman did his. Bill’s concept was more like he did with his own track, ‘Five Per Cent for Nothing,’ where the group were utilized at his command—like, ‘You play this and you play that.’ I think we could make up our own notes, but we had to play his beats, which was a marvelous way of doing it. I was really excited about doing that live, but other people in the group were like, ‘Are we really gonna do this?’ I think the guitar part is one of the easiest parts in it. But there was a fair amount of struggling with some of the other parts, because they have to mix together. Bill wasn’t the kind of drummer you could just busk along to.” </p> <p> Howe’s main electric guitar for Fragile was the aforementioned Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster, which he recalls playing through a Dual Showman amp. “In 1969, I toured with Delaney &amp; Bonnie as guitarist for the opening act, P.P. Arnold,” Howe narrates. “On that tour, both Eric Clapton and George Harrison were playing with Delaney &amp; Bonnie, and they both had Dual Showmen. So when I joined Yes a year later, I was hell-bent to buy a Dual Showman. And I did.”</p> <p> Yes’ 1972 masterpiece, <em>Close to the Edge</em>, was the triumphant follow-up to Fragile. While capitalizing on all the strengths of <em>Fragile, Close to the Edge</em> also took Yes into a new compositional dimension. Occupying all of side one on the original vinyl release, the album’s title track is a tour de force of brilliant, recurring melodic and lyrical themes that overlap in myriad permutations—transposed, superimposed, reharmonized, contrapuctualized and melded into one of progressive rock’s proudest and finest moments. “Close to the Edge” is another outstanding compositional collaboration between Anderson and Howe.</p> <p> “Jon was more competent than me lyrically,” Howe says. “But I wound up writing lyrics for ‘Close to the Edge,’ and our next album <em>Tales from Topographic Oceans. My stuff was more lateral, more earthbound, as opposed to his skybound stuff. The lyrical phrase ‘Close to the edge, down by the river’ was originally about the River Thames! But Jon converted that into the river of life, which was a wonderful thing.” As with “Roundabout,” Howe and Anderson began by amassing the musical fragments that would eventually go to making up “Close to the Edge.”</em></p> <p> “Jon and I put together a lot of the shape of that song. We’d been working live with the Mahavishnu Orchestra at the time, and it might have been Jon who said to me, ‘Why don’t we start this with improvisation? That would be really scary.’ Normally you start off with something you can grasp—an intro or a hook. But we inspired Yes to go into this improvisation. All I had on guitar was that octave jumping two-note phrase you hear on the record. But that was enough to kick off an improvisation. After that it was purely freeform. Although we did have those stops arranged. [i.e., climactic moments that give way to a single a cappella chord in vocal harmony.] I can only look back in amazement that we were able to do some of that. But we did. We didn’t always count everything out. It was almost like we could remember things that were quite complicated. So that intro then spawned the whole idea of a thematic approach—the musical themes that come in and out of the track.</p> <p> “Jon and I really had a certain magic going on at that time,” Howe continues. “That level of collaboration ended after we wrote ‘Awaken’ [from 1977’s <em>Going for the One</em>], which is another really epic piece. We did some good work after that, like “Bring Me to the Power” on <em>Keys to Ascension 2</em> [1997], some songs on <em>The Ladder</em> [1999] and a few on <em>Magnification</em> [2001]. But I think that greatest time was ‘Roundabout’ through ‘Awaken.’ ” </p> <p> Howe’s main electric guitar for <em>Close to the Edge</em> was a Gibson ES-345 stereo model. He is one of the few rock guitarists to fully exploit the atmospheric potential of stereo guitar. Each of the 345’s two pickups would be routed to a separate amp with a separate delay line and volume pedal for each. “A lot of the panning I did live with my feet between the two pickups,” he explains. “I had a volume pedal for each pickup and panned them in opposite ways. When one went down, the other one went up. I had a lot of fun! You can hear it if you listen with headphones.” </p> <p> The volume pedal has always been a key element to Howe’s guitar approach. He’s used a variety of pedals down through the years, including Fender, Sho-Bud and Ernie Ball units. Since 2006, he’s employed the volume pedal on the Line 6 HD500 pedal board. “As soon as I got an electric guitar I also got a volume pedal,” he says. “And that really started my relationship with phrasing, effects and being able to alter the way a guitar sounds. And of course delays are also very important. The way you can play into a delay with a volume pedal is also a very exciting thing I developed. And then of course the fuzz box, wah and all kinds of guitar processing.” </p> <p><em>Close to the Edge</em> was also Bill Bruford’s last album with Yes. He departed the band to join King Crimson not long after <em>Close to the Edge</em> was completed. “I see him as a quintessential Yes member,” Howe says. “And when he ran off from us to join Crimson, that was a really painful experience for me. Because I didn’t want him to go, not one bit. Yet what he proved to me is that a musician always has to follow his music. And I tend to do that. That’s why I left Asia a year or so back. Because I listened to myself and said, ‘I can’t do this now.’ And I’ve done that often in my career when I’ve made decisions. It’s good to remember that, no matter who the paymaster is, or what you’re going to lose, if you don’t follow the direction your music takes you in, then you’ll fall. You’ll lose much more than a few bucks.”</p> <p> In the years since Yes’ early Seventies classic run, Howe has kept up with old band mates like Bruford and Anderson through projects like Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford and Howe in the late Eighties/early Nineties. He’s currently planning to record a few of Bruford’s compositions on the next release by his side group, the Steve Howe Trio. Meanwhile, he still keeps an ear out for exciting new guitarists. </p> <p> “I really love Martin Taylor as a jazz guitarist,” he says. “He does everything I love. Wonderful guitarist. Wonderful technique. And yet he isn’t stifled by technique. By the time you’re a virtuoso, you don’t think along the lines of technique. Your technique is solid enough to enable you to do anything you want. Another guitarist I really admire is Flavio Sala, a young guitarist from Italy. He’s just over 30 now. </p> <p>"And he’s got all the classical repertoire under his belt, which is a huge goal to be at by your 30th birthday. But now he’s looking at music in a more general way, and not shy about it. I met him a few years ago. We recorded a track together, which we haven’t released yet. But whenever I see a guitarist, I can’t help but want to understand more about, Where’s this guy at? What’s his repertoire? With a guy like Flavio I think, That’s a true international guitarist. And I think that’s the goal for all of us as players—to become an international guitarist.”</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/steve-howe">Steve Howe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/yes">Yes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> October 2014 Steve Howe Yes Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:30:04 +0000 Alan di Perna ‘Rocks’: Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry Talks New Memoir, Guitars and Next Solo Album <!--paging_filter--><p>Somewhere after the second British invasion and shortly before the advent of disco and punk, five guys from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston began finding their niche to take over the world. </p> <p>They bucked the system at every opportunity, while at the same time set a precedent for a generation of bands that would follow.</p> <p>Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry's story has been full of ups and downs. Finally, it’s a story worth telling. Perry’s new memoir, <em>Rocks: My Life In And Out of Aerosmith</em>, is an honest reflection of the life and career of one of rock’s all-time greats.</p> <p><strong><a href="">[[ For more about Joe Perry's new book (including an excerpt) and a feature on his Wandre/Davoli BB guitar, visit ]]</a></strong> </p> <p>Throughout its pages, Perry pulls no punches in detailing the rise, fall and second coming of one of the greatest American rock bands. He speaks candidly about his early love of the wilderness, his conflicts with authority (including his refusal to cut his hair in school), drug abuse, dealing with controlling managers and his stormy relationship with Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler.</p> <p>In addition to a plethora of amazing photographs, <em>Rocks</em> contains a detailed appendix featuring the guitars and gear Perry has used throughout his career. It's a treasure trove of information for guitar players and gear enthusiasts.</p> <p>Perry’s life journey is encouraging, inspiring and at times heartbreaking. But where <em>Rocks</em> really shines is in its ability to showcase a different side of human nature and just what it takes to get along.</p> <p>I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Perry about his new memoir; I also got updates on Aerosmith — and Perry's next solo album.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?</strong></p> <p>Not too long ago, there was a vibe. It was the 40th anniversary of the band and our last Sony record. There were also a lot of other things going on in our personal lives that made it seem like it was the end of one era and the beginning of another. That’s when my wife Billie asked me, “What do you think about writing a book?" There was something inside me that just clicked and it felt like it was the right time. </p> <p><strong>How big of a role has Billie played in your life?</strong></p> <p>As low as it had gotten at some points, if she wasn't around, I wouldn’t be here. We met at a time when I was far enough away from Aerosmith that the band wasn’t an issue. In fact, she didn’t even know who Aerosmith was. As far as she was concerned, I was just another struggling musician who played in a local band. She gave me a new lease on life — beyond the partying and all of that other stuff. </p> <p>We’ve been together 30 years now and raised three kids. It’s been tough at times but that’s one of the reasons I wanted to write the book: to talk about how difficult it can be to keep a family together but still keep the band together as well. And it’s not just me. The four other guys in the band also had to live their lives and make it work.</p> <p><strong>At one point, you fell on hard times and had to sell your prized 1959 Les Paul. How much did you sell it for?</strong></p> <p>I don’t remember what I paid for it, but I think I got $3,500 for it at the time when I sold it. Then Eric Johnson called me after he had heard that the guitar he bought was once mine and offered it to me for what he paid for it [which was $8,500]. I didn’t have the money at that time and had to pass. Eventually, Slash wound up with it and just gave it to me as a gift. Whatever inspired him to do that is just an indication of what a great heart the guy has. I really consider him a close friend.</p> <p><strong>What made you decide to include a section on the guitars and gear you’ve used over the years?</strong></p> <p>Fans would always come up and ask me what guitars I used on certain albums or what gear I used when I played live or in the studio. I decided that if I was really going to get into guitars and equipment, it couldn’t just be a part of the story. So I started brainstorming and decided to put in an appendix that just deals with the gear. It was fun for me to go back and look at pictures of the guitars and me standing with my old guitar techs. It’s there for the guitar players and doesn’t get in the way of the main story, which deals more about human nature and not transistors.</p> <p><strong>In the book you discuss a lot of the conflicts with ex-girlfriends, drugs and management, but perhaps nothing hurt you more deeply on a personal level than when Steven auditioned for Led Zeppelin and took on a judge role on <em>American Idol</em> without first informing the band. How hurt were you by those decisions?</strong></p> <p>On the short list of emotions, I was puzzled and hurt. Obviously it was bullshit. But I’ve become so used to that over the years, and we know all how to deal with that with each other. Whatever it was we were going through, we always learned how to leave it behind and work together because we always respected each other’s talent. But we’ve never gotten into a fistfight, and anyone who tells you that is full of shit. If you ever see two silver-backed gorillas going at it — they wreck the cage but they don’t touch each other [laughs]. That’s kind of the paradigm it used to be. </p> <p>On another level, it was like how could someone look you in the eye and say one thing and then the next day come to find out that not only is he doing the exact opposite, but he also knows full well how what he’s doing is going to affect me> To this day, I still can’t figure it out.</p> <p><strong>Can you give me an update on your next solo album?</strong></p> <p>Normally, it would be done by now, but so much time has been taken up working on the book, touring and getting the last Aerosmith album out. It’s definitely on the top of my “A” list. I do have six songs that have great potential. I also have a bunch of material I need to listen to. I’m really looking forward to getting back into it sometime this fall or at the very latest, the beginning of the new year.</p> <p><strong>Has there been talk about a new Aerosmith album or maybe something to celebrate the 40th anniversary of <em>Toys In The Attic</em>?</strong></p> <p>There are so many options on the table, but right now everyone needs some time to breathe. We’ve talked about doing some gigs next year and possibly doing some recording. Once we have some time to kick back we’ll figure out what’s next for the band.</p> <p><strong>Do you have any regrets?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, I can probably give you a few dozen [laughs]. Certainly if I could go back I would do things differently. But looking back, I think everything happens for a reason, and for as hard as some of the things were it was something that I had to live through. </p> <p><strong>If you were deep in the heart of the Vermont wilderness during the peak of fall season and only had one album to listen to, what album would that be?</strong></p> <p>If you want to know the truth, I wouldn’t listen to any album because I love the sound of the woods better. But I have to say that one of my favorite records to listen to now is <em>Night In The Ruts</em> [1979]. It doesn’t get much call for us to play songs off of, but it’s some of the best playing the band ever did. It got overlooked because it was the one where I left and we never got a chance to play it live and really push it the way we should have. I thought there were some really good songs on that one. It’s one of the ones I miss hearing more.</p> <p><strong>At one point in the book you talk about standing on the street corner looking up at 1325 Commonwealth and wondering what the 20-year-old Joe Perry would think about the Joe Perry of today. I’d like to ask you the opposite. What bit of advice would the Joe Perry of today give to that young kid about to take on the world with Aerosmith?</strong></p> <p>I probably would tell him to put his foot down a little bit harder when it came to dealing with lawyers and managers. Everything else as far as our creativity, the way we got along and all of that other stuff was something we all had to go through.</p> <p><em>For more about Perry, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/joe-perry">Joe Perry</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/aerosmith">Aerosmith</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Aerosmith James Wood Joe Perry Interviews News Features Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:08:06 +0000 James Wood Eddie Van Halen on How He Created His Signature Sound Using MXR's Phase 90 and Flanger Pedals <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our cover feature on Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, not to mention features on Weezer, George Thorogood, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=EVHMXRExcerpt">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p>Earlier this year, in preparation for the 40th anniversary of MXR, its parent company, Dunlop Manufacturing, took a survey to learn how guitarists perceive the pedal maker. </p> <p>One of the questions asked was, “Which player do you associate the most with the MXR brand?” The respondents chose Eddie Van Halen more than 60 percent of the time. Notably, the runner-up received fewer than half as many mentions. </p> <p>That result is, in part, due to MXR’s EVH Signature Series pedals, the EVH90 Phase 90 and the EVH117 Flanger, which became perennial best-selling MXR products upon their introductions in 2004 and 2007, respectively. But MXR pedals have remained an essential element of Van Halen’s sound since his band’s debut album was released in 1978. </p> <p>The swirling textures of a Phase 90 are heard on classic tunes like “Eruption,” “Atomic Punk,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love,” “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Drop Dead Legs” as well as new songs like “Outta Space” and “Stay Frosty,” and Van Halen’s distinctive and innovative use of the Flanger made an indelible impression on guitarists through songs like “Unchained,” “And the Cradle Will Rock…” and “Hear About It Later.” In addition to those two tone-enhancing mainstays, Ed has also relied upon pro-quality MXR tools like the Six-Band Graphic Equalizer and Smart Gate to keep his onstage tone full, aggressive and noise-free. His current onstage pedal board even includes an MXR Analog Chorus, which he uses for songs like “Pretty Woman” and “Little Guitars.” </p> <p>In celebration of MXR’s 40th anniversary milestone, it made perfect sense for <em>Guitar World</em> to talk with the company’s most influential player about how his MXR pedals have influenced him throughout the last four decades. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Did you use any pedals when you were a kid and learning to play?</strong></p> <p>A wah-wah was probably the first pedal that I ever tried. I probably borrowed it from a buddy. But I was from the school of plugging the guitar straight into the amp, so I didn’t use any pedals at first.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>How did you discover MXR pedals?</strong></p> <p>A really good friend of mine named Terry Kilgore and I were the so-called gunslingers in Pasadena back in the mid Seventies. We jammed together and would trade licks and have a lot of fun. We weren’t competitive at all. I went to one of his band rehearsals once, and that was when I first saw a Phase 90. </p> <p>He used to play a lot of Robin Trower stuff. He used the Phase 90 with the speed control set around the 2 o’clock setting to get more of that fast, swirling sound. I decided to pick one up for myself. I was into Robin Trower too, but we didn’t play any of his songs, so I used it with the control set between 9 and 10 o’clock. I still use it the same way today. I just locked into that one setting, and I’ve used it ever since.</p> <p><strong>Why do you prefer the slower speed setting?</strong></p> <p>I thought it sounded unique. I never heard that before. It didn’t sound like the phase shifters made by other companies, where the phase sweep is more heavy and pronounced, almost more like a flanger. The Phase 90 produces a very light change of the sound. It’s not an over-the-top effect. It’s very subtle. </p> <p><strong>You tended to kick on the Phase 90 during your solos.</strong></p> <p>I did that in the early days because it would make the solo pop. Suddenly it became a different sound, which helped me stand out in the mix, because back then, in the club days, we usually had lousy P.A. systems and lousy sound guys. It didn’t boost the signal, but it made it pop out so the solo was more audible. It enhanced the tone.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What led you to the MXR Flanger?</strong></p> <p>Obviously, I liked the Phase 90, so when MXR came out with the Flanger, I said, What the hell? I loved their stuff. Their pedals are built like a brick shit house, and they make great sounds, so I started putzing around with the Flanger too. I always use the same setting for everything, from the intro to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” to “Unchained,” with the exception of the setting I used on the intro to “Outta Love Again” and “Bullethead.” </p> <p>I set the three knobs on the left between 11 o’clock or 11:30, and the last knob on the right [regeneration] is all the way up. I might fine-tune the speed a little to match it to the tempo of the song, like on “Unchained” where the sweep goes perfectly with the riff. I was just goofing off and experimenting. It wouldn’t have sounded good to use the flanger all the way through. The riff just needed a little bit here and there. It’s a cool, tasty little tidbit that I threw in there to draw attention to the riff. </p> <p><strong>How did you decide to place the Flanger in front of the Phase 90 in your signal chain?</strong></p> <p>I have no idea! I think I just liked having the Phase 90 in the middle between the Flanger and the microphone on the stage. </p> <p><strong>How did these pedals influence your songwriting?</strong></p> <p>One good example is “And the Cradle Will Rock…” I had written that intro riff on the electric piano, and the guys thought that it needed something. I just hooked up the Flanger and pounded on the low keys. It was a great sound, and it worked. There wasn’t any rocket science to it. Even the Flanger on “Unchained” was totally by accident. </p> <p>For some reason I just thought that the Flanger sounded good there. The way it goes from the sweep up to the sweep down wasn’t planned. My normal setting just happened to fit the tempo of the song. I kicked it in and out, and when I heard the way the Flanger swept up and then down, I thought it sounded cool. Nothing I’ve ever done is really all that thought out. I’d just wing stuff, and if it sounded cool I would do it again.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Do you remember how you came up with the intro to “Atomic Punk”?</strong></p> <p>That basic idea for that sound originally came from “Light Up the Sky,” which I had written before “Atomic Punk,” even though “Light Up the Sky” appeared on our second record. After the guitar solo there is a drum break, and you can hear me rubbing my palm on the low E string. One day I decided to try that with the Phase 90. It was an interesting sound, and it turned into a cool song. I’ve never really ever heard that sound from anyone else, neither before nor after I did that. After the solo, I actually also used the Flanger for a quick bit. </p> <p><strong>How did those pedals become an essential part of your sound?</strong></p> <p>They enhance the sound of what I’m playing. In certain spots I would use them if I needed them. It wasn’t a set thing; I’d just wing it, and nine times out of 10 it would work. I have to have an idea for a song first, then I’ll putz around and add or take away things. It’s like making a steak: you have to have the steak first, then you can make it better by adding a little seasoning, but not too much because you want to taste the steak, not the seasoning. </p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our cover feature on Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, not to mention features on Weezer, George Thorogood, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=EVHMXRExcerpt">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p><em>Photo: Neil Zlozower/</em></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/1114_Gib%26Beck.jpg" width="620" height="805" alt="1114_Gib&amp;Beck.jpg" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eddie-van-halen">Eddie Van Halen</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Dunlop Manufacturing Eddie Van Halen MXR November 2014 Effects Interviews News Features Gear Magazine Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:57:56 +0000 Chris Gill 'Retrogrenade': Gary Cherone Talks New Hurtsmile Album, Extreme and Van Halen <!--paging_filter--><p>If you follow the career path of frontman extraordinaire Gary Cherone, you can't avoid bumping into some serious guitar-rock royalty.</p> <p>Whether it's his partnership with Nuno Bettencourt in Extreme, fronting the mighty Van Halen or performing with his idols Brian May and Tony Iommi at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in the early Nineties, Cherone has performed with true living legends. </p> <p>But perhaps no guitarist knows Cherone better than his brother. That's why Hurtsmile — which consists of Gary Cherone, his brother Mark Cherone (guitar), Joe Pessia (bass) and Dana Spellman (drums) — is a reflection of Cherone's personal tastes.</p> <p>Inspired by the records they grew up on, Hurtsmile's new album, <em>Retrogrenade</em>, which will be released October 7, is full of swaggering guitars, soaring vocals and Cherone's trademark eclecticism. </p> <p>From the fiery opening track, “Rock and Roll Cliché,” to songs like “Hello I Must Be Going” and the politically charged “Big Government," Hurtsmile finds inspiration through a joint collaborative process. It's not “retro” in the sense that they're trying to sound like someone else. It's a sonic nod to some of their early influences.</p> <p>I recently spoke with Cherone about <em>Retrogrenade</em>, Extreme and some memorable moments from his career.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How did the writing process for <em>Retrogrenade</em> differ from the band's first album?</strong></p> <p>On the first record, Mark and I wrote a majority of the songs. For this one, everyone contributed to every song. Joe really stepped up and contributed songs rather than just contributions within another song. Songs like “Walk Away,” “I Still Do” and “Sing a Song” were ones that Joe and I wrote. Mark and I also wrote songs together and then there were collaborations between all of us, including Dana. That to me is the real strength of this record.</p> <p><strong>What was the songwriting process like?</strong></p> <p>It all starts with a riff. That's how I like to write. Usually, I'll get inspired by a piece of music and will write melodies or have a lyric already written. In the past, I'd sometimes hand Nuno lyrics and he would write music to the words. But as the years have gone by, I've found it better for me to write a melody to the music.</p> <p><strong>Let's discuss a few songs from <em>Retrogrenade</em>. "Rock and Roll Cliché."</strong></p> <p>That was a classic Mark riff. Then the band joined in and jammed on it and I scatted melodies over it. That's how that song developed.</p> <p><strong>"Hello I Must Be Going."</strong></p> <p>I wrote that song on an acoustic guitar. It was driven by a melody that I had in my head and then I presented it to the band and we hashed out different ideas for it at rehearsal. Songs that develop in rehearsal are ones the typically come out better rather than studio creations. </p> <p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> <p><strong>"Big Government."</strong></p> <p>Musically, it started with a Mark riff. Then Joe came in with the middle section. I had that chorus "Big Government" in my head. It's a critique on how the bigger the government gets, the smaller the individual gets. It was inspired by a quote from talk show host Dennis Prager. </p> <p><strong>You've worked with a few great guitarists like Nuno and Eddie, but what's it like working with your brother, Mark?</strong></p> <p>Mark knows me better than anyone. I remember him as my little brother who used to follow me along to band practice when I was in garage bands. He was the little kid who stood in the corner watching his older brother during those days. Then I watched him kind of go his own way and develop in the local scene. I'm lucky to be able to do this with my brother. </p> <p><strong>What are some of your best memories from your tenure with Van Halen?</strong></p> <p>The fondest memory was that tour. The actual making of the record was a little awkward because they were going through some stuff when I joined them. But Eddie, Alex and Michael were always great to me and were very supportive. Eddie was happy and played his ass of on that '98 tour. As far as being in the band, it was all good.</p> <p><strong>Can you tell me the origin of Extreme's “More Than Words”?</strong></p> <p>It really was one of many that Nuno and I wrote. During those years, Nuno was living at my house and were constantly writing. Out of all the songs we had written up to that point, we knew it was a good, but we had no idea that it would become bigger than the band. To us, it was just another song that we were writing.</p> <p><strong>Can you give me an update on Extreme?</strong></p> <p>We'll soon be going to LA to write and record a new record. Nuno and I have already written some songs together and separately. With every Extreme record, we really have no idea what it's going to be like until we get in there. Then the album sort of writes itself. We're excited about it.</p> <p><strong>I have to ask you about the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992. What was that experience like?</strong></p> <p>My mind goes crazy whenever anyone brings up that day. It was the best day of Extreme's career. We were so excited and embraced the whole day. Meeting all of our heroes: Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, the guys in Queen, Elton John and David Bowie. I remember Nuno standing before I went out and said "Don't scream!" And what was the first thing I did when I got out there to do "Hammer To Fall"? I screamed [laughs]. </p> <p>It was a special moment for us. To be asked to be one of the few people to go up and sing was incredible. I couldn't believe I was actually singing with my favorite band of all time. What a day!</p> <p><strong>Are there any other memorable moments of your career that stand out?</strong></p> <p>With Extreme there were so many. The first time we sold out a club, getting signed, putting out our first record. I remember in the summer of 1991 when <em>Pornografitti</em> went platinum. We did a hometown show with Cinderella and David Lee Roth. We were the hometown kids coming home, and “More Than Words” was blowing up on the radio when they brought out those plaques. It was a very memorable moment. Ironically, we were backing up Roth and little did I know that a few years later I'd be joining Van Halen. It's been a crazy career!</p> <p><em>For more about Hurtsmile, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/extreme">Extreme</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Extreme Gary Cherone Hurtsmile James Wood Van Halen Interviews News Features Thu, 02 Oct 2014 21:07:43 +0000 James Wood Eric Johnson and Mike Stern Discuss Their ‘Eclectic’ New Album <!--paging_filter--><p>What do you get when you combine two bona-fide guitar heroes in their respective genres — and then have them go toe-to-toe with each other? You get <em>Eclectic,</em> a new album by blues/jazz/rocker Eric Johnson and jazz master Mike Stern. </p> <p>Recorded at Johnson’s studio in Austin, Texas, <em>Eclectic</em> — which will be released October 27 — is a tasty collection of songs highlighting the strengths of both guitarists. It features an infectious rhythm section consisting of drummer Anton Fig (<em>The Late Show with David Letterman</em>) and Johnson’s regular bassist, Chris Maresh.</p> <p>Stern’s body of guitar goodness spans more than four decades. His career includes partnerships with such artists as Blood, Sweat &amp; Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius.</p> <p>Johnson’s playing has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. His six-string wizardry earned him a Grammy award in 1992 for his instrumental hit, “Cliffs of Dover,” which came in at Number 17 on <em>Guitar World</em>’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time. </p> <p>Johnson and Stern will support <em>Eclectic</em> with an Eastern U.S. tour beginning in November. You can check out all the dates below.</p> <p>I recently spoke with both guitarists about their new album. Johnson also gives a bit of advice for properly playing “Cliffs of Dover.”</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How did this collaboration begin?</strong></p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: I've known Eric for years and always dug his playing. Every time I saw him, I’d tell him that it would be great for us to do something together. Finally, I was doing this record called <em>Big Neighborhood</em> and had the idea of doing something with him. </p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: We had so much fun working on that record that one day the Blue Note Club in New York called and asked us if we’d like to do a joint gig together. So we put together a band, rehearsed and learned music. We ended up doing a two-week tour out of that and got offered to do a record and a few other tours that are now slated to happen.</p> <p><strong>How would you describe <em>Eclectic</em>?</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: It’s a pretty honest record. We cut most of the record live and pretty much set everything up in one room. </p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: The thing I like about Eric’s playing and the thing I always try to do is to play from the heart. That's the most important thing about music, and there’s certainly a lot of heart and soul on this record.</p> <p><strong>Let’s discuss a few tracks from <em>Eclectic</em>. "Benny Man’s Blues" (which you can hear below).</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: Mike was saying we should have an up-tempo blues piece for the record, which I thought was a cool idea. While I was figuring out what to do, I started thinking about some of those old Benny Goodman records where there’s just a couple of chord changes, but it still has that blues vibe.</p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: That's a really cool track with a Texas-swing feel to it. I originally didn't know how Eric wanted to do it, but once Anton started playing the back beat, I immediately got where he was coming from.</p> <p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> <p><strong>"Hulabaloo."</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: It has a crazy rock/swinging Sixties vibe to it. It started off with a “show review”-type of riff and then evolved from there.</p> <p><strong>"Tidal."</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: That song is an homage to Wes [Montgomery]. I actually wrote that song earlier and put it on iTunes. I brought it into our rehearsals and we started re-arranging it. I actually like it a lot better the way it is now. It’s a pretty cool thing.</p> <p><strong>"Wherever You Go."</strong></p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: I had a ballad kind of feeling when I wrote that song. The vibe is usually what starts it and gives it inspiration. Eric got it right away and what he plays on it is so beautiful.</p> <p><strong>Eric, I have to ask you about “Cliffs of Dover." When you think about that song, what comes to mind?</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: In a way, I think that song was kind of a gift. It’s one of those songs that just came to me really quickly. I don’t know why, but one day I just sat down and had the whole song finished in five minutes.</p> <p><strong>Do you have a bit of advice for someone attempting play it?</strong></p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: There are a lot of different ways to approach it. Just to actually play it is not really that hard, but to play it in its best way is a bit of a challenge. It favors certain string positions to sound clean and they’re not the easiest, most readily accessible ways to go to. </p> <p><strong>What’s your current setup like?</strong></p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: I keep it simple. I've got a Signature Yamaha Tele. I usually run it through two amps set in stereo. I also use a Yamaha SPX-90 to fatten the sound up a little bit more and give it more air. My pedals include a BOSS DD3 and a Super Overdrive that Robert Keely modified to help warm it up. </p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: I play Strats mostly, through some manner of Fender amps for a stereo chorus sound. I also use a little 18-watt amp that Bill Webb built. For effects, I use a TC Electronic stereo chorus, fuzz phase and a Belle Epoch echo pedal by Catalinbread. I also use a TunnelWorm flanger by Mr. Black.</p> <p><strong>What are you most looking forward to about the release of <em>Eclectic</em> and this new collaboration?</strong></p> <p><strong>STERN</strong>: There were some new things I did on this record like singing and writing words to my songs and some of the ideas were really spontaneous. Now we get to go play it live and are very excited about it. We’re both so lucky to be able to do what we do.</p> <p><strong>JOHNSON</strong>: I’m turning my attention to creating more spontaneous, live music and being able to paint a picture with my performance. If you want to go back and overdub to fix a note or two, that’s fine. Just be sure to keep it to a minimum and continue to paint that big picture. That’s where all the vibe is. </p> <p><em>For more about Johnson, visit <a href=""></a>. For more about Stern, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><strong>2014 Eric Johnson/Mike Stern Tour Dates</strong></p> <p>06-Nov-14 Birchmere Alexandria VA<br /> 07-Nov-14 Westhampton Beach P.A.C Westhampton Beach NY<br /> 08-Nov-14 Keswick Theatre Glenside PA<br /> 09-Nov-14 Webster Hall New York NY<br /> 11-Nov-14 Wilbur Theatre Boston MA<br /> 12-Nov-14 Boulton Center Bay Shore NY<br /> 13-Nov-14 Infinity Hall Hartford CT<br /> 14-Nov-14 Tupelo Music Hall Londonderry NH<br /> 15-Nov-14 Tupelo Music Hall Londonderry NH<br /> 16-Nov-14 Infinity Hall Norfolk CT<br /> 18-Nov-14 Narrows Center for the Arts Fall River MA<br /> 19-Nov-14 Rams Head On Stage Annapolis MD<br /> 20-Nov-14 Newton Theatre Newton NJ<br /> 21-Nov-14 Beacon Theatre Hopewell VA<br /> 22-Nov-14 Harvester Performance Center Rocky Mount VA<br /> 23-Nov-14 Carolina Theatre Durham NC</p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eric-johnson">Eric Johnson</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Eric Johnson James Wood Mike Stern Interviews News Features Thu, 02 Oct 2014 17:28:06 +0000 James Wood ‘Reckless’: Songwriter Jim Vallance Discusses Working with Bryan Adams <!--paging_filter--><p> In the context of songwriting partnerships, few teams have been as long-lasting — or as successful — as that of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams. </p> <p>Since being introduced by a mutual friend in a music store in 1978, Vallance and Adams have written hits that appear on Adams’ albums <em>You Want It, You Got It; Cuts Like a Knife;</em> and the 1984 monster, <em>Reckless</em>, which sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.</p> <p>Adams will celebrate the 30th anniversary of <em>Reckless</em> in November with a four-disc, super-deluxe reissue package that includes bonus-track demos recorded in Vallance’s basement studio in 1983 and '84.</p> <p>Over the years, Vallance has continued to flex his songwriting muscle, penning hits with Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Lita Ford, to name just a few. </p> <p>I recently spoke to Vallance about the <em>Reckless</em> sessions, his time working with Adams and his upcoming projects. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: When you think back to the <em>Reckless</em> album, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?</strong></p> <p>Mostly, I remember how much work we did. Bryan and I got together in my basement studio every day for a year ... noon 'til midnight. Some days were more productive than others, but we always put in the time and did the work.</p> <p><strong>What were those songwriting sessions like?</strong></p> <p>Bryan and I had a daily routine. He would arrive at noon, we'd have a sandwich and a cup of tea and then we'd go downstairs and get to work. We'd start by deciding if we were going to write a fast song or a slow song and then we'd set up a "drum loop" for inspiration. Usually, Bryan would play guitar and I'd play bass or piano. We'd jam for hours until one of us played or sang something interesting. Then we'd spend time fleshing out the idea or we'd jam some more until another idea materialized. We repeated the routine every day for months. It was always productive. There were very few wasted sessions.</p> <p><strong>I’d like to get your thoughts on a few tracks from <em>Reckless.</em> "Run to You."</strong> </p> <p>"Run to You" was written for our producer friend Bruce Fairbairn. He needed a song for Blue Oyster Cult. They didn't like the song, so Bryan recorded it himself.</p> <p><strong>"Heaven."</strong></p> <p>"Heaven" was written for the soundtrack of a film called <em>A Night in Heaven.</em> It was a dreadful film, but we got a decent song out of it!</p> <p><strong>"Somebody."</strong></p> <p>"Somebody" was one of those songs where we jammed for a few hours until something happened.</p> <p><strong>Bryan has often mentioned the sexual references in “Summer of '69.” Can you tell me the real story?</strong></p> <p>Bryan and I were talking about it recently. We were both in the room when "Summer of '69" was written, yet we have very different recollections about what inspired the song. </p> <p>I remember when we wrote the lyric I was thinking about all of the things that had happened to me during the summer of 1969: first girlfriends, first bands, lots of great music on the radio. Think about it … you're 17, you’re a budding musician and there's new music being released by the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and the Band. Not to mention Woodstock!</p> <p><strong>What role (if any) did you play in the recording process for the album?</strong></p> <p>I avoided the studio during the <em>Reckless</em> sessions. To be honest, I would have liked a bigger role, but if I'd been in the control room with Adams and [Bob] Clearmountain [producer], there would have been "too many chefs." My suspicions were confirmed a few years later during the <em>Into the Fire</em> sessions. </p> <p>I arrived at the studio one day when they were recording guitars. I made a fairly innocent comment about the guitar sound and Bob "lost it." He went nuclear on me. To his credit, he apologized a few minutes later, but my point is, it can get tense in the control room. Sometimes it's better to stay away. </p> <p><strong>Can you tell me something that not many people know about the album?</strong></p> <p>I attended Tina Turner's vocal session for "It's Only Love." As soon as she started singing, my heart sank. Our track was in the wrong key for Tina's vocal range! I thought we'd blown it, but Tina and Bryan tried a few things. They nudged the melody up a third and suddenly, we were back in business and Tina nailed it! What a thrilling moment that was. It was very exciting to witness.</p> <p><strong>How did you get started in songwriting?</strong></p> <p>Blame the Beatles. I was 11 when I saw them on television and knew right away that I wanted to be a musician. I started playing drums and guitar, but songwriting didn't happen until I was 15 or 16. I had an uncle who wrote songs, and that helped humanize it for me. I realized you didn't have to be a Beatle. Anyone could have a go at it.</p> <p><strong>You mentioned the process you used when you wrote with Bryan. Was this the same for some of your other collaborations? Namely Aerosmith, Ozzy, Lita Ford, Scorpions?</strong></p> <p>When I was working with Bryan in the 1980s, we didn't have any time constraints. We just kept writing until we had enough songs for an album. If it took a year, like it did with <em>Reckless</em>, then it took a year. Plus, we lived near each other so getting together was easy. </p> <p>It was different with artists like Aerosmith. They'd come to Vancouver or I'd go to Boston. There were also significant costs involved (flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurants) so the record company expected results. I was under a lot of pressure to deliver album-worthy songs, but I didn't mind. In fact, deadlines can be quite inspiring. It's a bit like school, where the teacher says, "I want a 20-page essay by Friday." You don't have a choice. You just do it or you get a failing grade. People don't know this, but songwriters don't get a salary. We only get paid if the album sells, and that's assuming your song makes it on the album in the first place! </p> <p><strong>What projects are you working on right now?</strong></p> <p>A few years ago I decided I only want to write with Bryan. I've done the 50-artists-a-year thing and it's a recipe for burn-out. I don't want to do that anymore. With Bryan, it's still a lot of work, but we know when to take a break. We pace ourselves. Bryan has three albums on the go. He's just released an album of cover songs (<em>Tracks Of My Years</em>) which includes one new Adams-Vallance original, "She Knows Me." </p> <p>In November, Bryan's releasing a 30th anniversary edition of <em>Reckless</em> with seven bonus tracks. Six of the bonus tracks are <em>Reckless</em>-era demos; recorded in my basement studio in 1983 and '84. We remixed them from the original 16-track tapes, but we didn't replace or re-record anything. It's me on bass, drums and keyboards, Bryan on guitar and sometimes Keith Scott playing lead. They're raw demos, never intended for release.</p> <p>But the project I'm most excited about is an album of all-new material, hopefully ready for release in 2015. I think it's our best songwriting since <em>Reckless.</em> One of our heroes, Jeff Lynne, is producing. It's such a thrill working with Jeff!</p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> Bryan Adams James Wood Jim Vallance Interviews News Features Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:32:42 +0000 James Wood ‘Something Supernatural’: Crobot Guitarist Chris Bishop Talks New Album and Gear <!--paging_filter--><p>There once was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs, a period when the only thing that mattered was that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song. </p> <p>Thankfully, the four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have made it their mission to bring back elements of those days.</p> <p>Crobot’s new album, <em>Something Supernatural</em>, was produced by Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and will be released October 28 on WindUp. It incorporates a lot of riff-heavy groove and funk mixed with a modernized spin.</p> <p>I recently spoke with Bishop about the new album, his gear and more. As a bonus, we're also presenting the worldwide premiere of the new video for “Skull of Geronimo,” which was created by Bishop (who also happens to be a visual artist). Check out the interview and “Skull of Geronimo” below!</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe <em>Something Supernatural</em>?</strong></p> <p>I like to say it’s like “Clutch meets Funkadelic” with a little bit of doom tossed in there. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things. </p> <p><strong>What was the writing process like?</strong></p> <p>We rehearsed and wrote the album in this shed behind Brandon’s house. It was inside this room that was filled with deer heads and things like that [laughs]. It was a super-cool place to jam in. </p> <p>Most of the songs started out as previous ideas or as riffs and structures I brought to the table. Others would come out of jams where Jake would come up with a riff. That’s the beauty of being a riff-rock band. Sometimes the coolest pentatonic riffs are the ones people connect with the most.</p> <p><strong>What can you tell me about the song “Nowhere to Hide”?</strong></p> <p>That song was one of the first ones we collectively wrote as a band when we got together with Jake and Paul. I remember we wanted to write a song similar to Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” with a heavy riff and groove people will remember.</p> <p><strong>What about the track “Skull of Geronimo”?</strong></p> <p>That was written during that same session. Jake and I were in the writing room mapping out really technical riffs that just went on forever. We eventually cut them down and put a little Rage Against the Machine flair to it. That’s how the chorus riff came to be. For the verses, we wanted to take it in more of an ambient Soundgarden kind of direction. I really like that whirly delay sound on the guitar. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What was it like working with Machine?</strong></p> <p>It was amazing. Machine did some of our favorite albums of all time, and working with him was like having a fifth member of the band. He’s someone you can really trust to help you make the decisions you need to make. The recording tricks and tones he gets and the way he pulls creative things out of you that you never knew that you had is incredible. </p> <p><Strong>Tell me a little about your musical upbringing and the origin of Crobot.</strong></p> <p>I first started learning how to play guitar when I was 10 and got good at it pretty quick. I took a little break while I was in high school to play baseball but still continued to play. My mom was the one who always said I needed to move and become a musician. So once I turned 20, I moved to Pennsylvania, where I met Brandon and we started Crobot. </p> <p><strong>Who were some of your influences?</strong></p> <p>The one player that influenced me the most and to this day I still love is Audley Freed (Cry of Love). I hear a lot of his influence in my own playing. I’m also a big fan of Rage Against the Machine and Clutch. Tim Sult’s simplicity and the way he uses effects is phenomenal.</p> <p><Strong>What’s your current setup?</strong></p> <p>I’m all Orange and have used them for years. I also play Telecasters. My main one right now is a 60th anniversary American Tele. My back up is a '72 Tele Custom with P90’s in it. My pedal board has two fuzzes, two octaves, a wah and a tuner. I also have a really crazy oscillator delay that I had modded a bit. I took out the tap and changed the knobs around so I could manipulate it with my foot. I use that to build tension. You can definitely hear it in the songs. It almost sounds like a spaceship taking off.</p> <p><strong>What excites you the most about <em>Something Supernatural</em>?</strong></p> <p>We made a bold statement with this album and had a lot of people behind us who really believed in what we were doing. Machine really knew what we were going for as far as hard-hitting grooves and powerful riffs — and who doesn’t love that?</p> <p><em>For more about Crobot, visit <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href=""></a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> Chris Bishop Crobot James Wood Interviews News Features Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:43:24 +0000 James Wood Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Talks New Album, 'Everything Will Be Alright in the End' <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our cover feature on Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, not to mention features on Eddie Van Halen/MXR, George Thorogood, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=WeezerExcerpt">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p><strong>Weezer Heads Prevail: Unfazed by perennial reports of rock’s death, Weezer carry on with <em>Everything Will Be Alright in the End</em>, their ninth, and latest, studio album.</strong></p> <p>“Rock is dead. Guitar is dead.” </p> <p>Weezer’s ninth studio album, <em>Everything Will Be Alright in the End</em>, opens with these two dire statements, both uttered before the opening riff of “Ain’t Got Nobody” kicks in. </p> <p>“All those voices you hear on the record are the voices that we’ve heard in our lives and in our careers in recent years,” explains Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s primary songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist. </p> <p>Thankfully, it seems that Cuomo and the rest of the band—guitarist Brian Bell, drummer Patrick Wilson and bassist Scott Shriner—chose to ignore the naysayers whispering in their ears. “Ain’t Got Nobody” is unabashedly rocking and guitar driven, and if anything, <em>Everything Will Be Alright in the End</em> sounds more like a rebirth for Weezer than a last gasp. </p> <p>Hard-edged numbers like the declamatory “Back to the Shack” and the pounding “I’ve Had It Up to Here” are arena-ready anthems, while more emotionally raw numbers like “The British Are Coming” and “Foolish Fathers” feature the plaintive yowl that turned the band’s second album, 1996’s <em>Pinkerton</em>, into a celebrated emo-rock cult classic years after its release and initial commercial failure. </p> <p><em>Everything Will Be Alright in the End</em> also marks the return of producer Ric Ocasek, who previously worked with Weezer on their 1994 self-titled debut (known by fans as the Blue Album) as well as on their also-eponymous 2001 comeback (dubbed the Green Album). The band spent three three-week stretches with the Cars frontman at Los Angeles’ storied Village Recorder studios, and according to Cuomo, this third-time collaboration was a charm. </p> <p>“Recording this record felt like much more of a creative process than making the first album,” he says. “Because when we made that record, we’d been playing the songs for a year and a half in the clubs and there had been several rounds of demos. It felt like the songs were pretty much done and there wasn’t room for much more creativity once we got into the studio. </p> <p>"And then when we made the Green Album, I didn't want to hear from anyone. This time, there were a lot more unfinished parts, and there was a lot more work left to be done, so it was wonderful to have this amazing creative talent sitting there right next to us in the trenches.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><Strong>EXCERPT: A lot of the lyrics on the new record seem to explore Weezer’s relationship to their fans and how that relationship has evolved over the years.</strong></p> <p>We’ve gone through many different phases. Even when we made our second record, <em>Pinkerton</em>, I already had a feeling like, Well, we’ve established this amazing style on the first record, but already I want to do something different. And I assumed that everyone was going to come along with me. </p> <p>But a lot of the fans of the first album were not fans of the second album, so then it became this whole issue of, What am I supposed to do here? I have this instinct to try all of these different things and to go off in all of these crazy directions, but at the same time, you can’t really take for granted this amazing connection that happens between us and an audience. I mean, we were really lucky to have that kind of experience on our first record and touch the heart of an audience in such a profound way. And you can’t really take that lightly and just say, “Well, maybe let’s do a hip-hop album next time.” </p> <p>And ever since then, we’ve related to the question of how to find balance in different ways. At times we’ve rebelled and said, “Well, we’re not going to care about anything we’ve done or what anyone’s saying around us; we’re just going to go off and do whatever’s striking us at the moment.” And that was definitely a big part of our process—figuring out how to balance all of the different things that we value. </p> <p><strong>Did you approach songwriting any differently for this album? Some of the tracks have really expansive arrangements. </strong></p> <p>I wrote a lot of the more exploratory music on piano, and the foundation of the song would be one long extremely emotional jam—a rough outline of the emotion—that I would record on a Dictaphone. I’m not very good at piano, and that limitation can be a strength for me, as I don’t have muscle and finger memory and playing habits like I do on the guitar. </p> <p>Also, the piano is wonderful because you’ve got two hands that have equal power to do rhythm, melody and counterpoint, so they can both go off and do whatever they want. Counterpoint is my absolutely favorite part of music, so that was extremely liberating. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Does the formal musical training that you received in college come into play when you’re devising the contrapuntal movement?</strong></p> <p>In those moments of composition, it’s all very much flow and not doing things because I was taught them in counterpoint class. But I think there’s a part of my brain that is at least aware when I’m doing parallel or contrary or oblique motion. So part of my mind is watching the process as it’s happening. </p> <p>And I do feel that while I have a natural instinct for counterpoint—a real enjoyment of it—I also have learned a lot in school and from books as well by playing contrapuntal music on both piano and guitar. I have some good books of Bach keyboard music transcribed for guitar, and there’s always a nylon-string guitar hanging on the wall in my house and a bunch of classical guitar books to grab. I kind of do that just for fun. </p> <p><strong>It also sounds like you’re really having fun playing lead guitar on this record. There’s an almost subversive nature to the way that you pepper the solos on songs like “Ain’t Got Nobody” with dissonant phrases and chromaticism. </strong></p> <p>The trick for me was how to make it sound new and not cliché. Rock guitar has been around for decades now, and there are so many strong traditions, and so much of it is just burned into my fingers. So, nine times out of 10, when I pick up the guitar to jam something, it sounds pretty cliché. </p> <p>One way that I get around that is, before I even pick up the guitar, I record myself singing the guitar solo, and then I go back and I learn it on guitar. I sing things that I would never think to play with my fingers. On the solo to “Ain’t Got Nobody,” which I really love, it actually took me a long time to learn how to articulate what I had sung, and I ended up doing some really nontraditional, non-guitaristic things. </p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our cover feature on Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, not to mention features on Eddie Van Halen/MXR, George Thorogood, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=EVHMXRExcerpt">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p><em>Photo: Emily Shur</em></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/1114_Gib%26Beck.jpg" width="620" height="805" alt="1114_Gib&amp;Beck.jpg" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/weezer">Weezer</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> November 2014 Rivers Cuomo Weezer Interviews News Features Magazine Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:42:13 +0000 Tom Beaujour