Interviews en Slayer's Tom Araya: "Practice, Practice, Practice. That's the Best Advice I Can Offer." <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>What influenced you to pick up an instrument?</strong></p> <p>My older brother was learning to play the guitar. So, basically, to accompany him. I started doing that when I was 11 or 12 years old. By the time I hooked up with [Slayer guitarists] Kerry [King] and Jeff [Hanneman], I was 19 or 20. I’d been playing for seven or eight years already. </p> <p><strong>What was your first bass?</strong></p> <p>My first bass was a Vox acoustic guitar with four strings on it. When my brother started to take his guitar playing seriously, he bought a $20 guitar and amplifier, a Sears Roebuck model, from our neighbor. Then I took the Vox and put four strings on it, then learned how to play. </p> <p><strong>What was the first song you learned?</strong> </p> <p>It was probably a Beatles song. I can’t think of the exact song, though. I think the first riff I learned was “Satisfaction.” And you know, you follow it with Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water.”</p> <p><strong>What do you recall about your first gig?</strong></p> <p>It was at a party at a friend’s house and we were just learning how to play one song and we played it all night. I can’t think of the song. Maybe it was “Johnny B. Goode.” </p> <p><strong>Ever had an embarrassing onstage moment or disaster show?</strong></p> <p>It was with a band that I had formed with my brother, his friend and two other friends. We played at this 15th or 16th birthday of some girl. That was a nightmare gig because we played the same songs over and over again. We got paid, so it was kinda cool I guess.</p> <p><strong>What’s your proudest moment as a player?</strong></p> <p>Oh, man. Oh, wow. I’m amazed that I did what I did at such a young age. I just picked up an instrument and learned how to play it. I took the initiative and learned how to read music and write music. That was an accomplishment, because my brother took music lessons. He was in band class. I wasn’t. I just went out and bought charts and really put my head into learning how to read music. </p> <p><strong>What’s your favorite piece of gear?</strong></p> <p>I use a standard Marshall bass head, which is a really good head. And they made me a couple of cabinets that sound really cool. But yeah, I just use a standard rig. It’s not hopped up; it’s not the “Tom model.” It’s just a Marshall bass amp, which sounds awesome. And I have an ESP signature bass that I use. Lately, I’ve been using the passive pickups that sound really amazing. </p> <p><strong>Do you have any advice for young players?</strong></p> <p>Practice. Practice, practice, practice. That’s about it. That’s what I did. Religiously. Same with the band. We practiced all the time. I mean, 24/7. We practiced a lot until our first album with Rick Rubin, which was [1986’s] <em>Reign in Blood</em>. Covers, whatever. We just practiced all the time to make sure we were tight, tight, tight. So that’s the best advice I can offer. </p> <p><em>Photo: Jimmy Hubbard</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="/slayer">Slayer</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Inquirer September 2015 Slayer Tom Araya Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:59:39 +0000 Randy Harward 25089 at Randy Bachman on "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," Working With Joe Bonamassa and New Solo Album, 'Heavy Blues' <!--paging_filter--><p><em>With the Guess Who, Randy Bachman made radio listeners “come undun,” and as the co-leader of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, he “took care of business,” but what <em>Guitar World</em> readers really want to know is…</em></p> <p><strong>You cut your new album, <em>Heavy Blues</em>, with a female rhythm section: Anna Ruddick on bass and Dale Anne Brendon on drums. Was it any different working with two girls in the studio than with a bunch of guys?<br /> ¬—Lester Trolley</strong></p> <p>Yes, it was, and only in a good way. These two girls had never played together before, but once I got them together, it was as if they’d been lifelong bandmates. Things gelled very quickly. I saw Dale Anne at the premiere of <em>Tommy</em> in Stratford-Ontario. I was sitting with Pete Townshend, and he leaned over to me and said, “That drummer is amazing—sounds just like Keith Moon.” I said, “Yeah, and it’s a girl.” Pete couldn’t believe it: “A girl can’t play like Keith Moon.” But sure enough, Dale Anne can. After the show, I went back and met her. I knew I wanted to work with her.</p> <p>Neil Young had told me, “When you do your next record, don’t do the same old shtick,” and that stuck with me. After meeting Dale, I saw Anna play in a Crazy Horse–type band, and she was brilliant. I met her and found out that she liked Jon Entwistle. I thought, I should work with these chicks. That would be different. They nailed first takes in the studio. Everything they did, it was like Cream’s <em>Wheels of Fire</em>. They didn’t just play their instruments; they attacked them.</p> <p><strong>You’ve got some guitar greats on your new album: Neil Young, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Frampton. Did you give them ideas or direction, or did you just let them go?<br /> —Danny Klez</strong></p> <p>We did the album in four days. One day I got a call from [producer] Kevin Shirley, who had gone to Australia, and he said, “I got my next door neighbor, Joe Bonamassa, to do a solo.” Kevin sent me the track, and it was incredible. Joe’s solo really stood out and complemented the one I had played.<br /> That gave me an idea to use a solo of Jeff Healey’s. </p> <p>I called his widow, and she said she was okay with it, so I wrote “Confessin’ to the Devil” to match up with Jeff’s guitar playing from a track he had done. Meanwhile, I emailed Neil Young and Peter Frampton, and I got them to do tracks for me. I just told them, “Here’s the tracks. I know how you play, so just give me your heart and soul.” That’s what they did, and I couldn’t be happier. Absolutely amazing performances.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Is it true that Kevin Shirley told you to “shut up and listen to him” in the studio? If so, did you take offense to that?<br /> —“Gentle” Jim Manna</strong> </p> <p>No, I didn’t. When Neil Young told me that I had to reinvent myself and do something different, I took that seriously. So, no, I didn’t get mad when Kevin told me I had to listen to him. When you produce yourself, you write a song, the band tells you it’s great, you record it, and that’s it. I’ve done that, and you wind up with a certain kind of record. </p> <p>When you work with a producer who pushes you and who doesn’t just tell you everything you want to hear, you’re gonna wind up with another kind of record, and it might be a better record. Kevin was honest with me, and that’s what I wanted. He told me, “I’ll do the record, but I have to be the captain. I’ll listen to your opinion, but it means nothing to me.” I was okay with that.</p> <p><strong>I read that you recently bought some guitars on eBay. Isn’t that a tricky way to buy guitars? Don’t you need to try them out first?<br /> —Lynda Channing</strong></p> <p>It is tricky. It can be a little like joining an internet dating site: You get an old picture of a chick when she was much younger. Then you go to meet her and you’re looking around for this tall, slim blonde, but the only woman is this huge, gray-haired old lady. Luckily, that wasn’t the case for me. I got these black Supro archtops with no f-holes. They’re really cool, rare guitars, and the Valco pickups in them are incredible. I was looking for one of these guitars for a while, and I couldn’t find them. Then one day I found three, so I bought them all. I love ’em.</p> <p><strong>I know you’ve played a lot of guitars through many different amps over the years, but what’s the best guitar-amp combination you’ve ever had?<br /> —Dr. Robert Meckler</strong></p> <p>That’s changed, because it’s hard to take your favorite amp on the road these days unless you’ve got a bus or a truck. A lot of guys like me do fly-ins, so you’re using the backline of whatever the venues give you. When I can get them, I like Fender Hot Rod Deluxes. They have a nice clean headroom, and they’re dependable. I play my ’59 Les Paul reissues, which are chambered—the old guitars are too heavy. So give me the ’59 reissue and the Fender Deluxes—that’s a good combination.</p> <p><strong>What was the secret to your songwriting with [Guess Who frontman] Burton Cummings?<br /> —Tim Okenfeld</strong></p> <p>We studied the best. Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Brian Wilson; for ballads, we studied Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Whatever was on the hit parade, we studied it, and we took note of who wrote the songs. We tried to write follow-ups to whatever was big on Billboard, and those songs became our own. We tried to have memorable intros and huge hooks. You had to be able to sing every part of the song, even if it was a guitar part. “American Woman”—you can sing that intro guitar part. You’ve got three minutes, so make every second count.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>You said in an interview that “Undun” is your favorite Guess Who song. Which begs the question: What’s your least favorite?<br /> —Roarin’ Robert Feller</strong></p> <p>All the others. [laughs] How’s that for an answer? Honestly, it’s hard to say, but yeah, “Undun” is my favorite. I always thought it was very different, and it stood out from everything else that was on the radio. It reminded me of “The Girl from Ipanema”—nothing sounded like that, either. In the late Sixties, everybody was rocking out, and here you had this dreamy, jazzy song. The song just lifted you up and carried you away. Burton Cummings sang his face off and did a little flute solo. How could you not love that?</p> <p><strong>Did you ever record a version of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” without the stuttering?<br /> —Chip Damone</strong></p> <p>I tried. When I stuttered on the original version of the song, it was never supposed to be on an album. It was a work track that I was going to send to my brother, because he stuttered. It was supposed to be a tease. The head of our label heard the song and loved it—he said it was our next single. I tried to record a version without the stuttering, but it didn’t work. I sounded like a lounge singer, a little like Frank Sinatra or something. So we kept the version with the stuttering, and it was a smash.</p> <p><strong>Brave Belt, your band that became BTO, was rejected 26 times by record labels. With all of your success from the Guess Who, why did no label want to sign you?<br /> —Custer Bingham</strong></p> <p>When I left the Guess Who in 1970, I didn’t want my next band to be a second-rate version of the Guess Who. I went in an opposite direction and did a country-rock thing. I went over-the-top with it—pedal steel, accordion, fiddle. It was almost like what Gene Clark was doing. Radio wasn’t interested in Brave Belt and labels didn’t want it. </p> <p>Finally, I got a deal, but the head of the label said that we had to put my name, Bachman, on it. So it became Bachman-Turner Overdrive—same guys but a different name. We didn’t do the country thing. We played gigs and noticed that no one danced to the country songs; whenever we played the heavier rock songs, that’s when people danced. I grew up watching American Bandstand, and I knew that if people danced to the songs, they became hits. It’s pretty simple. </p> <p><strong>You’ve written a lot of hits. Did you know they were hits when you wrote them, or were you always surprised?<br /> —Daisy Menzies</strong></p> <p>Every song’s a hit when I write it, or else I wouldn’t finish it. What always happens is that the people at radio have their own ideas. You write a song and you think it’s a hit, but the radio people say, “No, not that one. That one—that’s a hit.” And then they play it, and you see what kind of reaction you get and whether it clicks with the fans. No, I’m usually surprised at the songs that become hits, and I’m especially surprised—very happily so—to see radio still playing my songs 30, 40 years later. </p> <p><strong>Were you offended by the band that called itself Kathleen Turner Overdrive, or did you think it was funny?<br /> —Joseph Demba</strong></p> <p>I thought it was funny; I thought it was great. I was with BTO and we were traveling, and we were told by a guy at our hotel that Kathleen Turner was in town. She was doing [1986’s] <em>Peggy Sue Got Married</em> at the time. What was amazing was, Kathleen Turner Overdrive was playing at the Holiday Inn next door. So we went to their show, got a T-shirt, signed it, and left it for Kathleen Turner at the hotel desk. We never got to meet her, but we left her the shirt. No, I wasn’t offended at all by the name. I thought it was terrific. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Bachman-Turner Overdrive Dear Guitar Hero Randy Bachman The Guess Who Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:59:10 +0000 Joe Bosso 25090 at Bullet for My Valentine Discusses the Anger That Fuels Their New Album, 'Venom' <!--paging_filter--><p>“I try to go into the studio armed to the teeth with as many licks as possible,” says Bullet for My Valentine lead guitarist Michael “Padge” Paget. “So if people don’t like a certain solo idea, I can say, ‘Well, what about this instead?’ That’s much better than being put on the spot and going, ‘Duh, I don’t know what the fuck to do.’ ”</p> <p>This strategy certainly served Paget well on the band’s new album, their fifth to date, <em>Venom</em>. With full throttle aggression and an onslaught of six-string mayhem, the disc more than lives up to its name. Which was very much Bullet for My Valentine’s goal when they entered London’s Metropolis Studio earlier this year to record <em>Venom</em>. There was a general feeling that the band had lost some of their edge on their previous album, 2013’s <em>Temper Temper</em>. </p> <p>“We kind of lost it a bit, from what the band had been—especially lyrically,” admits lead singer/rhythm guitarist Matt Tuck. “So we tried to get back to what we thought was lacking on <em>Temper Temper</em>. Which means that <em>Venom</em> is more angry, with more dark lyrical content, which is what we’re pretty much renowned for. It was just a matter of looking back retrospectively on what made us the band we are today, and revisiting that, but in a fresh and new way.” </p> <p>The process of getting back to where he once belonged wasn’t entirely easy for Tuck. These days, he just isn’t as pissed off and anguished as he was back when Bullet for My Valentine first rocketed out of their U.K. town of Bridgend, Wales, with their 2005 debut album, <em>The Poison</em>.</p> <p>“Life is good for me right now, so it’s really hard for me to write angry lyrics.” he says. “It’s not where my head’s at anymore. I have a beautiful family; I’m happily married. There’s really not that angst or anger anymore. So it was more about revisiting the place where I was in the late Nineties, when I was in my teens and nobody gave a shit about me or my music or my ambitions. It was hard to relive that, but once I got my headspace back there, things started sounding good.”</p> <p>And while it was difficult for Tuck to revisit those days when nobody cared about him or his music, he says the process of writing <em>Venom</em>’s angry anthems has given him a new sense of perspective on his band’s decade long journey. He definitely counts himself among those whose lives were saved by rock and roll. </p> <p>“It’s made me who I am, anyway,” he says. “And 10 years down the line, it was important for me to not forget that. We lost our edge for a bit, but it’s definitely back now.”</p> <p>Knowing that a lot was riding on the new album, the band took extra care in preproduction. “We demoed everything at my house, where I’ve got a little home studio,” says Paget. “It took us about a year to demo everything. Me and Moose [BFMV drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas] were writing a lot. The whole band was writing a lot more than we’ve ever done before. I think the preparation and thought that went into it has really benefitted the album.”</p> <p>“It’s the first time we’ve worked on songwriting this much as a group,” Tuck concurs, adding that tracking on home turf also had a positive influence on the project. “This is the first time since <em>The Poison</em> that we’ve recorded back in the U.K. We’ve done the last few away from home. But this time we wanted to keep it locked down in the U.K. It was just very relaxed. Everyone was in a good mood. There wasn’t that feeling of being locked in a studio a million miles from home and being pissed off because you don’t want to be there.” </p> <p>Tuck handled rhythm guitar duties on <em>Venom</em>. “That’s what I do best,” he says, “and I’m proud of it. I’m a rhythm player. I didn’t play lead at all on the record, which is the first time that has happened. Although, for the last two records, Padge has really stepped into that role of being the lead guitar player. And I was more focused on writing songs and the lyrics this time. So it was good not to have to worry about that other stuff. Padge is such an amazing lead player in his own right.” </p> <p>“Every album has been different for me, lead guitar-wise,” Paget notes. “And hopefully it’s getting better. A challenge is good. I don’t know the names of scales or anything like that. I just sort of put my fingers on the dots or between the dots. I just like that sort of fast, neck-pickup shredding, really.” </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Bullet for My Valentine Michael Paget September 2015 Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:01:32 +0000 Alan Di Perna 25091 at Rex Brown Recalls the Making of Pantera's 'Cowboys from Hell,' 'Vulgar Display of Power' and More <!--paging_filter--><p><em>From the May 2013 issue of </em>Guitar World.</p> <p>While Pantera vocalist Philip Anselmo and the Abbott Brothers—guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul—were flinging insults at each other in the press throughout 2003, bassist Rex Brown remained largely silent. </p> <p>His ex-bandmates viciously blamed each other for the demise of Pantera, the band that held the torch aloft for metal throughout the Nineties and paved the way for metalcore. </p> <p>But Brown refused to choose sides. By then, he and Anselmo were performing together in Down, and fans might have expected he would take the singer’s side. But Brown continued to say nothing. Instead, he let the resounding notes of his bass express the pain and frustration he felt for what had become of his band. </p> <p>“Vinnie drew this imaginary line in the sand,” explains Brown, who is currently wrapping up the second album by his new band, Kill Devil Hill. </p> <p>“He said, ‘You’re either on our side or not.’ I didn’t want to take sides. Every fucking day before Dime was killed [in December 2004], Vinnie would email me when Phil would say something stupid in the press and go, ‘See what your boy said?’ I was like, ‘Dude, why is he my boy? Because I wanted to get out of your bus because you were throwing fucking tacos at everybody because you’d lost your mind on booze?’ The whole thing was ridiculous, but I never talked about it.”</p> <p>Until now. In his revealing memoir, <em>Official Truth 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera</em>, Brown stops short of blaming anyone for Pantera’s breakup and the subsequent murder of Dimebag Darrell. Instead, he and co-writer Mark Eglinton spend the majority of the book addressing the formation and development of Pantera through five legendary albums. In the process, Brown analyzes how four musicians that were once closer than most families grew apart because of their differences in personality, musical tastes and choice of extracurricular activities. </p> <p>Brown has particularly strong recollections of the six major-label albums he recorded with Pantera. In this <em>Guitar World</em> interview, he gives us an unvarnished, no-holds-barred look at the making of those records and of his life with the original Cowboys from Hell. </p> <p><strong>Cowboys from Hell (1990)</strong></p> <p>While we were writing the songs for <em>Cowboys from Hell</em>, we were listening to a lot of different kinds of music—a lot of Metallica, Slayer, Mercyful Fate and Minor Threat—and that changed our sound. We had grown such a huge following in Texas by then that we could play one set a night and draw 2,000 people. Since we didn’t have to play six shows a night anymore, we had more time to spend in the Abbotts’ studio [Pantego Sound], and we became total perfectionists. </p> <p>Vinnie would lay down all the drums, then Dime would play guitar. We’d put the bass on last. We turned all the drum channels off, and I just played along with Dime’s track. That became known as “the microscope.” If something was off, we’d get a razorblade and cut and splice the tape. We didn’t have Pro Tools back then. And that’s what created our trademark sound, where the guitar and bass are just spot-on. </p> <p>By that point, Dime had already surpassed all of his influences as a player, and we were making a lot of money playing Friday and Saturday nights within a radius of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Shreveport and New Orleans. Then, after getting turned down 29 times, we finally got signed to Atco. The thing is, that actually made our financial situation worse at first. We weren’t playing shows, so we didn’t have any money coming in. So I had to get a job. Me and our lighting guy, Sonny, got gigs putting up lights for fashion shows. It actually turned out real cool. We met all these fashion models, got laid all the time and made a month’s rent a night. </p> <p>But playing with Pantera back then was even better. We were such good friends, and our chemistry was undeniable. Dime would make these riff tapes on his four-track and bring them in, and we’d turn them into songs. One day, Dime came in with this tape loop of a lick he played over and over in a high register. It drove us crazy, because he wouldn’t stop playing it. That’s what became “Cowboys from Hell,” and it was the start of the power groove every band follows today. </p> <p>As much as you still hear that song, when it came out no radio stations would play it. One of my favorite memories is when we did “Cemetery Gates.” Dime already had the riff in the song where it starts getting heavy, but we didn’t have an intro. One day, I picked up an acoustic guitar and messed around with a part, which we recorded. </p> <p>We recorded a piano in reverse so that it created this big swell of sound at the end of the section. When we put the acoustic intro together with the heavy part, there it was. That was huge for us, and that’s how all those sessions went. We were all working together with Terry Date, who we liked a lot, even though our first choice was [famed metal producer] Max Norman. But he canceled at the last minute and we got Terry, who we bonded with from the start. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Vulgar Display of Power (1992)<strong></strong></strong></p> <p>When we got back from touring for Cowboys, the music scene had changed so drastically. You had Nirvana on one side and Metallica’s Black Album on the other. As good as that record is, it’s no <em>Master of Puppets</em>. We figured this was our chance to be the heaviest game in town. Dime had riffs pouring out of him. He’d bring them in, and it was hard to choose between them, because they were all so good. </p> <p>One time, Dime and Phil walked out and smoked a joint and came back with the idea for “A New Level.” A couple hits of weed and we were all flying. It was so easy to play, but it was the chemistry we had that made it sound so good. That’s how it was with us. I mean, anybody can write something like “Walk,” but to play it like we did, with that groove—that’s pure chemistry. Even “Fucking Hostile” is totally brutal but hooky as hell. </p> <p>This was the second record we did with Terry Date. He and Vinnie worked hand in hand to get the perfect sound, and Dime was writing riffs that were better than any band out there and taking his solos to an entirely new place. That record just came easy. All the riffs on <em>Cowboys</em> had been written by me and Dime. </p> <p>Philip came in with his own ideas on Vulgar, and that made us even heavier. After it was mastered, we had a tape of the record and we put it in a cassette player and played it for everyone at the label, and their jaws hit the fucking ground. If you play an album for someone and they say, “Yeah, man, I fucking love it,” that’s cool. But when nobody says anything after it’s done and they all have blank stares on their faces, and then someone finally says, “Holy shit!” then you know you’ve done something great. </p> <p>As blown away as everyone was by <em>Vulgar Display of Power</em>, it was the tour opening for Skid Row that changed everything for us. Vinnie had met up with them on tour and drank so much that he threw up all over their dressing room. But they had a good time, so they asked us to go on tour with them. </p> <p>Philip was really resistant at first, and I told him, “Look, there’s two ways we can look at this. We can view it the hard way and say, ‘Fuck you all! We’re gonna tear you apart!’ Or we can take the crowd with us every fucking night,” which is what we did. We turned all these hair farmers into Pantera believers. Vulgar was our second real record, so no one could say <em>Cowboys</em> was a fluke. The songs came out at the right time, and we tore it up every night.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Far Beyond Driven (1994)</strong></p> <p>It would have been easy for us to write another <em>Vulgar Display of Power</em>, but fuck that. We wanted to try something completely different that was even heavier. We moved everything up to Jerry Abbott’s new place in Nashville, and that’s the first time we started taking breaks between recording. We’d do three or four songs, put them on tape, let them sink in and then go back in and do more. </p> <p>That was about the time that Dime started messing around with the Whammy Pedal and Vinnie was getting completely crazy about getting this clicky sound on his drums, and that required a lot of takes and a lot of tweaking our sound. We drove Terry crazy. But we had been playing through the same gear for 500 dates between 1989 and 1994, so we felt it was time for experimentation, and we did tons of takes of everything, which is why it was our most expensive album to do.</p> <p> “I’m Broken” was the first single. That was a classic southern groove, and we remixed that thing 16 times. But we were raging. Take a song like “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills.” Where the fuck does that come from? Out of the blue! We just bashed it out. Dime came up with a lot of those riffs at soundchecks, and he wrote other ones on the shitter. He always had an acoustic guitar in the bathroom. He’d go in there to take a dump and come out with an amazing song. We also covered Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” I played keyboards on it and fretless bass. Vinnie played congas. And Dime’s solo…to this day, I can’t listen to it. Just talking about it chokes me up. And Dime did it first take.</p> <p>Everything was happening. We renegotiated our contract with Warner Bros., and they gave us a huge amount of money each. When stuff like that happens, it can either ruin you and wipe the band out or you can bond together, which we did. Part way through the recording, we left Nashville and went back to Dallas Sound Lab, in Texas, and from then on it became one big fuckin’ party. We were boozin’. </p> <p>Vinnie was doing a lot of Ecstasy. Me and Dime were just taking little dabbles here and there, but Vinnie was out of his mind, and he was co-producing this thing, so he’d sometimes get real crazy. It took a long time to finish the overdubs, because the brothers were partying so heavy, but we were still “all for one, one for all,” even though Philip had moved back home to New Orleans when he was done with his vocals. That removed him from the equation, which was probably a good thing. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)</strong></p> <p>Metal is a full-blown contact sport, especially the way we did it. So it was only a matter of time before Phil was gonna need something for the damage he caused himself. We used to jump 15 feet in the fucking air, and I’d usually land on my feet and feel the shock on my knees, which are shot now. But Philip would make these giant jumps and land on his fuckin’ ass. I used to always think, Fuck, man, that’s gonna hurt later.</p> <p>Back then, we would wake and bake. That was just a given. So that made us a little foggy. But at one point, I noticed Phil was fuzzier than usual. One day when we stared doing <em>The Great Southern Trendkill</em>, he looked at me and slapped his armpit [a technique to inflate a vein prior to shooting heroin]. </p> <p>I went, “What!?” I’ve never stuck a needle in my arm. I used to watch some of my friends shoot up, but I would never do it. No way. I hadn’t seen that reference in 10 years, and Philip doing that at me made me go, Oh shit! I hope he’s not doing what I think he’s doing. </p> <p>Sure enough, he was doing smack. And he was a wreck through the writing sessions of <em>Trendkill.</em> We were all so burned out by that point. A lot of the discipline and structure we used to have went out the window. I’m not crazy about two or three songs on the album, but there’s a lot of good stuff on it. It was all created very spontaneously. We didn’t go back and re-record anything.</p> <p>That record was even more experimental than Far Beyond Driven. Far Beyond still had a coherent structure, and on Trendkill there was hardly any. Dime wasn’t even bringing riff tapes in anymore. So we winged it, and Terry just rolled tape, and a lot of the random stuff we captured is pioneering. And of course, the more we worked on them, the more cohesive the songs became. </p> <p>It was the first time Philip didn’t track vocals with us, which left Dime leery, because he didn’t know what to do with the leads. But he got it done anyway, and it was killer. Just listen to “Floods.” That’s the three of us locked in, and it’s got all these different shades to it and all these dynamics, and Dime’s solo couldn’t be better. In the end, we were psyched about the record, and we toured it to fucking death.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Reinventing the Steel (2000)</strong></p> <p>Doing that album was closest we’d been in 10 years—since <em>Vulgar</em> or <em>Far Beyond</em>—to capturing what we wanted to do. </p> <p>We went, “Okay, let’s listen back and take the best elements of what we’ve done. Everyone pick your five favorite songs from each album, and let’s roll.” There were four different opinions of what we should do, but we tried to work within those confines, and we did a great record. But what we should have done instead was check into rehab and then, when we were all clean, get a real producer, instead of Vinnie Paul. At this point, Vinnie was trying to take control of everything.</p> <p>His ego went through the roof. He didn’t want Terry Date involved. Where we used to drink for fun, we were drinking out of frustration, and during the sessions we were yelling at each other, throwing shit at each other, breaking stuff. </p> <p>Many times Dime was so fucking drunk, Philip would jump on him, and I’d have to jump on Phil. Somehow we made it through the record, and if you put it next to <em>Far Beyond</em> and <em>Vulgar</em>, you come out with something very close. Take a song like “Revolution Is My Name.” That could have been on <em>Far Beyond Driven</em>. And even though he wasn’t necessarily in a good place, Dime really came out of his hole and delivered. </p> <p>During the recording, Dime had these cases of fucking ginseng. He would drink two or three of these bottles and stay up for days. Dime never did speed, cocaine or heroin. He smoked a lot of weed and did some acid. But he loved ginseng, and it made him fucking crazy. Rehearsal for the tour was surreal. Philip was so wasted, he’d be singing a different song than we were playing. He was always on for the shows, but touring was a nightmare. </p> <p>Dime tried to get his own bus, because he couldn’t stand his own fucking brother anymore. Vinnie just kept booking shows, and we were touring with all the problems that went along with drug and alcohol abuse. Dime would blast the speakers out until 10 in the morning every day. You can’t sleep in a bus like that. So I went to Phil’s bus and stayed in the back lounge. He stayed in the front lounge, and we kept people out. Phil calmed down to a certain extent, even though he was drinking and smoking weed like it was going out of style.</p> <p>We really all should have stopped, but there was so much money on the table, and that made everything worse. We’d drink so fucking hard trying to relieve the tensions of drinking so hard, and that sent everybody into a fucking spiral. After a show, I’d go smoke a joint and drink a glass of wine and go to bed instead of staying up and trying to get laid, which Vinnie was all about but couldn’t make happen. We didn’t know if we were coming or going. We just know we had another gig to do, so goddamn, you get up and you do it. None of us ever missed a show. Ever.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Photo: James Bland</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="/pantera">Pantera</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Dimebag Darrell GW Archive May 2013 Pantera Rex Brown Interviews Features Magazine Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:22:13 +0000 Jon Wiederhorn 18075 at Ricky Phillips of Styx Talks Def Leppard Tour and Ronnie Montrose’s Final Recordings <!--paging_filter--><p>To fans of classic rock and arena rock, it just wouldn’t be summer without the music of Styx. </p> <p>For more than 40 years the band, whose hits include “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Renegade,” "Too Much Time on My Hands” and “Come Sail Away,” has been delivering the goods the only way it knows how: through infectious live performances.</p> <p>This summer, Styx—Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass)—are teaming up with Def Leppard and Tesla on what promises to be one of the season’s hottest tour packages.</p> <p>I recently caught up with Phillips to ask him about the new tour as well as his time with Styx, the Babys and Bad English. He also gave me an inside look into his new album project, the final recordings of Ronnie Montrose.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: What can fans expect from the new tour with Def Leppard and Tesla?</strong></p> <p>We’ve been wanting to work with Def Leppard again for quite some time. We did some dates with them around 2007 and it was a really good fit. If you’re familiar with Tesla’s catalog you already know that they're a very aggressive, cool, no-frills band. They just come balls out and do it! Then we go everywhere from a little bit of prog to the guitar duo of Tommy Shaw and James Young to having three lead singers. Then Def Leppard come out with their big arena rock show. It’s a special package where fans will really have a great time.</p> <p><strong>You’ve been with Styx for more than a dozen years. What’s it like being part of such an iconic band?</strong></p> <p>The cool thing about this band is that everybody recognizes that what we have is really special. It’s rare to get a group of guys that gel as good as this band does. We all have a lot of strengths to lean on personally and musically. There’s a lot of fun and joking around to keep things entertaining, but once we get on stage it’s all business, which is a good time as well.</p> <p><strong>Has there been any talk of new Styx music in the future?</strong></p> <p>I can’t talk about it too much, but there’s certainly some stuff in the works. It’s going to happen. We’re just not sure when. </p> <p><strong>Let’s discuss a few of the other bands you were involved with. What was the story behind you joining the Babys?</strong></p> <p>I had always been a big fan of Tony Brock and John Waite and thought “Isn’t It Time” was just a masterpiece of cool rock. Shortly after I got to LA, a sound man for the band saw me play and tracked me down. It was around the same time that John had decided he wanted to front the band and not be weighed down by playing an instrument [Waite had also played bass in the Babys].</p> <p>I was working in the music store across the street from where they were auditioning when the sound man came in and told me that I needed to go across the street and play. I remember pulling a bass off of the wall and (with the price tag still swinging from the headstock), went over and jammed with the guys for about 15 minutes. We played “Run to Mexico” and “Head First” and then Jonathan Cain and I harmonized with John on “Isn’t It Time." After that, they all left the room and came back in with their manager and asked me to join the band. That’s how it all started.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>A few years later, you were involved in the super group, Bad English. What do you remember most about that experience?</strong></p> <p>It was a fantastic, rapid speed project. We got one really incredible record but I actually think the second record is my favorite. You can really feel the tension that was going on in the band at the time. Not in a dark way but there was just something very deep about that second record and a level of maturity in the musicianship and writing. </p> <hr /> <strong>Many people may not know this but you also played a big part in the David Coverdale/Jimmy Page album project. How did that relationship begin?</strong> <p>David called me up one day and told me that he and Jimmy were doing a project together and they wanted me to be involved. I started working with them and we had a good working system going and in a few months had a strong sounding record. It was a great hang and I learned a lot from both Jimmy and David. It was a good combination. </p> <p><strong>What’s your bass of choice these days?</strong></p> <p>I designed an Italia bass that they made for me and I play a lot. It’s got EMG pickups and a neck-thru body with an ebony fretboard. I’ve also added a few little things I’ve noticed over the years that I wish I had. They did a great job and it sounds fantastic. </p> <p><strong>Are there any other projects you’re working on?</strong></p> <p>I’m producing the last recordings of Ronnie Montrose, which I’m very excited about. We have all of the performances done and are in the mixing stage right now. Ronnie, myself and Eric Singer from Kiss went in and cut 10 songs, and Ronnie was calling it “Ten By Ten." The idea was to have the three of us as the core of the band along with 10 different singers. </p> <p>So, Sammy Hagar is on one, Tommy Shaw sings one, Edgar Winter, Eric Martin, Greg Rollie, Mark Farner, Davey Pattison (Ronnie’s singer in Gamma) and Glenn Hughes also sing. When Ronnie passed, he hadn’t been able to do the solos. So we brought in guys like Rick Derringer, Steve Lukather, Phil Collen and Brad Whitford. But this isn’t a tribute album. It’s Ronnie’s last recording. Everyone who’s guesting on this record makes perfect sense. I could go on for hours talking about it but that’s the heart and soul of it! It’s very exciting!</p> <p><strong>Of all the highlights of your career, which ones are the most memorable?</strong></p> <p>When the Babys played Madison Square Garden that was pretty magical, because I had heard about the Garden my entire life. It was a benchmark for success for me as a kid. Then there was meeting, working and playing on stage with Jeff Beck in Japan with Neal Schon, Steve Lukather and Terry Bozzio on drums. That was a pretty amazing experience. I find myself doing all of these things, and sometimes can’t believe that a kid from a small town in Northern California is able to do them. I’m not sure what tomorrow’s going to bring but I feel very blessed. </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 Ricky Phillips Ronnie Montrose Styx Interviews Features Thu, 23 Jul 2015 19:32:02 +0000 James Wood 24965 at Gus G Talks New Solo Album, 'Brand New Revolution,' and His Beginnings with Ozzy Osbourne <!--paging_filter--><p>Gus G. is best known as the guitarist in Ozzy Osbourne’s band—the latest addition to an esteemed lineage that includes six-string legends like Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde. </p> <p>But prior to joining up with Ozzy in 2009, the Greek guitarist had already made a name for himself as the mastermind behind Firewind, a power-metal unit whose bracing and soaring anthems function as a platform for Gus’ over-the-top, acrobatic shredding. </p> <p>Over the years, the 34-year-old has also played with Euro metal acts like Nightrage and Mystic Prophecy, and even did a short stint with Swedish technical death metallers Arch Enemy, standing in for Christopher Amott on the 2005 Ozzfest tour.</p> <p>Needless to say, Gus is not one to take it easy for any length of time. And so, in 2014, while Osbourne was otherwise busy with the Black Sabbath reunion, the guitarist took the opportunity to launch a solo career, releasing his debut album under his own name, <em>I Am the Fire</em>. </p> <p>The record saw Gus not only flexing his technical guitar muscles but also honing his songwriting chops. The album boasted a mix of hooky hard rockers and speedy metal anthems, on which Gus was joined by an array of guests that included vocalists like Mats Leven (Candlemass), Jeff Scott Soto (ex–Yngwie Malmsteen, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Ralph Saenz, a.k.a Michael Starr (Steel Panther) and bassists like Mr. Big’s Billy Sheehan and Megadeth’s David Ellefson. </p> <p>Now, less than a year later, Gus is already back with his sophomore effort, <em>Brand New Revolution</em>. </p> <p>As for why this record followed so quickly after <em>I Am the Fire</em>, he explains, “I just had the songs, really. On this album I wrote a lot with Jacob Bunton, the singer for Lynam and Steven Adler’s band, and the thing about Jacob is we did a song that ended up on the first record, and then after I mixed that record we just kept on writing. And the next song we came up with was ‘Brand New Revolution.’ I even wanted to include it on the first record but the label was like, ‘No, no, we have enough.’ But I thought it was a pretty killer song and so I said, ‘All right, there’s the title track of my second record!’ So we were on a roll and we kept on writing. Before I knew it, I had an album.”</p> <p>On <em>Brand New Revolution</em>, Gus is once again joined by several guest vocalists, including Bunton, Levin and Soto. And, like <em>I Am the Fire</em>, the new album sports more than its fair share of guitar pyrotechnics. </p> <p>But, first and foremost, it is a collection of songs; in fact, other than the opening number, a dazzling display of technical ferocity called “The Quest,” there are no instrumentals on the record. “That’s really what I was going for,” Gus says. “I’m actually getting a lot of pressure right now to put out an instrumental album, but I’m not the kind of guy who can write 10 or 12 of those. It’d probably take me 10 years to do a record like that. I like to write songs—I’m a band guy and I like to work with singers. I’m very old school. I just like three-minute, catchy songs. But they have to have cool guitar parts—that’s the difference. If you know how to write a great song and you can put a killer solo to it, to me, that’s it.”</p> <p>Days before leaving for Germany for a string of dates as the support act for Hellyeah, Gus spoke to <em>Guitar World</em> from his home in Thessaloniki, Greece, about his influences, how he sees himself as a guitarist and creating <em>Brand New Revolution</em>. </p> <p>He also took time to discuss the status of Firewind and how his solo work differs from his output with that band, as well as give a bit of insight into what it’s like to have “the most coveted guitar position in the world” with the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.</p> <p><strong>How did <em>Brand New Revolution</em> come together?</strong></p> <p>It’s almost like two EPs in one, because it was done in two sessions. The first session was done in L.A. with a band in a live room, with Jay Ruston [Anthrax, Steel Panther] engineering, and we caught that live energy and atmosphere and vibe. The other half, I came back here to Greece and we did it the more traditional way for me, where the drummer lays down the tracks first and then I do the bass and the guitars. So it’s half and half.</p> <p><strong>Do the two halves sound distinct to you?</strong></p> <p>They do. I don’t know if other people can tell so much, but I can hear it. But overall I think this record actually sounds more cohesive than the last one. Because doing the L.A. sessions let me know the direction I wanted to go in with the record. So even though the second half was not done with the band all together in a room we tried to capture the same vibe.</p> <p><strong>You’ve said that you like to write songs, not instrumentals. But <em>Brand New Revolution</em> starts off with a pretty intense instrumental, “The Quest.” Is that type of thing more difficult for you to write?</strong> </p> <p>Yeah, it is. That song is just me going apeshit on the guitar. Just really fucking balls out on every aspect. And that stuff comes out of nowhere, really. Every time I write an instrumental I don’t know where the hell it comes from. Because I really don’t know how to develop an idea for an instrumental. It’s always in my mind that I’ll play a riff and I’ll hear a vocal melody over it. I’m always thinking, Where’s the chorus? The only guy I know who can write a proper instrumental is probably Joe Satriani. He’s very good with that.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <strong>He’s a guy who can keep it melodic and catchy, even while he’s shredding away.</strong> <p>Yeah, he uses his guitar as the voice. And he does it in a very normal songwriting way. But, I don’t know, when it came to “The Quest” I thought, first of all, it’s a good opening track. I needed something fast. But the song has an impact on the whole record. Because it’s the one instrumental, and it starts the album. So it’s almost like a trick. I can understand if some guitar fans might be like, “What the fuck?” when they hear the rest of the record. [laughs] They might expect 10 songs like that but that’s not what they get. But that said, there is a lot of guitar work all over the album. There’s a lot of solos, a lot of cool stuff.</p> <p><strong>Do you work out your solos in advance or do you tend to improvise in the studio?</strong></p> <p>Both, really. It depends on the song. For example, the outro solo on “Behind Those Eyes” [from <em>Brand New Revolution</em>] which is kind of a ballady, Eighties type of thing, I improvised a few different ideas and then kept the best parts. But a lot of the other stuff, I like to plan it out. I’ll do some takes and see what ideas I like and then start building up from there.</p> <p><strong>What gear did you use to record Brand New Revolution?</strong></p> <p>I used my ESP signature guitars—the Random Star and the Eclipse models. And they’re loaded with my Seymour Duncan pickups, the FIRE Blackouts. The idea for them was basically taking a passive pickup and making it active. They’re pretty hot, and the output is insane. I also have a Washburn acoustic that I used on a couple things. For amps, I used my Blackstar Blackfire 200 signature head, and I also recorded some parts with a Blackstar HT Stage 100. For a lot of things I also went back and reamped my parts with an EVH 5150 III 50-watt head. </p> <p><strong>What about effects?</strong></p> <p>I never record with effects. I just go straight in and then we add stuff later. There’s chorus and flangers and delays, all that stuff, but those are things Mike Frazer added when he mixed the record. I didn’t use any of that stuff when I recorded my parts. </p> <p><strong>On both solo albums you’ve opted to use several different vocalists, rather than stick with one voice throughout. Why?</strong></p> <p>It just sort of happened like that. I’ve always made records with Firewind where we have one singer. But going solo it was like, you open this door of opportunities. It’s a new thing and it’s exciting again. On the last record there were a lot of guests, and maybe seven or eight singers. This record it’s a bit more pulled in to those few who are closer in my circle as musicians and friends and cowriters. I just really enjoy playing with them so that’s what I did. It’s a bit different from what a lot of other people are doing, but being different is good, I guess. [laughs]</p> <p><strong>Even though Firewind is a band, most people see it as your project, more or less. So why do a solo album?</strong></p> <p>Because with Firewind, we’ve made seven studio albums in 10 years. And we’ve been through a lot of lineup changes, especially singers. It became a bit frustrating for me. And I just happened to be very tired of the whole band thing and just doing the album-tour cycle again. At the same time, I had all these ideas that were a bit more hard rock rather than speed metal or power metal. So I wrote a couple songs with Mat, I wrote a track with Jeff, and I thought, Maybe this is a good time to do this… </p> <p><strong>What is the current status of Firewind?</strong></p> <p>Right now we’re on a hiatus. I have a few new demos and they sound pretty good but, to be honest, I haven’t really had all that much time to focus on them. I’ve been so busy the last year and a half with my solo thing. But that said, I’m not stopping Firewind. We are going to come back and do another record, maybe at the end of next year, or the year after, who knows.</p> <p><strong>How about Ozzy? Where do things stand at the moment?</strong></p> <p>He was supposed to do another Sabbath thing this year but I guess now it looks like it’ll be in 2016. So I think Ozzy is basically filling the gaps by doing some solo gigs. We just did a mini tour in South America—the Monsters of Rock with Judas Priest and Motörhead. And now we’re doing two shows in Mexico in August and then Ozzfest Japan in November. Other than that, we’ll have to wait and see.</p> <p><strong>When you were first invited to audition for Ozzy’s band, it was through an email, correct?</strong></p> <p>Yes. It was just one of those crazy things that never happens…but then it happened, you know? The person who emailed me, I knew he worked for Sharon because he had been at Ozzfest. I figure they had probably checked me out in 2005 when I was there with Arch Enemy. And I was also doing a lot of work with Firewind at the time, so I guess I was one of the younger-generation guys coming up.</p> <p><strong>Did you have any idea Ozzy’s camp was looking for you?</strong></p> <p>I had no idea. Originally I thought they were contacting me because maybe they wanted Firewind to be on Ozzfest. [laughs] But they were like, “No, we’re actually thinking of you for the guitar player position. Would you like to come out and audition?”</p> <p><strong>What songs did you play at the audition?</strong></p> <p>“Bark at the Moon,” “I Don’t Know,” “Suicide Solution,” “Crazy Train,” “Paranoid”…and one more that I’m forgetting [It was “I Don’t Want to Change the World”]. We did six songs—six of the “must haves” on his setlist. Ozzy came in the room and we played them all back to back with no breaks. The second that one song ended he would just call out the next one. It was like “Oh, shit!” But it was cool—at the end of it he turned around and said, “You’re fuckin’ great!” Then they all went into a room next door for a few minutes, and I was sitting there all alone like, “What’s going on now?” Finally everybody came back in and they were all smiling. They asked if I wanted to come play a gig.</p> <p><strong>That gig was the 2009 BlizzCon video game convention in Anaheim.</strong></p> <p>Yeah. And that was fucking nerve-wracking, man. Looking back now, I know I could have done way, way better. Because all I knew was how to do my band. I mean, okay, I did a thing with Arch Enemy, but I didn’t really know how to approach another gig. And all of a sudden I’m in Hollywood, you know? But it was a big change for them, too. I’m from Greece and I show up with my weird pointy guitars, and Ozzy looks at me like, “You’re great…but do you have any Les Pauls?” [laughs] I just said, “I don’t really play Les Pauls…” But that first show I played a Les Paul–shaped guitar because I thought it would probably make him feel better. It’s more familiar to him because of Zakk and Randy. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <strong>So as much as you were uncomfortable in your new position, you were actually more concerned with trying to make Ozzy feel at ease.</strong> <p>Of course! That’s my role, you know? It’s to make him shine. That’s what I’m there for. And if that dude’s happy, then I’m happy. That’s what the gig’s about. </p> <p><strong>With Ozzy you’re playing songs that originally featured iconic guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde. Who’s the most difficult to replicate?</strong></p> <p>I think all of them had difficult moments, really. I don’t think it would be fair to say, “Oh, that guy’s stuff is more difficult.” Randy had amazing modal playing and chordal work and detail. And Jake had his own tricks and licks and stuff. And then you have Zakk, who’s a beast on lead guitar. But I’m a different kind of shredder than that—I’m more from the Yngwie school than the Zakk school. </p> <p>I still love Zakk’s licks, but I guess I have a bit more of a European sound. Then you also have Tony Iommi’s stuff, and he’s the master of riffs. You can’t get any heavier than that. So you take stuff from each guy and you kind of blend it all together. That’s how I’ve always looked at it—you have this big bag, and when you’re 10 years old you start putting all the licks that attract you inside of it. You keep collecting them, and then one day you open that bag and there you have it—your style.</p> <p><strong>The first Ozzy album you appeared on was 2010’s <em>Scream</em>. I recall hearing that Sharon Osbourne made you re-cut your guitar solo for the first single, “Let Me Hear You Scream.”</strong></p> <p>Yeah, that’s true. I did the whole record, and then I went back to Greece. But after that I got a call from Sharon and she said, “I want you to come back to L.A. and redo that one solo.” [laughs] She said, “Because that’s gonna be the first single and I want you to go out there with a big bang. That’s going to be the first thing Ozzy’s fans hear from you, so it had to be something really cool.” I was so stressed about it that I worked out the new solo before I even got on the plane to go back to L.A. But it was totally worth it. I flew back to LA and I spent a couple days in the studio and we nailed it.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>In addition to the great players that preceded you in Ozzy’s band, in the last few years you’ve toured with guys like Marty Friedman and Uli Roth. Were they influences on you?</strong></p> <p>Yes. Of course. I grew up listening to their records and I told both of them, “I stole all your licks!” [laughs] These are guys who inspired me as a kid and still do. I think, really, if you dissect my playing you’ll hear a lot of the stuff those guys have been doing. I picked it up from them, straight out of their books. So it was mind-blowing to share stages with players like them. I especially didn’t expect it on my first solo touring cycle. </p> <p><strong>One guitarist you always point to as an early influence is Peter Frampton. He’s a player who you don’t hear much about in the metal world.</strong> </p> <p>You’re right. I haven’t really heard any other recent metal guitarist say, “Oh, Peter Frampton…” But for me, <em>Frampton Comes Alive!</em> was just one of those records. My dad didn’t really listen to rock and roll but he had a handful of records he played from time to time. One was the Eagles’ <em>Hotel California</em>. The other was <em>Frampton Comes Alive!</em> And just hearing that talk-box effect blew my mind when I was nine years old. </p> <p>Plus, you know, he can solo like a motherfucker. He’s an amazing musician. He’s not one of those guys who just plays standard blues licks. He can go beyond that—he can do modal playing, all those Dorians and Mixolydians, those kinds of sounds. He can get jazzy, he can play fast. And I just dug his tone. He was a very different guitar player compared to the cats that were out there at that time. </p> <p><strong>Are there any new guitarists out there that you like?</strong></p> <p>Well, even the newer players I listen to are pretty traditional. For example, a newer guy who is a good buddy of mine and who I really admire is Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest. Me and him, we’re both huge Michael Schenker fans. That’s the kind of style of player I like. I really love what Richie does. He breathes new life into Judas Priest but in a very traditional way.</p> <p><strong>You’re part of the vanguard of modern metal guitar, but in some ways you’re a traditionalist as well.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, definitely. I realized pretty early on I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel. So you have to see what your strengths and weaknesses are and then do what you’re comfortable with. And my style is really just a blend of all the guitar players I love. Obviously I hope I’m doing it with a bit more modern approach, but it’s like, I’m not creating anything new. I’m just doing my own thing.</p> <p><strong>Growing up in Greece, was mainstream hard rock and metal music easy to come by?</strong></p> <p>Back then, you didn’t hear American and British music on the radio. On TV, you might see a video by Alice Cooper or Guns N’ Roses on the Top-10 shows, and as a kid I loved that. That was probably my first exposure to heavy metal. And then, of course, there was MTV. But, yeah, it’s not like rock was too popular then. It became more of a thing later on. </p> <p>But I grew up listening to the Beatles and the Doors, Frampton and the Eagles. Then I got into heavier stuff like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. At one point a friend of mine handed me a tape of Black Sabbath’s <em>Master of Reality</em>, and that was a life-changing moment. And then a few months later I had another friend who gave me a tape of Yngwie Malmsteen’s <em>Trilogy</em>. That was like, “Whoa…” So as a kid I basically wanted to be Tony Iommi and Yngwie Malmsteen together. [laughs] </p> <p><strong>Between the music you make on your own and with Firewind, and then also playing with Ozzy, you’ve wound up pretty close to that.</strong></p> <p>[Laughs] Yeah, man, that’s true. I’m definitely a lucky bastard!</p> <p><strong>Photo by Travis Shinn</strong></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="/gus-g">Gus G</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ozzy-osbourne">Ozzy Osbourne</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Gus G Ozzy Osbourne September 2015 Interviews Features Magazine Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:24:37 +0000 Richard Bienstock 25013 at Joe Satriani Takes You Track by Track Through His New Album, 'Shockwave Supernova' <!--paging_filter--><p>One way of looking at Joe Satriani’s 15th studio album, <em>Shockwave Supernova</em>, is that it’s a concept record—and indeed, the disc does follow a loose narrative that the guitar superstar dreamed up concerning the spiritual death and rebirth of an outlandish and extroverted alter ego for Satch named, appropriately enough, <em>Shockwave Supernova</em>. </p> <p>Another way would be to call the 15 songs that comprise the disc “inspired by,” which is how Satriani actually prefers it. </p> <p>“Nothing against <em>Tommy</em> and a few other records, but I’ve never been a big fan of straight-up concept records,” he says. “The real idea for this was more functional; to allow me to make creative decisions song by song, establishing moods and feelings. So, in that way, it’s very elastic and free-form, although there is an overall tone of renewal and awakening, and a bit of a story if you want to follow it.”</p> <p>Sessions for <em>Shockwave Supernova</em> took place at Satriani’s home away from home for the past few years, Skywalker Sound in Lucas Valley, California, where the guitarist and his longtime co-producer/engineer, John Cuniberti, hunkered down with keyboardist-guitarist Mike Keneally, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann. </p> <p>“It’s hard to ask for a better, more responsive and creative group than that,” Satriani marvels, “although the guys I worked with on the last album were pretty great. And hey, you get to hear them, too.”</p> <p>Satch is referring to the inclusion of four tracks—“Keep on Movin’,” “In My Pocket,” “Crazy Joey” and “Scarborough Stomp”—held over from his previous album, <em>Unstoppable Momentum</em>, that feature the rhythm section of drummer Vinnie Colauita and bassist Chris Chaney. “Those tracks weren’t fleshed out at the time, so I put them away,” Satriani explains. “When I started this record, they still spoke to me, and they made sense musically and thematically with the new batch of songs, so I brought them back and finished them off.” </p> <p><em>Shockwave Supernova</em> sees Satch offering his idiosyncratic take on swing, samba and blues shuffles while refining his blockbuster approach to pile-driving instrumental guitar rock. Interestingly, amid the widescreen riffs and solos, Satriani employs a more naturalistic guitar tone than ever before, and when set against the lofty, sci-fi conceit of the album, a deeply humanistic message emerges. </p> <p>“On past records I went out of my way to really trip out the guitar,” he says, “but I think by playing things a little straighter, it reaches people easier. They can connect to the moods in a more personal way because the sounds are more direct. Some people have said that this is my best-sounding album. That’s always the goal, of course, but it’s nice to think that you’ve hit the mark.”</p> <p>Satriani sat down with <em>Guitar World</em> recently to walk through the entire record track-by-track.</p> <p><strong>“Shockwave Supernova”</strong></p> <p>“Upon returning from South America, I was doing a series of songs that had a bit of a Latin vibe to them. I did a demo of this song and sent it to John Cuniberti, and he said, ‘I really love it, but the verse could be a bit more emotive.’ I listened to it and said, ‘Yeah. He’s probably right.’</p> <p>“I tried a couple of different things, and then I tried a contrary experiment, which was, ‘What if instead of everybody playing and continuing, they just stopped and I played something in an entirely different key?’ It's a great exercise. The melody lines were recorded over many different days where I had a lot of different guitars. It would go from six-string to 12-string to some other 12-string all on one track. It was pretty undisciplined.</p> <p>“I was searching for something, something undefined and unknown. I was trying to push my own buttons with it. It can be frustrating to work like that—‘What is it? What am I looking for?’ But when you get it, it’s really joyous.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>“Lost in a Memory”</strong></p> <p>“I started writing this song in late ’87 or early ’88. I jammed on it with [drummer] Jonathan Mover and [bassist] Stu Hamm, but it didn't have the melody; it was only an improv construction. I’ve always loved the track because it had these two-chord progressions. The idea of getting an enormous payoff from the fewest number of chords was appealing to me."</p> <p>“Right before the <em>Unstoppable</em> record, I brought it back and I came up with the whole melody. I was very excited, but it still wasn’t happening. I thought, Maybe it’s in the mix.’ We mixed it, but I remember looking at [producer/engineer] Mike Fraser and saying, ‘We did everything we could, but it’s not ready.’ It had only been 30 years. [laughs]</p> <p>“Most people would just toss it, but I took it home and played the “turn off the tracks” game. I started turning stuff off and I listened to what was good. Finally, I said, ‘You know, you told Chris and Vinnie to play those beats from the late Eighties. Maybe that's the problem.’ I just sort of re-did the drums and the bass, created the demo, which was basically the album tracks from <em>Unstoppable</em> minus Vinnie and Chris, and then I added some programmed drums and some of my bass as an example.</p> <p>“Then I showed it to the guys and I said, ‘Something like this.’ Since Mike Keneally and I had already done all of our parts that day, it was really just Marco and Bryan coming up with this new groove. And I was so happy to hear it. I realized, like, Why didn't I think about that 30 years ago? That was just one of those funny things.”</p> <p><strong>“Crazy Joey”</strong></p> <p>“'Crazy Joey' is about a crazy guy with a lot of swagger walking down the street—he’s got his playful, guitar slinger-like chops, that kind of thing. I thought this was perfect because it shows one side of Shockwave, all of this positive energy. It's in a major key, so it’s upbeat, and he's playing these ridiculous hammer-on/pull-off arpeggios.</p> <p>“It has an absolutely insane performance from Vinnie—just crazy. I recorded the whole thing at home and brought it to him. I had chopped up this wild drum performance from a Brain DVD and put it at the beginning of the song, like, ‘Here, what do you think of this?’ Vinnie came up with his own thing, a whole other vibe, but it was based on the Brain DVD stuff. It was one of those times where somebody pours some different creative thoughts into something and it puts the biggest smile on your face. </p> <p><strong>“In My Pocket”</strong></p> <p>“There were two personalities on this. The first was the melody in which I imagined myself being part of a three-piece horn section. I thought, If I’m a guitar player, I’m not going to be doing all of these guitar-y kinds of things. That helped me eliminate techniques, so I could focus on getting the melody to work."</p> <p>“The solo is the total opposite of that. It’s the kind of solo that you would imagine somebody in front of an audience playing. It starts with a crazy high note that’s impossible to get, and then it goes to a lot of flash. You can picture me just pointing to the audience and having a blast. And I was—only I was pointing to Vinnie, Chris and Mike. It’s me overplaying and having fun.”</p> <p><strong>“On Peregrine Wings”</strong></p> <p>“In the beginning, it’s as if you had wings and you stepped off a precipice—things would be wobbly, right? So when those first couple of chords come in, it’s like, ‘Whoa…’ The beat takes off and it's like you’re gliding, and man, the song gets really fast. I mean, that was so much fun to do—it's just crazy. It was very difficult to keep in tune, though. I did it a million times. It's way up there on the fretboard, and I’m playing the last two strings that aren't too reliable past the ninth fret in terms of intonation. It's a song that's got a lot of reckless abandon."</p> <p>“The amp on the solo is one of my old Marshall Super Leads from when I was in the Squares. It was stolen but I managed to get it back years later. It had been painted orange, but it was mine. I had it worked on, and it sounded just like it used to. The thing is all over the record, actually. You plug into it and it just growls and makes all of these cool noises. You get such amazing feedback with it. It’s like it just talks to you.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>“Cataclysmic”</strong></p> <p>“A song about facing everything going wrong. Like in those CGI films where a character turns around and sees a thousand-foot-high dust storm approaching—it’s coming and there’s nowhere to run.<br /> “I built this one and thought about how some early metal was, quite funky, like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. It was loose and grungy. I played bass on this one with that kind of swinging attitude. I showed it to the guys and said, ‘You’re younger and you grew up playing very intense metal. I know you’re thinking that's what I want, but I'm actually looking for something a bit stranger.’ So we kept my bass track."</p> <p>“I think Mike Keneally wound up adding a really cool sweeping thing on top with some synth, and Marco gave us a very unusual drumbeat with a riff. If there’s such a thing as ‘exotic metal,’ that's what he gave us that afternoon.”</p> <p><strong>“San Francisco Blue”</strong></p> <p>“There are so many kinds of shuffles. Some move around, others are more metronomic, and then there are levels of swing. The melody here is stretched out, so we reined in the swing a bit, which kept the song tight and moving forward."</p> <p>“In the demo stage, I played with different swing loops to find the level that was right. When Marco heard it, he lined right up with it. And I should point out that Marco is famous for his opposition to playing shuffles. He laughed when I brought this in—‘Oh, no, a shuffle!’—but he gave me six different versions that were all great.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>“Keep On Moving”</strong></p> <p>“The melodies are very blues oriented, but the wah-wah solo is very jazzy, almost as if a jazz horn player picked up a guitar and could instantly play. It’s got a Sixties tenor sax approach."</p> <p>“I brought the song in and John Cuniberti asked me, ‘What’s going on in the middle part?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘It’s like nothing is happening, at least not for me.’ [laughs] I went back and realized he was right. Mike and I were busy playing, but it was all kind of background stuff. It was interesting to us because we played it, but it wasn’t interesting to anybody else."</p> <p>“John sent me a stereo mix, and I added those bluesy, in-your-face solos for the middle. They worked out beautifully, really straddling the positive/negative vibe of the song. The song needed some more powerful stuff to balance the jazzy wah-wah solo. I couldn’t hear it at first, but John could.”</p> <p><strong>“All of My Life”</strong></p> <p>“I was making Chickenfoot demos, and this one started as an attempt to show Sammy Hagar in a different light. I underplayed as much as I could so that Sammy would feel comfortable singing without a lot of overbearing guitar. When it looked like that record wasn’t going to happen, I moved the file into my ‘new record’ batch."</p> <p>“I found that I loved this subdued Joe Satriani sound; it was like there was nothing on it. It was very un-Shockwave-like—you know, ‘He would never play like that.’ I tried to make the song achieve new heights by omission. It’s very laid back in the technical department. There’s no real bridge, either. I love it. It’s a simple, single-coil blues sound that does what it needs to do.”</p> <p><strong>“A Phase I’m Going Through”</strong></p> <p>“John Cuniberti was working on mixes, and he put the guitar track through a phaser. It immediately reminded me of what we did in the early Eighties. Back then, your only choices besides recording everything straight-up were to use reverb, delay or a phaser."</p> <p>“Sometimes you really regret putting a phaser on a track, but I thought, I’m going to embrace the phaser. In fact, I’m going to call the song “A Phase I'm Going Through,” just to prove a point.’ I leaned on the sound and used it as a way of explaining a changing of sorts. You notice that you're doing something weird, out of your normal personality, but you're explaining it to yourself by saying, ‘Hey, it's just a phase I'm going through.’ ”</p> <p><strong>“Scarborough Stomp”</strong></p> <p>“It's called ‘Scarborough Stomp’ because of the fact that it's a Dorian mode—people originally thought it had origins in the town of Scarborough, in the U.K. I’ve always loved this kind of beat. We used to try to write a ton of things like this in the Squares. This one came together during a writing session where I was plugged into an AdrenaLinn III foot pedal controller, and I was recording these little song bits. I’d write a song for a minute and a half, and then another one and another one."</p> <p>“I wrote this piece of music and thought it was good, but when I re-recorded it there was something missing—the playfulness. We tried doing the guitars fresh. We created a template where the rhythm guitars were copied and pasted in certain sequences to give us the feel, and we eventually wound up with a really slamming-sounding track from the rhythm section. Ultimately, though, I thought we straightened out too much—that can happen."</p> <p>“I threw it back to John Cuniberti, who is just so good at pulling faders and rebuilding tracks. He created a stereo performance of the original rhythm guitar and allowed it to play more liberally throughout. By doing that, we were able to keep all the guitars I did at home, and then we were able to use Vinnie, Chris and this crazy harpsichord thing, too.”</p> <p><strong>"Butterfly and Zebra"</strong></p> <p>“This is a song about two lovers realizing that even though they’re experiencing profound love, they’re simply too different for it to ever work. I focused on these two creatures that I thought couldn’t be more different, a butterfly and a zebra. They’re analogies, you know, for two people who fall in love but shouldn't, but even just that few seconds of a connection might be enough."</p> <p>“That’s a Sustainiac and the JS2400. I generally like to record DI at home, and then we re-amp almost everything. I’m using a Sansamp here. Every once in a while, the Sansamp has a way of dealing with dynamics that's quite unique and different from a vintage Fender or a modern Marshall head. Sometimes that’s what a song calls for, as it was here.”</p> <p><strong>“If There Is No Heaven”</strong></p> <p>“I think at some point people all say or think, ‘All this stuff that’s going on doesn’t matter, because someday I'll die and I'll be in a better place.’ For Shockwave, he’s dissolving; he’s going through a metamorphosis. He’s saying, ‘What if there is nothing after this?’"</p> <p>“Somebody loaned me a 1959 Chet Atkins guitar, and I was plugged into a Two Rock amp, one that was made especially for me. We were out in the studio room—[amp repair expert] Gary Brawer, John Cuniberti and myself—and we're just listening and saying, ‘That sounds really beautiful. Let’s record this right now."</p> <p>“I just played the chords without any time, and I explained to the guys, ‘This song is about a guy going into the light, except when he gets out there, there's nothing.’ John asked me to go out and make some other noises, and then he fooled around with it and added some pink noise to illustrate what it might feel like way out there in the middle of nowhere, being confronted with nothingness, like, ‘What's the sound of nothing?’ ”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>“Stars Race Across the Sky”</strong></p> <p>“The repetition of the arpeggios, to me, was key in representing the feelings that are on opposite sides of the heart. One is ‘I’m stuck. I’m standing still.’ The other is ‘Life is moving so fast. How can I get my feet on the ground?’ Instead of having arpeggiated chords that move together as a group, I decided to come up with a tuning in which three strings would be fretted and the others would be open, but they would work with all of the chords in the song."</p> <p>“Sometimes there’s beauty in that and it’s very calming, and at other times it’s tense because of the dissonance. It’s such a noisy affair to try to get an acoustic guitar with that tuning to display proper intonation. I gave the part to Mike Keneally, who had the thankless task of playing the arpeggios through the entire song. His level of Zen concentration was pretty brilliant.”</p> <p><strong>“Goodbye Supernova”</strong></p> <p>“This is really where he's saying goodbye. When I came up with it, I was envisioning something much more melodramatic. To get myself to not play certain things but to play certain other things, I envisioned myself telling everybody, ‘I'm out of here. This is my last statement. You can all go to Hell.’ Then I thought, Oh, you shouldn’t be negative. It should be a celebration.’ But each time I would work on the song I would jump into whatever mood would come to my mind. If it was anger or spite or feeling revelatory, or if it was pure joy or something, I would just run with it."</p> <p>“The song announces itself with how it's going to be ending, but then it quickly changes key and goes minor when the orchestra comes in with those arpeggios, because Shockwave's got some shit to say, right? Those blues verses are all about venting, of finally getting it off his chest, all that was troubling him in his life."</p> <p>“A very weird guitar comes in, so that’s rebirth. Then the piece rides out on this beautiful solo. You know me—I'm not afraid of a major scale. As I’ve said before, no scale is more important than the other. In this particular case, the major scale is really working better.”</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-satriani">Joe Satriani</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Joe Satriani September 2015 Interviews News Features Magazine Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:22:26 +0000 Joe Bosso 25010 at Brian May Discusses Queen's Greatest Moments <!--paging_filter--><p>"Sorry, my head takes a little while to get into gear,” says Brian May with a little laugh as he begins to mull over the history of Queen. The 63-year-old guitarist speaks gently, endeavoring to answer questions as fully as he can. </p> <p>May’s academic air is understandable. As a younger man he attended London’s illustrious Imperial College until he abandoned his studies and a promising future in astrophysics to fully dedicate himself to Queen. The band’s estimated worldwide album sales vary anywhere from 150 to 300 million. </p> <p>Whatever the exact figure, it was certainly a smart career move for the budding cosmologist.</p> <p>In 1971, bassist John Deacon joined Queen, completing the lineup of May, drummer Roger Taylor and singer Freddie Mercury. Over the next two decades they would become the complete stadium rock act. Mercury expertly worked massive crowds backed by a concrete rhythm section that mixed flamboyance (Taylor) and willful anonymity (Deacon). </p> <p>May, instantly recognizable either by the sight of his trademark tower of curly hair or the unique tone of his homemade Red Special guitar, would mutter quietly to himself as he strove to perfectly deliver some of rock’s most memorable riffs.</p> <p>Grandiosity in all things applied very much to Queen’s parties. These notoriously depraved celebrations were typically staffed by half-naked girls, though disappointingly a well-worn anecdote involving dwarves with bowls of cocaine on their heads is entirely apocryphal. “I loved the social side of it and there was a lot of fun in doing things that no one had done before,” May says. </p> <p>“But there was a side of me that kept to myself, I suppose, and was much more private. Looking back on it, I think perhaps I was a little too much of an island, but on the other hand perhaps it kept me sane.”</p> <p>In 1991, at the age of 45, Freddie Mercury passed away due to AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia. Six years later John Deacon withdrew from public life, leaving May and Taylor—musical comrades since 1968, when they first played together in a group called Smile—to curate Queen’s legacy. </p> <p>This year marks the group’s 40th anniversary, and in celebration, Queen’s 15 studio albums are being released in remastered deluxe editions. “I’m quite excited, actually,” says May. “They’re a really lovely bit of work, I think. There are lots of little bits of rescue that have been done to bring these albums closer to the original vinyl experience. You know, when you first opened your LP and it had that particular smell. Unfortunately we can’t quite do the smell yet, but we’re trying to get as close as possible to that sound and that feel. It’s a fascinating project.”</p> <p><strong>What were your impressions of Freddie Mercury before he joined Queen?</strong></p> <p>An interesting and flamboyant character who seemed to be very confident, but it was soon apparent that he was very shy underneath all that stuff. Yeah, he was an unknown. Full of enthusiasm, full of energy and ideas. We had no idea if he could sing or not, really. When we actually did see him sing with his old band, I don’t think we felt that good about it because he was very over the top. Of course, that all changed very quickly when Freddie got into the studio and started to hear himself and fashion himself according to his desires. He was very astute at finding the best in himself.</p> <p><strong>Who did you have most in common with when Queen first got together?</strong></p> <p>MAY That’s complicated. Once we were all together we had quite a complex, sort of multiway interaction. That’s why it worked, really. I was very close to Roger in some ways because we’d already been in a band together. We are—and we were—kind of brothers. We were so close in our aspirations and the way we looked at music, but of course so distant in so many other ways. So like any pair of brothers we sort of loved and hated each other all along the line.</p> <p><strong>What was your relationship with Freddie like once he became a band member?</strong></p> <p>In a way, I was very close to Freddie, particularly in the songwriting area. In the beginning, it was only he and I that were writing the material, pretty much. We learned to interact in a very productive way without treading on each other’s toes. At its best it was a wonderful relationship, I must say. </p> <p>Some of my best times were producing a vocal out of Freddie, sort of coaxing him in various directions. A lot of the other best moments were Freddie doing the same for me the other way round, him saying, “Brian, why don’t you try this?” while I was doing the guitar solo. He loved what I did, which was very encouraging for me. He kind of saw me as his Jimi Hendrix, I think, which was very flattering for me. Most of my best guitar work was done on Freddie’s material because it was so inspiring. When it came to my own material, I was more concerned with the song.</p> <p><strong>When you learned that Freddie was dying did you want to continue recording?</strong></p> <p>Yeah. He loved recording, he loved being in the studio environment, and I think right up to the end that was his greatest escape. So it was his wish that we recorded right up to the very, very last moment. He was singing vocals when he couldn’t even stand. He’d prop himself up against the desk, knock a couple of vodkas down and go for it.</p> <p>The very last time we ever did that, me and him, was singing “Mother Love,” which is one of my favorite tracks on <em>Made in Heaven</em>. He never actually finished that. He said, “Oh, Brian, I can’t do any more. I’m dying here.” [laughs] It’s incredible, he never seemed to let it get him down. He was always full of humor and enthusiasm. He would make jokes about it, really.</p> <p><strong>Were those final sessions upsetting?</strong></p> <p>At the time, strangely enough, we developed such a great closeness as a band that they were quite joyful times. There was this cloud hanging over, but the cloud was outside the studio, it wasn’t inside. I have really great memories of those times. I think that we opened up to each other in a way that we hadn’t been able to before. For the first time we were actually writing songs absolutely as partnerships so, no…you know, the thing is there’s always a big element of disbelief. Y</p> <p>es, we knew the prognosis and we’d seen what happened to people with this horrible disease, but I don’t think we quite believed that it could happen to Freddie. We thought, No, something will happen, you know, somebody’s going to find a cure. He’s Freddie, after all. He’s invincible. So when the news finally came it was like a bolt from the blue. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Did you get a chance to say goodbye?</strong></p> <p>[sighs] That’s a hard question to answer. We were with him a lot in the final days, but it wasn’t a question of saying goodbye; it was a question of just sharing a moment. I remember a particular occasion when we were talking about his garden, because he was lying in bed and he couldn’t see out into his garden very well from where he was. We were talking about his plants, which he loved. </p> <p>Actually, Anita [May’s wife] and I were there. He said, “Guys, don’t feel like you have to talk to me. Just you being here is what’s important, and I’m enjoying that. So don’t feel like you have to entertain me.” So I think, in a way, that was him—amazingly—finding acceptance of the way things were. So, no, the word “goodbye” didn’t happen but we definitely reached a very peaceful place.</p> <p><strong>Did you have any idea that your 1986 Knebworth show would be the last time that Queen played live together?</strong></p> <p>No. Freddie said something like, “Oh, I can’t fucking do this anymore, my whole body’s wracked with pain!” But he normally said things like that at the end of a tour, so I don’t think we took it seriously, really. </p> <p><strong>Did “Bohemian Rhapsody” strike you as a peculiar song when Freddie first suggested it to you?</strong></p> <p>No, I don’t think so. You’ve got to bear in mind that we’d already made “My Fairy King” on the first album and we’d done “The March of the Black Queen” on the second album, so we were well in tune with Freddie’s excursions into strange areas, and that was something that we really enjoyed. </p> <p>I personally loved it when he’d come in with something off the wall, because there would always be something interesting for me to do on it. He’d be playing in Eb, which is always difficult for a guitar player, or F# or whatever, and I would enjoy the challenge of finding things that sounded good on the guitar that went with his piano playing. So I was intrigued. I thought, This is going to be a great thing to work on.</p> <p><strong>What’s your favorite riff to play?</strong></p> <p>Probably “Tie Your Mother Down.” People jump up when they hear it, which is a good feeling.</p> <p><strong>Being so highly educated, did you find that being in a band provided you with adequate intellectual stimulation?</strong></p> <p>That’s an interesting question. I suppose we were quite an intellectual group, so we would always have lots of discussions about things that weren’t music. The music itself is very challenging, so I’ve never really felt the lack of stimulation. I love to be creating, I love to be making things and solving problems, I suppose, and when I’m not, then I’m not an incredibly good person to be around. If I’m not busy then I think I would be disaster. That’s just the way things are.</p> <p><strong><em>Innuendo</em>, the last album that you recorded with Freddie, was released the same year as Nirvana’s <em>Nevermind</em> [1991]. Do you think that, had Freddie lived, Queen could have continued on the same level given the way that rock was heading in the Nineties?</strong></p> <p>It’s hard to say really. I’m sure we would have continued as a band. The fact that it continued without us being a band is incredible, so I suppose the answer would be yes. I mean, we seem to be as big as we ever were in much of the world. We revisited South America with Paul Rodgers a while ago and it was almost as big as it was in the old days. We were playing stadiums again. So yes, I think we would have still been doing what we did.</p> <p><strong>Do you ever think about retiring?</strong></p> <p>No. I’m not a person for sitting on beaches. What would I do?</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></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="/queen">Queen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/brian-may">Brian May</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Brian May highlights Interview June 2011 Queen Interviews Features Magazine Sun, 19 Jul 2015 12:01:15 +0000 Ben Mitchell 17434 at Guitarist Lee Ritenour Discusses His New Album, ‘A Twist of Rit’ <!--paging_filter--><p>Two thousand fifteen marks 40 years since the release of Grammy-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour’s debut solo album, <em>First Course</em>. </p> <p>To help commemorate the occasion, Ritenour has gone back into his vast archive of musical material—one that spans 40 albums—to release <em>A Twist of Rit</em>.</p> <p>For <em>A Twist of Rit</em>, Ritenour combines new material and several of his classic compositions. It’s another inspired collection of the funky fusion and sophisticated jazz that’s made Ritenour one of the world’s most renowned guitarists. </p> <p>Another album highlight is the debut of Hungarian guitarist Tony Pusztai, who was the grand prize winner of Ritenour’s 2014 Six String Theory Competition.</p> <p>I recently spoke with Ritenour about his new album, gear, session work and more.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: When you look back at your 40-year career as a solo artist, what comes to mind?</strong></p> <p>It’s pretty phenomenal that I’ve been making albums for 40 years. It’s something you certainly don’t expect when you start out that young. This new album is especially close to me, because not only did I write new material but we also decided to twist and flip tunes from past decades, including a few from my very first album. I’m really happy with the freshness the album has.</p> <p><strong>Was the idea for this new album always to celebrate this milestone?</strong></p> <p>Not really. I have a 20-year-old son who is a pro drummer who plays with me and some other people, so I’m always listening to all of the young bands that are out there. What I started to notice was that a lot of these groups were borrowing elements that we were doing back in the Seventies and Eighties. That’s when I thought, what if we went in and took my tunes from those early records and twisted them up and gave them a fresh look? We had a 12-piece band playing everything live in the studio and gave it a youthful, contemporary sound and feel. </p> <p><strong>What was it like revisiting your older material?</strong></p> <p>One thing I never do as a habit is listen to my old material. When I’m making an album I’m immersed in the process and listen to it a lot, but then there comes a period after it’s released where I’m done listening to it. This project allowed me to go through my entire catalog and put together a different playlist. It was fun going back to the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties and remembering something about every track. I didn’t want to go for necessarily my most famous tracks. I wanted to pick tunes that I felt were still relevant today.</p> <p><strong>Let’s talk about a few of those tracks, starting with “Wild Rice."</strong></p> <p>That was a tune that was written around 1975 for my first album. It was really a precursor to the next album, which was <em>Captain Finger</em>. At the time, I was entering a fusion period and it had a funk feel but also had some fusion lines in it. I thought it would be a nice track to revisit melodically. I had my old seasoned folks play on it as well as a great horn section. At the end, it turns into a big jam where we get a Tower of Power-type groove going!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>“Ooh Yeah”</strong></p> <p>That song is really close to my heart. It was from the mid-Nineties. John Beasley [keyboardist] and I decided to try and recreate the laidback feel where the drums are way behind the beat and put a different hump on it. I came up with a really silky sound on my jazz guitar. It has a nice vibe and is one of my favorite tracks.</p> <p><strong>How did guitarist Tony Pusztai become involved in the project?</strong></p> <p>Tony won the grand prize for last year’s Six-String Theory competition. He’s a phenomenal classical guitarist who also has some nice jazz chops and one of the prizes was for him to play on this record. Originally, we thought we’d add one of his compositions but I realized that in this case it might be cool if we did one of my tunes and played it together. It turned out really nice.</p> <p><strong>Do you have a particular guitar/amp combo you like to use?</strong></p> <p>On the road, we backline two Fender Twin 65 re-issue amps and a Mesa Boogie Road King with a 2x12 speaker in the middle. The Twins are getting the stereo effects, but I leave the middle one dry. For the record, I was turned on to this new company called <a href="">Ladner</a>. They’re a company out of Mississippi that makes phenomenal amps with a Seventies feel. They’re built like a Rolls Royce and have so much personality and dynamics. Guitar-wise it was also a strictly a Gibson project, with my Gibson Les Paul and my model L5.</p> <p><strong>What are some of the most memorable moments of your career?</strong></p> <p>There are so many. In the early days when I first got started as a studio musician, I remember being so happy to have finally made it as a professional musician. Just getting in the door was one of the biggest challenges. The moment you realize that all the hard work you’ve put in is starting to pay off is really special. </p> <p>I also remember being 16 and getting to record with the Mamas and the Papas, kind of by accident. Then there was getting to play with Tony Bennett and Lena Horn and working with guys like Quincy Jones and B.B. King. I’ve also had big career excitement in the <a href="">Six String Theory</a> record. That was a big project and getting to work with all of these great guitar players was pretty special.</p> <p><strong>Do you have a funny story about your days as a session player?</strong></p> <p>I remember when we were working on George Benson’s <em>Give Me the Night</em>. George and I have been friends for a long time and I did a lot of rhythm playing with him on that record to create a sound. After the album was finished, George flew back to Hawaii. It was right before they had to turn the album in and I got a call in the middle of the night from Quincy Jones. He said, “Rittenour! You’ve got to get down here right away!!” I said, “What happened?” He said, “Well, we had an accident and erased a few bars on one of George’s solos!” </p> <p>George was in Hawaii but all of the equipment was down in the studio. They wanted me to come down and punch it in. So I went down to the studio, listened to a few minutes of this little cassette they had of an older version, copped it as much as I could and we nailed it! Then Quincy says, “OK, now just make sure you don’t tell George what happened!” But a few years later we did tell George about it and we all had a good laugh!” [laughs].</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></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 Lee Ritenour Interviews Features Wed, 15 Jul 2015 20:24:36 +0000 James Wood 24956 at ‘Wolf Den’: Trampled Under Foot Bassist Danielle Nicole Talks Debut Solo Album <!--paging_filter--><p>From her early days working with her brothers in the power trio Trampled Under Foot, bassist/vocalist Danielle Nicole has always found an outlet for her creative, blues-infused songs. </p> <p>Collectively, Trampled Under Foot recorded five albums, with its most recent, <em>Badlands</em>, reaching Number 1 on Billboard's Blues Albums chart in 2013.</p> <p>But as the band wound down after 13 years, Nicole decided it was a good time to branch out on her own. Her debut solo album, <em>Wolf Den,</em> which will be released August 21, represents the fruits of her labor and is a treasure trove of blues, funk and groove. </p> <p>Produced by Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Anders Osborne—whose songs have been covered by the likes of Brad Paisley and Jonny Lang, <em>Wolf Den</em> is a collaborative, New Orleans-themed album buried deep in tasty, blues-based rock. </p> <p>I recently spoke with Nicole about <em>Wolf Den,</em> working with Osborne, her gear and more.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: To someone who might not be familiar with your sound, how would you describe <em>Wolf Den</em>?</strong></p> <p>It’s an extension of the songwriting from my days playing with my brothers in Trampled Under Foot as well as some songs I’ve never had a chance to record. A few of the other tunes were ideas Anders helped collaborate on and develop with me. The album as a whole is a collaboration rather than all of the songs stringing together. </p> <p><strong>How does the songwriting process start for you?</strong></p> <p>Most of the time it starts with a bass line groove or melody, and then I’ll start writing lyrics to it. If it’s a specific instance or taken from experience, it usually starts with lyrics.</p> <p><strong>What can you tell me about the track “You Only Need Me When You’re Down?"</strong></p> <p>That was a tune Anders and I had written together. At the time, I was in a bad place in a relationship and had the line, “You only want me when you need me. You only come to me when you’re in trouble.” Anders came up with the groove and we started expanding it from that situation. That’s how it came about. </p> <p><strong>How about “Waiting for Your Love”?</strong></p> <p>Anders had a lot to do with that one as well. We were in a writing session and I had brought a few notebooks of song ideas I had. Anders was playing around on the guitar and came up with the intro. Then he read one of my verses from a song I hadn’t finished and started singing it along to his music. We started building it from there. </p> <p><strong>Do you have a personal favorite track from <em>Wolf Den</em>?</strong></p> <p>I don’t like to single out songs because the album as a whole is great, but “Take It All” is one that’s really dear to my heart. It’s a desperate love song that pretty much says, “If you’re going to leave me then just take my heart with you.” </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What was it like working with Anders?</strong></p> <p>It was absolutely amazing! Going in, I was naturally nervous because of his credentials and reputation as a songwriter and producer. He’s one of the greats. But he’s such a warm person. You talk to him for a few minutes and it’s just like family. He just makes you feel at home. He really knows how to make the song the way it was meant to be. </p> <p><strong>Can you tell me a little about your musical upbringing?</strong></p> <p>I’ve always loved to perform. I took dance for many years as a child and learned about singing and harmony from my parents teaching. I didn’t start actively pursuing it though until I was about 15. Then when I saw Etta James perform at a festival in Kansas City and B.B. King take people on an emotional journey, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.</p> <p><strong>When did you start playing bass?</strong></p> <p>I started playing bass when I was 18 to keep Trampled Under Foot a family band. We were a power trio with my two brothers. I picked it up, started taking lessons and just fell in love with it. I love being the foundation and the simplicity of playing one note at a time and each one having so much feeling. I also enjoy the challenge of playing bass and singing at the same time. </p> <p><strong>Who are some of your influences?</strong></p> <p>I’ve always loved Paul McCartney, just his melodies and the feel he has when he plays. I also like John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin. Then there are guys like James Jameson and Willie Dixon whose style I really loved. </p> <p><strong>What’s your setup like?</strong></p> <p>I played a Fender Jazz for many years until Delaney approached me and made me one of their custom basses. It mirrors the Jazz in that it has a maple neck and rosewood fretboard with two individual pickup styles. It has this heavy bridge that just sings. I love it. When I’m playing, I prefer to use a Markbass amp. I like to pair it using a 4-by-10 and a 15. I like the fullness the 15 gives and then with the 4-by-10’s you can still have that poppy, high end when you want to play the funky stuff.</p> <p><strong>What are you most looking forward to with the release of <em>Wolf Den</em>?</strong></p> <p>I’m really looking forward to expanding my audience. There’s something for everyone on this record. There’s awesome funk, some blues and some really great rocking stuff that can catch on to a wide audience. I took a lot of chances genre wise with this record and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me!</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> Danielle Nicole James Wood Trampled Underfoot Interviews Features Wed, 15 Jul 2015 20:15:19 +0000 James Wood 24958 at Charlie Hunter on Discovering His Rhythm and His New Trio Album, ‘Let the Bells Ring On’ <!--paging_filter--><p>To describe Charlie Hunter as a virtuoso guitarist is to ignore what makes him such an inspiring musician.</p> <p>Sure, he showcases an awesome technical facility on his seven-string guitar/bass hybrid—simultaneously performing walking lines on the instrument’s bass strings while picking out chords and melody lines on its upper treble notes—but what makes Hunter’s playing truly distinctive are the deep, contrapuntal grooves he coaxes out of his unorthodox instrument. </p> <p>If you’ve never actually heard Hunter play, your first reaction might be to assume it's a novelty or gimmick—his playing barely distinguishable from the endless stream of uber-impressive shredders, slappers and tappers scattered across YouTube. But in fact, there’s a reason Hunter has sustained a decades long career in music while 99 percent of these sort of guitarists never rise past online fame. </p> <p>“I think you should know a lot about guitar and how to physically play the instrument,” Hunter says. “But if you don’t have the deeper musical message, it’s going to ultimately be pretty meaningless.“</p> <p>That “deeper musical message” might be hard to quantity, but it speaks to an ability to connect with people on a visceral human level. Instead of utilizing the guitar as a mainly a melodic instrument to engage an audience, Hunter takes a different approach.</p> <p>“The magic in my instrument is not going to happen with any linear concept," he says. "Whatever magic there is to be achieved will be found in the rhythmic counterpoint between the bass side and the treble side of the instrument.”</p> <p>Hunter brings a drummer’s mentality to his playing, concerning himself with rhythm first and employing melody and harmony more as accompaniment. </p> <p>“It’s important for me to play enough drums to really understand how this stuff is really supposed to feel when I’m doing it. For me, the past 10 or 15 years have really just been about how well I can execute the rhythmic feel. That’s what I really love doing and what I think is the most fun. Unfortunately, it’s not very flashy!”</p> <p>He’s quick to concede, however, that as a kid cutting his teeth in Berkeley, California’s burgeoning jazz/funk scene, his playing wasn’t always so centered on finding the pocket. </p> <p>“When I first started out, at the point in the Nineties people liked to hear all more flashy, jazzier kind of stuff. So I had to learn that stuff, but of course I was at the age when I really wanted to. And as I got older I asked, ‘Where’s the instrument really coming from?’ And it’s really coming from more of a folk thing, like country blues and the American guitar vernacular.”</p> <p>Growing up, some of the first music Hunter heard was the finger-style country blues of guitarists like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake. Hunter’s mom—a guitarist and luthier—was a part of the Greenwich Village folk scene and actually knew some of these Piedmont bluesmen, including Reverend Gary Davis. </p> <p>“That was the music that was on around my house, and I was just like, ‘Oh, I’m so embarrassed. Why even listen to that music?’ But as I got older, I realized, ‘Wow, this is the real stuff here!’”</p> <p>On his new album, <em>Let the Bells Ring On</em>, released in June, Hunter tapped trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and drummer Bobby Previte—two acclaimed jazz musicians who are forward-looking yet deeply tied to the tradition his mom first exposed him to.</p> <p>In describing what he was looking for in musicians to collaborate with on the project, Hunter praises Fowlkes and Previte, saying, “The kind of music I like is the music those guys grew up hearing. If you want to play that music the way it’s supposed to feel, you should hire guys who grew up with it.”</p> <p>And while the songs on this new record feature plenty of sophisticated improvisation, the music has an understated quality, leaving plenty of room for each instrumentalist to inhabit the sonic space created within the groove. </p> <p>Hunter sums up the approach well: “To be totally honest, it’s all the blues to me. It’s all the blues and a nice beat. I think maybe I’d be considered a jazz musician 40 years ago, but definitely not today. What can I say, I just really like Horace Silver. I don’t need much more than that.“</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Ethan Varian is a freelance writer and guitarist based in San Francisco. He has performed with a number of rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass groups in the Bay Area and in Colorado. <a href="">Follow him on Twitter.</a></em></p> Charlie Hunter Ethan Varian Interviews Features Wed, 15 Jul 2015 20:01:59 +0000 Ethan Varian 24970 at Joe Satriani Opens Up in His First Guitar World Interview from 1987 <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>Here's our interview with Joe Satriani from the December 1987 issue of <em>Guitar World,</em> which featured Joe Perry on the cover. The original story by Gene Santoro started on page 42 and appeared with the headline, "Wailin' With The Alien."</strong></p> <p><a href="">To see that cover—and all the GW covers from 1987—click here.</a> </p> <p>Things have certainly been changing for Joe Satriani. Suddenly a lot of people besbooides a few musicians know his name, have heard about his awesome chops, are picking up his first record, <em>Not of this Earth</em>. </p> <p>Which must be why, on this hot and muggy Sunday night in New York hundreds of folks have thronged to a converted church, now a club, called Limelight. In conjunction with the New Music Seminar, <em>Guitar World</em> is sponsoring a concert featuring Satriani. </p> <p>He finally appears onstage, with bassist Stuart Hamm and drummer Jonathan Mover around 1 a.m. to anticipatory roars, and proceeds to carom his fat, freaky sounds from the choir loft to the vaulted wooden ceiling. </p> <p>He doesn’t do any leaps or splits, through he moves around; mostly he’s busy peeling off licks from a bulging book, digging in for the right riff, the cutting tone, the squealing harmonic pinched to stab at the right moment, a wang-bar doodle or some finger vibrato twisting the knife, a two handed tap to finish you off. In a word—taste. </p> <p>Guess that’s one of the things Steve Vai and all those other cats who used to drop by his Westbury, Long Island, house a few years back learned from him. </p> <p>By the time you read this, more evidence of Satriani’s tastiness will have hit the record racks. <em>Surfing With The Alien</em> is still in rough mixes at this writing, but its power and range, from meditative acoustic work to metalloid romps, are clear enough. So Joe and I sit in his midtown Manhattan hotel room surrounded by guitar cases and a few crated rack effects, breathing deeply in the air-conditioning, inhaling espresso and Perrier and talking. </p> <p>He’s a soft-spoken guy, though he obviously knows exactly what he wants and how to wait, if necessary, to get it. After hearing—who else?—Jimi Hendrix, the 14-year-old Satriani abandoned his drums for a Hagstrom III his guitar-playing sister bought him. </p> <p>He taught himself some basics by playing along with his older siblings' records, a variety of discs that included the Stones, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter and Mike Bloomfield as well as Motown hitmakers, early r&amp;b and even some jazz stuff belonging to his parents. </p> <p>Guitar lessons ended after a couple of shots: "The guy was teaching me 'Jingle Bells' and I had already memorized the chord charts from the back of an Alfred Guitar Book my sister had." </p> <p>A more fruitful path opened up when he studied theory at Carle Place High School with Bill Wescott, whom he credits as "my main musical influence. Besides teaching me theory and all the technical things like writing and sightreading, he personally demonstrated what it was like to be passionate about music. It made me feel like I wasn't such an oddball if I got emotionally involved in what I was doing." It was via that school that Vai and others discovered Satriani.</p> <p>After passing on Berklee for a brief dip into the Five Towns College music program, Satriani studied for two months with jazz piano great Lennie Tristano, whose hardnosed training shaped many fine players. </p> <p>Like other Tristano alumni, he has some tales to tell: "It was really intense. In terms of' discipline, and self-evaluation, and changing my entire picking style, it was really a dramatic experience. I've never been that strict with any of my students. If I made a mistake during any of the parts of the lessons that weren't improvising, he would just get up, walk over to his desk, take out the book, and say [mimics Tris tano's rasp], 'Okay, Joey, I guess I'll see you next week.' </p> <p>I had a couple of 60-second lessons where I'd just play the wrong scale 'cause I'd be so nervous. The flip side to the coin was that when you did all right, you'd be in there for two hours and he'd have 15 people standing in the hallway waiting for their lessons.</p> <p>"He taught me what learning my instrument was about. Before then, I'd learned how to play by jamming, so everything I did was simply by feel: although I knew scales and modes, I didn't know them everywhere, only where I had played them. He would have you do these enormous lessons, like learn the harmonic and melodic minor scales in every key for every possible fingering starting off of every string and every fret. And that would just be point one of a seven-point lesson. If you fucked up and said 'I should' or 'would' or 'could,' he'd blow up and give you a lecture about living in the subjunctive mode. But he was a beautiful, crazy guy."</p> <p>While he was working with Tristano, Satriani was gigging around Long Island with a several-piece dance band called Justice; then they hit the road, touring cross-country for about a year. A brief stop in California found him woodshedding for 15 hours a day and deciding to continue his musical career; a six-month sojourn in Japan was followed by his settling down in Berkeley, CA, where he set up shop as a guitar teacher and formed a power-pop trio called the Squares in 1980.</p> <hr /> After five years of club dates and opening-act slots, Satriani decided to split the Squares for his own career. The result was his first LP, <em>Not Of This Earth</em>. It was not exactly an overnight success story, as Satriani tells it: <p>"It was in the can for about a year-and-a-half, basically It was done in the first four months of 1985, mastered and ready to go in June. Then while the contract was being mulled over, I got the offer to join Greg Kihn. On a musical level, that was great; they're a great American rock 'n' roll band. I'd known Steve Wright, the bass player, for many years, and they had asked me to join the band two years earlier, but I turned them down because I thought the Squares were going somewhere. </p> <p>"Of course, right after that Greg Kihn became extremely popular, had two Number 1 hits [laughs ]. This time, it came at a better time. I wasn't doing anything, I didn't know if anyone was going to pick up my record, and I was heavily in debt, because I had recorded the record on a credit card. A company in Virginia had sent me one in the mail, somehow knowing that Joe Satriani wanted to do a record and needed it [laughs]. </p> <p>"So the tour helped me out of debt and as well provided a whole new experience of playing live. This was a different league, and he paced a show differently. Plus the combination of Steve Wright on bass and Tyler on drums was great; Pat Mosca and I were free to roam all around musically.</p> <p>"During the time I was out on the road with him there were petty hassles and delays with the record so that it took 11 months before it was released. But in retrospect, it was perfect timing. The company's been promoting it well, people have been responding to it, and so for a record that I thought I was gonna press a few hundred copies of and then go my merry way, it turned out all right."</p> <p>A brief tour on his own boosted Satriani's morale and got him into the idea of taking his music on the road. </p> <p>"After I left Greg I played with Danny Gottlieb and Jonas Hellborg and a Swedish singer named Anika who actually did vocals to things like 'Hordes Of Locusts.' It was a short Scandinavian tour-three weeks. I flew over to Sweden a week after I'd been in a car accident—I was under medication, not in good shape. We had three days to rehearse, and we rehearsed maybe an hour [laughs]. Then we went out and did these gigs, and they were really good. It was all because Jonas and Danny are live players: They have a great vocabulary, they're smart, and they're crazy [laughs]. </p> <p>"I think you've gotta be smart enough to be competent, but you've gotta be crazy enough to go out there and just let it all happen. I mean, you can rehearse and still not be musical, be tight and not be musical; we all hated that."</p> <p>Though he'd already begun writing for a second LP while on the road with Kihn, now Satriani got serious. His methods: "It's never changed from the beginning, just sort of chaotic and organized at the same time, comes in lots of different directions. I've actually sat down, taken out a guitar, and said, 'I'm gonna write a song that makes me feel like driving at night' or whatever. When the feeling is upon you, so to speak, you act. </p> <p>Then there are other songs that took a very long time, like 'New Day,' which took so long because I didn't know what it was that I wanted to write. I knew that I wanted to write something that was completely different, so I tried all kinds of things: I would meditate, stare at the tv, go out and see strange movies, run a couple of miles, read strange books, drink lots of coffee, not drink any coffee-whatever would set me off.</p> <p>"So for three or four hours, day after day, I tried to write, come up with something different. Slowly, I came up with the idea that what I was hearing in my head was a series of fourths, fifths, thirds and seconds, and I realized suddenly I was playing a song that was a melody and a rhythm, and it was built off the idea that there were always two strings being hit.</p> <p>Then I had to teach myself how to play it. It doesn't sound difficult, but physically it was perplexing. So I had to struggle to learn how to play it so I could write it before the idea left my head. As soon as I was done, it was just like I'd learned to ride a bicycle for the first time—I couldn’t get rid of it [laughs].</p> <p>"Then other things like The Enigmatic was a scale that I loved, and so I took out a piece of paper and gave myself a lesson wrote but all the triads and all that, this is what it is, now be creative with it. I wanted something really strange, y'know, like fast cuts in weird movies. </p> <hr /> So, much to my drummer's surprise, I told him I didn't want the kick drum on the upbeats; as a result, a lot of people feel that the one is in the wrong place in that song, because the kick drum is continually and-and-and. I wanted it to be like someone pushing you on the back—and those people never push you at the right moment, know what I mean [laughs]? <p>"It's always when you're off balance. So the snare is always on two and four, and the hi-hats and shakers are going tsk-tsk-tsk very evenly, and there's that kick drum-just enough to make you snap your spine [laughs ]. Kinda like the <em>Miami Vice</em> chase scene music. We had a good time doing that.</p> <p>"Most of the time I write songs with the arrangements all at once, in my head. There's the producer side of me that's always thinking sounds, like 'wouldn't this be a great sound if it existed to put in front of a song, to open it up, and then when it did its thing something else would happen?" </p> <p>"Then I'll fool around and get a noise that's like that, then say, 'Okay, how am I gonna write a song where I can put this to use somehow.' Sometimes I've done it that way, other times I'll have a beautiful melody or a rhythm pattern and go over it and over it trying to figure out how to present it. 'Not Of This Earth' is a good example, of that: it started as three chords, and I was so intrigued by how new it sounded when it got back to the first chord again that I thought, 'How can I pull this off so people aren't saying, 'Oh God, those same three chords over and over again.' </p> <p>"So I thought, 'What if I could get the bass guitar to play only one note" I eventually had to add one other, just for a release, but I tried to make it as simple as possible. Then I thought, 'I want really strange drums, really big, but I wanted them to change.' So we used the nonlinear reverb, and [drummer ] Jeff Campitelli just hit the snare as irregularly as he could, sometimes a solid hit, sometimes a rim shot, and that opened up the linear sound in different ways. </p> <p>"Then I decided, after playing over it, that what I needed were two melodies that could be good enough on their own, and could then eventually be played together. That was a bit of a trick; to my mind, that song was like a sleight-of-hand, like something by Eric Satie, playing with you by using as few notes as possible and getting you to realize that it really is a song.</p> <p>"Whereas something like 'Hordes Of Locusts' is a huge arrangement, more like Beethoven, where everything is exaggerated, lots of different melodies. The middle section after the main melody-not the sitar part, where it starts with the D chord-I had written this heavy part, because I thought everybody's gonna be expecting your average heavy thing, but listen to this [laughs]. </p> <p>"So I threw in a chord and a bass line that to most people would sound like it made no sense at all, but to me it was a release to hear it at the time. In my mind the chord sequence is like a long melody and it takes until you get back to that C#. I'd have to say that sequence was part Chopin, like his use of the minor sixth chord with the raised eleventh, and part John McLaughlin, around the time of <em>Inner Mounting Flame</em>, where he'd use chords like the C major seventh with the seventh in the bass, "C/B," as some people call it. </p> <p>"So I thought, 'I'm gonna take Chopin and McLaughlin and put 'em to this heavy song where I've got scratches and sitars and I'm gonna try to make it work.' That's the part of me that's producing that says this is gonna sound good to you, that wants to make it a sound event as well as a piece of music."</p> <p>Nor does he view his music as just a frame surrounding his guitar excursions: "There are a couple of different types of solos I play. There are some that I personally can't rehearse; they don't have any meaning or function in the song other than to be totally improvised. So 'Ice Nine' [on <em>Surfing</em>] has two solos that are just completely off-the-cuff, because they come at a point where there's guitar everywhere in the song. </p> <p>"So when the solos hit, the last thing you want to hear is organized tones [laughs]. So I do my best to create these two different guitar players, one cuts the other one off right toward the end of the solo and does something else; what finishes it up is a backwards thing that's really wild. Similar is 'The Enigmatic,' where the solo is even more chaotic than the song, which is pretty chaotic [laughs ]. </p> <p>"So I used techniques that have nothing to do with normal playing- scraping the strings, using metallic objects on them, tapping them weirdly—and built a pattern as I went along. So that way it's like improvising. Lennie Tristano used to say; 'Never be judgmental about your improvising,' and so I try to remember that, try to be free and let it go. I've had the experience of going into the studio, being totally prepared, playing the first three notes and saying, 'I'm bored, I've heard this already so I'm not excited about playing it.' </p> <p>"So even the solos that I'd prepared for the album, that I thought were necessary for the song as a melodic pattern, I might start that way but then change around once I start playing. Like the first few notes in 'Rubina' or 'Hordes Of Locusts' came right out of my head, I just can't seem to hear anything different; but what follows doesn't matter, it's just something I fill up."</p> <p>Now that he's finished with the studio, he’s hungry to take his new trio on the road. "We've only played together twice, one show in Chicago [at the NAMM show] and here in New York. We didn't rehearse or anything. The chemistry is really good. We have a good time simply going off. Generally I'll tell them, 'You can do whatever you want, use your vocabulary, just don't screw the song up. And when we get to the end of the song, let's go somewhere.' </p> <p>"The rule is, Whoever plays first, wins [laughs]. If you wait to set; where the other person is going, and you're worrying about what he's gonna do, you might as well go first, and then everybody has to follow you [laughs ]. 'Cause with the people that I play with, I like to hear them continually pour out whatever they know. </p> <p>"It's an instrumental trio, but I don't want it to be a jazz thing; it's a rock instrumental gig, really At the same time, we're players who have played a lot of music, we like a lot of music, and when we play we like to throw in lots of things. Live, it explodes."</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-satriani">Joe Satriani</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> December 1987 Joe Satriani Interviews Features Magazine Wed, 15 Jul 2015 14:23:38 +0000 Gene Santoro 12717 at 'Amused to Death': Roger Waters Discusses the Genius of Jeff Beck — Exclusive Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Roger Waters’ celebrated 1992 solo album, <em>Amused to Death,</em> will return July 24—better than ever—courtesy of a new remaster from Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings.</p> <p>One of the album's noteworthy guest musicians was <a href="">guitar great Jeff Beck,</a> whose brilliant playing is a true highlight of several tracks, including “What God Wants, Part III”—and seven others.</p> <p>Below, we present an exclusive video of Waters discussing what it was like to work with Beck on <em>Amused to Death.</em></p> <p>"I still don't know how he does it," Waters says of Beck. "He's incredibly technically gifted in ways the rest of us can't even begin to think about. He also has incredible pitch. When you play a harmonic and then play a melody on the whammy bar, it's quite extraordinary to listen to."</p> <p><em>Amused to Death</em> sounded the alarm about a society increasingly in thrall to its TV screens. Twenty-three years later, the album speaks to our present in ways that could scarcely have been anticipated two decades ago. </p> <p>“I’m remembering the record from [more than] 20 years ago, that most of what I had to say then sadly still pertains today and is maybe even more relevant to our predicament as people in 2015 even than it was in 1992,” Waters says.</p> <p>The 2015 editions of <em>Amused to Death</em> feature a new 5.1 surround remix of the album on high-definition Blu-ray audio and a new remastered stereo mix completed by Waters/Pink Floyd collaborator and co-producer James Guthrie. The cover and gatefold art has been updated by Sean Evans, the creative director of Waters’ 2010-2013 “The Wall Live” tour and movie.</p> <p>Besides Beck, the album features guest vocalists include Don Henley (“It’s a Miracle”), Rita Coolidge (“Amused to Death”) and P.P. Arnold (“Perfect Sense” Parts I and II). Also contributing were Waters’ longtime collaborators, guitarist Andy Fairweather Low and drummer Graham Broad; percussionist Luis Conte and Pat Leonard, who played keyboards on several tracks. The album reunited Waters with Michael Kamen, who supervised orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd's <em>The Wall.</em></p> <p>The 2015 editions of <em>Amused to Death</em> will be available on CD, CD/Blu-ray, SACD, hi-res digital download, 2LP 200-gram vinyl (pressed at Quality Record Pressings) and limited edition, numbered 2LP picture disc vinyl. </p> <p><strong><em>Amused to Death</em> is available for pre-order at <a href=""></a></strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src=";partnerId=346C2586-D3F8-4B75-BA0D-398FDB6E4C08" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></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="/roger-waters">Roger Waters</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jeff-beck">Jeff Beck</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Amused to Death Jeff Beck Roger Waters Videos Interviews News Features Wed, 15 Jul 2015 14:04:07 +0000 Damian Fanelli 24957 at The Secrets of Jimi Hendrix's Guitar Setup: Interview with Roger Mayer <!--paging_filter--><p>Nobody knows the ins and outs of Jimi Hendrix's guitar sound like <a href="">Roger Mayer.</a> </p> <p>Mayer had already worked with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and produced a number of different fuzz boxes by the time he met Hendrix at a gig at the Bag Of Nails pub in London. The two hit it off and Mayer showed Hendrix his Octavia, a unit that added an octave overtone to the original note. Hendrix loved the sound and used it on the solo to "Purple Haze."</p> <p>"After that we became close friends and started hanging out; and as they say, the rest is history," Mayer says. </p> <p>He went on to look after Hendrix's gear both live and in the studio, gaining a unique understanding of his requirements, playing style and working methods. Today Mayer produces a range of pedals that take his original designs into the 21st century.</p> <p>Mayer says an important part of Hendrix's sound was due to his use of carefully selected string gauges, which evened out the guitar's response from string to string. </p> <p>"First of all, we weren't using a flat-radius fretboard," Mayer says. "We were using the normal one, not the very high radius but definitely curvy. The actual strings we used were not what people would expect. The string gauges would run .010, .013, .015, .026, .032 and .038. </p> <p>The big difference there is that you're using the .015 for the third, because if you use the .017 for the third, the actual sound of the guitar is very G-heavy. The electrical output of the strings is dependent on the square of the diameter; if you square all the diameters and look at them, you can get much more of an idea about the balance of the guitar. </p> <p>"You should always remember that, because many, many times people use a set of strings that are completely imbalanced and they just don't sound that good. Most people would say a .010 to .013 is the correct jump. And the .015 is much better for the G than a .017. An .015 squares out at .225 and .017 is 289. So you're going to get 28 percent more output just with a two-pound different in string size."</p> <p>Although Hendrix used a custom string gauge, Mayer certainly didn't mess with the stock pickups in his Strats. He didn't feel the need. </p> <p>"When I was working for the government, we had access to certain kinds of equipment. We were encouraged to have a hobby, so I went through all the different number of turns you could have on a pickup very quickly, right from square one. I wound up a whole range of pickups. </p> <p>"Basically, what became very apparent with pickups is exactly what I thought before we started: They really don't make much difference! I would say they're one of the most vastly overrated parts of the guitar itself. If you understand electronics, you understand that as the inductance of the pickup increases—that is, as the number of turns on the pickup increases—all that happens is you get a larger output, and you effectively get less high-frequency response due to the fact that the inductance of the pickups rises. It's a trade-off. </p> <p>"And after making several experiments, which probably covered all the number of pickup turns that are available now, I came to the conclusion that Leo probably had it about right! There wasn't much to be gained by deviating from the 7,000 turns or so on a regular pickup."</p> <p>Naturally, because Hendrix was a left-handed guitarist playing a right-handed guitar strung for a lefty, the guitar responded slightly differently to if it was a left-handed guitar. </p> <p>"When you flip the guitar, the actual cavities in the guitar now appear on the bass strings, right? Because the volume control and all that is facing toward your head. So the actual resonances of the cavity do change. What happens then, of course, is that now you're faced with the fact that the actual string length on the bass string is now the other way around and conversely, on the treble strings. </p> <p>"So yeah, that will make the guitar feel slightly different because the actual string length affects the kind of strength needed to bend the strings. That's one of the reasons we used to tune the guitar down a little bit."</p> <p>Mayer says Hendrix's approach to sound in the studio was particularly abstract, but that a shared love of science fiction gave the pair a common language to discuss and achieve what Hendrix was looking for. </p> <p>"The actual vocabulary of audio is visual. People say 'a bright sound,' 'a dark sound' and so on. So we thought in colors and about the actual way the sounds were moving around, and that's how we worked, really. Jimi was very free-form and he liked to improvise an awful lot, so the actual structure of the songs was very free-form. But once we knew what the song was about and the vision for the song, that would dictate the kind of sounds we might use, or the various effects we would use, from studio effects to panning to various echoes." </p> <p>In chasing those sounds, Mayer would often alter circuits in between takes in the studio. </p> <p>"There's a big difference between the actual sound produced in the recording studio and the control room, so I guess I was running backwards and forwards between the control room and the actual studio to treat the sound and adjust the amplifiers and so forth."</p> <p>Mayer also looked after Hendrix's gear at many gigs, and in the days before electronic tuners he often had to rely on placing the guitar's headstock against his ear to hear whether Jimi's axes were in tune. </p> <p>"You had to do that because you have to remember that in those days electronic tuners didn't exist. The only thing you possibly had was a tuning fork. If you go on stage and a red spotlight might hit you, that's going to put the guitar out of tune. The blue one, not so much, but if they hit you with a powerful red, that's going to pull the guitar out!"</p> <p><em>Photo: <a href=""></a></em></p> <p><em>Peter Hodgson is a journalist, an award-winning shredder, an instructional columnist, a guitar teacher, a guitar repair guy, a dad and an extremely amateur barista. He runs an awesome blog, <a href="">I Heart Guitar,</a> which allows him to publicly geek out over his obsessions. Peter is from Melbourne, Australia, where he writes for various magazines (including <em>Guitar World</em>) and for</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="/jimi-hendrix">Jimi Hendrix</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Jimi Hendrix Peter Hodgson Roger Mayer Interviews News Features Thu, 09 Jul 2015 14:44:38 +0000 Peter Hodgson 11678 at Stevie Ray Vaughan Shows How He Plays "Rude Mood," "Superstition" and "Hideaway" — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>In the fascinating 1989 video below, Stevie Ray Vaughan sits down for a frank interview with a U.K. reporter.</p> <p>During the interview, Vaughan, who is clutching his Number One Strat, launches into "Hideaway," an upbeat instrumental blues classic from 1960, demonstrating how Freddie King (who wrote it with Sonny Thompson) and Eric Clapton (who recorded it in 1966) played the song differently.</p> <p>He also plays his own upbeat instrumental blues classic, "Rude Mood," while the camera catches almost all of his left-hand fingering up close. Later, he plays the main riff to his popular version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition."</p> <p>Although this video is often mislabeled as a "Stevie Ray Vaughan Guitar Lesson" on YouTube (I mean, he's not saying, "OK, gang, put your index finger on the second fret"), it <em>is</em> among the best available footage of Vaughan's hands (well, fingers, to be more precise) in action.</p> <p>If you don't want to sit through the interview, head to <strong>1:02</strong> for "Hideaway," <strong>2:26</strong> for "Rude Mood" and <strong>6:16</strong> for "Superstition."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="">Damian Fanelli</a> is the online managing editor at </em>Guitar World<em> and </em><a href="">Guitar Aficionado</a><em>. His New York-based band, <a href="">the Blue Meanies,</a> has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band <a href="">the Gas House Gorillas</a> and New York City instrumental surf-rock band <a href="">Mister Neutron,</a> also <a href="">composes</a> and <a href="">records film soundtracks.</a> He writes's <a href="">The Next Bend</a> column, which is dedicated to <a href="">B-bender guitars and guitarists.</a> His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy's </em><a href="">Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection.</a><em> Follow him on <a href="">Facebook,</a> <a href="">Twitter</a> and/or <a href="">Instagram.</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="/stevie-ray-vaughan">Stevie Ray Vaughan</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Damian Fanelli SRVDF Stevie Ray Vaughan Videos Interviews News Tue, 07 Jul 2015 14:25:04 +0000 Damian Fanelli 24357 at