Interviews http://www.guitarworld.com/taxonomy/term/147/0 en Jeff Beck and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Discuss the Rocking Relationship Between Guitars, Cars and Everything in Between http://www.guitarworld.com/jeff-beck-and-zz-top-s-billy-gibbons-discuss-rocking-relationship-between-guitars-cars-and-everything-between <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus new Gibbons/Beck photos by Ross Halfin, not to mention features on Weezer, George Thorogood, MXR &amp; Eddie Van Halen, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/products/guitar-world-november-14-billy-gibbons-and-jeff-beck/?&amp;utm_source=email&amp;utm_medium=daily_enews&amp;utm_campaign=GWNOV14">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p><strong>The Surreal Thing: As they prepare to hit the road together for a summer tour, Jeff Beck and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons wax philosophical on the rock and roll relationship between guitars, cars and everything in between.</strong></p> <p>It’s a hot, sunny California day as Jeff Beck and ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons stroll through the lush courtyard of Hollywood’s swanky Sunset Marquis Hotel. </p> <p>Ripe for caricature, they are perhaps two of the most distinctive-looking performers in rock history. Beck, with his much-imitated rooster shag haircut, and Gibbons, dressed in full hipster Wild West drag, look almost disconcertingly the same as they have for the past three or four decades. </p> <p>If we hadn’t invited them ourselves on the eve of their first tour together, it would be easy to mistake them for a mirage from one of those surreal ZZ Top videos that dominated MTV in the Eighties. </p> <p><em>Surreal</em> is actually a word that pops up quite often in conversations with both musicians over the next few days. It’s certainly a fitting adjective to describe aspects of their music. </p> <p>Since Beck’s stunning 1965 debut with the Yardbirds, he has thrilled and confounded guitarists with his exciting and often avant-garde approach to the instrument. His playful and imaginative take on Willie Dixon’s “Ain’t Superstitious” from <em>Truth</em>, his 1968 album with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on bass, certainly rivaled anything Jimi Hendrix was creating at the time. </p> <p>And his consistently innovative work on tracks like “Going Down” (1972), “Blue Wind” (1976),” “Where Were You” (1989) and “Hammerhead” (2010), which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, continues to push the limits of what can be done on a Fender Stratocaster without getting arrested.</p> <p>And anyone with even a passing knowledge of ZZ Top knows how strange they can be. Comprised of Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, the Little Ol’ Band from Texas has defied any civilized notion of what traditional rock musicians should look and sound like. Yet, their wonderfully skewed take on the blues has helped them sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million albums, and they continue to play the world’s biggest concert halls.</p> <p> Gibbons, in his inimitable deep Texas drawl, concurs that surreal is indeed the word of the day. “One of the highest compliments that ever came my way was sent from [guitarist] Jimmie Vaughan,” he says, chuckling. “He said, ‘Oh yeah, Gibbons is out there.’ But if there’s actually an ‘out there,’ guess what? We’ll go out there and find Jeff Beck!”</p> <p><strong><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-november-14-billy-gibbons-and-jeff-beck/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=GibbonsBeckExcerpt">Enjoy this excerpt from our interview with Gibbons and Beck. For the entire story, pick up the November 2014 issue of Guitar World.</a></strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6qr1Lc9Gm7k" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Billy, what does Jeff Beck mean to you? What is his importance as an artist?</strong></p> <p><strong>BILLY GIBBONS</strong> Before Jeff and ZZ Top embarked on this tour, I received a phone call from the production office asking about design preferences for our backstage passes. The reply was simple: “Well, there’s a juicy guitar image fitting to go on the ZZ side of the pass, and there awaits a superb geetar view for Jeff’s side as well.”</p> <p>On one side, we chose a view of the infamous, Pearly Gates, my fine ’59 Les Paul ’Burst, and on the other side, we landed an image of Jeff’s magnificently battle-scarred 1954 Fender Esquire used with the Yardbirds. When you’re using the word importance, one can easily find it in the guitars that Jeff Beck and I pounded the sides off long ago. Jeff’s guitar certainly stands as a pivotal piece, marking the point where bravery stepped in with a willingness to experiment, moving the six-string expression far outside any previously proven lines. The visual impact of that beat-up war club is still meaningful and forceful to the extreme. </p> <p><strong>Jeff, what do you find cool about Billy and ZZ Top? </strong></p> <p><strong>JEFF BECK</strong> Just think about how people went for Billy’s sound and the band’s image. ZZ Top went completely against the grain of all one would expect iconic rock to be. That’s what I love about them—they are this wonderful quirky backfire. Billy’s tone is great, and so are his songs. You wouldn’t really expect these bearded guys to write all these great tunes about cars and girls. </p> <p><strong>Both you and Jeff introduced a surrealistic element into the blues. In Jeff’s case, his versions of “I Ain’t Superstitious” and “Going Down” wink at traditionalism. ZZ Top often references the blues, but they also have a little irreverent fun with the genre. How important is it for you to let your audience know that you are self-aware? You know: “I’m not from the Delta, but I still love this music and there’s a way to modernize it.”</strong></p> <p><strong>BECK</strong> When you are taken with any music with inner gusto, you don’t think too much about it—you just have to have it! </p> <p>For example, I was playing in a blues band before I joined the Yardbirds, and I was really into Bo Diddley, who made the best use imaginable out of playing one chord. His outrageous jungle rhythms were so powerful and hypnotic, he didn’t have to change keys. We basically took his idea of the one-chord vamp, and while the band played, I would just slack all my strings and then really pull on them to make the most ridiculous and surreal sounds with slap echo so that people would just look up.<br /> It wasn’t premeditated. </p> <p>I just wanted the audience to look at me and listen! I did all kinds of outrageous things like that at the time, like taking two guitars and have them feedback against each other, and it was that kind of attitude that eventually got me the job with the Yardbirds. They didn’t want someone to play a beautiful slide guitar solo, or someone that sounded like Earl Hooker. </p> <p>They wanted someone that would hold an audience. I had something no one else had, and however crude or outrageous it was at the time, it worked. It wasn’t all that calculated. It was just my way of saying, Here I am. Ultimately, I had to tone some of it down when I joined the Yardbirds, because we were going on television playing pop singles. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/i9OJB_AEePQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Billy, how important is it for you to add a little touch of the “untraditional” to your traditional blues?</strong></p> <p><strong>GIBBONS</strong> This position was being prodded in a discussion in Memphis, Tennessee, with a dear friend, Waltaire Baldwin. We came up together in Houston and kept our friendship for a long time. Waltaire is a poet. Gave me a John Lee Hooker disc when we were 12 and then showed me how to draw blues harmonica. </p> <p>Waltaire and I were in deep contemplation at 89 Union Street Saloon, sitting atop a table right near the corner window, overlooking the Mississippi. We both agreed that although we never picked cotton, didn’t grow up on plantation, it did not necessarily prevent creating an honest attempt making the truth of the blues a backbone of interpretation. The one ZZ tune that really captures this thought is, “My Head’s in Mississippi.” </p> <p>Although it ain’t the Thirties, all that hard-rhythm shuffle boogie coupled with a surrealistic Howlin’ Wolf’s delivery creates a subdued assembly of visual pictures. The great Memphis guitarist and producer Jim Dickinson once remarked, “Oh yeah, you guys are doing what I like. You’ve become a Salvador Dali—the Dali of the Delta.” Once you get that far along, the point’s made!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/pN69GC2amTg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What is the cosmic connection between the appreciation of an automobile and a guitar?</strong></p> <p><strong>GIBBONS</strong> It’s a big question, but a good one! What’s really the wicked connection is that they can be loud and fast; yet, they can also be quite elegant. While I was in Spain visiting Nacho Baños, the noted authority on early Fifties blackguard Fenders, we spent more than a day and a night—make it days and nights—talking about automotive elegance and the connection with the unchanged beauty of that original Fender. Call it the Telecaster, the Esquire, the Broadcaster or call it the No-caster—it’s become one of those timeless things.</p> <p><strong>BECK</strong> Guitars and cars offer experiences that are both quite amazing. The other day I was thinking, Why are there so many people in cars? It’s because it’s such a pleasure to have that experience, regardless of where you are going. It’s almost habit forming. You want to control your movement, but at the same time your brain is going at an unnatural speed and you’re putting yourself in danger. </p> <p>There’s that element of excitement every time you turn the ignition. It’s not that you’re just driving from point A to B—you’re enjoying every second of being in control of your life…or avoiding death! Listening to great rock and roll music also gives you this exhilarating sense of awareness similar to what you have when you are driving. </p> <p>There are other more obvious connections. Hot rods are cool looking and rock and roll is cool looking, and they both came of age at the same time in the Fifties. If America never created anything else, thank you very much for the hot rods and rock and roll!</p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus new Gibbons/Beck photos by Ross Halfin, not to mention features on Weezer, George Thorogood, MXR &amp; Eddie Van Halen, the guitar pick revolution, Nita Strauss and Black Veil Brides, plus gear reviews (Epiphone, Zoom, Gretsch, TC-Helicon, Mesa and more) and lessons by Marty Friedman and Steel Panther's Satchel, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-november-14-billy-gibbons-and-jeff-beck/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=GibbonsBeckExcerpt">check out the November 2014 issue of Guitar World!</a></em></p> <p><em>Photo: Ross Halfin</em></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/1114_Gib%26Beck.jpg" width="620" height="805" alt="1114_Gib&amp;Beck.jpg" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/zz-top">ZZ Top</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/billy-gibbons">Billy Gibbons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jeff-beck">Jeff Beck</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/jeff-beck-and-zz-top-s-billy-gibbons-discuss-rocking-relationship-between-guitars-cars-and-everything-between#comments Billy Gibbons Brad Tolinski Jeff Beck November 2014 ZZ Top Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:34:29 +0000 Brad Tolinski http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22338 Nita Strauss, Alice Cooper's New Touring Guitarist, Gets Into the Act http://www.guitarworld.com/nita-strauss-alice-coopers-new-touring-guitarist-gets-act <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-november-14-billy-gibbons-and-jeff-beck/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=NitaInterview">This interview is from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World:</a></strong></p> <p>As the newest guitarist in Alice Cooper’s touring band, Nita Strauss has some large shoes to fill. </p> <p>The 27-year-old Los Angeles native, who assumed the post this past spring following the departure of virtuoso Orianthi, is the most recent in a line of esteemed six-stringers that have played alongside the rock legend. </p> <p> “Alice has had this ridiculous lineup of guitar players,” Strauss says. “Guys like Al Pitrelli, Reb Beach, Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner. To get to be one of the names on that list of players, I still can’t believe it.”</p> <p> Strauss, however, can more than hold her own in this lineage. A self-taught player, she picked up the guitar at 13 after watching the “head-cutting” finale scene in the 1986 movie <em>Crossroads</em>, in which Ralph Macchio’s character battles Steve Vai in an epic guitar duel.</p> <p> “As soon as I saw that, it was like a switch went off in my head,” Strauss says. “After that, it was Vai, Vai, Vai, all the time.”</p> <p> Today, her approach, which mixes arena-rock flash with technique-heavy fretboard acrobatics and searing speed, has made her an in-demand player within guitar circles. </p> <p> And her résumé is incredibly diverse: Strauss has, among other endeavors, logged time with Los Angeles deathcore act As Blood Runs Black, performed with Jermaine Jackson on a run of stadium shows in South Africa, tackled video-game music with the band Critical Hit, played with rejuvenated Eighties hair metalers Femme Fatale and acted as the in-house guitarist for the Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons–owned LA Kiss arena football team.</p> <p> Prior to landing the Cooper gig, Strauss was best known for her work in the Iron Maidens, an all-female tribute act to the British metal masters. Strauss, who handled the rhythm and lead parts originally played by Maiden guitarist Dave Murray (her stage name in the group: Mega Murray), says her three years with the Maidens “has been so much fun. They’re pros, and they give the music the respect it deserves.”</p> <p> The Iron Maidens, in a roundabout way, also helped prepare her for a summer with shock-master Cooper. Says Strauss, “Before the first show with Alice, the guys in his band were giving me all these warnings, like, ‘Be careful, because this is the part where the Frankenstein monster comes out…’ But I just said, ‘Yeah, I know how that is. With the Maidens we have an ‘Eddie’ onstage!’ ” She laughs. “Granted, the Eddie is person-size and the Frankenstein is 20-feet tall. But, you know, other than that it wasn’t such a huge adjustment.”</p> <p><em>Photo: Chris Casella</em></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gukcbAzkXcY" 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="/alice-cooper">Alice Cooper</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/nita-strauss-alice-coopers-new-touring-guitarist-gets-act#comments Alice Cooper Nita Strauss November 2014 Interviews News Features Magazine Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:26:33 +0000 Richard Bienstock http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22340 Dear Guitar Hero: Paul Gilbert Discusses String Skipping, His Picking Attack, John Petrucci and More http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-paul-gilbert-discusses-string-skipping-his-picking-attack-john-petrucci-and-more <!--paging_filter--><p><em>FROM THE GW ARCHIVE: Paul Gilbert answered readers' questions in 2010.</em></p> <p><strong>I’m a big fan of your guitar tone. What do you consider to be the key element to your sound? — Thomas Hartley</strong></p> <p>I first began having success picking on a guitar that wasn’t plugged in. I was picking really hard so I could hear it acoustically, and when I plugged into an amp, I was surprised that it didn’t sound very good. I discovered that the way I attack the string really affects the tone. Modifying your picking attack—for clean tone, distortion and playing on an acoustic—makes a huge difference in the sound.</p> <p><strong>With solos and shredding becoming popular again, do you think the younger players are falling into the trap of flash over substance? — Lorne</strong></p> <p>Well, I’d probably have to listen to more young players. [<em>laughs</em>] Actually, I’ve done a lot of teaching lately, and I’m really impressed with the kids that are coming in. In general, their technique is genuinely good. I’m pleasantly surprised by that.</p> <p><strong>Have you ever thought about doing a traditional blues album? — Pauly</strong></p> <p>I did a bluesy album [<em>Raw Blues Power</em>, 2002] with my uncle, Jimi Kidd, who was a huge influence on me when I was younger. But traditional blues? I don’t know. I like some of the really dirty traditional blues, like John Lee Hooker. But for that stuff, those guys are out of tune and the bars go too long, and you hear the bass player change a second later than the other guys. That stuff really gives it its down-and-dirty feeling. I think I’d have to start drinking a lot more to really do it right. [<em>laughs</em>] I don’t know if it’s possible. When you say “traditional” I take it seriously enough to know probably not to go there! [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>How did you develop your string-skipping and legato playing over the years? — Anthony Padilla</strong></p> <p>The legato playing that I do is very intuitive, and I learned it through a lot of good accidents. I used to sit around and play to Eddie Van Halen, doing it wrong and coming up with my own patterns. The string-skipping stuff involved taking those same patterns and translating them into string-skipping licks. It was quite easy, thanks to the way I pick, which is mostly outside pickin. It was such a great discovery: suddenly I had a new bag of licks, and with very little effort.</p> <p><strong>Is it true that you used to pick using only upstrokes? Did reggae players influence your approach? — Jeff Dunne</strong></p> <p>The upstrokes came from lack of knowledge rather than from reggae. I started playing by ear at age nine. I had no idea how to play, and for some reason upstrokes felt good. I was talking to Scott Henderson, the amazing fusion guitar player, and he said an interesting thing about the architecture of the guitar: that it is essentially six separate instruments. Because each string is tuned differently, they all have a different feel, they’re in different places, and you have to learn the notes on each one. </p> <p>That may be simplified, but some of the art of learning guitar is to learn each of those six instruments, and that’s how I started, unwittingly. I spent two years learning the low E string before I finally took a lesson and a teacher taught me how to tune the other five. It was a grueling way to learn. [laughs] Chords sound so much better! But that’s how I learned: a lot of upstrokes on that E string, and learning every Led Zeppelin riff I could that way.</p> <p><strong>You are often lumped in with shredders like John Petrucci. Considering your opinion of your own style, would you prefer to be put in a group with him or someone like Jimmy Page or Randy Rhoads? — Enrique Angeles</strong></p> <p>I think as a fan and as a listener: Jimmy Page and Randy Rhoads are where I was coming from. John is certainly a great guitar player, and some of the Dream Theater stuff is killer. And where we’ve ended up is similar: our styles have crossed paths, as far the kind of picking we do and our modern shred tone. I’ve done some tribute gigs with Mike Portnoy, and he said John’s influences are really different than mine. </p> <p>Apparently, John was really into progressive rock, like Rush. I love Rush, but at the same time, I have a feeling I went a lot deeper into the pop music of the Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Cheap Trick. It would be a huge honor to be in either category. But I’ve gotta say, if I look to my right, I’ve got a big poster of Jimmy Page hanging on my wall.</p> <p><strong>Do you think you’ll ever get back with your old Racer X buddies for another album or tour? — Ryan</strong></p> <p>On this tour that’s coming up, I’m actually bringing Bruce Bouillet, the other guitarist for Racer X. It’s really exciting, because he’s been producing underground for awhile. We’re certainly doing some Racer X songs on my tour. But yeah, if we’re all feeling some heavy metal, it’d be great doing another Racer X record.</p> <p><a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BradAngle?re=author">Brad Angle Google +</a></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="/paul-gilbert">Paul Gilbert</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-paul-gilbert-discusses-string-skipping-his-picking-attack-john-petrucci-and-more#comments Dear Guitar Hero GW Archive Paul Gilbert Racer X Interviews News Features Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:38:26 +0000 Brad Angle http://www.guitarworld.com/article/362 Guitarist Jack Pearson: From Jazz to Jam, a Humble Genius http://www.guitarworld.com/guitarist-jack-pearson-jazz-jam-humble-genius <!--paging_filter--><p>Go ahead. Ask guitarist Jack Pearson about his tours of duty with the Allman Brothers Band and Gregg Allman’s solo band. </p> <p>Ask him about jamming with jazz greats like Jimmy Raney, Mundell Lowe and Jimmy Smith. </p> <p>Or about sharing the stage and/or studio with the likes of everyone from bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs and the late Vassar Clements to modern-day bluesman Keb Mo’ and the hard-rockin’ Gov’t Mule—not to mention leading his own ensembles as well as his body of solo studio work.</p> <p>Ask Pearson about all that, and you know what he will most likely do? He’ll probably shrug his shoulders, smile, and say in his soft Southern drawl, “Yeah, well … some folks would say, ‘That Pearson boy just can’t keep a job!’”</p> <p>The fact of the matter is, 54-year-old Pearson has made—and continues to make—some incredible music. His fluency in an array of styles, combined with his easy-going attitude, make him a picker’s picker, the kind of musician other musicians admire and dig playing with.</p> <p>One recent recorded example of Pearson’s talents is his performance on the <em>All My Friends: A Tribute to Gregg Allman</em> CD/DVD set released earlier this year. As part of the house band for the evening, Pearson backed an all-star cast of performers (as well as Allman himself) on a selection of songs from Allman's career, both as a solo artist and with the Allman Brothers Band. </p> <p>Teamed up with Audley Freed (another guitarist who doesn't get anywhere close to the credit he deserves), Pearson paid homage to Duane Allman and Dickey Betts at various points in the evening, channeling and quoting some of their iconic licks while retaining his own particular voice.</p> <p>If one had to pick a single example of what Pearson is all about from that evening, “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” would do the trick (Watch the video below). While current-generation country star Eric Church guests on vocals, working himself up into a televangelist-style lather, Pearson simply stands in place and blows the roof off Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. He puts a unique spin on the mid-song break (Betts was on slide for the original, post-Duane), then takes off on a flight path of his own on the outro.</p> <p>The solo is powerful, yet tasteful; Pearson takes his time building the beast, making his final statement with the slide from somewhere around the bridge pickup on the treble string. As amazing as it is to listen to, you absolutely gotta watch the video: Pearson looks like he’s waiting for the bus while everyone else in the Fox Theatre is picking their jaw up off the floor.</p> <p>And the topper on the cake? He was playing an off-the-rack Squier Bullet. That pretty much sums up Pearson in a nutshell.</p> <p>I recently had a chance to talk to Pearson about some of his practice habits, his musical influences and his new online venture, the <a href="https://www.jackpearsonguitar.com/">Jack Pearson Guitar Academy.</a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/LmP42c8rsNw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: Jack, when you’re home, are you most like to pick up an acoustic guitar or an electric and an amp?</strong></p> <p>Well … [laughs] when I’m home, I don't plug in and rock out; I usually sit at my table and play quietly unplugged—or with my acoustic. </p> <p>An electric guitar has to respond unplugged. Like that Squier Bullet I played during the Gregg tribute show? I never plugged it in at the store, but I knew it would be a great guitar. I just played it acoustically. It had the most response and vibrated great … had a lot of sustain. I’ve had a couple friends play it and they didn’t see any big deal about it—but the low notes are really tight and the high notes have a certain quality.</p> <p><strong>How about practice time during an average week?</strong></p> <p>Oh, it depends; I sure don't get to do it as much as I want to! [laughs] I try to play every day and try to practice every night. When I come home from a gig, I’ll usually sit and play for an hour or two.</p> <p><strong>After you’ve been playing at the gig?</strong></p> <p>Well, you know … you’ve been playing, but you don't always get to play what you want to. And I’m always trying to learn something new; studying different things. I’m still working on it … I’ve been working on it for over 40 years! [laughs]</p> <p><strong>Was there any one person or any one musical moment that inspired you to play as a boy?</strong></p> <p>I wanted to play before I could even reach around a guitar. My mama said she had to buy me a toy guitar at the store because I wanted one so bad.</p> <p>I do remember seeing my oldest brother play—he was 18 years older than me. He came over to visit—he was married by then and had a couple of kids of his own—and he’d bring his guitar with him. He was in the bedroom playing and I just knew right then I wanted to do that.</p> <p><strong>For me, I’ve got one brother, 14 years older than me. When I was little, my chore was to sit on the bed alongside him and turn the pages of the Johnny Cash songbook at the right moment … or else.</strong></p> <p>Well, there you go. [laughter] My brother showed me what he knew; he was always pulling out a record and saying, “Here, boy—learn how to play this.” He gave me a chart of the fingerboard and he made me memorize the notes, which is something he never did. I remember him telling me, “I didn't learn this, but you need to.” </p> <p>I’d been playing guitar about a year when my brother brought me a slide, my first slide. He told me, “I don't know how to do this, but you need to know how.” His name was Stanley. He died in 2008.</p> <p><strong>I’m sorry, Jack. What a gift he gave you.</strong></p> <p>He sure did. I remember him writing out a chart for me to learn the fingerboard; did that for every key. That’s something I stress that to the younger musicians: “You need to know where the notes are on the neck.” That goes right back to that first lesson with my brother. </p> <p><strong>And what younger folks need to realize is, that was back in a time when you couldn't stop and restart a song you were trying to learn by clicking a mouse …</strong></p> <p>No, no, no! [laughter]</p> <p><strong>You were sitting there with a record player, picking the needle up and dropping it back down.</strong></p> <p>I went through a lot of copies of records—several versions of my favorites. I'd try to be as careful as I could and not scratch them … it was devastating if I scratched a record back then. Things weren’t as disposable as they are now, you know? I used to watch the TV and if there was a guitar player doing something, I'd run to my room and get my guitar and try to learn it. </p> <p><strong>And there wasn’t even a lot of that to watch.</strong></p> <p>People are spoiled now. I mean, I am. [laughter] </p> <p>I go on YouTube and I get to watch Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt and everybody like that. I never saw Django until a couple of years ago, you know? I’ve got stacks of LPs and CDs of him … he’s still one of my favorites ever. But getting to see him play; see his hands and how he held the guitar? I don't know … it means a lot to me. </p> <p><strong>Which leads us to your Jack Pearson Guitar Academy, where folks can go to watch, learn and digest at their own pace.</strong></p> <p>We worked on the design for two years. One thing that took a long time was setting up the search engine so that people could type in what they were looking for—say, something about their right hand or left; a dominant 7th or I-VI-II-V chord changes. If you do a search, it’ll bring up videos that have that in it.</p> <p><strong>Super. That’s a very handy feature. I know some of the clips I’ve watched have been a mix of all sorts of things.</strong></p> <p>For instance, some of the videos are just me practicing because people have asked me how I practice. I don't know if anybody else does that, but I wanted everybody to see it. Private lessons are expensive … and guitar players usually don't have any money. [laughter] One of my goals for the website was to have it be so that people could afford to learn, you know?</p> <p><strong>And folks subscribe to your Guitar Academy lessons, correct?</strong></p> <p>Uh-huh. And once you subscribe, you have access to everything in here … and there’s a ton of stuff. We're adding things every week. It's loaded. At this point, I’m adding stuff that’s variations on things I put up earlier. It’s really just me explaining the way I play.</p> <p><strong>One of the things I enjoyed was the easy-going vibe of the videos. It’s like the viewer’s just sitting there in the living room with you, hanging out. There are technical things to learn, but you have a nice way of doling it out.</strong></p> <p>Every video’s different. Sometimes I’ll play for two or three minutes and then I’ll talk about what I just played. But what you said is what I wanted to do: have it feel like we're just sitting around. </p> <p><strong>It's great that you’re putting this out there, Jack.</strong></p> <p>Well … you’ve got to pass some of it along. Like my brother did for me all those years ago.</p> <p><em>A former offshore lobsterman, Brian Robbins had to wait a good four decades or so to write about the stuff he wanted to when he was 15. Today he’s a freelance scribe, cartoonist, photographer and musician. His home on the worldwide inner tube is at <a href="http://brian-robbins.com/">brian-robbins.com</a> (And there’s that <a href="https://www.facebook.com/BrianRobbinsWords">Facebook</a> thing too.)</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/guitarist-jack-pearson-jazz-jam-humble-genius#comments Brian Robbins Jack Pearson Interviews News Features Sun, 07 Sep 2014 22:32:14 +0000 Brian Robbins http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22304 Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Discusses His New Gig with Whitesnake http://www.guitarworld.com/guitarist-joel-hoekstra-discusses-his-new-gig-whitesnake <!--paging_filter--><p>Whether he's performing as part of the Broadway musical <em>Rock of Ages</em>, touring with Trans-Siberian Orchestra every fall or jetting around the country for sessions and shows, Joel Hoekstra is one of the hardest-working guitarists you're ever likely to meet. </p> <p>And now he’s taken on another challenge.</p> <p>It was recently announced that Hoekstra would be leaving his gig with Night Ranger to become the new guitarist in Whitesnake, replacing departing guitarist Doug Aldrich.</p> <p>Hoekstra’s seven-year tenure with Night Ranger included three critically acclaimed albums and tours, not to mention being part of a killer one-two punch with guitar great Brad Gillis. </p> <p>With Whitesnake, Hoesktra finds himself in a band whose ranks over the years also were filled by guitar royalty: John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Steve Vai, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Hoekstra will join a Whitesnake lineup that includes David Coverdale (vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums). </p> <p>I recently caught up with Hoekstra and asked him about the new Whitesnake gig and also got a sneak peak into the band’s next album. I also asked him what he’ll miss most about his time with Night Ranger.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How did you first hear about the Whitesnake opportunity?</strong></p> <p>Oddly enough, Doug [Aldrich] and I are friends and were texting the night before the news came online. He didn’t mention anything about it to me at the time. All he said was there was some news coming. The next day, I woke up to hear Doug would be leaving Whitesnake.</p> <p><strong>How did you wind up getting the gig with the band?</strong></p> <p>I think it was a combination of me putting out some feelers and some people recommending me for it that led to me going out to meet with David at the end of May to hang/audition. That went well, so the next step was to go back in August to play on material for the upcoming Whitesnake album and to make sure it was going to be a good fit for both sides. At that point, I started to realize this was really happening. </p> <p><strong>What appealed to you about becoming a member of Whitesnake?</strong></p> <p>There were a lot of factors that went into the decision. Obviously, David [Coverdale] is rock royalty, so any chance you get to work with him, you take seriously. Not to mention that the material in Whitesnake is also a guitarist’s dream! Then there’s the fact that Whitesnake have a worldwide following and we’ll be touring it in 2015. That also made it very appealing. But it wasn’t like I was looking to leave Night Ranger. I love those guys and I love that band. This opportunity just seemed to be a move that made sense.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/0ocFEd2JFPw?list=UUwBqeo4ao83b119wjAF28aQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What do you think you’ll miss the most about Night Ranger?</strong></p> <p> The camaraderie. We spent seven years together and the relationship has just gotten stronger over the course of those years. I’m very proud of everything I’ve achieved with Night Ranger. The albums we recorded, including <em>Somewhere in California, 24 Strings &amp; A Drummer</em> and <em>High Road</em>, were all well received and were a blast to make. Playing in a guitar team with Brad Gillis was also a dream come true. I had such a great time playing with those guys, and we’ll all continue to be good friends. </p> <p><strong>Whitesnake have a history of guitar greats in its ranks. As a guitarist, how does it feel for you to be in such good company?</strong></p> <p>It’s great. But it really always comes down to how much work you’re willing to put in. Most people that know me know I work extremely hard to get the job done. It’s going to be a great challenge, but I’m totally looking forward to it and I’m very excited to work with Reb Beach.</p> <p><strong>How will joining Whitesnake affect your current gigs with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and <em>Rock of Ages</em>?</strong></p> <p>Everything remains the same. I’ll still be participating in the TSO tours in November and December and whenever I’m not on tour with Whitesnake or TSO, I’ll be here in New York playing <em>Rock of Ages</em> on Broadway eight shows a week.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YUc4pbH0Vv0?list=UUwBqeo4ao83b119wjAF28aQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Can you give me a little insight into the new Whitesnake album?</strong></p> <p>I think everyone’s going to be very excited when they hear it. It’s kick-ass, straightforward rock and roll. Reb and I have some really great guitar stuff down on this record and we’re psyched for everyone to hear it. Tommy Aldridge also sounds great on this album as well! We’re all really looking forward to getting it out there and showing everyone what we can do.</p> <p><strong>Are there any other projects you’re working on?</strong></p> <p>I have a side project I’m finishing up that has Vinny Appice on drums, Tony Franklin on bass and Russell Allen (Adrenaline Mob, Symphony-X) singing. We have seven songs we’ve tracked that are ready to go. Our hope is to release it by the end of the year or get a deal to make it a full-length album.</p> <p><strong>What else are you looking forward to about the next chapter of your career?</strong></p> <p>I’m looking forward to watching the philosophy of hard work turn into good results. I’m also excited about meeting new people and putting myself forward in a positive way. To date, Reb and I have had such a good time working out some cool guitar parts for this record. We're going to make a great team, and I’m ready to get down to business.</p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href="http://gojimmygo.net/">GoJimmyGo.net</a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/JimEWood">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/guitarist-joel-hoekstra-discusses-his-new-gig-whitesnake#comments James Wood Joel Hoekstra Whitesnake Interviews News Features Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:42:54 +0000 James Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22280 Eric Clapton Discusses His Star-Studded J.J. Cale Tribute Album, 'The Breeze' — Exclusive Interview http://www.guitarworld.com/eric-clapton-discusses-his-star-studded-jj-cale-tribute-album-breeze-exclusive-interview <!--paging_filter--><p>Robert Johnson and J.J. Cale represent the yin and yang of Eric Clapton’s musical influences. </p> <p>On one side is Johnson, the famously troubled Thirties-era Mississippi bluesman who moaned about hellhounds on his trail, spooks around his bed and those lowdown, shakin’ chills. On the other side is Cale, the famously laidback singer-songwriter from Tulsa who penned laconic odes to singin’ whippoorwills, “chugalugging” and shakin’ tambourines. </p> <p>Clapton has covered the music of both men on several occasions throughout his career, taking Johnson’s “Crossroads” to the heights of blues-rock jam-outs with Cream in 1968 and earning massive commercial success as a solo artist with his versions of Cale’s insanely catchy “After Midnight” in 1970 and breezy “Cocaine” in 1977.</p> <p>Yet, when looking back at Clapton’s work as a whole, one can’t help but notice that the Cale-influenced side of the equation takes up a much larger chunk of the pie, which was probably the result of the fact that Clapton actually got to meet and hang with Cale. Their bond lasted from the Seventies until Cale’s death in 2013 at age 74. </p> <p>Clapton even had Cale’s phone number, something he’s still tickled about.</p> <p>“Nobody had his phone number. You had to be in the inner circle to have that,” Clapton says with a laugh. “I’d call him, and sometimes I’d get his voice mail. Other times, I’d get him on the line and we’d talk for hours. I felt I had some kind of inside track, and that was a wonderful thing.”</p> <p>That inside track led to <em>The Road to Escondido</em>, the duo’s Grammy-winning 2006 album, appearances on each other’s most recent solo albums (Cale’s <em>Roll On</em> from 2009 and Clapton’s <em>Old Sock</em> from 2013) and a joint performance at the first Crossroads Guitar Festival, in 2004.</p> <p>Over the years, Clapton assimilated and mastered Cale’s approach to songwriting (“Lay Down Sally,” “I Can’t Stand It”). His mid-Seventies and early Eighties albums, from <em>461 Ocean Boulevard</em> (1974) to <em>Money and Cigarettes</em> (1983), come off as loose acknowledgements of Cale’s influence. </p> <p>On July 29, however, Clapton released a bona-fide tribute to his friend and former collaborator: <em>Eric Clapton &amp; Friends: The Breeze, An Appreciation of J.J. Cale</em>. The album features 16 Cale songs—from “Call Me the Breeze,” “Starbound” and “Lies” to “Magnolia” “Songbird” and “Crying Eyes”—performed by Clapton and a host of guests, including Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and Don White. Other friends include Albert Lee, Derek Trucks, David Lindley, Doyle Bramhall II and Don Preston, all of whom split up the six-string duties.</p> <p>In the interview below, Clapton discusses Cale and the new album—which happens to be his only tribute album besides <em>Me and Mr. Johnson</em>, his 2004 homage to Robert Johnson. </p> <p><strong>It’s 1969. You’ve left behind Cream’s heavy blues-rock, extended guitar solos, freeform improvisation, high intensity and volume. Then you discover J.J. Cale’s music, courtesy of Delaney Bramlett of Delaney &amp; Bonnie. Before you know it, you immerse yourself in Cale’s “relaxed” Tulsa style, and the Clapton of Cream becomes a thing of the past. Did you see Cale’s music as the embodiment of something you had been seeking? Or were you not even looking for something new?</strong></p> <p>I think I was looking for someone to identify with. A lot of my musical growth and education came from players who weren’t around anymore. <em>The Best of Muddy Waters</em> [1958] was one of my primary sources of education, as well as a lot of the country blues guys who had been gone a long time. But even the Muddy album, which was an electric album—that band, by the time I got to hear that album, was long gone.</p> <p>What I’m trying to say is, if I was looking for something current, there it was. He had the root and the understanding—the knowledge about all the music I loved—in the same way Delaney and Leon Russell did. These guys understood the history of this thing I was attracted to, so it was logical to me that I should keep an eye on them and follow what they were doing. </p> <p><strong>Sometimes you immerse yourself in your influences to the point that you ignore your own ego and delve into the artist’s style, even including the way he sings and plays. When that’s the case, do you consider it a learning experience or some type of comfort zone?</strong></p> <p>A bit of both, I think. With J.J., for instance, and trying to learn to play some of the Robert Johnson songs…when you put those two things side by side, my intention is always to try and leave my ego at the door and go in and learn everything I can about how they did it. That’s the starting point. That will be the aspiration. And what happens inevitably is that my ego gets back in and I adapt what I’m learning to suit what I want to do. So my will is always present. </p> <p>Robert Johnson was the hardest thing to tackle because, in order to play any of the songs he put on tape exactly as he did it, that’s a life’s work in itself. Any one of his songs, they’re so strategically different in terms of technique and how to sing and play those things at the same time. It’s like master-class stuff. My approach is to get as far as I can and allow my will to come in and take over and make it so that I can play it now and not in five years’ time, because I’m too impatient to have to follow that through to its logical conclusion. And with J.J., it’s the same thing. So what I end up with, even if I’m trying to imitate and emulate, is a version, because my will has twisted me to make it easier for me.</p> <p><strong>What was it about Cale’s music or approach that appealed to you the most?</strong></p> <p>He had it all, and I mean everything. He was the epitome of a rock writer. He could do the whole thing. When I found out he produced and mixed and made all these records himself, well, that’s as good as it gets.</p> <p><Strong>He also employed what can be called a minimalist approach, something that’s long been associated with the blues. Did you see a connection between Cale and the blues in terms of doing a lot with a little?</strong></p> <p>Yes, but having said that, I think that might have been an illusion. The more I delve into how he did what he did, the more complex and sophisticated it becomes. The initial impression of J.J.’s music is that it’s simple, laidback and quite plaintive in a way. But in truth, if you put a microscope on it, it’s really quite ornate.</p> <p>Also, J.J. would play solos in the back of the track that were fuzzy and distorted. He was happy to do all of that stuff—wah-wahs, effects. He was Mr. Effect. He was in front of the curve with all that stuff. He and Roger Linn kind of invented the drum machine [Linn was the first to use digital audio samples in a drum machine, the LM-1 Drum Computer]. I think J.J. was the field guy, the development guy, for a lot of those people. I don’t think he gets enough credit for being at the front end of all that technological stuff.</p> <p><strong>How, when and where did <em>The Breeze, An Appreciation of J.J. Cale</em> come together?</strong></p> <p>Right after his funeral service, I flew from California back to Columbus, Ohio, where I have a house, and my wife’s family is there. At some point over the last couple of years, I started putting in a primitive little studio, and we started tracking there. I’d put rhythm tracks together and then I’d overlay guitars, and Walt Richmond came to play keyboards. </p> <p>Then, when we’d built enough with the artificial sounds, we went to L.A. I asked [drummer] Jim Keltner and [bassist] Nathan East to start putting down a proper rhythm section. Then we got some other players, including [drummers] Jamie Oldaker, David Teegarden, Jim Karstein and James Cruce. Then came [guitarists] Don White, Don Preston, David Lindley, Doyle Bramhall II, all to kind of build the sound.</p> <p><Strong>Jamie Oldaker was in your Seventies band. Does this mark the first time you’ve worked with him in, I’m guessing, three decades plus?</strong></p> <p>In a long, long time, yeah. He was one of the first people I met who truly understood what J.J. was trying to do. Being another Tulsa boy, he spoke the language.</p> <p><strong>What would you say is the commonality between you, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer and some of the other guests who appear on the album?</strong></p> <p>Well, I don’t know about their taste, but I can make an assumption that J.J. would be high on their list of favorite people. I didn’t want to get just famous people or people who are commercially attractive or who were skillful or whatever. They had to be people who had a certain affection for J.J. and vice versa, and that J.J. would’ve approved of doing the songs. There were some criteria there, but the most important thing was that J.J. had had an effect on them.</p> <p><strong>How did you choose which songs to cover on the album?</strong></p> <p>When I got the news of [J.J.’s] passing, I booked a flight to L.A. and they told me the date of the service. I flew from London to L.A., and during that flight everything happened. I listened to everything I had of his on my phone. I had most of his catalog in a playlist and thought this would be good opportunity to do some of his songs. </p> <p>In terms of individual choices, “Cajun Moon” was very daunting to me. I didn’t think anyone could do that one, but I thought I could give it a try. I made up a short list of about 30 songs. Then I went back to Columbus and we just started putting down tracks. Then I realized, having met Don White at the funeral, that I needed to open this up to other people. He was the first person I asked. Then I asked John Mayer. Then I asked Tom Petty. Then I asked Will [Nelson] and Mark [Knopfler]. And I left a little room for myself. </p> <p><strong>What amps and guitars did you use?</strong></p> <p>I used a Dumble Fender amp, which is a Fender Bandmaster that [custom amp builder] Alexander Dumble had done some work on. I also used a vintage Fender Vibrolux and a vintage Fender Champ. Then there was my Martin signature guitar, a Sixties Gibson ES-325 and a Signature Fender Strat. I also have a beautiful Gibson L-5 that J.J. gave me, which I used as a rhythm guitar. </p> <p><strong>Do you try to tweak your sound so that it’s slightly different from project to project?</strong></p> <p>I don’t think I would do that deliberately. I kind of do the opposite. My experience is, no matter what you do to try and remain consistent, it’ll always change. There’s something in the air. Further on down the road, there will be something different, and my intention would be to pick up where we left off. For that reason, I always try to work with people I trust and love, like my partner [and album co-producer] Simon Climie, and Aaron Douglas will be our engineer. We know one another, and we try to get some consistency from that point of view. But you can’t account for everything. Even the weather might have an effect on what you’re trying to do. [laughs] So I go the other way. I try to follow a thread.</p> <p><strong>Along the lines of learning, say, finger vibrato from B.B. King, what was the main thing you picked up from Cale as a guitarist, or even as a producer?</strong></p> <p>I think it’s a philosophy that becomes much more of an overall way of approaching how to play music, starting with a much lighter touch and a more open ear, being much more attentive to the peripheral sound of everything rather than just jumping onto a moving train, as it were, and playing away. J.J.’s thing was creating a really interesting picture, whatever kind of track he was working on. That was attractive to me, and I tried to learn about and embody that., even in stuff that doesn’t particularly sound like that kind of music. I could be working on something else, but I’ll still apply that philosophy. </p> <p><strong>How would you describe your relationship with Cale?</strong></p> <p>We came into one another’s lives too late to be close friends. We were good friends, but his close friends are the guys who grew up with him and knew him from the school yard. </p> <p><strong>When you recorded <em>The Road to Escondido</em> together, why did you want him to write the bulk of the songs?</strong></p> <p>I was too intimidated to come up with any. I couldn’t write. I was kind of nervous going into that project, so I stalled, I froze with the writing, and he sent me his songs that he thought would be okay. I went to Escondido [in southern California] to learn them. We sat in his house and routined everything as much as we could, so that we didn’t go into the studio too raw. And it was great. We watched TV, we hung, we ate together. I got to know him then as well as I ever would. </p> <p><strong>You recently said you’d like people to tap in to what Cale did. If readers are intrigued by the new album and want to check out Cale’s music, what gets your vote for the best Cale album to start with?</strong></p> <p>Whoa, that’s a tough one. It’d be tempting to say the early stuff, like <em>Naturally</em> [1971] or <em>Okie</em> [1974]. But then you can come right up to date and get <em>To Tulsa and Back</em> [2004] too. I don’t think it matters, because it seems, in his middle period, anyway, that the songs on his albums didn’t necessarily come from the same time period. </p> <p>I knew he had boxes of tapes, and when he wanted to put an album out he’d pick them at random, depending on what he wanted to get rid of. [laughs] But I’d say <em>Naturally</em>, and then whatever was close to the last. <em>Guitar Man</em> [1996] is great too.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eric-clapton">Eric Clapton</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/eric-clapton-discusses-his-star-studded-jj-cale-tribute-album-breeze-exclusive-interview#comments Damian Fanelli Eric Clapton exclusive Interview J.J. Cale September 2014 Interviews News Features Magazine Wed, 03 Sep 2014 17:58:03 +0000 Damian Fanelli http://www.guitarworld.com/article/21879 ‘World On Fire’: Slash Discusses New Solo Album, Gibson Les Pauls and Guns N’ Roses http://www.guitarworld.com/world-fire-slash-discusses-new-solo-album-gibson-les-pauls-and-guns-n-roses <!--paging_filter--><p>Over the course of his illustrious career—one that includes time in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver—Slash has amassed album sales of more than 100 million, garnered a Grammy (to go with his seven nominations) and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.</p> <p>Slash also has seen plenty of success with his solo albums. Both his <em>Slash</em> and <em>Apocalyptic Love</em> offerings landed in the top five of the <em>Billboard</em> albums chart. </p> <p><em>World On Fire</em>, which will be released September 16, is Slash’s second album with his official band, the Conspirators, which features Myles Kennedy (vocals), Brent Fitz (drums) and Todd Kerns (bass). </p> <p>From the infectious up-tempo aggressiveness of the album’s title track to the sexual politics of songs like “Battleground," “Dirty Girl” and the coming-of-age “Bent To Fly," the 17-song opus delves into a wide range of topics. <em>World On Fire</em> also features a rocking instrumental, “Safari Inn.” </p> <p>Produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Falling In Reverse, Incubus), <em>World On Fire</em> is a diverse record that covers a multitude of musical feels with a rawness and energy that’s reminiscent of Slash’s early work with Guns N’ Roses. </p> <p>Make no mistake about it: <em>World On Fire</em> is not a solo project. It was recorded by a band with all four members contributing their strengths as a whole.</p> <p>Slash is touring with Aerosmith on the “Let Rock Rule” tour. I recently spoke with him about <em>World On Fire,</em> touring, his love of Les Pauls and, of course, some of the most memorable moments from his career.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: One of the first Guns N’ Roses tours was with Aerosmith in 1988. What are some of the differences touring with them now as opposed to then?</strong></p> <p>That was the tour GNR really broke through on. Obviously I’m in a different band now, but the road trips and venues are pretty much the same. It was a blast then and it’s a blast now. I do know I’m not as fucked up as I was! [laughs]. We were at the height of our debauchery back then.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8P1wI6rwnFc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong><em>World On Fire</em> feels similar to <em>Appetite For Destruction</em> in terms of its rawness. Was that your intention?</strong></p> <p>There was never any real etched-out intention. It was really just to go in and do the songs. I think a lot of the rawness comes from Mike Baskette [producer] really knowing what the album should sound like and what we were trying to achieve as a rock band.</p> <p>The sonic landscape has completely changed in the recording world. Mike really cut his teeth working as an engineer in the studio trying to record rock and roll the way that it should be. I think it was a relief for him be able to work with a band that was actually going to play through the songs and then be able to use his own chops to achieve what the band sounds like. It was a really good pairing.</p> <p><strong>What are some of the differences recording live to tape as opposed to digital?</strong></p> <p>The main thing is the warmth of the drums and the amplifiers. Capturing that is the main reason for using tape. I know they’ve tried to make plugins that are supposed to sound like tape, but it’s not something they’ve been able to pull off. Two inches is way better sounding. </p> <p><strong>What’s your writing process like with Myles?</strong></p> <p>While we’re on the road, I’ll record acoustic/electric ideas into the voice memo recorder on my phone. It’s very laid back, with no pressure to make a hit song or even to try to make a record. It’s just me putting ideas down. I’ll do that through the course of the tour, and at the same time Myles will sing melody ideas into his phone. After the tour is over, we’ll collect the ideas and then I’ll go through all the different musical concepts we’ve created and pick out the ones that sound good. </p> <p>While Myles is out with Alter Bridge, I’ll go into a rehearsal room with Bret and Todd and start getting the grooves together and send the loose arrangements to Myles. Once Myles is off the road with Alter Bridge, he’ll come in with us and we’ll work out the arrangements and put it all together. </p> <p><strong>What’s your live setup like these days?</strong></p> <p>I’m using just a few new Marshall JCM800’s along with a couple of cabinets. I’ve learned a lot about Marshalls over the years and have modified the heads so that they have a bit more gain, but nothing that’s over the top. I want it to retain a lot of the punch. </p> <p><strong>Why a Les Paul?</strong></p> <p>Growing up, the guys whose sound I liked typically played Les Pauls, and I think that’s what first drew me to them. I remember the first guitar I ever owned was a Les Paul copy made by a company called Memphis. I had that guitar until it fell apart and then got a late-Seventies BC Rich Mockingbird that became my main guitar. After that, I went through this whole trial-and-error with Strats, Teles and Jacksons and eventually ended up back with a Les Paul. I actually had Steve Hunter’s Les Paul for a while. That was when the honey, flame-top became my thing.</p> <p><strong>You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that Aerosmith’s <em>Rocks</em> album played a huge role in your early years playing. Can you explain how influential that album was to you?</strong></p> <p>I remember first hearing <em>Rocks</em> at a party I was at, and it immediately caught my attention. Then shortly after I started picking up guitar, I was exposed to it again and started listening to it over and over. It had this manic, punk rock attitude and a rhythm and blues sleaziness to it. There was something about that particular album that really hit a nerve with me. It was everything—the vocals, the bass and drums, Brad [Whitford] and Joe [Perry]. Their sound really set me off in the direction I wanted to go.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1w7OgIMMRc4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Can you tell me the origin of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”?</strong></p> <p>After Guns N’ Roses got signed, we had a period where the record company didn’t want us performing live. They just wanted to get us in the studio. A lot of people were scared of the band at the time and didn’t want to work with us. So there was a lot of sitting around. </p> <p>A management company that was courting us thought they would impress us by putting us up in this really big house in LA—which of course, we totaled! [laughs]. One day Izzy, Duff and I were all sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace in the living room. I had been working on that riff for a while and Izzy and Duff started to play along to it. What we didn’t know at the time was that Axl was upstairs and had apparently overheard us and started writing lyrics.</p> <p>The next day, we went in to a pre-production session and Axl said, “Hey, play that thing you guys were playing yesterday.” So I started the riff and Izzy had the chord changes and started to play along with Duff and Steven and it all just suddenly materialized. It came together pretty quickly after that.</p> <p><strong>Duff McKagan has performed a few gigs with Axl’s current lineup of Guns N’ Roses, which leads me to ask: Do you ever foresee a time when you might write and record with Axl again?</strong></p> <p>People have been speculating about it for years, but I really have a hard time picturing it. There hasn’t been any communication along those lines between he and I. I have a hard time picturing it because I’m always focused on the next show. I’m one of those people who lives in the moment. I don’t look too far into the future and I don’t dwell too much on the past.</p> <p><strong>What would you say has been the highlight of your career thus far?</strong></p> <p>There have been a lot of moments dotted all along my career that I would consider memorable. The beginnings of Guns N’ Roses, the gig that that got us the record deal, the first tours with the Cult and Aerosmith, the first Snakepit tour and the beginnings of Velvet Revolver. Those are all moments filled with moments. </p> <p>Then there’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For as much as everybody tried to dismiss it at the time, when it finally happened and we actually got up there and did it, it turned out to be a very poignant, memorable and significant experience. </p> <p>And it just keeps going. We just had a show last night at an arena that was the biggest show we’ve done in the States as a headliner. I appreciate all of them and really take the time to ingest what’s happening while it’s happening. Especially now that I’m not flying drunk all the time! [laughs]. </p> <p><strong><em>For more information, visit <a href="http://slashonline.com/">slashonline.com</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href="http://gojimmygo.net/">GoJimmyGo.net</a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/JimEWood">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/slash">Slash</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/world-fire-slash-discusses-new-solo-album-gibson-les-pauls-and-guns-n-roses#comments James Wood Slash Interviews News Features Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:57:28 +0000 James Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22252 Inquirer with Alex Lifeson of Rush: "When I Sit Down and Play Guitar, I Melt Into the Instrument" http://www.guitarworld.com/inquirer-alex-lifeson-rush-when-i-sit-down-and-play-guitar-i-melt-instrument <!--paging_filter--><p><em>FROM THE ARCHIVE: </em>Guitar World<em> asks Rush's Alex Lifeson some tough questions.</em></p> <p><strong>What inspired you to play guitar?</strong></p> <p>My brother-in-law played flamenco guitar. He lent his guitar to me and I grew to like it. When you’re a kid, you don’t want to play an accordion because it would be too boring. But your parents might want you to play one, especially if you’re from a Yugoslavian family like me. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>What was your first guitar?</strong></p> <p>My parents got me a $25 Kent steel-string acoustic guitar when I was around 12. The following Christmas my parents bought me a Conora electric guitar. It looked almost like a Gretsch. It cost $59, and my mom still has it.</p> <p><strong>Were you inspired by any particular guitarist?</strong></p> <p>The Beach Boys had a really cool guitar sound. I also liked the guitarists in the Searchers and the Dave Clark Five. Then Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend hit, and it turned the guitar world on its ear. The more I got into playing guitar, the more I enjoyed music and the broader my listening became. The instrument itself became important to me, and I started messing around with classical guitar and took classical lessons.</p> <p><strong>What was the first song you learned who to play?</strong></p> <p>The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The songs starts off with the three most important chords—E, A and D—and I learned them. I learned the lead line, as well.</p> <p><strong>Do you remember your first gig?</strong></p> <p>Yeah. In September 1968, Rush played for around 20 people at a small hall in a church basement. We played songs like “Spoonful,” “Fire” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and got paid $10. Then we went to a nearby deli and ordered Cokes and French fries, and started planning our future.</p> <p><strong>What was your most memorable gig?</strong></p> <p>Probably the 2002 show we played in São Paulo, Brazil, during the <em>Rush in Rio</em> tour. It was before an audience of 60,000, the largest number of people we ever played for. It was pouring rain, and the huge crowd was singing along to our songs. It was really amazing, because people don’t even speak English there.</p> <p><strong>What advice do you have for guitarists?</strong></p> <p>Do it because you love it, and never give up. It’s great to be able to do it for your entire life. I’ve been playing for 40 years, and I love it more than ever. When I sit down and play guitar, I <em>melt</em> into the instrument. I can play for hours by myself. Playing guitar has given me such a wonderful life, and I’m grateful for it.</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="/rush">Rush</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/inquirer-alex-lifeson-rush-when-i-sit-down-and-play-guitar-i-melt-instrument#comments Alex Lifeson Articles GW Archive Inquirer Rush Interviews News Features Magazine Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:03:26 +0000 Joe Lalaina http://www.guitarworld.com/article/966 Songcraft: Singer-Songwriter David Poe Discusses His New Album, 'God & The Girl' http://www.guitarworld.com/songcraft-singer-songwriter-david-poe-discusses-his-new-album-god-girl <!--paging_filter--><p>Credited by <em>Rolling Stone</em> as having given "the singer-songwriter genre a much-needed jolt,” composer/singer-songwriter David Poe has issued numerous literate, melodic, major-label collections as a solo artist. </p> <p>At the same time, his songs have done well in the hands of others; they've been recorded by pop-rockers Grace Potter and Daryl Hall, Broadway composer Duncan Sheik and jazz singer Curtis Stigers. </p> <p>Poe’s eclectic compositions have also appeared in TV shows, including <em>Dexter</em> and <em>Nashville</em>, and in theatre productions such as <em>Shadowland</em>, the landmark dance piece by American troupe Pilobolus.</p> <p>In addition to his duties as a world-touring troubadour and in-demand songwriter, Poe also has collaborated with uber-producers T-Bone Burnett and Larry Klein and is a Composer Fellow of the Sundance Institute.</p> <p>Songcraft recently cornered this talented New Yorker, now living in Los Angeles, as his latest album, <em>God &amp; The Girl</em>, neared release to talk songwriting, deities and the women who love them. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: First off, congrats on the new album. I love it. It’s very smart, with this beautiful quality of hushed intensity to it. And <em>God &amp; The Girl</em> is such an amazing album title, the allusions are unending. Do titles serve as sparks of inspiration for your songwriting or are they more just a necessary result of the process?</strong></p> <p>"Hymn &amp; Her" sounded glib. The album title refers to the subject matter of the songs. Half concern faith, half concern love, or the lack of either. Some of them, like "The Devil" and "When I Fly," are an attempt to address both, to compare spiritual and romantic love.</p> <p>A song’s title is its thesis statement, the bumper sticker, the controlling idea. Traditional pop songs are a lot like old jokes: something happens three times — three verses — and the chorus is the punch line. </p> <p><strong>On your self-titled debut album, you had the chance to work with producer extraordinaire, T Bone Burnett. From a compositional standpoint, what does a producer of that caliber bring to the table in terms of the formation of a song?</strong></p> <p>Every producer imparts special information; Emile Kelman encouraged minimalism. Brad Jones taught me about layering. Larry Klein has deep intuition. Rick Parker conjures a vibe. Pete Min is a master of process. John Alagia understands how tonality impacts songs. Steve Rosenthal knows history. Ed Ackerson rewrites it. Buddy Miller captures lightning in a bottle. They all do. </p> <p>T Bone can love a record into being. In the studio, enthusiasm works wonders, and having the enthusiasm of someone who is an American hero is powerful. He is known as a unique producer who has come to the rescue of the culture multiple times, but T Bone is also one of our great songwriters, and his solo projects, especially <em>Tooth Of Crime</em> and all that came after it, are, to me, as influential as records like <em>Bone Machine</em> or <em>Time Out Of Mind.</em></p> <p>So yeah, having an experienced songwriter produce the debut of an aspiring songwriter made sense. Working with him was inspirational. Still is. Always is. </p> <p><strong>You’ve done a solid amount of co-writing. Do you approach that process any differently than you would when writing solo? Is the creative head-space the same or different?</strong></p> <p>As a co-writer, my job is to help gather wood and build the fire. Sometimes you’re in the wilderness rubbing flint and steel until there’s a spark. Sometimes a burning bush appears. I keep a match in my back pocket.</p> <p>The goal is to help create something an artist can sing for the rest of their career, starting with a fundamentally sound lyric and melody. There are a lot of factors in the making of a hit song, and some of them — marketing, bribery, the politics of the music business — have nothing to do with art. A songwriter’s responsibility is to render a beautiful thing that is simple but profound and enhances rather than betrays the culture. The Pilobolus choreographer and founder Robby Barnett says, “The idea is the best idea until there’s a better one,” which is a good approach to any collaboration. </p> <p>Another way to say it is “don’t negate, create.” Rather than say “I don’t like that,” say “how about this?” It’s important to be generous with your creativity and to have faith that the song will arrive. When it doesn’t, take a walk. </p> <p><strong>To date you’ve written pop music, music for theatre and music for the screen. Are all aforementioned exercises just slight variations of the larger process, or do you approach writing for each genre differently?</strong></p> <p>A good song works in any genre, but not necessarily in every medium. Music married to a narrative is its own thing, magical when it works, and everyone feels it.</p> <p><strong>What’s the most important piece of compositional/songwriting advice you’ve absorbed in your experience at the Sundance Institute?</strong></p> <p>Be brave enough to edit and revise. Or reject. No music is ever wasted. Every chord progression you learn, every bit of discarded lyric or melody will suit a future piece.</p> <p>The Sundance Institute encourages innovation and serves as an antidote for that sect of the entertainment industry that has a deep contempt for the general public – the ones who say “people are stupid,” even though we’re smarter as a culture than we ever have been. When aspiring artists collude with that sect in order to have a hit, the culture gets flooded with pap and confused. But the best artists have always been at the vanguard of social change, and the pursuit of a distinct vision is its own reward. For me, the reward is in the writing process, especially when others sing a song I’ve worked on. They always sing it better than I ever could, and the thrill I get from hearing it is like when people sing "Happy Birthday" to you, then give you cake. </p> <p><em><a href="http://www.markbacino.com/">Mark Bacino</a> is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his <a href="http://www.thequeensenglish.com/">Queens English Recording Co</a>. Mark also is the founder/curator of <a href="http://www.introversechorus.com/">intro.verse.chorus</a>, a website dedicated to exploring the art of songwriting. Visit Mark on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mark.bacino">Facebook</a> or follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkBacino">Twitter</a>.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/songcraft-singer-songwriter-david-poe-discusses-his-new-album-god-girl#comments David Poe Mark Bacino Songcraft Blogs Interviews News Features Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:00:56 +0000 Mark Bacino http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22206 ‘One For The Road’: Cinderella Guitarist Jeff LaBar Delivers First Solo Album http://www.guitarworld.com/one-road-cinderella-guitarist-jeff-labar-delivers-first-solo-album <!--paging_filter--><p>For several years, Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar had always promised to make good on his quest to record a solo album. </p> <p>After years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. LaBar’s new album, <em>One for the Road</em>, was recorded in Nashville with long-time friend and engineer Ronnie Honeycutt and features mixing by Cinderella bandmate Fred Coury, with mixing and mastering by Chris Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob, Lita Ford).</p> <p>What’s unique about LaBar's first solo endeavor is that not only does it showcase LaBar’s guitar playing, but it also highlights his singing and songwriting prowess. Aside from drums by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta, all of the instruments and vocals on <em>One for the Road</em> are performed by LaBar, a true "solo” album.</p> <p>The new album also captures the magic and spirit of a genre of music LaBar helped define. “No Strings” has a classic Cinderella feel, while songs like “Asking for a Beating” and ”Nightmare on My Street” take on a far heavier edge. Then there’s the acoustic-flavored “Hello or Goodbye,” which speaks to LaBar’s folk influences.</p> <p>I recently caught up with LaBar and asked him about <em>One for the Road</em>, which was released today, August 26, plus guitars and more!</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: What was the inspiration behind <em>One for the Road</em>?</strong></p> <p>I had been threatening to do a solo album for quite a while. I've been a singer all of my life and actually started singing around the same time I started playing guitar, so I've always had it in me and always wanted to do it. </p> <p>When Tom [Keifer] announced he was going to be putting out a solo album, which also meant Cinderella was going to be put on hold, my manager Larry [Morand], my wife Debi [Salazar] and everyone around me finally called me on it and said now is the time. So with the help of Troy Luccketta from Tesla and my engineer, Ronnie Honeycutt, I laid down a few tracks.</p> <p><strong>How would you describe <em>One for the Road</em>?</strong></p> <p>It's a little taste of all of my musical influences. When I started out, I was playing acoustic guitar and singing to folk music like the Eagles, Crosby Stills &amp; Nash and Cat Stevens. Then I discovered bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. From there, I got more into Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The five songs I'm singing on this record represent each of those heavier influences.</p> <p><strong>What were some of the differences you encountered working on this album as opposed to a Cinderella record?</strong></p> <p>I think one of the biggest challenges was that I didn't have those three other guys in there with me. Over the years, we've all leaned on each other in the studio to help each other out. With Cinderella, it was always four minds and a producer. For this project, it was just me and Ronnie. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zl3fswzTxP0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Let’s discuss a few tracks off of the new album. “Hello Or Goodbye” isn't the kind of song we've come to expect from you.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, that song is a little bit more in the vein of Fleetwood Mac. It could even be a country-style song. </p> <p><strong>What about "Nightmare on My Street"?</strong></p> <p>That one started out in my basement studio. I was in a heavy metal kind of mood and set up a beat on a drum machine and did some jamming. That’s actually how I come up with most of my riffs.</p> <p><strong>Is there any place else where you find inspiration?</strong></p> <p>Some of the music for the album I originally wrote at a Cinderella sound check, after Fred [Coury] got his drums together and started playing a beat. That was actually where I came up with the riff for "Asking for a Beating."</p> <p><strong>What was your setup like for recording the album?</strong></p> <p>I still have my white, now nicely yellowed, 1980 Custom Shop Les Paul. That's my main guitar and the one I used for all of the heavy stuff you hear on the album. I also have an old Strat I used for the clean stuff and a Telecaster for “Hello or Goodbye." For the acoustic songs, I used an Alvarez 12-string and an Epiphone six-string.</p> <p><strong>There seems to be a lot of chemistry in the “band” that was put together for the video for “No Strings." Do you have plans to tour?</strong></p> <p>I’d like to, and we’re working on it. The chemistry you mention comes from the fact that it's actually my son Sebastian on guitar. He plays for a band called Mach 22. The video also features my good friends Jasmine Cain on bass and Matt Arnn on drums. My wife Debi also makes an appearance.</p> <p><strong>What satisfies you the most about completing your first solo album?</strong></p> <p>Because I had been threatening to do it for so many years, the fact that I did it was a big accomplishment. It finally took my friends and loved ones to really encourage me to do it. I hope it makes and impact and that people enjoy it. </p> <p><strong>What would you say has been the highlight of your career overall?</strong></p> <p>The most memorable things are all of the “firsts." Like the first time I walked into an arena when we were opening for David Lee Roth's first solo tour and saying, "Oh my God! I'm playing here!" Or the first time I got a gold record, which was on that same tour. Then there’s the first time we toured Japan or the first time we headlined on the Long Cold Winter Tour with our own lighting and backline. Things like that are my favorite memories.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Jeff%20Labar%20CD%20Cover.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="Jeff Labar CD Cover.jpg" /></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href="http://gojimmygo.net/">GoJimmyGo.net</a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/JimEWood">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/one-road-cinderella-guitarist-jeff-labar-delivers-first-solo-album#comments Cinderella James Wood Jeff LaBar Interviews News Features Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:39:33 +0000 James Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22204 Steve Howe Talks Vintage and Line 6 Guitars and New Yes Album, 'Heaven & Earth' http://www.guitarworld.com/steve-howe-talks-vintage-and-line-6-guitars-and-new-yes-album-heaven-earth <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this story, plus our Stevie Ray Vaughan 60th-birthday blast features, the 60th anniversary of the Fender Strat, lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from TC Electronic, Seymour Duncan, Prestige Guitars and more, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-october-14-stevie-ray-vaughan/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=John5Excerpt">check out the October 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></p> <p><strong>As Yes take their classic <em>Fragile</em> and <em>Close to the Edge</em> albums on the road, guitar virtuoso Steve Howe sits down for a talk about the making of those groundbreaking prog productions.</strong></p> <p>“Somebody called me the granddaddy of prog-rock,” Steve Howe says with a laugh. </p> <p>“I’m not ashamed to be called that. But the thing that matters most to me is musicality. I don’t think prog is all about technical playing. Much more important are your musical ideas. What choices and decisions are you making in the music? If that’s still an intelligent force within the music, then I like being considered a part of prog.”</p> <p>More than just a part of progressive rock, Howe is one of the music’s great originators. From the moment he joined Yes in 1970, he staked out a bold and vast territorial range for the guitar in a musical form often dominated by keyboard virtuosos like Keith Emerson and his former Yes bandmate Rick Wakeman. What those guys needed banks of pianos, organs and synthesizers to achieve Howe could often attain with just six strings and a boundless imagination. </p> <p>His contribution, moreover, transcends prog-rock or any single musical genre. Steve Howe is one of the most distinctive and original guitarists in all of rock, a brilliant musical colorist whose evocative volume pedal swells and echoey textures possess all the subtle and complex expressiveness of the human voice itself. Howe’s palette has always been incredibly broad, drafting everything from classical and flamenco fire to psychedelic expansiveness to jazzy archtop electric abstraction into the rock guitar vocabulary. </p> <p>At age 67, he’s still in top form, as can be clearly heard on the brand new Yes album, <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>. On the disc, Howe is joined by longtime Yes members bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downs, who has been an on-and-off Yes-man since 1980. </p> <p>On vocals is the group’s newest member, Jon Davison, who joined in 2012 and does a superb job of channeling the dulcet melodicism of original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Davison even shares Anderson’s spiritual perspective on lyric writing and fondness of Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IxKoM9imbm8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>While some tracks on <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em> evoke the prog symphonic majesty of Yes’ Seventies heyday, others skew in a lighter pop direction more in keeping with radio-friendly Eighties Yes recordings, such as their <em>90125</em> album. But in working with legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars, Smashing Pumpkins), on <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>, Howe had one supreme mandate.</p> <p>“I told Roy, ‘It’s gotta be Yes.’ ” </p> <p>The prominent presence of Howe’s guitar work on the album is a sterling guarantee that the disc does indeed sound like Yes. Howe’s inventive melody lines and otherworldly textures are woven deep into the polychromatic musical fabric. Never an overtly flash player, Howe will nonetheless sometimes conclude a tuneful guitar passage with a brief burst of sheer incandescent brilliance. The effortlessness with which he executes these dazzling little interludes offers understated testimony to his mastery of his instrument.</p> <p>“I don’t think guitarists should concentrate on being guitarists,” he says. “They should concentrate on being musicians. Being a guitarist can be a dangerous thing if you just want to race off and steal the show all the time on bended knees with your tiddly tiddly tiddly. I think that’s pretty dead in the water. I daresay most people agree.” </p> <p>Once famed for bringing a vast arsenal of guitars with him onstage and in the studio, Howe has taken a more streamlined approach in recent years. His rig is based largely around his Line 6 Variax guitar and Line 6 HD500/Bogner DT50 digital modeling amp and pedal board, which allow him to cover a wide range of traditional guitar and amp tones. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ne317y_eOYs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>“I think the Variax is one of the most overlooked instruments in the guitar universe,” he says. “The first time I saw it, I knew it was made for me. I like affordable guitars that can make lots of sounds and textures. I’ve got to tell you, the Strat, ’58 Les Paul and [Gibson] ES-175 models, in particular, are sensational on the Variax. Okay, it doesn’t feel like a Les Paul. But when you plug it in and it sounds like one, what’s the problem?”</p> <p>Howe does augment this digital setup with several “real” guitars in his live rig, however, all of which made it into the studio for the Heaven &amp; Earth sessions. These include his mid-Eighties red Fender Stratocaster; a 1955 Fender Telecaster which he has modified with a humbucker in the neck position, six-saddle bridge and Gibson-style toggle switch; a Martin MC-38 Steve Howe signature model acoustic; a Fender dual-neck steel guitar; and a Gibson Steve Howe signature model ES-175 electric archtop. </p> <p>“That one is actually Number One—the first-ever Steve Howe production model 175,” he says. “And I added a third pickup to it, because at the time I was using it cover the sound of the [Gibson] ES-5 Switchmaster that I used on Yes’ <em>Fragile</em> album.”</p> <p>This signature model 175 is based on Howe’s 1964 ES-175D, his first serious electric guitar, purchased new when he was just 17 and an instrument with which he has been closely associated ever since. These days he uses the guitar only in the U.K. where he lives, “because the airlines have been such an effing pain in the butt over the years,” he says. “But I have actually got a ’63 175 as well, which a friend of mine in Fort Wayne [Indiana] found for me. That was there with me in the studio as well.” </p> <p>Another key instrument for Howe onstage and in the studio is his guitarra portuguesa, or Portuguese guitar. Heard on the track “To Ascend” from <em>Heaven &amp; Earth</em>, it is also featured prominently on classic Yes tracks like “Your Move/All Good People” and “The Preacher The Teacher” and “Wonderous Stories.” Strung in six double-string courses, the instrument is tuned unconventionally by Howe: [low to high] E B E B E Ab. </p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this story, plus the rest of our Stevie Ray Vaughan Top 30 feature, the 60th anniversary of the Fender Strat, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from TC Electronic, Seymour Duncan, Prestige Guitars and more, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-october-14-stevie-ray-vaughan/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=John5Excerpt">check out the October 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</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="/steve-howe">Steve Howe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/yes">Yes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/steve-howe-talks-vintage-and-line-6-guitars-and-new-yes-album-heaven-earth#comments October 2014 Steve Howe Yes Interviews News Features Magazine Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:45:09 +0000 Alan di Perna http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22095 Living Colour's Vernon Reid Shows How to Play "Cult of Personality" and More http://www.guitarworld.com/living-colours-vernon-reid-shows-how-play-cult-personality-and-more <!--paging_filter--><p>In this exclusive <em>Guitar World</em> lesson, watch Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid talk about the band's <em>The Chair in the Doorway</em> album and teach you how to play their classic 1988 hit "Cult of Personality."</p> <p>Speaking of 1988, here's a piece of <em>Guitar World's</em> interview with Reid from 1988, where he discusses "Cult of Personality" and more.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How were your solos recorded, and is there a personal favorite?</strong></p> <p>"Cult Of Personality" was a first take, as was "Funny Vibe." "Desperate People" wasn't a first take, but none of the solos were stitched together. I purposely had our producer turn off my rhythm tracks and just send bass and drums when I recorded my solos. I wanted to keep a raw edge. </p> <p>I like the "Cult" solo because I felt I was able to connect with the lyrics and feel of the song. I like "Funny Vibe," "Memories Can't Wait" and "Which Way To America" because there's something out of control about them. I'm not an every-hair-in-place kind of player.</p> <p><strong>How have non-guitar influences like Eric Dolphy affected your style?</strong></p> <p>Well, I don't play like Eric Dolphy, but technically, his incredible use of interval skips is something I try to apply, specifically in the "Cult Of Personality" solo. I have a book by Joe Diorio called Intervallic Design which addresses how to use interval skips smoothly.</p> <p>When I studied with Rodney Jones, Bruce Johnson and Ted Dunbar, they had me play with a metronome on 2 and 4, which exposed me to the concept of swinging. I still practice with a metronome. Right now, a lot of people are playing very diatonically and modally. Even the arpeggios sound diatonic. I incorporate that, as well as pentatonic, chromatic and whole-tone ideas, and I like to experiment with moving tonal centers which I learned about while working with the Decoding Society.</p> <p><strong>How do you approach soloing?</strong></p> <p>My best solos come when I get into a stream of consciousness and there are no stylistic considerations like, "Now I'm going to use some two-handed tapping technique or play a hip bebop phrase."</p> <p>There are times when you can feel yourself thinking things out, but for the most part, if you're in touch with your capabilities, ideas will begin to flow. What musicians don't realize is that as you play over a long period of time, you pick up a lot of things. If you could unlock what you've learned from the time you started playing, you would be amazed.</p> <p>To read the rest of this 1988 <em>Guitar World</em> interview, <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/archive-living-colour-guitarist-vernon-reid-talks-vivid-1988-interview">head here.</a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Gxr2zINiH3c" 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="/living-colour">Living Colour</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vernon-reid">Vernon Reid</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/living-colours-vernon-reid-shows-how-play-cult-personality-and-more#comments Living Colour Vernon Reid Artist Lessons Videos Interviews News Features Lessons Magazine Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:20:07 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/2935 Richie Kotzen Discusses New 'Essential' Package and Memorable Moments from His Career http://www.guitarworld.com/richie-kotzen-discusses-new-essential-package-and-memorable-moments-his-career <!--paging_filter--><p>With styles ranging from rock and blues to jazz and soul, Richie Kotzen has built an eclectic career as guitarist, singer and songwriter. </p> <p>Over a period of 20 years, Kotzen has accumulated a loyal fan base and has consistently sold out shows throughout the world. </p> <p>Still, there are many who question what Kotzen is capable of musically. Kotzen’s new <em>Essential</em> package is sure to answer that question.</p> <p><em>The Essential Richie Kotzen</em> — which is slated to be released September 2 — contains material curated from Kotzen’s entire career (which has spawned 18 solo albums), not including his work with Poison and the Winery Dogs. </p> <p>The new package was purposely designed to give listeners the most comprehensive, concise introduction to Kotzen’s extensive body of work. </p> <p><em>The Essential Richie Kotzen</em> includes two CDs of classic Kotzen material as well as two new songs, along with a DVD of music videos, acoustic performances and bootleg material. It’s the ultimate collection of music for Kotzen fans.</p> <p>I recently spoke with Kotzen about the <em>Essential</em> package, his upcoming solo album and some of the most memorable moments of his career.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: What spawned your new <em>Essential</em> package?</strong></p> <p>It was an idea that actually came from the record label. I have a very nice fan base that's been great to me over the years and has allowed me to tour around the world. But there's also a huge community in the rock world that knows my name but has no idea what it is that I do musically. I remember when I was on tour with the Winery Dogs, people would often come up to me and say, "Man, I didn't know you sang like that and I just found out that you also have a solo career. What record should I get?" </p> <p>I never knew what to say. I wrote my first record when I was 17 (and recorded it at 18), so a lot of time has passed. What we decided to do was make one package that would answer the question. I went through and picked out songs I like to play live and still represent who I am today. So for someone who is curious about what it is that I do, now there's an answer.</p> <p><strong>The package also includes two new tracks (“War Paint” and “Walk With Me”). What can you tell me about them?</strong></p> <p>Those were songs that would have eventually ended up on a solo album or maybe a Winery Dogs record. When I made this package, I knew I wanted to include two new songs, so I decided to put them on. </p> <p><strong>What made you decide to use a Theremin on “Walk With Me”?</strong></p> <p>When I was writing the song, I literally heard the sound of a Theremin playing in my head. So I went online and I bought one. At first, I couldn't do anything with it musically and it was the noisiest two weeks at my house [laughs]. Eventually, it got to a point to where I could play some melodies, so I set it up and ultimately got out what I was hearing in my head.</p> <p><strong>“Fooled Again” has always been one of my favorites. Can you give me a little back story on it?</strong></p> <p>That song definitely came from the riff. I know that when I recorded it, I really wanted that Curtis Mayfield kind of feeling. I love the way it turned out. It exceeded my expectations and a big part of it was because of Franklin Vanderbilt’s drumming and Arlan Schierbaum’s keyboard performance. They really brought the song to life. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/E8ctq4ENhl0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Another cool thing about the package are the demo and acoustic performances. Particularly, the track “Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice)." Not many people realize your contribution to Poison. What can you tell me about that experience?</strong></p> <p>It was such a sideways move for me. Two years before I joined the band, my contract with Shrapnel was bought out by Interscope. That’s what brought me to California, and I spent about a year writing songs for what I thought was going to be my solo record. We really wanted to make this R&amp;B, soul/rock record and even got the budget approved. Then at the last minute, the label said, "Wait a minute. I didn't sign you to do this kind of music. I need you to be a hard rock guy." I remember just losing my mind and insisted on being dropped — which they did. </p> <p>At the same time they were dropping me, the A&amp;R guy said, "You know, Bret Michaels just called me. They're interested in you. I think you should do it and then circle back after the album cycle." So I went out and met Bret and really liked what he had to say. They brought me in as a band member and writer and that song that you mentioned was one of the songs I brought in that would have been on that solo record. I never really played the song live and thought it made sense to do a version of me singing it. That's what's on the record.</p> <p><strong>Can you give me an update on your tour plans?</strong></p> <p>I'm going to Europe in September and then to South America and will spend the rest of the year touring the U.S.</p> <p><strong>What do you remember most about your Shrapnel experience?</strong></p> <p>As a teenager, getting into Mike Varney’s column became an obsession for me [laughs]. I had a four-song demo that I sent in a few times but never heard anything back. Then I thought maybe it was because Mike was listening to it for only 30 seconds and didn't hear anything that he liked. So I kept sending it to him but changing up the order of the songs.</p> <p>I still never heard anything until finally one day my friend called me up and said, "Dude, what's wrong with you? You're in the column and you didn't tell me?" I was convinced he was lying until I ran to the newsstand. Sure enough, there was my picture along with a profile.</p> <p>Shortly after that, I got a call from Mike saying that he wanted to do a record with me. Originally, the thought was to do an album with me and another guitar player, similar to what Jason Becker and Marty Friedman had done.</p> <p>During the process, I started writing a lot and for every song that I would write with my partner, there would be five I would send to Mike that I had done on my own. Eventually, it got to the point where Mike started liking my own material and signed me.</p> <p><strong>What was it like opening for the Rolling Stones in 2006?</strong></p> <p>It was pretty surreal. There were six shows on that run and I remember purposely not telling anyone about it at first because in Japan, it’s not normal to have an opening act and from what I was told the Stones never had an opening act when they toured Japan. So I knew there might be a chance that it wouldn’t happen — but it did! After that first show I could say I opened for the Rolling Stones! It was an amazing experience!</p> <p><strong>What can you tell me about your new solo album?</strong></p> <p>It will be out by the end of January. The new CD is called <em>Cannibals</em> and will have 10 songs. One of the ones I'm really excited about is one I wrote with my daughter called "You." It’s a piano/voice piece where I actually play a little bit of Theremin again as well. </p> <p>The song came about in a very interesting way. My daughter is 17 now but back when she was 14 she would often play this piece over and over at the piano. Finally, I asked her what it was she was playing and she said, "I don't know. It’s just something I wrote." It sounded really cool so we recorded a version of it and I filed it away. When I went back and started looking into the archives, I found it and decided to sing something over it. I wrote some words, sang it and it came out really cool. It’s something we did together and one of my favorite tracks on the album. </p> <p><strong>We’ve already mentioned a few memorable moments of your career. Are there any others that really stand out for you?</strong></p> <p>It would have to be the moment when I auditioned to join Stanley Clarke's band. I remember he put a sheet of music in front of me and I just started laughing. It was a funny moment. He asked me what I was laughing at and I told him that I hadn't read since I was a teenager. But then he sat down at the piano and proceeded to show me one of his songs and we spent the better part of the next three hours jamming together. </p> <p>Afterwards, I remember saying, "I know that there's no way I'm going to get this gig but it's been an honor to play with you and I just wanted to thank you for your time." I left and went to a concert that night and when I got home there was a message on my answering machine saying that I got the gig. </p> <p>That's a strong memory for me because it was so outside the realm of what I normally do. It educated me musically and I was really able to grow from the experience. </p> <p><strong><em>For more about Kotzen, visit <a href="http://richiekotzen.com/">richiekotzen.com</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href="http://gojimmygo.net/">GoJimmyGo.net</a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/JimEWood">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/richie-kotzen">Richie Kotzen</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/richie-kotzen-discusses-new-essential-package-and-memorable-moments-his-career#comments James Wood Richie Kotzen Interviews News Features Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:52:06 +0000 James Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22179 John 5 Shows Off His Telecaster Collection and Discusses New Album, 'Careful with That Axe' http://www.guitarworld.com/john-5-shows-his-telecaster-collection-and-discusses-new-album-careful-axe <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This is an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this story, plus features on Stevie Ray Vaughan (a 60th-birthday bash!), Yes, the 60th anniversary of the Fender Strat, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from TC Electronic, PureSalem Guitars, Martin, Seymour Duncan, Prestige Guitars and more, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-october-14-stevie-ray-vaughan/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=John5Excerpt">check out the October 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></p> <p>“It all starts when you get your first guitar for Christmas or your birthday,” John 5 explains. “You never know what that guitar is going to bring you. Is it going to bring you happiness or sadness, fortune or poverty?”</p> <p>In John’s case, that first guitar, acquired at the tender age of seven, has led to a stellar career as one of recent rock’s most admired and sought-after guitarslingers. He’s enjoyed high-profile stints with everyone from Marilyn Manson to David Lee Roth to k.d. lang to Lynyrd Skynyrd. </p> <p>Since 2005, he’s been guitarist-in-chief for Rob Zombie and is currently working on the score for Zombie’s newest horror flick, <em>31</em>. In the past decade, the man born John William Lowery has also emerged as a solo artist and all-around virtuoso guitar hero in his own right. He pioneered the now-popular, if unlikely, hybrid of shred guitar and wild country pickin’, and serves it up with his own twisted sense of campy goth panache. </p> <p>John’s newest solo album, his eighth to date, is called <em>Careful with That Axe</em> and features bassist Matt Bissonette (Joe Satriani, David Lee Roth, Elton John) and drummer Rodger Carter (Lita Ford, Gene Simmons, Glen Campbell). The album is packed with all the speed-demon riffology and feats of fretboard acrobatics that his fans have come to expect. “I wanted to make this record so intense,” he says. “You know, it’s a guitar record. It’s not like anything else. So I just wanted to make it absolutely insane. Really crazy playing.”</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/pVPvCctULYk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>The album’s title is a nod to Pink Floyd’s 1968 tour de force psychedelic jam “Careful with that Axe, Eugene.” But given the macabre side of John’s persona, he feels that the name has a special resonance in his case. “An axe is a guitar, obviously,” he says. “But the phrase ‘careful with that axe’ could also be about ax murders, and some of the song titles revolve around ax murders.”</p> <p>While his over-the-top playing style is always reckless and daring, John has indeed been careful with his ax, steering it from triumph to triumph amid the meltdown vicissitudes of the music business. And he’s especially careful with the axes in his legendary collection of mint-condition vintage Telecasters. </p> <p>“I’m a Telecaster connoisseur, and I love my Teles,” he says. “I have one from almost every year since the very beginning, in 1950. I’m so obsessed with them. I just really enjoy the history of Fender—the story of Fender and how it all came about. I have a collector’s soul.” </p> <p>For <em>Careful with That Axe</em>, John mainly stuck with his favorite contemporary Fender, a gold John 5 signature model Tele. “I’ve had that guitar for about six years now, and it’s just worn in beautifully,” he says. “I play it all the time. I didn’t use a lot of other guitars on the album just because we were playing everything live in the studio and just this one guitar gave me pretty much everything I needed. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/j49brlQpsoc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>"I only used one Marshall JVM combo amp with a Boss Super Overdrive, Boss Noise Supressor and Boss Chorus. That’s pretty much what I use live too, when I’m playing with Zombie, and I wanted to have that vibe in the studio. I didn’t use a lot of gear this time because I just wanted to do everything with my hands. I went into this kind of like a boxer. I trained and trained, and I rehearsed quite a bit with Rodger and Matt. I think they both did a phenomenal job with this, just sounding out of control at times, but then pulling back on the songs that called for that.”</p> <p>The album reflects on John’s formative years as a guitar monster in training, starting with the opening track, “We Need to Have a Talk About John.” A chaotic collage of wild sounds and spoken-voice snippets, it sets the mood for what’s to come. “When my parents gave me that first guitar, I became totally obsessed,” John says. </p> <p><em>Photo: Sean Murphy</em></p> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of </em>Guitar World<em>. For the rest of this story, plus features on Stevie Ray Vaughan (a 60th-birthday bash!), Yes, the 60th anniversary of the Fender Strat, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from TC Electronic, PureSalem Guitars, Martin, Seymour Duncan, Prestige Guitars and more, <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/guitar-world/products/guitar-world-october-14-stevie-ray-vaughan/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=article&amp;utm_campaign=John5Excerpt">check out the October 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.</a></em></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-08-12%20at%203.40.45%20PM_1.png" width="620" height="806" alt="Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.40.45 PM_1.png" /></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john5">John5</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/john-5-shows-his-telecaster-collection-and-discusses-new-album-careful-axe#comments John 5 October 2014 Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:28:08 +0000 Alan di Perna http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22091 Dear Guitar Hero: Former Kiss Guitarist Bruce Kulick Talks Getting Shot, His Proudest Guitar Moments, Signature Guitar and More http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-former-kiss-guitarist-bruce-kulick-talks-getting-shot-his-proudest-guitar-moments-signature-guitar-and-more <!--paging_filter--><p><em>He’s a former Kiss guitarist from their makeup-free era in the late Eighties and early Nineties. But what </em>Guitar World<em> readers really want to know is…</em></p> <p><strong>What is the story behind your new Rock N’ Roll Relics guitar? — Michael Steadman</strong></p> <p>I was first introduced to Billy Rowe, the owner of Rock N’ Roll Relics, at the NAMM show, and I saw that he was very talented at taking vintage Gibson-style guitars and reliquing them. </p> <p>And it made me think immediately of my Les Paul Junior from the [1992] Revenge/Alive III tour. It was one of the most beat-up Les Paul Juniors ever. I got it at Guitars R Us on Sunset Boulevard, and we recorded with it a lot. Gene [Simmons] loved it. Kiss even rented it for [1998’s] <em>Psycho Circus</em>, because they wanted that sound. It had a humbucker in it—a Seymour Duncan JB—but there was just something about the mahogany body. </p> <p>It had “that sound.” So Billy from Rock N’ Roll Relics was the perfect person to make a copy of it. The new model has all the elements: a mahogany flat body and rosewood neck and a humbucker—an Antiquity JB, because obviously a new JB wouldn’t look really good in a reliqued guitar. Because this is a small company, we’re just doing this limited run of 25, and it’s available online [<a href="http://www.rocknrollrelics.net/">rocknrollrelics.net</a>]. We’ve sold half of them already.</p> <p><strong>What do you consider your proudest guitar moment on record? — Chris</strong></p> <p>With Kiss, I think the solo in “Tears Are Falling” [from <em>Asylum</em>, 1985], which is melodic and tricky, and the acoustic solo on “Forever” [from <em>Hot in the Shade</em>, 1989], which shows another side of my style. And then something like “Unholy” [from <em>Revenge</em>, 1992], where I’m really balls to the wall in your face, using a wah-wah and distortion. I really got a chance to show the range of my playing during my Kiss years.</p> <p><strong>Do you think you, Vinnie [Vincent], Tommy [Thayer], Mark [St. John], Eric [Carr] and Eric [Singer] were cheated by not being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? — SFC Damion Thompson, U.S. Army</strong></p> <p>I’m totally unhappy with how the Hall of Fame handled this. We deserved to be inducted, and I know Gene and Paul’s intention was to present that argument to them, which according to Paul was a non-starter. I’m still extremely flattered that I’m related to a band that’s been inducted, and I certainly don’t have any issue with the fact that without the original four there would be no Kiss. But Kiss survived successfully for 40 years, and I know at least seven million records were sold with my name on them. So for the Hall to ignore that, I think that’s a travesty. </p> <p><strong>I saw you were recently married. Congratulations! I also saw that Gene and Paul were at your wedding. What do Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley give as wedding presents? — Henry McGee</strong></p> <p>I didn’t get an envelope or any gift from them that night, but technically, you have up to a year to give a gift. I kind of feel like there is something coming up that’s going to be a gift to me. Lisa and I, we’ve talked about it a few times, and them being there was a huge gift to me, and she felt the same way. </p> <p>Our history is very unusual: We fell in love four and a half years ago, but I did actually meet her backstage in 1986. She was there for a meet and greet, to see Paul Stanley, you know? I wasn’t involved with anybody, but I wasn’t necessarily looking to hit on any girl in a meet and greet that day. I find it kind of ironic that things have always centered around this Kiss connection, even with Lisa. So I’m just looking at the big picture of things. Gene and Paul’s gift is related to the respect that they show me. You can’t put a price tag on that. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/lEwnfhuPJGs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What was it like getting shot? — Billy Sing</strong></p> <p>One of the songs on BK3, the last solo record I put out four years ago, is called “I’ll Survive,” and it’s about that event. It was surreal. I was leaving the Key Club on Sunset Boulevard after seeing my buddy Brent Fitz, the drummer with Slash, who is playing with Vince Neil. It was about 1:20 in the morning. </p> <p>The shots came from a block and a half away, in front of the Rainbow Club. I couldn’t tell if it was a car backfiring or a gun shot. And then I got hit in the leg. It was as if someone was taking a hot poker and sticking it through your leg, but it happens so fast that you don’t know what the hell happened. My knee buckled, and I went down. What was weirder was that a ricochet bullet whizzed right by my ear and actually grazed my head. I heard the whistle from it as it went past. That was even more bizarre than having a bullet pass through my leg. </p> <p>But I was lucky. The bullet could have shattered my kneecap; instead, it went completely through muscle. The paramedics showed up über fast, and the guy asked me to move my toes, which I did. And he says to me, “You’re going to be fine.”</p> <p><strong>I read that your brother Bob tried out for Kiss before Ace got the gig. Did he help advise you on your audition process? — Chip Douglas</strong></p> <p>My brother’s acquaintance with the guys was a good thing, but I think it also took other people to mention my name to Gene and Paul. I actually wound up doing a little ghost guitar work for Kiss on Animalize, but I’m not credited. At the time, Mark St. John was playing lead. Paul asked me to play a solo, and he happened to say, “Don’t cut your hair.” </p> <p>I wasn’t aware that Mark was not going to be able to tour. [St. John was diagnosed with the arthritic condition Reiter’s Syndrome.] Then they asked me to kind of fill in on the tour, and that wound up becoming a 12-year stint in the band. Those people who go back and think, “Well, the first time I saw Kiss was in 1985”—if they’re not sure who it was, now it’s a matter of record: they saw me. Yay! </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kfmrX_WlM2w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>When did you become aware that Ace and Peter would be rejoining the band? Were you nervous when they guested on Unplugged? — Lazlo Kovacs</strong></p> <p>I actually was happily ignorant to any behind-the-scenes talk of a reunion. I certainly didn’t think that <em>Kiss Unplugged</em> [1996] would be the catalyst to make it happen. We had recorded probably 75 to 80 percent of <em>Carnival of Souls</em> [released in 1997], and that’s when Gene and Paul had a meeting with Eric and me explaining that it was time for them to try this reunion and that it would only be for a year, but that they were going to take care of us—which they did. Kiss had to lose the makeup in the Eighties, because it just didn’t seem cool anymore. When they brought it back in 1996, it was the right time for it. But I didn’t really think anything like that was brewing behind the scenes. </p> <p><strong>Was the period after you left Kiss difficult for you, or were you ready to move on? — Phil Leech</strong></p> <p>It was difficult. To see the hoopla surrounding them putting the makeup on, and then hearing, “First concert, sold out, stadium in Detroit…” I was like, That’s it, no more Kiss for me! That reality was hard, and then it got even worse. Because by the time Carnival of Souls came out, it had already been bootlegged, and the copies were terrible. I was doing a clinic tour in Europe, and some friends of mine from the Kiss world were like, “Check it out, I got a bootleg of Carnival of Souls”—which obviously hurt. </p> <p>I had nine co-writes on it, so I didn’t want to hear about bootlegs. I think having <em>Carnival of Souls</em> kind of raped was more painful even than not being in Kiss. But from tough things in life, you hopefully really strap up your boots tightly and get going. And that’s what I did. I had my own band with John Corabi called Union, and I just forged on and never looked back really.</p> <p><strong>How did you get the gig in Grand Funk? You’ve been in the band for, like, 14 years now. — Dennis Maloney</strong></p> <p>I met [Grand Funk drummer] Don Brewer back in the days when I worked with Michael Bolton. Michael had just put out his first solo record [1983’s self-titled release], and we opened for Bob Seger. [At the time, Brewer was drumming for Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.] We got to party with the Seger guys and hang out with everybody. And I was always a Grand Funk fan, so it was like, Oh, my god, Don Brewer! So when Grand Funk went through its changes again after 1998, after the last time [guitarist] Mark Farner was involved, I was on the short list. You never know who you’re working with that even 20 years down the line could be relevant to your career.</p> <p><em>Photo: Angela Boatwright</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="/kiss">Kiss</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-guitar-hero-former-kiss-guitarist-bruce-kulick-talks-getting-shot-his-proudest-guitar-moments-signature-guitar-and-more#comments Bruce Kulick Dear Guitar Hero Grand Funk Railroad Kiss September 2014 Interviews News Features Magazine Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:43:56 +0000 Brad Angle http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22140