Originally published in Guitar World, December 2010
The Dillinger Escape Plan's ax slinger talks shred.
For flat-out, unapologetic soloing, who blows your mind?
I really like Steve Vai. Not only is he an undeniable virtuoso whose abilities meet no limit but he also writes amazing compositions full of emotion. John McLaughlin is also someone who shreds almost uncontrollably sometimes but manages to do it while composing interesting and original pieces.
What album/song inspired you to play fast?
Apocalypse by Mahavishnu Orchestra is pretty inspiring. There are times on that record when McLaughlin sounds like he is being jolted by lightning while he is playing.
What helped you progress dramatically as a guitarist?
My speed and dynamics started to open up for me when I became more conscious about how I hold my pick.
What was your biggest technical hurdle?
Finding new and interesting fingerings within certain scales.
What key performance in your discography is a successful example of what you try to achieve?
There is a double-picking passage in the song "Good Neighbor" on our new album, Option Paralysis, that incorporates speed, time signatures and technique in a way that I feel really displays the advantages of being able to play fast.
Is shredding a good thing?
I think being able to play anything you can imagine is important, and a certain amount of technical ability is necessary to do so. But I don't think that showing off for the sake of showing off is good. It's like having a midlife crisis on your guitar.
What are you currently working on, and what is your goal as a player?
I'm on the road supporting Option Paralysis. As a player, I always wanted to be able to create music that was energetic, emotional and, consequently, inspirational to other players.