Originally published in Guitar World, December 2010
Megadeth's lead speed demon discusses his views on shred guitar.
For flat-out, unapologetic soloing, who blows your mind?
Some of my shred heroes are Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Greg Howe and Yngwie Malmsteen. Current players include [British guitarist] Guthrie Govan and Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry.
What album/song inspired you to play fast?
Van Halen's "Eruption."
What helped you progress dramatically as a guitarist?
Tenacity. I never questioned the effort it would take to play something. I just knew I had to be able to play it.
What was your biggest technical hurdle?
My performance nerves. I have always gotten very nervous when playing for others, and I'm only now overcoming these issues with all of the touring I'm doing with Megadeth.
What key performance in your discography is a successful example of what you try to achieve?
"Starlight's Fury" on Jag Panzer's Casting the Stone CD. It was composed from the ground up to be not only difficult but melodic as well. Also "How the Story Ends" on Megadeth's current CD, Endgame. When I heard the rhythm that Dave [Mustaine] wanted me to solo over, I listened and thought about the direction I wanted it to take—gradually increasing in intensity—and I felt I achieved the sound I was after.
Is shredding a good thing?
Shredding is neither good nor bad. The word is too ambiguous. The only conclusion I can draw from the term is that it's someone who likes to play fast. And I say, "Guilty as charged!"
What are you currently working on, and what is your goal as a player?
I have been working on a lot of two-hand independent exercises. My goal as a player is to enjoy what I do, and I have been lucky enough to be able to play the guitar for a living.