Daniele Gottardo's new album, INkBlot – a series of modern guitar concertos – sees him take his monster chops to another level. He’d already carved out a significant rep while living in his native Italy, with Steve Vai citing him as one of his favorite guitarists.
Gottardo’s latest release – which follows his relocation to the US – fully embraces his exceptional compositional skills while mixing in his unworldly eight-fingered chops and fully orchestrated sonic soundscapes.
It’s been eight years since your last solo album. Why the huge gap?
“I did the production, arrangement and everything all by myself. With all of the composing, pre- and post-production, it took a really long time. Also, during the time I was working on this project I got married and moved to the States from Italy.
"Next thing, the pandemic hit. So many things disrupted the process, and they all contributed to the ever-increasing delay in finally getting the record out there. It was a challenging production to achieve without spending huge amounts of money. So I guess it took forever." [Laughs]
There are a lot of orchestral instruments on the album. Do you have a compositional background?
“I studied guitar, but as far as composition is concerned, I taught myself about harmony and counterpoint and arrangements for orchestration. As I didn’t have a strong technical knowledge, it took a lot longer than perhaps it could have.”
You show another side of your musical spectrum via your work with the Nuts, which could be described as shred jazz. Is that something you plan to continue?
“Yes, definitely. It allows me to explore the idea of improvisation more; in my solo work there isn’t any room for improvisation as everything is completely composed. If I deviated from what I’d planned then the harmonies with the orchestral instruments wouldn’t work, and it would sound a little chaotic – it would destroy what I was trying to achieve. The two sides are completely complimentary for me, with the freedom to explore jazz and the formal constraints of tightly composed music.”
What were the things that first interested you as a guitarist?
“Classic rock, particularly Ace Frehley with Kiss on their first records. I also started to get into the American shred artists – then jazz started to come into my influences. I really like the older artists like Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney, but I like to play with distortion, so I don’t play in a traditional style. I like to stay connected with my art by mixing the distorted guitar sound with traditional bebop phrasing.”
You play with scalloped fretboards. Is that Yngwie Malmsteen’s influence?
“When I was about 15, I discovered shred. I was really trying to improve my speed. I remember thinking Yngwie’s playing was amazing, and I wondered if the scalloped neck was his secret. An Italian luthier scalloped the neck on my Strat, but when I got the guitar back I realized I wasn’t any faster at all. [Laughs] The secret is that there is no secret – it’s just hard work. I still like the scalloped neck for vibrato and expression, but it was an important lesson to learn.”
- INkBlot is out now.