Over the weekend, John Petrucci hosted his annual Guitar Universe tuition camp, whose list of guest electric guitar stars included the likes of Tosin Abasi, Lari Basilio and Tim Henson.
These sorts of high profile guitar camps are absolutely ripe for A-list onstage ensembles and one-off collaborations – Steve Vai’s own Vai Academy is further proof of that fact – and the Dream Theater virtuoso’s own six-string excursion was no exception.
Because, as it happens, another name on that star-studded list of guest instructors was Zakk Wylde, with whom Trooch shared the stage for the first time ever to jam Black Label Society.
It will come as no surprise whatsoever that the two wizards of metal music – with their immaculately styled facial hair and equally immaculate tones – proved to be the perfect foil for one another, both visually and sonically.
The former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, with his recently unveiled Wylde Audio IronWorks Barbarian, and the Ernie Ball Majesty-wiedling Petrucci doubled up on oversized riffage, before locking fretboards for the harmonized lead lines of Suicide Messiah.
The historic 10-minute performance also gave the two players opportunity to let loose on a guitar solo each – yes, there are plenty of pinch harmonics, wah-wailing runs and lightning-quick scale licks – with Wylde even venturing into the audience to perform some behind-the-head show tricks.
It was a stage-shaking display of not just fretboard expertise and beard grooming, but also borderline-intimidating muscularity. But the biceps aren’t just for show; they’re also functional, as Trooch recently said in an interview with Killer Guitar Rigs, during which he singled out Wylde.
“I have Zakk Wylde coming into my camp in a couple of weeks,” Petrucci mused. “He’s in just an amazing shape and he’s shredding like never before.
“The last thing you want to do is injure your hands or injure your wrists or have a problem,” he went on while discussing the links between guitar and the gym. “And people who lift weights and go to the gym – we’ve all had those.
“We’ve all tweaked shoulders and backs and things and you do have to be careful. But the idea to say, ‘Oh, I can’t work out because it’s going to affect my playing’ – I know plenty of jacked guitar players. [Laughs]”
Another player who fits into that circle of musicians is fellow Guitar Universe instructor and prog mastermind Tosin Abasi, who recently went on tour with Trooch and Dream Theater.
At the end of the tour – which saw the two guitar titans perform Dream Theater's The Spirit Carries On – Abasi gifted Trooch a custom Abasi Concepts model based on his classic Ibanez JPM100 signature guitar.