Interview: Alex Rosselli

Dan McAvinchey: Thanks for doing this interview for Guitar Nine Alex. So when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you progress as a player?

Alex Rosselli: My interest in music and guitar began when I was more or less 20. A friend handed me an old acoustic guitar and coincidentally I saw a Greatest Hits presentation of Carlos Santana on TV (the guitar sound of "Europa" was a shock for me). After a short time I heard on a music tape recording from my sister a live version of "Voodoo Child" by Jimi Hendrix. I couldn't understand how was possible how so many different sounds could be made by an electric guitar (wah wah, feedback, wild tremolo).

Six mounths later I bought my first electric guitar (Yamaha RGX 112) and in the next
few years began a DIY study of chords progression, harmony, scales, blues turnarounds and also different bands, recordings and live experiences. During 2000-2001 I took lessons from Charlie Banacos. I read about him in a guitar magazine; at the end of the interview was his contact address for anyone who had interest in lessons by mail. That was really a fantistic exceperience, Charlie was a very positive, enthusiastic person and gave me notable music boost!

I absorbed many different music styles form Pantera to Charlie Parker, from Mahavishnu Orchesta to Sepultura, Slayer and Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, John Mayall, Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cathedral, Candlemass, Y. Malmsteen, Woodstock concert, Joe de Francesco, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Roy Buchanan, J. M. Jarre, Dire Straits, Afro music, U2, Police, Metallica, Weather Report, Mike Stern, Brand X, Indian Music, Khaled, Cheb Hasni, and Indian Music, but one day...

I "casually" read a long interview of an "unknown" (for me) guitarist: Allan Holdsworth! Very interesting! I tried unsuccessfully to play the guitar tabs of the song "White Line". Impossible for me to play those chords and sounded very strange for me too. I thought there was a lot of errors in the song transcription (laughs), but I was very curious and I went to a CD shop to buy the album "I.O.U". The transcription was obviously right and Allan played all these strange chords with the same ease as one might when tuning guitar strings.

Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Joe Satrini and, of course, Allan Holdsworth were my
favorite "study material".

Dan McAvinchey: Was your album "On The Beach" self-released?

Alex Rosselli: Yes, my latest album (as are the other six) is self-released. After I discovered CD Baby, I didn't contact indipendent music labels. Ten years ago I tried to make contact with labels but without results. The internet gives sufficient chances and interesting alternatives. Another way to make music.

Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?

Alex Rosselli: Ooh, it's not easy to talk about music generally, but I'll try to do it:

Taken from my bio, "Italian-born instrumental guitarist Alessandro ("Alex") Rosselli cites Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Allan Holdsworth, and Joe Satriani as influences. While there are certainly characteristics of these legends' styles in Rosselli's playing, his music greatly expands upon these elements to create a style uniquely his own. His music often employs a very clean, melodic guitar sound, sometimes punctuated with a distorted lead guitar track. Rosselli takes the nod from Hendrix and all the greats in wide array of genres, including rock, jazz, and fusion. At times he flat out rocks and goes off on a run then decides to drop it down a few notches and play less aggressively, allowing the listener to hear the more tasteful and directed side of his playing."

Consider that I recored seven CDs ("Impressions" in 2001, "Walking Through The Gates" in 2002, "Moonlight" in 2003, "Arlekkino" in 2004, "My Red Guitar" in 2005, "2012" in 2007, and "On The Beach" in 2012), and every one represents a different story and phase of my life. That is, a different kind and approach to the composition and to the overall sound.

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Dan McAvinchey: What are you striving to achieve musically, particularly on your last album?

Alex Rosselli: Guitar experimentation, looking for melody and as far as possible, every song should sound different, recognizable, and distinguishable from the others.

My last album, "On The Beach" is a microcosmic journey:
- I explore my inner world, diving in the deepest regions of the mind
- this is a path in completly solitude, through the psychic magma in which
are dwelling happiness, hope, solitude, sadness and sorrow
- now is necessary to find the alchemical solution, the path and final exit out of
this internal chaos
- the solution is possible only if I can transcend myself and achieve a complete
regeneration of my soul

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about the gear you use to get your sound.

Alex Rosselli: I like this question! I use two different setups: the first for live performance, the second for studio recording.

My actual live setup (as a solo artist, I'm currently playng with other 2 rock
bands "New Redemption" and "Nine"):

- Guitars: ESP KH II and Carvin DC127
- Amp: Mesa/Boogie DC50
- Eff: Vox wah, EHX Bad Stone Phaser, NUX High gain distortion, PROCO RAT SOLO, EHX
Deluxe Memory Man, Boss graphic EQ

For studio recording:

- Laney 15w amp with Marshall red cabinet JCM 800
- Fender Stratocaster '70 Series Mexico with Texas Special pickups
- Peavey Predator with Fender Delta Tone pickups
- Dunlop Hendrix Wah
- Sweet Sound Mojo Vibe
- Boss Dimension DC 2
- Ehx White Finger
- Ehx Frequency Analyzer
- Ehx Microsynth
- Ehx HOG
- MJM London Fuzz I
- Digitech Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Guitar MIDI with Yamaha G50 Midi Converter and module Yamaha MU100
- MicroKorg synth

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your album and music career?

Alex Rosselli: Yes, but partially, because social media are very good, but with the disadvantage of being a passive way of promotion. I think it's important to attempt direct contact with radios, TV, and promoters. Generally though, the internet is a great help.

Dan McAvinchey: From a publicity and promotion standpoint, what do you find is working best for you at the moment?

Alex Rosselli: I don't want to do a bad reputation about social media, but I'm not so convinced of that it is an efficient way to promote. At his time I prefer to make direct contact with persons working for radios, music blogs or music reviewers. They have the right public and listeners for the music I do.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you personally find to be the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Alex Rosselli: As an independent musician I feel totally free, obviously, about the musical structure of the songs (length, instruments choice, kind of arrangments) and have no stress that could have derived from label contracts, deadlines and commitments.

On the other hand, a label has all the right promotion channels and contacts, a higher budget, a professional recording studio staff, professional cover art designers and advertisers, and even professional video recording.

As independent musician you should be (as far as possible) at the same time: musician, studio and recording technician, manager and promoter - and believe in yourself!

Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

Alex Rosselli: I like drummers generally - I love Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers, and Clyde Stubblefield, for example. I also have a passion for Hammond organ. But I like to listen to instrumental music (jazz-rock/fusion) and this kind of music has a place for every instrument (piano, electric piano, strings, any kind of guitar, sax, trumpet, flutes, key and synth) without time and expression limitations.

Dan McAvinchey: What's up next for you, what are some of your plans for the future?

Alex Rosselli: I'm always looking to better myself as guitarist, not so much the speed or technique but more the touch and sound that I try to achieve. It is very important for me to research sound exploration with the intention to translate my inner emotional world into music.

I'm working now on new recordings, and in 2016 I'll release a new CD, quite cosmic
oriented but with a rock structure. I have to choose the right sounds, effects and instrument to match what I have in my mind. It take a lot of time, patience and trial and error.

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Italian-born Alex Rosselli specializes in tantalizing and exotic blends of creative fusion that combine the most vibrant sounds of Rock, Jazz, and Progressive into instrumental cosmic-rhythms and grooves impossible to ignore. He has seven independently released albums to his credit, the latest being "On The Beach".

Dan McAvinchey conducted a virtual interview with Rosselli to discuss his body of work, and his promotional efforts to date.