Interview: Joe Bochar

Dan McAvinchey: Joe, what were some of the things that influenced your musical tastes and led to your interest in the guitar?

Joe Bochar: The Muppets. When I was 5, I had this LP from the Muppets, and the underscoring scared the loaf out of me. I had night terrors for years because of the music. It was really dark. Then I got KISS "Alive 2" when I was 7 years old, and that's what did it. I wanted to play the guitar.

Later on, I listened to Black Sabbath, Boston and Alice Cooper, as well as John Williams, The Beatles, Harry Belafonte, and Elvis...then a bunch of '80s stuff. That's what I cut my guitar "teeth" on: Scorpions, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Vai. When I was about 21, I discovered Danny Elfman and his scores. That was a major turning point.

I don't really listen to guitar anymore, although I do have an Achilles heel for real heavy bands like Fear Factory, Kilgore, Full Devil Jacket, PM5K and Static X. I still dig Elfman and Williams scores, Rossini overtures, and the Muppets. I like Ice-T, Cube, Snoop, Dixie Chicks, ABBA and Bumblefoot. It's all good.

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars and other equipment are you currently using to get your sound?

Joe Bochar: Right now it's my basic bastardized Strat parts guitar, into a Morley wah, into a Marshall JMP-1/9200 power amp, then into a 1x12 cab. I use an old Fender Princeton Reverb with a Boss Turbo Overdrive box for rhythm tracks. I've been playing with Fernandes guitars for a bit now, and really like them. They make a quality instrument. Pickups are DiMarzio's (Evolutions, Virtual Vintage Blues, Fast Track 2); strings are GHS; cases by TKL. I like the Whammy 2 pedal for certain things.

As for effects, I really don't like them on my guitar. I record completely dry, and I'll spice it a bit in the mix. Rhythms are always dry in the mix.. makes it tight.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you hoping to achieve musically?

Joe Bochar: I just want to keep pushing the envelope of creativity. If people like it, I'm happy. If not, oh well, that's cool, too.

Dan McAvinchey: What are your most recently completed projects and what are you currently working on?

Joe Bochar: Most recent? I remixed "Raw Sausage Finger" (from "Orange"). There are 4 versions on the disc. The mix from "Orange" (and the backwards track), the Phly Mix, and the Sonic Decimator Mix. Phly was a demo for the Fernandes Sustainer guitar. Decimator was just an excuse to do a techno/industrial remix. The CD single has ROM content as well. It's mainly for promotions right now. If there's a demand, I'll do a full pressing and sell them.

"Orange" was licensed to 2 MTV shows (The Real World & Undressed).

Right now I'm recording a new CD... well, it's probably going to be 2 discs: one mellow (or mellow-er than usual Joboj stuff), and another real heavy disc tuned down to Q. There's some other stuff too, but I don't want to jinx myself...

Dan McAvinchey: How do you compose your music?

Joe Bochar: I usually stumble across something while in the car, or air guitaring around my apartment. I'll notate it into Cakewalk (sequencer) so I don't forget. Later on, I'll just noodle with it until I'm happy with the arrangement. Then I'll build layers over that.

I never write solos. Anything you hear is usually off the cuff. I have to relearn all my stuff after I mix it.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you record at home or rent time at a commercial facility?

Joe Bochar: I always record my stuff at home. Less pressure, and more creative freedom. I've done work at other facilities, but it's usually not for my stuff.

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Dan McAvinchey: What went into the decision to form your own record label and release
an independent record?

Joe Bochar: I just did it. I never thought I'd be CEO of Virgin Independent, nor would I want to. I had material to release. No major or indie label wanted to hear about it, so I did it myself. And let's face it: guitar music is a tough sell, so most majors won't cut you any slack.

Dan McAvinchey: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Joe Bochar: Advantage: creative freedom. Disadvantage: creative freedom.

Dan McAvinchey: Can you share any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Joe Bochar: Get you music in as many places as possible. You never know who's listening.

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Setting himself off from the rest of the pack is California guitarist Joe Bochar, who has released two independent CDs and is working on several others. Currently preferring to use the name "Joboj" as his stage name, Bochar released the aggressive, insanely chromatic, all-instrumental "Anvilhead" in 1997, followed by 73 minutes of instrumental guitar chaos on 1999's "Orange". Some of the most outlandish and creative arrangements, moods and solos you'll find in today's current instrumental offerings, these two CDs set a standard of uniqueness that Bochar should be able to build on for years to come. If you're tired of "me-too" and copycat guitarists, you owe it to yourself to check out what this man is offering.

Dan McAvinchey got the lowdown from Joboj on how Jim Henson has affected his life and what's next for this creative artist.