Joe Rodriguez: I grew up in New York City and I took two years of piano lessons when I was twelve years old. It gave me a good foundation with reading and ear training but, like most people my age, I hated it. Of course, like most people, now I'm kicking myself for not sticking with it. My early influences included KISS, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. There was a big period where I joined a lot of differently styled bands--Classic Rock, Top-40 and '50's & '60's, which really rounded out my musical knowledge. Vai and Satriani came along and I identified with them immediately. My latest inspirations are people like Trent Reznor (NIN) and that "Artist Formerly..." guy--people that have fully realized visions of their work and always seem to succeed despite the fact that people (labels and bandmates) are constantly trying to dilute them or drag them down.
Joe Rodriguez: Washburn and some custom Guitar Factory guitars with DiMarzio Pickups, Hughes & Kettner and Marshall amps, ART rack and Boss pedal effects (CS-2, SD-1, PS-2), but my favorite piece of gear is my Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler--great for twisting and warping guitars and anything else that steps in my path!
Joe Rodriguez: World Peace! No, really, my goal is for any project I record to be able to stand the test of time and be worth listening to many years later. I don't know if I've achieved that
quite yet, but I'm definitely working on it.
Joe Rodriguez: The one I've just completed is "Antares: The GranDesign", which is a ten song instrumental guitar intensive CD. It's very dense and eclectic-sort of a Dream Theater, NIN, Steve Vai, Indigo Girls, John Williams, soundtrack to
Terminator 2 mixture. New stuff? I'm producing and co-writing with two singer/songwriters on their respective projects-raw, hard rocking, acoustic stuff using a lot of samples, loops and crazy sounds. Gotta have that mind-altering ear candy!
Joe Rodriguez: Usually off the cuff. The best stuff normally comes out when I'm not obsessing about it. I'll stumble on a guitar riff or a keyboard figure and dump it on an "Ideas" tape. Later on, when I feel like composing, I'll go back and listen through and find out that a lot of it is crap but a few things are worth developing. Then it's time to fire up the sequencer and away we go. It's never easy, though. Most of the time it feels like going uphill all the way, but anything worth anything is going to feel like work.
Joe Rodriguez: I do as much pre-production as humanly possible at home. When you're ready to record, and I can't stress this enough, have everything rehearsed to death and a production plan ready. I did my latest CD at a commercial place, but my dream is to do my next one at home. I've got to fortify my recording setup a little more, though. Show me the gear!
Joe Rodriguez: I don't have a lot of patience for explaining myself and my musical vision to some trendy, money-driven stuffed-shirt that knows nothing about music.
Joe Rodriguez: FREEDOM, FREEDOM and more FREEDOM. Freedom to create something that's much better than what's being force fed to the masses. Freedom to communicate ideas no matter how radical, non-sensical or thought-provoking. And the proud feeling you get when it's all said and done and you can tell
people, "Yeah, I did it all myself!"
Disadvantages? Not a lot of money to be made at first, but it will come eventually if you keep at it. But, if you wanted a lot of money, you would have become a lawyer, doctor or something other than a musician like your parents told you to do long time ago.
Joe Rodriguez: I'm still learning a lot about this myself, but I would say budget for a lot of promotion. Get the word out, target your audience and buy ads so they (the music buyers) will see them. Also, get some promo merchandise that you can sell or give away. People love free stuff and it'll make you more professional in
their eyes if you have a "campaign", i.e. shirts, hats, posters, photos,
etc. Of course, use the Internet and all it's benefits. And be sure to say "thanks" to all that help you along the way.