Interview: Joe Stump

Dan McAvinchey: Joe, the new songs on your 2012 album "Revenge Of The Shredlord" seem to jump out of the speakers at you. Since we last interviewed you about 2-3 years ago, has anything changed for you as you approach recording new compositions in the studio?

Joe Stump: With my newest record I recorded all of the guitars at home. I have a very modest recording setup but it works out fine as far as tracking stuff goes and I get killer guitar tones as well. The best thing about tracking at home is that when I was feeling inspired and into it I'd track and play for hours and if it wasn't happening and I wasn't feeling it I just come back the next day. So working like that I'm able to capture some killer stuff.

Dan McAvinchey: Retribution, retaliation, payback, an eye for an eye, "Virtuostic Vendetta", "Revenge Of The Shredlord" - anything our readers should extract or infer from this in terms of your offstage life?

Joe Stump: Nah, I just try and come up with something that sounds bad-ass and cool. Playing all that intense technical shred stuff is much easier than coming up with the proper album title after so many solo records. If I was going to retaliate it'd be against some of those ignorant internet morons and wannabe players that like to talk shit about me. So on my new record I decided to step up my game a few more notches as to silence any nonbelievers.

Dan McAvinchey: Myself, and the Guitar Nine fans, are happy to hear the intensity and technical brilliance are still emphasized on your albums - I don't think we're ready for the Joe Stump acoustic record just yet - do you?

Joe Stump: I'm very dedicated to my craft and always trying in improve in all aspects of my playing and composing. It seems like the older I get the faster, more controlled and intense my playing becomes. I'm quite fortunate in that I get to do quite a bit of live playing and touring and in my opinion there's nothing better for your playing. No, definitely no signs of letting up at this point, although I would like to do a bluesy/retro hard rock record sometime in the future. I've had those types of tunes on my various records but this would be a full record in that direction. A cool idea for down the road a bit.

Dan McAvinchey: If a fan of heavy guitar has never heard of Joe Stump, what are the two or three tracks off of "Revenge Of The Shredlord" that you'd prefer a busy, distracted listener would have to hear?

Joe Stump: Good question I'd say "Man Your Battlestations", that one's an intense balls out high speed neo-classical shred bit with some sick over the top playing. "Pistoleros" would be another, that's one of my favorite tunes on the new record as it's a great combination of cool riffs, strong melodies mixed with killer playing and it also rocks. Blackmore's one of my all time heroes, he had that balls and attitude in his playing and I try to channel that with my stuff. Many technical players play well, nice and tidy and everything but they just don't rock, stuff sounds like a fancy guitar exercise. A few others would be "In The Master's House", which is a really nice melodic ballad and showcases the emotional side of my playing really well. Or "Shredlord's Sonata" as far as extreme classically influenced playing goes.

Dan McAvinchey: Has your choice in guitars, amps or effects changed any over the past couple of years?

Joe Stump: I've always been a Strat and Marshall enthusiast and that certainly hasn't changed. For my new record I used several of my ESP custom shop Strats as well as 2008 Fender Yngwie Malmsteen model. My main amp was a 1971 Marshall 50 watt Mark 2 that used to belong to Yngwie Malmsteen. Great sounding head, plus it's got the Malmsteen mojo so that's cool as well, Effectwise, I drive the front end of my Marshalls with either an old grey DOD 250 overdrive, DOD YJM 308 overdrive or a BSM RPA major treble booster. Bernd Meiser at BSM is a big Blackmore fanatic (like myself) and he makes these great boutique pedals based off the various eras of Ritchie's tone, needless to say I have all of them but my favorite is the RPA major.

Dan McAvinchey: The Berklee College of Music lists you on their web site as an Associate Professor - what is your ongoing relationship with the school?

Joe Stump: I've been on the guitar faculty at Berklee coming up on 20 years now. I'm the metal/shred guitar expert there. I have a huge roster of private students and I also teach an advanced metal master class as well. It's a great gig as I only work three days a week and I can always rearrange my schedule when I've got live dates and touring.

Dan McAvinchey: You are doing lessons on DVD/instant download, such as "Shred Guitar 101". Tell us about that, and do you currently have any students you teach privately?

Joe Stump: I have a bunch of instructional DVDs out, seven of them in total, I believe. They're released thru a U.K.-based company called the Shred Academy. "Shred Guitar 101" is my newest one and this one is more geared toward lower- to medium-level players trying to develop their technique. I cover a variety of topics on it (3 note per string scales and chop building patterns/solo ideas with them, open string stuff, scale pattern stuff).

I do give private lessons, mostly at Berklee, but I do have some private students outside of Berklee as well. I wouldn't want to be so busy giving lessons that I wouldn't be able to devote the proper amount of time to my own playing and composing. I'm also working on an instructional book for Berklee Press that'll be released next year sometime.

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Dan McAvinchey: Lion Music is carrying "Revenge Of The Shredlord" on CD, and I am surprised to even hear myself referring to CD as "old school", but at this point I think it might be just that. Do you thing the day is near when the new Joe Stump album will be download only? If so, does it affect the way you prepare to record an "album" or does the possibility of releasing individual "tracks" become something to consider?

Joe Stump: I'm sure there will be a day when CDs are a thing of the past. I ask many of my students at Berklee and believe it or not many of them will still buy CDs while others just purchase music via download or use sources like Spotify to listen to stuff. I don't think it'll effect my approach in the immediate future but it is cool that in between records I could always release a track or two digitally.

Dan McAvinchey: Along those lines, are you still able to sell CDs at live shows and does it contribute in a significant way to the revenue of a typical tour?

Joe Stump: I still sell CDs at shows and many fans still buy them, not nearly as much as in the past but it still serves as a nice little chunk of extra money.

Dan McAvinchey: Has Lion Music changed their approach to marketing your music now that the shift towards digital downloads is almost complete?

Joe Stump: No, they still market my stuff the old school way. Of course, the product is all digital and the EPK that goes with it. Also, while some stuff still shows up in print magazines, most reviews and interviews are all on line for everyone these days.

Dan McAvinchey: I noticed there is still a link on your web site - does anyone really use Myspace anymore?

Joe Stump: Nobody told me, guess I'm a bit slow on the Myspace to Facebook transition. Just kidding of course - that's just an old link on my .com site. I'll have tell my web guy to step things up.

Dan McAvinchey: OK, hypothetically, Joe Stump and Yngwie Malmsteen are cutting heads in Times Square on New Year's Eve 2012. Thankfully, the amps are cranked high enough to drown out both Brian Seacrest and Anderson Cooper. The winner gets the proverbial 72 virgins, the loser goes you-know-where. Who comes out on top?

Joe Stump: That'd be a lot of fun however both Yngwie and myself might need some of those fingerless gloves as it gets pretty cold in New York in January. I might have an edge in that department as I'm from New York and currently live in Boston so I'm used to the colder weather, where Yngwie has lived in Miami for quite awhile now. But seriously, Yngwie's truely a guitar legend and it's no big secret that along with Blackmore he's one of my all time heroes and biggest influences. I'd be a great experience to hang and play with him. For me that'd be really exciting as to this day I still find his playing very inspiring. That said both of us are really on top of our game playing-wise these days so there'd be plenty of notes flying around.

Dan McAvinchey: Finally, what are you looking forward to in 2013, what's on your musical agenda?

Joe Stump: I'll be finishing and releasing my instructional book for Berklee Press and playing a bunch more live shows/clincs in support of "Revenge Of The Shredlord". I'm also playing in two power metal bands - HolyHell and Raven Lord - so perhaps some European touring with either of those. Also, my next record will be a Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror record, mostly vocal tunes with a few instrumentals mixed in. So I'll get to putting that together after I finish the book project. So I'm sure I'll be keeping busy next year.

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Joe Stump should literally need no introduction. The Shred Lord has been responsible for full-throttle neo-classical shred ever since the 1993 "Guitar Dominance" release on Leviathan Records - that's nearly twenty years of solo releases, band projects (Reign of Terror, HolyHell), clinics, live shows, ridiculously precise sweeps, jaw-dropping legatos, and intense alternate picking. Since our 2010 interview, a lot has happened.

Dan McAvinchey ran down the Shred Lord for this interview to get the inside story on his new CD, and to talk about other musical topics.