Guitar Nine Columns: Interviews

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Enjoy over 20 years of staff columns, guest columns, interviews and more!

August-September 2001

For me it`s the biggest challenge to stand out from the rest of the bands out there. The market is so full of bands out there these days! There must be at least 100 new albums coming out every month, just for metal music. So, imagine how hard it is to make a difference!

June-July 2001

I think that for these great guitar magazines the most important thing is to sell copies, so they are "compelled" to put on covers and dedicate as much space as they can to the most famous guitarists -- in fact, there are always the same names featured! It would be cool to some day see a cover with all the undiscovered ones!

February-March 2001

Actually I started playing flamenco before playing electric guitar. It`s always been a love of mine. Unfortunately, when you`re doing pop records, I`d bring it out. The response I`d get is, `Save it for your own record.` So I have my own flamenco record which came out a couple of months ago.

February-March 2001

Well, this a great time for bands and independent record labels. The exposure is endless and the quality is so much better than even 10 years ago. I think bands will get smart and start to depend less on the company to put it in stores and see more of the future music listeners downloading the album. This would cost less for the buyer and give more to the band.

February-March 2001

Everyone wants to be loved, and for a musician guitar player that means to be heard and loved with unbiased ears. I want to keep the freedom I`ve attained by being a guitarist. That outlaw time zone I mentioned. It`s an achievement that`s ongoing, you could say I have achieved it, but you have to stay on the case, because things can change on any given day. You can`t let creativity stop.

December-January 2000

I have always played because I love the guitar and now since 1994, when I again started being in charge of the projects I was involved in I have felt the freedom to make the music I want to make and that I personally enjoy.

October-November 2000

Transcribing is difficult work that takes a lot of concentration--I usually use headphones and I use a switching box which allows me to hear the right or left channel only through both sides of the headphones. This helps when trying to zero in on a particular guitar part. A thorough knowledge of music notation is mandatory also.

October-November 2000

All Latin or world music requires a very strong groove even if it is slow. That was a challenge since I am coming from a rock/fusion area. It helped my playing that way. Also when it came to soloing, I could not rely on my legato technique as much since it would not come out as well. Thus I worked on my alternate picking for a few months before the recording.

October-November 2000

I think the stylistic variety comes from the fact that I love so many different kinds of music and I`ve played with a lot of different kinds of artists. I`ve played with a salsa band, a blues band, numerous pop bands, and an avant-garde jammy classical-jazz band.

October-November 2000

I wanted to record this album as a band. The intensity and energy you get from recording as a band is far superior than to that of using hired guns. Being very influenced by bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X etc., I wanted the new material to be more aggressive and somewhat progressive, however still keeping everything very melodic.

August-September 2000

Don`t get jealous. Don`t put other people down for their playing. You have to concentrate on what you want to do and study and appreciate the works of other people. Don`t rip off works of your friends, take a little from them and add some originality. I have found that the people who take ideas and riffs from others blatantly without giving credit are usually mediocre musicians and writers.

August-September 2000

I have done interviews with quite a few leading Japanese and European magazines. My experience with them has been very positive. As far as US magazines are concerned, it is hard for me to say how they are handling guitar-oriented music, because I haven`t dealt with them much in the past. There just doesn`t seem to be that much of a market for insturmental music in the US as there is overseas.

August-September 2000

We`re definitely going to do another album this year. We`ve got a couple of concepts we`re throwing around. It will be an instrumental album. We`re ready to do that again ourselves. Like I said, we`re extremely proud of "Under The Lash Of Gravity" and we`re doing everything we can to get it out there. Initially, instrumental guitar fans didn`t buy it. But if they give it a chance, it does grow on you.

June-July 2000

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.

June-July 2000

I love it at home, but you can`t play here. You can`t play in L.A. every night. We`re lucky to play once a week here. It`s just the nature of being a musician. People won`t pay to see you every single week. You have to travel and change your audience to be able to play every night.

April-May 2000

Well, there really isn`t that big a demand for that kind of music that I write and play over the radio. So what I`ve been able to do by doing my own records and doing my own website is basically ignore the record company thing where the whole machinery has to be in place for airplay, promotions and tours. Now I can make the music I want to make, and so far so good.

April-May 2000

I find it hard to believe that some people have trouble getting press. It`s not really that difficult to do. I think the hardest part is letting go of the fear of a bad review. I`ve spoken to colleagues who don`t send their CD out because they`re afraid it`ll get trashed. Yeah, it might. But you have to take that chance.

December-January 1999

I believe that back in the 80`s it was a very novel thing to be an instrumental rock guitarist. I mean we`ve had rock instrumental songs since rock began, but the technical advances made by many of us were very charming and, for a while, in vogue. These are the very same qualities that almost killed the genre.

December-January 1999

G3 is definitely here to stay. People may or may not know, the concept that we came up with a number of years ago was to be able to bring guitarists together that usually spend most of their time trying to stay apart. Managers and record companies are always trying to keep people separate. So we came up with the idea of bringing people together.

December-January 1999

You know, the early rock bands that I was into, like Deep Purple and Queen were very guitar oriented bands. I just wanted to start playing, so I got a guitar one year for Christmas. I had no interest in the guitar on Christmas day, I played more with the box. It grew on me and I got real serious after a couple of years.

December-January 1999

Well, I`m 38 and I started when I was ten. I probably started younger, like when I was about eight, so when you think about it, I`ve been playing for 30 years. I should be a lot better then I am (laughs).

December-January 1999

A studio CD is hard work, because you spend months and do all this painstaking work in the studio and nit pick everything and make it right and mix it. I think that`s a bigger labor, but I think a live CD is a scary thing because you`re getting up there and playing live. There is nothing to hide behind. There`s no overdubs, and you have to live with what you did or don`t put it out.

December-January 1999

Back when I got my hands on my first multi-track recorder, I was fascinated with overdubbing, piling things on top of things, and recording anyone that came in my grip. I recorded hundreds of hours of stuff. Then I released the record `Flexible,` my first solo record.

December-January 1999

We send about half our orders overseas (48 different countries at last check), so numerically more CDs are still purchased in the United States, but that`s really because the country is so big. I feel the demand for instrumental guitar is stronger overseas, and if the economies in the Far East and Eastern Europe were stronger, I believe we`d sell even more there.

December-January 1999

We have our own recording facility at our rehearsal studio and have been doing all recent recording there. We also rent time if necessary at a more elaborate studio. Ralph (Perucci) has his own studio in Manhattan.

December-January 1999

I have an easier time over in Europe than I do here. I live in the Boston area, and Boston being a college town really wants alternative music. So I have a difficult time getting shows and drawing a huge crowd around here. I find it kind of weird. Thankfully that is not the only thing that I have to go on.

December-January 1999

Favored Nations is my new independent record company. It`s something I knew I was going to do. I knew I was destined to do a record company eventually. It`s a great concept and I found a great partner, Ray Sheer. We had similar concepts on how we would like to construct a label. I`ve been in the business for a long time, and I understand the infrastructure of how a label works and how they promote and market. So we put together this concept, sort of a musicians label.

December-January 1999

When we were working the tunes, none of us had any idea how long they were. It`s just these were our little babies we`re producing. It seemed that they needed all the parts we had. Looking back, there`s maybe two sections on the whole record I would cut. We hacked up a couple cuts for radio play, hacked them from eight minutes to five.

December-January 1999

As far as releasing independently - there`s really no other way. Instrumental music (other than `happy saxophone` music I suppose) doesn`t really get a lot of support from record labels, guitar magazines, radio, whatever. So, if you love doing this kind of thing, then you really have to accept that you`ve gotta do it yourself.

August-September 1999

I like to take another artist`s song and vision and take it to another level. My experience with Fourth Estate, as well as contributing to many other projects and playing in countless cover bands, gives me a broad perspective in which to approach working with a variety of different artists. I am also very picky about sounds and tones and I think that translates in most of the projects I`ve produced.

August-September 1999

Except for distribution, I`ve always made out better doing it myself using investor money then any contracts I`ve been offered. I have a "go in the studio and play" mentality. I don`t overdub, and I usually only do two or three takes for each piece. I make sure when I go in, I`m ready! So my costs are embarressingly low!

June-July 1999

But even with my success in Belgium, it was impossible to get any industry support/interest generated. It was then the time of Kurt Cobain and friends, people like Tony MacAlpine and Greg Howe weren`t having any luck, what hope was there for me? Releasing my own CD seemed like the only answer.

April-May 1999

The only recording I do at home is for demo purposes. My engineer and I have actually built a commercial studio in San Luis Obispo, CA. The studio is a 3,000 sq..ft., 24 track, digital facility. It was a huge project, spanning two years. The great thing is I don`t have to worry about the clock anymore. There is a tremendous feeling of freedom when I can spend the time needed to record my songs, the way I feel they should be.

February-March 1999

I was never a fan of direct guitar sounds but for some reason this album ("Zone") is full of direct guitar. All of the rhythm tracks, clean and dirty, were recorded direct. I find that this gives the punchiest sound out there. The Sans-Amp rack really helped also. It is one of those `plug and play` pieces of gear which tone just oozes out of.

December-January 1998

I`ve been playing for nearly 20 years, and I`ve always emulated guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore, people like that. As far as instrumental goes, when you can`t sing yourself, you tend to write without a vocal part in mind. If you could add vocals to it, that would be one thing, but I decided that I would like the guitar to shine through on what I was doing. So I decided to make the project instrumental.

October-November 1998

We have tried to record as much of our playing as we possibly can, both in practice and "jamming" sessions, and when we perform live, to give ourselves some feedback. When playing it`s very difficult to listen to yourself because you`re too busy thinking about what`s going to happen next, while in critical listening you concentrate on the blend of what has just happened. By listening to recordings of ourselves we can pick out the improvisational parts that work well, sound great, or have promise, then try to concentrate on developing them.

October-November 1998

For Europe my music is not aggressive enough and in the US I didn`t have anybody to present it to. So rather than making so-called industry contacts and "wait until it happens" I decided to do it myself, which turned out to be much faster and got me and my music much more respect. I highly recommend a musical statement such as this to all musicians who intend to be a part of this complex industry.

October-November 1998

I hope my music, although there are no words, communicates and reaches people on an emotional, spiritual and entertaining level. I try to incorporate various instrumentation, and contemporary compositional influences.

August-September 1998

I knew what I wanted to do but there were no labels dedicated to the guitarist as the artist, but only to the guitarist as a shred meister. I read an interview with guitarist Glenn Phillips, who has released ten albums independently. I realized from his comments (about the music industry) that the only way to reach my goal was to follow his example.

August-September 1998

In the last few years I`ve made a record for a major label that didn`t get released. Then I signed with a indie label. I thought the majors were the bad guys, and this label would give me more attention. WRONG! To make a long story longer, the small label had bad distribution and never paid a bill, let alone the tour support and promo budget.

June-July 1998

The best marketing tip though, is not to think of the market when you are composing or playing your music. Play only what is true to you--as an independent musician, you have that luxury.

June-July 1998

I am trying to reach into the heart of the listener and make him or her feel what I am putting out emotionally. I just want young people to become emotionally attached to music again. I want to enlighten a younger audience.

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