Interview: The King of Shred Rusty Cooley

By Andrew Catania

Can a childhood birthday present set the entire course of future for someone? This might be quite a random and subjective thought to ponder, but that’s what happened to Rusty Cooley’s life, to say the least!

Who knows what the person had in mind when he presented Rusty with a guitar on his 15th birthday. The guitar turned out to be that lucky charm that one needs just once in their life, to meet their fate and make everything fall into place. The moment his fingers first encountered the chords, it was the defining moment of his life, and he has never looked back since.


His interest in music landed him into the supervision of a couple of instructors in the initial years of his learning phase. However, disgruntled with the way guitar lessons were taught back then, Rusty opted to test his own mettle and decided in favor of a self-learning approach.

This proved to be just the right learning medium as it not only improved his basic knowledge about the physics of guitars, but also helped him familiarize with the tact and intricacies of the chords. This probably is the reason why he’s titled as the ‘Fastest Guitarist in the US’ as well as a master shredder.

Rusty’s career debut as a guitarist was different from his contemporaries, unlike a typical debut norm of a studio album or record label release. Rusty, through his self-taught approach, had become so competent at playing guitars that he started giving guitar lessons at a local music store. In 1989, at the age of 19, he kick-started his professional playing career with the famous rock band Revolution.

After a couple of performances on ‘Metallurgy’, ‘Metallurgy Unplugged’ and an EP release, Rusty parted ways with the Revolution and joined hands with Dominion. The same year when Dominion broke up, Rusty bagged the title of ‘The Best Guitarist in Houston’ in the Guitar Master Series Contest.

After spending a couple of years polishing and refining his skills, leading ‘World Class Guitar Leading Techniques’ (a local TV show), and teaching at the World Class National Guitar Techniques for 3 consecutive years, Rusty joined Outworld in 1997.

Rusty released his personal guitar playing tutorial, called the ‘Shred Guitar Manifesto’, in 2000, which managed to gain endorsements from Seymour Duncan Pickups and Jackson Guitars. In 2003, Rusty released a solo album titled ‘Rusty Cooley’ to his name. The same year, he was ranked as the ‘7th Fastest Shredders of All Times’ by Guitar One Magazine, in April 2003.

Rusty’s style has evolved from a variety of genres, including Country, Classical, Funk, Blues, and Rock. His initial inspirations include some legendary names including Becker, Bach, Vai, Tafolla, Kotzen, Firkins, Malmsteen, Gilbert, Paganini, Holdsworth, and Rhoads.

Rusty has also tested the luthier in him, releasing his signature six-stringed Dean model in 2007, and the improvised eight-stringed version named after his initials, ‘DC RC-8’, in 2011. Rusty’s lead work has been promoted in the ‘Double Brutal’, Death Machine’s second album. Rusty has been affiliated with a number of acclaimed luthiers, including Morley Pedals, Ibanez Guitars, GHS Strings, Maxon, and Jackson Guitars. He’s currently endorsed and recognized by Dean Guitars. Rusty marked his return to the playing domain by joining ‘Day of Reckoning’. He also released a new album ‘Into the Fire’ last year along with other band members. Aside from bagging various recognitions and acclaims, Rusty has been imparting his treasure trove of theoretical and practical knowledge and intricacies of guitaring through regular lessons. He will make a special guest appearance in ‘John Petrucci’s Guitar Universe’, a guitar camp to be held in August of 2017. Rusty has continued teaching and putting music out with Day of Reckoning.  I spoke with Rusty to catch up on what he’s been doing.



You’re teaching guitar lessons all day and night in Texas?

Well not all day and all night.  I don’t start until 3 in the afternoon and I’ll go until 3 to 9 and then sometimes when I get home I’ll do skype stuff, like after this interview I’ve got a Skype lesson.  I was out-of-town for a couple of days from Friday to Sunday night doing a guitarclinic in Maryland and just doing some make up stuff, you know just business as usual

What are you doing presently?  I know you’ve got Day of Reckoning happening

Yes, I’ve got Day of Reckoning.  We’ve got a CD out and its one of two parts it’s Into the Fire Part 1 and we just released that well not just its been out for a little while but we released that and then ran into a couple of hiccups with band members and we got a new drummer which we had to import all the way from Bangalore India. It’s sad when you can’t find a drummer you know in your hometown or let alone in the United States but he’s an amazing drummer so he’s been back and forth a few times but he’s moving over and he’ll be a permanent feature after the first of the year.  Then we had an issue with our bass player  he just had too many commitments  with some personal issues so we had to find somebody to replace him and I thought that was going to take forever but we actually found his replacement pretty quick and that’s not any reflections on his playing he’s an amazing bass player but I just got lucky and it was a guy I tried to get in the band a long time ago was available named Michael Milsap or aka Dr Froth he doesn’t actually play a bass he plays an AT Stick it’s got like 8 strings on it or something 7 or 8 strings and it’s got the full bass range and it’s got strings like you find on a guitar  as well and he does all this tapping and crazy stuff so it fits in with all the insanity so just trying to get out there and get things rolling again you know.  You know it’s been a long time between Outworld and Day of Reckoning so it’s just not easy finding guys that play on that level that are committed and dedicated and can do it so.  We’ve done some cool things this year.  We did a tour with Darkest Hour earlier this year and then we just opened for Alter Bridge in Dallas at their CD release party.  That was cool and some other things just trying to get the momentum and get it rolling again you know what I mean?  It’s a long time in the process

I’ve been reading in 1996 you said you couldn’t find any musicians, you did not have any musicians in your hometown that just didn’t even satisfy you, you did your own solo thing, is that pretty much where it started?  

At the time when I decided to do an instrumental album It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t satisfied with the level of players it was just you know sometimes you’ve just got to take a breather.  I needed a change and that’s when I decided, you know I had my son and I had taken a year or so off from teaching and was trying to reevaluate life; my assessment.  I was 26 at the time you know I had to go through some changes; metamorphosis and get back on the right track and really assess what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it.  Luck of the draw it’s all a timing thing really because when I started writing that instrumental album I started playing 7 string at the same time as my first child and started going back to teaching and the internet started to take off and I just happened to be there at the right time to be known as ‘internet guitarist’ or whatever whether that has a positive or negative I’m not sure.  I can surely tell you this if it wasn’t for the internet I wouldn’t who knows what would have happened and how else do you reach the world without getting out there touring?  Back then you would swap cassettes with everybody to find out about guitar players and bands you know so it’s just luck of the draw I guess, I don’t know but it all kind of came together at the same time and then I had to get back out there and find guys in my hometown that could play the stuff.  So really my instrumental band became Outworld and that’s when we got a singer.  The instrumental album didn’t have a real drummer on it me and my old keyboard player Bobby I would give him rough drafts of the songs that I had programmed drums for and I’m not a drummer by any means so I gave him the stuff and he spiced it up to what it became.  Before he played keys, he was a drummer.  Basically, the drums that ended up being on the instrumental album were a combination of the three drummers we had gone through in that year.  We kind of took the best parts and spliced them in and turned them into what became so there’s a little bit of all them guys on there somewhere even though they didn’t play on it.  It’s tough man!

I understand!  You started teaching your third year of playing 


That’s mostly unheard of.  You didn’t like the people that were teaching you? 

Well the thing is I would have taken lessons and continued to take lessons if I could have found teachers that taught me that kind of stuff.  I got my guitar and signed up for my first month of lessons and it was like Twinkle Twinkle little star and stuff like that and ironically, I didn’t being a teenager, you know I would come in every week and say hey you should look at this Van Halen riff my friend showed me and my teacher is going “and what did you practice?” So, open position chords that you strum on acoustic and it wasn’t really much interest to me.  After a month of lessons with him he told my mom, it’s just not working out so I basically just got fired I guess, if you can be fired from guitar lessons.  He said why don’t you try my friend, so I signed up for a month of guitar lessons with this guy and after two weeks of lessons from him I quit because it was the same thing, just a different teacher.  And that’s when I found out about Metal Method.  I call it self-educated.  I’m not self-taught.  Self-educated you know through books and stuff like that.  A friend of mine had been carrying around an ad that he had cut out of Hit Parade or Circus Magazine back then for heavy metal guitar lessons which was Metal Method Doug Marks and whatnot.  He had it in his wallet and I said dude if you’re not going to use that, let me take it.  So, I ordered my first two lessons from Metal Method and it was all over from there because it was exactly what I was looking for because it was like taking lessons from Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen or whatever because it was guys playing the stuff that I wanted to hear and was listening to and he was teaching it you know.  So, I did the whole Metal Method’s course and then just started buying books and that turned into VHS tapes, that kind of dates me but that’s Ok!  I’m lucky and fortunate to have grown up in that era because that era is some of the famous rocking guitar players that ever existed came from that era and don’t really get it or respect that a lot of people don’t realize how much Yngwie or Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen plays the same guitar and I get it.  A lot of those guys can play faster than some guys but that’s not what it’s about.  It’s about what they brought to the table you know.  It’s not just getting up to their speed they brought a whole new style of guitar.  They did things that no one was doing before or at least in the main stream media you know.  And going back to the internet thing there was no internet back then so you know if there was someone else doing it somewhere it wasn’t like they got online and saw them doing it or heard them doing it you know.  We all tapped into similar sources so that was cool.  So, it just built from there and this was even before Yngwie came out and Randy Rhoads was my base influence when I was getting started and whatever Randy did I wanted to do so Randy taught so of course I wanted to teach.   Randy listened to classical music so I started listening to classical music.  I would absorb anything I could any interview, any bootleg cassette or album whatever I could find I had to have and unlike now those days I was starving for information whereas now online you can get as much information more which is not always a good thing because you don’t take it for what it’s worth sometimes I think.  It’s like I like to buy cd’s or buy albums I don’t want to buy one song you know how do you get to know an artist from one song?  Well I bought the one song, then I bought one song over here or they probably didn’t buy it because I don’t think kids know today know that you buy music.  I think they just think that it’s free you just get online at this certain website and you download it or hijack it or whatever you want to call it but that’s a whole other rant I’ll save for later.


I tell everybody that if you support the artist try to go to their website.  Try to buy the CD directly from them.  Anything, T shirts, guitar picks anything that you get through your website because that’s how you must survive.  If you are not out on the road 360 days a year like some of these bands are because the music Industry is not what it is anymore

Yeah, I honestly don’t completely blame them and I probably should but I think it’s from lack of information.  I think sometimes that people are just naive and just assume that because you have an album out or whatever that you’re like rich you know.  I think the music industry and artists and certain level of actors are the only people who experience this I’m not sure ,maybe I’m being naive but it’s the only industry where you can be world-famous and be struggling at the same time you know what I mean.  And it’s the only industry that you don’t necessarily go for the best of the best because it’s based on style and what the media is shoving down your throat you know what I mean.  People don’t know to look elsewhere, how do they find out you know.  And it’s just like non-musician types don’t really look beyond the radio.  A lot of people just get in their car and turn on the radio and whatever it is, it’s like background noise.  I mean if you watch the NBA or NFL you don’t just root for the guy on the bench you want to see the best of the best get up there because the excel and they’re great at what they do.  But when it comes to musicians their art is not necessarily about how good they are or how good their choreograph is or what their stage show looks like it’s not even about its performance it’s about the music sometimes well most of the times it’s not even about the music and stuff the show you know, so the musician just gets lost in it.  It’s a matter of taste I suppose because music is in the ear of the beholder so to speak and lack of education can also be a problem too

That’s true! Your kind of getting ahead of my questions here.   (laughter)

Sorry man!

No, that’s Ok! Do you still have the Peavey Decade Amp and the Peavey T27 your first guitar?

No man, I don’t.  That first Peavey guitar I think I sold to one of my school teachers for their kid and I don’t know what happened to the guitar maybe the guitar went with it.  My best friend who always says I quit playing because Rusty kept getting better than me but he had a Peavey also and I ended up with that.  First, we turned it into an Eddie Van Halen guitar and took it out in the garage and spray painted it, put all the pinstripes all over it and later I turned it into my Steve Vai meets Yngwie guitar which we painted fluorescent green and scalloped the frets and that one again, I don’t know where that one vanished to.  It just funny looking back and seeing how things come full circle that I started with Peavey guitars and amps and ended up going on to endorse their amps you know it’s cool.  But yeah, I have no idea where that guitar is at

OK.  You’ve gone through Ibanez you’re with Dean Guitars now.  How did you get involved with Elliot and Dean Guitars?

Well that’s an interesting story.  I got involved with Dean with a good friend of mine Mark Tremonti was at the Dean factory cause Mark’s a PRS guy so he was there with a friend of his Bill Beck who is a Dean artist also they just live by one another and they’re friends so Mark was tagging along and Elliot was talking to Mark and Elliot said hey many we’re trying to corner the shred market do you know anybody and Mark says well yes of course! You need to call my friend Rusty and that’s where it all started. This was like, I think it was around December 2005 I think, if I remember correctly, I guess it’s been a while now and he asked me if I was going to NAMM in January and luck of the draw again I had been endorsing Intellitouch Tuners and one of the guys said hey man why don’t we get you out to NAMM this year?  I said OK so it was all a last-minute thing.  So, I told Elliot yes, you know, I am going to be there this year.  So, he said well stop by the booth and let’s talk.  I said OK.  So, I get out there and I sat by the booth and we’re talking and sheepishly we’re talking and I say well I don’t really play the crazy shaped guitars I play more like super Strat guitars you know what I mean.  Because I wanted to hear more of what he had to say but I knew I’m not really like the ML type player you know like Dime plays or V’s but I went by and I talked to him anyway and he offered me a signature deal and he offered to build me whatever guitar I wanted to build and along the way on the conversation I brought up the fact that I play 8 string guitar  and I played two different versions.  I played an 8 sting that was high string A lowish B and I played an 8 string that was high E to low up sharp and I mentioned you know it’s like I don’t want to be playing a Dean Guitar and endorsing a Dean Guitar on this song and playing this brand of guitar on another song and this brand  of guitar on another song which he completely agreed which I really didn’t think about that but why would he want me playing anything else but Dean Guitars and the Fan Frets is not an easy guitar to make and they never made one before and he looks over to one of his guitar builders and says, hey man can we do that?  And the guy looks over and says, yes, we can do that! And that was it.  February, they had me fly into Tampa they picked me up and took me to the Dean Factory and signed the RC 7.  So, that’s pretty much how that happened.  It’s cool.  Just like that you know and its funny I had also been with another guitar company before for Ibanez I don’t like mentioning company names but this company got bought out by Fender and after that happened it wasn’t very cool.  Then Ibanez called and I went with them and I was happy to go with them because I’d been playing Ibanez 7 strings before that and then when I got the call from Dean it was an obvious, hey yes! Yes, let’s do this because the prior company wasn’t interested in any of my design ideas.  They didn’t want to do anything to change how their guitars looked and when I got with Dean my Dean the RC  7,8 & 6’s were designed to the very last details down to my specs down to volume, knob placement, pickups to the cutaway neck thickness, fret size I mean every detail of my guitar.  I mean that’s how they believed in my ideas.  The previous company wouldn’t listen to my ideas and a year after my guitar came out the previous company started putting out with a guitar with my ideas on them it’s like oh, I get it!

Was this Ibanez? 

No I’m trying not to name names it’s the best thing to do when you’re with a company, they don’t want to hear me saying other companies’ names and I understand that

I got you

When’s the RC 9 coming out?

I don’t know about that yet because I’ve already had a 9 string and I wasn’t really that happy with it because when you have a high A to a low B you must have a fan fret I’m not sure if you’ve seen, do you know what I’m talking about fan fret?


And if you go any lower that means the fan must be even greater so I’m not sure that a greater fan for a high A to something below an F sharp I don’t think, what I would want with a 9-string guitar would be high A to low F sharp.  That would be my version of a 9 string because I don’t want to go lower than an F sharp it’s just like bass town.  I’m not sure the technology is there for it yet because the 9 string that I had been 23.5 to a 26.5 and that’s a good fan and the low string was still just too floppy and I wasn’t happy with the pickups but this is way more before anyone else did anything like that.  I did the 9 string in like, I did my first 8 string in 2001 I think and I did my 9 string during like 2004 or 2005

You were doing 7 strings in ’95 & ’96 weren’t you?

In ’96 I got my first 7 string yes and when I got that, I put up my 6’s and never looked back.  I started playing the 8 string with the high A because all the classical influences the violin stuff.  There’s no way to get up in that violin range and play some of those classical lines and I didn’t even know that such a thing existed and a friend of mine sent me a web link with these guitars and I said oh, I’ve got to have one of those. As far as innovativeness goes I think the high A string is much more challenging than playing a low F sharp model.  With low F sharp model you can still have standard straight frets and when you go down to the low F sharp you just change on the same fret you know but when you have a high A string you’ve got that B string transference so that shifts everything over one and plus you’ve got one more string above that throws everything off  a little, it’s much harder to grasp than learn how to play fluently than it is to go into one lower string and most of the guys that play low F sharp string aren’t doing anything really innovative with it, it’s just rhythmic stuff which that’s cool but it’s not really challenging taking the instrument to some place new


You just had a guitar come out back a few weeks ago, didn’t you?  It’s the RC8 but with a different style of graphics on it.  Isn’t it?  
What was it?  You said it was an 8

I believe it’s an RC 8.  I just saw it.  Because I saw it on Guitar Center and it says available 11/4.  It’s a new model 

Oh! I haven’t seen it.


It might not be a new model.  It might be a that they just now started carrying it.  If you have a link for it, I’d like to see it

Yes, OK! It’s got a nice price tag of $2,505.00

Yes, can you send me that link so I can look at it?

Yes, I’ll send it

You know what they’re making now is RC 6’s which is a smart move because regardless of how you know of the 7 & 8 string guitar more people play a 6-string guitar.  I think the innovative idea is to go on to the RC 7 & 8’s.  A 6 string should be able to reap those benefits as well.  There’s a company called Axe Palace that ordered a bunch of custom USA 6’s but the cool thing the thing about Dean is you can call up Dean and have any version of my guitars made.  Say you want an RC 7 in hot pink with purple polka dots and green inlays or whatever, they’ll build you any version of if you want.  A lot of these guitar shops like Drum City and Guitar Land and Axe Palace or what not, they’ll call up and they’ll have several of their own design configurations.  Like we want this kind of wood on the body and this kind of wood on the neck and pickups and tuners. It’ll be an RC 7 but it will be built to their choices of wood and paint, pickups and stuff like that so this might be something they put together just for Guitar Center that I haven’t seen yet or it’s something that Guitar Center hasn’t carried and new to them

Here it is.  It says Xenocide.  It says right here available 11/4/2016 I don’t know if it was just out of stock 

I don’t know.  If you can give me the link, copy and paste it to where that text box is I can look at it.  I’d like to do that.  I’d like to see what it is because that is a USA priced guitar.  Let’s see, look here

I don’t know if they’re out of stock on it or not but that’s new

This isn’t new but it’s new for them.  I don’t think they carried USA models until this point.  So, this is the first version of the RC 7.  This is what the very first RC 7 looked like except for some of the modifications that we made to it.  I’ve changed some things on the body since then but this basically represents the RC 7 in its truest form and the very first form we ever released.  So, they’re carrying USA models now, that’s cool

They have the lesser expensive models and that’s what I was going to ask you.  The Dean models that are in the $400, $500, $600 $700 range, they’re made overseas.  Do you have any input with the international models that are made in China and Korea? 

Absolutely! I do because the import models used to be RC 8 models up but they haven’t been up until recently.  They had a different neck spec on it a different, one of my things that were super important to me was that we got right and they changed factories and everything changed.
That doesn’t represent what the new imports look like. The new imports look just like the Xenocide up there that’s got the sticker price of $2505.00.  You can see if you look at the skull model the upper horn is different it’s not as thin and that’s one of the main things.  You can’t see the other things I am talking about unless you can see the guitar on the neck.  That’s cool man.  Thank you for making me aware of that

I do know this, sometimes with the imports sometimes you get lucky with some of the wood.  Most of the import models are supposed to be made from alder and my USA models all the bodies are mahogany with a maple top or just all mahogany.  A couple of students come in with Xenocide’s and just by the weight alone I can tell it’s not alder you know.  So, I think getting an import sometimes you run across something you might not have gotten somewhere else.  A good example of that is like Eddie Van Halen’s first guitars, the one’s he built by himself. He used to get those parts I think from Charvel and he would build great necks and bodies and he didn’t know what that meant so he would just take the B grade stuff and look at the tone he got out of all that you know that is some of the greatest guitar tone recorded.  Another one is like James Hetfield look at the flying V that he played on all those Metallica records that he’s still famous for that tone. That’s not a Gibson that’s an Epiphone you know.  Most people don’t know that they thought it was a Gibson.  It’s really an import Epiphone V not a USA Gibson

I didn’t know that
When the Megadeth situation came around and they got in touch with you, I read just like anybody that you were for it then you kind of stopped in your tracks, like I don’t want to play solos of 20 years of different people from Marty Friedman all the way up, how did you weigh that?  

What really happened was that’s not really what happened at all.  My number one decision not to play with Megadeth, which gets overlooked because I think the way Blabbermouth posted it and after Blabbermouth posted it everybody else posted the same thing.  Blabbermouth posted Rusty Cooley turns on Megadeth and it wasn’t like that at all.  If you watch the interview there’s a video interview that I did and that’s where all this came from.  They just cut and pasted things out of it but if you watch the video interview I turned down Megadeth because (yes, my daughter) I got divorced in 2011 she asked me to move in and I said, of course, I felt like I had already missed enough of her life that I don’t want to miss any more of it.  If I go do this Megadeth thing she’s going to have to move back in with her mother, I’m going to be gone and I just thought about it the grand scheme of things and 15 years from now when I look back and know that I was here and not on the road playing other people’s music you know when that’s not what I got into it for.  I looked at it like this, what could Megadeth do for me that I can’t already do on my own?  You know most of Megadeth’s fans probably already know who I am is that going to help me sell my own music?  No.  What am I going to do?  I’m going to be on a tour bus for 18 hours a day play a couple of hours of other people’s music, even though it’s Megadeth one of the greatest metal bands ever! You know, I love Megadeth.  It was an honor and Dave Mustaine was nothing but a true gentleman to me the whole time which is the exact opposite of what the media was saying.  I never saw that side of Dave he was super freaking cool.  I just couldn’t you know I write too much music and do too much of my own stuff to sit on it you know.  It takes too long to do what I want to do anyway and if I go out on the road and do this I mean I’m not going to get to any writing to record my own solo’s and I’m sure that will be overseen.  I don’t know now that I know where I am mentally I don’t know that I would ever be happy playing for anyone you know and no matter how big the gig was.  I don’t know I think I’d just have to do what I must do because that’s what I do


I can’t really express it any other way.  Maybe you know I certainly would have gone out and tried it if my daughter wasn’t living with me and I certainly would have done that.   What I didn’t want to do is I didn’t want to get out there be two or three months into it and go this is not what I want to do! Because I don’t want to waste anybody’s time especially Megadeth’s. 


You got some backlash about your decision.

Yes and I try not to get involved in all of that stuff because you know people, if I see myself being misrepresented or misunderstood sometimes I will chime in but I don’t usually I try to stay out of that because  I didn’t join the band because my mom fell out of the truck and was dying, it doesn’t matter what you were doing or whatever they have predisposed beliefs about you and you can’t change their minds theirs no use trying to bend to that level.  I just don’t get that whole thing you know because if I’m on the internet I’m going to go somewhere that I want to be and go look at the things I want to look at.  I’m not going to go surf and find the things I don’t like so I can go hang out there, you know.  Just move on.  If you’re not into it just click on the next link and just keep going.  I don’t have time to spend and waste on negativity when I can find things positive and inspiring that influence me or work on things that motivate me to do better and be a better person.  I don’t need the whole negativity thing and fucking shit!


Did you help test out Jason Beckers pedal? How did that come about?

You know it was just logistics thing you know I had to test it out which it was an honor to be able to help whatever I could do so that’s kind of how that happened.

Are you using your old amps?
No, I’m not really playing that stuff now.  The company got bought out, changed people and I don’t know.  I’m back to using what I was using before that which honestly I ‘m much happier with which is I got a Bogner Uberschall and a Squall Nitro a Peavey 6505 plus and I use two of them at all times just based on my mood or whatever that night.  I might switch one out and put the other one in but I always run two heads at the same time.  So, I’m running those and I’m endorsing EMG pickups and I have been forever, love that stuff!   Swiss picks there’s the new one, 2.0

Oh, wow you’ve got the thick ones! 

Oh, yes and I actually pretty much designed this one pick too because Swiss Picks contacted me about a year before I started playing this stuff and they sent me a model and it didn’t have the point on it you know like this does and the edges had a different kind of edge on it.  They didn’t even make 2.0’s at the time and I told the guy thanks, man I really appreciate you sending it out but I use something that has a point on it or pointier and different kind of edges and he said cool. That was the last that either of us thought about it for a while.  Within the next year, he’s like hey where you at?  I’m at NAMM and I have some picks for you to try out.   So that was the year I didn’t go so he sent me the pick it looked just like this but it’s a the cheddar model ‘Sharp Cheddar‘ that’s why it’s orange and not yellow like swiss but it was made out of a different material and while I liked it and I was definitely going to do the deal I really wanted him to try a different material I think the original material there made out of is called Derlin or something like that and I wanted something that had more attack in the and looked brighter and he was really hesitant on it and  you know looking back he would tell me well if you don’t really want to use the picks man don’t do it.  I said well it’s not so much that I don’t want to use the picks I just don’t want to sell on something until we try it you know; can we at least try it?  Finally, he tried it and when he got one in his hands he said oh this is so awesome I love it dude! I said see! You should have listened to me six months ago,


So, it’s funny I kind of must laugh and joke with him about that but anyway, that’s the Swiss Pick it’s amazing I love it.  It’s got a great attack it’s got great tone.  So, I use that and I’ve got my own signature model strings with S.I.T. Rusty Cooley 7 string signature set and it’s almost like I’ve got to go down the line.  EMG pickups, Dean Guitars, the strings, Intellitouch tuners these little guys right here the clip on the head stock, awesome!   I’ve got my own signature model cable with Spectraflex and on my pedal board I use Morley wah’s and I use Maxon OD808 in the flanger and MXR.   I’m not endorsing MXR but I have one of their gigs on my pedal board and I’m currently trying to hook up with TC Electronics so guys if you’re listening. I’m good friends with John Petrucci and John sent me some contact information so I’m trying to get in touch with them.  John sent me one of his signature model pedals’s that they make called Flashback, no not the Flashback, it’s  a modeling pedal that’s got like flanger and chorus and stuff like that on it and some different things  but I’m using the Flashback delay  and then I use, I just got one of these the new model of this , this is made by Radial Axis it’s the Switchbone 2 my pedal board has the original switchbone on it and they just sent me this one to try out so I use that and this is what allows me to go into two different heads. Once I plug-in all my pedals  I’ll come out of my last pedal on my pedal board and plug it into this and then this will go out into two separate heads and it’s got all kind of cool features on it so  I can just put an A/B box it’s got adjustable gain and mid features and like a mute function so that if I switch my guitars I  just hit the button I can just unplug I don’t have to hit standby on both heads you know which makes it convenient with live performance and stuff like that so that’s really cool I love those and that’s pretty much it.  I’ve got a little Voodoo labs power supply thing that power up all my pedals and I think that’s pretty much it.  Probably forgetting something so sorry if I forgot you guys

You hit on a topic just a few minutes ago, about the state of the music industry, YouTube was brought up by like Nikki Sixx and others that you guys weren’t being compensated fairly just like Spotify takes like 10,000 different people to listen to a song before it’s considered like one record sale 



How do you feel about that?  

Yes, well we personally did not release our stuff on Spotify because of that.  We did iTunes and Tunecore.  Tunecore is a company that will take your stuff on iTunes and stuff like that.  That was a better route to go financially because that’s just ridiculous you know, I mean really, it’s just hard enough to make a living you know and for somebody like that to just want to take that much of it and play the hell out of it and most of the kids aren’t even buying it anyway the music industry is crazy I don’t even know where to begin on it.  It’s a whole new thing because with technology now you can record your album at home you almost don’t need a record label but at the same time that means you’ve got to get out there and do everything on your own financially you know which most of the time getting out on the road they don’t have the money to begin with so then that’s a whole new thing and when everybody is ripping your stuff off and you aren’t getting paid well how are you making money?  Well it goes back to completely making money off touring so you’ve got to have money to put into touring and when you don’t have money to put in the van or the trailer all that stuff so it’s crazy out there.  I don’t know what’s going to become of it because you know I had some friends that are in big high-profile bands that the way they make their money is totally different from when they made it you know now because of the way things are.  It almost seems impossible for a band to ever get to that level like Van Halen or Ozzy or any of the bands we grew up listening to like that massive level of where you’re playing in arenas and things like that.  It’s almost impossible it seems nowadays.

It is

You know what I mean?  Music has changed a lot too so.

Is iTunes and Apple Radio that better for you financially than Spotify or Amazon?

Well, I don’t know.  I’m not doing the Spotify thing but if I’m on their it’s certainly not because I put it on their somebody else did and I’m not aware of it. So, somebody is making some money out there and it’s not me

In 2008, you remastered your 2003 release?

Right.  Yes, the 2008 release was different just a remix and remaster of the original release.  We re-did the drums.  The mix sounds so much better.  I was always dissatisfied with the original release because of the recording because I was doing it on my own it’s not like I went in the studio one day and set up recorded all the guitar tracks and was done and when you do that over a period it’s done in sessions.  You’re not getting the same mic placement you know it’s not the same thing because it’s set up differently


It’s not like when you set it up and you don’t tear down until you’re done recording the album.  The tone doesn’t remain consistent.  So, I was always just dissatisfied with it in that area and you know when I was getting it mixed there were financial issues there.  You just always had to cut corners and at some point, you let go and that’s what I did but I could come back later and get it to sound the best we could with what we had to work with you know.  And writing an instrumental album was a chore.  Everybody always asks, when are you going to do another instrumental album?  It’s like it’s not like I don’t want to do another instrumental album I like to play the guitar.  I don’t enjoy writing drum parts and bass parts and keyboard parts and all that stuff and when I’m writing an instrumental album you know that’s where I’m back to.  If I had some musicians to sit down and work with you know to write their own parts and it was the right situation, you know if I could go in the studio and walk in and not leave until we were recording this album and not leave until we were done you know I would do that.  That would be cool.  That would be the ideal situation really.  Doing it working on it here and there spread out over a period and having to sit down and write drum tracks and program bass lines and keyboards and all that, it’s just not very appealing to me you know I could be working on becoming a better guitar player worrying about the things that I really need to worry about instead of that so that was the downside to it you know.  That’s the things that I didn’t enjoy it.  The things that I did enjoy it far out shadow that I mean that’s what landed me on the road map so I’m very thankful for that but I only did the instrumental album again to go with back what we were talking about earlier that just happened to be what I was doing earlier when the internet took off.  You know I always liked playing in bands I wasn’t interested in being a solo artist per say but that album came out when the whole internet thing took off and that’s what the world got to see me first, outside of Houston.  So, that’s what everybody thinks of first when they generally think of me as a guitar player, the instrumental guy and it was never intended to be that it was just kind of a break.  You know I took a break from the local scene and you know like we talked about earlier to just kind of take a breather and regroup and the rest is history.


Are you using social media to your benefit as to reaching out to existing fans or to people to know more about you?  Are you embracing social media?  Because some musicians aren’t

Yes, I mean that’s how I got my starts.  So absolutely.  I don’t do it as much as I used to because there are so much social media.  It’s like I’ve got like 5 Facebook pages that I’m involved with.  My personal page, my band page, Day of Reckoning, music school, there’s like two music school band pages.  So, there are 5 Facebook pages, I’ve got a Twitter page, I’ve got a YouTube channel, I’ve got Instagram, LinkedIn, you know that’s a lot of multimedia to keep up with.

I know I sent you a request (laughter)

Right! So, that’s like going back to a team of one when it comes to stuff like that you know.  So, I try to keep up with it as much as I can and what I try to do is I try to only get on that stuff when I’m doing something productive.  I try not to get on there to surf around just to see what everybody’s saying and just waste time because my time is very limited.  So, when I do get on, it’s work and I get sidetracked. You must maintain as I said, living on the music train is like a freight train you either get on or get out-of-the-way. And if you’re not continually you know making some sort of updates or keeping the fans aware of what you’re doing you don’t stay current.  Social media is a great advantage that’s the way you stay in tune with the world, not unless you’re out on a world tour.  If you are on a world tour you’re only on one part of the world at the time

There you go! 

So, the only way to stay global is the world-wide web.

Gotcha!  What can we expect from you in 2017?

You can expect Day of Reckoning – Into The Fire Part II with our new drummer. Jarred redid all the drum sets on part II, that’s going to be awesome.  And because we did the drum tracks we’re retracking all the guitars and probably the solo’s and stuff like that as well also that’s going to be a fresh release.  Hopefully, we’re going to be out touring.  There are talks for us doing some touring with Tremonti and his band.  There are talks of us touring with Nile and some other things.  That’s the goal to get out there and get on the road and really bring the music to the people.  I mean I haven’t been able to do it in the past but it’s doable now so that’s the big thing to just get out and play.  So, put out some new records.  I’m doing something brand new it’s the John Petrucci Guitar Universe next August.  I’m going to be one of the teachers at that so it’s a four-day event.  Yes, it’s a four-day event and it’s up in New York.  John Petrucci Guitar Universe four-day and four-night Summer Shred Festival in Glen Cove Mansion in Glen Cove, New York.  It’s me Andy James, Tony Mac Alpine, Andy McKee, Mike Mangini and of course John Petrucci.  I and John have been friends for a long time and he was one of the first guys that I think he requested me to teach out there with him so it’s awesome

Andy James, Tony Mac Alpine, Mike Mangini wow!

Yes, dude! Me too I’m so excited, Tony Mac Alpine is one of my original guitar hero’s you know after Yngwie. Tony set the whole world on fire really in that era and that style of guitar playing so it’s going to be cool man.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tony it was right before he got sick or before he made any kind of announcement that he was sick and had to go into the hospital and all that stuff.  He played in Houston and I got to meet him and have him sign my Edge of Insanity cd and sorry not my cd my Edge of Insanity vinyl record.  I’ve got that on vinyl that and Maximum Security as well as all the early Shrapnel stuff I’ve got it all on vinyl you know Steeler, Vicious Rumors with Vinnie, which Vinnie signed the Vicious Rumors album back right before Time Odyssey was released.  He did a clinic in Houston back then and I met him back then, had him sign the Vicious Rumors vinyl and Mind’s Eye so it looks better!


You know Outworld was a challenge.  I think in the end before Outworld broke up the only people from Houston were me and Bobby everybody else, Matt was from Washington state, Shawn was from Georgia, Carlos was from Brazil.  Bobby and I were the only two Houston natives really left the band and we had to go all the way to India for our Day of Reckoning.


So, that’s crazy you know?  That’s the beauty of the internet you know we saw Facebook posts and since it’s since those video demo’s you can see those online.  I was just playing with it, it’s impeccable.  I mean I this goes to show you how good the guy was.  Whenever we would bring in drummers to audition on Day of Reckoning we had an additional test besides being able to play the songs because anybody with any technical ability can copy someone’s song you know what I mean.  The true test for me in joining the band is how well they can write on the spot.  So, after we get done auditioning all the songs, I’ll just throw some new riffs at him for song ideas and nobody that we brought in could ever get anything that I was trying to show them on this new stuff no matter how well they covered the old drummer’s parts.  Me and the old drummer had great chemistry.  I could no matter what I threw at him he would just start riffing off it and that’s what I need.  I need somebody that can write on the fly that’s what most kids and upcoming musicians are missing there.  They use Pro tools and copy and pasting ideas back and forth via the internet and online and e-mail.  That’s not how you write as far as I’m concerned you write in a room with a few guys and a band on the fly.  You’ve got to be able to play in real-time.  Not have something to listen to in a few weeks and figure out what you’re going to play to it.  It’s GO time, you step up to bat and you play. The point that I’m trying to make is that you know, no matter what I showed these guys and told these guys in rehearsal room is it never is or was  happening and so Jarred the new drummer on a whim I sent him this mp3 of me just playing guitar to a click and one without the click and I said here man see what you can do to this and the next morning I had it back in my inbox and I didn’t even say a word to him about what I wanted or what my vision for the song was or nothing and he played exactly what I was looking for and not a word had to be spoken. That’s what happens when you have chemistry with people. You don’t have to say a word.  Or when you’re playing with people who are on your level you know what I mean?  Because when you’re playing with professionals what’s spoken is through music not through words you don’t have to tell somebody what to play.  I might suggest but I don’t have to explain to someone how to play or approach playing to the part before he plays to it so that is super important.  In Outworld we had guys that would call and go well I think I can play, I’d like to try to play some double bass it’s like, this is not on the guy training man! You either commit or you don’t.

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German Thrashers Kreator Upcoming Release Gods of War



OUT: January 27th, 2017


Line up: KREATOR online:
Mille Petrozza | vocals, guitars

Sami Yli-Sirniö | guitars

Christian Giesler | bass

Ventor | drums


One thing‘s for sure: There aren‘t many bands with a history as long and eventful as

KREATOR‘s, who fascinatingly succeed in exploring new horizons while challenging and reinventing themselves time and again, resulting in high impact results – as is perfectly illustrated by their new record »Gods Of Violence« (out on January 27, 2017). With this 14th studio album of their impressive career, the thrashers from Essen, Germany have crafted a work of art of utmost vigor, drawing its unfailing power from the pounding heart of one of the greatest, most versatile metal bands of all time. »Gods Of Violence« lives and breathes!


As is often the case, it all started with a good idea. KREATOR mastermind Mille Petrozza had followed the latest news with growing concern. Especially the November 2015 Paris attacks made him realize that there had to be a continuum of human malevolence, running like a thread through the ages, from ancient times up to the present day. These thoughts led Petrozza to interlocking current events with tales from Greek mythology, eventuating in the song »Gods Of Violence« that was consequently chosen as the album‘s name giver. “Currently, religion has regained a level of importance that I would have never considered possible 20 years ago,” Mille states. “An extremely dangerous polarization is taking place, giving rise to growing hate among us all. That‘s what I wanted to write about.”


Like this, a key note of the album was found that is also reflected in the sheer brutality of ‘World War Now’, among others. The song‘s deriving from the observation that we‘re in the middle of a World War III of sorts, but not in the way we‘ve always feared: A-bomb dropped, humanity wiped out. “These days, our weapons of mass destruction are called hatred and religious delusion,” says Petrozza. It‘s a vertical war, being fought by the media as well as by fanatics of all shades.


The intro leading to the opening track ‘Apocalypticon’ is already setting the proper bombastic pace for the album‘s basic idea: Marching drums and a Wagnerian choir are opening an extraordinary metal masterpiece that‘s contrasting brutality with fragility, excelling in an exemplary handling of momentum and dynamics. Even ‘Death Becomes My Light’, the final eight-minute-epic dealing with a near death experience, is not a single second too long: »Gods Of Violence« flashes by like greased lightning.


The ability to form universally comprehensible messages out of such sophisticated trains of thought as found on »Gods Of Violence« has always been one of the traits of a man whose pop-cultural universe ranges from Hannah Arendt, PINK FLOYD and TOCOTRONIC to SLAYER. Mille Petrozza was born and bred in the metal scene. Nevertheless, he is and always has been open to inspiration from various sources, which is why his lyrics on this album are by no means merely based on corny genre templates but offer trenchant observations of our time combined with a witty advance towards inflated cliches: One of the best songs on »Gods Of Violence« is really called ‘Satan Is Real’.


Finishing »Gods Of Violence« took the band – featuring Petrozza, Sami YliSirniö (guitars), Christian “Speesy” Giesler (bass) and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums) – about three years. After Petrozza had pre-produced all of the eleven tracks in winter of 2015, KREATOR went to Sweden in order to team up with legendary metal producer Jens Bogren in his Fascination Street Studios once again. What emerged from the recording sessions was bound to fundamentally redefine what KREATOR is all about. An opus that surprises with some lines in German and an unexpected guest in the form of indie pop artist DAGOBERT. Moreover, Italian death metallers FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE lent a hand with the orchestral parts of four songs and 12-year-old TeklaLi Wadensten played the harp for »Gods Of Violence«.


Although it‘s breaking new ground in many respects, »Gods Of Violence« can still be considered characteristic for a career shaped by ambitious ventures and artistic risk: discontinuity is KREATOR‘s one true continuum. Gotten together in 1982, Petrozza and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil – the only two remaining founding members – have come a long way from playing in a small-scale student band. “In my history book, KREATOR didn‘t really exist until 1985,” says Petrozza, laughing. “Although we had already started jamming together in ‘82, we only entered the stage two or three times up until ‘85. Back then, our set list consisted of five original tracks and five heavy metal cover songs, we went through several line-up changes and didn‘t really find ourselves until »Endless Pain«.”


In fact, it wasn‘t until said debut album that the name KREATOR was established in the first place. Before, the combo had been known as TORMENTOR. The early years were defining ones all the same: “None of us knew how to play our instruments properly back then,” Petrozza remembers. “Though we were a pretty mediocre student band indeed, we taught each other how to play – it‘s stuff like that you bond over.” This early stage laid the foundation for an exceptional career that would see KREATOR rise to become part of what’s to be considered the German equivalent of the Californian Big Four (METALLICA, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH) of thrash metal – the Big Three of German thrash, alongside SODOM and DESTRUCTION.


It was on their third album »Terrible Certainty« that KREATOR would precisely define some of their most characteristic traits: Power riffing and aggressive shouting always meet a sure feeling for complex arrangements and highly memorable songwriting that is not to be taken for granted within this genre – KREATOR know their choruses better than most. An ability that makes them stand out in the international music scene as well: Over the years, KREATOR have sold more than two million albums worldwide and have played countless shows all around the globe.


Though rooted in thrash metal, they‘ve never been afraid to push the genre‘s boundaries both musically and lyrically. As mentioned earlier, Mille‘s stylistic and ideological open-mindedness evidently manifests itself in his lyrics: Common thrash topics such as Satanism or apocalyptic visions come naturally to KREATOR. Once more, the song titles on »Gods Of Violence« speak volumes.


However, lyricist Mille Petrozza‘s unique feature lies in his playful approach to these tried and trusted themes: “Understanding the lyrics as an additional dimension is very important to me,” he states. This includes tackling issues of both personal and universal importance. “My wildest years are behind me and there are a couple of things I would have sung about back in the days that just aren‘t in line with my present life anymore. You can grow older and still live a metal musician‘s life for sure. But you have to make sure to preserve your dignity and to not become a parody of yourself – that‘s walking a fine line.”


KREATOR are aware of the risk a long career like theirs involves. Challenging and improving themselves, not living in the past – that‘s the main source of their unabated impact. Ensuring all this also bears testimony to the strong team spirit connecting all band members. Although Mille may act as KREATOR‘s figurehead, he affirms: “We only work as a band!” In fact, one with clear-cut functional division: Bassist “Speesy” Giesler is of great assistance when it comes to organizational matters, “Ventor” Reil brings the beat and all kinds of other stuff – and guitarist Sami YliSirniö is the “musical genius,” as Mille puts it. “While the rest of us are self-taught, Sami is a musician to the core, who has already played concerts in opera houses.”


It all comes down to this: Mille builds the base frame which his band mates fill with their ideas and visions. “A band works like a living organism,” he explains. “I‘m a big fan of consistent line-ups. You‘ve got to be honest with each other, should not avoid conflict and must be able to set your ego aside every now and then. We‘re a team.” This concept of friendship is reflected in ‘Hail To The Hordes’, featuring IN EXTREMO‘s bagpiper Boris PeiferMille‘s very own ode to amity, so to speak. “It‘s a song against superficiality and for sticking together in hard times.”


According to Petrozza – a cosmopolitan at heart – his sticking to the West German Ruhr area should not be interpreted as localistic commitment though. Still, the city of Essen remains the center of KREATOR‘s universe, where Mille is taking care of all band business to this day. “I‘m a bit of a control freak,” he admits with a wink. “But seriously, I don‘t mind doing it. Why would I want to lead a stupid rock star life anyway, snoozing until noon every day and not doing much else? I‘m an active person who enjoys working. In fact, I don‘t even consider it work. I keep the show rolling, simple as that.”


Keeping the show rolling: That‘s all it‘s been about since 1985. And in this respect, German thrash metal icons KREATOR have succeeded big-time with »Gods Of Violence«!


Interview: The Legacy of Lita Ford

By Andrew Catania

There’s not many guitarists that have had the career and legacy that Lita Ford has had.  Litа wаѕ bоrn оn Sерtеmbеr 19, 1958 in Lоndоn, Englаnd, and grew up in Lоѕ Angеlеѕ. She became the lead guitаriѕt in thе аll-girl hard rосk band Thе Runaways, whose dеbut аlbum wаѕ rеlеаѕеd in 1976. With thеir рunkiѕh ѕоund, рrоvосаtivе ѕtаgе outfits аnd rеbеlliоuѕ lуriсѕ, thе band ѕhосkеd mаnу in thе rосk wоrld, аnd асhiеvеd mild рорulаritу until they brоkе up in 1979. Fоrd then enjoyed a ѕuссеѕѕful ѕоlо саrееr in heavy mеtаl, with ѕuсh hitѕ аѕ “Kiѕѕ Me Dеаdlу” аnd “Close Mу Eуеѕ Fоrеvеr.”

Ford was bоrn Cаrmеlitа Rоѕѕаnnа Fоrd tо a Britiѕh fаthеr, and аn Itаliаn mother in Lоndоn, Englаnd. Shе mоvеd with hеr fаmilу to the Unitеd Stаtеѕ аt аgе 4. Shе bеgаn рlауing thе guitаr at аgе 11. Hеr vосаl rаngе iѕ thаt of a mеzzо-ѕорrаnо.

Aftеr the grоuр ѕрlit in 1979, ѕhе bеgаn a solo career. Hеr firѕt album, Out fоr Blood inсluding thе titlе ѕinglе wаѕ released in 1983 аnd hаd nо luсk оn thе сhаrtѕ. The next effort, Dancin’ оn thе Edgе оf 1984 асhiеvеd mоdеrаtе success. It inсludеd the single “Fire In Mу Hеаrt” whiсh reached thе Tор 10 in ѕеvеrаl соuntriеѕ. The nеxt ѕinglе “Gotta Lеt Gо” wаѕ оnе of Fоrd’ѕ biggеѕt hitѕ. It reached Numbеr One on thе Mainstream Rосk сhаrtѕ.

Fоrd tоurеd еxtеnѕivеlу аnd mаdе ѕеvеrаl guеѕt арреаrаnсеѕ оn TV shows for the next four years, but had nо rеlеаѕеѕ; a fоllоw-uр tо Dаnсin’ On Thе Edgе, titled Thе Bridе Wоrе Blасk, wаѕ abandoned аnd never rеlеаѕеd because Ford did not likе thе production оf thе аlbum аnd this upset the hеаd оf hеr record label, lеаding to Fоrd ѕwitсhing from Mеrсurу RecordsRCA Rесоrdѕ. Thе аrtiѕt hаѕ dеѕсribеd thе аlbum as bеing in “Lаbеl hell! Whо knоwѕ what ѕhеlf thаt iѕ ѕitting оn!”

Bу thе timе Fоrd rеturnеd again, thе lighter рор-mеtаl ѕhе had lоng fаvоrеd hаd brоkеn thrоugh tо mаinѕtrеаm аudiеnсеѕ, which set the ѕtаgе fоr hеr most соmmеrсiаllу successful album, 1988’ѕ Lita. With Shаrоn Oѕbоurnе аѕ her mаnаgеr, аnd again рrоduсеd bу herself, the album fеаturеd fоur commercial hitѕ, including “Kiss Me Dеаdlу“, “Bасk Tо Thе Cаvе“, “Close My Eyes Fоrеvеr“, and “Falling In And Out Of Love” (co-written with Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüе). The bаllаd “Close Mу Eуеѕ Fоrеvеr“, a duet with Ozzу Osbourne, wаѕ hеr оnlу Tор 10 Billbоаrd Hоt 100 hit, rеасhing #8.

Hеr nеxt release was called Stilеttо. It fеаturеd the ѕinglеѕ “Hungry” and “Liѕа” (the ѕесоnd wаѕ dedicated to hеr mоthеr). Hоwеvеr thiѕ album was nоt as ѕuссеѕѕful аѕ Dаnсin’ On The Edge аnd Litа.

Fоrd’ѕ next rеlеаѕе was Dаngеrоuѕ Curvеѕ, which fеаturеd her lаѕt сhаrting ѕinglе “Shоt Of Pоiѕоn.” Ford’s lаѕt release would be with ZYX Rесоrdѕ and wоuld bе titled Blасk. It failed tо repeat thе ѕuссеѕѕ оf 1991’ѕ Dangerous Curves.

During hеr ѕоlо уеаrѕ, ѕhе wаѕ аn еndоrѕеr оf B.C. Riсh guitаrѕ аnd used Warlock, Eаglе, Mockingbird аnd Biсh ѕinglе аnd dоublе-nесk models. Fоrd арреаrѕ in the 1992 film Highway tо Hell as ‘The Hitchhiker‘. Ford wаѕ аlѕо аѕkеd by VH-1 tо be in thе cast оf The Surrеаl Life fоr itѕ 7th season, in 2007. She dесlinеd.

In Junе 2008, Fоrd аnd hеr nеw ѕоlо bаnd рlауеd ѕеvеrаl warm-up gigs рriоr to Rосklаhоmа undеr thе name Kiѕѕ Me Deadly in thе Nеw Yоrk City аrеа.

In Junе 2009, Litа bеgаn touring the US аnd Eurоре, with a new line-up consisting of Rоn ‘Bumblеfооt’ Thal (Ex Guns N’ Roses) on Guitаr, Dеnniѕ Lееflаng (Bumblеfооt drummer) аnd PJ Fаrlеу оn bаѕѕ (Trixtеr, Ra) аnd Miсhаеl T. Rоѕѕ (Angеl/XYZ).

Fоrd rеlеаѕеd a new аlbum Wicked Wonderland on Oсtоbеr 6, 2009 viа JLRG Entеrtаinmеnt

Thе album wаѕ writtеn аnd produced by Fоrd, ex-huѕbаnd Jim Gillеttе, and Greg Hampton. Litа would tour the US in the Fаll аnd Wintеr оf 2009, inсluding dаtеѕ оn Quееnѕrусhе’ѕ Amеriсаn Soldier Tоur.

Lita would then release a 2012 record titled Living Like a Runaway, a live record in 2014, and her present release called Time Capsule.  Time Capsule is old recordings that Lita had for over 20 years.  She brought them to LA from the Islands where she was living and remastered them.  Time Capsule has several guests on it including Gene Simmons from Kiss.  Regardless of how old these recordings are on Time Capsule, this is some of Lita’s best work of her career.

Lita’s crtically acclaimed 2016 memoir, Living Like a Runaway, details the hardships and sacrifices she had to endure in a mostly male environment coming up the ranks as a musician and guitarist.

If Lita has an attitude, she has every right to have one.  She’s paved the way for female guitarists/musicians that wouldn’t have to be exposed to what she was 30 years ago.  A talented guitarist and musician, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lita on her career.


Hi Lita!  It is a pleasure to have you here at All That Shreds!

Lita, you have used BC Rich Guitars since the start of your career.  Is there something specific about them you have liked over the years?

Oh yes, the original BC Rich guitars are so different than the 2016 guitars. There is no comparison. They are strong and beefy sounding. Mine are iconic, and have pre-amps built into them, the double neck has a chorus and a flanger switch. They are balls to the walls guitars. LOL…


I interviewed Gary Hoey back in June.  Gary said he’s going to be working with you on your new record.  You and Gary have worked together previously.  What should we expect from the new record?

Gary and I have a chemistry together like no other.  For me, it takes chemistry to make your music what you expect it to be. Powerful.


Do you write the song first or the lyrics?

I have a lyricist named Michael Dan Ehmig. He is the best I have ever worked with. Together the 3 of us wrote LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY.  It really doesn’t matter which comes first, the lyric or the music. So long as the finished product is awesome and you are happy with it.

In terms of gear, what are you using at present?  

I use my Marshall DSL 100 amps, they are beefy as all Hell. And I still use my original BC Richs, Double neck Rich Bich, my Warlocks, Mockingbird, my black Hamer Standard which I used in The Runaways days.  It keeps my sound true and very LITA.

Do you change gear every tour?


Who’s inspired you for your lead guitar skills?

I was inspired by many greats; Richie Blackmore was my #1 idol. Sabbath.  Jeff Beck.  Jimmy Page. Johnny WinterGilmore. Hendrix.


With the recent discussion of how YouTube compensates, or lack thereof, artists do you have an opinion on the matter?

I didn’t come from a YouTube world. I think it’s something you need to grow up with to appreciate.


With the number of female guitarists on the rise, and some of them saying you inspired them, is there any one you feel you could “pass the torch on” to?

As far as guitar playing goes, and singing together at the same time, not really anyone can do it right now except Lizzy Hale.  She’s an amazing vocalist and she is a good player. A great talent.   So, if any one of the young woman who are out and about on the music scene today, I’d have to say Lizzy Hale.



Is there one artist that you’d love to work with, but, haven’t?

I don’t know. We’ll have to see what 2017 brings.


I’ve been noticing that bands from the 80’s are prospering more in Europe than the US.  Would you agree?

I have not noticed. It does seem that Europe is more embracing of metal.


Do you have any plans of producing? 

I have produced a Canadian band called SAVAGE PLAYGROUND.  A bunch of teenaged, young men, a great band with a lot of potential. I also produced a lot of my own recordings.  I’d love to get into the studio with the right line up. Yes.  I have the experience and would do a great job, I love being in the studio!


Your appearance on That Metal Show was great!  Do you think anything more needs to be done to highlight female guitarists? 

Yes,  I suppose it’s a start though. But it’s sad that females must have their own category.  At least woman have their foot in the door now, which is great and all that really matters.  I’d like to think I had a helping hand with that.



I loved your book, Living Like a Runaway.  It was a powerful portrayal of the highs and lows of your career.  Is there one thing you’d want a reader to take away from reading your book?

One thing?   There are a lot of things, growing up a female guitarist where females were not recognized as musicians, a teen in a man’s world, it was bad ass. The hurdles I had to jump and BS I had to put up with to survive in this world as a musician. But I guess if I had to pick one thing out of my book, it would be how corrupt our family legal system is and how they destroy families and children for money. They are an evil bunch of despicable people who hopefully will be caught at this crime one day.


Lastly, do you have any advice for up and coming female guitarists?

That’s hard to say, because everyone is different. But I’d say follow your heart and dreams, don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing something wrong. In Rock N Roll, there are ‘’no rules’’!


Be sure to check Lita out at her official site @


The Legend That is Dave Mustaine

By Andrew Catania

He is one of the most influential metal guitarists, lead singer and composer, who holds the privilege to be one of the thrash metal pioneers. He is better known for being the founder and leader of Megadeth, the band that made it all faster and aggressive as it could get by that time. Of course we’re talking about Dave Mustaine, the mind behind the complex riffs, dark lyrics and concepts that made Megadeth one of The Big Four of Thrash Metal along with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer.

Playing the guitar since he was a teenager, Dave’s attendance to a Kiss concert during their Destroyer tour in Anaheim in 1977 was a mind-blowing experience to him, being highly influential in his decision to take music more seriously. He started his own band, named Panic, which was a short-lived act due to the tragic decease of drummer Mike Leftwych in a car accident. Dave’s ongoing journey into the music took him to the infamous Metallica auditions for a lead guitar player in 1981, which as he recalls: “I was setting up my stuff, tuning my guitar, and doing some warm-ups and then I asked ‘So, are we gonna do the audition?’ and they replied ‘No, you got the job’, so I think what they’ve heard pretty much impressed them to a point where they didn’t need to do that”.

His time as Metallica’s lead guitar player was short-lived.  It ended before the Kill ‘Em All recordings. Too much have been said already about this moment. Dave is constantly taken back during the interviews to this point in his life, where he “had no one but you [Lars] and James”, as he states in the Some Kind of Monster documentary, so there’s no need to extend on this controversy anymore. What is important here is how this experience became a defining moment in his life, and how it turned to be the necessary incentive he needed to go into his own path as a musician and individual: it led to the creation of what would become Megadeth.

After his departure from Metallica, he met bass player David Ellefson in Los Angeles, and together formed Megadeth. His artistic intentions were to play faster and heavier music than Metallica, a goal in which Megadeth greatly succeeded. Rather than an “I’m better than you” race, as it is depicted, Dave Mustaine’s contributions to Metallica were a demonstration of what he intended as an artist: his riff near the end of the bridge of Phantom Lord, the Mechanix song (which you know as The Four Horsemen) or Jump in the Fire gives you the idea of what his musical concept was: fast tempos, fast riffs, a dark and decadent atmosphere surrounding his music.


In 1985 he released Killing Is My Business with an 8,000 dollars budget from Combat Records to produce and record the album. Dave’s musical approach raised the bar for all guitar players in the metal scene out there. There are many examples of the high level guitar playing in Megadeth’s debut album, such as Killing is my Business riff, bridge and solo work. Also remarkable is the aggressive, right-to-the-face lyrics work: Last Rites/Loved to Death, a not so typical story: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl doesn’t, boy kills girl so no one else will have her. This album is one of the keystones for thrash metal music, and the one who introduced Megadeth to the metal scene!

The highly technical riffs and aggressive, full of meaning lyrics will become Dave Mustaine’s signature as an artist, and Megadeth’s definition as a band. The following albums became success after success, and grew an enormous worldwide fan base that loves him for remaining loyal to his style during his entire career. Peace Sells, Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Risk, The System Has Failed and Endgame are Dave’s mostly recognized efforts and artistic success in his career, including hit after hit in a regular basis, making each one of them a memorable record.

Dave Mustaine as a musician has a lot to offer: he sings, he writes, he composes his own material, he plays rhythm AND lead guitar! His guitar playing is quite appealing to us guitar freaks: he delivers legendary riffs, famous for his technical demand and use of chromatic scales, giving them a menacing feel : Killing is my Business, Peace Sells, Good Mourning/Black Friday, Liar, Holy Wars, Take No Prisoners…and that’s just a few mentions!

His soloing work consists of altered pentatonic patterns combined with exotic scales. Dave is away from the typical scalar-running shred from his generation, and aims for the creation of a proper feel to go along with the song’s concept. He often trade his solo works during Megadeth’s live performances, and he seems very proficient at playing the most challenging ones: Burnt Ice, Kick The Chair, Ashes In Your Mouth or Hangar 18 just to quote some examples.

Dave Mustaine proves to be one of the most versatile and accomplished metal musicians of our time, and his undeniably great contributions to thrash metal makes him a living legend, with an artistic legacy that transcends to this present day in his music!

The Queen of Strings Nikki Stringfield Interview

By Andrew Catania

Young, intelligent, talented, flamboyant and high on life, the next-age music sensation, Nikki Stringfield has managed to make herself a household name. With a myriad of  accolades to her name, including a Schecter Guitar endorsement and bagging in tremendous praise from the critic’s camp. This Red Oak, Texas native is a sure sign that she’s definitely going places and adding more on her acclaim and well-established fame as she progresses in her career.

She started off by attending the University of Texas graduating with a degree in Radio/TV Film.  After interning for Warner Brothers Music, Nikki relocated to Los Angeles to join the band Before the Mourning.  With superior guitar skills, Nikki also joined the all female tribute band The Iron Maidens.  The Iron Maidens have featured guitarists such as Nita Strauss, who’s with The Alice Cooper band, and Courtney Cox, who presently shreds with Nikki on the extensive collection of Iron Maiden covers.   Since then, she has toured worldwide, joined forces with Femme Fatale, guitarist Brad Jurjens, and shared the stage with many other acclaimed artists. Nikki also won Guitar World’sModel Search” contest and was featured in the Guitar Review Guide for 2015.


The chronology of her career is a strong validation of the mastery and expertise that she holds, with the riffs, shreds, and chords of her signature Schecter Guitar..

Being extremely busy these days with multiple projects in the pipeline and planning future tours, it was quite a feat getting the “Queen of Strings” for a brief music canvass, but it turned out to be absolutely worthwhile as we managed to gain first hand insights from her about her musical endeavors, the instruments she’s playing, and future aspirations.

Bright, talented, witty and meticulous as she is, we share the quizzy-conversation as it played out as an informative and thrilling treat for the readers and her fan base. Read on.

You’re becoming a household name with your guitar playing.  How did you start playing the guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. My dad had bought my first guitar when I was younger (I can’t remember exactly what age) but I didn’t really develop an interest in learning how to play it until I started listening to Nirvana. I bought a tab book of their greatest hits and learned every song and taught myself to play through that. Afterward, I moved on to things like Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, and then I heard Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil album. That really inspired me to start learning leads and got me into more challenging things. I tried taking a few lessons so I could learn theory, but they weren’t really for me.

What was your first guitar you had?

My very first guitar was a little starter Strat, but the first guitar that I picked out on my own was a Schecter Gryphon Diamond Series guitar. I still have it to this day! That started my obsession with Schecter guitars and I’ve been in love with them ever since.

Were you in a band during your teens?  If so, what kind?

I actually wasn’t in any bands growing up.. I’m from a small town in Texas and not many people were in bands or into the music I was. I decided to go to the University of Texas for college because I heard Austin was the “Music Capitol of Texas,” thinking I’d find people there to start something up. But still, nothing happened so I just kept posting guitar videos online instead. I jammed with a few people just for fun, but the first real band I joined was Before The Mourning when I moved to Los Angeles, and then I started playing with The Iron Maidens shortly after.

How did you get involved with the Maidens?

I actually met Courtney through the guys in Before the Mourning. They needed a guitar sub for a show, so they asked if I could fill in for a show or two. That ended up turning into a regular thing as Nita and I traded off shows since we were both in original bands at the time. And eventually it turned into a full-time position, which is a blast getting to travel so much and play Maiden tunes!


How is it playing alongside Courtney Cox?

It’s always fun! We just like to have fun at the shows and make sure we put on a bad ass show for everyone.

Did you play with Nita Strauss before she left to join Alice Cooper?

Nita and I were both playing the Dave Murray position and rotating out shows so we never played a full show together. There was one show where she joined us for a few songs and we did a killer three guitar line up though!

Are you still playing in Femme Fetale?

Yep, still with Femme Fatale! We just played the Monsters of Rock Cruise on the west coast. Hopefully we’ll get more dates going soon!

How are you enjoying playing with the Maidens?

I love it! I couldn’t be in a band if I didn’t love what I was doing. I’ve always loved Iron Maiden, I get to travel the world with friends, and we always have fun. Plus I’ve got to make so many friends through playing these shows. Can’t beat that!


Let’s talk about your rig.  What are you presently using? Are you still endorsed by Peavey?

I’m actually using a Schecter Hellraiser 100 amp, which I’ve been using since early 2014 I believe. The tone is amazing!  The only thing of Peavey that I still use is the Valveking slant cab until I can get something else. I’ve got a lot of pedals that I use off and on.. I have the Seymour Duncan 808 Overdrive and the Palladium Gain Stage Pedal, MXR Black Label Chorus, BBE Sonic Maximizer, BBE Boosta Grande, MXR Carbon Copy Delay, and Boss AutoWah pedals. I switch things out depending on who I’m playing with or what I’m playing.

Your’re endorsed by Schecter Guitars.  You have one nice signature guitar!  Tell me how this came about it.

Thank you!!! It’s truly a dream come true.. I still have to pinch myself haha. Michael Ciravolo, the president of Schecter, just emailed me one day and said he thought it was time to create a signature guitar for me. They had just made a one of a kind green avenger for me about a year before while I was on tour, and people had been asking about it a lot. So I decided to do something similar but still change things up a bit to make it new. When I finally saw it in person I was speechless!

What kind of strings are you using?

I’ve been using GHS Boomers, 9-42. They’re such a great company and the strings feel absolutely amazing to play!

Did Seymour Duncan approach you?

They contacted me after my signature model came out actually. I’ve always had Seymour Duncan in my guitars, usually a different one in each guitar, and my signature has an Invader. I took a tour of their factory in Santa Barbara and it was so cool to see that everything is actually made right there at that location. You can’t beat their quality!

Who are your influences?

There’s so many.. I guess the main influences would be Kurt Cobain since he got me into guitar initially, Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold, Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, Marty Friedman and Megadeth, I could go on and on!

What guitarists presently do you listen too?

In addition to all of the above influences, right now I’m listening to Jeff Loomis, Andy James, Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry, Nick Johnston, Daniele Gottardo.. the list goes on and on!


What are your plans for 2017?  Will we see a solo album from you?

I’m really hoping to get at least a solo EP out at some point in 2017. I’ve got a few songs in the works right now and can’t wait to get them out there. I know there will probably be a lot of touring with the Iron Maidens as wells so it looks like it’s going to be a busy year!

You can view Nikki’s Facebook page at

Sarah Benton From the Marines to Making Guitars Interview

By Andrew Catania

From enlisting in the United States Marine Corp to being a Luthier. Sarah Benton has made quite a jump for a career.  Talking with Sarah, you can tell she’s passionate about what she does.  Her style stems from its own core, and this is precisely what accentuates her bringing excellence to her craft of being a Luthier.  Her natural discontentment towards the ordinary trends and humdrum techniques compels her to experiment and build her magic.  With her list of clients that make it out to be a who’s who in the Guitar world, Sarah has mastered her craft in a male dominated business.   I recently spoke with her and talked about her career..

Tell me your background. You were in the US Marine Corp, when did you decide you wanted to be Luthier?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I joined the marines straight out of high school and was in for four years. I deployed to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. I got out and had no idea what I wanted to do. I was in and out of community colleges and I was constantly changing my major. I started to going to a special FX makeup school in Burbank. After a year of training I realized it was more of a hobby then a career. I always knew I wanted to do something in the music industry but I thought it was too late for me to be a musician (I know total wrong mindset). I came across an ad for the guitar craft program at mi and thought it was right up my alley! My father is a hobby drummer, and my step father is a Grammy winning symphony conductor/ composer, so I grew up around music my whole life. I figured, if I couldn’t play guitar, I’ll build them!

What school did you go to?

Musicians institute

The Guitar Craft program


Did you have an apprenticeship while you’re in school? If so, with whom?

I didn’t but I was offered a job at McCabe’s (Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California) while I was still in school


What do you find fascinating about building stringed instruments?


Well, when I got out of the marine corps I struggled with PTSD and panic disorder so building guitars, basses, etc. was therapeutic for me.

Plus, I love the instruments




When you graduated school, what was your first job? Is that the same job you’re presently in?

I never fully graduated. I started working at McCabe’s full time when I was still in school so I ended up quitting. I figured I was going to learn everything I needed to know in the repair shop 🙂 I currently still work there


How did you build your clientele?

Nili Brosh and I became best friends after meeting at an aristocrat show a little over a year ago, she has introduced me to some of the greatest guitar players in the world. After that, social media was my gold mine


Do you feel that your experiences in the Marines helped your attention to detail building guitars?



You’re on tour with some big-name musicians such as Tony McAlpine. How did this come about?

It’s all about who you know. I was offered the job by a good friend of mine who works directly with tony. It ended up being the perfect fit!


Do you play guitar? If someone wanted to go to school to be a Luthier, what advice could you offer them?

I dabble…I’m not a “guitar player” I’m more of a strum some chords badly in my room by myself kind of person. My advice, go to school for it! Being a luthier is one of those jobs that you learn as you excel. The great part of going to school is you can make mistakes and learn from them before you drill through a headstock of a client’s guitar (which I’ve done!)

Last question, how is your Jason Becker guitar coming along?

The Jason Becker guitar is almost finished! It was put on hold when I was on tour so the date was pushed back a little more then I wanted. I plan to have it done before the end of the year.


You can check Sarah out at:

McCabes Guitar Shop

3101 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

(310) 828-4497

Breach of Silence’s New Video Discusses Value Gap Within The Music Industry

By Andrew Catania

Australia’s award winning powercore-metal pioneers A BREACH OF SILENCE have premiered a new music video for ‘Falling Away’. This is the first video from their upcoming third studio album entitled ‘Secrets’. Falling Away takes on the controversial perception of a “value gap” occurring within the music industry while tackling the issue head-on and stressing the importance of subscription-based business models over ad-based streaming, for all creators of music… regardless of genre.  This is a must see video for any musician!


“We did this clip because there is a huge value gap for artists and labels in the music industry right now and it needs to be fixed” states guitarist Mat Cosgrove. “Best-case scenario, a 12-song album needs to be streamed about 125 times (1,500 total streams) on a subscription-based plan to equal the sale of an album. Our label is fully transparent with us, we see every transaction pertaining to our catalog and we get paid. The problem is that the revenue generated by free, advertising-based business models is fractions of that received from subscription models. If musicians aren’t fairly compensated for their music, then they eventually stop being musicians and are forced to choose other professions that are more profitable.”

Vocalist Rhys Flannery continues, “A subscription on Spotify (for example) is available for LESS than the cost of a six pack of beer, and that gets me unlimited music from all my favorite bands! We recognize that people don’t want to buy CDs or even download albums anymore, and that’s fine – people should consume music the way they want. All we’re asking of people is to subscribe to whatever service they prefer, because free streaming simply cannot sustain music creators OR the streaming services over the long-haul.”

Secrets’ was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Bring Me the Horizon, Arch Enemy, In Flames) and mixed by Henrik Udd at Studio Fredman. It will be released worldwide via Eclipse Records on February 24, 2017.

Marshall Amplification

By Andrew Catania

So, you pick up that guitar and plug it into the amplifier. And the amp is the best there is. A Marshall amp. Have you ever wondered how the Marshall has become whatever it is today? A name, a brand that is synonymous with respect, of music, and of dedication to quality?

Jim Marshall (1923-2012), despite his childhood being spent in a hospital due to tuberculosis of bones, was a successful drummer, and a musician by heart. He taught many students, who went on to become famous drummers.

After saving up money from his musical career, he decided to assist other musicians. Although he had a successful music store which sold guitars and drums in Hanvell, repeated comments by his customers about their need for an amplifier which was “bigger and louder” drove Jim Marshall to found Marshall Amplification, in 1962.

Jim and his partners started work on modifying the Fender Bassman. They changed the circuit and used higher gain ECC83 valves so that the amplifier broke into overdrive at lower settings of the volume control, hence helping the guitarists have a louder overdrive sound. This amplifier was the first to be an official Marshall product and was named ‘JTM 45’.

The iconic Marshall stack was created when Marshall produced an 8×12” cabinet on which the amp head was placed. Soon, a band’s status and standing were recognized by the size of the Marshall stack “wall,” sometimes even consisting of hundreds of cabinets. These stacks had 100-watt amps, which was made possible to construct by doubling the output valves; and adding additional output transformers and larger power transformers.

Many other developments were made with changing times-valves were tinkered with, circuitry was modified, and all the while, the amps were always towards a more aggressive sound.

The master volume knob, which is almost a given in the present times, was developed and introduced by Marshall Amplification through the ‘MV’ series. Earlier, overdrive was “cranked” up by the volume control, but it limited the volume of the distortion. The ‘MV’ series used a dual-volume control, one for going into overdrive, the other for regulating its volume.

Subsequently, several series were released by Marshall; the JCM800, the Jubilee series, JCM900 and the 30th Anniversary 6100 series. All of these amplifiers had significant modifications, be it channel switching; solid-state diode amps; semi-split channels; amongst more aesthetically pleasing faceplates and liveries; for each series. But Marshall has never lost its sound. The Marshall sound.

In the present years, Marshall Amplification continues to produce amplifiers, along with a broad range of different audio accessories and lifestyle accessories, which are all a lifeline to a musician. Be it your FX pedal(s), your customized cabinet or your shades, Marshall is there. From Headphones to Speakers, Marshall is always striving for that perfect sound, the perfect mix, and always in step with the latest and the best. Marshall is a way of life now.

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Guitarist John Roth’s New Band Roth/Brock Project Interview

By Andrew Catania 

John Roth has a varied pedigree of guitar playing.  John was the guitarist for the band Giant, who had a successful run during the late eighties.  John has been with Winger since their 1993 record, Pull, complementing Reb Beach.  He’s also the guitarist for Starship.  His current project, Roth/Brock Project,  has a new record out.  I spoke with John and we discussed his new record, his playing, guitars, rigs, and the state of the music industry.


How’s your album coming along there?  It sounds very good

Thank you man! Thank you!! We’ve got a decent amount of pre-sales and all the response you know the feed that we’ve gotten so far, it’s been really good

It sounds like the good old days of Giant

Man it’s that 80’s arena rock & roll.  Yes, that’s it man.  I had a few other people say some of the songs had that Giant vibe so yes man it’s fun stuff.  We had a lot of fun making that album


Yes because Giant still rules on Hair Nation on  It’s probably once every 3 albums.

That’s cool! Awesome! That’s good to know.  I’ve had some other people say they heard Giant a lot on Sirius.  That was some of the better 80’s rock and that was right around 1990 I believe

Yes it was right before the polyester invasion came in the next year

Exactly! Right when the whole climate changed right their man

How did you get fit together with your partner there?  How did this formation come with Frontiers 

Well Serafino, his label Frontiers had approached me on making a record on my own aside from Winger.  I’ve done 3 with Winger on Frontiers and I did the Giant record with Terry so that’s how I met with Terry was from when I was working on the 2010 Giant Promised Land record.  So, Terry and I hit it off good on that.  We co-wrote a couple of songs I wrote 3 on that record two which I co-wrote with Terry and man we just hit it off song writing wise.  As far as friends it’s always cool when you can find someone to send a song to and they send it back to you and it’s twice as good you know what I mean?  We just had some good chemistry.  Terry and I met back in Giant land and we kept in touch over all these years and we did a moronic rock festival in Chicago.  I was playing with Winger and Terry was playing and he got up and set in with us so we kept in touch over the years and when Serafino approached me about making a record for him Terry was the first guy I thought of

Oh Ok.  Do you guys still have that chemistry when you guys went to record this?

Yes, absolutely! Absolutely man.  Like I said it’s always great when you work with someone who thinks like you do.  Especially when you’re trying to make a record.  He lives in Panama City and I live in Mississippi which is right outside of Memphis so you know when you’re working long distance like that and I tour with Starship and Winger so I’m on the road for 140 days of the year and Terry sings in a band called LeRoux and does another project that he’s on the road with so you know time is of the essence.  So, it’s always great when you have that kind of chemistry and I could make a record with Terry, make a good record with Terry with good songs and us not have to struggle over our schedules and everything.  So, we worked as efficiently as we could and we made it happen

You have a lot of Giant on here, I can hear some Winger on here.  To you what does this record sound like?


It’s 80’s kind of style arena rock & roll with a little punchier and drier of a sound you know.  Part of what I didn’t like about the sound of the 80’s to me was a lot of the drums and the plate reverbs you know it seems like they tried to make the record sound like you were in a hall so you know it wasn’t as in your face.  I like raw, a little drier.  To me it’s kind of sounds like an 80’s arena rock record.


Going back to your youth, when did you pick up the guitar?  At what age?  

Let’s see I was 10 so that was 1978 and my cousins all played guitar and sang.  I remember hearing them rehearse once in the basement.  It was loud I was probably about 7 – 8 years old and the music it just shook me so you know it was kind of scary and I liked it was in my face, something I liked about it and my parents always listened to a lot of music so it was just kind of in my genes I think.  So, I was 10 and my first real guitar hero was Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, it had to be

Wow! Billy Gibbons OK! There’s one I have not heard said except a couple people. 
What was your first guitar?  Just a cheap acoustic? 

Teisco del rey.  I think I remember reading in an interview with Eddie Van Halen years ago that he said he had one of those things.  Man, it was you know just a cheap guitar bought in like a pawn shop type store.  It was like a Harold’s everything store (laughter) something like that you know.  It was a Strat guitar.

When you were in your teens did you have any bands you played with?

Oh yeah.  I think I started gigging when I was about 12 and opening the guitar and I did the talent show.  I was too young to play in the clubs but I had this band called Warning.  We wanted all our songs to be like Rainbow and Dio and Judas Priest and all that kind of stuff and we had a gig opening for Eric Johnson in Memphis and I was 15 years old

No Way?

Yeah! Yeah! So, that was my first gig in Memphis opening for Eric Johnson and we were playing like Van Halen, Ozzy, Grand Funk Railroad and I remember the club owner was freaking that I was 15 and he said your mother must be here with you or I can get fired and lose my liquor license and it was a great moment for me because of course I got to hear Eric Johnson which is phenomenal experience and I got to meet Shawn Lane.  I don’t know if you know who Shawn Lane is.

Shawn is one of my favorites

Shawn was from another planet.  I love him and I miss Shawn.  I grew up around Shawn Lane and another amazing musician from Memphis Jack Holder who doesn’t get a lot of credit.  He’s another great guitar player. He played in Cobra with Jimi Jamison and Survivor who I spent a lot of time on the road with.  But yes, I did play in bands. I’ve always played in bands and that led to me playing in Black Oak Arkansas which Shawn played in Black Oak.  So, I followed Shawn into Black Oak.  I didn’t even follow Shawn because there were a lot of guitar players with that band but Jim Dandy, the singer is credited with having a huge influence on David Lee Roth.  They were like a southern boogie band so my first bands were always original bands.  I went from that to playing with Black Oak to Jimi Jamison, Survivor and Winger, Starship and all these other 80’s rock bands.  But I was always playing and I couldn’t wait until I graduated so I could go on the road.   That’s what you did, you couldn’t wait to get out of high school so you could go on the road

So, with all these 80’s bands that you’ve been with you’ve been with Winger where you paired up with Reb Beach during your time with them?

Yeah! I’m still in Winger.  I still play with Winger.  I just played with them last week no that was two weeks ago so I played with Starship last weekend.  So, I’m playing in both bands now and yeah I joined Winger in ’93 after the Pull record was recorded and yeah so with Reb, Reb’s an old friend as all the guy’s in Winger we’re growing old together.  When I joined that band, I was 26 and I still get to play with Winger and Reb’s a sweetheart man and a phenomenal player and he’s just a great guy to hang with to play licks with and learn from and to spend time with.  When you’re on the road you hang out a hell of a lot more than you play.  You know it’s all about you’re in the airport, you’re in a shuttle, you’re at the hotel.  So yeah, Reb’s awesome!

That is fantastic. 
Your current guitars, are you endorsed by anybody now?  

You know I don’t have any kind of endorsement deal signed.  I like to play whatever I want to play you know.  Forever I was into Les Pauls then it was Strats and Les Pauls and then it was Tele’s.  You know I haven’t signed any kind of an endorsement deal.  I’ve had some offers from different pickup people it’s just you know I like being able to play what I want when I want.  It’s flattering to be of an endorsement deal I’ve just kind of strayed away from that because I had a thing with Gibson.


What are you currently playing?

I’m playing a Suhr Standard Pro.  We started doing these gigs probably about 10 years ago Winger and Starship.   A lot of these 80’s bands they fly to all these gigs we don’t tour on a bus like we used to.  Probably the last time I was on a bus was 2008 so your flying Les Paul’s the necks of them end up getting cracked or any kind of guitar whose neck would probably snip. I mean I got back from a run with Winger and one of my favorite Les Paul’s had a crack in the neck and of course I owned a Les Paul where his stock was cracked and they glued it back on. You know how that works with Paul’s a lot so I started playing with guitars so I started playing beefy Strats with humbuckers and a bridge and I picked up Reb’s.  You know Reb’s got a bolt on Strat he’s that guitar plays awesome.  He’s like dude anytime you want one I’ll get you the hook up you’ll get an artist deal at least and they’ll build it for you custom.  So, I’m playing a custom Suhr Standard Pro right now and I still play my Strat some.  On my record that I just put out I played a Charvel, SoCal, a Fender American Strat and this custom Suhr.  They’re all great guitars man.  I love them.  I love the Suhr.  It plays amazing.

They’re nice guitars. What’s your rig consist of? Has it changed over the years or are you pretty much the same?

I’ve always played Marshalls and Boogies.  This record that I made I used a Mesa Roadster.  It’s a mesa dual rectifier roadster and I love that amp.  I love the punch units in the mid-range of that amp.  I got one of the dual rectifiers when I went out on the road with Winger and I’m just kind of a big Boogie fan man and I just like the punch units on the low end and mid-range those amps are amazing. You know I prefer the roadster over all of them and we have back line companies.  I play on a different amp every night since we’ve played at all our gigs.  I’ve played at least 70 fly dates a year somewhere between 55 and 70 fly gigs a year or something like and we don’t carry our heads you know we carry our pedal boards and our guitars of course stuff like that.  So, on the road because they’re so consistent I use Marshalls JCM 2000 DSL

Oh very nice 

Yeah man, I asked for three of them you know their very consistent.  Out of three of them, two of them sound good.   Normally I use one head, two cabs I either stack them or side by side and I use a mic each cabinet.  I think the mic on the other cabinet is a Sennheiser 609.  I also have a radial jdx drive.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with that box.  Have you heard of it?

I’ve heard of it yes

It’s a direct box you know and it’s a cabinet and it sounds so… Bass guys like that because they can poke sounds through the mix without having to turn up the cabs which when you turn up the cabs, you know the mics it starts bringing out the sounds of the drums and everything else, the rumble on the stage and so I’m sending the front house guys three signals 2 mics and a radial jdx box

Nice, nice! Are you endorsed by Marshall or do you just use their products?

No, I’m not endorsed by Marshall.  I just use them and it’s kind of funny how I started playing Marshalls again it’s from going on the road and doing all these fly dates and not being able to get the amp that I dig playing on.  But I’ve really become a really big fan of Marshall again I’ve got a real old Marshall but a ’76 it’s a 76 J&P it’s got two inputs on the front but it’s got a fairly good amount of gain it’s not hot rodded so it kind of sounds like AC/DC and I love my old Marshall man.  I love my old Marshall but it’s a one channel amp.  With Starship, I go clean to dirty kind of a bit.  With Winger, not so much because it’s mainly a dirty crunchy sound.  But it’s important to me on the road to get a good clean sound.  The old Marshall’s they’re one channel basically.  So, that’s why I like the DLS it’s got two channels and they’re damn consistent

Who were some of your influences when you played the guitar?

Man, you know Billy Gibbons was one of the first guys just a huge influence on me, yeah sure Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.  Those are the big 4 to me and then of course Eddie Van Halen as much rhythmically than soloing because I love his style of rhythm playing its phenomenal all the muted 16th sand cool cord voicings.  You know Eddie’s a phenomenal guitar player and we know he’s an amazing lead player not that we don’t know he’s an amazing lead player and rhythm guitar player but big influence on my rhythm playing.  And there’s a few of other guitarists that blow me away.  I think you know when you talk about influences after a while once your ear gets good enough you’ll channel a guitar player that you didn’t listen to a lot just because you may have heard him play something cool or the show or on the radio.  Neal Schon is one of those guys, you know I love Neal Schon but I never sat down and learned all the Journey solo’s.  You know what I mean?  I’ve never been in a band that played Journey and I think a lot the way, a lot of people if you got your ears out there, you get influences by osmosis in a way

Going back to 1989 your Survivor friend there, Jimi Jamison, you recorded on his first solo album?


And your single which you co-wrote it was featured on Baywatch 


How did that come about? Did they pick it up?  Did they call you?  Did you call them?

Jimi sang the theme song to Baywatch and that was at the time may still be the most television show watched of all time.  But my song that ended up on Baywatch was the first single off that record When Love Comes Down I co-wrote with Jimi and the drummer Scott Trammell.  Scott Trammell is the drummer on my Roth Brock Project Album and he co-wrote one of the songs on it.  So, I think what happened was Jimi was on their radar, the Baywatch camp, because he sang that theme song and so they started looking at songs on his record and they want to put Rock Hard the song that I had co-written with Jimi on Baywatch.  So, that’s how that happened


You’ve been in the 80’s you’re in the bands that have gone through there.  What do you think of the state of the music industry is today?  I mean do you think it’s hard for guy’s like you and everybody else like you and everybody else that came up through the 80’s to be successful in whatever this current climate is of the music industry?

Well you know with things like that and now it’s great, things are good.  There’s a lot of people that want to hear this music and I think you know maybe when the grunge period came through it stunted everything for a while and it was just time for something different.  The 80’s had a good long run because the 80’s era really started in the late 70’s.  Like my favorite 80’s bands are Aerosmith and Van Halen.  You know bands that made it big in the 80’s they were 70’s bands.  When you look at the span of the 80’s bands it kind of went from the late 70’s to the early 90’s so at that time it was just time for something different you know.  Grunge came in and it kind of took the focal point away from all that music.  And so now it seems you know Foreigner is out touring man yeah Foreigner and REO Speedwagon.  I do bunches of gigs with Winger.  We play with Warrant, Ratt , Skid Row and all these cool 80’s bands. You know I’ve worked with Mike Reno of Loverboy with Starship we every now and then will do a gig we’ll back up a bunch of singers and some of them end of being in the 80’s you know.  Loverboy’s out there doing it there’s bands out there playing so I feel very fortunate to have gotten the gig’s I’ve got and being able to hold on to them.  Now I’m able to play in both Starship and Winger so I feel very blessed to be able to pull it off and it’s tough for the new bands. I mean it’s tough for all musicians it’s a hard business to make it in.  But you know now like you said with the climate of the industry changing, basically everyone has the technology to make a record in their home if they have good ears and could write good songs and the same technology that has allowed everyone else to download for free and not pay for it.  So, things are very different now in a way the playing field is leveled to where everyone else has a lot of the same promotional materials but at the same time it creates a big noise and a big fray you must figure out how to rise above to get yourself noticed.  So, it’s a tough business.  It’s been interesting to watch how things have evolved over the last few years.  So, if you want to be a musician and want to do this for a living you’ve got to have a plan

That is certainly true!  With the bands that are out today are there any that catches your eye?

One of the best guys to come out lately I must say he came out 10 or 12 years ago I must say is John Mayer.  John Mayer is a fine guitar player and he snuck in there with his poppy kind of chick friendly stuff and he slapped everybody in the face with his trio stuff.  I don’t know if you know if you watched a John Mayer trio.  I saw him at he does a gig with the company, it was a while back it was a trio of John Mayer playing with Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan.

He’s a great guitar player but he came out a while back.  Joe Bonamassa he’s amazing! You know what I mean?

Yes, I do!

He’s a great player.  So, when you say bands I don’t know who you’re talking about because I don’t know that there are any bands coming out, a lot of it, I know there are as far as those who have guitar players up front.  I mean if you want to hear a good guitar solo you need to listen to country radio because that’s the only radio you’re going to turn on that you’re going to hear a guitar solo.  A lot of it to me, I know there are a lot of new bands out there but they’re just not breaking above the fray like I said before to where I notice them. I mean who do you hear that’s kicking your ass?

Yeah that is unfortunate because there is a good group of newer players who aren’t just getting any attention or any air play and that because of social media and try to get their name out there and they’ve got to use the Twitter, the Instagram they’ve got to use you know Facebook and it’s working

Social media man!!

There’s that, then they’ve got to sign an electronical music agreement to get their stuff on Spotify and Apple.  You’ve got to be into corporate now it’s an industry that has changed from when I used to tape my penny to a paper and get my 12 cd’s for a penny!  (laughter)

Yeah man! I mean times have changed, haven’t they? When you mentioned what you just said it reminded me of the Darkness, you know.  I must say that Darkness album was a lot of fun, Permission to Land, do you remember them?


Yeah so like that music, man this is cool, so that rock music the guitar playing was cool and it was memorable and I always liked people that played lyrical lines that I can sing and remember and of course amazing technique is awesome and it’s always good to hear technical players.  It’s the solo’s and the melodies and stuff that kind of grab you and make you remember the song.  Nine times out of ten if a song on a radio it’s not going to have a shredding guitar solo because those kinds of solo’s unfortunately it’s kind of become a lost art.

I agree! You’re right. To kind of perspective things with your new album are we going to see a tour with you guys anytime in 2017 or do you have your plate full with Winger and Starship?  

Man, our plates both Terry’s and mine are both full with touring with the bands.  We’d love to be able to tour and support this record like that.  We jammed together once.  We got Terry up on a Winger gig and I have a local band that I play with and while we were working the record Terry came with us and sang so we’ve only jammed on staged performing other people’s songs.  We would love to be able to do that but finding the time and looking at the calendar and figuring it out, I would have to get subs for both of my Winger and Starship gigs if it landed in a spot where both bands were touring and that’s how I can play in Starship and Winger right now is I’ve got a sub who’s playing for me tonight actually.  I’ve got to be on a plane tomorrow to play a gig with Starship and that’s why I’ve got my sub working with Winger tonight and I’ve got a sub that works for me for Starship when I’m out with Winger so right now that’s my livelihood and that’s keeping me what I’m doing on the road.  Terry’s the same way ideally for us to both get up a spot on the calendar where we can both put out a tour just a couple dates would be tough.  Not that we wouldn’t do it if we could but mainly we’re hoping just to get this music out to enough people where we need people to hear this music.  I think Terry’s a phenomenal singer and one of the reasons I produced this record is I want people to hear Terry sing you know I want people to hear our songs and get off on our music.  I think that there’s still a market for this kind of music and not enough bands are doing it anymore you know

Well it certainly seems like Frontiers has signed just about every band that I grew up with.  You just go to Frontiers and everybody’s there
I’m glad.  Hey Serafino and Mario they’ve done a tremendous job carrying the torch and helping all these 80’s rock bands continue to put out records man because there’s still a market for it out there and a lot of it, the market seems to be more in Europe you know.

Yes!! Do you think that, and I’ve asked plenty of people this question, Europe seems to be more embracing of the old 80’s metal?  Because you go out there you see Wacken you see all these big festivals 100,000 – 150,000 people 

Sure man!

Those bands out there, they come to the US they play in clubs.  I mean I believe Europe is more that’s where a lot of you guys will go, will be more profitable out there because it seems like our European counterparts will embrace this music more than American people where they want to listen to you know the latest Brittney Spears or something 

Yeah, you know what, you would think that.  You would think that but man I’m seeing Winger and Starship and not just us but Warrant and Ratt and all these other bands I’m hearing, I can’t say I’m hearing Warrant and Ratt because I haven’t seen them play and what kind of crowd they draw in Europe but mainly when the bands of this genre go to Europe it’s to play those big festivals but here in the states these bands still draw good at a casino or a theater like with Starship we play a lot of theaters.  We do theaters and casino’s and we do festivals and the same with Winger.  It’s a little bit different venues.  Winger probably does more rock clubs then Starship would and Ratt does the same stuff.  Same kind of gigs man and I haven’t heard anybody say man we had a great three month run in Europe you know because basically the big gigs over there to be played are the big festivals. That’s the draw and I don’t know, I’m sure there’s a market to be tapped over there which is interesting because it’s like these bands are selling more records over there.  But still I think the music is just as alive as far as seeing these bands performing live over here.

Face it man, no one is selling a lot of records right now unless you’re Taylor Swift or Beyoncé you know even some of the country singers that were selling these massive amounts of records, they’re not selling records because people can download them for free you know.

There is hope! When you’ve got music like that is coming out that’s going with that true 80’s sound that it had it’s an era that will never be replaced.  People don’t understand it.  Younger kids are like oh you seem old.  I’m like no, that’s what music was when you had actual musicians you had people that could sing and could sell 2,3,4 million albums and Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Ratt would always be on the MTV top 20

Yeah man with good players.  Guys who worked hard at their instrument you know and guys who could sing a note over a G you know what I mean like when Grunge came through it was like where’d the vocal range go?  Where’d the guitar solos go you know? All that became passé it seems like.  I appreciate your support taking the time to help get our music out their man.  You know where in it for the music.  Terry and I, we’re musicians and we didn’t start doing this because we thought we were going to be famous and make a lot of money you know.  We did this because we love it and we can’t not play music you know and that’s why we made this record man.  We just want people to enjoy our music and we feel like what we do is an ability to give people to get away from their troubles and if you think you can give someone a great record to listen to that reminds them of their past or play a show and take people’s minds off the election and all this other shit you know we’ve done our job so we’re happy to be able to do it

John, thank you for your time, and best of luck with your new record!