After 33 years Jake E Lee Should Finally Get Song Credits From the Osbournes for BATM

By Andrew Catania

The story of Ozzy Osbourne and Jake E Lee remains a great tale as old as time. Do you know that a musician without any prior business knowledge can be screwed up in a deal? This is exactly what happened between Jake and Ozzy. Jake has played on The Ultimate Sin and Bark at the Moon while operating with Ozzy.   Sharon Osbourne openly screwed Jake over royalties and songwriting credits. While Ozzy and Jake signed a deal, it later backfired to hurt the guitarist.

Jake E Lee was promised writing credits and even publishing before the deal. The primary problem with Jake is that he had no lawyer or management. Ozzy Osbourne has promised Jake of everything coming while he keeps on working on the album and signed the deal. As inquisitive as it gets, Jake keeps asking because he is about to complete the music recording. While Jake finally dropped the track of the guitar playing, Ozzy mentioned the contract is ready. Right in the surreptitious deal, it is agreed that Ozzy Osbourne handled the writing of all songs. Jake is not the original writer and cannot as well claim any publishing. In the contract, it also mentioned that Jake cannot claim to have the rights to the music publicly.

While Jake questioned the contact, Sharon admitted that this isn’t the agreement. It is important to know that Ozzy Osbourne already has the tracks of the songs from Jake. This means if Jake did not sign the contract, he will be given a return flight ticket home. Ozzy can now hire another guitarist to redo the tracks Jake already suffered for and nothing will ever go to him. The entire schematics of Sharon sounds mean and if Jake took any action, things may get worse. For this reason, Jake decided not to participate in The Ultimate Sin until a good contract is signed. Jake also mentioned that both publishing and writing credits should be given to him for The Ultimate Sin. Sharon Osbourne took a clever run on Jake Lee at all costs.

Do you know why Jake even agreed to do the recordings before signing a real contract? For one, Jake was on a farm in the middle of Europe recording the tracks.  For this reason, it was easy for Sharon to easily screw him up. Once your tracks are already written, you will not have sufficient bargaining strength. Even when your songs are recorded, they will not have any value to you again. For the music business, this is really a painful experience on Jake E Lee. With Ozzy Osborne, Jake may have appeared on a couple of albums. However, Jake has really supported Sharon score two of the most successful commercial releases. Jake is the backbone of the success of the Ozzy Osbourne’s illustrious and long career.

As a kid, Jake took classical piano courses. Lee received support from his older sister and mixed up with rock record collection. Lee picked up a guitar in his teenage years being influenced by technically and fiery expert players such as Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, and Tommy Bolin. Bark at the Moon remains the first album of Jake with Osbourne. This remains a platinum hit and released that emanated after a mammoth tour. This album confirmed that Lee is one of the best guitarists during his time. In 1985, after another wonderful festival, Osbourne and Jake stopped and immediately started working on the second album.

In 1986, The Ultimate Sin remains Osbourne’s most commercial-striking album of his solo career. This album also moved into another platinum hit for Osbourne and become a sold-out success. In the meantime, both Osbourne and JakeE  Lee fell out behind the scene. This is because Osbourne’s unpredictable behavior caused by drug abuse and alcohol made.  Sharon again screwed Jake and dismissed him in 1987.  Without any iota of doubt, Jake E Lee remains the backbone of Osbourne’s hit albums. Jake is also one of the best guitarists today in the world. Jake E Lee is a natural artist with a good humor of playing the guitar.

Jon Levin: Dokkens Axe Warrior Wears Two Hats

By Andrew Catania

Jon Levin is the current guitarist for Dokken.  He was involved with music very early on in life.  He began playing piano at age 4, trumpet by age 7, and guitar at age 9.  Instead of having formal lessons, Levin played along with his favorite musicians including Randy Rhoads, Eric Clapton, and George Lynch.  He played in a club band called Devias at age 19 in the Long Island, New York area and then auditioned for and joined the German Band Warlock at age 22.  When the grunge scene took over in the early 1990s, Levin took a break from being a musician because he wasn’t interested in that type of music.  Levin went to Law School and moved to the West Coast to become an entertainment lawyer.  In his capacity as an entertainment lawyer, Levin has served as legal counsel, working with Jim Paidas of Paidas Management, on a myriad of licensing programs; some of which include Orange County Choppers, Dog the Bounty Hunter, American Hot Rod and Rockstalgia

In 1998, Levin got a call from Jeff Pilson, Dokken’s bassist, who asked him to play some solos on a demo.  He anticipated playing on a solo album for Pilson, but when he eventually arrived at the studio, Dokken in its entirety was there.  Levin played on a Dokken track called ‘Dancin’ known as ‘The Irish Song’, which originally was supposed to be included on the Erase the Slate album but was later included on the Long Way Home import instead.  However, Levin didn’t join the group full time until late 2003.  He’s praised by many hardcore Dokken fans for his George Lynch-influenced style of playing.

Throughout the late 80’s, Levin had built himself a solid career as a heavy metal guitarist, most notably with the German Band Warlock.  When Nirvana hit he saw the writing on the wall.  Levin graduated in 1996 and by 1997 had his own practice in Century City.  He used his old music contacts to build his client list, specializing in entertainment contract law, as well as the occasional divorce case because, well, rock stars get divorced a lot.

He still played guitar in his spare time, but his old music career was the furthest thing from his mind.  So far, in fact, that when one of his clients, a member of Dokken, invited him down to the studio to “play a few solos,” he showed up in a suit and tie. “I’d been in court that day, I think.”  Levin had assumed that he would be helping out his friend and clients solo project.  Instead, he was greeted at the studio door by one of his childhood idols, Don Dokken himself.

Growing up playing in bar bands on Long Island, Levin had studied the solos of Dokken’s original guitarist, George Lynch.  So despite his nerves and Dokken’s deliberately vague directions, he nailed the audition and was invited to perform with the band at a Fourth of July concert in Dallas just a few weeks later and it was a sold-out show.   There were 20,000 people in attendance.  Despite the success of that gig, Levin opted to go back to his law practice.  “I was getting my business going and I didn’t want to let that go,” he explains.

He’s been with the band ever since, enjoying the career resurgence they’ve had since their 2003 album, ‘Hell to Pay.’  Levin himself, who now co-writes most of the bands material, had a strong hand in shaping the record.  “I wanted us to do a Dokken-sounding record,” he explains; a concept Don Dokken was slow to commit to, but has since fully embraced.

Jon Levin playing guitar with Dokken

In addition, Jon Levin and Lynch Mob shared some moments together.  Lynch Mob released several albums, but the most popular will always be Wicked Sensation in 1990.  Dokken, on the other hand, had more releases and live albums, but neither was able to reach the popularity they had when they were together.  With that being said, in 1993, they gave it another try.  It was a disaster.  They also put out an album that Don claimed was completely controlled by Lynch and was an act to ruin the Dokken name.  Lynch claimed that Don refused to modernize his music this was an attempt to put the Dokken name to rest because the album ‘Shadow Life’ was terrible and poorly received.  In 1997, they broke up again when George walked out on a European Tour.

Both went their separate ways again and recorded materials that have done very little to the Heavy Metal landscape, but their names come up in a big way a couple of years ago when they decide to do a song together at Rocklahoma.  It went well, however, one song doesn’t make a band.  Jon Levin is a man wearing two caps, namely an incredible guitarist as well as a lawyer.

Shred Legend Joe Stump

By Andrew Catania

Without music, humanity is far much doomed. Music is our channel to express how we feel without having to hit someone or things. We actually allow music through the words and beats to hit so hard without feeling the pain but by opening up our true selves.  Joe William Stump had a surprise for the world. Music was his cup of tea as he grew up listening to Yngwie Malmsteen. This would greatly affect him as he plucked his first guitar at the age of 10. With the inspiration of Jimi Hendrie, he continued practicing on the guitar and soon joined Berklee College of Music.

Berklee College of Music exposed Joe stump to classical music which in turn made him a composer and influenced his style of play. He fell in love with the bass guitar and guitar. He finally made it to the big screen in 1988 and as we all say the rest is history. He has managed to release major solo projects such as Guitar Dominance, Night of the Living Shred and Supersonic Shred Machine. With these successful projects, Stump has managed to change the perception of a guitar as an instrument. He has been able to make it possible for us to relate with each beat he makes with the guitar. The emotions conveyed are made aware and clear to the audience every time he plays.

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Joe has made major strides in his career as he has appeared in music magazines and publications. Some of the magazines he has appeared in include; Guitar Shop, Guitar School, Young Guitar, Guitar World among others. It is every dream for an artist to appear in such publications as they grow their fan base. He has also made performances with rock legends like his childhood music icon Yngwie Malmsteen, Bon Jovi and Tony Macalpine among others. We can say that he has achieved all that a guitarist and composer can ask for. But yet he keeps on taking it to the next level.

He currently plays for the Raven Lord, Hollyhell, and Exorcism as the main lead guitarist. He has also managed to be signed by more than one music label. The labels are Lion Music and Magic Circle Music.  With this kind of success on your shoulders, I wonder what you would do to give back to those who made you great. As for Joe Stump, he gives back by spotting talent in the young and making sure that they don’t get consumed by the hunger of worldly pressures. This is what a great icon does. To help, teach more and at the same time introduce fresh style into the music world.

Joe Stump has made it big not by sitting and saying that he can do that or that. He worked for it tirelessly for the past 57 years to only remain relevant but also to be the star he is today. His journey through music is a clear example of how hard work, determination, and focus can lead you to a path of success and push away destruction out of your way. Joe Stump career should serve as a teaching to the young and old that dreams and passion should not be abandoned but watered till they mature.

The Icon That is Uli Jon Roth

By Andrew Catania

Uli Jon Roth has had an amazing musical career which comprised over 40+ years of dominance in the rock guitarist’s music industry. He had been an icon for all the metal guitarists and the younger generation. What a magic he has in his fingers which bends the strings in such a way that it emanates breathtaking tunes from his finger tip. Don’t you believe?

Trust me, listen to this The sails of Charon – from the album and feel how master this man is in playing the intricate nuances of the guitar.

Being a German guitarist, at a very early age, he became famous after taking the charge of Scorpions as lead guitarist. It was a very sudden decision when two lead guitarists of Scorpions band (at that time) left the band for joining UFO. Then the remaining band members merge with them to in order to sustain the band. Uli Jon Roth had a band with the name of Dawn Road at that time which he had to end the existence of Scorpions. In reality, Scorpions gave him more space and chance to explore himself as a lead guitarist, songwriter, and occasional singer. ‘Tokyo Tapes’ was there major hit, which was recorded in Japan and sold nearly 1 million copies all around the world.

By 1978, he left Scorpions and formed his own band by the name of ‘Electric Sun’. He released three albums through this band and all of them were dedicated to renowned public and social personalities. Then, later on, he started a new phase of his music journey as a solo career in which performed at various concerts such as at London Wembley Arena in 1998, Castle Donington in 2001, Wacken Open Air festival in 2006, Rock am Ring Festival Germany in 2007 and 2008. All of these concerts were mega hits and were leased on DVDs as well. In the meanwhile, he also worked on his exclusive full-length studio album as well named as ‘Under a Dark Sky’ and released it in 2007. Recently in 2015, he released a studio album by the name of ‘Scorpions Revisited’ which was recorded in Germany. The special thing about this album is that he added all his personal favorites from old Scorpions songs. This album was a huge success which led to a world musical tour as well for the electrical rock band music. After seeing this success and getting a too much positive response from the audience Uli Jon Roth initiated a second tour named as ‘The Ultimate Guitar Experience’ with his previous fellow guitarists. This tour again had a much positive feedback and response from the critics as well.

Apart from being a lead guitarist and songwriter, in the 1980’s Uli Jon Roth initiated towards the construction of custom guitars named as ‘Sky Guitars’. It had some additional frets in its construction for emulating the high notes of violin from the bass of the guitar. The first Sky Guitar, they used had almost 30 frets. They were quite popular and made in different shapes, sizes and with a number of frets according to the desired need

Interview: Uli Jon Roth Discusses Future Plans, Sky Guitars, Lack of Tone and Too Much Shredding in Today’s Guitarists

 By Andrew Catania

Uli Jon Roth is a legend.  When he speaks, many people listen.  Uli is from the old school.  I talked to him right after his tour ended and he visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  We covered many topics.  Enjoy!

How was your latest tour?

The tour had just officially ended yesterday, and it was fantastic. It was my best American tour.  We had a great time, the band had a great time, I had a great time, and it seems the audience also had a very good time.  I mean it was just one of these tours where everything went kind of smoothly, and we didn’t have any major problems not even with the weather although we actually escaped the blizzards very narrowly a couple of times you know, and even in New York, in upstate New York, we were lucky because at that time of the year anything can happen you know

 

Absolutely!  How did your trip to the Hall Of Fame go on Friday?  

 

It was great!  I just had an invitation to it to just to check it all out and the curator, Meredith, she was so kind she took me around she took me to all the exhibits.  It was just a very good museum the way they displayed everything up close so nicely.  It was extremely well displayed, and it told a story.  So it was very good, I enjoyed it.  And that was our one day off you know, we had one off day in 17 days, and it was fantastic it was cool

(laughter)

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I’m glad you enjoyed it.  Do you think you’ll have a Sky Guitar on display there?

 

You know they’ve asked me to get them a guitar, and I will do something you know.  I was thinking maybe about the white Strat in the Tokyo Tapes In Trance, it’s an Electric Sun Strat because that guitar is just sitting around and it was in a museum for years I got it back, but yes we are going to talk about that you know
Okay, that’s good.  So the tour has ended, what are some of the highlights of the trip that just come to your mind?

Well, I tell you there was really so many shows that I was really very happy with that I cannot even pick the very best one but we had so many.  The outcome in Florida and St Charles was great.  You know BB King’s was a great show and a lot of people came despite the blizzard.  That amazed me because I knew that a lot of tickets had been sold and quite a few couldn’t come but it was still good and quite full and we had a great show there.  Then Reggie’s in Chicago was great.  I mean so many I think so many, San Francisco was great, Seattle, Vancouver.  Yes, I mean there wasn’t a single show that I wasn’t happy with.   Sometimes you play a little bit better than on certain days but we had a very consistent run and I think we were able to transmit a lot of inspiration night after night by which is the most important thing and it’s not so easy to do that night after night you know when you don’t have any off days.  But I have a fantastic band and everyone just pulled through and it was just so good

 

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How do you pick the musicians that work with you?

They’re basically musicians who have been with me for a long time and they’ve been handpicked and kind of almost handpicked I guess of a lot of them because some of them have been with me for 10 years and are also pupils of mine in many respect so I’m now at the point where they’ve become so good as a backing band night after night that I’m just so lucky to have these guys there.  Very quiet unit and the beautiful thing is they all have very sweet personalities so we don’t have any people with ego problems you know like you have in many bands you have like the odd one out you know high maintenance people who only don’t fit in and with us, it’s a very sweet environment.  On this tour we have my favorite English drummer who also played on both releases, both current releases The Scorpions Revisited and the Tokyo Tapes Revisited DVD so that’s Jamie Little on drums.  I love that guy’s groove and rhythm it’s second to none and he always sounds like a million dollars when he’s up there on stage very very comfortable to just play with such a top class drummer.  On vocals and bass, we have Niklas Turmann, who’s been with me also for a long time since the Under The Dark Sky Tour in 2008. He is now officially our lead singer.  He’s come a long way because originally he was not really a lead singer but I figured he had such a vocal talent I actually encouraged him more and more and more and more and gave him more and more to sing and he’s just outstanding I mean the amount of people that come to me every night commenting on the beautiful performance and what he delivers is really astounding and also he played bass on this tour.  He’s usually actually not our guitar player we used to go out with three guitars but my dear friend Elliot Dean Rubinson just passed away and Elliot was supposed to play bass on this tour

Elliot was a terrific person.

But he had terminal brain cancer unfortunately and simply I saw it coming and by the time in November, I kind of knew that Elliot would not be on this tour or the cruise and so I said to Niklas, “okay, you’re basically now officially a bass player” and he managed wonderfully.  He didn’t put a foot wrong he sounds like a real bass player, which most guitar players don’t when you hand them a bass they sound like guitar players

(laughter)

It’s an entirely different instrument and he understands that so it’s just great.  On second guitar we have David Klosinski, a young prodigy from Germany who was also handpicked.  I found this guy in a national guitar competition in Germany.  I was one of the judges and when I heard him play I immediately knew he had tons of talent and I took him under my wings and he’s been with me now for quite a number of years on almost every tour and he also has his own project going.  Yes, a very promising young future talent. On keyboards, we have Corvin Bahn, who’s been with me since 2007.  So that’s all I can tell you about the backing band you know,  in fact, I could tell you a lot more.

 I know you’ve been playing extended range guitar for many years, what first led you to go beyond what was offered by mainstream guitars?

Well you know I was a strat guy pretty much from the beginning although I did on the first Scorpions album I also played the Gibson Firebird but the strat as you know has traditionally 21 frets now it so happens that even for the first or second album Onwards that we did which  was In Trance, I kind of ran out of frets quite literally because the logic of my guitar leads always seem to be moving upwards more into the violin range and I remember really having to over bend the strings the top E string which was an E flat string for us in order to shift from the C to the E flat or the C sharp to the E natural.  So the more I explored the instrument with the later albums the more there appeared to be a significant limitation because I always thought why can I not play a few notes higher.  That was during the Electric Sun days in 1982 I had the idea to extend the fretboard off the strat.  So I found an excellent guitar builder in Brighton in England, Andy Demetriou and I asked him if he could put two extra frets onto my white Strat just basically extending it right up to the pickup and he said sure no problem.  He did it and he did a beautiful job.  The guitar came back and it played perfectly and that gave me like an F sharp, even a G on some notes you know when I was bending it up so I was in heaven and I use these notes. After he saw how pleased I was he said, “you know I can build you any guitar you like” and for me, that was a very defining moment. Because I had never really questioned the strat as my primary instrument you know I wouldn’t have dreamt of having a guitar of my own.  At that moment it was a crucial juncture.  I thought, oh wow maybe I should think about that and I did.  I thought about what I really wanted from it from the guitar, I wanted something that would ultimately extend the range and finally do away with this major limitation, what I saw as a major flaw you know.   And so I came up with the shape of the Sky Guitar.  I drew this guitar on a piece of paper which was born out of necessity but also I wanted a guitar that was beautiful but the symmetry could not be symmetrical because it had to have a different kind of balance. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to play that high.  So I had to take away the lower horn.  And then from that idea, the entire guitar emerged.  It was primarily based on the strat the first one was based on another guitar so I wanted to have like a super strat you know and that’s what it became.  Later on, Sky Guitar’s Metamorphosis falls into something different.  I also then wanted to integrate the sonic abilities of the Les Paul which was quite a stretch but somehow we managed.  But the first Sky Guitars were very much strat based on a concept the way the neck flows and all that.  Yes, we built the first Sky Guitar in ‘83. And initially the pickups we had were not good, didn’t sound that good but then Seymour Duncan made me some pickups.  He came to my first show in Santa Barbara and he said, “look what I’ve got for you”  He brought these pickups and we put them on and immediately the guitar sounded so much better.  From then on I played nothing but Sky Guitars virtually on stage

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Who is making the Sky Guitars?  Is Dean making them or is another builder? 

Andy Demetriou stopped building a long time ago because he had some back problems and he moved away from England.  So for 20 years there were no official new Sky Guitars it was Elliot Dean Rubinson, that’s the person we spoke about earlier who played bass for me.  He was also the CEO of Dean and we met during the Frankfurt Trade Shows and we hung out, and he somehow managed to convince me that it would be a good idea to put the Sky Guitar on the market so other people could enjoy it too, and he gave me card blanks to build it anyway I wanted to make it and that was the most important thing because I didn’t want any tampering from any guitar companies to put their stamp on it.  I wanted them to be as good as it possibly could and he gave me complete free hand.  So we built one the CNC way because we basically took a photocopy, a digital copy of my Mighty Wing, my favorite.  That guitar played well but it was not the same as a hand built guitar.  So I found this amazing guitar builder in Germany, Boris Dommenget, who also builds the guitars for The Scorpions and for a lot of other people and he built me a Sky Guitar prototype back in 2010 and I was so blown away by his craftsmanship because he is not only a craftsman who has superior abilities with wood he’s also an artist and I knew I needed somebody who could do both. Andy Demetriou was of that stature.  I had quite a few people try to make Sky Guitars and they all failed miserably even some famous builders.  Stuff never worked, they’re so difficult to build.  And then the Japanese copied them and whenever I saw a copy they basically didn’t play well and it was quite ridiculous actually but Boris was the only one who managed to do that. And he managed to supply us the originals to some degree so basically, Dean was the distributor and they put it on the market and they did the right thing, but Boris in Germany was the one who built it. We made a limited edition of 50 and they were all sold and we’re going to start a new limited edition with new features, very soon

Are there any plans for the future?    I know you were talking about the CNC machine using them at the USA shop.  Are you going to go back and do a USA guitar shop for a budget model or do you want to keep it as is?

I’m thinking about it.  That was one of the things that Elliot and I were planning for the future to do a US Custom model which would not be all hand built.  It would be way more affordable because then this guy who as you may know does cost an arm and a leg and some of them are much more in Japan. So this is not for the fainthearted this is basically for the collector and for people who have got the money but I knew I wanted to start at the high end because I wanted the best guitar as possible and rather than quantity I wanted ultimate quality.  Also,  I wanted that each guitar was slightly different.  They all have names, I gave them names and they all have a slightly different finish and to me, they’re all gorgeous, I love these guitars. And the great thing is I can play them just right out of the box and be on stage with these guitars.  The things I did last week in BB Kings because one guy Aaron Leone bought a white strat guitar some years back and he brought it that night and I played it.  I played Little Wing and Watchtower on it and it worked perfectly.  It wasn’t even set up in my way but yes there was no problem. And I’ve done that before you know people bring their Sky Guitar and I play it on stage.  So that’s kind of cool because it is identical to what I have. I thought that I had better guitars than they do in fact, some of the props are probably better than what I have.  But yes the US custom thing will be more affordable.  It’s still not going to be a cheap guitar.  Eventually we can maybe bring it down to $2,000 or $3,000 but initially, that’s not going to happen because the guitars are just very very complex to make and the pickup system alone is substantial and it just costs a lot of money.  So to bring it to a custom shop level we will have to cut some corners but we’ll make sure that they’re still Sky Guitars.  They’ll look like Sky Guitars, they’ll sound like Sky Guitars, they’ll play like Sky Guitars.  They will not quite be able to have the same power that the top model has, that’s just not doable at that price range

On this past tour, what was your rig like?  Were you doing anything different from your past set ups?

No, it was a very mild version of my standard rig you know I didn’t want to be too loud in these clubs.  So I just used one 300-watt Marshall cab and one Blackstar head which is enough for a club, in fact, it’s more than sufficient.  And with the Sky Guitars I can dial in the beautiful tone because these amps have so much headroom I only need to turn them up to 1 or 2 on the clean channel,  in fact,  I only have a clean channel and then the rest I can key from the guitar, the Sky Guitar has 100 GP output. If I want to, not that I ever use those I may go up to 70 or 80 GP’s sometimes output and that way this makes any amp sing like there is no tomorrow without a gadget in between.

Wow! 

My new Sky Guitars have those delay, analog delay built in. 

 Are you using the DigiTech Whammy still? 

Yes I do, and it’s probably my favorite gadget other than delays, but I only use it very sparingly only a few times during the gig and each time in a different way.  I don’t use it as a gimmick I use it musically.

 Who are you endorsed by?  Do you take any endorsements? 

Well, I am basically an artisan a Blackstar Artisan endorser yes. I mean Marshall has always been very good to me.  I also have with me a DV Mark 40w Amp which is basically a guitar amp but I’m using it to great effect with my acoustic nylon 8 string guitar and that just sounds so amazing.  That amp is just right for this guitar so that’s what I have to have on stage

How did it feel playing the Tokyo Tapes on stage? 

It feels very very organic, very natural.  We’ve now got a little bit of history with that because we’ve been doing it for a couple of years and yes I mean I think we are breathing a lot of new life into the songs and together with my band I believe that we are doing these songs a lot of justice.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it you know with treating them with the right amount of respect at the same time you know so I’m not offering the main melodies everything is there but there are certain things I think we’ve improved upon over the years particularly from the live versions. It flows very nicely

Do you have a good relationship with the guys from The Scorpions?  Do you guys talk?


Absolutely!  Good yes.  Klaus was kind to ring me for my birthday in December.  We had a real good chat, and in October we were in Japan, and we played at the same festival, and then we also played We’ll Burn The Sky together which was a lot of fun.  I have a perfect relationship with them something like that doesn’t go away because we never had a personality clash we’re such good buddies and friends.  On tour,  we understood one another.  You know the only differences were artistic towards the end.  We never had any personality conflict whatsoever.  It’s a lot of mutual respect and to this day. That’s really nice because most bands don’t have that.

No, a lot of them don’t.  I was going to get your opinion, what do you think about the state of the music today mainly guitar oriented music?

Well, I’m not really an expert because I’m not so clued in.  I hear younger players now and then or you know you support bands.  I am aware that there is a lot of talent out there. Well in general maybe I am missing the melodic players.  I think there are too many notes, too much shredding going on.  I prefer the slower, the more touchy kind of feely kind of things you know players with a little bit of a message and uniqueness.  I think a trend has developed in the last 20 years which is not really to my liking and that trend it went away from having a great tone. You know most of the modern amps are metal amps and there is such high gain that every guitar player kind of sounds the same to me you know because the kids don’t learn how to lower the tone anymore like we used to do.  Because when we started there were no high gain amps.  You know you would walk into a club or a pub and there was a guy playing where he is sounding great and even if they couldn’t play so well you would hear people with a right tone in the 60’s and 70’s and those days are kind of gone.  Most of the time when I hear something the sound leaves me feeling very cold and I get bored it seems one dimensional.

So you don’t approve of the development of today’s guitarists? 

So that’s what I can say.  I don’t approve of this development, and there’s very little I can do you know and I am a really old school with my approach and tone is the first thing.  You know music if it doesn’t have tone it doesn’t sound good to me it’s annoying it doesn’t touch me.

With your international competitions that you’re in as a judge as I think with your Sky Academy I didn’t know if you got to meet some of these up and coming guitarists. 

Yes, I do, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s out there in Germany and Germany is a big country 80 million people you know and there’s a lot of young talent there, a lot of players.  So I know what’s out there and there are occasionally I get a kid with a feeling for sound but most of them don’t seem to have that and they don’t appear to have that because it’s become this way.  They don’t even know how it could be otherwise they don’t seem to have a desire to do it otherwise because like you said everybody is blinded by the flashiness of their amps you know and of course it’s so easy to play on a high gain amp.  It kind of needs to do all sorts of things like people develop and breathe bad habits.  As soon as you take away the high gain they sound like amateurs you know, a lot of them and that’s not so cool either.
No, it’s not

At Sky Academy,  I try to preach that kind of gospel off of tone and promoting the tone and finding your tone that’s just very very important

You’ve toured with a lot of people on your Ultimate Guitar Experience.  Do you have any modern day players that are your favorites?

There are quite a few great players out there you know.  Yesterday somebody sent me a lovely message from Eric Johnson which I appreciated and he certainly one of these people.  You know he’s a player with a great feeling for tone an excellent player, very musical.  And then there are quite a few others out there you know.  I don’t want to mention names like that because all the others will say why didn’t you mention me

(laughter)

Oh yes! 

You know what I mean?  I know most of them and so I don’t really want to do that.  Of course the old school old time greats there are certainly some that I could mention. You know I love the way David Gilmore plays.  You know Jeff Beck,  of course, that’s a no-brainer.   There are several but the one’s with the really great tone and great touch is a rare breed. You know most of them you find them from way back in the 60’s or 70’s.  You know the degradation of tone started in the 80’s I felt.  It crept in like a slow disease and there was nothing anybody could do you know and I didn’t want to be part of that.  I kept away from all that.  You know that’s why when I listen to any of these albums the tone gets on my nerves most of the time.

You’ve been in bands and you’ve been a solo performer, what do you see as the benefits from one over the other?

Doing the band thing is a lot of fun and is very low maintenance you have to do so little.  All you do is your little part you know you play a solo, play some rhythm, you accompany so there is that and I certainly enjoyed being in The Scorpions very much. Other than that, yes I guess I became a solo performer very early on and it’s more my cup of tea because I actually like being at home being an all arounder and I like to be in charge of the music that I play, not that I don’t like collaborating with people.  I do if it’s the right kind of individuals.  You know and if it stimulates me and challenges me on an artistic level then I really like that.  Then I have no problem taking a back seat you know.  Like several times I jammed with the Smashing Pumpkins and with Billy Corgan on his own and he’s not known as a virtuoso flashy player but that guy is so musical, when onstage and I take a back seat because I enjoy what he does and we gel you know. So that’s the kind of collaboration that I really like. Other than that I feel very comfortable as a solo artist you know and it gives me the freedom to really do what I want to do.

What has the rest of 2017 got in store for you?


Well, there’s more touring to come in Europe.  I’ve also written a new album which I want to start recording.  Then I am also working on new music for my 8-string Sky Guitar, my Flamingo nylon guitar.  That is a real nice challenge for me.  I really like playing that guitar and writing for it because you know having two new 8-strings opens up so many opportunities in terms of harmonies it can play and also all sorts of keys that wouldn’t sound all that good on a standard guitar.  So I will probably record an album of just that of me playing the swinger style on the 8-string, we’ll see.  We’re also preparing for a big Sky Academy in California near San Francisco for the spring of 2018, we’re going to do a five-day seminar and I’m looking forward to that. I’ll be busy busy busy, very busy!

You have so many people that look up to you, including myself, do you have anything you can tell the up and comers?  I know we talked about a lot of tone and a lot of feel with the aspiring guitarists, do you have any advice for them?


Yes!  Of course, each person is very different.  The guitar brings out so many sides to so many different people.  No two guitar players ever sound alike and no two guitar players are approaching it the same way.  So whatever advice I can give is more like more global.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to a few things that paramount for me in the approach is if I want to help younger players improve or find their own way tone is certainly extremely important.  To find your own tone and style, your own approach to music and the way to do that is you have to get way down deep into the heart of the music and connect deeply.  A lot of players don’t do that, they stay on the surface and the real stuff is way below the surface.  You know you need to be willing to make that journey.  So that’s one thing.  A lot of young guitar players are not so interested in rhythmical playing and the rhythmical side of it.  I think that is very often underdeveloped.  It seems to be a standard approach, it seems to be prevalent.  But I would advise people to kind of check their weak points and then work on it and expand.  Also get out of the narrow box mentality you know, don’t think this is metal, this is this and this is that.  All these so limited and real great players of the past have always avoided that like the plague.  They’ve always had so many colors and they’ve  brought something new to the table always.  Try to bring something new to the table without forcing it you know it’s out there.  I mean the guitar is still a vast field to be explored.  I don’t want to say that just at the beginning we’re not but there is still a lot to be found there.  Each time I pick up a guitar I find something new and that’s nice, it’s like anything else then I’m hardly ever playing because it’s just so fresh.  You know I guess if I was playing all day long like some people do maybe that wouldn’t be the case I find it doesn’t get stale that way

 

My final question for you Uli is you’re seeing the growing YouTube players as I call them.  You’re seeing these young kids 5,6,7 years old that they’re coming on Youtube and they’re playing music that we or at least my generation and older would never even think of. Do you think that YouTube, a lot of the younger generation are using Youtube for in terms of guitar lessons?  Do you think that Youtube has kind of harmed the instrument in terms of traditional guitar lessons?


Yes and no.  That’s an excellent question.  YouTube is a great tool if one knows how to utilize it.  I think for a lot of the kids it also can spoil them an awful lot because they don’t work hard enough on finding their own they’re just copying things blindly and it’s like everything is out there the information doesn’t mean anything anymore.  Like all the great players from the early days had to find everything by themselves.  There were no guitar teachers when I or Schenker or Gilmore grew up or Beck or Brian May.  There were no guitar teachers. You had some classical guitar teachers maybe but nobody playing electric guitar.  There were no books telling you how to play electrical guitar. There were no YouTube videos telling you where to place your fingers.  It was all very root of memory.  You had to find it yourself using your ears and investigating the possibilities of the instrument.  Now anything you find yourself means a lot more because then you really understand it you know rather than being spoon fed.  So this mentality of being spoon fed everything is deceptive.  It’s also a trap.  Surely it helps for people to get quickly from A to B you know because they just simply follow a road map you are aware that somebody else created.  There is nothing wrong with that per say.  The thing is when you only do it that way that’s when it becomes very questionable because you’re then not developing your own powers of imagination and your own powers of discernment.  I’m not knocking these great teaching things online because I have seen some I was interested in and thought maybe I could do some online teaching at some point then I decided against it because I saw, first of all, there are great teachers out there and they’re doing it very well so there’s no need for anybody else to do that.  But also at the same time, the trap is there that maybe people will get too fast from A to B and they may undermine their own powers of imagination and in the end also their own individual kind of take on it.  You know that danger is definitely there.  So everything nowadays as we are aware you know with the internet, which I love the internet but there are pitfalls.   And it’s the same with the entire social media kind of stuff.  It’s all about instant gratification.  You know the kids don’t bond anymore with particular kind of artists, have you seen this one, or have you seen this guy play that and how fast can he do it you know?  It’s like a trap.

 

I agree with you, Uli!  It’s not like what it was when I was growing up with you and the other guys.  It’s nothing like it anymore

Yes and you know that’s why it’s so rare that you actually hear off of these young talents and talents they are, there is a lot of talent out there but that’s why it’s so rare truly with anybody coming up with anything new and meaningful.  Most of the time when you listen to the lead or I’ve heard that before or it’s just like… something from there you know or there’s that Arpeggio and very often it’s just a meaningless meandering kind of collection of riffs and clicks are on display and very poor understanding of the possibilities of what the guitar lead can actually do

 

Can’t wait for your new record!  I hope to see you back here!

Yes, we’ll be back.  What we’re going to do in 2017 the plan is to do Electric Sun Revisited. I want to do the same process that I did with The Scorpions stuff, I want to do the same with the Electric Sun albums.  We did 3 albums.  I want to basically take the most valuable information from those, find the best songs and condense them into a live set and take it on tour in the states because there’s a lot of fans out there waiting for that.  I see that every night, they come in with their Electric Sun albums and we’re not playing that stuff you know.  So I want to do it and also I want to get an Electric Sun Live album out of it. I’m mainly just visiting my own muse at the moment but that’s fine and it’s interesting for me because I’m learning a lot by that and it can put a new spin on things.

Are Female Guitarists Scrutinized More Than Their Male Counterparts?

By Andrew Catania

A guitar has been one of the instruments that make music sound great. However, these tunes depend on who is playing it. There has been a huge stereotype that guitarist has to be males. To a big point of analysis of what has been actually happening, this can be said to be plain truth.

In the recent past, the saying of “what a man can do a woman can do better” has been put into reality. Ladies have been seen to be in a revolution of taking up the roles that the general society referred as male oriented. Guitar playing has not been one of them. However, this has been coming in a handful of challenges.

Taking into consideration that there aren’t many female guitar playing role models, the unique one who stands to break the norm gets herself cornered with a lot of curiosity from examined in cases where they would want to go public and be involved in some musical bands. Be that as it may, we have to comprehend what causes this. One purpose behind young ladies not taking up the instrument is that the female guitarist has been fetishized and generalized to a degree which is offensive in its mildest shape, and intensely horrendous something else

The artists among you who visit YouTube would have most likely experienced channels and recordings of young ladies playing guitar. In the event that you look down the remark areas of these recordings, you will see a considerable measure of indecent references to their looks, the most pleasant of which would read “wed me” and much more. Individuals post recordings of themselves on Youtube for approval of their abilities. When other females who were already feeling persuaded meets this, they end up holding back since they would never wish to get themselves in such situations.

When it comes to matters performance in clubs and such entertainment halls, you may get a huge multitude not coming to enjoy the music but to just have a look at a lady guitarist. In cases where long and risky performances, women are known to be the most vulnerable. They fear the unknown that may happen.

Indeed, even at school the part of the gang persona related with young ladies who play guitar prompts them getting undue thankfulness for their abilities. Then it is like how young ladies who claim to be such a nerd. Then again, the most mainstream male clients on Youtube are in fact practically immaculate. This still leaves the big names and innovative virtuosos, about every one of whom is male.

Lita Ford broke the barrier for most female guitarists today.  In my interview with Lita, she said she endured horrific treatment from others.  We’re lucky enough today to have super talented, strong, creative women guitarists that don’t have to deal with what Lita Ford did some 30 years ago.  Guitarists like Gretchen Menn, Courtney Cox, Nikki Stringfield, Ori, Jennifer Batten, Nita Strauss among others are better players than a lot of men.

All said and done, I believe guitar playing is more of a matter of passion than any learning. An individual only needs to be self-motivated to try it out. The female guitarists of today are phenomenal.

 

 

Record Review: Gretchen Menn’s Abandon All Hope

By Andrew Catania

There are many reasons why Gretchen Menn is #1 on my list of shredders.  While Gretchen isn’t necessarily a shredder, Gretchen is disciplined in all areas of the guitar, including shred.  Her latest record, Abandon All Hope,  is not just another guitar instrumental album from a talented guitarist.  This visionary and cinematic project is based on Dante Alighieri’s epic 14th-century poem, Inferno.  Even with Gretchen’s experience with classical music, this was still a dwelling yet grueling study of classical orchestration to fully realize the album’s 15 pieces.

This is a brilliant album, genuinely instrumental music at its best. The compositions share both complexity and elegance.  For those of you who appreciate virtuoso guitar playing, both classic and pure rock, this is a must album for you to purchase.  This record is one of many reasons why Gretchen differentiates herself from the rest of the guitar players.  I have no problem saying Gretchen Menn is our modern day Jimmy Page, Bach, Mozart,  take your pic.  Gretchen Menn is phenomenal, and so is this record.  9/10 stars.  

You can purchase Gretchen Menn’s Abandon All Hope directly from her website!

http://www.gretchenmenn.com/store.html

Meet Guitarist Gia Federico

By Andrew Catania

Gia Federico is a guitarist shredder woman whose origin is Boston. She is often called Gia G and her name became popular after she uploaded videos of her new work guitar instrumental The Chase’ on YouTube. This video was uploaded in 2016 and it quickly gained 284,000 views which made her famous. The video was four minutes and she is seen playing different high-level guitar techniques including two-handed tapping, sweep picking and speed picking amongst others. In the video, it is clear that she has mastered different techniques and this made her stand out since some of the techniques are hard to master even for seasoned guitarists.

One of the main qualities that make Gia Federico stand out is that she is left handed. Most guitars are made in a way that they are better played by right handed people and therefore being left handed is seen as a disadvantage. This is a unique quality for there are not many left-handed women guitarist. Despite being left handed she was able to master playing the different techniques perfectly.

Gia started learning to play the guitar at the age of ten.   She took private lessons from an internationally acclaimed guitarist.  After she learned the basics she concentrated more on the music which she has been focusing on for the last three years. Over time she has been able to emulate some of the worldwide renowned guitarists such as big Eddie Van Halen. In fact, she regularly uses the two handed tapping technique which is mostly associated with Van Halen.

Throughout her career, Gia Federico has been able to achieve a lot including winning prestigious awards and sharing podiums with some of the most respected guitarists. She also managed to enter the Top 15 Female Hard Rock And Metal Guitar Shredders. These achievements are a show of appreciation for her outstanding talent. The achievements are also attributed to the fact that she plays even better than some guitarists who have been playing for years and others who have attended prestigious music schools. The fact that she was first recognized through YouTube also makes her more popular. This is because youtube has a huge following and most of the users are usually looking for interesting content.

Having achieved huge success has not conflicted with Gia’s interest in playing the guitar. In fact, she has been practicing to know more techniques so that she can be a more established female guitarist. She has also been making other videos for her many fans. Furthermore, she has also been able to acquire more sophisticated guitars to help her in her work. She has also added state of the art music instrument which makes playing the guitar more convenient. This has given her the perfect opportunity to let her fans know her exact qualities through providing them with more refined music. With the hard work, it is expected that she is going to become even more popular and attract more young people to being professional guitarists.

You can follow Gia @ https://www.facebook.com/SalinaFederico/

What Makes Alexandra Zerner So Talented?

By Andrew Catania

Alexandra Zerner is one of the renowned musical moguls in the Bulgarian musical industry; one cannot talk Bulgarian music without talking of Alexandra Zerner.

She was Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Alexandra Zerner who is a solo artist, a guitar player, numerous instrumental player and a composer as well. She has been able to take part as a sessional musical, sound technician and a guitar lecturer since the year 2001.

In 2013, she took part as a guest musical artist to the album by the name ’Thoughtscanning” from the band We All Die (Laughing). In January 2014, she started on her solo career path as a guitar player, she worked on her solo album by the name –9 Stories which was out on November 19, 2014.  it was able to receive positive response in the musical industry market

In 2015, she was called by Déhà Amsg to be a part of the Post-Rock-Ambient production by the name “Aurora Borealis ”, where they all together worked on the album by the name ’Path To Atlas”. This was released onNovember 20, 2015.

Since September 2014, she was part of the- worldwide “Another Destiny Project” as a leading guitarist. In October 2014, Alexandra Zerner was already in the 15th number of Hard Rock and Metal Female Guitarist player list by Metalholic web page

In  2015, Alexandra started working on her number second solo album, going by the name –Aspects which was released on December 22, 2015.  it took the musical industry by storm it did so well.

Meanwhile, she was named by Jason Becker in October 2015 series of Guitar Player publication, along with Jeff Loomis, concerning her cover of Jason Becker’s classic- Perpetual Burn.

In January 2016, Alexandra began competing in projects like –Vivaldi Metals Projects as a leading guitarist. Since February 2016, she has been able to work with a band to showcase her albums lively, while she was also working on her number third solo album, which she believes will be released in 2018.

In August 2016, Alexandra Zerner was able to win herself Nili Brosh’s – Matter of Perception- Melody Competition, competing against many guitarists from different countries all over the world. She was named by a number of guitarist greats – Nili Brosh, Greg Howe, Jason Becker, and Marco Sfogli, and she was awarded the EMG endorsement award.

In October 2016, Alexandra was able to be highlighted  Shredder of the Month title at All That Shreds website.

In the same year- November 7th, 2016 she and her band we able to perform as a supportive act for the Stu Hamm and Greg Howe in her country Sofia, Bulgaria.

Few days after, on November 11th, Alexandra Zerner was able to releases her acoustic E.P, which she called –An Evening Walk which also did very well in the Bulgarian musical industry and the general world.

Alexandra was also named one of the top 10 female shredders by All That Shreds.

Alexandra’s playing will be demanded across the globe!