The Versatility of Alexandra Zerner

By Andrew Catania

Talk about the versatility of playing skills, and you get Alexandra Zerner!

A skilled musician, a master instructor, an expert acoustics engineer, a multi-instrumentalist and a brilliant player in solo and team capacities alike – Alexandra Zerner is a name that has created waves in the metal music world in a short span of time.

Born on December 26th, in Bulgaria, Alexandra Zerner possessed a natural affinity towards music since early childhood. Testing her mettle on a variety of instruments and tasting the essence of a host of genres, it took her a while to realize her passion for rock and heavy metal genre. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she possesses a more enhanced technical acumen about instruments as well as the various styles of playing. Over the course of time, she has acquired an extensive experience that has refined her skills and evolved her signature playing.

Alexandra Zerner tones are neat and crisp with a spellbinding audacity. Primarily inclined towards progressive metal instrumentals, Alexandra likes to infuse a multitude of elements to create a unique matrix for her tones. Her specialty stems from eclectic and contradictory items that she skillfully combines to create one masterpiece of a tone. Aside from that, she experiments with creating fusion instrumentals, combining the essence of low-pitched metal riffs with the gypsy components of jazz. Her grooves, an exquisite fusion of melodic numbers with classic chords, is a thing no less than a pure musical ecstasy.

Alexandra Zerner started her career, in 2001, as a player, composer, and instructor, all at the same time. She has established a credible name in the metal music sphere through her mind blowing performances since. Aside from strengthening her repute in the solo playing capacity, Alexandra Zerner’s profile also entails numerous partnerships and guest appearances. She has played in the lead role for We All Die Laughing’s debut album titled ‘Thoughtscanning.’

Aside from that, she has collaborated with Deha Amsg for ‘Aurora Borealis’ and ‘The Path to Atlas.’ She is the lead guitarist for global ‘Another Disney Project’ and is also contributing her skills for ‘Vivaldi Metal Project’ since January 2016.

She took part in ‘A Matter of Perception,’ a global musical contest held by Nili Brosh. The jury panel comprised of distinguished names such as Jason Becker, Marco Sfogli, Nili Brosh and Greg Howe declared Alexandra the best among all contestants from across the globe.

Aside from the guest appearances and partnerships, Alexandra has also established a sound solo profile. Her debut solo album, ‘9 Stories’ was launched on November 19th, 2014 and was highly praised by the critics and metal enthusiasts alike. Her second album titled ‘Aspects’ came out the very next year. At present, she is working on her third album which will likely be released by the end of 2018.

Alexandra holds an EMG pickup endorsement to her claim. She has been declared as one of the Top 15 Hard Rock and Metal Female Guitar Shredders Ranking issued by the Metaholic.  Alexandra mentions Antonio Vivaldi, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Django Reinhardt, Tony McAlpine, JS Bach and Yngwie Malmsteen as her primary influences and all-times favorite musicians.

Zakk Wylde and Ozzy Osbourne Are Back Together

Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde have reunited! The guitarist has rejoined the Prince of Darkness’ band and they’ll be together onstage for Ozzy’s upcoming 2017 shows!

It was 30 years ago that Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde first teamed up, taking over for the legendary Jake E. Lee. Zakk became an icon in his own right through virtuosic guitar work and his later career with Black Label Society.

Zakk’s had a scattered history with Ozzy, playing with The Boss from 1987-1995, in 1998, from 2001-2004 and from 2006-2009. Wylde has performed on on five Ozzy albums including No Rest For the Wicked and No More Tears, along with three live albums.

In addition to Wylde, Osbourne’s band will continue to feature Blasko on bass, Tommy Clufetos on drums and Adam Wakeman on keyboards. Zakk’s return means guitarist Gus G is out of the band.

“I’m so happy to be getting back on the road with Zakk, Blasko, Tommy and Adam,” says Ozzy Osbourne. “This is what I do. This is where I belong, on the road.”

“I’m really looking forward to The HARDCORE POWAHLIFTING TRAINING SESSIONS with Ozzy as well as playing music in between sets of HEAVY SQUATS, BENCHING and DEADLIFTS,” adds Wylde.

Ozzy has also confirmed a 2018 release date for his next solo album. Will Zakk Wylde be a part of it? We’ll have to wait and see!

Ozzy Osbourne 2017 U.S. Tour Dates With Zakk Wylde:

07/14 – Oshkosh, Wis. @ Rock USA Festival
07/16 – Chicago, Ill. @ Chicago Open Air Festival
08/09 – Sturgis, S.D. @ Buffalo Chip
08/21 – Cartersville, Ill. @ Moonstock Festival

 

Interview: Meet Brazilian Guitarist Lari Basilio

By Andrew Catania

Brazil is known for having some great guitarists.  Here’s another one.  Meet Lari Basilio.   A lover of instrumental music, Lari Basilio began composing her songs.   In 2011, Lari Basilio recorded her first instrumental EP, titled “Lari Basilio,” which contains five tracks, released in April 2012, officially marking the beginning of her solo career. Produced by Lampadinha, the work still counts on the participation of Felipe Andreoli (Angra) and Adriano Daga (Malta).

Lari Basilio has stood out for her technique and versatility, innovating the instrumental music with his unique style of playing, proof of this, is the public recognition of his video posted for the 1st Santo Angelo Cultural Contest of Instrumental Gospel Music, which obtained the greatest visualization In record time.

What got you to start playing the guitar?

LB: My dad is a musician (in his free time), and I’ve always seen him playing guitar and singing at home. He taught me my first chords on the acoustic guitar and, from that point on I found what wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Were you self-taught or did you take lessons?

LB:  In my teens, I studied mostly by myself, and later, I took lessons from some private teachers in my home city.

Did you study any particular area of music?

LB: Nothing so specific, but I tried to focus on some techniques that could stand out my melodic approach, such as fingerpicking.

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What was your first guitar?

LB: My first guitar was a Condor (Brazilian brand), the HSS Stratocaster model. I remember getting a job just to have the chance to buy my first guitar.
What was your first band you joined if any?

LB: Back in 2007, I used to have in a band in Brazil. A rock band. We’ve even recorded an album with originals songs.
Did you write any music in your younger years?

LB: Yes. Once I was always practicing. Eventually, some ideas came out, and I started to register them early.

Brazil is known for great guitar players, is their anyone that catches your eye?

Absolutely! Kiko Loureiro is an excellent example of how to build your career. But I also have another favorite like Edu Ardanuy, Juninho Afram.

What style of music do you play?

LB:  I play instrumental music, as versatile as possible. In my albums, you are going to notice this. There is rock, pop, even acoustic songs. I simply love the freedom to be able to play what I want.

How did you get recognized for your playing?

LB:  I think it’s because of its melodies. I never intended to play fast, or in a difficult way. I’ve always wanted to sound melodic and try to tell a story through the song, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Does anyone endorse you?

LB: Yes, I’m endorsed by Suhr Guitars, GNI Music strings and pedals, Tecniforte cables, Creation FD pedalboards and Gutti Guitar Picks. I’m also in partnership with Gibson Guitars.
What does your rig consist of?

LB: I’ve been using a couple of Suhr Guitars (Classic T Antique and a Classic Pro Metallic), and a Gibson Les Paul Traditional. Also, I’m currently using a Suhr Bella Amplifiers combined with some pedals. There is one pedal that doesn’t leave my set, the Analog Tap Tempo by GNI Music.

 

Do you think aspiring women guitar players look up to you?

I think so. At least, that’s what they tell me! (laughs). It’s important to support women in music, and I feel that I’m contributing to it, and it makes me happy! 🙂

What are your plans for 2017?

I’m working on a new album (and probably a new DVD) which is part of my plan to expand my work as much as possible.

Follow Lari @ http://laribasilio.com/

Interview: What Makes Gretchen Menn A Fantastic Guitarist

By Andrew Catania

What comes to your mind when you think of a guitarist? Or a pilot? Riddles and jokes abound that play with our expectations, and we are now living in a time where those gender biases and assumptions are becoming less and less relevant. But the popular perceptions have started to change, and it’s quite refreshing to see talented women musicians rocking the industry with competence and fervor.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Gretchen Menn is one such name – talented, meticulous and high on life! Music is etched in her genes and flows within her veins. From the child who dabbled on whatever instruments her parents allowed her to rent, to the teenager who couldn’t keep her fingers off the fretboard, to a current student of orchestration and large-scale composition, Gretchen is always exploring new areas of music and expanding her skill set.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Unlike many of her contemporaries. Gretchen Menn didn’t leave her education to pursue her musical passion. She rather made his studies be in furtherance of her artistic tendencies and completed a degree in music from Smith College. During her time there, she studied classical guitar, yet also convinced a very classically-focused department to allow her to do individual studies on the music of Frank Zappa.

After graduation, Gretchen decided to pursue a career in aviation to have a “responsible day job” to supplement the less-than-certain income in music. She enrolled in a flight school. Two years after starting her training, she had obtained some licenses, worked as a flight instructor, and was flying regional jets for an airline. After less than a year, Gretchen’s heart won over, and she oriented toward a more direct route to her musical dreams.

Although Gretchen was never away from her instrument while at the airlines—her guitar had gone with her on every trip—leaving the airline allowed her to make music the main priority. And she dove in. From progressive to jazz, and from rock to classical, multiple genres and a multitude of associations, versatility characterized her interests and studies.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

She has studied classical guitar with Phillip de Fremery, a student of Maestro Segovia. She has delivered Jimmy Page’s lines since the foundation of Zepparella, a noted tribute to Led Zeppelin. She has backed up singer/songwriters, slept on floors while touring with a metal band, was a primary creative force in various instrumental projects, and is producing original music of her own.

Gretchen Menn cites early and enduring inspiration from Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, and Django Reinhardt.

At present, Gretchen has just released her second album of original, instrumental music, Abandon All Hope, a concept album based on Dante’s Inferno. With accompanying imagery from Max Crace, libretto by Michael Molenda, and co-artistic production by Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer Daniele Gottardo, it is an album that has surprised audiences with its musical scope and compositional depth.

Your new album is out, do you have any plans of touring?

I’d like to. It is such an epically long and compositional record and would mean a larger budget than I’ve got right now to do it properly.  I’m not going to go out and play it with just backing tracks, as that would be encouraging people to hear it guitar-centrically, and it wasn’t intended to be that. I do have lots of shows coming up with Zepparella and a bunch of various other things here and there. I’m always writing new music, too.  Lots of juggling of different projects, but that’s just sort of how I roll.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

How long did it take you to write Abandon All Hope?

It took about four years. Right in the middle of that, I had some pretty intense personal stuff go on, so there was about a year or so where I wasn’t operating at full capacity. I started writing it in around December of 2011, and then it was three or four years of composing, and then a year or so of tracking, mixing, and all of that. So the whole process was about five years, almost to the date.

You’ve got 15 tracks on there.  Do you have any personal favorites or are all of them your favorite?

I could never pick a favorite.  All of them serve a different purpose.  It’s a concept album, so everything was geared to fit the need of the storyline.

I like your cover of Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing.” 

That was so much fun to learn.  Django is one of my all-time favorites, and the whole thing came about very organically. I just wanted to hear some of his lines. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. Then the Grappelli parts were too cool not to try as well. It was totally an afterthought to record it. I played the Django parts on my Stephen Strahm Eros acoustic, which is not a Gypsy Jazz guitar, but I love it so much. I put on nylon core strings, which gave it a little taste of the gypsy tone. Then I played the violin lines on my Ernie Ball Silhouette Special though my Two-Rock Bi-Onyx amp. Absolute heresy to purists, but I see no harm in honoring the music we love in our way.

That was a very very interesting cover. You’ve got such a virtual background of various types of music that you do which brings me to my next question.  Did you grow up playing classical guitar?

The classical guitar is where I started.  I had the important piano lessons when I was five or so, which meant virtually nothing other than I had seen music in front of me and some very, very basic training.  The most memorable part was after the piano lessons my mom would take my sister and me to 7 – Eleven and we’d get to pick a treat—memorable and delicious bribery. But my first voluntary instrument was the flute, which I played for about three years, starting at around age 10.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

What got you into playing guitar?

The music I was listening to, and I think that’s where the disconnect was with the flute.  Even though I liked playing it, the repertoire wasn’t what appealed deeply to a kid, at least not to me. I was a regular kid.  I wasn’t one to willingly forgo soccer or skateboarding or running around to sit inside practicing a bunch.  I enjoyed playing the flute to a point, and I liked my music lessons. But I’d pick it up when I felt like it and had zero discipline around it. I got into music at the age I think a lot of people do—around 12, 13, 14. I was listening to Led Zeppelin when I was around 14 or so, and by the time I was 15, I was listening to Django Reinhardt, The Dixie Dregs, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson.  Not what was the current music of the day—but good stuff passed along by cool parents.

Did your dad have any influence on your music career?

It’s such a common assumption, and it makes tons of sense that people would naturally assume so. But my dad never pressured me to do anything. I didn’t even really know what he did until later. As a kid, you never sit down and grill your parents on the fine points of their jobs. You’re just like, “Okay, my dad’s a writer. Whatever, I’m going to go play now.” So I knew my dad was a writer, and I knew the stationery we had said GPI with a guitar logo, so I think if pressed I would have been able to tell you his writing had something to do with guitars.  But it wasn’t until I got into music on my own that dad was like, “Hey, I know something about this. If you’d like Led Zeppelin, check out Jeff Beck. If you think Steve Vai is the man, then also check out Steve Morse.” He was quick to be helpful once I got interested on my own. But he’s never urged me or directed me in any way. He just wanted me to figure out what it was I wanted in life and was ready to help cheer me on, whatever that was.

That’s Awesome!  Learning classical guitar, did that help you as playing rock music as a musician?

I think it’s a mixed bag because there are a lot of things that maybe do help—it’s good for left-hand finger independence and placement. A lot of electric guitar players will use their pinky like once a week. But I think probably more than anything else for me, studying classical guitar helped with learning how to work.  I’ve never been a patient person, and with the classical guitar, you don’t have the option of not being patient. You may be told to only work on four measures of music in a week, and to get those tests perfect.  So it helped develop an area of personal weakness—focus and patience.  On the other hand, there’s a lot that is very different between classical and electric. Initially, one of my biggest challenges was not to approach electric guitar with too much of a traditional attitude—to throw caution to the wind sometimes, rather than become rigid or stiff when attempting to nail something perfectly. Not that my classical teacher would have ever endorsed a stringent performance! But in playing Jimmy Page, being overly surgical is not the right approach.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

 

You’ve been a guitarist and an airline pilot which you know there’s not a lot it’s more like a male dominated areas and all that do you have to have a typical type of mindset to succeed in a male-dominated industry like those? 

You know, it’s so funny the gender question never even entered my mind until much more recently—and mostly because of how much I get asked about it. I’ve always had as many guy friends as girlfriends. I’ve approached things with the mindset that if I wanted to do something, I just tried or worked or studied hard until I could do it. Gender being a factor in the acquisition of ability never even occurred to me. Do people go around like all day long thinking about their sex?  I can only speak for myself, and I certainly don’t and never have. For me, the times it did enter my consciousness was in situations like realizing I was the only girl in my ground school class for airline training. But that didn’t make me uncomfortable beyond the fact that it made some of the guys uncomfortable. So I just tried to make it clear that it was all fresh and they didn’t have to be on eggshells around me. I’ve always been comfortable hanging with guys. I have wonderful male friends; I have wonderful female friends. I’ve got an amazing dad.  There are heroes and allies of either gender.

Is there something that as a musician most people wouldn’t know about you?

Yes, I’m trying to think of what that thing might be… I’m super boring (laughs). After shows, people are often like, “Hey are you going to party?”  “No, I’m going to go back to my hotel room and read a score or a book and go to sleep so I can practice tomorrow.”  So I think from the standpoint of people who might associate playing rock music as being a lot of fun at a party, I’m a big letdown. I am totally not a lot of fun at a party. I’m not at the party!

(laughter)

Wow! 

(laughter)

 Regarding your rig, tell me your rig set up

Okay, I’ve got a couple of different things going on for various projects.  My Zepparella rig is guided by Jimmy’s sounds and iconic guitars. I have two Gibson Les Pauls and a Danelectro. My pedal board has a Cry Baby Wah Wah, a Boss TU-2 tuner, a Providence Phase Force, an Xotic Effects AC Booster, and a Providence Chrono Delay.  My Les Pauls have DiMarzio 36th Anniversary pickups. The amp is a Two-Rock Bi-Onyx. I had used using an old 1977 Marshall JMP for a long time, which I still have, but then I fell in love with this Two-Rock.  They had lent it to me for the She Rocks Awards when I played in the house band for the event a couple of years ago. It just happened to look like it was made for me—it had this white Tolex, and Zepparella wears all white on stage. I plugged into it, and was like, “Oh My God!” They were kind enough to let me borrow it for quite awhile, and eventually, I coughed up some money so I could keep it forever. For all my projects I use Dunlop Jazz III picksDiMarzio cables, and Ernie Ball strings gauge 0.10 – 0.52.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

I was going to say your rigs must differ for your albums like Zepparella and then your latest stuff I would imagine

 Yes, exactly.  I mean the pedals are the same.  I don’t use a ton of pedals even though I’ve got more than I ever use. For my original music, I use almost exclusively Music Man Guitars regarding electrics—I have two Silhouette Specials, a Silhouette, and a Majesty.  My main Silhouette is the one that is white with a black pickguard, and it has stocks DiMarzio single coil pickups.  I love that guitar. It’s the guitar I play like 90% of the time… obviously except for with Zepparella.  For amps, I have a ’66 Fender Deluxe Reverb that sounds amazing. It is what I used for “Limbo” on the new album, Abandon All Hope.  My Engl SE 670EL34 was used for virtually all of the electric stuff on the album.  What I do to save money, which is imperative on an album of this scope, is I do my guitar tracking at home and reamp it in the studio. I have my Engl in my garage all mic’d up, and then I run a direct line, so I’m getting both a take with a tone that’s going to be pretty similar to the final sound as well as a clean, direct signal. Then I can go into a pro studio and bring all my amps—the Engl, the Marshall, the Two-Rock, the Fender—and I run that right signal through each of the different amps and audition tones. I can hear objectively which one is giving the best sound for the mix—blending properly or cutting through or whatever is the goal.  I ended up using the Engl for almost everything on Abandon All Hope, as it just fit what I was going for. I used my Kenny Hill Ruck classical guitar on “Hellward Swoon,” “Lake of Ice,” and “Grace.”

Do any of these products endorse you?

Yes—Ernie Ball/Music Man, Two-Rock, Engl, Providence, Dunlop, DiMarzio, Stephen Strahm. I only work with a company if I love what they’re doing, and if what they’re doing fits me. I don’t like having a lot of stuff.  I’m not at all a gear collector, so if I’m using something, it’s because I genuinely love it. I’d rather invest time in improving my abilities. At this point, if I can’t get my rig to sound good, it’s not my gear’s fault!

Photo by Renee Jahnke

 

What are your plans for 2017?

Ah, that’s a good question! Zepparella has a bunch of stuff on the books.  I’ve got some things that are coming up that I’m going to be releasing soon regarding some other videos and stuff that has to do with Abandon All Hope.

You can follow Gretchen Menn @ http://www.gretchenmenn.com 

and http://www.zepparella.com/

Special thanks to Renee Jahnke for the fantastic photos!

The Making of Jason Richardson

By Andrew Catania

Although it has been around three decades since the mighty era of the 1980s, the rock and metal trance that the era brought along still lingers in the hallways of the music sphere and has managed to retain the sillage of its glory. Many musicians came, trying to bring a breakthrough to break the spell of the 1980s.

Many styles and techniques were crafted in the later decades, but the compositions and milestones that the 80s managed still stand unrivaled and unabridged. The 80s will always be remembered as the era that took rock and metal music to a status that it deserved and where it stands today.

Many musicians have emerged as a promising addition to the rock and heavy metal genre since then. Jason Richardson is one such musician whose name has created ripples in the stagnated state of the genre.

Born on 30th July 1991, in Manassas region, in the state of Virginia in the United States, Jason Richardson has bagged fame and acclaim at the budding age of 25, while most of his contemporaries are still striving to find their way in the professional music sphere.

His claim to fame is not merely confined to guitar playing. He is also known a skilled composer, a smart guitar instructor who really knows his job, and a master player who is completely rocking the heavy metal genre. In addition to his fine guitar playing skills, he also enjoys a command over a variety of other instruments.

When it comes to the playing technique, Jason Richardson possesses a unique style that sets him a class apart from the other musicians of his age and era. Mostly playing on seven and eight-stringed guitars, Jason’s picks are par excellent and his sweeps are sheer class. The depth, intricacies, graduation and nuances of his playing technique primarily stem from his exposure to music in his early childhood years, all because of his father who himself is a skilled musician.

Jason Richardson started off with a piano and switched over to playing violin and drums a year later. It wasn’t until he turned 12 that he started to consider playing guitar. With a gothic black Gibson Les Paul that he received as a gift from his father on his 12th birthday, Jason Richardson had actualized his destiny’s call.

Not looking back since Jason has come a long way in a short span of time. Having switched over to a seven-stringed guitar when he was 14, his playing techniques have matured, with a lot of depth, speed, and intricate technicalities. He has also tested his skills in a variety of genres and sub-genres including Djent, deathcore, metalcore and progressive.

Jason has established multiple associations during the course of his career. Of all his associated acts, he is best known for his guitar playing in the leading capacity for All Shall, Chelsea Grin, and Oasis. Aside from that, he has also ventured into setting up his solo profile with his debut solo album titled ‘I’ which was released last year. At present, he is playing as a sponsored artist for Ernie Ball Music Man and has also toured with Polyphia and Covet this year.

 

Autograph’s Steve Lynch – Still Turning Up The Radio

By Andrew Catania

Turn Up the Radio, the anthem for hard rock band Autograph back in the mid-1980’s.  Autograph toured with every band you could think of back in the 1980’s.  After a 22 year hiatus, founding member Steve Lynch decided to resurrect Autograph in 2011.  Since then, Autograph has toured the world.  With a concert at the M3 Music Festival this weekend, I had a quick chat with Steve Lynch about his playing, Autograph’s new record, and his current rig.

 

At what age did you start playing guitar?

SL:  I began playing at age nine but didn’t get serious about it until 1970 when Jimi Hendrix passed away.

What was your first guitar?

SL: A $9 Stella acoustic guitar in 1964.

What were some of your early influences?

SL: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds…and of course Led Zepplin, Jeff Beck and Pink Floyd

What was your first band you joined?

SL: Yellow Dog in 1970 but the first band I played in professionally was Outlawed in 1973.

Did you write any music in your younger years?

SL: Yes I did, but at the time it didn’t make much sense. Later on, I grew to like what I had written though

How did you join Autograph?

SL:  We were all guys who had played in different bands together. So in 1983, we started jamming together at Victory Rehearsal Studios in North Hollywood. It was just a jam session every weekend, but we actually started enjoying the way we played together in this lineup of mishap projects we had been together in the past. The chemistry seemed to work very well.

During these years, have you changed any of your guitar playing or styles?

SL: It has consistently been an evolutionary process for me

Who are you endorsed by now?

SL:  Dean Guitars. They are making my signature model right now.

How is it playing now than say, 25-30 years ago?

SL: More confident. Less pressure. And appreciative of the fans who have hung in there all these years.

What do you think about the record industry today such as online streaming?

SL:  It’s suitable for exposure in the downloading format, but at the same time it’s tough to make a profit due to everyone’s capability to share material on social media.

What’s your rig consist of?

SL: I just play through Marshall 2000’s with a Boss ME-80 Multi Effects pedal.

Does Autograph have plans of releasing new music?

SL: Yes, we have a completed new album set for release. We are in the process of negotiating with different labels now for an international release platform.

Do you improvise while playing?

SL: To a certain extent. But I’ve realized most people want to hear songs as they were recorded…especially solos.

Do you have input writing the music?

SL: Yes, it’s all a balanced input and output.

What are your plans for 2017?

SL: New album release and many more live shows!!

Follow Autograph @ http://www.autographband.com/

The Incredible Career of Guitarist Jimi Bell

By Andrew Catania

I’ve known Jimi Bell for over 30 years.  I remember sneaking out of my parent’s house to go to the Agora Ballroom in West Hartford, Connecticut to see Joined Forces.  Jimi is a giant on the guitar; Bell has used his considerable talent and abilities to work with the top artists in the music and entertainment industry.

He was an active guitar phenom player in those bands. In 1986, Jimi Bell worked in Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett’s film “Light of Day.”  I.n this movie, he was both a performer as an actor, and he played on the soundtrack as well.

At the time Bell was endorsed by Kramer Guitars. Kramer was the one who admitted Bell’s talent and mental abilities, and he wanted him to get to the place he deserved. Meanwhile in 1987, across the country, Ozzy Osbourne started an international campaign to search for the best guitar player in the world to replace the departed Jake E. Lee.

When Kramer heard about this audition, They sent Bell’s video to Ozzy’s wife. Bell was just surprised when he received the call for an audition. He went to Los Angeles for the audition. There were around 500 best young guitarists from all over the United States. Bell’s playing made a great impression there, and Ozzy himself decided to play with Bell the next day. He was so much nervous on that day. However he played well on that day too, and after that audition, Jimi Bell was told that it was down to him and Zakk Wylde.

Therefore, he decided to stay in town for another day. After one day, he was sent home on account that the event had come down to 2 guitarists; Jimi Bell and Zakk Wylde. After that, the members of his band left him, and Bell remained alone. After a week, Bell learned that Zakk Wylde was the new guitarist of Ozzy.  It’s this writers opinion that the Osbourne camp shortchanged themselves by not picking Bell.  Jimi Bell is a more of a complete guitarist than Wylde.  Bell was so much disappointed; he was feeling lost, with no band and no career.

After a few months, Bell received a call that Geezer Butler was searching for a new guitarist. He went there to record his music, but he had bad luck there. He was once again left alone. Despite his failure every time, Bell never quit. He began to realize that every time one door closed, another would open. He believed that giving up on his dreams was simply not an option. A few years ago, he had to fight with cancer too.

In 2005, Jimi Bell joined the band House of Lords, and he never looked back. Since 2005, Bell has toured Europe every year with House of Lords. His band Maxx Explosion, an off-shoot of House of Lords, has been playing very well and regularly in the United States. Despite setbacks, Jimi Bell had made music of his life.

Despite his “what if” thinking, Jimi looks back on his experience with Ozzy with a positive feeling and has no regret for that.

Warrant to Release New Record “Louder, Harder, Faster” May 12th, 2017

Under their belt, Warrant has eight million records sold worldwide, two Top Ten Billboard albums, five Top 40 Billboard hits, five #1 MTV videos…the list goes on and on. Now, six years after the release of “Rockaholic,” the album that relaunched the band as a force to be reckoned with in the 21st Century, Warrant returns with another slab of muscular hard rock, aptly titled “Louder Harder Faster”.

With a line-up featuring original members, Erik Turner, Jerry Dixon, Joey Allen, and Steven Sweet along with singer Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Cry of Love), Warrant are now stronger than ever. Mason’s vocals remain a breath of fresh air and his swagger on the songs gives new life and a bright future to the band. With production handled by Foreigner and ex-Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson (Last In Line, Starship, Adler’s Appetite, etc.). Warrant is sounding tighter and playing better than ever before. “Louder Harder Faster”, true to the band’s roots, is full of rockers with some classic ballads thrown in and sure to send their faithful fans into a frenzy.

Warrant was one of the most popular and successful rock bands to emerge out of Hollywood, CA in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The band was formed in the mid 80’s by Erik Turner and Jerry Dixon. In 1989, Warrant released their classic debut “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich”, which immediately entered the charts and launched the hit singles “Down Boys,” “Sometimes She Cries”, and “Heaven”, which climbed up to number two on the US charts. With extensive touring for DRFSR, sales exceeded 2 million records in the US only.

In the summer of 1990, their second album “Cherry Pie”, produced by Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Winger, Europe, and Ratt), was released. The album turned out to be an even bigger success, featuring the Top Ten hits “I Saw Red” and the rock anthem “Cherry Pie”, which received massive airplay on MTV and continues to get millions of plays on streaming services and YouTube to this very day.

WARRANT’s signature style of rock is catchy, very melodic, and remains the band’s calling card. The band is fired up and more inspired than ever musically! The band will be out touring in support of “Louder Harder Faster”, so be sure to catch them when they hit your town!


WARRANT

Robert Mason – lead vocals
Joey Allen – lead and rhythm guitar
Erik Turner – rhythm and lead guitar
Jerry Dixon – bass guitar
Steven Sweet – drums

Interview: The Many Talents of Madam X and VIP Aftershow’s Maxine Petrucci

By Andrew Catania

Guitarist Maxine Petrucci is best known for her work in Madam X.  Maxine’s sister, Roxy is the drummer from the band Vixen.  Her current project, VIP Aftershow, features Maxine on guitar and Roxy on drums.  VIP Aftershow have released one full song,  titled “Kilmister” which is a tribute to the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister.  Mark Slaughter is on lead vocals.

Maxine is a talented guitarist.  Maxine should be glistening the pages of guitar magazines with other current, top talent.  I sat down with Maxine and discussed Madam X, Vixen, VIP Aftershow and her mastering of the fretboard.

How did you become interested in guitar?

MP:  It was my Father’s idea. He had started me on flute in elementary school band. Then for my 12th birthday, he bought me a classical guitar. He was hoping I would pursue more classical and symphonic music. I think it was a shock to him that  I eventually chose the Hard Rock and Metal Arena.

Were you self – taught or did you take lessons?

MP:  I took flute lessons from Hannah Lahti from The Detroit Concert  Band and by the way she is actress Christine Lahti’s Mother. Then later took flute lessons from  Ervin Monroe from The Detroit Symphony.  I took guitar lessons from Eligio DiBerardo who taught me the classical guitar, and he would enter me in The American Guild of Music Competition where we compete against other students from across the nation in our category and win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies. I would come home with 1st and 2nd place awards. My Parents were so proud!!!

What kind of guitar did your Dad as your first one?

MP: It was the guitar my Dad bought me for my birthday,  a Crestwood classical nylon string guitar.

What was the first band you joined? Were you dealing with the typical stereotypes of being Female?

MP:  We started a family wedding band with my brothers and Sisters and did that for a few. Then Roxy and I  started our first all girl band with Denise LaTourelle on bass and her sister Laura  LaTourelle on lead vocal. We were called ‘ Pantagruel.’ We were inspired by the all-girl band’s Bands ‘ Fanny‘ and ‘ Cradle .’  As far as dealing with typical stereotypes because of being female, yes. That was impossible back then. Guys thought Women couldn’t rock like Men. They thought it was physically impossible. Roxy and I play harder than most Men to this day. I believe it was even harder for the Gals in Fanny and Cradle with my conversations with Guitarist Patti Quattro. Roxy and I ignored that mentality and continued.  We refused to be treated as just T&A. What’s amazing is that it’s just instruments. It’s not like lifting a truck or something.  There are a lot of ‘Fem Guys’ in rock anyways that play size eight strings and guys that hit a light on the drums. Look at all the Girls rocking it these days. They are now accepted and shredding and playing hard equal to the guys.

With the music industry the way it is with streaming being the favored thing to do, how difficult is it for you to make music and survive in this climate?

MP:  It’s tough. You can’t survive on it as a job. You have to love music to continue these days. It’s a changing world, and everything we want is available at our fingertips. That’s why big stores like Macy’s,  J.C. Penney are closing. We can go online and order or stream anything we want. My Husband buys music online, and he doesn’t want to deal with physical CDs. He wants no clutter. Others I know feel the same. Not good for me or others trying to sell records but this is the way it is. You have to play live shows nowadays to sell CDs so that the fans purchase at the show.

Let’s talk about your guitar playing. What kind of style would you say is your playing?

MP:  I think I still fall into the 80’s rock style with a classical influence. I have to try not to overplay from what everyone usually says to me, especially when I’m recording. An old review of the Madam XWe Reserve the Right‘ record said “Maxine plays her guitar leads like an erect you know what,” and to you the truth,  I would like to keep it that way.

Are you presently endorsed by anyone? If so who?

MP:  I have a discount type deal with PRS Guitars. They gave me my first one. Then after I get deals on guitars I buy. Most companies don’t do that anymore. It’s a tight market out there now.

What does your rig presently consist of?

MP:  I play PRS Guitars, old Marshall  50 and 100-watt heads and bottoms from the 1960’s and 70’s and Peavey Triple X head for the studio. Live I have a Line 6 POD HD 500X pedal board that my bassist Bryan Paxton from my single band,  set up for me. He and I made that sound perfect for live shows since you can’t take amps with you anymore.

You’re a member of Madam X; now you have a new band called VIP Aftershow with your sister Roxy, how did that come about?

MP:  We were writing songs for our new Madam X album and realized that they were not suitable for MX, so she suggested getting some of her friends in other bands to guest perform on these songs. As we did with Mark Slaughter and Mike Pisculli for two songs’ Full Metal Jacket‘  and ‘ Kilmister.’  Kilmister was the first song Roxy formerly co- wrote with Vixen keyboardist Chris Fayz. Then came Full Metal Jacket that she and I wrote. We have more kick ass songs that we will be releasing shortly. With Madam X, the album is done, and legendary producer Michael Wagener mixed 8 of the tracks ( he also mixed the VIP Aftershow tracks), and Mark Slaughter mixed three tracks. Kevin Sharpe engineered. It’s being mastered now.  It just took long being that we all live pretty far apart.

You’ve  released two songs with Mark Slaughter on vocals, are there any plans to put out a full record together?

MP:  That would be nice! Never can rule anything out. He seems to be kind of busy with his solo band that he just released a new album with and his band Slaughter and mixing and producing bands. We all have several projects each too. So who knows, whatever is meant to be will be.

Who are some of your idols?

MP:  As far as guitar players that would be Randy Rhoads,  Eddie Van Halen, Peter Frampton, Rick Derringer.

Any Guitarists catch your eye today?

MP:  OMG, Jimi Bell from House of Lords and Maxx Explosion. He’s incredible. I can’t believe he’s not all that known. He shreds like no other with a blues-rock lead style licks. I can so appreciate his talent!! Hoping they get booked on the MORC (Monster’s of Rock) cruise. I would love to catch them live.

Have you played any other instruments besides guitar?

MP:  1998 I played bass for VixensTangerine‘ tour. That was a blast. I played bass on most of my solo band Maxine total of 3
albums. I played flute on a track titled ‘ Wicked‘ on my ” Back to the Garden.”

What are your plans for 2017?

Getting the anticipated Madam X album titled ‘ Monstrosity ‘ finally released with all original great talents- Bret Kaiser lead vocal,  Chris “Godzilla” Doliber bass, Roxy Petrucci Drums, and myself Maxine guitars, unleashed to the world. The album is great and something we can feel proud of. Also, we will be on the MORC Cruise Feb 2018. It’s a blast!!!! As far as VIP Aftershow,  we will continue to release new great songs with different special guests. Our two singles ‘Full Metal Jacket‘ and ‘Kilmister‘ are available to buy on all digital outlets. And soon Madam X will be available for sale too. Thank you, Andrew, for this interview and keeping Rock alive!

Follow Madam X @ https://www.facebook.com/Madam-X-1390973624496842/