Journey’s Neal Schon – Still Going Strong

By Andrew Catania

“The American rock band, Journey, can be deemed as just one among his many claims to fame; Neal Schon has a lot more to his name that validates his music mastery with strings and chords.”

Songwriter, composer and Journey’s co-founder along with Ross Valory and Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon’s name, with over forty years of experience with guitars, is synonymous with expertise par excellence.

When he picked up the guitar at the age of ten, it just clicked in his mind that he was made for the instrument. Having found his purpose at this young age, he never looked back since. He started off with his professional music career in his middle teens when he joined Latin Rock Band ‘Santana,’ and hence began the journey that made him an essential part of the notable feats at Santana’s platform, namely Santana III and Caravanserai,

Schon continued with his learning, experimentation, and improvisations in technique until 1970, when he finally bid farewell to Santana and joined Azteca, before he founded his Rock band Journey in 1973, which he continues to lead till date.
Right from the start, Schon had the tendency to veer off contemporary trends, and as he progressed to learn the intricacies of guitars and chords, he evolved and formed his signature style that mainly stemmed from the 1960s’ classics, fusing perfectly with the blues. Although his style is considered deep and soulful with an intense dab of aesthetic improvisation, one can observe the influence of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Carlos Santana, in slight riffs and traces.

With a significant rock ‘n’ blues blended vibrato that he opted from BB King, generously dabbed with thrilling riffs, Schon not only squeezes out tones from his instruments but makes his listeners experience an entirely different musical plane that is rhythmic, soulful, exciting, and creates a great musical charisma. It is due to this that he is also affectionately known as Neal ‘Vortex’ Schon – a name that was given to him by his first mentor, Carlos Santana.
Apart from trying and testing his fingers on some instruments of different types and makes, Neal Schon’s two most valuable tools are 15 inches; semi hollowed spruce top with the mahogany center and curly maple back sides – his prototypes for an imminent PRS signature model.

Schon has incorporated his brand of personalization in his instruments, besides the original specifications of the production design, through Floyd Rose, Seymour Duncan pickups and vintage classic Fernandes Sustainer, along with an octave of optimization to the single-coiled volume knob. Gary Brawder has made the latter of these refinements.

A Strat on “Lights” and a D tuned PRS McCarty are also included in his list of personal favorite instruments. Being extremely precise and intricately attentive to details about his instruments, Schon, for his extreme philia towards strong and impactful effects, has modified his instruments through expression pedals for multiple levels of delay and reverb.

 

Black Label Society’s Dario Lorina And His Successful Solo Career

By Andrew Catania

A delicate balance of danger and sophistication, Dario Lorina is an urbane version of the extreme death metal fanatic and a raw version of the revered Paul Gilbert.

Lorina’s talent came to the limelight at the tender age of sixteen, which was when he undertook his first tour with Jani Lane, the departed lead vocalist, and songwriter for the metal band, Warrant. At 19, he shifted to Lizzy Borden.

Since then, Dario toured for seven years with Jani Lane and Lizzy Borden before releasing his very first solo recording in his mid-twenties on September 10th, 2013 under Shrapnel Records. Titled “Dario Lorina,” songs consisted of an eclectic collection of raw and loud tracks like Demon Rum and classically animated versions of evergreen tracks like House of The Rising Sun. Characteristic of other albums produced under the label, Lorina’s music was more influenced by musicians like Paul Gilbert and Eddie Van Halen and less by artists like Yngwie Malmsteen.

The incredible success of his first album led Black Label Society to replace their longtime guitarist Nick Catanese with Dario Lorina. On this departure, Lorina’s previous band, Lizzy Borden graciously paid tribute to their loss by posting a beautiful social media message, parting with a heartfelt,” Dario will be missed in the Borden camp, but he will always be one of us, and we wish him all the luck in the world.”

Before signing with Black Label Society, Dario had created a buzz around his talent during his worldwide tour with Lizzy Borden. The year 2010 was a defining year for Dario, as he traveled through the USA, Europe, Japan and more – performing at some of the most famous music festivals. Lizzy Borden, the frontman and namesake of the band Lizzy Borden once famously proclaimed “I just know all the Lizzy Borden fans around the world are going to be blown away when they see him play.”

His success on tour was satisfying, yet Lorino had an unquenchable thirst for making his name, under his art – without being associated with a band. This desire for self-realization led him to his second instrumental record titled “Death Grip Tribulations,” a relatively new album that came out recently in February 2017. His young age of 27 often comes as a surprise to his fans that have never previously been able to put a face to the name, simply because of the uncharacteristic talent for someone his age. Urbane, fresh, classic and guided by technique, Lorino’s style is filled with shredding and vintage musical techniques. To take from the words of Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records, “Lorino truly is a force to be reckoned with.”

http://www.dariolorina.com/

Nita Strauss And Her Rise To Stardom

By Andrew Catania

With an outrageously exceptional talent, astounding skills, brilliant pieces of work and an incessantly growing fandom, Nita Strauss is a renowned name which has gained immense talent and expertise within a short span of time and a relatively young age. She is smart, gifted and knows her job.

Hailing from an ancestry comprised of a hierarchy of prominent and highly prized musicians of their time, this is from where Nita has derived her passion, and this is what makes the music flow in her blood.

Born on December 7th, 1986, in Los Angeles, Nita Strauss is also known by her stage name Mega Murray. Her initial exposure to music started in the early years of her childhood. Belonging to a family of musicians, she began to play and learn music a long time before reaching her teens. This allowed her to test her skills and explore her passions on a variety of music and instrument, before finally landing on playing guitars and taking it further as her passion and profession.

It is worth noting that unlike her contemporaries, Nita has not attended a music school nor has she received any professional education at home. Her gifted, inborn talents have only enhanced through her self-taught learning, and this primarily is the reason behind her strong and unique style and techniques.

Nita Strauss stepped in to conquer the metal music sphere as a professional musician the year she stepped into her teenage, in 1997. She started off playing for metal music shows that not only brought her exposure in metal music communities.

Her finely carved tunes are a real treat for the ears, and her enthralling stage presence is a delight to watch. It has not only boosted her confidence but has also brought her a strong repute among mental fandom, critics as well as music gear manufacturers. She has also extended her portfolio by also testing on her vocal strengths.

Nita Strauss career profile features some associations that he has established over time. By 2009, her name was making uproars and echoes in the metal music sphere. So much that she became one of the most sought-after names in the industry. She partnered with Bamboozle West and As Blood Runs Black, for their Europe and US tours, where she made impressive performances on the stage.

The year 2010 brought a break through the opportunity that took her career to a whole new notch. She was handpicked by Jermaine Jackson, the brother of the King of Pop. During her association with Jermaine, Nita Strauss played in the leading capacity for a series of public concerts that were held in Africa in 2010.

Aside from her partnership with Jermaine Jackson, Nita has also partnered with some famous bands and music groups including The Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale, Consume the Fire, Alice Cooper, LA KISSCritical Hit, and her new all-female band The Starbreakers.

Ranked as #1 among Guitar World’s Top 10 Female Guitarists, Nita’s professional profile is punctuated with some commercials, guest appearances, and gear endorsements.

Mick Mars – The Backbone Of Motley Crue

By Andrew Catania

The image that comes to mind when one conjures a mental note on the ideal guitar rock star is that of fluidity, flexibility, the smooth motion of bending backward and front with a guitar in hand. Incredible stunts are as important as the music because the music is often a story of rebellion, courage, grit and going against established norms.

Rock stars are immortal, and Mick Mars is one such star. Underrated the professor of electric guitar yet, Mars defied the odds by being the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Motley Crue. Despite struggling with ankylosing spondylitis – a debilitating form of arthritis that severely affects the spine and pelvis, causing grave pain and impaired movement – Mars continued to send shock waves through his small, yet loyal base of fans.

Over the years, his fans watched him shorten in height by three inches as a result of his disease that caused his lower spine to seize up and freeze. Despite the pain, Mars continued to bring forth excellent music as the lead guitarist of Motley Crue until the band dispersed in 2015 citing retirement as the reason for dissolving.

The one word that accurately describes Mars is inspiring. His whole life has been a series of overcoming challenges with grace and optimism. Born in Indiana back in 1951, he soon moved to California with his family. It was here that Mars was first exposed to a variety of musical influences and he tried his hand at a series of blues bands. However, it seemed as though he was jumping from one failing group to another.

Angered with rejection, he decided to overhaul his life completely. He changed his name from his birth name of Robert Alan Deal to the Mick Mars we now love and revere and with that; he had his first tryst at his new destiny. He colored his hair and placed an advertisement in the local paper in 1981, through which he first met Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee. Together, the young lads created Motley Crue – a band that lasted through three decades.

Throughout his time with Motley Crue, he was often forced to go off the road during tours because of the severe pain he was suffering from as a result of the disease that claimed his peace of mind at the tender age of 19. Not once did he allow his physical struggle to hold him back. In 2004, he had hip surgery, and in 2005, he was back on the road.

Through the years, Mars played with the White Horses, Vendetta, and numerous other bands. Some failed, some flourished, yet through every challenge, Mars thrived.

George Lynch’s Mr Scary Guitars

By Andrew Catania

The first thing one associated George Lynch with is his incredible music. A songwriter and hard-rock guitar player, Lynch carved himself a legacy as a member of the hugely popular 80’s hair metal band, Dokken.  Not only was he ranked #68 on “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Guitar World Magazine, but also made the cut at #10 on “Top 10 Metal Guitarists of All Time” by Gibson.

There is no doubt that Lynch’s influence in the music industry has been nothing less than incredible. His techniques and style have inspired aspiring players from across the world.

House of Rock, Santa Rosa CA. June 16, 2017 Photo by Renee Jahnke

Hence, his legacy only seemed to come full-circle when he decided to launch his custom guitar company under the title of Mr. Scary Guitars almost a decade ago in 2009. Since then, his guitars have made it to the most coveted list amongst guitar players worldwide.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Inspired his unique style, Lynch understood the intricacies of building the perfect guitar and decided to create his unique creations that drowned in perfection from carving, custom wiring, and wood shaping to the painting and finishing.

Lynch’s vision to create a company was inspired by his desire to fulfill his dream of ensuring that every guitar-playing fan had the option to own a personalized guitar that was not only phenomenal but also excellent to play and a reflection of the player’s desires.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

The process of producing each one-of-a-kind item remains true to the roots of individuality and classical techniques. Each piece is hand-carved, and CNC machines are banned at all steps of the luthiery process. Apart from a few model exceptions, Lynch perfectly uses a pin router to shape the bodies of the guitars. The creation is complex yet simple, personalized and made by hand.

Photo byRenee Jahnke

His success in creating the perfect guitar is second to none because of the numerous options he offers to all his clients. He sits with customers, consults him or her on their needs and proceeds to build the guitar from scratch by hand. From choosing the sizes and material for the fret wire to creating custom fret inlays and offering six or seven string models, the possibilities are endless.

The testimonies of satisfied clients are an evident reflection of his talent.  From Italy to the United Kingdom, Mr. Scary Guitars has achieved global success.  The reviews are raging and what you are about to read is just one of the many – “That is right boys – I am the proud owner of Mr. Scary Burnt Tiger #3 (the one you see on this very website).  Not only is it an honor to own this guitar that George created, but it is also an extreme pleasure to play as well.  Honestly, the craftsmanship and George’s attention to detail is second to none.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

It is about time we all get on board because there’s no doubt that Mr. Scary Guitars is going to haunt our most wanted lists for as long as it continues to exist under George Lynch’s direction.

For more information on Mr. Scary Guitars, please go to http://www.mrscaryguitars.com/

Chris Impellitteri – One Of The Best

By Andrew Catania

Chris Impellitteri is one of those few names of the metal shredding genre who have proven themselves as an eligible and worthy heir to the legacy of eternal metal legends such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads. An honor and acclaim of this significance never come as complementary though. It should require immense talents, some exceptional command and penchant for non-conformity on a musician’s part to not just make a mark, but a breakthrough to demolish the status quo of the industry.

In the particular realm of rock and metal music sphere, many musicians have emerged since the mighty era of the 1980s, as a promising addition to the genre. Equipped with speed, techniques and making waves with their unique style, several musicians of the modern era of metal are making an encouraging reassurance that the future of the genre is in safe hands. However, among all the shred metal maestros of the modern era, Chris Impellitteri’s name rests a par above the rest.

It should cost an exceptional talent, and a massive dose of efforts to a metal musician to be called as the ‘Leading Light of Post-Malmsteen Shredvolution and Chris Impellitteri has proven his mettle and expertise to be rendered as worthy of the title. That is not all Chris Impellitteri possesses to his claim.

The Leading Light of Post Malmsteen Shredvolution is also known as ‘The Master Shredder’ and as one of ‘The Fastest Guitarists in the World.’ All these titles and awards and that too at the age of 53 tell a lot about the strength, status and the credibility of a musician like Chris.

Completely owning the genre that brought him this fame, Chris has not only contributed to the progress of the genre, he has also been imparting his acumen and expertise for the benefit of the current and coming generations of metal musicians.

Chris’s playing technique is pure and highly refined. His tones are well-structured, finely articulated to the core and stands a class apart regarding the flow, speed, depth, nuances, and versatility. It is interesting to note that these unique attributes that have become his signature characteristics primarily stem from his self-taught learning approach.

Chris Impellitteri was never satisfied in learning from the instructors and opted instead for his high road. Plunging headlong in the pursuit of his passion, Chris tried his hands on a variety of instruments, playing styles, techniques, and that too in a multitude of genres and sub-genres.

This extensive learning has allowed him to build a strong grasp of rock and metal music. Being well-versed with the tact and intricacies of the chords, it has become a cake walk for him to squeeze out tones, with extreme clarity, exuberant audacity and at an extreme speed.i

Talking about his ideals and role models, Chris claims to be inspired by several eminent musicians of the 1970s and 1980s decade such as Jimi Bell and Al DiMeola

Vescera Has Released Their Debut Album ‘Beyond The Fight’ Via Pure Steel Records

By Andrew Catania 

Vescera has released their debut album ‘Beyond The Fight‘ in April of 2017 via Pure-Steel Records.  Formed in Italy, led by former Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Obsession vocalist Mike Vescera, the band line-up is completed by former Nitehawks duo, guitarist Mike Petrone and bass player Frank Leone, and current Annihilator drummer Fabio Alessandrini.

Image result for vescera beyond the fight

With the amount of talent and experience within the band, the weight of expectation is tremendously high for the debut album to be nothing less than excellent. And what you get is forty minutes of excellent melodic heavy metal, played with passion and pride. The quality is top drawer, the music is head-bangingly addictive, and every song on offer is memorable and infectious. ‘Blackout In Paradise’ is top-notch power metal, played at pace, and is a storming rampage of galloping rhythms and blistering guitars. Raise your fists high in the air; this is going to be an exhilarating ride. ‘In The Night’ is a bombastic blast and a furious foray of speed and power, the album owing much of its sound to the American style of power metal rather than the European, but it doesn’t matter when it’s this superb. The scorching pace of ‘Stand And Fight’ is simply breathtaking and will have your adrenaline levels skyrocket. Ferociously fast, ‘Stand And Fight’ is a headbanger’s dream. Massage those neck muscles and get your heads banging.  Vescera’s vocals have aged excellently, and this album is a must have.  7/10 stars.

 

Andy Timmons Talks Latest Record, Danger Danger, Bad English And New Teaching Website

By Andrew Catania

This interview was conducted with Andy in January 2017 before NAMM.

Whеn Ibаnеz dіѕрlауѕ thеіr instruments аt muѕіс industry trаdе ѕhоwѕ thеу рrоmіnеntlу feature thе wоrld’ѕ greatest guіtаr heroes; Vаі, Sаtrіаnі, Gilbert……..and Andу Tіmmоnѕ.

Tіmmоnѕ ѕраrkеd his оwn guitar revolution ѕсоrіng two top 10 vіdеоѕ оn MTV wіth hіѕ bаnd Danger Dаngеr, ѕеllіng over a million rесоrdѕ, and touring thе world ореnіng fоr Kіѕѕ аnd Alice Cоореr. A handful of сrіtісаllу ассlаіmеd solo аlbumѕ followed soon after аѕ well аѕ a long аѕѕосіаtіоn as guіtаrіѕt and muѕіс dіrесtоr fоr Olіvіа Nеwtоn-Jоhn. Often rеfеrrеd tо аѕ “The Kіng Of Tone,” Tіmmоnѕ scored another glоbаl success in 2011 wіth his еmоtіvе interpretation of Thе Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’ аlbum еntіrеlу arranged for guіtаr. Never оnе to sit still, Timmons also rесоrdеd fоur аlbumѕ wіth wоrld rеnоwnеd drummеr Sіmоn Phіlірѕ (Toto, Thе Whо, Jeff Beck) аnd рlауеd thеm lіvе асrоѕѕ muсh оf the world.

Fans wіll be еxсіtеd tо learn thе nеw Andу Tіmmоnѕ Band album was released in August 2016.

Trаvіѕ Lаrѕоn Band: With ѕіx ѕtudіо аlbumѕ аnd twо full-length performance DVDs, thе аwаrd-wіnnіng Trаvіѕ Larson Bаnd is firmly rooted as оnе оf іnѕtrumеntаl music’s рrеmіеrе acts, having worked оn rесоrd wіth Stеvе Lukаthеr (Tоtо), Vісtоr Wооtеn (Bela Fleck), Dаvе LaRue (Jое Satriani, John Petrucci, Dixie Drеgѕ), Vіnx (Stіng, Hеrbіе Hаnсосk) аnd hаvіng ѕhаrеd live bіllіng wіth Tеd Nugent, UFO, Stеvе Morse (Deep Purрlе, Dіxіе Drеgѕ), Ronnie Mоntrоѕе, and The Arіѕtосrаtѕ to nаmе a fеw. Travis Lаrѕоn Band’s 2011 rеlеаѕе ‘Sоundmіnd’ еаrnеd accolades as Guіtаr Plауеr Mаgаzіnе Editor’s Top Thrее and their recent CD/DVD расkаgе ‘Shіft Happens: Lіvе’ earned a five ѕtаr rеvіеw іn Progression Mаgаzіnе.

 

Timmons also has a Signature, Ibanez.  Thіѕ sweet-looking аldеr bоdіеd guіtаr features a double cutaway design wіth a bеvеlеd еdgе оn thе lоwеr bоut to make іt еаѕіеr tо access frets thаt give уоu thе most squeal арреаl. The guіtаr also fеаturеѕ аn AT 1-ріесе mарlе neck with KTS TITANIUM rоdѕ tо еnѕurе lоngеvіtу аnd a Wіlkоnѕоn WV6-SB Brіdgе wіth a whаmmу bаr. Hеlріng сарturе аnd ѕhаре уоur tоnе аrе DіMаrzіо Thе Cruiser рісkuрѕ at thе nесk and mіd роѕіtіоn, a Dimarzio AT-1 brіdgе рісkuр, a 5-way pickup selector, аnd Vоlumе, Neck & Middle, & Bridge Tоnе соntrоl knоbѕ. A hardshell саѕе is іnсludеd fоr when уоu’rе nоt rocking out of your ѕhеll wіth this Ibanez оrіgіnаl.

FEATURES

  • Nесk tуре: AT 1-pc Maple nесk wіth KTS TITANIUM rоdѕ
  • Bоdу: Aldеr wіth dоublе сutаwау dеѕіgn аnd beveled lоwеr bоut for easier ассеѕѕ
  • Frеtbоаrd: Maple frеtbоаrd wіth blасk dоt іnlау
  • Frеt: Jumbо frets wіth Prеmіum frеt еdgе trеаtmеnt
  • Bridge: Wilkinson WV6-SB
  • Nесk рісkuр: DіMаrzіо Thе Cruiser (H) nесk pickup
  • Middle рісkuр: DіMаrzіо The Cruіѕеr (H) mіd pickup
  • Brіdgе рісkuр: DiMarzio AT-1 (H) bridge pickup

Controls: 5-wау рісkuр selector ѕуѕtеm рluѕ Volume, Neck & Mіddlе Tоnе, Brіdgе Tоnе соntrоl knobs

  • Hаrdwаrе соlоr: Chrоmе
  • Sunburѕt finish
  • Hardshell саѕе included
  • Nесk dimensions:
  • Scale: 648mm/25.5″
  • Wіdth аt Nut: 40.5″
  • Width аt Lаѕt Fret: 56mm
  • Thісknеѕѕ аt 1st: 21mm
  • Thісknеѕѕ at 12th: 23mm

I caught up with Andy just as he was getting back from his latest tour.

How’s your tour going?

Man! We just got home basically.  We did three weeks in the states, and then we just got back from two weeks in Southeast Asia.   So I’m happy to be sitting in my office right now and just getting back from Goodwill,  the post office,  and the city dump you know, I’m getting stuff done here.

(laughter)

 The city dump

Yes, this is rock star stuff man!  When you’re traveling, these are the things you miss doing. Some grounded normalcy you know away from the craziness that is touring.  No,  but we had a great I guess it’s been about five weeks of gigs and getting out there and playing the new record.   It’s been remarkable.  Nice to get the new record out there.  The response has been good.  Home for the holidays and we’re getting out there again next year

Yes I like your new album 

Thank you,  man! I appreciate that

I’ve always wanted to ask you.  Are  you going from like they always considered Danger Danger hair metal or terms like that 

No that’s accurate

I always wanted to ask you-you were a University of Miami grad.  You graduated with your degree, and you went from hair metal to your style of playing is I believe it’s one spectrum to the other it shows as an artist you know

Well,  that’s the thing I should clarify that I did not get a degree from Miami.  I was there for two years it was my third and fourth year of college I started off as a traditional major at the University of Evansville where I grew up in Indiana but then transferred down there.  I would have had about a year to go to graduate, and it was clear that you know I got so much information and grew so much the time I was in Miami, but I was ready to get out and make money instead of going further into debt with student loans.   I got an offer to join a band at the time with Steve Bailey on bass and Ray Brinker on drums, and we moved to Texas.  That’s how I ended up in  Texas in the mid-80’s. I grew up as a straight-edged rock & roll guy in the 70’s playing KISS and Rush and Foghat and REO Speedwagon and kind of all the arena rock of the 70’s but we got into jazzier stuff and hence my path down to Miami  and yes it kind of came full circle when I got the opportunity to join Danger Danger .  It was at a time where I probably would have been happier to get a call from Miles Davis to take Mike Stern’s place, but you know what I mean.  But I was equally as glad to get this opportunity to join a  band that was signed to a major label because that was certainly particularly at that time, not so much now but at that time that was kind of the holy grail of the music business to be in a band and signed to a major label.  So these guy’s they already kind of had things kind of in motion and so all I had to do was hop on the train mainly and was happy to do it man like I said the Andy Timmons Band had already started in 1988 and it was actually the demo’s that I recorded with my first band that got the attention of some of these other bands so,  yes it took me on a detour indeed from where now but it was a great experience. I call it my music business education primarily

(laughter)

Well,  it helped me to define what I want and didn’t want  I had to find myself.  I was in my 20’s and still trying to figure it out

When you were growing up how did you get involved with the guitar?

I’m the youngest of 4 guy’s.  So I was the youngest brother all four years apart.  My oldest brother was 12 when I  was born in ’63, so there was always music around the house, and they all played a little bit of guitar.  So there were always acoustic guitars around the house, and I had a toy plastic guitar from 4 years old on so it was something I was always enamored with and I loved the sound and liked the look of it.  You couldn’t keep me away from it basically, even when I wasn’t supposed to be grabbing my brother’s guitar’s I was you know taking full advantage when they weren’t in the house.   Just trying to figure out you know how to make noise and how to watch them play the chords and know how to do it when they weren’t around.  That grew from there I certainly took it more seriously as years went on than they did.  They were always kind of hobbyist and could play a little bit, but they detained going any further with it.  That certainly was my inspiration from day one.  Music in general and all the 60’s rock & roll and just try to learn how to play

Who were your influences growing up?

By the time I was learning by ear after you get past all the Beatles and the 60’s stuff which still is my favorite era of music Ace Frehley and Ted Nugent were my teachers and Alex Lifeson you know I’d put the records on.  You know like now there is such a welcome of information at everybody’s fingertip’s with the internet even going back 15 -20 years ago cassette tapes and VHS tapes and your favorite guys showing you how to play back then you didn’t have that.  There was maybe you were lucky to get a chord book from the diagram company that would show you where to put your fingers.  But it was up to you to find a teacher which I didn’t have or put your records on and figure it out, and that’s what I did from the age of 5-16.  But in my early teen’s it was that 70’s rock so the KISS Alive record was literally how I played.  I learned how to play that and the first Ted Nugent record 2112 and All The World’s A Stage that was how I learned.  It was years later that I realized that when I started encountering students that wanted lessons from me and I realized they’re just getting everything from written transcriptions and or ever they weren’t developing their ear and that’s the biggest asset of a musician is their ear’s and being able to recognize what is happening.  So kind of unknowingly I eventually took lessons and learned how to read and all that but it was the formative years of having no choice than to dig it out and earn it you know on my own through listening.  That was my biggest asset and still is to this day.

During your teenage years did you have a band that you started?

Yes.  My first gig was my 8th- grade graduation dance in 1976 and the core of the band myself and drummer Glen Gore.  The band was called Thunder Road, and it was this trio bass, guitar,  and drums. We didn’t have a singer but we still got the gig and all we played was KISS, Rush and Foghat and Nugent and maybe a couple of the pop hits but we were pretty much power trio.  That drummer and I worked together for the next seven years we worked in a band called the Taylor Bay Band.  We became local heroes from where I grew up in Evansville IN we made a record and we were getting radio play and all that.  So it was a tough decision when I decided to leave for Miami in ’83 we were you know I was sending tapes out to record labels and getting a very positive response, but it was a situation where I didn’t feel the rest band was quite as motivated as I was.  They were all older I was a kid in the group so they were all getting married and you know, and real life responsibilities were taking hold, so I decided to move on down to Miami to continue my path.  It was a great band really, and we created some terrific tunes and could have easily been signed back in the day and gone a different route, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  It was a wonderful way to grow up because I was gigging on the age of 13 three nights or four nights a week eventually and as any musician knows you’ve got to get out.  Out of your bedroom, you know you’ve got to get out there and play and get in front of people.  You know for me the stage fright took a long time and I still get nervous before gigs you just learn how to channel it into a positive energy, but it means you care it means you want to do well.  So that band Taylor Bay from ’76 to ’83 I was gigging.  Those were my guy’s you know

Wow! That’s awesome.  How did you get hooked up with Ted Colby and all those guys’?

It was through Buddy Blaze at Kramer Guitars.  I had gotten a call from Buddy Blaze this was sometime in 1988, and the guys’  from Bad English were looking for a guitar player.  It was Johnathan Cain, Ricky Phillips, and John Waite singer for the Babys.  And Neal Schon had done demo were with this group but decided he was going to go on his own and do a solo record for Columbia.  So Ricky was a Spector endorser who was made by Kramer so they reached out to all their companies and said hey we’re looking for a bluesy kind of rock guitar player who can help you recommend?  So, Buddy, he didn’t know me at the time, but he’s from the Dallas area where I was living at the time, and he got ahold of a journalist friend of his asked David Hoffman who was up and coming, and my name came up.  And so through Buddy, I sent a tape to the Bad English guys’ and flew out to San Fransisco, auditioned, got the gig.  You know,  they had been auditioning all these big name guitar players, and I  got the gig.  They said hey we’d fly you out to LA for a month and we’ll see how it goes.  During that week Neal Schon changed his mind and said basically hey I’d like to redo the group, while I was out there rehearsing with the band. And so they broke it to me in a way like well we’re going to spend a week with Neal now, and we’ll let you know.  It was pretty easy to see that you know things were going well.  Ok,  they could have half of journey or some unknown kid from Texas.  So as history would show that didn’t pan out.  Buddy Blaze also knew the guys’ from Danger Danger, and they were looking for a guitar player, and they had been signed to Epic and already had been done with the record and were looking for someone to join the band and do the videos and tour.  So they sent my tape to Bruno whom likely heard flew me out to New York to play with the band.  I think I went on two different occasions to audition and got that gig you know. So that’s just kind of the way it worked out, but it was after getting the gig with John Waite and Johnathan Cain so.  And a very funny aside is that Bad English record and Danger Danger came out the same day on the same label.  So something was in the works there you know.  So anyway that’s the little story in a very Reader’s Digest version.

If you had to choose between doing Bad English and Danger Danger looking back, without Bad English releasing you, what would you choose before

I didn’t make the decision Bad English did. You know it’s funny though the decision I did have to make though is that I got an offer to join Tower of Power at the same time I got the Danger Danger offer.  I’m not sure if you are aware of Tower of Power but very cool Oakland-based funk rock band.  They made a bazillion records over the years.   I chose Danger Danger over that thinking that it would be better and bigger exposure.  It would have been a whole different path.  You can’t go back and say oh could of, would of, should of.  I’m pleased with my experiences in the band.  The band had a lot of fans, so that was certainly my introduction onto the world stage.  You know after the group I started putting out my music, and it was certainly different.  It was a little rock based, so it appealed to some of those fans anyways.  I did have to spend a bit of time you know on the credibility front where you know if that makes sense as far as Danger Danger did not have a credible reputation as far as on the musician front.  Very lumped in with the hair bands and that type of attitude.  So I had to kind of overcome that stigma that might be attached to that.  You know what I mean as far as being a little bit more beyond you know what the capabilities of a typical hair band player might be.  So I took the good with the bad and certainly have no regrets, but I won’t say that that was easy to step out of that particular shadow

andytimmons-1

Was that your first solo album in ’94?


Yes, Ear X-Tacy would have been the first solo record.  In fact, some of the recordings on that album were recorded before I joined Danger Danger.  There’s a song called It’s Getting Better which is the first track I ever did with my band in the studio.  That survived and made the record, and there were recordings I were doing while in Danger Danger like Cry For You and Carpe Diem you know these songs were being recorded when I had time off from Danger Danger.  I’d fly out to Texas and play with my guys.  And you know we all figured that we were just recording demos.  The demos came out so well you can’t replace that so we just kind of kept it.  When Danger Danger folded at that time I came back to Texas, and we recorded like Electric Gypsy and Farmer Sez and Turn Away and that flushed out that first record.  But yes that was indeed the first solo record

And that’s what you’re talking about having to come from a band that wasn’t musically thought about having any music and stuff

It certainly wasn’t the same respect that I was hoping to garner you know being that my heroes at that time were like Eric Johnson and Satriani and Vai, Steve Lukather and those guys.

Right.  So you came out with Ear X-Tacy in ’94 and kind of established

Yes

When you still did, I Still Have The Best Name Ever did you find it easier after putting out a second record that people were accepting you as a serious musician with immense talent?

You know, it’s hard for me to be exacting about it because how do you measure people’s opinions?  But I do think I heard from a lot of people if they only would have heard from that band they would have been surprised you know that kind of record from that type of guy.  There was the NAMM show in ’93 that preceded of that record in 1993 that played at the NAMM show back when I was in a group with Simon Phillips and Gerald Veasley we backed up Satriani and Vai and Shawn Lane and Paul Gilbert while in between playing with some of the music that I would later do with Simon Phillips which is a whole different level of ability than Danger Danger.  I mean that would be kind of a pivotal point as far as people having an awareness of ok this guy is not just this particular rock & roll thing there are all these other elements you know.  So I kind of think Ibanez made an effort to try to set me apart from the pack you know they saw the potential for what I was going to do after that band.  And even in spite of being in the band,  that’s what I was being told by the A & R guy we don’t like your band but we like you and your playing, but we want to work with you.  So a kind of interesting way to go about it but yes I think things like that and exposure in some of the guitar magazines.  You know even because of some of my experience with major labels I didn’t even send my solo records to the major labels.  I put it out on my own but still got it reviewed in the magazines and just sold on-line, and it just worked out great, and I’m still doing it until this day but now it’s a lot easier to get better distribution with all the independent companies like CD Baby or Tunecore that want to distribute your music.  You don’t need the major labels especially these days.  But back then I was bucking the trend.  Steve Vai was the first guy to come on with Favored Nations when he developed Favored Nations I was one of the first people he signed you know he had me in mind.  I think I might have been one of the first three artists he signed.  It was the perfect thing because he was one of the first guys to come along as a labeled entity to say ok it’s a 50/50 split after expenses artists and labels share equally.  That’s what kept me from pursuing labels after the Danger Danger thing I saw how fucked everybody got and they were without exception.  I said this is not why I play music.  I want to control what I play, how I play, and what I record.  I want to own it.  Because we recorded the third album for Epic called Cockroach that basically when we got dropped from Epic it made it impossible to regain the rights to that record and I thought why in the world would you work so hard on something and have it not belong to you? So that was my takeaway education to Danger Danger.  Own your work and don’t bow down to what anybody else’s demands are.  You’ve got to make the music that is in your heart you know that’s the bottom line. So that’s what I’ve been able to do ever since is make decisions based on not business or finances just what do I want to do?  And therefore I’ve got a much happier existence since then.

Wow! Yes,  I did not know that about Cockroach.  That’s interesting

Yes, Bruno and Steve finally got the rights to release that like ten or so years later.  I was thrilled for it to come out.  I was proud of that record.  I thought it was a good record.  You know there’s all this history with Ted leaving the band and getting Paul Laine to come in, and both versions of the album were great.  I’m glad they were finally able to get the rights to release it.  It killed the band for the label to do that; there’s no doubt.

With your varied background I mean you’ve done sessions with Paula Abdul, Paul Stanley.  You’ve done the G4 Experience with  Paul Gilbert.  Is there a particular favorite of those I mentioned that stick out more to you than the other?

Well for me it’s always just been a loving ability to do all those things.  I mean my favorite thing is my music and band of course, but I played with Olivia Newton-John for 15 years as her music director and guitar player but also being in Simon Phillips’ group.  It couldn’t be more at the opposite end of the spectrum as far as the chops that it takes to do, but they’re equally as defining and I’m equally proud of both.  I guarantee there are not many rock players that can do Simons gig and there are not many rock players that can do Olivia’s concert and do it well.  Not that I’m patting myself on the back it’s just the way it is.  It’s a pretty short list of guys that can do that. And I think for me that’s been a huge part of my ability to keep busy.  You know after Danger Danger folded you’ve got to pick up your pieces and make a living right? I’m able to get a guitar and fit into almost any situation because of a lifetime of really loving all styles of music and not being an elitist in any way.  There are some jazz players that are very elitists about oh man it’s got to be jazz or heavy metal guys that it’s got to be metal.  I love it all equally, and I love the process of learning and the process to try to assimilate most organically and authentically really and to be able to play these different styles.  It helped me make a living all these years and so it’s a lot of fun for me and very rewarding when I can get into some of these situations that are very diverse.  But to try to play what’s right and what’s appropriate, you know musically at that time.  Believe me; it’s not about when we shred this up what’s going to make her sound great? The same with Simon, you know.   It’s what’s going to be appropriate for this piece of music.  And that’s great advice for anybody wanting to be a professional musician and maybe outside as a solo artist in a particular band.  Just be interested and be open to playing a lot of different things.  If it’s truly in your heart, you know.

Yes, your versatility is amazing

Thank you! Thank you, man!

There are few people that can go from Olivia Newton-John to Kip Winger to Paula Abdul to Paul Stanley and then go with Vai back to Gilbert

Let me say, talk about somebody tell me the stigma of the hair band thing with Kip Winger.   This guy is easily by far the most talented guy I’ve ever worked with, and I’m including anybody I’ve ever worked with there are a lot of great guys on that list and girls.  But this guy is just a brilliant dude and for him to get bashed the way he did and that band of all bands they were the one band that could play.  Nothing against every other band in that genre but come on man, these guys were just freaking bad ass to the bone.  Every one of them was just basically virtuoso on their instrument and so to watch a guy like that just get beat down.  In television,  metal bands are making fun of him in concert.  You know this takes a toll on a person but for him to rise through that.  That first record he made This Conversation Seems Like A Dream was easily one of the top three or four favorite things I’ve ever done.  That was incredible to be a part of that was a great record, and he has gone on and writing more music, he’s writing more catchable music.  He’s writing for the New York Ballet.  There are a few notable names out there that I won’t mention.  I raise a huge middle finger to them.  Kip is a talented guy.  You’re getting the brunt of my frustration about that.

That’s ok!  I think the Beavis and Butthead show did a number on Kip.

That was a huge thing.  There was another notable group that threw darts at his picture.  I know it hurt the guy.  I’m proud of him rising above the shit.  The stuff he’s done on his own and with Winger is amazing.  We have some stuff on the back burner that was going to work on when we get a chance.  That will continue my friendship with Kip.  He’s one of the deepest cats that I know.

When you’re writing, do you write the lyrics first or the music?

It depends on the song.  Sometimes the melody or figure out the harmony.  The songs on my new album are about specific events that have happened to me.  I’m very proud of my new record.

With your new record, as a player myself, you take me out of my comfort zone from what I usually listen too.  The technical aspect of your new album is amazing.

Ok good!  That’s a big compliment!  Don’t get me wrong I still think the world of the shredders.  I recently just saw Yngwie play for the first time in the last two years and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen.  My shredding days aren’t over.  There might be another Ear X-Tacy record in the future.  I just want to continue and grow as a player.,

What’s your rig these days?

Mesa Boogie Lonestars.  I prefer 2 2×12 combos 2×12 rectifier cabinets.   JHS AT Signature Exotic BB Pre Amp, Kiley, Timeline echo sound, Carl Martin GNI multi fuzz, Dunlop expression pedal.

Your signature guitar is the  AT-10P

My main guitar is the at-100.  The AT-10p is an Indonesia made a version of at100.  The original AT-100 came out in 1994 and will have the 9th set of frets being put on.  So, hopefully, it will carry on.  I was skeptical about doing a lesser expensive of my AT-100.  They opened the plant and-and copied the specs.  They nailed it.  We just had two weeks, and Southeast Asia and I must’ve signed at least 30 of them.  One of my best stats is my 83 Squier.  The USA made guitars can be great.  So can overseas be made.

What are your plans for 2017?

I’ll be staying home for the first few months with my family.  I’ve been burning the candle at both ends touring extensively.  What I’ll be doing is putting up a website where I provide content and people will pay a monthly subscriber fee.  Doing a playthrough of all of my songs.  It will have all kinds of content.  I’ll still be promoting my new record.  I’ll be doing a special at NAMM with Tony McAlpine and others.

Check out Andy at his website http://andytimmons.com/

Buy Andy Timmons Band CD  https://andy-timmons.myshopify.com/collections/compact-disc/products/theme-from-a-perfect-world

Michael Schenker Signs With Nuclear Blast Records-Announces New Studio Album & US Tour.

 

Michael Schenker is one of the most significant rock guitarists in the history of music. He has mesmerized the rock community since the 70’s with his characteristic guitar play and contributed not only to SCORPIONS classics such as “Lovedrive”, “Coast To Coast” and “Holiday”, but also constructed himself a monument during his time in UFO by writing hits like “Doctor Doctor” and “Rock Bottom”  among others. His playing has influenced several generations of guitar players enormously.

Back in 1979, the “German Wunderkind” decided to be his own boss. He founded the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP aka M.S.G. and released the masterpieces Assault Attack and Built To Destroy, the live legacy One Night At Budokan as well as the McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP pearls Perfect Timing and Save Yourself. Around that time, outstanding musicians such as Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG etc.), Don Airey (DEEP PURPLE etc.), Cozy Powell (ex-GARY MOORE etc.), Chris Slade (AC/DC), Pete Way (UFO etc.) and Neil Murray (ex-WHITESNAKE) were all invited by Schenker to play with him. M.S.G. also became home of great vocalists, most notably Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley. Those guys were also a part of the comprehensive MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST, whose celebrated Tokyo show was released as live CD, DVD and Blu-ray this March recently passed.

Now the time has come for Michael Schenker to move another step forward: He fulfills the long-awaited dream of all hard rock fans by entering the studio as MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST. The band have just started the recording process for a brand-new studio album with producer Michael Voss. Its release is set for spring 2018 through Nuclear Blast, the band’s new record label.

Comments Schenker, “I am very happy to have signed with Nuclear Blast Records and I am looking forward to releasing a killer MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST studio album in the spring of 2018. The album will feature 3 original M.S.G. singers – Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet & Robin McAuley – plus Doogie White (MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK). Keep on rockin’!”

With this latest signing, a long-desired dream came true for the South Germany-based label. Owner Markus Staiger grew up with Michael Schenker‘s music and is also one of his greatest admirers. “I’m proud to be able to work with the ultimate guitar god, Michael Schenker. He has always been my idol and he’s the reason why I started to play the guitar when I was 13 years old. But I was ungifted in that area, so I had to stop and decided to found a record label instead. It’s a great day and I feel happy just like back in the day when I was listening to Lovedrive and Michael Schenker Group for the very first time, and went nuts! Thanks!”

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST will be playing several shows this year, including two German performances at Bang Your Head!!! Festival and Capitol Offenbach.

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST – Tour Dates:

2017 MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST
Featuring 3 original M.S.G singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley
07/15/2017  D    Balingen – Bang Your Head!!! Festival
10/15/2017  J     Tokyo – Loud Park Festival
10/25/2017  D    Offenbach – Capitol
10/27/2017  E    Santander – Escenario Santander
10/28/2017  E    Pamplona – Auditorio de Burlada
10/29/2017  E    Barcelona – Razzmatazz
10/31/2017  NL  Zoetermeer – De Boerderij
11/02/2017  UK  London – o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
11/03/2017  UK  Sheffield – o2 Academy
11/04/2017  UK  Manchester – o2 Ritz
11/05/2017  UK  Hull – City Hall

2018 MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST
Featuring 3 original M.S.G. singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley plus Doogie White (MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK)
03/06/2018  The Fillmore – Silver Springs, MD
03/07/2018  Carnegie Music Hall – Pittsburgh, PA
03/09/2018  Berklee Performance Center – Boston, MA
03/10/2018  Irving Plaza – New York, NY
03/11/2018  Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
03/12/2018  Club Soda – Montreal, QC CANADA
03/14/2018 Royal Oak Music Theatre – Detroit, MI
03/16/2018  Agora Theatre – Cleveland, OH
03/17/2018  Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL
03/18/2018  Pabst Theater – Milwaukee, WI
03/19/2018  Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN
03/22/2018  Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA
03/24/2018  Events Center – San Jose, CA
03/25/2018  The Grove – Anaheim, CA
03/26/2018  Marquee Theatre – Phoenix, AZ
03/27/2018  House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV
03/29/2018  Cervantes Ballroom – Denver, CO
03/31/2018  Vibes Event Center – San Antonio, TX
04/01/2018  Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX
04/03/2018  The Ritz – Tampa, FL

Image may contain: one or more people and text