By Andrew Catania
I spoke with Greg Prato and we discussed his book “Shredders” and his future releases.
How did you come about writing such an incredible book?
GP: I started playing guitar back in the 80s, so that’s when I discovered guitar players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. I was also holding on to bands like Kiss. That was the band that got me going with the whole side of hard rock music. I started playing guitar back then so that’s when I would start reading all the magazines like Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Guitar World.
And those magazines back then, that was really how people would find out about new guitarists and things like when the new Dokken album was going to come out and all that stuff. That was my gateway into the whole world of “shredder guitar,” and I was a huge, huge fan of the David Lee Roth ‘Eat Em and Smile’ album and also the Metallica ‘Master of Puppets’ album – both which came out in 1986. To this day, those two albums are still probably two of my favorite hard rock/heavy metal albums. I think that they’re both great and the reason why I think those two albums hold up so great is that while Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett show a lot of shredding skill with their solos, the quality of the songwriting on both those albums is outstanding. They didn’t lose the vision that the songs are the most important thing.
Something also that helped shape my “shredder listening skills” was that I took lessons from Dream Theater’s John Petrucci for the entire summer of 1991! But later that early and into early 1992, I didn’t continue being as much into the whole shredder guitar thing, but I listened to a wide variety of music. That said, I never stopped listening to Queen, Thin Lizzy, Rush, and also the Van Halen albums with David Lee Roth. I began writing books in 2009, and a few years back, I realized that there was never a book that told the whole story of the shredder movement – specifically for the period of the ‘80s because as I said, that was when I got into it and was reading all those great magazines. So I decided to put together a book set up in the oral history format, which means it’s all quotes. In other words, it will be a subject and then quotes from people that I spoke about the subject. So you are getting the story straight from the horse’s mouth.
How long did it take you to compile all of these quotes from guitarists?
GP: Probably from the beginning of the interviews, transcribing them, and putting it all in order, probably about a good year or so. Around that same time, I was also working on a book about the band Rainbow, called ‘The Other Side of Rainbow,’ which I interviewed a bunch of former members of Rainbow, as well as fans of theirs from other bands.
What kind of feedback have you received about Shredders?
GP: I’m getting great feedback. The reviews on Amazon are great. The readers seem to enjoy it. Some of the guitarists such as Michael Angelo Batio, Bumblefoot, and Guthrie Govan have said very nice things about the book.
What guitarists would you have liked to have interviewed for the book?
GP: Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen. Eddie hasn’t done a proper interview in years – I can’t recall when was the last interview he did. Yngwie would’ve been great to get his perspective. I interviewed Yngwie many years ago.
Are you currently writing another book?
GP: I’m currently working on a fully authorized book about the band Kings X. I have the first draft almost mapped out. I’m hoping that will come out next year. Hopefully, it will be finished in the next month or two. Then sit down with the band and make some changes, compile photos, and start shopping it around.
Are there any guitarists out there today that catch your eye?
GP: As far as the shredder stuff goes. It seems like for the most part most of the modern shredder guitarists aren’t doing anything new. If you listen to a lot of these new guitarists, it sounds very similar to what metal guitarists were doing back in the 80s and early 90s. The reason why I loved Steve Vai’s playing so much – especially back in the 80s, with Zappa, his early solo album ‘Flexable,’ with Alcatrazz, and ‘Eat Em and Smile’ – is that his personality was coming out through his playing, and it wasn’t just shred for the sake of shred. You could listen to just a few notes of a Vai guitar solo, and automatically recognize it was him.
The same goes for today’s rock and also metal – it just seems like there’s a lack of people trying to put any unique spin on their songwriting or playing for the most part. From what I hear of the newer metal bands, it’s pretty much a combination of Pantera, Metallica, and Iron Maiden. There are not too many bands that are doing anything unique. That’s what I loved so much about the early to mid 90s when it came to grunge and the then-newer metal bands…it seemed all the bands that came out in 91/92 were all putting their unique spin on things – Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Sepultura, Type O Negative, Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry, Primus, etc.
You could say the same with punk in the 70s – The Sex Pistols. The Clash and The Ramones put their unique spin on it. The same with late 70s arena rock, with Boston, Van Halen, and Queen – you’d listen to those bands, and you could automatically say, “This is a Boston song, this is a Van Halen song, and that is a Queen song.” Whereas now, it just seems like, for the most part, it’s hard to differentiate bands because they all sound the same and no one’s trying anything different.
After you complete the Kings X book, what do you have being released next year?
GP: My next book is coming out in March, and has nothing to do with shredders – it has to do with a genre called “yacht rock.” It’s music from the 70s and 80s – stuff like the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Steely Dan. Picture what the soundtrack would be if you were having fun aboard a party boat during the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, and that’s what yacht rock is! It’s also the kind of music that utilized a lot of session musicians. So for that book, titled ’The Yacht Rock Book,’ I interviewed Don Felder of the Eagles, John Oates from Hall and Oates, Kenny Loggins, and other top artists. It’s going to be called ‘The Yacht Rock Book,’ and it will be out in March 2018, through the same publisher that put out ‘Shredders’ – Jawbone Press.
To order Shredders, please visit this link http://a.co/6BD5E5I