By Andrew Catania
It took only a year of serious training before Jeff Loomis won Wisconsin’s Guitar Wars contest at the age of 16. Although Loomis got his first guitar when he was around nine years old, he only started practicing with passionately at 15.
Today, Loomis is an American guitarist who has become famous globally for his skills as a former lead guitarist for Nevermore -a progressive metal band that he was a part of from 1994 to 2011.
As a young teen, Loomis took inspiration from great artists like Marty Friedman, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Brian May. Before finding a career in music, he drifted from one cover band to another and played with three death metal bands before joining more established bands.
After his victory in Wisconsin, Loomis took the plunge and auditioned to be the lead guitarist for the iconic thrash metal band, Megadeth. To his disappointment, he was told that one day he would make a great guitarist, however, was far too young for the band as a sixteen-year-old. In 2005, the prediction came true in a surreal manner when Megadeth invited Loomis to come join them as a lead guitarist. However, Jeff declined in order to continue working on his solo album.
His path to success was not direct. After playing with numerous unknown bands and being rejected by Megadeth at 16, he refused to accept rejection and joined Sanctuary in 1990. To his disappointment, Sanctuary broke up 4 months later due to differences with the record company representing them. Starting in 1991, he spent three years conceptualizing a new band called Nevermore with some of the former members of Sanctuary. At last, he was rightly offered the lead guitar position in Nevermore in 1994.
Not only was Loomis the main songwriter for Nevermore, but he also set the precedence for the sound Nevermore adopted as a signature sound using 7 string guitars that are still being used till date. On April 21, 2011, he and Van Williams left Nevermore, citing personal and musical differences with Warrel Dane.
During his time with Nevermore, Loomis often focused on personal growth. For example, Loomis took some time off in 2005 during which he decided to record a solo album, stating, “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time… It will be like a Jason Becker/Marty Friedman kind of thing.”
The solo album, titled Zero Order Phase was released in 2008, featuring guest solos from Ron Jarzombek and Pat O’Brien amongst other artists.
Since leaving Nevermore, it was announced that Loomis joined melodic death metal band – Arch Enemy – on November 17th, 2014. Arch Enemy will be releasing a live DVD/CD on March 31st, 2017. Arch Enemy is also working on a new record. With Loomis as an integral member of the band – we can only hold our breaths till we can catch hold of the teaser because we’re sure it’ll be legendary.