An accomplished solo artist with his signature style, a competent band member, an enthralling session player, a master producer, and a crackerjack bitten by the travel bug – Tony MacAlpine is a name that rhymes and resonates in perfect unison with the modern techniques and contemporary trends of the guitars and music acoustics of the present age.
His style is unique, majorly inclined towards classical, rock and fusion. Holding a substantial expertise on his instruments and chords, he sure knows how to squeeze the tones and carve out music planes, in rock as well as metal domains, through guitars and keyboards alike.
Born on 29th August 1960, Tony set his hands on a piano at the age of 5 and moved on to explore and ace the intricacies of guitar chords by the time he was 12. Having started playing at such a young age, it came as no surprise that Tony MacAlpine was introduced as an emerging music sensation in the Guitar Player magazine in an article by Mike Varney in 1984.
Having started learning the tidbits and intricacies of the chords, keys, and strings, Tony MacAlpine made a brisk and promising start to his professional career in the 1980s, launching his debut studio album ‘Edge of Insanity’ featuring Billy Sheehan and Steve Smith in 1986. A year later, he teamed up with George Lynch, Deen Castronova,Atma Anur, and Jeff Watson to produce ‘Maximum Security’ in 1987. Both records received a tremendous applause from the music enthusiasts and critics alike. Not looking back since, he has progressed to ace his domain and has produced some records and releases, solos and joint ventures, to extend his music profile.
Tony MacAlpine is known for the variety of his fusion techniques. He possesses this magical tendency to play complex shreds and pulls. One of his most famous techniques is the eccentric modification of sweep picking into sweep tapping, which he manages to pull through a perfect blend of his skills. Once influenced by the neoclassical metal genre, Tony MacAlpine explored and tapped into a variety of, not only experiencing it through his fingers, but leaving his signature mark on them before he finally landed in to play and ace the rock metal domain.
Besides his natural brilliance and learned expertise, the credit for the nuances and variety of his techniques can also be accredited to the equipment and instruments that he plays. From the Kramer, BC Rich, Mason Bernard, Peavey, Washburn Mercury Series, Carvin, and Ibanez guitars to DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups, and from GHS and Ernie Ball Strings to Peavey, Rockman, and Hughes and Kettner amplifications, Tony MaCalpine’s fingers have befriended an extensive myriad of instruments over time, and a chronology of his releases and discography clearly indicates his passion for experimenting with new equipment and chords.
Some of the most notable highlights on his professional career include ‘Eyes of the World’, ‘Premonition’, ‘Madness’, ‘Evolution’, ‘Chromaticity’ as a solo, ‘Universe’ Live from Oz’, ‘Moon Babies’ with Planet X, ‘Cab Saga’ with the CAB, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Edge of the World’ with Mark Boals, ‘Live at Astoria London’, ‘G3: Live in Denver’, and ‘G3: Live in Tokyo’ with Steve Vai.
Produced by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (Lynch Mob; Flotsam And Jetsam; Prong; KXM), “The Brotherhood” features eleven brand new hard rock tracks from Lynch Mob. This album will surely resonate with long-time fans of the band, as well as those longing for that good old’ hard rock sound and feel. “The Brotherhood” highlights the unique pairing of Oni Logan and George Lynch, and along with Sean McNabb (bass) and Jimmy D’Anda (drums), the band has created a solid offering from start to finish. From the heavy guitar riffs of the opening track “Main Offender” to the melodic album finale ”Miles Away”, Lynch Mob have once again proven they remain on top of their game and at the top of their genre!
On the subject of Lynch Mob’s new record, Oni Logan comments, “After doing quite a few miles together with this latest line-up of Sean McNabb and Jimmy D’Anda, we consider ourselves a pack of wolves, and we came up with the name ‘The Brotherhood’ for the title of the next Lynch Mob album. It’s got more of an adventurous sound in part and maybe a darker, colder sound to it. We are always willing to go farther. We come from the early 90’s, and it’s when we released the first Lynch Mob album which set a sound and course for us. Here we are 27 years later, George and I are still able to keep on stretching. As a player, as a writer, that is very important to us. Otherwise, we would be fooling ourselves and fooling you”.
George Lynch adds, “We wrote this album as a band, and the name of the record reflects what the band is about, and what all my bands have been about since I’ve been a kid. This is my second family. These are my brothers. You go through a lot together and have a lot of experiences together. And that then becomes a part of the music.”
Official release date for “The Brotherhood” is Friday, September 08, 2017.
01. Main Offender
02. Mr. Jekyll and Hyde
03. I’ll Take Miami
04. Last Call Lady
05. Where We Started
06. The Forgotten Maiden’s Pearl
07. Until the Sky Comes Down
08. Black Heart Days
09. Black Mountain
10. Dog Town Mystics
11. Miles Away
12. Until I Get My Gold (bonus track)
I recently spoke to Jon Levin from Dokken about future touring plans and a new Dokken album.
“We’re on the road all of July; we come back to do some US dates, then were back to Europe.” Explains Levin. “As November and December come, and things slow down, we’re going to start writing for a new Dokken record,” I asked if it was going to have the classic Dokken sound or going in a new direction. “It’s definitely going to have the classic Dokken sound. We should have it released in May of 2018 I’m thinking,” says Levin.
When I asked him his opinion about George Lynch stating in my April 2017 interview with him that he stated there’s going to be another Dokken reunion, Levin says he encouraged singer Don Dokken to do the last one. “I encouraged Don to do the reunion last fall. If they do another reunion, I’m perfectly fine with it. It’s Don’s decision to make.” Don Dokken said in a previous interview that he doesn’t see the need for another Dokken reunion as the current lineup is doing fantastic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Francesco Fareri is a name that more people should know. Born on April 15, 1978, Fareri is popularly known for playing shred style guitar. At the age of 17, Francesco Fareri started playing guitar and used the electric option for a start. Most of Francesco’s core fans emanated from guitar-oriented websites in the likes of The Shred Zone, Shredaholic and just to mention a few. Among Francesco influencers in his guitar-playing career are Theodore Ziras, Marco Ferrigno, Gianni Rojatti, Rusty Cooley, Paul Abbott, Michael Angelo Batio, John Petrucci, George Bellas, Eric Clapton, Jason Becker, Steve Vai, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Tony MacAlphine and much more.
In 1999, Francesco Fareri debut instrumental demo came to the spotlight and reviewed on Whiplash and by Guitar 9 . The debut album of this majestic and fast-playing guitarist emanated from the enthusiasm of the feedback of his previous demo. Francesco unleashed his first album in late 2000 of an unequivocal record titled Suspension. The album is totally cascaded on shred instrumental that came to the spotlight in 2001. The personal label of Michael Angelo Batio, MACE, helped to distribute and market the first album both globally and nationally.
On May 2002, Francesco instructional strategies called Arpeggios was released by Chops From Hell at the same time of unleashing his debut album. On March 2004, Intense Guitar Playing’ carried out the same operation for Francesco album. High Shred Techs’ remain the company that helped Fareri in releasing his instructional methods in January 2003.
Around 2003, Fareri took part in a solo guitar performance with Vitalij Kuprij and other guitarists called Michael Harris, Borislav Mitic, Roger Staffelbach and George Bellas. Francesco unleashed his second album in title Forbidden Dimension after a couple of years later. The second album featured Vitalij Kuprij on the piano, Jon Doman as the drummer, Kyle Honea, and Bob Katsionis and unleashed on July 2005 by Lion Music.
In 2007, Francesco released his third album that comes with as gamut of extras such as mp3, photos, a diary, and tabs. The third album called Secrets Within emerged from the high invested ideas of Fareri. In 2011, Fareri released another album entitled Shattered Silence, which is a progressive metal band distributed by Last Debate Records.
The new era of Francesco Fareri’s works started in 2012. Francesco started to re-release of all of his old albums such as Suspension and Forbidden. The re-release of these albums came with innovative styles and backing tracks.
Mechanism Reloaded is the 4th album of Francesco unleashed in 2013. The album featured Jon Finn and Jeff Loomis. The album is being distributed by Power Prog across Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and other places across the globe. Francesco Fareri received an invitation in January 2015 to play at ESP and GHS. The event is slated to last for three days with other artists such as Frank Bello, George Lynch, Alex Skolnick and Gary Holt. The 5th instrumental solo album of this talented guitarist emerged in 2016. This album engineered the invitation Francesco received from ESP Guitars. In a nutshell, Francesco has had a good ride as a professional guitarist nationally and globally.
George Lynch is more than an extraordinary guitar player. He’s a luthier, an activist for causes he firmly believes in plays in multiple bands and has over 20 albums worth of music. His work has spanned over thirty years. Although he was born in Washington, Lynch grew up in sunny California, and it was there that he learned how to play the guitar at only ten years old. Roughly two decades later, in the 1980’s, the band Dokken began to rise, with Lynch as the guitarist, Don Dokken as the vocalist, Mick Brown as the drummer and Jeff Pilson, the bassist. Due to the fame of Dokken, Lynch’s work became well-known. Lynch had been a member of Dokken is what truly started Lynch’s career. Dokken has sold more than ten million albums throughout the world.
In 1990 George Lynch left to form Lynch Mob. George Lynch then released a solo album, entitled Sacred Groove, which was well received by his fans.
In 1994 Lynch and Dokken reunited and released two more albums, while Lynch continued to work on his solo work. Regardless, Lynch and Dokken still had differences that they were not fortunate enough to settle and Lynch again left the band in 1997, returning to Lynch Mob. This time, Lynch took his band in a new direction, and by 1999 Lynch Mob was touring. After the tour, Lynch put the band on hiatus to focus on some other work. In 2002, Lynch brought Lynch Mob back, again, this time with more contemporary music than before.
George Lynch worked with Dokken’s former bassist Jeff Pilson to create Lynch/Pilson, and then he also went on to form The George Lynch Group. In 2008, Lynch Mob released a new album. In 2009, Lynch worked with Raven Quinn for her self-titled album which would be released in 2010. That same year, George Lynch toured with Souls of We and Lynch Mob.
It was in 2013, at a birthday party for Ray Luzier’s son, that band KXM was first thought of. Lynch, along with Ray Luzier and Dug Pinnick decided to label their new band after the names of their full-time bands. K for Korn, X for King’s X and M for Lynch Mob. KXM released their first album in the next year, after hard work from the three members. They released their second album, Scatterbrain, with part of Lynch’s most recent work, on March 17, 2017. Saying George Lynch is a busy man is an understatement. I recently caught up with George to discuss his new KXM album, Lynch Mob, and Dokken.
The KXM album, I think it’s darker and heavier than your first KXM album. Would you agree with that?
I don’t know if it’s heavier, not that it’s contested, but I think some elements might be heavier. I believe that it’s recorded better, sonically or pleasing, you know. It’s got more fidelity and frequency range and depth because we did it in an actual real studio rather than a vacant house that we just built a studio in you know. So sonically it was a better record. A more adventurous album by the mere fact that we already established something with the first record and we built it. Since we created a foundation, we could start building on it and expanding on it a little bit. Go sideways, up and down and so forth and add different influencesa little bit of ska and jazz motives here and there
You guys don’t have a lot of pre-production when you are going in. Do you guys just do it on a whim when you’re in there?
For sure! That’s the whole philosophy behind the KXM. It’s the whole premise of the band, and it’s funny I read some comments from someone yesterday saying that they thought the record was whatever, but they felt that we should spend more time on the next record working on the song
That is the whole defining thing about KXM is that we don’t do that. That’s like telling a jam band well you guys should you know you guys should go in and have well-prepared songs and that’s a jam band that’s the whole point. I try to press that in interviews to people whenever I talk to them
I have other projects that we put more thought into, but we didn’t need to take time in developing an arrangement in songs we have that already
You have many projects going on. I see you with one band then you’re with another then you’re back with Lynch Mob. I don’t know how you do it. And then you make guitars too Yes. I’ve got a project called Abanishment which I’ve been working on for about five years with a gentleman called Haze who is an industrial programmer engineer, fixer, real talented and has worked with Brian Schnell The Prodigy and Zombie things like that. It’s an industrious less project. And Tommy Victor is the singer, and again that’s called Abanishment we just got everything done except we’ve got some vocals to finish up. I’ve got the new Sweet & Lynch record that I just finished writing that last week. We were in the studio on the east coast with Brian Tichy, James Lomenzo, and Michael Sweet and we finished tracking that. We’ll be done tracking tomorrow and finish up the vocals, and that will be done this coming week. Sweet & Lynch 2 or whatever we end up calling it, which I hope we don’t call it that Thirdly, we have a project called Ultra Phonics which is an evolution of Project Nfidelikah which features Angelo Moore from Fishbone on vocals which we replaced with Corey Glover from Living Color.
And that took the rhythm section more with Tower of Power. That record has all been written, and Corey is finishing up the vocals, and we’ll be getting the mix on that, and that record should be coming out soon, I imagine. And our new Lynch Mob is coming out it’s called The Brotherhood that’s coming out, it’s been finished for a while, that will be coming out in June
Any future Dokken records going to be released?
A Dokken Live album was coming out with three new studio tracks on it as well as live DVD. That will be coming out probably at the beginning of 2018. And then Lynch Mob also has a live album and a DVD coming out at some point. So yes, I’ve got a lot of things in the pipeline which is very confusing
It’s confusing to me. I had to get that all off my chest, sorry
The KXM album I know you go in that’s the whole preface to it that you guys don’t have any production. Do you like it that way or do you like it where you guys go in with a plan?
Well, there’s apple and oranges, I like them both. I’ve made a similar approach to other projects where it’s just sort of jam things out, improvise and just capture the moment. The Lynch Mob EPSound Mountain Sessions is done that way. It is done in the same way we did in the studio with KXM in, and a lot of my records are done very quickly. We’re just kind of done working on another secret kind of project right now with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown we’re working on it as we speak and we write a song a day. Now we’re writing it in a controlled atmosphere without the whole band, but it’s still somewhat the same thing. The difference is the full band we are just working off each other, feeding off each other, reacting off each other. Point being is I’m most comfortable being in an improvised atmosphere rather than being in a laboratory situation. I come from that era of jam and the lost art improvisation at least in the rock context work. You don’t see bands do that at all. Even bands that classify themselves as jam bands, I don’t think they are jam bands because to me a real jam band is when you just start something at the top of your head, and everybody picks up on it, and you just take it where ever it leads you. Whether it’s without a safety net, whether it dissolves into whatever or it evolves into something else. That’s a true improvisational jam band environment. And I don’t appreciate the bands that do that. Even the bands that claim to be like Phish or anything like that. They seem to jam like Umphrey’s McGee they’re amazing, and I love them. They improvise within the context of a prearranged composition versus which is everybody actually creating something in the moment. You’re recreating the creative moment, you’re in the creative moment, creating on the spot and the audience is witnessing that. Which sometimes isn’t as exciting as it sounds. I mean if you listen to Band of Gypsies, which a lot of it was spontaneous, Early Led Zeppelin’s Black And White stuff, some of those shows we were just kind of going off jamming a bit. You know it takes some work to listen to that and appreciate it. It’s not an easy sell but challenging both for the player and I’ve heard you use the word evolve and evolving in a lot of interviews on music. How important is growing today with all your projects that you have going on? Without change, we die so you know I think we’re always in a state of flux. I think for me it requires more work to remain in a status. I mean it’s tough for me to put myself back in the 80’s and recreate that. I’m evolving fine, and I’m in a position to, for instance, writing new Dokken stuff. I’ve done a project or two where I was hired to recreate that era of myself and write a song and play in that style with that sound, and that is tough to do. I think asking does it matter is the wrong question it just isn’t inevitable and I think it just depends on who you are. I mean I know a lot of my friends do what I do and they’re a different animal than I am. They’re comfortable doing what they’ve always done it’s not a right or wrong thing. I don’t think AC/DC can change any at this point and all of a sudden start playing an influence to any of the rap metal.
Because I’m not locked into anything with like with the mega-millionaire success you know I’m not trapped. Which is a little bit of a good and bad thing. I have the freedom of flexibility to do go a lot of different directions to be nimble and be flexible. It’s not the smartest thing. I’m marketing and selling myself as an object that you sold, a marketable product; they can go and just market that. But I don’t worry about that you know,? I go out and do just the best I can do honestly, creatively, genuinely and just hope it takes me in the right direction. For me, it’s an adventure. Otherwise, it’s just a job. Recreating what I did in the last 30 years was not just enticing or appealing to me at all.
Not saying that what I’ve been involved with in the past is not valid not to say that at all, not denigrating my work or anybody else’s work for thirty years ago. You know I’m still just trying to be Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton and Cream I mean I just try to live in the shoes of my hero’s and just try to fill them a little bit Many people include you in the best of the best.
You know the other thing about the guitar aspect is you are aware that I again use that word evolve to try to describe my philosophy or my view about that is you know over the years I’ve sort of transitioned I think from as a younger man wanting to be you know the fastest you know the loudest, the shreddiest or whatever and you know which is a natural thing as you get older just to sort of think about compositions actually as a more global historically significant thing and gratifying thing than you know being the fastest guy on the block which if that stays behind me, that’s okay. I mean I have my little tool bag, and I do what I do, and I have a style, and I’m very comfortable with that, and I try to learn new things and evolve as a better player but on the same note what more interests me is the bigger picture which is a song and creating a band that matters. I mean building Rage Against the Machine says more to me than doing you know a kind of shreddy solo that’s guitar players do. Or writing a song that stands the test of time you know writing Imagine. Could you imagine writing Imagine? I mean it’s writing a prayer for the world, come on!
Your CD Shadow Train, when it came out, I knew it there was a story behind it. Are you ever going to make the movie that you said you were going to about it? Oh, the film’s done, been working on it for eight years. It’s essentially finished. It’s been finished for a few years now. The struggle that we’re having getting it out there is recently we’ve had some fans who have taken it upon themselves who pick up the initiative and say look we’ve got to get these done and are helping us get it out there. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the complicated inner workings of getting the film distributed it’s a monolithic task. And you know I’m used to doing records obviously which you know have their obstacles and challenges they’re nothing like a film which seems to have been cursed from the beginning. It’s just like moving many mountains and rebuilding them again and rebuilding them again; it’s just insane. So having said that, it will come out, and I can say that with some certainty that it will be before the end of the year
I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out; You’re very active in a lot of different political/social movements., Do you like having those deep conversations on your social/political issues when you’re talking for an interview on a record?
Well, no, of course, I don’t mind. I think it’s important to talk about things that matter, all of it. I’ve been blessed with you know I have the luxury of having a small soap box and a megaphone because of my music career so that I feel that I have a compulsion and an obligation to talk about things that matter. A responsibility to address issues that affect all of us and I think that’s what you know rock & roll did when I was a kid. You know I mean there was serious revolution going on in this country and the world, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement and the Environmental Movement and millions of people were protesting and rallying and you know the country was polarized at a critical time and music would help litigate on a lot of those issues and mainly a reflection of the culture and reality at the time and lent power to the voices of a lot of people on both sides. So music has always played an integral part of that you know the way people see themselves and manage ourselves, and I think it should continue to so you know I try to play a small part in that. Not saying I’m superb at it but I’ve got to try you know.
Take some of the hot topics, environmental stories like the Dakota Access Pipeline, something you feel strongly about. Is that something you would try to get your opinion out there and get a movement against that? Well absolutely! I was at the Seti camp my wife and me were there for a week. It was a very profound experience, and I’m very passionate about it. You know the reason in that particular case, that was such an important issue or say it was because apparently money won and people lost is because it was revealing in a very transparent fashion to people about what was really at stake. So FOX News couldn’t lie about it because of jobs, it doesn’t provide jobs. What it was really about was a handful of banks and industrial billionaires and hedge funds. You know people who are millionaires and multimillionaires and multimillionaires becoming billionaires. Individuals with you know that financially have the luxury of having their money work for them and the rest of us have to suffer and the environment suffers, and environment means we suffer selectively. Well, these people are insulated from suffering because they have so much money they can protect themselves. They have great health care, and they can live in you know glass towers and filter their air and eat pure food, and people wait on them and so forth. You know the rest of us don’t have that luxury and they don’t care. So you know it exposes the capitalistic side of a system that is uncaring and uncompassionate and very harmful to most people. You know 60% of the wealth and assets on the planet are owned by forty families in the world I mean that’s inequality on a historically precedent scale. And that is the basis of all of our problems, inequality. I mean if you’ve got to simplify things make them a blanket issue really, I would say that all your environmental problems, your health concerns, your unemployment issues, just about any issues you can run down you can trace it back to inequality being corporate. So you fix that you fix a whole lot of other things just as a trickle down effect.
Yes, Dakota was one of my proudest and saddest moments in my life. I mean to share that struggle with 7,000 to 9,000 other people and you know, the Lakota Sioux and Standing Rock Tribe, as well as 250 other tribes that were represented there along with all the other supporters. Including the Veterans who came in for us and that changed everything. The real war is getting in the face of these rental cops and local police who are just working for the pipeline company working for Dapple. You know I saw a couple of cops just take their badges off and cross the line. But it was a very profound and very scary experience. I mean these are militarized the police, they’re no joke. You know you’re up in the middle of North Dakota out in an hour from Bismark you’re in the midst of nowhere and these guys are using you know armor, armored Humvee’s with sonic weaponry and automatic AR 15’s with bullets and drones and planes and connected to wires and tanks you know fully swatted out with gas masks and concussion devices. If you’re willing to use that kind of militarized weaponry against our own citizens who are basically fighting for all of us and fighting for the earth is disgusting. And you know trace it back of course to we have to mention Indigenous Rights and Treaties I mean again, the Treaty of Fort Laramie explicitly, a grant made of Americans this land that now is covered in the same as in dispute which is not in dispute but a Treaty which is a contract. So when a country built on rule of law supposedly a contract is basically scripture. And this country can basically say fuck you because you know what, you have resources that we want to steal and we’re just going to take them regardless of what we signed and what we agreed to because you have what we want. Resources are the basis for you know our capitalistic economy where all the money flows through the pump and there’s no inherent cost put on those increases you know on the books. They call them externalizing externalities. A fancy way of putting the cost of extracting resources that do cost all of us something. I mean and externalizing them so they are not reflected in the cost of doing business. So it’s a complicated issue but to really keep it simple you know do know harm or do as little harm as possible and make things that most benefit most people all the time and that’s the right thing to do. Keep it simple.
Have you ever considered running for public office?
No, I’m kind of busy right now. You know, listen, when I lived in Cave Creek Arizona for 13 years, I was involved a little bit in things like political things on a very local level thinking globally and acting locally, city council and so forth. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I thought band politics were ugly, oh my God! I mean literally, I witnessed fistfights in the parking lot, the silliest shit, crazy! So you know I’d rather influence people through my art, my music you know maybe write a book someday you know if I ever have the time to sit down and you know to apply myself and maybe with some help write something that matters and not some rock autobiographical silliness you know. Not the Bobby Blotzer book. Write something about something that matters.
I wanted to get to Mr. Scary Guitars. When did you decide you were going to start Luthering your guitars? Are you doing this in conjunction with ESP or is this strictly all you?
No, it had nothing to do with ESP. Well actually, I started, listen the two go back in time. I was younger. I gave guitar lessons on the side to sort of supplement my income, and I would like a lot of occasions to assemble guitars out of you know a bolt on necks and bodies and throw some parts on it for my students, and of course, I do that for myself as well. My entire guitar or many of my earlier guitars were bodies and necks that I picked up at Mighty Mite and bolted them together. You know the tiger guitar costs me $40.00. $20 for the body and $20 for the necks and I got the parts for free, and my friend painted it in his garage, and so that got me started. And then 6 or 7 years ago I set up shop at ESP, and they gave me a room there, and I started taking my signature models of ESPs and tearing them down and rebuilding them. I learned a lot doing that, and those were my first Mr. Scary Guitars. They were modified GL 56’s and Super V’s built on an ESP platform. Then I completely moved away from that. Everything I’ve made in the last six years is basically from scratch, no C NC, everything is pin routed. I’ve got a pin router that used to belong to Leo Fender from the GL factory and I’m proud of that.
You’re doing this from your house, aren’t you?
Well, I do a lot of the work at my house but I don’t have room for machines at my place, so I work at a shop that is not my shop that I rent and I’m able to come in and use tools when I need to but all cosmetic work and finish and stuff is done at my house, yes. I mean literally, I spray nitro in my back yard, I hang a body of the guitar with a clothes hanger on a tree you know and when I’m done and send it to you-you know it’s probably got bugs and lint and leaves in it.
I saw some of your pictures on Instagram about that.
Yes, it’s all pretty much learning as I go. I’ve taken luthier lessons on and off the last 5 or 6 years and learning more and more as the time goes on and changing up my approach and designs slowly
Are you still going to carry on with ESP as an endorsee? Oh absolutely! They’re gracious enough to allow me to do this. It’s extraordinary. It’s a company I’ve been endorsing for over 30 years and a great guitar company. But you know I make very few instruments. I probably go at the most, ten a year. It’s a lot of time to do, and so it’s not anything that’s going to threaten ESP it’s a different animal. You know ten made. It was interesting though ESP did do a run of 300 of my Tiger which is one of my models for a much more affordable price and they’re great. Sound great, they look great. Obviously, you know they’re Korean made but still high quality. Not hand made or anything but at a much cheaper price point
Are you using the same rig for each of your different bands? Or do you just change it up? I mean Dokken, then KXM and Sweet & Lynch?
You know I change everything up with every band all of the time. There’s no set anything, and I love that. I just love experimenting with gear and swapping heads out. I mean it’s kind of stressful in some ways, and I just don’t have one thing that I use, and you know it probably would be nice to have that some day but I’m always swapping heads out and swapping pedals out and changing up guitars. It makes it fun for me and challenges me and interests me. You know sometimes I think I’m going forward and then I’ll end up you know after a whole bunch of experimenting I’ll go after all these years I went back and use my amp I used you know back in the Dokken days with Lynch Mob days and it sounds better in everything so I’ll go back to that. Maybe it’s just the exercise in enjoying you know, actually just enjoy trying different gear but I don’t know. Maybe I’m evolving; maybe I’m not with my tone. It’s fun because I’m trying anyways.
You guys put three tracks on the new Dokken DVD project that’s coming out next year you said? Right, yes
Have you guys completely shut down doing any more reunion shows? Is that all done and over with?
Oh no. We’re talking about doing something possibly in 2018. Don’t want to say what yet because you know nothing is set in stone. We’re talking about it. I think something might happen next year.
There’s a lot of people hoping that you guys will do some dates in the US. Yes, you definitely would have sold them out Right
I know what we can expect from you in 2017. Are you going to be touring with Lynch Mob? Which albums are you going to be touring with? KXM, Sweet & Lynch or just one of the bands you are this year?
Primarily Lynch Mob is my touring band, and we’re walloping it starting in June through the fall
What musical direction did you go with the new Lynch Mob record?
It’s along the lines of Rebel. I don’t know if you heard the Rebel Record, but I think an extraordinary Lynch Mob effort you know it came out two years ago. It’s right along those lines. You know we always try to kick back into the Wicked Sensation days and always make sure you know that that’s in the mix a little bit, but you know again it’s 25 years later so you know we’re not that anymore so yes. This album is adventurous but still, that blues based hard rock with a trippy element and with Oni (Logan) doing his magical poetry and you know one of the greatest rock singers on the planet, unique obviously, he’s got his ways. Nobody else sounds like Oni. Yes, we’ve got a chemistry here.
How does it feel to know you’ve inspired so many guitar players to pick up the instrument?
Well, it makes you feel good. It’s hard for me to appreciate it in a truer sense in that you know I can’t feel that. For me, I’m on the inside of it. To me, I’m just a guy playing like everybody else and trying to make a living and trying to make music and just you know in the middle of the process. I don’t see it that way. It’s interesting I met Jeff Beck for the second time just very briefly in the lobby of a hotel somewhat recently, and you know the way some people have talked to me about expressing gratitude that I’ve influenced them and so forth and it’s hard for me to get my head wrapped around that. I felt that same kind of dynamic with Jeff Beck when I met him. I was so in awe and almost near tears and shaking. I didn’t know what to say and here’s this guy who is a giant in my life you know, influentially you know guitar wise and I’m standing right next to him, and it’s just you know. You could see it in his eyes he was just you know, he needed to get in his cab and get to where he was going you know. I mean he was just friendly and polite, and it was like, okay good meeting you, gotta go! You know he doesn’t understand the fact that you know Truth was the first album I bought and took my lawn mowing money and walked two miles to Mom & Pops Record store and brought it back and put it on my dads tv console stereo and plugged my guitar into the headphone jack and jammed along with it for a whole year, trying to be Jeff Beck. You knew and been an enormous influence on me throughout my entire playing life you know. He doesn’t understand that nor should he.
Do you think that with the current state of the music scene, what is your opinion about that?
I believe that it’s an excellent time. I feel that there’s so much out there for people to pick from and choose from it’s phenomenal. I mean and guitar playing is at such a high level right now. I mean these younger generations are just taking it to a point where you know it’s beginning to explore places that people have never gone before, it’s just fascinating. And the music itself too, you can pick a genre and find so much great music in every genre. People are just pushing the envelope in all directions, so I think it’s very gratifying and satisfying. It’s a little challenging to pick through I mean from this thing back in the day when I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know. Now it’s like there are thousands of bands. Picking through everything is hard. It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know.
I saw a video of you at NAMM 2017, and there was that 11-year-old kid that you were playing before. Oh geese, yes one of the things is I don’t think he was human. I believe he was a robot
A lot of these YouTube kids are now; they’re just 4,5 years old. They’re picking up and playing parts of music of Bach and Beethoven, and it’s incredible
Yes, some of these younger people their first influence might have been Yngwie. That’s their first influence you know. They start with that.
Jon Levin is the current guitarist for Dokken. He was involved with music very early on in life. He began playing piano at age 4, trumpet by age 7, and guitar at age 9. Instead of having formal lessons, Levin played along with his favorite musicians including Randy Rhoads, Eric Clapton, and George Lynch. He played in a club band called Devias at age 19 in the Long Island, New York area and then auditioned for and joined the German Band Warlock at age 22. When the grunge scene took over in the early 1990s, Levin took a break from being a musician because he wasn’t interested in that type of music. Levin went to Law School and moved to the West Coast to become an entertainment lawyer. In his capacity as an entertainment lawyer, Levin has served as legal counsel, working with Jim Paidas of Paidas Management, on a myriad of licensing programs; some of which include Orange County Choppers, Dog the Bounty Hunter,American Hot Rod and Rockstalgia
In 1998, Levin got a call from Jeff Pilson, Dokken’s bassist, who asked him to play some solos on a demo. He anticipated playing on a solo album for Pilson, but when he eventually arrived at the studio, Dokken in its entirety was there. Levin played on a Dokken track called ‘Dancin’ known as ‘The Irish Song’, which originally was supposed to be included on the Erase the Slate album but was later included on the Long Way Home import instead. However, Levin didn’t join the group full time until late 2003. He’s praised by many hardcore Dokken fans for his George Lynch-influenced style of playing.
Throughout the late 80’s, Levin had built himself a solid career as a heavy metal guitarist, most notably with the German Band Warlock. When Nirvana hit he saw the writing on the wall. Levin graduated in 1996 and by 1997 had his own practice in Century City. He used his old music contacts to build his client list, specializing in entertainment contract law, as well as the occasional divorce case because, well, rock stars get divorced a lot.
He still played guitar in his spare time, but his old music career was the furthest thing from his mind. So far, in fact, that when one of his clients, a member of Dokken, invited him down to the studio to “play a few solos,” he showed up in a suit and tie. “I’d been in court that day, I think.” Levin had assumed that he would be helping out his friend and clients solo project. Instead, he was greeted at the studio door by one of his childhood idols, Don Dokken himself.
Growing up playing in bar bands on Long Island, Levin had studied the solos of Dokken’s original guitarist, George Lynch. So despite his nerves and Dokken’s deliberately vague directions, he nailed the audition and was invited to perform with the band at a Fourth of July concert in Dallas just a few weeks later and it was a sold-out show. There were 20,000 people in attendance. Despite the success of that gig, Levin opted to go back to his law practice. “I was getting my business going and I didn’t want to let that go,” he explains.
He’s been with the band ever since, enjoying the career resurgence they’ve had since their 2003 album, ‘Hell to Pay.’ Levin himself, who now co-writes most of the bands material, had a strong hand in shaping the record. “I wanted us to do a Dokken-sounding record,” he explains; a concept Don Dokken was slow to commit to, but has since fully embraced.
In addition, Jon Levin and Lynch Mob shared some moments together. Lynch Mob released several albums, but the most popular will always be Wicked Sensation in 1990. Dokken, on the other hand, had more releases and live albums, but neither was able to reach the popularity they had when they were together. With that being said, in 1993, they gave it another try. It was a disaster. They also put out an album that Don claimed was completely controlled by Lynch and was an act to ruin the Dokken name. Lynch claimed that Don refused to modernize his music this was an attempt to put the Dokken name to rest because the album ‘Shadow Life’ was terrible and poorly received. In 1997, they broke up again when George walked out on a European Tour.
Both went their separate ways again and recorded materials that have done very little to the Heavy Metal landscape, but their names come up in a big way a couple of years ago when they decide to do a song together at Rocklahoma. It went well, however, one song doesn’t make a band. Jon Levin is a man wearing two caps, namely an incredible guitarist as well as a lawyer.
Neoclassical metal is influenced by classical music and heavily dependent upon mastering complex techniques and forms. Over the past few decades, there are a limited number of neoclassical guitarists that have influenced the music industry. Here is a list of the ten best neoclassical guitarists of the modern era.
Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Yngwie J. Malmsteen gained popularity as a neoclassical metal guitarist in 1980. A new force in heavy metal, he released his first solo album called Rising Force in 1984. This was the catalyst to his success as musicians because despite being only the first song published by Malmsteen, Rising Force went on to win the best rock album for Guitar Player Magazine and was nominated for a Grammy. The success was not short – lived but only the beginning of an incredible career. In 2009, Time Magazine rated Yngwie Malmsteen as amongst the ten greatest electric guitar players of all time.
Uli Jon Roth
Uli Jon Roth is a German musician who was one of the early adopters of the neoclassical style of music in the metal genre. He gained momentum and influence as the lead guitarist for the iconic band Scorpions. He also had a stint at a solo career before joining the Scorpions during which he composed four symphonies and two concertos. This creative time in his career is said to be the defining moment of his legacy as a neoclassical metal guitarist since his work was heavily inspired by advanced compositional elements from European classical music.
Joe Stump is an American musician and composer. Apart from having a solo career, he also plays with Exorcism, Raven Lord and the world-famous metal band HolyHell. His musical style is predominantly inspired by Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
Chris Impellitteri is the founder and lead guitarist of his namesake band – Impellitteri. Although his music is not commercially popular, he has a large following amongst innate metal lovers. His neoclassical style of music takes the form of fast shredding guitar techniques, traditional metal screaming vocals and speedy rhythm. This affinity towards shredding has led Guitar World Magazine to name Chris Impellitteri as one of the fastest guitarists of all times, one rank ahead of Yngwie Malmsteen.
Michael Romeo started the progressive metal band Symphony X. His music as a guitarist is neoclassical in style because as a child, he began formal music lessons at the tender age of 10. Guitar World ranked Michael Romeo #91 in their ‘100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of all Time’ list.
George Lynch has a series of successful platinum albums featuring his excellent skills as a lead guitarist. The albums by the band Dokken resulted in Lynch gaining a reputation for being the closest thing as a guitar hero. He was named the ‘Top 10 Metal Guitarists of all Time’ by Gibson.
The band Megadeth requires no introduction to the heavy metal fan. The fact that Marty Friedman was the lead guitarist for Megadeth for almost a full decade is nothing short of a reflection of his extraordinary abilities. Marty came from humble beginnings where he was mostly self-taught, and as news of his music spread through his small town, people would come in flocks to hear him play from neighboring villages. Western and eastern music influences his neoclassical style of music.
Ritchie Blackmore is an English guitarist and songwriter who was also a founding member of the iconic band Deep Purple. The legendary track ‘Smoke on the Water’ is till date considered being a classic and a reflection of Blackmore’s fondness for illuminating classical elements of music into modern rock and metal. His work with Deep Purple led to Blackmore being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2016.
Randy Rhoads had a wildly successful, yet short-lived career due to his untimely death in a plane crash that also resulted in the passing of the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. During his short time as a heavy metal guitarist, Randy was a significant influence on the neoclassical scene of music and was placed on numerous “Greatest Guitarist” list. His skills were valued so highly that Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot brought him on board to play with them. Today, one can’t help but invoke a sense of “what- if’s” while referring to Randy Rhoads due to the tragic end to his unbelievably talented career.
Tony MacAlpine began playing the guitar at the age of 12 and studied classical music as a child. Years of classical influence as a child led to him being recognized as a role model in the neoclassical guitar scene due to his highly advanced shred techniques. He has been described to have the outstanding technical ability when Jason Ankeny from All Music asserted MacAlpine to be a ‘virtuoso.’
Dedicated to the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Guitarist!