Tag Archives: guitar world

Tony MacAlpine – A Modern Music Virtuoso

By Andrew Catania 

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.

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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.

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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.

Check Tony out @ http://www.tonymacalpine.com/

Joe Stump Discusses His New Band Tower Of Babel

By Andrew Catania

Without music, humanity is far much doomed. Music is our channel to express how we feel without having to hit someone or things. We allow music through the words and beats to hit so hard without feeling the pain but by opening up our true selves.  Joe William Stump had a surprise for the world. Music was his cup of tea as he grew up listening to Yngwie Malmsteen. This would significantly affect him as he plucked his first guitar at the age of 10. With the inspiration of Jimi Hendrix, he continued practicing on the guitar and soon joined Berklee College of Music.

Berklee College of Music exposed Joe stump to classical music which in turn made him a composer and influenced his style of play. He fell in love with the bass guitar and guitar. He finally made it to the big screen in 1988 and as we all say the rest is history. He has managed to release major solo projects such as Guitar Dominance, Night of the Living Shred and Supersonic Shred Machine. With these successful projects, Stump has managed to change the perception of a guitar as an instrument. He has been able to make it possible for us to relate with each beat he makes with the guitar. The emotions conveyed are made aware and definite to the audience every time he plays.

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Joe has made significant strides in his career as he has appeared in music magazines and publications. Some of the publications he has appeared in include; Guitar Shop, Guitar School, Young Guitar, Guitar World among others. It is every dream for an artist to appear in such publications as they grow their fan base. He has also made performances with rock legends like his childhood music icon Yngwie Malmsteen, Bon Jovi and Tony MacAlpine among others. We can say that he has achieved all that a guitarist and composer can ask for. But yet he keeps on taking it to the next level.

He currently plays for the Raven Lord, Hollyhell, and Exorcism as the first lead guitarist. He has also managed to be signed by more than one music label. The labels are Lion Music and Magic Circle Music.  With this kind of success on your shoulders, I wonder what you would do to give back to those who made you great. As for Joe Stump, he gives back by spotting talent in the young and making sure that they don’t get consumed by the hunger of worldly pressures. This is what a great icon does. To help, teach more and at the same time introduce fresh style into the music world.

Joe Stump has made it big not by sitting and saying that he can do that or that. He worked for it tirelessly for the past 57 years to only remain relevant but also to be the star he is today. His journey through music is a clear example of how hard work, determination, and focus can lead you to a path of success and push away destruction out of your way. Joe Stump career should serve as a teaching to the young and old that dreams and passion should not be abandoned but watered till they mature.  I spoke to Joe about his new band, Tower of Babel.

 

How would you describe the new album both musically and lyrically? 

JS: The music walks the line between old school hard rock and classic European power metal with healthy doses of each heard throughout the record.   As with everything I do it`s a product of the combination of all my influences, in this case, the primary and most obvious one being Ritchie Blackmore and his work with Rainbow and Deep Purple. Anybody familiar with my stuff knows`s both Blackmore, and Yngwie Malmsteen are my two biggest influences and you can, of course, Yngwie `s influence in there as well,  as there`s some tracks on the record reminiscent of the early Rising Force stuff.  I`m also a huge fan of the old Michael Schenker group stuff as well as the first batch of Scorpions records with Uli Jon Roth so that can hear in there as well. I also love Rata Blanca from Argentina and Walter Giardino`s songwriting and guitar work, we come from the same school of playing and share a lot of the same influences.

What was your goal with making this album?

JS: After my last solo /all instrumental record I wanted to make a more band/song oriented record with vocals, don`t get me wrong it`s still very guitar driven. But overall a nice mix of killer guitar work showcased inside the melodic classic hard rock and metal tunes. Also with this record, I was leaning more so in the traditional hard rock direction and less in the metal vein.

Any particular influences towards lyrics or music subject?

JS: Myself and vocalist Csaba Zvekan work and write well together and we`re both massive fans of the classic Dio era Rainbow period. So kind of our modern take on that and the type of partnership that both Dio and Blackmore had about their approach to composing together.  It’s not too deep conceptually going just channeling my influences and combining my guitar work inside very musical and listenable classic hard rock and metal tunes. I wanted it to appeal to my core fanbase who of course buy my records to hear me play guitar but also to fans of classic hard rock and European power metal as well.

How does this differ from previous releases?

JS:  Well my last several records were solo all instrumental versions so as I mentioned previously I felt it was time to do a more band oriented type of thing and I wanted to do something brand new not just a rehash of my previous band Joe Stump`s Reign Of Terror.

What have the new members brought to the band?

 

All excellent players and they all did a killer job on the record. Their approach to the music and execution of their parts on the tracks was spot on. Drummer Mark Cross is a powerhouse and drives the band; Maestro Mistheria added a great old school touch with his playing and keyboard orchestrations and textures that enhance the tracks. Nicola Angileri is a monster bass player, and he does some very cool unison lines with me throughout the record he also has an excellent sense of time and provides a strong foundation. Csaba Zvekan brought to tunes up to another level both melodically and lyrically. His voice is compelling and suits the music perfectly.
Tower of Babel is:

Joe Stump– all guitars

Csaba Zvekan– all lead and backing vocals

Mark Cross – Drums

Maestro Mistheria -keyboards

Nicola Angileri– bass

Official website and social network site:

https://www.facebook.com/JoeShredlordStump

https://www.facebook.com/tobbandt/

http://joestump.com/

 

Is Eddie Van Halen The Greatest Rock Guitarist Since Hendrix?

By Andrew Catania

The history of heavy metal rock will forever be highlighted by a select few who managed to achieve far greater heights than their contemporaries. Jimi Hendrix being one, with the sheer brilliance and expertise par excellence, had no boundaries or restrictions to limit his potential and the magic he was capable of with the guitar.

With no rules to abide by and no sequences to follow – he was unstoppable, with an unwavering courage to explore and carve musical planes that have never been heard of before. Jimi Hendrix made it totally worth it, to be considered as the undisputed God of the heavy metal genre and escalated legendary milestones to a whole new height, making it even more challenging for his successors to touch that level of greatness.

It is quite refreshing to note that the post-Hendrix era is populated with a number of names that took it upon them to take forward the ‘Hendrix legacy’ and took pride in following the path laid by the eternal maestro of the heavy metal world. Eddie Van Halen, for instance, is one of those few names who made their own signature mark on the music scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

The mastery he had held over his personalized six-stringed instruments ensured that it was him that controlled how his guitar would work and what he squeezed out of the chords, not the other way round. So, it all makes perfect sense if we say that the musical planes and the untapped realms that he ventured into was not a coincidence, rather his own brilliance, forte and excellence.

An analysis of his notes and techniques is a strong validation of his great and intricate attention to details. Fast, furious and with an extreme audacity to make your ear drums experience new heights of musical ecstasy, Eddie Van Halen himself compares his playing style to a racing car, going down the  road, blitzing though everything that comes in between.

Just like Hendrix – the rock maestro, Van Halen too had little to stop him when it came to playing the whammy bars and gave a whole new meaning to the heavy metal rock through ‘Panama’, ‘Eruption’ and ‘Hot for Teacher’. His notes made a profound impact that was anything but distortion. Perfectly planned, and intricately carved, every single fluctuation and nuance still makes an impression as if a farfetched fantasy is coming to life.

His musical virtuoso is a depiction of his uniqueness, and entails his signature master moves, as in, the dive bombs, fun licks, finger tapping and pinching on the natural harmonics. He was not just a pioneer or inventor of a new style; he made them popular and inspired many young artists and musicians that took pride in following his lead. The way he used effects pedals, hot-rodded amps and tricking out guitars, it escalated the set bars and ensured that hard rock still had a lot in it to be explored.

It was all worth it, for apart from countless other awards and accolades, including the Grammy Award for ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ (1992), American Music Award for ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ (1991), MTV Music Awards for ‘Jump’ (1984), ‘Finish What Ya Started’ (1989), and two awards for ‘Right Now’ in 1992, Eddie Van Haken was declared as the ‘Greatest Guitarist of all Times’ in a poll conducted by Guitar World Magazine.

More than the awards and accolades that mark his musical career, it is his inclination to develop his signatures taps, his understanding of the strings and chords and the perfect chemistry between his  finger tips and his instruments, that enabled him to produce not just a piece of music but a real treat to cherish for a lifetime. It is his successful attempts at turning the impossible into possible with a mere finger tap that justifies that if anyone could be rendered as a successor to the ’Hendrix legacy, Eddie Van Halen almost makes it to that honor.

Vinnie Moore – The Man Behind The Strings

By Andrew Catania

Eight solo albums, five collaborations, 6 UFO albums, 2 Hot Licks’ guitar video clinics, one virtuoso… Of course, we are referring to Vinnie Moore, the “Vin Man” as we the fans know him! He has accomplished quite a lot during his 30+ years of performance, but one wonders: who’s the man behind the strings? Well, to give you a proper answer in a few words is not fair to his career, so let’s take a look at those 30+ years of speed, accuracy, articulation and advanced lead guitar techniques!

He was only 12 when he got his first guitar; a teenage boy who looked up to the great guitar legends of that moment. Records by the Beatles like their eponymous double album from 1968 (from which he has covered While My Guitar Gently Weeps many times), Jeff Beck’s ‘Wired‘, Led Zeppelin’s ‘IV Zoso’, Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head and ‘Burn, Queen’s ‘A Night At The Opera, Van Halen’s self-titled album and many other bands; all of them were among his early influences. His first guitar was a Teisco and made him, in the Vin Man’s words, a “guitar freak,” always improving and crafting his unique voice through his youth.

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After taking guitar lessons with a private instructor when he was 13, he started to put his skills to work by joining his first band, doing jam sessions and covers of their favorite songs in a typical setup of drums, bass, vocals and two guitars. From there on, he started to work on his ideas buying a 4-track tape recorder and experimented with many fragments, which later evolved into songs, showing his proficiency on the six strings.

By 1985 Vinnie Moore already was a prolific composer. He decided to pursue an opportunity and sent some of his recorded music, in the form of a seven song demo tape, to Guitar Player Magazine, and it caught the attention of Mike Varney and his Spotlight column in said magazine. It turns out that Varney was also owner and producer of Shrapnel Records, and Vinnie’s talent didn’t go unnoticed to him. This event allowed him to get into a Pepsi commercial (see video below) thanks to a Los Angeles agency that saw Vinnie’s picture and submission to Guitar Player; and even when it showed his hands only, it made his sound reach a national audience, getting recognition as a new emerging talent from Delaware!

In this commercial, we can hear an accomplished 23 years old guitar player showing his alternate picking technique: clean, accurate and fast. We can hear every note during the scalar passages, the arpeggios, and the pentatonic licks being perfectly well played along the video. Also remarkable was his sense of climax during the finishing sequence opening the last Pepsi bottle where he pulled off a scalar running which ended up at a high E vibrato, a very neo classical musical approach that he would go deeper into in his first album, but we are just about to get there!

Following the repercussion of the Pepsi commercial, Vinnie Moore and Mike Varney started to work together in Shrapnel Records to conceive the Vin Man’s first album: ‘Mind’s Eye.’ The album was released in January 1987 and represented a milestone for virtuoso guitar playing of the moment for various reasons. With all the neoclassical hype at the moment, it is hard to stand out among a great number of imitators since it became so popular back then, and yet the Vin Man managed to pull out one single record that earned a deserved recognition by the specialized press, the critics, and other guitar personalities. Although there are some obvious references to the neo-classical style regarding harmony, chord progressions, harmonic minor scale and phrasing, we can hear progressive rock riffs (In Control’s opening, Saved by a Miracle for example), preference for modal harmony and a tendency to put melodic phrasing above non-sense runs all over the neck that were so popular back then (Daydream, Hero Without Honor).

All these innovative elements were combined to bring a new, different and unique sound approach to the guitar world. Vinnie just did the alchemy and made an album that is real modern guitar history for all generations that came after. Shrapnel Records opened a new world to this 23-year-old guitar virtuoso. By 1988, with the release of Time Odyssey, he took his game another level up by emulating and surpassing the success of his previous album, also parting from Shrapnel Records. The Vin Man’s experiments on the progressive, futuristic and melodic approach of virtuoso playing went even further to craft this masterpiece!

The opening Morning Star fusion of classical and passionate melodic main theme’s phrasing, progressive cuts like Prelude/Into The Future or Message In a Dream (in collaboration with Jordan Rudess!), George Harrison’s tribute to While My Guitar Gently Weeps, beautiful rock ballads like As Time Slips By that showed Vinnie’s musical sensibility…the whole album was the refined version of himself as a musician, an accomplished composer that also has the technical ability. This time Vinnie would go for a total reinvention of himself.

By 1991 Vinnie Moore was a worldwide recognized musician and guitar artist, and his career would take a major turn with the Meltdown album. Vin decided to experiment with a groove-infused rock and roll style that became his signature for the following years, combining powerful riffs, virtuosic playing and an even more melodic tendency over the quick runs than his previous albums. The transition from metal to slow, mellow songs were smooth and remarkable (Meltdown, Earthshaker, When Angels Sing, Check It Out, Coming Home). And by 1996, when the grunge and alternative rock reign was at its best, Vinnie, once again proving himself a musician over a guitar virtuoso decided to go for an elegant instrumental approach for his next album, Out of Nowhere, which brought us memorable cuts that reflected Moore’s maturity as an artist: With the Flow, Echoes, Thunderball, Time Traveler, Move that Thang or this writer’s personal favorite VinMan’s Brew.

The Maze in 1999 marked the Vin Man’s return to Shrapnel Records and what a comeback I have to say! It was considered by many critics an epic return to his first two albums, with a modern and progressive approach that doesn’t leave out his accomplished musicianship. Memorable tracks? The whole album! However, special honorable mentions go to The Maze, Cryptic Dreams, Rain and Fear, and Trepidation.

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Excellence and perfection are in Vinnie’s blood.  More albums came with an excellent backup personnel behind: his first live recorded album Live! in 2000 with Barry Sparks on bass (Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, UFO), Shane Gaalaas on drums (Glenn Hughes, Jeff Kollman, $ign of 4) and Wayne Findlay doing keyboards (MSG also). In 2001 he followed The Maze’s trail and released Defying Gravity which had Dave LaRue on bass. Remarkable tracks from these periods: Check It Out (Live), She’s Only Sleeping (Live), Daydream (Live), Cryptic Dreams (Live), Defying Gravity, If I Could, Emotion Overload, Last Road Home.

Taking a little break from the Vin Man’s great solo career we got a question to ask you: how cool would it be to play with one of the bands you loved as a kid? It would be incredible, right?

That’s exactly what happened to Vinnie Moore in 2003 when he was recruited to play with one of the world’s most recognized rock acts: UFO, the legendary band that gave us such classics like Doctor Doctor, Rock Bottom, Lights Out (which is Vinnie’s favorite according to an interview), Love to Love and many others. Guitarist Michael Schenker left the band in 2002, and the Vin Man’s talent was required to enrich UFO’s sound. The idea was to relaunch the band career, and to do so they signed with SPV Records and producer Tommy Newton to work on the forthcoming album, You Are Here, for which Vinnie did major songwriting work in 11 of 12 songs the album has.

This collaboration proved successful, and it meant to him the most logical step in his career musically speaking, as he was joining the band he grew up listening to and crafting more solo material, he viewed this as a great opportunity that he took as soon as it knocked on his door. In addition to You Are Here, there are four more albums in which he has been playing and songwriting The Monkey Puzzle (2006), The Visitor (2009), Seven Deadly (2012) and A Conspiracy to Stars (2015). Remarkable tracks from the UFO new recordings, written by the Vin Man himself are: When Daylight Comes to Town, Mr. Freeze, Who’s Fooling Who, Stop Breaking Down, Year of the Gun, Devil’s in the Detail.

Vinnie Moore, the excellent musician, is also a wonderful person. A very down-to-earth guy he likes to keep in touch with his fans via his Facebook account (which he manages) where he comments on his daily life and his projects, and he’s also supportive of new guitar material that many of his fans submit. Firsthand talking with them during his clinic time and shows is also important to him to see how they experience the music he creates; maintaining this contact enables him to connect with their energy, to create emotions in people doing what he loves most, all thanks to the art he considers as a gift.

His creative process is the one of the inspiration. Vinnie likes to sit and explore many melodies, riffs, rhythms and guitar sounds and let the inspiration do the job while he is working, he follows it and lets himself drown into wherever it takes him. He is not the planning type of songwriter; he likes to give each song the proper meaning once the melody has arrived. To him, the melody and the feeling are the keystones of his music and trademark sound

Regarding the technical aspect, Vinnie Moore has always been a guy ahead of his time. Impeccable alternate picking technique which seems clean in every passage of his discography; he gladly explains how to achieve this level of mastery via daily workouts in his 2 Hot Lick’s video clinics: Speed, Accuracy and Articulation and Advanced Lead Guitar Techniques. Vinny is also one of the precursors of sweep picking technique, being a constant musical resource during his early and most virtuosic repertoire. He shows a preference for the modal approach to music, in which he explores the many possibilities of the eight Gregorian modes of pre-tonal music and combines it with his rock and roll influences, as we can hear in many of his most popular ballads for example.

When it comes to his gear, he has been working it out through the years and changing it constantly – as the search for the right sound never ends. Ibanez made for him a special Roadstar model in 1987 called VM1, which was his trademark axe until he started to work with Music Man, which made first Axis and Silhouette models for him. In 2007 he is endorsed by Dean Guitars and developed a very productive relationship with them, crafting the instruments with his very own specifications, here’s a list of the models used by him: USA VINMAN 2000 which comes in Gloss Natural/Trans Amber/Trans Black/Trans Red and the unique Vinnie Moore Signature – Mind’s Eye design. Regarding amplification he relies on the good old Marshall JMP 2000 DSL, the always delightful Marshall JMP 100w head and ENGL amps to get his particular tone.

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As for today, Vinnie released his latest production Aerial Visions last year under his label, Mind’s Eye Music, and in the VinMan Studios. In this album, he takes his music even further by exploring his most melodic side in songs like Faith or Looking Back. It was created during part of his development of UFO’s new material for their most recent album, and as a matter of fact, two songs made for this album were heard by Phil Mogg, who wrote lyrics to it and were also included them in A Conspiracy of Stars. Aerial Visions represents another point of inflection in his career due to the wide variety of styles explored in this record in cuts like Mustang Shuffle, Aerial Vision and his tribute to ZZ Top’s La Grange.

As you can see, there’s just so much more than meets the eye in the career and style of the Vin Man, a creative musician who reinvents himself in each new production and is always in the search for real, emotional and memorable guitar music.  Vinnie Moore is one of the best guitarists and a real inspiration for all of us guitar players!