Tag Archives: Ibanez guitars

Tony MacAlpine Discusses His New Record Death Of Roses

By Andrew Catania

The existence of the soul within often reflects on the accomplishments on the outside. Tony MacAlpine unearthed the alchemy of soulfulness in the mirth of music from when his fingers played with the keys of the piano at the age of 5.

Strumming through the cords as a solo, rock instrumentalist, pianist, and guitarist, Tony MacAlpine has artfully succeeded in coalescing the elements of jazz, hard rock, metal and classic beats on both, guitar and keyboard – crafting melodies as sinful as they are virtuous.

The dominating dazzle of neoclassical rock, the Hartford graduate, released his debut masterpieces – Edge of Insanity and Maximum Security in the late 80’s. But Tony’s teeming talents stretch beyond abysmal. In mid-1986 his thuds as a heavy metal guitarist in M.A.R.S drove flocks of frats wild, uncloaking an all new side of this innovative rock star.

A more commercially inclined endeavor in the hard rock led to the manifestation of Eyes of The World in the 90’s, but with the strike of realization, Tony resumed his passion for instruments and consecutively crafted magnum opuses as renowned as Madness, Premonition, Evolution and Violent Machine. Truly outshining his work, Tony sealed the decade of success with a blockbuster album Master of Paradise where he contributed with his authentic vocals as well.

The sweep trapping trickster was compelled to join aboard a hiatus when he revealed a health scare in the last couple of years.  After the release of Concrete Gardens, MacAlpine was pummeled with the revelation of a colon cancer, marking a pause to his musical accomplishments.

But like an unstoppable tornado, the legend has stormed back into the realm of harmonies with his album, Death of Roses.

Is this EP part of a set?

TM: it’s the start of we have another. It’s an ep we have a set of songs coming out shortly to complete the whole process of this writing of 14 songs.

What made you split the EP’s up?

TM:  I’m composing some material that I would say is descriptive exposure to a particular style that I’m unveiling now. I mean the next songs are something from a different era. They’re all part of the same suite, but they’re flavor and a different type a whole different approach. So I didn’t want to put the two on the same record because you said that your records are connected, so that’s why I chose to separate them.

Where did you find Nasser Abdalla?

TM:  Nass played in a band that opened for me a couple of tours ago.  He caught my attention back then and when it came time to find players I gave him a call.  He was all ready for it.

You have tour dates for September and October.  Do you have any plans to tour Europe?

TM: I delayed the European tour when I was sick, and the instability of situations going on in Europe happened at once.  I’m doing fine now.  Trying to book this tour came about we just realized that it’s just not a safe environment right now.  So we’re going to wait and see what happens.

Are you 100% healthy now?

TM:  Yeah, everything is fine. I’m doing great, and I’m happy to be out there and healthy just working again.

How did you creatively coming up with the music for Death of Roses?

TM:  Each record that I do is an exposee of where I’m at. And so at least five months or a year before when the record comes out, I’ve moved on to some other things that I find musically interesting, but I play lots of music. I play lots of piano music. I play music from many different genres, and so my influences are very far and wide. But the problem is with music that you become known for if you’re a solo artist you know you can’t just keep changing you don’t know the direction as soon as you feel like you know you need to you have to kind of bring things along at a slower pace because you know people build up a certain listening to your memory. And for them to be able to play when he records they want to hear something that they think reminds them of your style. Even so, your style might be evolving. It’s important for an artist to do things slowly. So I mean there’s so much stuff that I do, but just having the right combinations of musicians is one of the things that makes it whether or not it’s you know plausible or not. And that mix of musicians is here now. Obviously piano was my first instrument, so I’m employing lots of keyboards live now on this thing, and then we have not spent a lot of different guitar parts. We do a lot of guitar parts to be together. So it’s this music this whole thing is more of a freedom of sounds, and when the listeners get down, they get to more of your adventure instead of a songwriter that from one direction. So that’s really what it is. It’s just a combination.

Has your rig changed?

TM:  It’s always evolving.  Live now I’m using Hughes and Kettner Core Blades which are all tube heads with all of the processing built inside of the head. So it’s a real simple setup but very consistent. I also I also use the Hughes and Kettner GrandMeister Deluxe 40 which is the same idea of that it’s a better amp and a much smaller package about the size of a lunchbox.  Everything’s evolving,  the guitars are.  I’m using an extended range seven string. Even as guitars with various EMG setups you know the guitars are active and have one passive guitar.

Did you recover your gear that was stolen in Texas?

We got all the guitars back except one.  I didn’t get the TV back or the floorboard.  That’s easily replaceable.  All of the Ibanez guitars are back.  I had some friends in Mexico that went to a guitar swap and they some them there.  They brought them back for me.

Do you have a signature guitar coming out?

We’re working on something.  I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. So unless I come up with something that I think is a must for all players to have I don’t know if I’m going to do it, but we’ll see what happens regarding a future.

Any advice for aspiring guitarists?

Music is its art, and an artist is fostered by practicing and confidence. And one of the things that you really must come to the realization is whether you love you know the sacrifices you have to make because it’s a huge one. You know the time that it takes to write practice songs and cause the other bands and do that type of thing is it’s the rewards are not as great as many we think. You know they come along in time and so just really make sure that this is something you want to do and work extremely hard at it and love it.

http://www.tonymacalpine.com/

Tony MacAlpine’s New Record “Death Of Roses” Out On September 1

In his 31-year career, Tony MacAlpine has redefined instrumental hard rock, jazz-fusion and heavy metal for generations of progressive-minded music fanatics. Whether as a solo artist, or with the progressive supergroup PSMS (with Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian); the ahead-of-its-time metal fusion band Planet X (with Derek Sherinian and Virgil Donati); the Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion group CAB; or in the band of another guitar hero Steve Vai, MacAlpine has continued to evolve and set the bar exceedingly high. On September 1, Tony will release his new album Death of Roses (SunDog Records) – his first album since his battle with cancer. The album will be available digitally through major online retailers like iTunes, also available on CD, download, and a special 24-bit WAV edition directly from Tony’s website at www.tonymacalpine.com

The 7-track album is the first in a projected 2-part release. Death of Roses continues Tony’s ongoing evolution with hook-laden melodies, breathtaking solos, complex rhythms and crushing 7 and 8-string guitar riffs, complemented by his own equally exceptional keyboards. This is built atop a formidable rhythmic foundation laid down by Hungarian drum sensation Gergő Borlai (Scott Henderson, Gary Willis, Hiram Bullock), and returning bassist Pete Griffin (Generation Axe, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, Zappa Plays Zappa) who also played on Tony’s previous album Concrete Gardens. Says Tony of the band: “Pete is one of my favorite bass players and his contribution to Death of Roses is as rock-solid as it is intricate. Through Pete’s recommendation, I was thrilled to discover Gergo’s playing. He blew me away with his work on the album. He’s unquestionably innovative, and I look forward to getting even deeper with these guys on tour.” “With Death of Roses I focused on composition and layering,” says MacAlpine. “When I was sick and in treatment, I found myself unable to play, and the chemo gave me tremors in my hands and arms. The seeds of this record were planted during my recovery when I started building the compositions in my head. Fortunately, with healing and practice my faculties returned with a vengeance, and I set about recording this album, and its forthcoming companion.” During his illness in late 2015, his fellow musicians banded together for “A Benefit for Tony MacAlpine” at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, featuring performances from Steve Vai, Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, John 5, Zakk Wylde, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, Tom Morello, Richie Kotzen, and hosted by Eddie Trunk. The show also combined with an auction featuring items donated from a who’s who of rock royalty.

“The outpouring of support I received from my fellow musicians and crew, fans, endorsements, and the music community at large was overwhelming, and it moved me greatly. It served as a huge inspiration for me to get back in the saddle. This album is possible because of their help, and I dedicate it to them.” Death of Roses was mixed by LA-based Brazilian producer and engineer Adair Daufembach, and mastered by Seva David Ball. “Adair and Seva both did great work on my last album Concrete Gardens, and they’ve outdone themselves again on Death of Roses.” As with any true artist, Tony remains driven by the desire to discover new ways to express himself through the music. “I’ve been releasing music for the last three decades, and in light of my recovery from recent health issues, I feel re-energized. I have so much more to say as a musician, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride.” Death of Roses Tracklisting:

1. Chrome Castles 3:37

2. Electric Illusionist 3:36

3. Synthetic Serenity 4:57

4. Death of Roses 4:08

5. Axiomatic Jewels 4:17

6. Entropy 4:10

7. Shundor Prithibi 5:20

Total Time: 30.05

Tony will be touring North America in September/October with Gergo Borlai on drums, Pete Griffin on bass, and Nas Abdalla on guitar. Innovative Venezuelan 14 & 16-string guitarist Felix Martin will be supporting on all dates. VIP Ticket upgrades available at http:// www.tonymacalpine.com/tours

Sep 01: San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick

Sep 06: Denver, CO – Be On Key Psychedelic Ripple

Sep 08: Kansas City, MO – Prohibition Hall

Sep 09: Omaha, NE – Wired Pub & Grill

Sep 10: Saint Paul, MN – Amsterdam Bar and Hall

Sep 11: Des Moines, IA – Lefty’s Live Music

Sep 13: Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club

Sep 14: Chicago, IL – Reggies

Sep 15: Detroit, MI – Token Lounge

Sep 16: Niagara Falls, NY – Hard Rock Cafe

Sep 17: Toronto, ON – The Garrison

Sep 18: Montreal, QC – Cafe Campus

Sep 19: Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle

Sep 21: Boston, MA – Sonia

Sep 22: New York City, NY – DROM

Sep 23: Philadelphia, PA – Voltage Lounge

Sep 25: Raleigh, NC – The Pour House

Sep 26: Charlotte, NC – The Rabbit Hole

Sep 27: Atlanta, GA – Masquerade

Sep 28: Memphis, TN – RockHouse Live

Sep 30: McKinney, TX – The Guitar Sanctuary

Oct 01: Houston, TX – Acadia Bar & Grill

Oct 02: San Antonio, TX – Jack’s Bar and Live Music Venue

Oct 04: Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad

Oct 05: Mesa, AZ – Club Red

Oct 06: Las Vegas, NV – Count’s Vamp’d

Oct 18: Los Angeles, CA – Whisky A Go Go

Oct 19: San Francisco, CA – Slims

Oct 21: Seattle, WA – El Corazon

Virtuoso Tony MacAlpine’s new record, ‘Death Of Roses” will be available through Tony MacAlpine’s website http://tonymacalpine.spinshop.com/ 

Herman Li Interview: “DragonForce Doesn’t Have The Kill Or Be Killed Attitude”

By Andrew Catania

Hеrmаn Lі wаѕ bоrn оn October 3, 1976, іn Hоng Kоng аnd moved tо Englаnd durіng hіѕ tееnаgе уеаrѕ. Hе ѕреаkѕ Cаntоnеѕе аnd Englіѕh fluently. Hеrmаn Lі drаwѕ іnfluеnсеѕ frоm rock, аll ѕubgеnrеѕ оf mеtаl аѕ wеll аѕ vіdео gаmе muѕіс аnd оftеn mіmісѕ ѕоundѕ frоm рорulаr rеtrо gаmеѕ frоm the late 80s, еаrlу-90ѕ аrсаdе, аnd PC gаmеѕ. Fоr еxаmрlе, Hеrmаn Lі hаѕ bееn knоwn fоr mаkіng ѕеvеrаl Pас-Mаn-lіkе nоіѕеѕ іn thе ѕоng “Thrоugh thе Fіrе аnd Flаmеѕ” on Inhumаn Rаmраgе. Hіѕ рlауіng ѕtуlе соnѕіѕtѕ оf fаѕt dеѕсеndіng аnd аѕсеndіng lеgаtо and ѕtассаtо lісkѕ, еxоtіс scale runѕ, mаkіng еxtеnѕіvе uѕе оf the hаrmоnіс mіnоr аnd Phrуgіаn dоmіnаnt ѕсаlе, еxtrеmе uѕе оf hіѕ whаmmу bar, ԛuісk full аѕсеndіng and dеѕсеndіng ѕwеер рісkіng аrреggіоѕ, alternate рісkіng аnd tарріng оn the hіghеr frеtѕ аѕ wеll аѕ іnсоrроrаtіng mаnу оthеr ѕhrеd guіtаr ѕtуlе tесhnіԛuеѕ. Hеrmаn Li іѕ lеft-hаndеd but lеаrnеd to рlау right-handed. Rесеntlу, hе hаѕ ѕtаrtеd to uѕе a dеvісе саllеd thе Hоt Hаnd thаt ѕіtѕ оn hіѕ rіght hаnd lіkе a rіng, whісh саuѕеѕ еxtrеmе vіbrаtо whеn ѕhаkеn, gіvіng hіm grеаtеr capacity tо еmulаtе сеrtаіn vіdео gаmе ѕоundѕ. has stated Mісhаеl Rоmео’ѕ fаѕt guіtаr рlауіng hеаvіlу іnѕріrеd hіѕ оwn ѕtуlе.

Photo by Andrew Catania

Hеrmаn Lі uѕеѕ Ibаnеz E-Gеn guіtаrѕ, his ѕіgnаturе Ibаnеz mоdеlѕ bаѕеd оn hіѕ оld Ibаnеz S Sеrіеѕ, whісh wаѕ rеtіrеd frоm ѕtаgе аt thе еnd оf the Inhumаn Rampage tоur. Thе EGEN18 hаѕ a ‘Trаnѕраrеnt Vіоlеt Flаt’ fіnіѕh (trаnѕраrеnt рurрlе оn a flаmеd-mарlе tор), аnd the EGEN8 hаѕ a ‘Platinum Blоndе’ fіnіѕh (nаturаl wооd fіnіѕh wіth a flаmеd-mарlе tор). Bоth hаvе a rоѕеwооd fіngеrbоаrd аnd gоld hardware. Thе E-Gеn mоdеl hаѕ many unіԛuе fеаturеѕ аnd іmрrоvеmеntѕ оvеr a standard S, including іtѕ vеrѕаtіlе tоnе selection with соіl tap ѕwіtсhіng fоr both thе bridge аnd nесk рісkuрѕ, Edgе Zеrо brіdgе (thе EGEN8 has Edgе III), сuѕtоm DіMаrzіо HLM рісkuрѕ (thе EGEN8 hаѕ Ibаnеz рісkuрѕ) аnd аn еxtеndеd ѕсоор оn thе lоwеr hоrn оf thе bоdу, as wеll аѕ a ‘Kung-Fu grip’ оn thе uрреr hоrn ѕhареd bу Hеrmаn Lі’ѕ hаnd. It іѕ Ibаnеz’ѕ flаgѕhір model fоr S bоdу ѕtуlе guіtаrѕ currently.

On May 9th,2010, Hеrmаn Lі аnnоunсеd via Fасеbооk thаt hе hаd received a сuѕtоm-mаdе Ibаnеz 7-ѕtrіng guіtаr. Nо details аrе known уеt аbоut thіѕ guitar, оthеr than іt hаѕ ѕеvеn ѕtrіngѕ, аnd іt іѕ unknоwn whеthеr іt wіll bе mаѕѕ-рrоduсеd for hіѕ E-Gеn ѕіgnаturе lіnе.

Bеfоrе thе E-Gеn, hе hаd bееn knоwn tо рlау Ibanez S Prestige guіtаrѕ. An Ibаnеz S470SOL (Jараnеѕе buіld 1995), a ѕеvеn ѕtrіng Ibanez 540S7 (Jараnеѕе buіld 1991) (uѕеd іn Rеvоlutіоn Dеаthѕԛuаd, Stоrmіng thе Burnіng Fіеldѕ, bеfоrе thе ѕесоnd vеrѕе аnd іn thе оutrо оf Heartbreak Armаgеddоn аnd thе brіdgе ѕесtіоn оf Oреrаtіоn Grоund аnd Pоund), аnd аn Ibenеz S540FMTTS (Jараnеѕе buіld 1995). Hе hаѕ аlѕо bееn ѕееn рlауіng аn Ibаnеz S2170FB аnd аn Ibаnеz S2170FW. Hе аlѕо оwnѕ an Ibаnеz Jеm7BSB, whісh hаѕ been uѕеd оn еvеrу DrаgоnFоrсе аlbum fоr rесоrdіng rhythm guіtаr раrtѕ, аn Ibаnеz J Custom RG, an Ibenеz RG2228 (8-ѕtrіng mоdеl), аnd a PRS Mоdеrn Eаglе, whісh hе rесеіvеd аѕ a gіft frоm Pаul Rееd Smіth аnd саn bе ѕееn іn thе ѕtudіо.

Photo by Andrew Catania

I sat down with Herman at the Beacon Theater before their show in Orlando, Florida.

So how’s the tour going?

HL: Yeah we started this part, I mean we have begun actually in April, and we went to Indonesia, we went to China and all that, and the Philippines. We started this part in June, and we started in Japan and made our way to Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the US West Coast, and now we’re here, we’re at the final part of it.

How is the new album being received?

HL: It’s been great. We played a few new songs, and they’ve been as welcomed as the old songs, so it’ been a good run for us. It’s better than I expected to be honest.

How do you guys collaborate on song writing?

HL: On this album, Fred and Sam, pretty much did the writing on this one. They worked well on the last album, so on this one, they were going to do it together, but they didn’t, they separated them, did the songs in their separate ways. And then we put it together and had the band worked on it.

Did you do anything extra besides the song arrangement, did you do anything on the production?

HL: I was working on the release of Killer Elite at that time actually, and I was working on some other stuff.  So I came in a bit later.

Did you guys record for a long time or did you take your time recording this?

HL: I think medium if it exists. We went into recording I think around, not last year, the year before, around the summer, just before that season started and we finished it in, I think six months; it took us about six months. Which shows, we did a tour for the Killer Elite, which is a compilation of the old songs and best of whatever. We are doing that around Europe, and I think in Japan and running the US.

Did you do any different improvising on guitar for this, for the song like you did on the last one?

HL: We’re always trying to get better at it, so I don’t know how different it is, it depends on how you look at.  We try to improve so that the album is more dynamic than previous. I compare DragonForce to like, technology or a car or a computer; we’re always making an improvement to it slowly. It’s not like a crazy, dramatic sudden change, with a different band.

Photo by Andrew Catania

When people say you’re one of the best metal guitarists out there, how do you take that?[

HL:  I’d never see myself as such a great guitar player, I mean, I just do what I like to do, have fun and you know, who am I to judge? I mean I have my favorite players that I like. I think with the guitar the great thing is, it’s not like a competition, it’s not a sport where you have to score and then see who won at the end it’s so subjective. So that’s the right thing about it, it’s not meant to be competitive. I know a certain culture and certain people are brought up to compete on every single level. I don’t make more money than them, I don’t sell more records than them, we’ve got to do this, and we’ve got to fix our face because people are looking them, whatever. For me, at least for us in the band, the way we are brought up, we are not brought up to look at art and music that way, definitely not. So we don’t have that ‘kill or be killed attitude’ you know.

That’s a very different view.

HL:  Yeah I know. I mean the way we look at it is this, you’ve got to be true to yourself and come and act in a way that you’re brought up to, our family, that’s what they taught us, and that’s how we reflect. I mean, we make music, seriously the best we could. But when we’re on stage we’re ourselves, we have fun, we’re not angry people, we’re not too serious and intense people, we have a real good time, and we try to reflect that on stage and even in our music videos and stuff like that.

Talk about your guitar rig; I know you have your signature Ibanez, are you using anything special on this tour that you haven’t used on the previous?

HL: I have a  7-string custom Ibanez guitar. How many guitars do I have in this part of the tour? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; I’ve got about 5 or 6 guitars, different colors. The guitars I use are the same one you can play in the shop.

You’re not doing anything custom or different, I can just go into wherever and just pick one up, and that’s the same one you’re using.

HL:  Well, it’s not a signature model if it’s not the same guitar I’m playing. So I mean obviously, the Ibanez, you could do the original model which, the one I played on Saturday, there’s a new cheaper one which is not made in Japan, because Japan is expensive to get it done there. The pickups are not the DiMarzio USA ones; they’re like cheaper yeah. So I mean, actually the high-end one is the same as mine, same setup, it’s got to be the same. And that’s one of my things, when I talk about the way ‘I believe in things and try to stick to it’ and not get moved around by the ‘kill or be killed’ attitude or the commercialism of music and music business, I try to keep it as much as possible. I said to Ibanez when they made the guitar I said look ‘I’m not going to customize the guitar if you cannot release the same guitar I’m playing on stage. So it’s got to be the same.

Photo by Andrew Catania

Wow, that’s awesome!  I was going to say that is awesome because when you look at some of the other players, they might have their guitar all specced out and the public can’t get it like that

HL: My own is pretty much, I mean if there is a difference, I would say I have this one little screw at the back,  and that’s it. I glued the neck, you know the neck is put together by 4 bolts right,  I added extra glue inside it and the 4 bolts just to give it extra strength and travelling and kicking the guitar in the air all the time, but the rest, the wood, and pickups, everything is the same.

Are you a ‘bolt on’ or a ‘neck through’ fan?

HL:  Bolt on. I think bolt on is great Rock, heavy metal guitar sound. I know people are skeptical and would even say ‘neck through’ because it cost more on the neck [of course] but that hacks if the dynamics are different, so it’s almost like ‘oh my way is better than yours,’ but it doesn’t work that way in music. I mean there’s always a compromise where you get the ‘bolt on’ you get a bit less sustain, but you’ve got a more direct attack sound, and the locking bridge can give you a bit less sustain, but you’ve got more flexibility and better tuning. So there are so many things.

People on the inside talk too much when they don’t know enough information about different things they want to just side on one thing and forget about the balance of all the things that compromise, each thing, the music or stuff like that. Like a car, you know a stocked car is fast, but you can’t put more than two people in there.  It’s almost like kind of the same thing.

Photo by Andrew Catania

Do you have the same rig you had on the last tour?

HL:  I have a Kemper, which is profiling system, so it copies what I’m using is, I use the Profile to copy my old sound into the Profiler, to use the new up-to-date effects like the harmonizer, that I don’t have on my older system. I’m just kind of an old school, shredder, rock solid pre-amp. So I know everyone is always putting new technology and putting new sounds, but I’m just sticking to those sounds that I liked when I first started playing guitar when I was listening to the 80’s shredders. So I’ve kind of got that, and I copied it into the new system, the Kemper and I use the new effects; because the effects will be bold right. Computers, however, an amp is always an amp, and there’s this tone of an amp, like an old Marshall, people still write it, and I feel like that rock hard sound. So I’m just using modern technology with the old sound.

If it works, sometimes you’ve just got to stick with it, why change it up if it already works?

HL: Exactly! Because I remember about 20 years ago there was the piece of gear that came out, and everyone said, “Oh my God, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve heard, ” and then no one is even playing it now. So they’ll even forget the acknowledgment that you can use it, and I think, “oh my God, it sounds terrible, listen to this stuff.” So it’s like, who is right and who is wrong? You know what? If you’ve got a piece of gear that you love, and it’s been making for 20 years, that means it got through the test of time, apart from this kind of like consumed, quick gear that comes in and out then throw away, you see them at the used store, and no one wants them.

Sometimes less is better than more.Yeah exactly! Unfortunately, I got burned like the CPU power mode so.]

HL:  Yeah exactly!

What picks are you using these days?

HL: I use Planet Waves picks, I use something of a matte finish, so it doesn’t slip out of my hand.

Are you a 2.0 guy, 1.5?

HL:  1.10

So you’re a Jazz mini guy.

HL:  Yeah the problem is the Jazz picks are too small, and when I first started touring I used to use the Jazz free and Stubbies. The problem is you can’t do any fun things with them, and they’re just too little. You can’t do a strum, and you just fire up your finger, and you can’t throw it, and you can’t put a signature on that, so I stopped using them, and I got into big picks once I started to tour. It’s a compromise.

In the studio, if I’m sitting down playing or recording, a Jazz III pick is great. If you’re just chilling, you’re not out on stage running around and jumping around and having fun.

I was going to say, the Jazz minis, I just can’t see how people are using them. Some people swear by them and others, usually like 1.5s or 2.0s, I guess it just depends on what you’re doing.

If you’re holding a pick and you switch it and keep it somewhere else, you grab the whammy bar, a bigger pick has more room to hold, and you’re not going to drop it. With a little pick, if you slip, it comes out of your hand, done. You have to grab the whammy bar. You’ve got to do something; you’ve got to slide, move the microphone. So you’ve got to move the mic, and you’ve got to put your pick here, adjust your chin move the microphone, you need to attach a ring and adjust your pack I would have to have like ten lining up] you’re going to keep dropping this small pick. So it all comes from being tested on tour. [Trial and error] Yeah and the reason why I started playing the Ibanez guitar in the first place is that my favorite guitar players were playing Ibanez. So I thought, they must know something.  Steve Vai,  Satriani,  they must know something. These guys are such high level, touring around the world, they’re not just sitting in a bedroom playing, you know.

Like the YouTube generation.

HL: Exactly. They are testing the gear, telling you what stays in tune, what works, what sounds good and not just in their bedroom, but also on stage, on the P.A. loud, along with the pickup. So just like you wouldn’t buy a sports car, you would take around the race track, you would never be testing it on the race somewhere if the engine was never in some test or guys don’t know what they’re doing. They say ‘oh this what it is.’ I would say that is how I would end up using what I’m using.

How did you take up the guitar? Is there something back home that got you interested in it?

HL: Not really. I guess I just needed something new like a new hobby. I think everyone gets a new hobby. Somebody would get into gardening, bird watching or cars, I don’t know. So at 16, I got into guitars.

Were you self-taught or did you have lessons? Did you have lessons and self-taught?

HL: Just self-taught really. I mean learning from books is almost like a lesson. Or you’re watching videos; watching videos; those were my lessons, VHS videos.  I learned this watching instructional videos, but live videos are so important. To see how someone performs, and so I was watching a lot of live videos from Guns ‘N Roses, Metallica, playing it frame by frame by frame, Watching it again I thought ‘Oh, that guy looked cool doing that.’ I didn’t like the guy putting the guitar up here, I’ve watched apparently Chris Impellitteri, he’s one of the best on the guitar.  Beautiful and some insane styles, I mean like ‘God how did he even do that?’  I saw that, and I thought ‘well that’s impossible to play anyway.’ There’s a friend of mine who had a bootleg of him playing in Japan for that Stand in Line Tour, and I thought ‘God this guy is so good.’

Photo by Andrew Catania

What was your first band that you got into? Was that in your early 20s or late teens?

HL: Early teens, I discovered Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora, yeah and I found Europe and they play finer times on the radio (Overlapping of music and voices) The Soul Glows, Miracle, that’s where I first and [John Levin and Key Marcel] yeah, that’s when I first discovered actual music that I liked. I like music but the guitar kind of grabbed me and then, later on, I got into, what was popular then, Bryan Adams, ‘Wake up the Neighbors’ that was a cool album I thought, great solos. Then I got in all the Hard Rock stuff and of course Metallica,

Do you think YouTube is a useful tool for people trying to learn the guitar or do you say it has hallowed the instrument from playing with teachers in person?

HL:  I think everything you can get, is useful, but you shouldn’t just learn from one resource. You need to learn from multiple resources, go out and see a show, play in a band, play with friends, play live, see what it’s like and learn things. Maybe you would get some culture if you’d rather sit at home and not go out and thinking ‘I’m listening to YouTube.’ But hearing something live is a whole different thing than someone listening compress in a computer lab, probably having terrible speakers at home. Then they learn because you’re allowed to (talk in the studio) I made a mistake, or I deleted this, I mean, these people never even played under pressure you know.

To know what’s like when the lights are flickering, your ears are blasting  You screw up for one second, and you’ve got 400 or 500 people down there retweeting on Instagramoh, he screwed this up” so it’s a lot of stress. And the confidence of pressure, when to show it and bring it. You know it’s like you’re playing in competitive sports when you’re playing on stage. You get a bit nervous, you cope, but you don’t know what to do. So I think the culture got to the point where people always have their opinion but before thinking about it or learning about enough, people rather say something than trying to learn enough solve information.

So if I was starting to play the guitar now, I think I would be fortunate because there is so much information out there so I would just shut up learn before complaining about it to other people.

Have you ever thought about doing a solo album?

HL: I’ve thought about it, I’ve thought ‘if I’m going to go out I’m going to go out, I’m going to collaborate with somebody.” I don’t want to do it by myself; it isn’t exactly fun when you have to do it by yourself.  I’m going to finish up the European leg of the tour this year, and we’ll see what happens.

You can learn more about Herman Li and DragonForce at http://www.dragonforce.com/

PIck up DragonForce’s acclaimed new release, “Reaching into Infinity” via their website and other retail outlets.

Nili Brosh: Close To Perfection As You Get

By Andrew Catania

Nili Brosh is a 28-year-old guitarist from Israel. She specializes in heavy metal and hard rock music.  When Nili was 12 her and her family moved to Boston where she began studying the electric guitar, she then went on to study the discipline at Berklee College of Music. She got into the hard rock and heavy metal genre due to her brothers who were always playing music. This opened her up to all types of music that were created before her time. She soon became one of the college’s youngest faculty members and began to teach at the summer guitar program.  Nili started posting videos on YouTube that received incredible attention for her superior playing skills.

Her YouTube page began like any other, with a few followers and a small fan base. Her first video showed a great nimbleness in her fingers and the skill level was insane for that of an 18-year-old. Soon her video was to become viral and to this day has racked up just under 200,000 views on YouTube. Over the next four years, people spoke more and more about this rising talent and she began to attract a lot of followers. She was soon a professional guitarist and instructor after teaching at Berklee Summer Camp since she was 19. 

Nili has released two albums to date. The first one was called Through the Looking Glass and was released in 2010 which also features guitarist Andy Timmons as a guest soloist.  When Tony MacAlpine auditioned Nili,  he was so amazed by her skills he contacted Nili and asked her to take part in one of his solo bands along with the bass guitarist Bjorn Englen and drummer Aquiles Priester. This dream team ended up touring America and Europe.  This is where she began to work on her latest album A Matter of Perception which was released in 2014.

No one knows what the future holds but she plans to continue touring and creating albums with amazing talent other than herself.

Follow Nili @ http://www.nilibrosh.com/

Interview: The Versatile Playing of Andy Timmons

By Andrew Catania

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.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 released in August.

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.  Good 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.  I and that drummer 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 path, 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.

Thank you for your time, Andy!

 

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

Andy’s Signature Guitar http://www.ibanez.com/products/u_eg_detail.php?year=2016&cat_id=1&series_id=30&data_id=193&color=CL01

 

 

 

 

 

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!