Tag: Joe Satriani
CHICKENFOOT, the super group featuring guitarist Joe Satriani, drummer Kenny Aronoff, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and frontman Sammy Hagar have announced A DIFFERENT DEVIL TOUR in continued support of their newest record “Chickenfoot III” (eOne Music/earMUSIC/Edel). “The Foot are road tested and ready to roll and can’t wait to play the new songs for the fans!” says front man Sammy Hagar. The tour will kick off May 4th in Lake Tahoe, NV and BLACK STONE CHERRY has been tapped to support.
CHICKENFOOT with BLACK STONE CHERRY dates:
5/4/12 Lake Tahoe, NV Harrah’s Hotel & Casino
5/5/12 Lake Tahoe, NV Harrah’s Hotel & Casino
5/9/12 Denver, CO The Fillmore Aud.
5/11/12 Minneapolis, MN The Brick
5/12/12 Chicago, IL Chicago Theater
5/14/12 Detroit, MI The Fillmore
5/16/12 Boston, MA Orpheum Theater
5/18/12 Atlantic City, NJ House Of Blues
5/19/12 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun
5/21/12 New York, NY Beacon Theater
5/23/12 St. Louis, MO Fox Theater
5/25/12 Thackerville, OK Winstar Casino
5/27/12 Pryor, OK Catch the Fever Festival Grounds (Rocklahoma)
5/29/12 Houston, TX Bayou Music Center
5/31/12 Tucson, AZ Anselmo Valencia Amphetheater
6/1/12 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
6/3/12 Portland, OR Schnitzer Hall
6/5/12 Vancouver, BC Queen Elizabeth Theater
6/6/12 Seattle, WA WaMu Theater
6/10/12 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theater
For more CHICKENFOOT click here.
Rocklahoma has announced the 2012 lineup for the three-day camp & rock festival that features the top current active rock artists and classic bands. America’s biggest Memorial Day Weekend party–May 25-27 at “Catch the Fever” Festival Grounds in Pryor, OK–is proud to be presented by Budweiser.
The initial Rocklahoma lineup includes: Rob Zombie, Chickenfoot featuring Joe Satriani, Kenny Aronoff (sitting in for Chad Smith), Michael Anthony & Sammy Hagar, Creed, Megadeth, Slash, Queensrÿche, Chevelle, Theory of a Deadman, Jackyl, Puddle Of Mudd, Hellyeah, P.O.D., Volbeat, 10 Years, Cavo, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Pop Evil, Red, The Darkness, Art of Dying, Trivium, Aranda, Redlight King, James Durbin, Janus, New Medicine, Rival Sons, Anti Mortem, Gypsy Pistoleros, Wildstreet, Firstryke, Black Tora, Sunset Riot, The Glitter Boys, Fist of Rage, Switchblade Scarlett, Krank and more. Bands will perform on the Main Stage, Second Stage and the Retrospect Records Stage.
“Rocklahoma has quickly become the rock n’ roll party of Memorial Day Weekend, and 2012 is going to take the party to a whole new level,” commented Joe Litvag, co-executive producer of the festival for AEG Live. “We’ve got a great balance of talent this year with some amazing classic artists covering the last three decades along with plenty of today’s rock. But the most unique part of this festival is definitely the campground experience…Three days and nights of craziness and chaos that only Rocklahoma can deliver!”
General Admission and VIP packages for Rocklahoma go on sale Friday, February 24 at 10am CST at all Ticketmaster outlets and www.rocklahoma.com. To get access to the Rocklahoma internet pre-sale, which will be held from Wednesday, February 22 at 10am CST through Thursday, February 23 at 10pm CST, go to www.rocklahoma.com and sign up to receive the Rocklahoma newsletter. Fans can save by buying early, as ticket prices will increase in the coming weeks.
Camping tickets may be purchased by calling the Rocklahoma Camping Office at (866) 310-2288 or emailing email@example.com. Campgrounds open on Sunday, May 20 and will remain open though Tuesday, May 29.
The Axis Entertainment Campground Stage returns in 2012 to enhance the Rocklahoma camping experience. Anyone holding festival and camping tickets will be able to check out some of the finest new rock bands performing on this stage, located next to the General Store in the main campgrounds.
Rocklahoma’s VIP packages have expanded due to popular demand. Some of this year’s weekend VIP packages include:
Groupie Package (One Person)
- VIP Reserved Ticket
- Access to VIP Catering Tent
- Private Backstage Lounge Tent Access *
- Weekend Pit Access
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
* This year, the Groupies will have their own Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between the Main and Second Stages.
Roadie Package (One Person)
- VIP Reserved Ticket
- Access to VIP Catering Tent
- Private Backstage Lounge Tent Access **
- Private Restroom Access
- Weekend Pit Access
- One Event Poster, T-Shirt and Festival Mug
- One Commemorative Laminate
- VIP Deck Access
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
**Exclusive for Roadies and Rockstars is the Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between VIP Catering and the Main Stage.
Rockstar Package (Two Person)
- Roadie Package for Two
- Three Night stay at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa (room & tax only)
- Shuttle Service
- Best Seats in the House
- Package Inclusive of all taxes and fees
**Exclusive for Roadies and Rockstars is the Backstage Lounge, which is conveniently located between VIP Catering and the Main Stage.
For a detailed list of 2012 Rocklahoma VIP ticket options, packages and amenities, please visit www.rocklahoma.com.
Acclaimed guitarist Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X), has announced the first annual Paul Gilbert’s Great Guitar Escape, set for July 9-13 at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY. Guitar players of all ages, levels and styles are invited to join Paul Gilbert and other expert musicians for this 5 day experience focused on the techniques, styles, and life of the modern working musician.
“The concentrated guitar-power that I have assembled for The Great Guitar Escape could light a city the size of San Antonio for the next 1000 years,” says Paul Gilbert. “But more importantly, the workshops, nightly concert jams, and interaction with the pro musicians and fellow music lovers will give you inspiration and memories to last a lifetime. If you are a guitarist, bassist, drummer, or thinking about becoming one, don’t miss this amazing camp!”
Although the focus of the camp is the guitar, there will also be workshops from world-class pros on drums, bass guitar, sound engineering, and guitar tech skills. Every evening will culminate with intimate, once-in-a-lifetime jam sessions.
Featured instructors at Paul Gilbert’s Great Guitar Escape include: guitar virtuosos Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Dizzee Rascal, Asia, The Fellowship, The Young Punx), Tony MacAlpine (CAB, Planet X), Chris “Kid” Andersen (Rick Estrin and The Nightcats, The Terry Hanck Band, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop), Scotty Johnson (Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Paul Gilbert, Robben Ford’s Fords and Friends, The Ford Blues Band, The Blindside Blues Band) and Sam Coulson. Other distinguished guest musicians include bassist Kelly Lemieux (Goldfinger, Electric Love Hogs, 22 Jacks, MD.45, King of Clubs, Fear), and drummer Rodney Holmes (Rodney Holmes’ Lithium Tree, Santana, Steve Lukather, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Rob Thomas), as well as Sound Engineer/Producer Tom Size (Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith, David Lee Roth, Huey Lewis, Eddie Money, Mr. Big, Y&T, Europe, Steve Miller Band, Joe Satriani, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass).
“I am extremely proud of the musicians who will be teaching at The Great Guitar Escape,” Gilbert notes. “I looked for people with not just stunning musicianship, but also the ability to communicate musical and technical ideas in a clear and interesting way. When I’m not teaching, I’m going to sneak into the back of the classes and learn some licks from the other teachers!”
“Every successful musician has certain defining moments in their musical lives — a concert, a meeting with a musical hero, some words from a great teacher at the right moment. The Great Guitar Escape is built to maximize these moments.”
From platinum album sales and #1 chart success as a founding member of Mr. Big, to frightening the guitar community with new levels of ferocious picking technique with shred-pioneers Racer X, to exploring punk, pop, classical, blues, jazz, and progressive instrumental styles in his solo career, Paul Gilbert has recorded a massive amount of stunning guitar music, all while circling the globe playing sold-out arenas from Japan to Jakarta. Paul’s guitar style stands out for its rare combination of accuracy, creativity, and power–all which are balanced with Paul’s sense of humor and pure love of music.
In addition to his daily Rock Master Classes at the Great Guitar Escape, Paul has set aside additional classes specifically to help beginning guitarists get on the right track for technique and practicing. These classes (personally taught by Paul) will focus on helping guitarists become comfortable with making music in minutes.
Paul remembers, “I took my first guitar lessons when I was six years old. My teacher taught me ‘by the book’ and I ended up quitting from boredom and frustration. It was years before I finally started again. I wish I could go back in time and teach myself the basics of how to play the guitar. It would have put me years ahead at such an important time of my life. If guitar is taught the right way, it can be surprisingly easy. No boring exercises. Just music! I’m excited to give you the start that I wish I’d been given.”
Paul Gilbert’s Great Guitar Escape packages start at just $999, including lodging, access to all workshops, seminars, gourmet meals, performances, and camp activities. Full Moon Resort features an eclectic array of comfortable, rustic country-inn accommodations as well as luxury and primitive camping. The grounds offer one hundred acres of meadows, forests and streams providing a natural backdrop for an unforgettable, enriching experience. Guests can enjoy the spring-fed swimming pool, on-site access to the Esopus Creek, and explore the splendors of the Catskills on the nearby network of hiking trails. For those who prefer in-room wi-fi, air conditioning, television, and daily housekeeping service, Slide Mountain Forest House and The Alpine Inn–located approximately a mile and a half from Full Moon Resort–are available as an all-inclusive camp package.
For full details about Paul Gilbert’s Great Guitar Escape, visit: www.greatguitarescape.com.
For more PAUL GILBERT click here.
CHICKENFOOT, the supergroup featuring guitarist Joe Satriani, drummer Kenny Aronoff, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and frontman Sammy Hagar – debuted their new music video for the song “Three and a Half Letters (I Need a Job)“.
The song, from their recent release, “CHICKENFOOT III” (eOne Music/Edel/EarMusic) is motivated by the dismal job economy and features letters that were sent to Hagar as pleas for help. “CHICKENFOOT” is partnering with Feeding America to encourage fans to help alleviate some of the effects of the job economy. The band will perform “Three and a Half Letters (I Need a Job)” on Jimmy Kimmel Live on the evening of November 3rd.
“I received a lot of letters from people over the years who were looking for help or work and recently I received one from an Afghan War Veteran that ended with ‘Can you help? I need a job’ that just really hit me and the song came together,” said Hagar. “We really want to encourage anyone to help where they can and I think one of the easiest ways is by making contributions to their local food banks so I hope we get that message across in this video and while we are on tour.”
“I Need a Job,” directed by Arthur Rosato (Springsteen, Bonnaroo), features the real life letters received by Hagar and closes with a call to action in partnership with Feeding America. Beginning today, the band is inviting fans to post their own letters and stories to their website in hopes it will help them find employment and continue to shed light on the critical condition in America. The band is also planning on additional outreach to bring more awareness to the issue in each city on their upcoming “Road Test Tour.” While those who are better off may not be able to offer actual jobs, Chickenfoot believes that contributions to food banks in their hometowns is one simple way, among many others, that fans can help firsthand on a local level.
The band is set to embark on the recently announced “2011 Road Test Tour,” beginning November 1st at the Warfield Theatre, San Francisco.
11/1/11 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre
11/2/11 – Los Angeles, CA – Avalon Hollywood
11/4/11 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
11/5/11 – Chicago, IL – Metro
11/8/11 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
For more CHICKENFOOT click here.
CHICKENFOOT – the supergroup featuring guitarist Joe Satriani, drummer Kenny Aronoff, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and frontman Sammy Hagar – have announced “The 2011 Road Test Tour,” the first live performance dates in support of the band’s forthcoming “CHICKENFOOT III” due September 27th from from eOne Music in North America and around the world by earMUSIC/Edel. The tour is taking them through San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and New York early November. Venues and ticket on-sale information will be announced October 3rd. Chickenfoot III is available now for pre-order on iTunes.
CHICKENFOOT are also offering fans a very special free Live Concert Webcast: Chickenfoot Presents “III” at 6PM PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME on TUESDAY, SEPETMBER 27TH. The band will perform tracks from the new album at TRI Studios in Marin County, California and host a 30-minute Q&A session with the fans at www.chickenfoot.us. Fans can submit their questions to be included in the live Q&A session at www.chickenfoot.us leading up to the live webcast. Special promotional opportunities to be a member of the live in-studio audience in the studio will be announced on the band’s social sites. The webcast will rebroadcast on the band’s website September 28th at NOON PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME.
“CHICKENFOOT III” was produced by Mike Fraser features an elaborately designed 3D package with optical illusions and special codes giving fans a fully immersed creative Chickenfoot experience, creating a spectacle with spectacles. With special “3D optical enhancers,” otherwise known as old-skool 3D glasses that come with each package, the cover and inside photos feature artwork that trick the eye by looking through the two different red and blue lenses of the glasses. Having used a special state-of-the-art 3D camera rig to create the designs, CHICKENFOOT gives fans a truly multi-dimensional experience throughout the packaging that also offers a 3D photo of each band member with stats and Q&As, QR codes for behind the scenes 3D video content from the photoshoot on smartphones and much more. A look through the red lens even reveals a very special message on the CD itself.
THE 2011 ROAD TEST TOUR DATES:
November 1 – San Francisco, CA
November 2 – Los Angeles, CA
November 4 – St. Louis, MO
November 5 – Chicago, IL
November 8 – New York, NY
For more CHICKENFOOT click here.
8 out of 10
A good band can withstand a change in guitarist or drummer, a great band can withstand several membership changes, a select few bands can withstand a lead singer change (ok, I can think of two, Genesis and Van Halen), but only one band can have several different lineups and change the personnel of the entire band over and over and over again and still be amazing, relevant, put out quality albums over and over, and most importantly be accepted as that very band with no backlash for the changes.
I’m of course talking about Deep Purple. The band has had so many lineup changes over the year, had so many people in and out of the band that they are actually known by their versions, Mark I, II, III, etc. The band has had 14 different members over the years, they’ve changed every position but one. Ian Paice has been the drummer from day one, and in every incarnation of the band he has been there.
He has kept time for the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Glen Hughes, Jon Lord, Joe Satriani, Tommy Bolin, Joe Lynn Turner, Rod Evans, Steve Morse, Roger Glover, Don Airey, and Nick Simper. Some amazing talent has performed under the DEEP PURPLE moniker.
Fans to this day still debate the best and their best Marks (or versions) of the band. My personal will always be Mark I. The original. Not to take away anything from the Coverdale/Hughes days, but I was turned on to DP in 1984 when they reunited the DP Mark I and put out Perfect Strangers. It was from that point I went backwards and found one of my all time favorite bands.
The last maybe 10 years the band, or their labels have been putting out some great videos. They’ve taken all their old concert videos, unreleased concerts, and putting together some great packages for the fans.
The latest is Phoenix Rising. And it features Mark IV of DEEP PURPLE. With an unknown (at the time) David Coverdale sharing lead vocal duties with bassist Glenn Hughes, Tommy Bolin on guitar, Jon Lord on keys, and as always Ian Paice on drums, this short lived version never had the chance to record as Tommy Bolin died in 76 of a heroin overdose. But this never before seen concert Rises Over Japan recorded in 1975 at the Budokahn in Tokyo sees the band crank out the classics Burn, Love Child, Highway Star, Stormbringer, Smoke On The Water, Getting Tighter, and Lazy.
Two things jump out at you watching this (especially during Highway Star, and Burn), David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes played off each other insanely well vocally. It was a true stroke of great fortune that the band got both of them at the same time. Because it is also evident during Highway Star that what Ian Gillan did alone vocally required Hughes/Coverdale together to do. David Coverdale hitting the lower, gruffer, bluesier parts, and Hughes hitting the higher notes. What we don’t get to see, but I would love to have is to see Coverdale/Hughes do Child In Time. Again it would absolutely take the talents of both of them to pull off what Gillan did by himself, but it would still be amazing to see them do it together.
The concert is remastered in 5.1 on this Blu Ray disc. And it sounds, well, as great as you’d expect a DEEP PURPLE show to sound. Martin Birch did a great job catching the band tearing through a wild set. The band may not have been the tightest at the time, at least not that night from the looks of things, but the energy, playing, and vibe was there. And of course the great songs. Sadly it is only 30 minutes, but it is a great 30 minutes of a seldom seen version of DEEP PURPLE. And in that, this show is enough to purchase this disc. To see Bolin/Hughes/Coverdale rock out to these great DP songs is more than enough reason to pick up the blu ray. But Rises Over Japan is only 30 minutes of Phoenix Rising. The rest is a never before seen documentary Gettin’ Together. It is culled from years of research, with live shots, backstage footage, interviews, and never before told stories. It tells the best and the worst of the Purple. The highs and lows of a tumultuous time in DP history.
The blu ray will only set you back $20, but you can pick up a regular DVD version for only $15 and a great DVD/CD combo for $20 also. If you are a Deep Purple fan you simply cannot pass this up. If you are lover of 70s rock, this is right up your alley, and if you want to see where David Coverdale cut his teeth before Whitesnake then this is for you too.
DEEP PURPLE – Phoenix Rising is out today. You can pick your copy up here, you’ll thank me later.
JOE SATRIANI‘s new single, ‘Light Years Away‘ is currently streaming at Satriani.com, allowing fans a taste of his upcoming album, Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards.
Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards, Satriani’s 14th studio album, is produced and recorded by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, METALLICA) and Satriani, and is set for release on October 5, 2010 through Epic Records. Veteran Satriani bandmate Jeff Campitelli joins Joe on drums, while newcomers, keyboardist Mike Keneally (FRANK ZAPPA, STEVE VAI) and bassist Allen Whitman (MERMEN) are adding their expertise to the mix. Satriani’s classic sound also carries a surprisingly rich texture of new material as well.
Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards tracklisting:
Light Years Away
The Golden Room
Two Sides To Every Story
Wind In The Trees
God Is Crying
Satriani’s World Tour promoting Black Swans . . . will begin in this fall, kicking off on October 16 in Dublin, Ireland with the North American dates starting on December 1 in Atlanta, hitting cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston and more.
Joe Satriani live dates:
1 – Center Stage – Atlanta, GA
2 – Pompano Beach Amphitheatre – Pompano Beach, FL
3 – House of Blues – Lake Buena Vista, FL
4 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL
6 – The Palace Theatre – Greensburg, PA
7 – Aronoff Center for the Arts – Cincinnati, OH
8 – Massey Hall – Toronto, Ontario
9 – House of Blues – Boston, MA
10 – Tower Theatre – Upper Darby, PA
12 – Metropolis – Montreal, Quebec
13 – Nokia Theatre – New York, NY
14 – Nokia Theatre – New York, NY
15 – The Music Center @ Strathmore – North Bethesda, MD
16 – Fillmore Detroit – Detroit, MI
17 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
19 – Chicago Theatre – Chicago, IL
20 – Uptown Theater – Kansas City, MO
21 – Historic Paramount Theatre – Denver, CO
For more JOE SATRIANI click here.
Finnish superstar Tarja Turunen revealed the brand new video for “Until My Last Breath” today. The song is the first international single from her sophomore effort, What Lies Beneath, which is now being released on September 14, 2010 in the US on The End Records.
Featuring US exclusive artwork and bonus track, What Lies Beneath was recorded and produced by Tarja and mixed by Tim Palmer (Pearl Jam, The Cure, Robert Plant), Colin Richardson (Slipknot, Machine Head, Bullet For My Valentine) and Slamm Andrews (Scores of Angels & Demon, Pirates of The Caribbean, Gladiator).
Special guests on What Lies Beneath include Phil Labonte (All That Remains), Joe Satriani, Jason Hook (5 Finger Death Punch), Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and Choir and more. A Deluxe Edition will be released simultaneously and features and additional three tracks.
What Lies Beneath Track list:
1 Anteroom of Death (featuring Van Canto with friendly permission of Napalm Records Handels GmbH)
2 Until My Last Breath
3 Dark Star (featuring Phil Labonte courtesy of Razor & Tie Entertainment)
5 Little Lies
6 Rivers of Lust
7 In For A Kill
8 Montañas de Silencio (exclusive US track)
9 Falling Awake (featuring Joe Satriani courtesy of Epic Records)
10 The Archive of Lost Dreams
11 Crimson Deep
1 We Are
3 Still of the Night
For more Tarja Turunen click here.
Joe Satriani, one of rock music’s most renowned electric guitarists, has announced details of his highly anticipated 14th studio album, “Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards“. The album will be made available in the U.S. on October 5 (one day earlier internationally) via Epic Records.
On “Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards“, Satriani’s classic sound is accompanied by a surprisingly rich new texture. The first single, “Light Years Away“, is destined to be a hit, alongside several other high energy offerings, like “Wormhole Wizards” and “Premonition“.
“Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards” track listing:
Light Years Away
The Golden Room
Two Sides To Every Story
Wind In The Trees
God Is Crying
For more JOE SATRIANI click here.
The first single, ‘Falling Awake‘ (featuring Jason Hook from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH) will be released August 17th as a limited edition 7″ through The Omega Order and available August 24th at all digital outlets. The track is backed with ‘The Good Die Young‘ – a song from the SCORPIONS most recent album that features Tarja’s vocals.
Featuring US exclusive artwork and bonus track, the new album from the multi-platinum singer was recorded and produced by Tarja and mixed by Tim Palmer (PEAR JAM, THE CURE, ROBERT PLANT), Colin Richardson (SLIPKNOT, MACHINE HEAD, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE) and Slamm Andrews (Scores for Angels & Demon, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Gladiator).
Special guests on What Lies Beneath include Phil Labonte (ALL THAT REMAINS), JOE SATRIANI (CHICKENFOOT), Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch), Will Calhoun (LIVING COLOUR), Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and Choir and more. A limited edition deluxe version of What Lies Beneath is in the works with details to be announced soon.
Tarja, best known as the original vocalist of NIGHTWISH, is the most successful female singer ever to come out of Finland, effortlessly fusing metal, classical and pop-rock. What Lies Beneath is the follow up to her debut album, My Winter Storm, which was released in 2008 and was certified platinum in Finland.
What Lies Beneath tracklisting:
‘Anteroom Of Death’ (featuring VAN CANTO)
‘Until My Last Breath’
‘Dark Star’ (featuring Phil Labonte)
‘Rivers Of Lust’
‘In For A Kill’
‘Montañas de Silencio’ (exclusive US track)
‘Falling Awake’ (featuring Joe Satriani)
‘The Archive Of Lost Dreams’
For more on Tarja Turunen click here.
HOLLYWOOD, CA (July 2, 2010) – Paul Gilbert unleashes his 3rd instrumental masterpiece on Shrapnel Records, August 3rd to the world. “FUZZ UNIVERSE is my third guitar instrumental album,” explains Gilbert. “Being a fan of pop music and rock bands, I am a reluctant convert into the art of instrumental rock music. But after touring with Joe Satriani’s G3, I witnessed firsthand the power of the electric guitar to take center stage and rock the audience. Playing my guitar-driven songs live was a blast! This discovery led to a huge increase in my touring as a solo artist. In the last couple of years, I’ve played nearly 150 shows all over the world, with my guitar leading the way.”
FUZZ UNIVERSE title is inspired by Gilbert being so immersed in the world of guitar it made him realize that he lives in a FUZZ UNIVERSE. “Every generation of guitar players has their own terminology for the rock guitar sound: Distortion, Overdrive, Gain, Crunch, Saturation, Drive etc. For me, the word is FUZZ”
Gilbert’s extraordinary talent of arranging/composing lends to the new music’s fresh melodies for songs that shows his true diversity and only in Gilberts words will you understand:
“On FUZZ UNIVERSE, I think I’ve taken a giant step closer to the ultimate rock guitar sound and playing of my dreams. I’ve used many of my signature techniques from RACER X and MR. BIG, but twisted them into new chords, grooves, and emotions.
As always, my influences are diverse and not what you might expect from a “heavy metal” artist. While I was writing the songs for FUZZ UNIVERSE, I was immersing myself in Bulgarian Female Choir music, Baroque lute and violin pieces, Johnny Cash songs about trains, cows, mules, and mining coal, the Bee Gees, and Ronnie James Dio. I mix all this into my head, and out came endless new ideas for my guitar to chew on.
After several months of being locked in my writing room, I gathered my touring band together and headed to the studio. Jeff Bowders played drums. Craig Martini played bass. Emi Gilbert (my wife) played keyboards. And I bent the guitar strings until I couldn’t play anymore.
As usual, there are no dramatic stories here. No heroin overdoses, motorcycle accidents, celebrity divorces, or band-member boxing matches. The emotion, drama, and power are all in the music. That is the universe that I want to live in”
Paul Gilbert is regarded internationally as one of the greatest players in the industry. Starting his recording career with Shrapnel Records as a teenager in the late 80’s, Gilbert remains one of the most active guitarists from the original shred guitar scene. His rise to Platinum success includes a number one song with Mister Big, and cult status as founding member of the legendary and highly successful underground progressive metal band Racer X.
For more information click on www.paulgilbert.com
This interview was conducted on May 29th, 2009 in Raleigh, NC.
When you think of Bay Area Thrash, you think of four bands; Metallica, Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel. Sure there were others of that time, and many that came later. But those four bands defined Thrash Metal and the ‘Bay Area’ sound. Naturally there were none bigger than Metallica, but close on their heels has to be Testament. After 24 years, numerous lineup changes, a throat cancer scare, and a nine year period of inactivity, Testament is back with a new album Formation of Damnation featuring Chuck Billy on vocals, Eric Peterson on guitar, Alex Skolnick on guitar, Greg Christian on bass, and Paul Bostaph on drums. A new tour that is taking the bands to markets they haven’t played in 15 years or more (I caught the show in Raleigh, NC, and there was much debate as to whether Testament had actually ever played Raleigh before). And a new focus and determination to take the band higher and farther than it has ever been before. I met with Alex Skolnick right before their set at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, and talked about Testament, Trans Siberian Orchestra, the Alex Skolnick Trio and life before and after Testament. Here we go….
Away-Team: This is Jim Keller with Alex Skolnick from Testament. Once again I want to thank you for sitting down and doing this interview with us, much appreciated.
Away-Team: What I’d like to do basically is start at the beginning of the band.
Away-Team: Testament was originally started as The Legacy..
Away-Team: By Eric (Peterson) and his cousin. They had Steve Souza in the band as a vocalist who left to join Exodus before you recorded your first album. It was reported that he actually suggested Chuck (Billy) as his replacement. Why did Steve leave?
Alex: Well it was funny ‘cause he was the guy that gave us all serious talking toos about how everybody in this band has to be serious. You know when I joined the band he’s like you’re either serious, you either take this seriously or you take it somewhere else. We don’t want guys that are just in here that are just gonna leave and join some other band. Sure enough *laughs* he’s the guy that ends up leaving. But you know he left because I think he felt Exodus was going farther, faster.
Away-Team: At that time when you joined, you were a student of Joe Satriani’s Correct?
Away-Team: And after you joined the band did you continue practicing with him, learning from him?
Alex: I studied with him for about two years. I was with him, basically for the first six months I was in the band and then he started getting really busy. He did his first solo recordings. He definitely uh got me to learn a lot more on my own than I would have otherwise.
Away-Team: So, is it kind of a prerequisite that if you’re going to be in one of the better thrash bands out of San Francisco a la Testament, Metallica; you had to learn from Joe?
Alex: Apparently!! Everybody studied with him, yeah!
Alex: It was a hotel band…
Away-Team: A hotel band had copyrighted the name The Legacy?
Alex: Yeah. A hotel R&B band in New Orleans.
Away-Team: So the story I had heard was that the reason you changed it to Testament was because the CD artwork – everything was already done and the label didn’t want to re-do everything, so you had named the album originally Testament…
Alex: That’s not true
Away-Team: That’s not true, okay, so how did you come up with Testament, then?
Alex: Billy Milano, the singer for SOD came up with the name. Ya know he was on Megaforce Records. So basically an all points bulletin went out, to find a name for the band that Megaforce had just signed. So yeah, I think the guys from Anthrax were suggesting names. Everybody at the record label suggested. We were trying to come up with names and it was Billy Milano that came up with the name Testament.
Away-Team: Did he know you guys or was it just kind of, this is a cool name they should use something like this?
Alex: We had met him, once. But I think he had come up… I feel like I had met him, like maybe when we were recording the first album, and we just, we knew we had to have a name, before the album was released, obviously and it was just one of many suggestions and it was the one, we kind of lived with it for a while and it felt the best.
Away-Team: Your current album, Formation of Damnation, to me is far and away the strongest album you guys have recorded since Practice What You Preach. It’s probably a more straightforward thrash sounding album than some of the last few albums. Was this a culmination of various writing from the last nine years or did you all sit down and write the album together as a whole band?
Alex: No, it was a combination. I think the previous album the guys did when I wasn’t with the band, The Gathering, that was the first one I felt, a lot of people felt, where Chuck and Eric sort of found a formula that works for them. So I didn’t want to really, get in the way of that formula and try to make it 1989 again. But I made a lot of suggestions with the music they were doing and I did bring in some music of my own. Some of that got used; the song F.E.A.R. is something I wrote. But it was more a combination of ideas that Chuck and Eric had had, playing around with some new stuff.
Away-Team: And Eric being the predominant songwriter, music writer for the band, now with this you’re current lineup which is the semi-reunited lineup or the original lineup with addition of Paul Bostaph is it a more of a collaborative thing now or at least going forward to looking at the next album is going to be more collaborative?
Alex: We’ll see, just kind of going to let it happen as it happens.
Away-Team: And will there be a new album?
Alex: There will eventually be, yes.
Away-Team: We mentioned the many lineup changes you guys have done over the years. You being one of them. You guys all got together in 2001 as The Legacy for the Chuck Billy cancer benefit. That show saw the best of the Bay Area thrash scene reuniting for a great cause. Bands like Exodus, Death Angel, Sadus, Vio-lence and of course you. In the last eight years or so, Exodus, Death Angel, you guys now with the Formation of Damnation, have released what many consider to be the best music of your individual and collective careers. Some amazing stuff has come out of the original Bay Area thrash scene in the last couple years. It seems that it’s alive and well again. What do you attribute the current popularity or resurrection of the Bay Area trash scene to?
Alex: Well I think part of it is it’s not as isolated as it used to be. It used to be this very isolated area of music. Pretty much limited to the Bay Area with the exception of ya know Megadeth from LA and Anthrax form New York. I think it’s now like one of many genres of very heavy metal. Ya know you have black metal, you have death metal from Florida and it all relates to thrash metal. There are all these relatives in metal. And now you’ve got some newer bands that have formed in the last ten, fifteen years that in some cases are seeing a lot of success and that’s brought a lot more awareness to the original Bay Area thrash scene. So when we first did the reunion shows it was unclear what kind of type of fan we would have. Was it just going to be Old School fans? But there are actually a lot of young fans that are keeping it alive and well.
Away-Team: Well, if you go in the venue right now; I was very surprised. ‘Cause that was one of the things I looked at as they were lining up out here. Is that they are all going to be my age or our age like a bunch of older guys standing out here but the entire crowd in there tonight has gotta be 25 or younger!
Alex: And if we depended on guys our age, the audience wouldn’t be that big. Let’s face it.
Away-Team: Yeah. Absolutely.
Alex: People get to be our age and they have jobs, families; most don’t go out to shows like they did when they were in their twenties. So it’s nice to have a combination. It’s not that we have, we haven’t lost the original fans. But we do have this big young following now. I think a lot of other bands are seeing that as well, like Exodus.
Away-Team: You had mentioned what I call, like the second wave of thrash.. 10 to 15 year old bands. Today you’ve got bands like the band on stage right now, Lazarus AD. Very, very similar to the old Bay Area thrash style. Warbringer, Municipal Waste a lot of very young bands, that seeing a lot of good response, that can be harkened right back to you guys. It’s like the third generation now. Twenty years later there’s still bands coming out and they’re not Retro, they’re not recreating the sound, but they are continuing it if nothing else and that’s got to really, for you guys to be their inspiration, it’s really got to be something.
Alex: It’s great. It’s also great because for so long we were told our music’s not going to last. It’s passing. It’s in left field. It was this outcast music that nobody predicted a future for. So there’s the answer right there. Great, new young bands that are doing it today.
Away-Team: And twenty four years later, you guys are still out here kicking ass, so it’s very cool. Going back to the formation of not damnation, but of Testament. Can you name one of your favorite memories of the mid to late eighties in the Bay Area Thrash music scene? Some of the shows from The Stone or Ruthie’s Inn or Mabuhay Gardens?
Alex: Yeah, I will say I remember one time Metallica playing at Ruthie’s unannounced, just to do a warm-up. That was great. They did a lot of, they did some punk covers. It was just a fun gig. Uh, there was also this project called Spastik Children, with Cliff Burton, James Hetfield on drums and it was like comedy like sort of South Park before South Park. Completely politically incorrect, funny, bad, badly played on purpose music.
Away-Team: God, I forgot all about Spastik Children…
Alex: Yeah, some of those shows are pretty memorable.
Away-Team: With Metallica coming from L.A., basically because the L.A. scene just couldn’t handle them. The crowds didn’t get what they were trying to do, with you guys, Vio-lence, Exodus, Death Angel, were you kind of a close knit community? Was it kind of you against everybody else? Was there a lot of camaraderie there, or..?
Alex: I’d say there was camaraderie and competition simultaneously. Everybody wanted to be the best band they could and even though a lot of us we didn’t really sound alike. You always had to keep an eye out for the other bands. It’s like different football teams that are all in the same league. You want, as a whole you want to do well, but you still want to come out on top, above everybody else.
Away-Team: I understand. Your current tour, in support of the Formation of Damnation, is unique in that you guys are allowing the fans to vote, via your MySpace page, for the set list they want to hear in their given town. You have three options, The Legacy, plus hits, The New Order plus hits, or a chronicle set list, basically from start to finish of your catalogue. How did you guys come about the idea? How has it been received? And any regrets on having to keep rotating a roughly thirty song playlist on tour?
Alex: It’s worked out very easily, because overwhelmingly everybody’s voted for the Chronicle stuff, so that’s pretty much what we’ve done. And I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but it’s definitely been a very good idea and it’s just been fun to hear from the fans. And in the process they’ve not only voted on the songs, a lot of them have made suggestions a long the way. “We want to hear a chronicle, but we really want to hear this song. Why don’t you play this song?”
Away-Team: And you guys are actually listening and paying attention to what they’re…
Alex: Oh absolutely.
Away-Team: Beside the main lineup changes, you guys have several label changes over the years; mainly due to simple bad luck and the labels folding on you. Did I read though that somehow you guys ended up on a gospel label prior to signing with Nuclear Blast?
Alex: Well I think what happened was we were signed to Spitfire which got bought by another label, which was a gospel label.
Away-Team: OK. And they had no interest in releasing the new Testament CD? Laughs
Alex: Oh, Exactly. I’m sure at first they thought, oh this is perfect.
Away-Team: A “New Testament” band awesome!
Alex: And then they found out what it was and then they let the band go, no problem.
Away-Team: So did Spitfire have some religious bands on their roster?
Alex: I don’t think so. I’m not sure.
Away-Team: Laughs. Alright, you are currently on Nuclear Blast and they are treating you well…
Alex: Treating us great. It’s a great partnership absolutely.
Away-Team: Good, good. When the current tour with Unearth and Lazarus AD, at least the North American leg of it is over, what are you guys’ plans? Where are you going next?
Alex: We’re off for a couple weeks, then we’re going to be in Europe for July and part of August to do a lot of festivals.
Away-Team: Do you have any plans for a follow up album and will we have to wait another nine years for it?
Alex: No, it’ll be recorded next year, most likely released, late, by late next year
Away-Team: Great! With all the side projects, from your various members, Dragonlord, you in Trans Siberian Orchestra, Chuck’s Dublin Death Patrol and your jazz trio, how do you guys find time to get together, to record and tour? And how does that affect, I mean is Testament now the priority or is it ‘we can fit in Testament around these various projects’? TSO’s a big deal, it’s a big show and you have to…
Alex: Yeah, it’s a unique situation, because I was already, I’d already been playing with TSO for several years by the time the Testament reunion happened. So it’s been pretty understood that during the months of the Winter TSO tour I’m not available. I do my best, as far as my trio and I have couple other projects I’m involved with as well, some as a producer which I can’t talk about yet. They’re…They’re gonna be
Away-Team: Then I won’t ask that question…
Alex: Pretty exciting times and projects… We’re doing an album cycle right now. So, since last year we’ve been doing an album cycle, so this, Testament has been the priority. Soon as we’re done with this album cycle I think there’s going to be a slight shift in priorities. The way this record got created was a lot of the basics were worked on while I was with TSO, I would write ideas, which I think is going to happen this next tour as well, and then I think next year, Before the album cycle, before the Testament album cycle starts, that’s going to be a good chance for me to do a lot more stuff with the Alex Skolnick Trio. But then, of course, once the Testament album cycle starts then that’s going to be the priority. It really depends on where we are in terms of the album cycle..
Away-Team: So everybody’s working together though, with all their side projects, everything kind of fits in OK and there’s no real conflict going on with it?
Alex: Yeah, I mean it’s a different thing with me, because with TSO it’s a very set tour. With Dragonlord, Eric decides, when that tours. With my Trio there are people that decide it with me, so we work to make sure that we capitalize on any available time I have to tour with them.
Away-Team: I have heard that some of your solos for Formation of Damnation were recorded while on tour with TSO and done in someone’s bathroom in New York. Is that correct?
Alex: That’s not true. I mean the part about the bathroom is not true. What basically happened was some of the solos were recorded in Albany, when TSO had some days off in 2007. The first studio that we found was a guy’s basement…
Away-Team: It was his basement, OK
Alex: Yeah. And it just, it was an awful situation. We had like 48 hours, we had two days and the goal was to do all of the solos and basically a whole day was wasted. We were getting all of this radio signal out of the amps and the guy had no idea what to do about it. So then we found a really good studio the one that we should’ve been at all along and I did half of the songs, and I did the other half as soon I was done with the TSO tour.
Away-Team: Now did you already have the solos worked out or a rough idea what you were going to do with them…
Alex: I had a couple rough ideas, but some of them I came up with on the spot….
Away-Team: ‘Cause they’re some outstanding solos.
Alex: Thank you!
Away-Team: Across the board the musicianship and the work on Formation of Damnation is actually very stellar…
Alex: I appreciate that.
Away-Team: Paul Bostaph is currently drumming for you. This his second stint in the band now. He’s played with some other great bands besides Testament. He started out with Forbidden… Slayer, Exodus and another not as well known Bay Area band, but that I’m very familiar with, Systematic. He’s kind of become known as the ‘go to’ metal drummer, almost like a journeyman. Is he now a permanent member of Testament?
Alex: It certainly feels that way. That remains to be seen. Yeah, it definitely feels that way. I know on our end there’s no thought of working with anybody else…
Away-Team: OK, so Louie’s not going to come knocking on the bus one day? Where is Louie?
Alex: Louie comes… Louie makes appearances. He’s always… He always visits us when we play. He was just on tour with us for three days…
Away-Team: Oh, really?
Alex: He doesn’t really play any more. He just likes to hang out. We like having him around. It works out well. We get him away from his job. He’s like a, a relative…
Away-Team: Is there anything you haven’t done yet, goal-wise or music-wise that you still want to? And what is it?
Alex: Yeah there’s a lot of things. Definitely, I’m close, I mean I feel like with my instrumental albums I’m able to do the music that’s in my head. Which is great! For me it’s just getting my instrumental stuff to a wider audience. And I’d like to see Testament reach a wider audience as well. The truth is, what I would really like to see is the trio playing venues like Testament’s playing; those size crowds. I’d like to see Testament playing to crowds more like TSO’s.
Alex: I get this experience of every year playing in front of a packed arena. Sometimes twice a day! And this band has never experienced that. That kind of production, that kind of audience. We’ve had some great support slots in arenas. But I think this could be a great arena band.
Away-Team: You guys have never actually headlined arenas?
Away-Team: Really. Wow, I did not realize that.
Away-Team: There’s many bands out there today that are citing Testament as an influence, as a musician it’s got to be an ultimate compliment. How do you react to something like that? I mean, how does that make you feel?
Alex: Great! It feels great. It’s a great compliment. It’s not something you think about while you’re doing it, while you’re in the studio or playing live; about having an influence on somebody else, you just do what you do. But when you hear that, it’s amazing, ‘cause having had many influences myself, just to think that I was able to be what I saw in my favorite guitars players, other people are seeing in me, which is really, really cool.
Away-Team: Who are some of your influences?
Alex: Well, it started out with Randy Rhodes and Eddie Van Halen, Michael Shanker. I studied their influences, Jeff Beck, Clapton, Hendrix and then the classic Blues players. And then once I got into Jazz, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny…
Away-Team: What made you pick up a guitar to begin with?
Alex: Yep. I discovered KISS and wanted to play KISS songs.
Away-Team: And it was the guitar always?
Alex: It was piano, very briefly in third grade. And then I had a bad music teacher and I, I quit piano. Now I bought a piano. I still like to play, but I have no plans to play professionally.
Away-Team: We’re not going to see you in a hotel lounge somewhere tickling the ivories…
Alex: Not anytime soon!
Away-Team: Well Alex, that pretty much wraps up my questions. I do appreciate your time… I wish you much luck with the rest of the tour…
Alex: Thank you!
Away-Team: The festivals this summer, of course TSO in the winter and then at some point next year we’ll hear a little bit from the trio again.
Alex: Yeah, yeah, going to try to squeeze out a new trio album. Or at least an EP this year.
Away-Team: Great! Alright, well I appreciate it Alex, thank you very much again for your time!
Alex: No problem Jim, good to see you again.
There you have it. We got some shout outs to Cliff Burton, James Hetfield and Spastik Children, Billy Milano of MOD and SOD, and KISS! My thanks to Brian at Adrenaline PR for setting up the interview, Mark for ensuring it actually happened, Alex for jumping in last minute and rescuing the interview, and Bam Bam as always for getting me in the interviews to begin with!
If you haven’t heard Formation Of Damnation go pick it up NOW!!!! And check out Testament on the road. The show that night was nothing short of amazing. The guys played with a furiousness that belied their age, and a sense of fun and having a good time. The music and vocals were spot on, and I did not hear one person walk away from that show with a bad word.