Stryper’s Michael Sweet Talks New CD/DVD Package, ‘Live at the Whisky’

StryperThe Whisky a Go Go is a legendary Sunset Boulevard club with a deep-rooted musical history.

Everyone from Led Zeppelin to Van Halen has performed on its tiny stage. It also has served as the launching pad for bands like the Doors and Guns N’ Roses, to name just a few. In fact, one can argue that the Los Angeles rock scene began when the Whisky opened its doors in 1964.

The guys in Christian hard rock band Stryper also cut their teeth at the Whisky. The small, intimate setting was the starting point for the band’s musical journey, back when they were called Roxx Regime. So it’s no surprise Stryper’s new live CD/DVD package, Live at the Whisky pays homage to those early days.

Recorded at a sold-out November 2013 show, the 16-track collection documents the band’s first show in support of their latest album, 2013’s No More Hell To Pay. Live at the Whisky features live performances of the some of the band’s classic hits, including “Calling On You,” “Free,” “Always There for You,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell with the Devil.”

Included with the live album and DVD are music videos for “No More Hell to Pay” and “Sympathy,” plus an interview segment the band — Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass) and Robert Sweet (drums) — recorded for Nashville All Access.

I recently spoke to Sweet about Live at the Whisky as well as Sweet & Lynch, Sweet’s new side project with George Lynch, James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me a little about the band’s history at the Whisky.

We go way back with the Whisky. I’ll never forget the first time I played there when I was 16. I was with my brother, Robert, in the band Roxx Regime and we played there with Kevin Dubrow’s Quiet Riot, which was what it was called at the time. We had this small dressing room and I remember Kevin kicking the door open and screaming at us because we were using too much hairspray [laughs].

What do you like most about that venue?

Playing at the Whisky is such a unique experience. There’s a certain vibe there that’s hard to explain. You can actually feel the history when you walk through the doors. It’s a tiny kitty-corner stage with not much room to move around. You’re right in the corner bumping elbows all night long, but that’s part of the cool factor of performing there.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Michael Sweet by Clicking Here!

‘Rocks’: Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry Talks New Memoir, Guitars and Next Solo Album

ROCKSSomewhere after the second British invasion and shortly before the advent of disco and punk, five guys from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston began finding their niche to take over the world.

They bucked the system at every opportunity, while at the same time set a precedent for a generation of bands that would follow them.

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry’s story has been full of ups and downs. Finally, it’s a story worth telling. Perry’s new memoir, Rocks: My Life In And Out of Aerosmith, is an honest reflection of the life and career of one of rock’s all-time greats.

Throughout its pages, Perry pulls no punches in detailing the rise, fall and second coming of one of the greatest bands of all time. Speaking candidly about his early love of the wilderness, his conflicts with authority (includung his refusal to cut his hair in school), the drug abuse, dealing with controlling managers and his stormy relationship with Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler.

In addition to a plethora of amazing photographs, Rocks also contains a detailed appendix featuring the guitars and gear Perry has used throughout his career. It’s a treasure trove of information for guitar players and gear enthusiasts.

Perry’s life journey is encouraging, inspiring and at times heartbreaking. But where Rocks really shines is in its ability to showcase a different side of human nature and just what it takes to get along.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Perry about his new memoir as well as got an update on Aerosmith and his next solo album.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

Not too long ago, there was a vibe. It was the 40th anniversary of the band and our last Sony record. There were also a lot of other things going on in our personal lives that made it seem like it was the end of one era and the beginning of another. That’s when my wife Billie asked me, “What do you think about writing a book?” There was something inside me that just clicked and it felt like it was the right time.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joe Perry By Clicking Here!

Birthday Reflections At 45

BirthdayCakeToday is October 5th, 2014: My 45th birthday.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was reminiscing about my life on my 44th birthday?

I swear, time is going by WAY too fast. I am now officially half-way to 90. A staggering accomplishment if I do say so myself.

I’m grateful every day for all of the blessings in my life: a loving family, friends, good health and being able to do something I really love to do – write.

I’m not sure if I’ll make it to be a nonagenarian but what I do know is that for each year that goes by time seems to be going at breakneck speed – and I don’t think I like it.

Case in point: my daughter turned thirteen this year. And although there have certainly been a few teen drama moments that have tried my patience, I still find myself always thinking that in five short years she will begin building a life on her own.

Slow down.

2014 has been a year of firsts for me. This year saw me achieve some monumental interviews. Pipe dreams for the kid who played guitar endlessly throughout high school in his upstairs bedroom. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Ted Nugent, Steve Vai and Don Felder (The Eagles) among many others.

I’ve also had the once in a lifetime opportunity of attending Jim Peterik’s book release event in New York City where I got to see him perform an intimate acoustic set for an audience of about thirty people. I sit here now with a smile on my face recalling how the music he made with the band Survivor got me through my own teenage drama in the 1980’s. When times were tough, I knew I could always find solace in songs like “I Can’t Hold Back,” “High On You,” “The Search is Over,” “Is This Love,” “Man Against The World” and “In Good Faith”.

Photo: Kat Gallaso

Photo: Kath Galasso

Jim’s music was so influential to me that at my high school graduation party my friend Nathan Brown and I set up an impromptu jam session. Out on my parent’s patio, Nathan and I set up his drum set and I plugged in my guitar. Then for the next two hours — to the delight chagrin of those in attendance, the two of us jammed along to the entire “Vital Signs” album while it spun on my mother’s worn out turntable.

For me to now sit in a small club and watch Jim Peterik do a few of those same songs in 2014 was nothing short of incredible.

Slow down.

As I think of that post graduation party I am suddenly reminded that 2014 was also a year of loss. Nathan Brown and I had been the best of friends when we roamed the halls of Easton High School. Dreaming about (and often forming) short-lived bands that at the time we thought would take over the world. I still remember all of those conversations we had late in the night talking about everything we were going to do once we “made it”. Nathan was the best man at my wedding in 1995 and someone who always knew how to make you laugh. In short, he was one of a kind.

I always thought that our bond of brotherhood would be inseparable, but life sometimes has a funny way of throwing a wrench into even the best of circumstances. Sadly, towards the end of the 1990’s and the start of the 21st century, the two of us lost touch. Although we would eventually reconnect at a concert three years ago, we never really hung out again like we used to. It was the usual case of “maybe someday”. Yep, there would always be a someday — right?

Ironically, on September 11th of this year, Nathan’s name popped into my head for some reason. Suddenly, “someday” was today! I decided to do a quick Google search on him to see if maybe he had a Facebook or something so that I might reach out to him. But when the first hit came back from the search engine, my heart just sank.

It was his obituary.

Nathan had passed away suddenly in his home on August 9th. He had already been gone for more than a month. His final service was already over and I am still devastated for not being there to at least say goodbye and pay my respects.

Please….Slow down.

As I begin to celebrate my 45th year on this bouncing ball my heart is heavy but I’m feeling optimistic. There’s a big world out there just waiting to be explored. Family and friends to love, books to read, articles (and books) to write, music to create and new dreams to find.

But my real wish on this October 5th is to have the strength to seize each day and then slow down. I still want to enjoy those big moments, but now I want to savor the small ones just as much. I’ve realized there’s only so much time we are given here in this life.

And I plan on making the most of it.

‘Retrogrenade': Gary Cherone Talks New Hurtsmile Album, Extreme and Van Halen

If you follow the career path of frontman extraordinaire Gary Cherone, you can’t avoid bumping into some serious guitar-rock royalty.

Hurtsmile - Photo by: Marc Lacatell

Hurtsmile - Photo by: Marc Lacatell

Whether it’s his partnership with Nuno Bettencourt in Extreme, fronting the mighty Van Halen or performing with his idols Brian May and Tony Iommi at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in the early Nineties, Cherone has performed with true living legends.

But perhaps no guitarist knows Cherone better than his brother. That’s why Hurtsmile — which consists of Gary Cherone, his brother Mark Cherone (guitar), Joe Pessia (bass) and Dana Spellman (drums) — is a reflection of Cherone’s personal tastes.

Inspired by the records they grew up on, Hurtsmile’s new album, Retrogrenade, which will be released October 7, is full of swaggering guitars, soaring vocals and Cherone’s trademark eclecticism.

From the fiery opening track, “Rock and Roll Cliché,” to songs like “Hello I Must Be Going” and the politically charged “Big Government,” Hurtsmile finds inspiration through a joint collaborative process. It’s not “retro” in the sense that they’re trying to sound like someone else. It’s a sonic nod to some of their early influences.

I recently spoke with Cherone about Retrogrenade, Extreme and some memorable moments from his career.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the writing process for Retrogrenade differ from the band’s first album?

On the first record, Mark and I wrote a majority of the songs. For this one, everyone contributed to every song. Joe really stepped up and contributed songs rather than just contributions within another song. Songs like “Walk Away,” “I Still Do” and “Sing a Song” were ones that Joe and I wrote. Mark and I also wrote songs together and then there were collaborations between all of us, including Dana. That to me is the real strength of this record.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Gary Cherone by Clicking Here!

‘Reckless’: Songwriter Jim Vallance Discusses Working with Bryan Adams

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 5.19.14 PMIn the context of songwriting partnerships, few teams have been as long-lasting — or as successful — as that of Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams.

Since being introduced by a mutual friend in a music store in 1978, Vallance and Adams have written hits that appear on Adams’ albums You Want It, You Got It; Cuts Like a Knife; and the 1984 monster, Reckless, which sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Adams will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Reckless in November with a four-disc, super-deluxe reissue package that includes bonus-track demos recorded in Vallance’s basement studio in 1983 and ’84.

Over the years, Vallance has continued to flex his songwriting muscle, penning hits with Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Lita Ford, to name just a few.

I recently spoke to Vallance about the Reckless sessions, his time working with Adams and his upcoming projects.

GUITAR WORLD: When you think back to the Reckless album, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Mostly, I remember how much work we did. Bryan and I got together in my basement studio every day for a year … noon ’til midnight. Some days were more productive than others, but we always put in the time and did the work.

What were those songwriting sessions like?

Bryan and I had a daily routine. He would arrive at noon, we’d have a sandwich and a cup of tea and then we’d go downstairs and get to work. We’d start by deciding if we were going to write a fast song or a slow song and then we’d set up a “drum loop” for inspiration. Usually, Bryan would play guitar and I’d play bass or piano. We’d jam for hours until one of us played or sang something interesting. Then we’d spend time fleshing out the idea or we’d jam some more until another idea materialized. We repeated the routine every day for months. It was always productive. There were very few wasted sessions.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Jim Vallance by Clicking Here!

‘Something Supernatural’: Crobot Guitarist Chris Bishop Talks New Album and Gear

SomethingSupernaturalThere once was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs, a period when the only thing that mattered was that unmistakable guitar sound that instantly identified a band or song.

Thankfully, the four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have made it their mission to bring back elements of those days.

Crobot’s new album, Something Supernatural, was produced by Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes) and will be released October 28 on WindUp. It incorporates a lot of riff-heavy groove and funk mixed with a modernized spin.

I recently spoke with Bishop about the new album, his gear and more. As a bonus, we’re also presenting the worldwide premiere of the new video for “Skull of Geronimo,” which was created by Bishop (who also happens to be a visual artist). Check out the interview and “Skull of Geronimo” below!

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Something Supernatural?

I like to say it’s like “Clutch meets Funkadelic” with a little bit of doom tossed in there. It’s definitely on the heavier side of things.

What was the writing process like?

We rehearsed and wrote the album in this shed behind Brandon’s house. It was inside this room that was filled with deer heads and things like that [laughs]. It was a super-cool place to jam in.

Most of the songs started out as previous ideas or as riffs and structures I brought to the table. Others would come out of jams where Jake would come up with a riff. That’s the beauty of being a riff-rock band. Sometimes the coolest pentatonic riffs are the ones people connect with the most.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Chris Bishop By Clicking Here!

Melvins Guitarists Buzz Osborne and Paul Leary Talk New Album, ‘Hold It In’

TheMelvins-HoldItInIt’s not often you get to work with one of your heroes, but for Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne, that’s exactly what happened.

Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary joined the Melvins for their new album, Hold It In, which will be released October 14. Also joining Osborne, Leary and drummer Dale Crover for this 12-song Melvins outing is Butthole Surfers’ bassist JD Pinkus.

Osborne says Hold It In is a refreshing piece of fiction in a boring world of “fact and bullshit.” If Leary’s outside-the-box approach to guitar playing and Osborne’s passion for songwriting are anything to go by, it’s definitely best to just let it ride.

The Melvins will kick off a round of U.S. tour dates October 15 in Sacramento, California. Osborne, Crover and Pinkus will be the touring roster for this run of dates.

I recently spoke with Osborne and Leary about the new Melvins record. I also asked Osborne about his Nirvana connection.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Hold It In?

OSBORNE: It’s a good cross-section of a lot of things we’ve done as well as some things we’ve never done. It’s the first Melvins record I played on where I didn’t write a majority of the material. That was a little different than what we normally do. Paul is also one of my favorite guitar players, and I’ve thought about doing something like this with him for a long time.

LEARY: For the most part, it’s a little fresher and an amalgam album. I wrote three songs on there and we’ve also got Jeff Pinkus, which provided another Butthole element.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Osborne & Leary by Clicking Here!

‘The Tiger Speaks’: Guitarist Jim Peterik Talks New Book, Ides of March and Survivor

PeterikMost rock biographies tend to follow a similar pattern. The artist’s road to redemption is paved with tales of debauchery, drug abuse, marital infidelity and a trashing hotel room or two.

Although Jim Peterik’s story doesn’t really follow that path, it’s even more special.

For instance, did you know the founder of such bands as the Ides of March, Survivor and Pride Of Lions was already playing shows alongside Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as a teen? Or that Peterik’s original role in Survivor was one of dual guitarist and lead vocalist?

Peterik’s new book, Through the Eye of the Tiger: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Life of Survivor’s Founding Member, discusses all of that and much more in a look back at the life and career of one of rock’s best songwriters.

With the help of writer Lisa Torem, Peterik reveals stories from his almost 50 years in music. Like the time the Ides of March stole the show from Led Zeppelin or when Peterik unwillingly ceded control of Survivor and took on a diminished role in order to achieve a greater good.

There are revelations of his encounters with Hendrix, Sammy Hagar and Brian Wilson; making studio magic with the late Jimi Jamison (one of rock’s greatest voices) as well as the challenges he faced becoming a husband and father. Oh, and then there’s the little matter of a how a phone call from Sylvester Stallone turned into “Eye of The Tiger.”

Through the Eye of the Tiger is more than just the memoir of a songwriting legend. It’s a classic rock and roll story that’s told through the eyes of someone who has lived through it all.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Peterik about his new book, career and his amazing guitar collection.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

It’s a good time in my life. I’m feeling good and have a lot of stories to tell. Certainly, there are a lot more stories ahead of me and quite a few stories behind me that I wanted to get out.

Read the complete
gw_logoInterview with Jim Peterik by Clicking Here!

Guitar World: Eric Johnson and Mike Stern Discuss Their ‘Eclectic’ New Album

EricJohnsonMikeSternWhat do you get when you combine two bona-fide guitar heroes in their respective genres — and then have them go toe-to-toe with each other? You get Eclectic, a new album by blues/jazz/rocker Eric Johnson and jazz master Mike Stern.

Recorded at Johnson’s studio in Austin, Texas, Eclectic — which will be released October 27 — is a tasty collection of songs highlighting the strengths of both guitarists. It features an infectious rhythm section consisting of drummer Anton Fig (The Late Show with David Letterman) and Johnson’s regular bassist, Chris Maresh.

Stern’s body of guitar goodness spans more than four decades. His career includes partnerships with such artists as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius.

Johnson’s playing has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. His six-string wizardry earned him a Grammy award in 1992 for his instrumental hit, “Cliffs of Dover,” which came in at Number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar solos of all time.

Johnson and Stern will support Eclectic with an Eastern U.S. tour beginning in November.

I recently spoke with both guitarists about their new album. Johnson also gives a bit of advice for properly playing “Cliffs of Dover.”

GUITAR WORLD: How did this collaboration begin?

STERN: I’ve known Eric for years and always dug his playing. Every time I saw him, I’d tell him that it would be great for us to do something together. Finally, I was doing this record called Big Neighborhood and had the idea of doing something with him.

JOHNSON: We had so much fun working on that record that one day the Blue Note Club in New York called and asked us if we’d like to do a joint gig together. So we put together a band, rehearsed and learned music. We ended up doing a two-week tour out of that and got offered to do a record and a few other tours that are now slated to happen.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Johnson and Stern by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Elliot Easton Discusses The Empty Hearts, The Cars and His Signature Gibson Tikibird

The Empty HeartsEven though the Empty Hearts feature members of Blondie, the Cars, the Chesterfield Kings and the Romantics — and even though their name was chosen from Little Steven Van Zandt’s super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed supergroup.

Featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar, the Empty Hearts have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock into their self-titled debut. Their new album is a raucous collection of tunes shaped by Fifties American roots rock, Sixties British Invasion and Seventies garage-punk.

I recently spoke to Easton about the Empty Hearts, his signature Gibson Tikibird and the 30th anniversary of the Cars’ Heartbeat City.

GUITAR WORLD: When did the idea for the Empty Hearts begin?

The germ of the idea started with Andy [Babiuk]. The Chesterfield Kings weren’t doing anything and Andy called me up and said, “What do you think about doing a band with me, you, Clem Burke and Wally Palmer from the Romantics?”

I wasn’t doing much at the time so I told him that if he could get it together, I was in. Andy is such a great organizer and motivator and put everything together. We found that we liked each other’s vibe and enjoyed each other’s company. Everything about it really felt good.

How would you describe the album?

It’s a reflection and celebration of all of our influences that went into making us the musicians we are. Recalling those early days of innocence when you played music for the sheer joy of it. We really wanted to make a record that reminded us of why we got into music in the first place. You hear some Who, Beatles and our garage rock influences. It’s all stuff we loved as kids starting out.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Elliot Easton by Clicking Here!

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