Category Archives: Guitar World Interviews

‘Rockabilly Riot’: Brian Setzer Talks New Album, Gretsch Guitars and Future of Rockabilly

Rockabilly Riot - Brian SetzerFollowing last year’s successful Christmas tour with his 18-piece orchestra, iconic guitarist, songwriter and three-time Grammy winner Brian Setzer entered the studio to get back to his rockabilly roots — with incredible results.

Setzer’s new album, Rockabilly Riot: All Original, which will be released August 12 via Surfdog Records, is pure, straight-ahead rockabilly that features 12 new, original songs. Along with his trademark twang and fretboard fire, Setzer is backed by three musicians who are among the best at their craft — Mark Winchester (bass), Kevin McKendree (piano) and Noah Levy (drums).

The album, which was recorded in Nashville, was produced by Peter Collins, who handled those same duties for Setzer’s Vavoom! and The Dirty Boogie. The result is a cross-mix of early Stray Cats and Setzer’s solo records, with an emphasis on a fresh, modern rockabilly sound.

Setzer first captured the hearts of guitarists everywhere as founder and frontman of Stray Cats, whose signature songs “Rock This Town,” “(She’s) Sexy & 17” and “Stray Cat Strut” introduced the sound and attitude of rockabilly to a new generation of rock fans in the early Eighties.

I recently spoke to Setzer about Rockabilly Riot: All Original, his early days, guitars and what the future holds for rockabilly music.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of Rockabilly Riot?

To me, it sounds a little bit like a mixture of an album I had called Ignition and the first Stray Cats album. The production of it is straight forward, but it really is songs first. Then I make them into rockabilly just by me playing them.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Brian Setzer by Clicking Here!

‘1000hp’: Guitarist Tony Rombola Talks New Godsmack Album and Side Project

Godsmack (Photo: Michael Chapman)

Godsmack (Photo: Michael Chapman)

Multi-platinum hard rock heroes Godsmack are revving their engines for their highly anticipated sixth studio album, 1000hp The album, which is set for an August 5 release, is the follow-up to 2010’s The Oracle, which debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200.

Co-produced by Sully Erna along with Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Evanescence), 1000hp returns the band to their Boston-based roots. Even the album’s title track pays homage to the band’s journey from playing tiny clubs to packed arenas worldwide.

With a new-found thrashed-up “punk” energy, 1000hp is really about going back to basics. It’s old-school Godsmack, but with a new kind of twist.

Coinciding with the release of 1000hp,  Godsmack will also headline this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival, which kicks off August 14. Godsmack is Sully Erna (vocals), Tony Rombola (guitar), Robbie Merrill (bass) and Shannon Larkin (drums).

I recently spoke with Rombola about 1000hp, touring and his blues-based side project, the Blue Cross Band.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of 1000hp?

We wanted it to be straight forward and simple. I think that was the theme. There are elements of punk in some of the grooves that Sully brought in, and even in the selection of some of the riffs that I had as well. A lot of it is simpler, with some different feels.

What’s the songwriting process for a Godsmack album?

For me, it all starts with riffs Shannon and I put together and arrange into a demo. We’ll bring in a bunch of the material and Sully will go through it to get vibe for the record. He has great vision. He also brought in riffs for the songs “Something Different” and “Life Is Good”. Sully’s the one who picks the direction for the album and works on the lyrics. I’m more focused on the music. For me, it’s all about the guitar.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Tony Rombola by Clicking Here!

 

Guitar World: Asia’s John Wetton and Sam Coulson Talk New Album, ‘Gravitas’

Asia: Gravitas (2014)

Asia: Gravitas (2014)

Following Steve Howe’s departure from Asia in 2012, the band launched a massive search in hopes of finding a suitable replacement for the legendary guitarist.

Enter Sam Coulson, a young gun recommended by Paul Gilbert. And by “young,” we mean someone who wasn’t even born during Asia’s first wave of success in the Eighties.

Coulson’s arrival brings a youthful energy and new-found technical savvy to Asia, whose eponymous 1982 debut sold more than 7 million copies and included the hits “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor.”

Asia (l to r: Carl Palmer, John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Sam Coulson

Asia (l to r: Carl Palmer, John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Sam Coulson

Asia’s new album, Gravitas, features Coulson’s guitar work coupled with the vision of producer/songwriting partners John Wetton and Geoff Downes. The result is a new twist for the band that tastefully complements the classic Asia sound.

Asia — John Wetton (vocals, bass), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Carl Palmer (drums) and Sam Coulson (guitar) — are preparing a fall U.S tour to showcase the new album and introduce their new guitarist.

I recently spoke with Wetton and Coulson about Gravitas and more.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with John Wetton & Sam Coulson
By Clicking Here!

LA Sessions: 14-Year-Old Ray Goren Talks New EP and Working with Jimi Hendrix Producer Eddie Kramer

RayGoren2Fourteen-year-old guitarist Ray Goren describes LA Sessions, his new EP, as a unique mixture of everything from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder. Considering the fact that Hendrix’s producer, Eddie Kramer, worked on the EP, it’s hard to argue.

Goren’s guitar journey is slightly different from that of most players. He started out on keyboards, playing songs by Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson and Miles Davis as early as age 5.

But it wasn’t until a few years later while searching YouTube that he stumbled upon a video clip of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins performing together. That’s when the fuse was lit, and Goren has never looked back.

Kramer, who “discovered” Goren, has a resume that includes such giants as Led Zeppelin and Kiss. The legendary producer/engineer was so impressed with Goren that he produced LA Sessions himself and even enlisted some other musical heavyweights, including drummer Able Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney) and bassist Paul Bushnell (Tim McGraw) to lend a hand.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Ray Goren by Clicking Here!

Guitar World: Ted Nugent Discusses New Album ‘Shut Up & Jam!’ and His Kamp for Kids

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

Cute?

One could certainly find better adjectives to describe Shut Up & Jam!, Ted Nugent’s first studio album in seven years.

But that’s exactly how the Motor City Madman himself would describe this new collection of blues-inspired songs. Say what you will about his choice of words; it’s safe to say Nugent and his insatiable appetite for honky-tonk bastardization has never sounded better.

In addition to the tasty guitar work you’d expect from a Nugent album, highlights from Shut Up & Jam! include guest vocalist Sammy Hagar performing on the track “She’s Gone” and Nugent’s longtime musical cohort, Derek St. Holmes, showcasing his own soulful vocals on “Everything Matters.”

The release of Shut Up & Jam! will coincide with another summer tour, during which Nugent will be — once again — joined by Holmes plus Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums).

I recently spoke with Nugent about Shut Up & Jam!, his Gibson Byrdland and his Kamp For Kids, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

GUITAR WORLD: The music industry has changed so much in the last seven years. What made you decide to release a new studio album?

I’m such a lucky guy, having been 100 percent in charge of my life since I was a teenager. My outdoor lifestyle so cleanses, fortifies me and inspires me that whenever I pick up the guitar, fire comes off of the neck and those killer, grinding grooves happen all the time. Because I’m so involved with so many different aspects of my life and tour like an animal every summer, I just didn’t put the logistics together to record these new songs. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. These songs have a fire in them, and I had to capture them.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Ted Nugent by Clicking Here!

Future’s Past: Dave Mason Talks Recording with Jimi Hendrix, New Album and More

DaveMasonGuitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason was a founding member of Traffic (along with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood). He’s also recorded and/or toured with the likes of George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson.

Then there’s also the little matter of his historic performance on Jimi Hendrix’s iconic version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

Mason’s new album, Future’s Past, pays homage to those early years by featuring new versions of songs from his Traffic days and solo career, including new interpretations of “As Sad and Deep As You” and “World In Changes.” Rounding out the nine-track album is a new song, “That’s Freedom.”

Mason is on the road with the Traffic Jam Tour, which pays tribute to his former band and his solo years. I recently spoke with Mason about Future’s Past, his days with Traffic and his experience with Hendrix.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the Future’s Past project begin?

There wasn’t really a plan. I have a huge collection of material I’ve recorded over the last few years. Some of the songs applied to my Traffic Jam show (“Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “You Can All Join In.”) Then I had “World in Changes,” which was from my Alone Together album but sounds absolutely nothing like the original. My original intent was to use these tracks for an EP of about four songs, but since I also had a few other tracks and everything sounded so good, I decided to just put them all on there. The thing I like is that the album doesn’t sound dated. It all sounds fresh and new.

One of the highlights on the record is the version of “As Sad and Deep As You.”

That’s basically a live cut. It has such a strong emotion and mood. To me, it’s better than the original. That’s why it’s on there.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Dave Mason by Clicking Here!

Roll with the Changes: Dave Amato Talks Guitars and 25 Years with REO Speedwagon

Since REO Speedwagon’s arrival on the scene 40-plus years ago, the band has seen a lot of musical changes. Touring relentlessly through the Midwest in the 1970s, they finally broke through, scoring a pair of No. 1 hits in the 1980s. They also had the bestselling rock album of 1981, Hi Infidelity.

REO Speedwagon (Photo: Lisa Cuvo)

REO Speedwagon (Photo: Lisa Cuvo)

Some might even say they were the originators of the term “power ballad.”

And although the band also has gone through a few personnel changes over the years, they never cease to bring their lineup of hits to eager fans every year.

The band, which includes Kevin Cronin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (guitars), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums), performed 96 shows last year and are on pace to do an equal amount in 2014, including a summer co-headlining tour with Chicago.

I caught up with Amato, who recently celebrated 25 years with REO Speedwagon. I asked him to reflect on his career with REO and his affection for guitars and vintage gear. He also told me about an important lesson he learned from his early years working with Ted Nugent.

GUITAR WORLD: Twenty-five years with REO Speedwagon. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about that?

I think brothers. We’ve been together for 25 years, and these guys are my friends and my brothers. It’s great playing with them every night.

Can you tell me the story of how you joined the band?

My friend Jesse Harms was a keyboard player in Sammy Hagar’s band and was also writing songs with Kevin [Cronin]. Gary [Richrath] wasn’t with the band anymore and they were looking for a guitar player. They didn’t want to put out a “cattle call” for people in LA, so Jesse mentioned me to Kevin and they gave me a few songs to see what I could do with them. I remember I went in on a Friday around 1 p.m. We played a few of the songs together and then played a little basketball. Then we went back in and jammed again until around 5. That was when they offered me a spot in the band. It’s a good story and was just meant to be.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Dave Amato by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Nita Strauss Talks Touring with Alice Cooper, Gear and Three-Guitar Attacks

Following the April premiere of Alice Cooper’s film, Super Duper Alice Cooper, at the Tribeca Film Festival and its subsequent on DVD, rock’s greatest showman is hitting the road as a “very special guest” during Mötley Crüe’s final “All Bad Things Must Come To An End” North American tour, which starts in July.

NitaStrauss

But the tour also will mark the debut of Cooper’s new guitarist, Nita Strauss, who recently was listed as one of GuitarWorld.com’s “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.” Strauss takes the place of Orianthi, who had toured with Cooper for the past several years.

Strauss — whose influences include Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert and Shawn Lane — has already made her mark with the Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale. She’ll now join Cooper’s three-guitar attack, joining fellow six-stringers Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen.

I recently spoke to Strauss about the upcoming tour, her gear and how she got her start.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me how you got involved with this project.

Kip Winger was the one who actually connected the dots. We met each other on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, where he saw me play. He later heard through the grapevine that Alice was looking for someone, so he sent them a few links and videos of me performing. I was then introduced to Shep Gordon [manager] and Bob Ezrin [producer] who sent me over a few tracks to learn and from there. Everything just seemed to fall into place. I’m so honored and excited to be a part of this project. It’s hard to put into words.

What was it like when you first met Alice?

I first met Alice in LA when he was recording some material for his new album. Ezrin called and asked me if I’d like to come down to the studio and meet him. So I went down and got to sit in the studio for Alice’s recording session. He’s such a cool guy. The whole experience was pretty incredible.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here!

The Long Run: Don Felder Talks Soundtrack of Summer Tour, Eagles Highlights and More

Felder

Former Eagles guitarist/songwriter — not to mention multi-Grammy winner — Don Felder isn’t one to simply rest on his laurels.

In addition to penning his best-selling memoir in 2008, Felder’s most recent album, 2012’s Road to Forever, has done incredibly well on the classic rock charts and recently was re-released as an extended-edition package with four additional songs.

Felder is out on the road now with Styx and Foreigner in what’s being billed the Soundtrack of Summer tour. The jaunt coincides with the release of a new album of the same name. It features a collection of hits from the bands, and finishes off with a brand-new interpretation of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”

I recently spoke to Felder about the Soundtrack of Summer tour, his early years with the Eagles and much more. Check out the interview below.

How did the Soundtrack of Summer project come about?

I’ve known the Styx guys for many years. We’ve done many benefits together in the past and started doing some shows together. Tommy [Shaw] and I became good friends, and he even volunteered some of his time to writing lyrics and singing on my last CD, Road to Forever. So when the idea for doing a Styx and Foreigner tour came up and my name was mentioned, I said “Absolutely!” The catalog of these three bands is just magnificent. I’m excited to be a part of it.

What can fans expect from your set?

I do some of the Eagles songs I recorded and played live with the band for 27 years. Songs like “Hotel California,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Those Shoes” and a version of “Seven Bridges Road” that we used to do with the Eagles years ago. We even do a version of my song “Heavy Metal,” which was something the audience used to yell out for us to do during the Hell Freezes Over tour [laughs].

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Don Felder by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Joe Perry Talks Aerosmith, Touring with Slash and His Upcoming Autobiography

Since their start in the early Seventies — when they were fixtures of Boston’s vibrant music scene — Aerosmith have sold more than 150 million albums, garnered countless awards (including four Grammys) and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Aerosmith

They’ve crossed musical genres with their signature song “Walk This Way,” while their most recent album, 2012’s Music From Another Dimension, debuted at Number 5 on the Billboard 200.

There have been ups and downs along the way, but perhaps no band defines success better than Aerosmith. So it only makes sense that Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (lead guitar), Brad Whitford (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums) would team up with another musical giant — Slash (along with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) — for a summer tour like no other.

The new Aerosmith/Slash North American tour, Let Rock Rule, will start July 10 in Wantaugh, New York, and end September 12 in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

I recently spoke with Perry about the Let Rock Rule Tour. He also gave me an update on his next solo album and a first look at his new autobiography, Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, which will hit shelves October 7.

GUITAR WORLD: Did you ever think that more than 40 years after the band’s formation we’d be talking about yet another killer Aerosmith tour?

No, I really didn’t [laughs]. But in the bigger picture, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the business would have carried on as long as it did. We’ve seen a lot of changes in this business of rock and roll. We’ve seen it go from an underground meeting for a new generation of people to becoming a social revolution where the music became the theme (and sometimes even helped drive it). Then we watched the whole thing collapse and change with the way people receive their music. It’s tough to say where things are going to go from here, but the good thing is that fans still want rock and new music. When we see the fans out there, they’re as excited as ever to see rock and roll in the flesh. It’s the end of an era and a whole different world.

You Can Read The Rest Of My
gw_logoInterview with Joe Perry By Clicking Here!

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