Category Archives: Guitar World Interviews

Ready Steady Go!: Drake Bell Releases New Rockabilly Album with Brian Setzer

DrakeBellGuitarist Drake Bell wasn’t made for these times.

The actor/musician, best known for his work as teenage rocker Drake Parker on the Nickelodeon TV show Drake & Josh, actually grew up listening to the likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Stray Cats.

On Bell’s new album, Ready Steady Go!, he pays homage to those roots by teaming with one of his biggest musical influences — Brian Setzer — for a tastefully inspired collection of classic rockabilly favorites and new material.

In addition to Bell’s catchy original, “Bitchcraft” are his take on songs like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)”, “Still Rock And Roll To Me (Billy Joel)” and a haunting version of Setzer’s own “I Won’t Stand In Your Way”.

I recently spoke to Bell about Ready Steady Go!, his guitar work and more.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decided to do a project like this?

This is the music I grew up on. My first guitar was a Gretsch 6120, and I just loved listening to artists like Elvis, Chuck Berry and Stray Cats. But when I wanted to go make records, it was hard. I couldn’t really be on the show [Drake & Josh] and then go in and do a three-piece rockabilly-type record of Fifties music.

How did the collaboration with Brian Setzer come about?

I’ve been a fan of Brian’s for such a long time and had the opportunity to go backstage and meet him from time to time. It got to the point to where I started becoming a familiar face backstage. I still remember when I first presented the idea for this album to him. He was confused at first and said, “Wait a minute — you mean you want to make a rockabilly record?” [laughs]. I said “Yeah, this is what I’ve always wanted to do!”

gw_logo

Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with
Drake Bell by Clicking Here!

Dog Camp: Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy Discuss the Winery Dogs’ Immersive New Camp for Musicians

Photo by: Markus Cuff

The Winery Dogs (Photo by: Markus Cuff)

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with three of rocks’ most talented musicians, here’s your opportunity.

Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy — better known as the Winery Dogs — have announced Dog Camp, their first-ever immersive program for aspiring musicians of all ages and levels.

The event is set for July 21 to 25, 2014, at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, New York.

Attendees will be able to take part in instrument specific clinics and will learn about songwriting mechanics and the music industry. They’ll even get to enjoy intimate performances by the Winery Dogs.

If you’re a guitarist, bassist or drummer, there’s a course path for you to follow. But Dog Camp promises to be a deeper experience; the campers will be living, hanging out and jamming together. You’ll also be able to ask the hosts as many questions as as you want — and Kotzen, Sheehan and Portnoy will initiate one-on-one and group sessions to help you realize your goals as a player.

I recently spoke to Kotzen and Portnoy about Dog Camp and what’s next for the band.

GUITAR WORLD: What was the reason behind the inaugural Dog Camp?

Kotzen: It was something that was brought to our attention by our manager. Billy and I have done our fair share of clinics and have also participated in Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. The idea of being in a position where you can actually sit and talk and play with people who are buying your records or are listening to what you do is inspiring.

gw_logoRead the rest of my interview with Kotzen & Portnoy
By Clicking Here!

Voices Carry: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Discuss Their New Band and Album, ‘The Both’

The Both - Aimee Man & Ted Leo (Photo: Christian Lantry)

The Both (Photo: Christian Lantry)

Aimee Mann is an Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter and bassist who has scored hits as a solo artist and with ‘Til Tuesday.

Guitarist Ted Leo is a Midwestern punk rocker who’s established a reputation for musical genius as a solo act and with his band, the Pharmacists.

Now, both artists have joined forces and are calling themselves the Both.

Their self-titled debut album, which will be released April 15, speaks to the friendship and mutual respect Mann and Leo share. From the hook-laden harmonies and Bronze Fonz references of “Milwaukee” to the social messages of songs like “Volunteers of America,” The Both is an album with the DNA of Mann and Leo strongly imprinted on it — and one refreshingly unique and engaging debut.

I recently spoke with Mann and Leo about their new album and collaboration.

GUITAR WORLD: How did The Both begin?

Mann: Ted was opening for me on my last album and tour, and the music he was playing really piqued my interest. I remember while he was playing I’d often start thinking to myself, “You know, I really want to play bass on that song!” and after a while, I asked him if I could sit in. We started playing and having so much fun that it led to the idea of writing some songs together that eventually became this record.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World interview
With Aimee Mann & Ted Leo by Clicking Here

Chris Robinson Brotherhood Guitarist Neal Casal Talks Gear and New Album, ‘Phosphorescent Harvest’

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Neal Casal (Photo by Gary Waldman)

Phosphorescent Harvest is the third studio release from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

The album — which features Robinson, the former Black Crowes vocalist/guitarist, along with guitarist Neal Casal, keyboardist Adam MacDougall, drummer George Sluppick and bassist Mark Dutton — is a treasure trove of soul that advances the band’s bluesy, kaleidoscopic sound.

Songs like “Shore Power,” “Badlands” and the beautiful “Wanderer’s Lament” contain tasty, inspired guitar arrangements; meanwhile, Robinson’s lyrics are thoughtfully constructed from dreams and casual observation.

Starting in April, CRB will embark on a tour in support of the new album. It’s a tour that will take them through the highways and byways of the U.S. for remainder of the year.

In addition to working with Robinson, Casal has performed alongside other heavyweights, including Ryan Adams and Phil Lesh. He’s also released a reflective book of personal photos that were shot during his years touring with Adams.

I recently caught up with Casal to ask him about the new CRB album (which will be released April 29), his playing, photography and more.

Christ Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Photo by: Alissa Anderson)

GUITAR WORLD: How do you approach doing a Chris Robinson Brotherhood album as opposed to some of the other projects you’ve been involved with?

CRB is the most expansive band I’ve ever been in terms of freedom of expression in guitar playing. Chris really encourages us to bring our adventurousness, personality and whimsical character into our playing. I got to really do my thing all over this record. It’s a guitar player’s dream.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Neal Casal
by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Dave Meniketti Discusses Y&T’s 40th Anniversary

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

Y&T (Photo: Jill Meniketti)

You’d think a band that’s been around for 40 years might just be going through the motions at this point.

But for Dave Meniketti and Y&T, that’s hardly the case.

The band’s current lineup — Dave Meniketti (guitar/vocals), John Nymann (guitar), Brad Lang (bass) and Mike Vanderhule (drums) — continues to bring its own unique blend of hard rock to legions of fans around the world.

Since finalizing their first lineup in 1974, Y&T have performed more than 3,000 shows, released 18 albums and three greatest-hits packages — and they’ve sold more than 4 million units. Many of the biggest acts to come out of the Eighties became popular by opening for Y&T, including Metallica and Mötley Crüe.

Add years near-continuous touring and songs like “Mean Streak” and “Summertime Girls,” and it’s no wonder fans say that Y&T sound better than ever.

With another steady year of touring ahead and talk of more new music, Meniketti and company show no signs of slowing down in 2014. I recently spoke with him about his playing, the band’s anniversary and a few surprises they have in store to celebrate the occasion.

GUITAR WORLD: What are your thoughts when you think about Y&T’s 40th anniversary?

It’s an odd feeling when you say it or stick it on a piece of paper. Throughout our career, we never looked past a year in advance wondering what we were going to do. So it’s a little weird thinking I’ve had this gig for 40 years. But it still feels great to be in this band and play songs for crowds who are always so cool to us. Why would I ever want to stop doing that?

gw_logo
Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Dave Meniketti
By Clicking Here!

I Am the Fire: Gus G Discusses Debut Solo Album and Working with Ozzy Osbourne

Gus GGuitarist Gus G has spent the better part of the last decade solidifying his place as one of metal’s reigning guitar virtuosos.

He’s recorded more than a dozen studio albums and performed around the world as a member of Arch Enemy, Dream Evil and Firewind. And let’s not forget he was handpicked by Ozzy Osbourne in 2009 to become his new guitarist.

But Gus G’s debut solo album, I Am The Fire, which will be released March 18, is a new adventure. The album, which was mixed by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Stone Sour, Steel Panther), gives Gus the opportunity to explore a different side of his creativity and showcases his skills as a producer and songwriter.

Apart from a few signature Gus G instrumentals (“Vengeance” and “Terrified”), I Am the Fire veers away from the traditional heavy/power metal vibe and leans more toward a straight-ahead classic rock sound. The album also features a multitude of guests, including vocalists Mats Levén and Jeff Scott Soto and bassists Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson.

I recently spoke with Gus G about I Am the Fire, his playing and how he got the gig with Ozzy.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the I Am the Fire project begin?

I had some time off with Ozzy because he was busy with the Black Sabbath reunion and started coming up with ideas that didn’t really seem like a Firewind record.

They were more on the hard rock side of things rather than metal. One singer I’ve always wanted to write with was Mats Levén, who sang on the Yngwie Malmsteen album Facing the Animal. We’ve known each other for about 10 years and had always talked about doing something together. So I sent him a few demos, and that’s what got things started.

gw_logoRead the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Gus G by Clicking Here!

Better Days Comin’: Reb Beach Talks Guitars, New Winger Album and More

After forming in the late Eighties, Winger soared to success with their self-titled debut, a platinum-selling disc that included the hit songs “Madalaine,” “Seventeen” and “Headed for a Heartbreak.”
Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Winger (l to r): John Roth, Rod Morgenstein, Reb Beach, Kip Winger

Their followup album, 1990′s In The Heart of the Young, maintained the momentum with the successful singles “Can’t Get Enuff” and “Miles Away.”

But the advent of grunge and changes in the musical climate, coupled with being the target of two notorious cartoon characters (Beavis and Butthead) eventually led the band to go on hiatus.

In 2001, however, Winger reunited, and they haven’t looked back since. They repeatedly win back fans and critics through their relentless touring, strong musicianship and inspired songwriting.

Winger’s new album, Better Days Comin’, which will be released April 22, is another testament to the band’s legacy and perseverance. Guitarist Reb Beach — who also plays with Whitesnake — and vocalist/bassist Kip Winger have put together a collection of songs that combine tasty riffs, infectious grooves and unique arrangements. The band is rounded out by John Roth (guitar) and Rod Morgenstein (drums).

Better Days Comin’ is available for pre-order now (See the link below), with a deluxe edition that includes a bonus track and a DVD that features a “making of” documentary and videos for the album’s first single, “Rat Race,” and the title track.

I recently spoke with Beach about the new Winger album and his early years and session work. He also gave me an update on his next solo album.

gw_logo

Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with
Reb Beach by Clicking Here!

Original MTV VJs Alan Hunter and Nina Blackwood Talk New Book, Van Halen, Ozzy and the Eighties

VJCoverIt was 12:01 a.m. August 1, 1981.

The music business was in the toilet when a fledgling channel named MTV hit the airwaves to start the engine again.

Throughout the decade, MTV became one of the biggest things on the planet and revolutionized the music industry with a new medium — music videos.

Viewers would regularly host their own MTV parties, tune in for Friday Night video fights and experience unprecedented musical events such as Live Aid. The MTV phenomenon was so big that Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler referenced the channel, incorporating its “I want my MTV” slogan in the band’s massive 1985 hit, “Money For Nothing.”

Four of the original MTV VJ’s — Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn and Mark Goodman — have written a book about their experiences, VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave.

The book, which is co-written by Gavin Edwards, is a narrative-driven oral history of MTV, complete with behind-the-scenes tales and anecdotes as told through the VJs’ own voices (NOTE: JJ Jackson, the fifth original VJ, died in 2004).

From stories on how each VJ landed their job, the channel’s historic launch, the changing dynamic and their eventual departure, the book details the triumphs, pitfalls and everything in between. Today, in addition to acting and producing their own syndicated radio shows and films, the four original VJs can regularly be found on Sirius’ ’80s on 8.

I recently spoke to Hunter and Blackwood about the book and their days at MTV. They also discussed their favorite guitarists and other projects they’re working on.

gw_logoYou can read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with
Alan Hunter & Nina Blackwood By Clicking Here

Sound Theories: Steve Vai Discusses His Inaugural Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp

vaiHave you ever wanted to learn the nuances of songwriting and the music business from one of greatest guitarists of all time?

Look no further than the inaugural Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp, which takes place June 23 to 27 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

And yes, that’s Vai as in Steve Vai, the virtuoso guitarist, composer and producer. The camp is billed as the entire manual for being an independent musician — condensed into three days of classes.

The focus of the camp will be the evolution of a song. Attendees will learn how a song gets written, recorded, mixed, mastered, distributed and marketed. Camp admission includes lodging, meals, classes, live performances and jam sessions. Attendees who sign up by March 31 will receive a free Ibanez RG guitar, courtesy of Hoshino.

Guitar World recently spoke to Vai about his Song Evolution Camp. We also discussed his early practice regimen and what he considers to be the highlight of his career.

gw_logo
Read my Guitar World interview with Steve Vai by Clicking Here!

Metal Method’s Doug Marks Talks “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar”

DougMarksSince its beginnings in 1982, Doug Marks’ Metal Method has become one of the most successful rock guitar courses of all time.

What started out as a supplement to help him achieve his own dreams of rock stardom, Marks’ lessons have taught guitarists everything from fundamental shapes and barre chords to improvising leads and writing songs.

From his early days of snail-mail cassette tapes and booklets to today’s digital downloads, Marks continues to inspire and make thousands of guitarists better players.

I recently caught up with Marks, who told me about “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar,” his first new lesson in years. In the program, Marks uses his easy-going teaching style to present rapid-fire three-note-per-string patterns that increase essential skills. Marks also discussed his Hawk project from 1985, which was associated with some very familiar musicians.

GUITAR WORLD: What prompted this new program?

Last year, I started giving Skype guitar lessons. It was the first time I had given actual private lessons since I put together Metal Method. As I watched students work through the course, I was able to see first-hand one of the biggest struggles most students face: lack of precision due to a lack of focus. It was working with students through Skype that really inspired me to get to work on something new.

gw_logo

You can read my complete Guitar World interview with Doug Marks and see a demo for “Speed and Accuracy” by Clicking Here!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: