Have 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.
Read my Guitar World interview with Steve Vai by Clicking Here!
Following the success of her true comeback album, 2012’s Living Like a Runaway, Lita Ford took to the stage at LA’s Canyon Club to record a live performance as a gift to her fans.
The result is The Bitch is Back…Live, the new album from the reigning queen of hard rock and heavy metal.
In addition to live material from her latest studio release, The Bitch is Back also digs deep into Ford’s catalog, showcasing songs from Out for Blood, Dancin’ on the Edge and 1988′s monster album, Lita.
Ford is hard at work on her biography [set for release in 2014] as well as becoming an advocate for Parental Alienation Awareness. I recently spoke with her about the live album, her current setup and an encounter she once had with Led Zeppelin.
GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to do this live album?
It was kind of spur of the moment. After we did the tour with Def Leppard and Poison [in 2012], I really wanted to give something back. So we jumped into this club in LA, mic’d up the room and recorded it. It’s really a gift to the fans. Everything came together like magic and I’m very happy with it.
Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here.
After the departure of longtime vocalist Josey Scott, Saliva’s Wayne Swinny (guitar), Dave Novotny (bass) and Paul Crosby (drums) weren’t sure if they’d be able to find a suitable replacement.
Thankfully, after a month of deliberating, the search for a new frontman led them to singer Bobby Amaru, whose arrival kicked off a new chapter for the band, one that Swinny equates with hitting the lottery.
Saliva fans will get their first taste of Amaru’s vocals on the band’s eighth studio album, In It To Win It, which will be released September 3 via Rum Bum Records. Produced by Bobby Huff (Halestorm, Drowning Pool, Papa Roach), the album not only forges the band into new territory, but also stays true to the classic Saliva sound.
I spoke with Swinny about In It To Win It, his gear and the best advice he’s ever been given as a guitarist. Check out the interview by Clicking Here!
In 2008, Frontiers Records asked guitarist and producer Erik Martensson (Eclipse) to write six songs for an album project with Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman) on vocals. At the same time, keyboardist/guitarist Robert Säll (Work Of Art) was also asked to contribute six songs of his own to the project. After listening to each other’s material and discovering how differently it sounded, the duo decided to scrap the songs and start writing together. Soto loved the result of their efforts so much that what started out as a solo project instead morphed into the super group W.E.T. (whose initials stand for the names of each member’s other respective bands).
“Rise Up”, the new sophomore album from W.E.T. continues to build upon the cohesion of talent that won critical acclaim for Martensson, Säll and Soto. Together with guitarist Magnus Henriksson and drummer Robban Bäck, the album presents a combination of massive production quality, impressive songwriting and blistering solos by Henriksson that takes the new “classic rock” sound well into the 21st century.
I spoke with Martensson about the new “Rise Up” album and more in this interview.
This new W.E.T. project has been a long time coming.
It has. The album was actually finished at the end of May 2012, but after a summer break we decided to go back and do three more songs. “Walk Away”, “Rise Up” And “The Moment” were the ones we recorded. I remember we drank a lot of coffee, but came up with a lot of great songs. [laughs]
You can read the rest of my Guitar World Interview With Erik Martensson
by Clicking Here.
Guitar Center’s Blues Masters, through a partnership with Joe Bonamassa, is offering ten musicians the chance to perform in Los Angeles backed by Bonamassa’s band as well as provide one undiscovered blues guitarist with a career-altering opportunity for development and exposure under the tutelage of one of the biggest names in blues rock.
Now through the end of April, guitarists can submit videos of their best lead guitar performance to one of ten official Joe Bonamassa backing tracks. The videos will then be judged through a series of selection processes by both industry professionals and eventually, Bonamassa himself.
The grand prize winner will receive an opening slot at Bonamassa’s headlining show in Los Angeles this fall as well as a cash prize and gear from Gibson, Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification and Dunlop. In addition, the winner will also receive an in studio mentor session with Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley, who has worked with the likes of Journey, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and more.
I spoke with Bonamassa about Blues Masters as well as some of his latest projects.
GUITAR WORLD: Tell me a little about your involvement with Guitar Center and Blues Masters.
I’ve been involved in Guitar Center’s King of The Blues Competition for the past several years and it’s been a lot of fun. Everyone is playing so well that it makes me wish I was 18 again. These guys are so unbridled and enthusiastic. The Blues Masters is a chance for aspiring blues guitarists from across the U.S. to submit their best lead guitar performance to one of my tracks. There‘s a submission and selection process and I’ll be getting involved more towards the end of the year when they finalize the selection, and then we’ll pick a winner.
Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Joe Bonamassa Here.
For official rules and other information concerning Guitar Center’s Blues Masters, please visit: http://www.guitarcenter.com/bluesmasters.
Since taking their name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo and signing a record deal more than twenty years ago, Gin Blossoms have been synonymous with catchy melodies and jangle pop. But it was their breakout 1992 album, “New Miserable Experience” that solidified them on the charts for nearly three years and threw the band into the mainstream. With singles like “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” and “Found Out About You”, New Miserable Experience went on to sell over 4 million copies and made the band a 90’s radio mainstay.
After a four year hiatus that began in 1997, the band reunited in 2001 and continues to record and tour, performing as many as 120 shows a year. In 2010, Gin Blossoms: Robin Wilson (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Jesse Valenzuela (Vocals & Guitar), Scott Johnson (Guitar) and Bill Leen (Bass) released “No Chocolate Cake”, an album which shot straight to # 1 on Amazon, hitting Billboard’s top 200 at # 73 and the Indie chart at #14 and landing them back on the singles chart again with the single, “Miss Disarray”.
2013 will once again bring the band to over 100 cities, as well as a five-artist rock cruise, international shows and perhaps even another new album. The band is also partnering with Fretlight Guitars to give fans a chance to win an autographed Fretlight FG-421 at several stops during the Northeastern winter tour.
I had the chance to speak with guitarist Jesse Valenzuela and get his thoughts on the origin, music and future plans of Gin Blossoms.
“I Don’t Want To Lose You Now”
Gin Blossoms Tour Dates
Read my Guitar World Article with Gin Blossoms Here
After tracking songs for what was once to become a new Lynch Mob album, it was drummer Brian Tichy who proposed the idea of bringing together George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown (The “Big 3″ of Dokken) for a project similar to what Heaven & Hell was to Black Sabbath. The result is T&N and a brand new album, Slave to the Empire.
The new album is both melodic and thought provoking music with a purpose. The message being, you don’t have to be a slave to the empire. Featuring seven original songs (with Pilson on vocals) as well as five re-recorded Dokken classics with vocal performances by Tim“Ripper” Owens, Doug Pinnick (Kings X), Sebastian Bach, and Robert Mason (Warrant). Slave To The Empire also adds to the mix the hard hitting, multi-talented drumming of Tichy as well.
A second album of new material and classic remakes of Dokken material is slated for next year that will also coincide with a tour.
I spoke with George Lynch to get his thoughts on Slave to The Empire as well as his other passion: the documentary “Shadow Train”.
Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with George Lynch Here.
Guitarist Dee J Nelson is making a name for himself. The Chicago based southpaw shredder, whose DVD “Monster Power Chords” has become a huge hit on Metal Method, has recently released “It’s Alive”; an album of guitar wizardry that will have players everywhere asking, “How’d he do that?”
Dee J credits some of his early influences to the Sex Pistols and Naked Ray Gun. But it wasn’t until he saw Steve Vai perform that everything changed.”When I saw Vai play for the first time, that was it for me”, Nelson says with a smile. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a guitar player.”
From there, Dee J hunkered down and began to seriously improve his chops. He studied with Shrapnel alum George Bellas and majored in music composition at DePaul University. While studying guitar and writing orchestral music in college, he supplemented his time by regularly giving as many as fifty students guitar lessons each week.
I had the chance to speak with Dee J and get the inside scoop on his new album, how he became a Metal Method instructor and also what he’s up to now.
Where did you find the inspiration to record songs for “It’s Alive”?
DJ: I usually start out with an inspiring idea or concept and build the song from there. Often times it’s riff inspired. I’ll find something that I really like and it will remind me of something.
Other times, I’ll have a concept in mind for song. “Scream Bloody Dream” is a good example of that. I decided one day to write a song about a chick screaming with a neo-classical feel. Another track with a plan was “The Living and The Dying”. That song was something I had a vision in mind for. I pictured it being a zombie-esque story and started out using ominous chords which eventually become something more when the “zombie” actually comes out (high bends). Those ideas were both planned well before even writing a note.
I studied with George Bellas, who was one of the Shrapnel recording artists. He’s a phenomenally intense player and someone who really inspired me a lot. During college, I studied classical guitar with Mark Maxwell and jazz with Bob Palmieri, who’s worked with Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson and The Pat Metheny Group, among others.
How were you introduced to Doug Marks and Metal Method?
I was introduced to Doug by Stephen Jensen. Stephen designed the logo for Metal Method and does artwork for other major bands. He also, coincidentally designed the cover for my book, “Monster Power Chords”. The book was a basic program I developed based on power chords that players could use to practice their rhythm technique. Stephen introduced me to Doug who then made the book available to his students. There was such a great reaction to it that we decided to change the format of it to DVD. So, I flew out to Doug’s studio in LA to film it.
What was it like working with Doug?
Amazing. Doug really is a great guy and a metal legend. At one point, we took a break so that we could go out to dinner and I remember just sitting there thinking how cool it was to be there with him. I had always remembered him from the magazines and had been inspired by him, but to be there with him in person was pretty cool.
What other projects are you working on right now?
Edsel Dope invited me over to his studio to do some recording and we’ve just recently completed a guitar track for the WWE. It’s going to be used as the new entrance music theme for Ryback, so watch for it!
Guitarists: Check out DJ’s fingering exercise (Click on image to enlarge)
You can keep up with Dee J Nelson on his official website.
Loverboy, the Canadian rock band whose songs “Working For The Weekend,” “Hot Girls in Love” and “Queen of The Broken Hearts” have become staples of classic rock radio, have released Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, a new album of re-recorded hits and new songs.
The band is on a massive nationwide tour supporting fellow veteran rockers Journey, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.
I had the chance to speak with guitarist Paul Dean about Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival as well as his current guitar setup and the origins of some of Loverboy’s biggest hits.
GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to re-record and put together Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival?
The album started off with “Heartbreaker,” a song outline sent to us by acclaimed producer and good friend Bob Rock. Bob and I go all the way back to 1980, when he was the engineer on our first self-titled album. The first time I heard the song, it was instant for me; I could hear Mike Reno singing the bejeezus out of it….
Read the rest of the interview here