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
Like everyone else I was stoked when Van Halen finally announced “A Different Kind of Truth“, their long-awaited new album with original singer David Lee Roth. But even more amazing than the first new music with Roth on vocals in 28 years was the bands plan to embark on a tour to support the new record.
I never had the opportunity to see Van Halen with either of its two singers, Roth or Sammy Hagar (I don’t count the Gary Cherone “experiment”). And even though original bassist Michael Anthony would not be taking part I still wanted to hear Eddie shred on Eruption and experience “Jamie’s Cryin”, “Ain’t Talking Bout Love” and “Hot for Teacher”. I mean, let’s face it, Eddie Van Halen is one of the few remaining Guitar Gods. I had to see him and pay homage.
All the while I was consuming myself with the thought of seeing Van Halen for the first time a little voice inside my head was telling me that I had better hurry up and order a ticket. For if the past is any indication, I’m quite certain that it’s only a matter of time before the devil they’ve been running with inevitably rears his ugly head again and breaks up the band again. So time was indeed of the essence.
I was very excited to discover that the band would be making a stop in Philadelphia on March 5th and so I immediately grabbed my credit card and proceeded to the ComCast Tix website to make my purchase.
Since I ‘d be going alone I didn’t really care where I sat. I noticed that the cheapest ticket available online was in the upper bleachers for $49.50. That sounded good enough to me so I added the ticket to my shopping cart and proceeded on to the next screen.
“Uhm… excuse me, is there something wrong here? There must be some mistake.”
I was greeted by a screen that told me that the $49.50 ticket I was about to purchase would also require me to pay a “fee” of $11 and another $5 “order charge”. What these so-called “fee” and “order” charges were wasn’t explained but suddenly my ticket cost had gone up to $65.50 (a 32% increase).
As the blood pressure started to rise I was able to calm myself by singing out loud some possible Van Halen songs I’d hear: ”Might as well JUMP! JUMP!”…. “PA-NAH-MA!”…”Daaaance The Night Away!”….That seemed to work although my dogs, which were within earshot of me in the living room, made a bee line for the exits. My confidence had been restored.
I was next asked by the website if I’d like to purchase advance parking for the event ahead of time. ”Yes, I guess that makes sense”, I said to myself as I clicked on the link.
My cart was immediately updated and now things were beginning to get a bit out of hand. Parking for the show would be $25 and, you guessed it, that cost did not include another additional $2.25 “fee” bringing the total for my original $49.50 cheap-seat ticket to see Van Halen to a whopping $92.75. Beg pardon Comcast, but you do realize that now I am paying almost double the cost of what my ticket is worth don’t you?
But if you thought it ended there, wait….there’s more!
I had the ticket and parking covered but now the question was: how did I want to receive my one SINGLE paper ticket? My choices ranged from an additional $2.75 just for the opportunity to print the ticket out at home up to a $19 charge for express delivery.
After adding everything together, including the mandatory toll charges to and from the event, I concluded that the cost for me to go by myself to see Van Halen in Philadelphia with a $49.50 ticket was going to be over $100. I clicked “Cancel” on the transaction screen.
The more I think about it, the angrier I become. Not at Van Halen mind you. My issue is with these outrageous parking fees and the Comcast Tix, Ticketmaster and Live Nation sites who are supposed to be doing service to the fans but instead wind up screwing them with fees. It’s frustrating to essentially have to pay double the price printed on a ticket just to see the show.
Worse still, it makes me do something else I’ve never done before besides see Van Halen. It’s made me start to second guess just how badly I want to see a concert.
And shame on these ticket outlet sites and venues for making me feel that way.
Even if you’ve never played guitar before you will cringe when you hear the tale I’m about to tell. It’s something you might read right out of a Steven King novel. I’m warning you now that it’s not for the weak of heart.
I started playing guitar in the early 1980′s and struggled for years learning chord progressions and scales. Having to learn how to play on a cheap imitation Fender Stratocaster wasn’t of much help either. If you’re a guitar player you know what I’m talking about. The better the guitar, the easier it is to learn on. And although I played with what my parents could afford to get me, I still dreamed of one day getting a Gibson Les Paul. The guitar that players like Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin and Ace Frehley from Kiss played. A guitar that at the time I wasn’t worthy enough to play or financially responsible to own.
My hard work eventually started paying off. By paying my dues as a working musician over the next few years I was able to purchase a used Gibson Explorer and genuine Fender Stratocaster. But the elusive Les Paul was always slightly out of my reach.
Fast forward now to 2004 and the local band I was in is at the top of our game. We had just successfully completed a long string of summer shows including one as the opening act for American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken.
Now, before you laugh consider this: Clay was almost God-Like at this time. His first album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was, with 613,000 copies sold in its first week, the highest-selling debut for a solo artist in over ten years and an album that was eventually certified multi-platinum.
To help celebrate my hard work and musical devotion I FINALLY purchased my Les Paul just in time for the Clay gig. Much like being a car enthusiast who for years has driven nothing but clunkers until eventually getting their dream car, getting the Les Paul and the chance to play it at the ultimate show in front of 6,000 fans was a dream come true.
Needless to say, the euphoria of this combination of events had me feeling pretty good when the band rolled into the Franklin Township Fair a few weeks later.
The Franklin Township Fair is an annual event held in the wide-open boon docks of Northern Pennsylvania. With sponsorships from a variety of local businesses all supporting the volunteer fire company, the event raises a lot of money to help continue to fight the good fight.
I spent the early portion of the day setting up my gear on the big concrete stage we would be performing on. I had my polished Les Paul, strung with new strings, all tuned and ready to go and gently placed it on the guitar stand.
To make this day even more special, I had just finished recording a brand new song I had written and this was the perfect opportunity to listen to it on the big PA system for the first time. I placed the CD into the drive and pressed play. I then jumped off the stage and made my way out onto the midway.
I was able to completely ignore the smell of funnel cake and the sound of spinning wheels as people tried to match numbers and win gigantic stuffed animals. I just stood there and let the perfect balance of music seep into my soul. Not just any music mind you. This was my music and nothing beats the first time you hear the final mix of a song that you wrote.
Paging Steven King.
As I’m listening to the sound of guitar and lyric in blissful perfection another sound begins to fill my ears. It’s the sound of an approaching helicopter. You see, one of the “benefits” fair goers get to see as part of the festivities is a demonstration of a Med-Evac helicopter landing.
People nearby begin to get excited and cheer as the copter slowly descends and lands onto a small clearing next to the fairgrounds. I myself begin to get a little worried when the breeze coming off of the still spinning helicopter blades continues to pick up. I know the copter has already landed safely but the high wind on my face is definitely a cause for concern.
It’s at this point that everything turns into slow motion.
My attention is quickly drawn back to front and I now see set lists and cables blowing around on the concrete stage. A stage I am standing at least fifty or sixty yards away from. My heart goes into my throat as I now fear the worst. And sure enough, the worst happens.
My beloved Les Paul, the one I had spent twenty years of my life trying to obtain, the one that is now sitting on a guitar stand in what feels like a mile away begins to teeter and totter in the wind. There is nothing I can do as I watch it fall forward and land face down on the concrete stage.
I run as fast as I can to assess the damage. The guitar now has a two-inch crack near the head stock. And the nut, or portion where the strings attach near the tuning pegs, is broken off right where the sixth string passes making that string completely useless.
So here I am, pissed off beyond belief that my beloved guitar, and the only guitar I brought to the gig, has suffered damage and also knowing that I still had to perform for ninety minutes. How I was able to hold it together remains a mystery. The show must go on I suppose.
Not surprisingly, even with the damage sustained I was still able to play the guitar (minus the sixth string) for the entire show and it not once went out of tune. After all, it’s a Les Paul.
Insurance was able to cover the damages and to this day my beloved Les Paul is still rocking. Only now, it has its own identity.
And the dream continues.