It’s been another amazing year of touring for classic rock titans REO Speedwagon. The band, which includes Kevin Cronin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (guitars), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums) has recently completed a thirty-four city tour with Chicago that went along with nearly two dozen more shows with fellow legends Styx and Don Felder.
With a tireless work ethic and a career that’s spanned more than four decades with songs like “Roll With The Changes,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Ridin’ The Storm Out,” and “Back On The Road Again,” REO is the quintessential rock act.
The band is currently out on a run of sold-out, headlining shows across the U.S. to finish off the year. AXS recently caught up with guitarist Dave Amato to talk about REO’s tour, the second generation of his Signature Les Paul guitar and more in this exclusive interview.
AXS: REO Speedwagon continues to sell out shows across the country. Do you have an opinion on why fans can’t seem to get enough of the band after all this time?
Dave Amato: It’s the songs. The songs are what continue to live on. The parents who grew up with the music now have kids in their twenties who come to the shows and know all the words. People always come up to me and say, “It’s so fun to come to see you guys because you always look so happy when you’re up there” [laughs]. The truth is that even after all of this time we still genuinely like each other. This year, we played twenty shows with Styx and Don Felder and then we did about thirty-four shows with Chicago. Even now that we’re back out on our own we’ve managed to keep up the intensity. It’s like family and we’re happy to be out there.
AXS: As a guitarist, is there a particular REO song that’s your favorite to perform?
DA: They’re all fun to play. I get to do all the signature solos but I also have the opportunity to stretch out a little bit on a song like “Back On The Road Again” where it’s a little more free form. But really, what’s not to like? I get to solo on every song [laughs].
AXS: Can you give me an update on your upcoming Signature Les Paul guitar?
DA: My original HD-TV model with a single coil pickup and Floyd Rose has been doing great. So I asked Gibson about making a few in other colors and they built me one in Sunburst It was so beautiful that they asked about designing a second, two-pickup model guitar. We’re doing a few experiments now and the guitar should be ready to unveil at the NAMM show in January. Just like my original, it will be based on the Axcess model but with two pickups, a Floyd Rose, and a ’58 neck. It feels like a historic guitar but it’s a different kind of animal!
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