Category Archives: Guitar World Interviews

Nancy Wilson Talks New Side Project—Roadcase Royale—and Rocking Against MS

Roadcase Royale—a new band fronted by Heart co-founder Nancy Wilson and former Prince collaborator Liv Warfield—has a background that’s rich in rock and R&B.

The band also includes Ryan Waters, Warfield’s lead guitarist and musical director, and Heart veterans Dan Rothchild (bass), Ben Smith (drums) and Chris Joyner (keyboards).

Their debut single is the infectiously funky “Get Loud,” which you can check out below. It’s a women’s anthem with a laid-back, power-driven groove that provides a solid acoustic/electric foundation for Warfield’s sultry vocals.

Roadcase Royale will make their live debut performance at this year’s Rock Against MS Benefit Concert, which will take place Saturday, March 25, at the historic Los Angeles Theatre. Wilson will perform as part of an all-star band during the event—and Roadcase Royale’s headlining performance will follow.

I recently caught up with Wilson to get her thoughts on Roadcase Royale and the Rock Against MS event.

How did Roadcase Royale come about?

We saw Liv on Jimmy Fallon playing with a group, and she was doing this amazing song called “Why Do You Lie” that her guitar player wrote. We were blown away. Heart had a few shows coming up at the Hollywood Bowl, and we wondered if she’d be interested in opening for us. We got her to come and play and Liv and I just became fast friends. She’s the sweetest person and a wonderful human being and has a voice that’s so powerful.

We really hit it off and said we should do something together. So we got together with some of my guys and Ryan Waters and started writing. Everything worked so well right off the bat.

How would you describe the sound of Roadcase Royale? 

I call it muscular rock and roll with a flavor of R&B. There’s also plenty of dimension in it for more romantic balladry. We’re flexible musically and can do stuff that’s way R&B or way heavy rock. We’ve got a five-song EP that’s almost ready to come out where you’ll hear all of those things.

How does the writing process for Roadcase Royale differ from writing with Ann Wilson for Heart?

It’s actually kind of similar. Ann always has really cool lyric ideas. We’ve both got a notebook that’s full of lyrics and song titles, and so does Liv. In the case of Roadcase Royale, everyone in the band has a lot to offer as a writer and producer. Dan Rothchild has a song with lyrics and cool musical parts that were going to do. Our drummer, Ben Smith, is working with Liv and Ryan, and then Chris Joyner was the one who came up with “Get Loud.” We all contribute and listen and know how to communicate our ideas to each other.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Nancy Wilson by Clicking Here!

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Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and Wayne Sermon Talk New Single and Video, “Believer”

Imagine Dragons – Believer

Imagine Dragons recently released the music video for their latest single, “Believer.” The video, which was directed by Matt Eastin—who worked with the band on “Roots,” “On Top of the World” and “Shots (Broiler Remix)”—features actor Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, The Expendables), depicting a man facing his inner-self—the toughest critic of all. It also pays homage to some of the classic movies the band grew up with.

Imagine Dragons features Dan Reynolds (vocals), Wayne Sermon (guitar), Daniel Platzman (drums) and Ben McKee (bass). I recently chatted with Reynolds and Sermon about the new single and video, their gear and more.

What’s the songwriting process like for the band? Does it begin with a melody, a hook, a lyric?

REYNOLDS: Every song is different, and everyone contributes in their own way. A song may start from a beat, a guitar riff or a chord progression. Maybe even a word.

What inspired the new single, “Believer”?

REYNOLDS: The song is about overcoming emotional and physical pain to arrive at a place of peace and self-confidence.

Where did the idea for the video come from, and what made you decide to include Dolph Lundgren?

REYNOLDS: The video shows a man battling shadows of himself. We came up with the idea for this metaphorical representation of the song with Matt [Eastin], our director. Dolph was the perfect guy for the role. Not just because he’s a great actor and martial artist. He also does look a lot like an older, much, much stronger me [laughs].

What was the filming process like?

REYNOLDS: It was one of the most fun film shoots we’ve ever done. The set was beautiful and there really weren’t any unexpected problems, which is weird on a music video set. I got rocked pretty good on some of those hits, though.

You mentioned Matt Eastin, who you’ve worked with several times in the past. What was it like working with him again?

REYNOLDS: There’s nothing better than working with a director that you know and trust. Filming is a much less stressful process when you know that it’s going to look great on camera. Matt has a great eye but also understands the way we think and is super detail oriented.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Imagine Dragons by Clicking Here!

Steve Hackett Discusses His New Album, ‘The Night Siren’

Photo by Tina Korhonen

The Night Siren, the new album by rock legend and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, is a modern guitar album with a heavy message. In Hackett’s own words, it’s a wake-up call to the world.

Everything about the album is a reaction to the right-wing ideas dominating the political landscape, including Hackett’s decision to use musicians from around the world.

“It’s a whole United Nations of 20 people who are on [the album],” Hackett says. “The message is basically peace. If musicans can work together peacefully, I don’t see why the rest of the world can’t do it.”

I recently spoke with Hackett about The Night Siren, his gear, John Wetton and more.

The first thing I’d like to do is get your thoughts on the recent passing of your friend, John Wetton.

John was a man who was as sweet as his music. He was a wonderful guy and I’m sure in spirit he’s still around. Just about every night on this tour I’ve dedicated something to him. He was the warmest, most incredible guy and is sorely missed by so many people.

Let’s talk about The Night Siren. What inspired it?

I made friends with many interesting people from all over the world that I wanted to work with. Some of the album was recorded in Hungary, some in Sardinia and some of it in the U.K. There was also some data I had collected over time I felt would assimilate well into what we were doing. But The Night Siren was not a rushed album. Everything was given its due time—as well as the Surround mix—in order to give Roger King [keyboards/programming] the maximum amount of time.

Why the title, The Night Siren?

Anyone who’s a thinking soul is worried about the state of the world at the moment. Multicultural diversity and diplomacy is terribly important and the only real hope we have. With the rise of right-wing politics and the idea of going back to nationalism and kicking people out, the more we begin exploring the possibility of a conflagration the size of the second world war, or worse.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Hackett by Clicking Here!

Steve Morse Provides Updates on Deep Purple and Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp

Photo Courtesy: Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp

Photo Courtesy: Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp

Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp—which is now in its 21st year—gives musicians the chance to hang with and learn from some of the most respected talents in rock.

Sure, attendees can interact, jam with and be mentored by legendary players, but the camp also allows them to write, rehearse and record in a professional environment, all of which culminates in a once-in-a-lifetime live performance.

One of this year’s camps—which runs March 2–5 in Hollywood—features Steve Morse, Glenn Hughes and Ian Paice, all of whom are or have been members of Deep Purple.

I recently spoke to Morse about this week’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp and got an update on Deep Purple. Check out the interview below.

What do you enjoy most about doing these camps?

One thing I do have is a lot of experience, so I guess it would have to be to legitimately be able to answer any questions and to pass along tips. Back when I was trying to learn stuff, it was usually done by listening to records through a bad speaker in the basement of my house and trying to guess.

There were so many question marks about everything, and my brother and I would always wonder what it would be like to be a professional musician. Then when Led Zeppelin came to town right before their first album came out, we’d try to imagine how all of this worked: How many business people are involved? Who does what? Is it possible to make a living doing this? They were all legitimate questions. For people feeling that same way now, I can bring my knowledge to them. It’s a really cool idea.

Simply put, what’s the camp like? What kind of experience is it?

It’s a real team effort with several different projects. There are a bunch of professional players who come in, and we organize and concentrate on a tune and play together. When I did the last one, there was also a Q&A session and performance interaction with everyone. At the end, all of us did a big jam concert.

What can you tell me about the new Deep Purple album, Infinite?

Well, I can tell you is that it’s the same producer [Bob Ezrin] and studio that we did the Now What?! album, which did very well for us. We had an abundance of material and Bob gave us a lot of latitude. He was a great influence and had a vision of what he wanted the band to sound like.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Steve Morse by Clicking Here!

Michael Schenker Talks Nostalgic New Live Album, ‘Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo’

msg640Thirty-five years have passed since the Michael Schenker Group released their legendary 1982 live album, One Night at Budokan.

However, last summer, Schenker—one of rock’s most respected guitarists—returned to Japan with three of the vocalists who helped him achieve worldwide success in the Eighties to record a new live disc.

The show, which was shot and recorded in front of 5,000 fans at Tokyo’s International Forum, will be released March 24 as Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and digitally. The album reunites Schenker with MSG vocalists Gary Barden and Graham Bonnet, plus Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group. Also performing were MSG alumni Chris Glen (bass), Steve Mann (guitar) and Ted McKenna (drums).

The album celebrates the music and guitar wizardry of Schenker—and gives longtime fans a chance to re-live some incredible rock and roll moments.

I recently spoke to Schenker about Michael Schenker Fest Tokyo and more in this new interview.

How did the Michael Schenker Fest come together, and when did the idea for this live album begin?

It started about two years ago. A promoter had the idea of having Graham Bonnet and his band support Temple of Rock and sing a couple of songs with us. When we did that, I was like, wait a minute. There are so many songs from different eras and I’m playing all of this past material with different singers. I thought that if I could put Robin and Gary and Graham together I could do all of the Eighties material and perform those songs with the original singers—and it would be fantastic!

So I started thinking about a group of musicians: Steve Mann, who is a fantastic guy and player and was connected to McAuley and myself from the McAuley Schenker days, and Chris Glen and Ted McKenna, who had both worked with Graham and were also the original rhythm section [after Cozy Powell] for the Michael Schenker Group with Gary. It couldn’t be better than that.

A promoter in Japan eventually found out about it and set us up on tour. One of the shows was Tokyo, a beautiful place that sold out immediately. I decided to record it and make sure it would be captured forever. In a way, it’s like a déjà vu of Budokan.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Michael Schenker by Clicking Here!

James Durbin and Quiet Riot’s Alex Grossi Talk ‘Maps to the Hollywood Scars’

mapstohws622

Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi and American Idol finalist James Durbin recently announced a new collaboration, Maps to the Hollywood Scars.

Volume One, the duo’s debut five-song EP, which was released today (February 17), sheds light on the darker side of Hollywood and the music industry—at least from the perspective of two of rock’s hardest-working artists.

Songs like “Roads” and “The Lost Boys” showcase the stinging one-two punch of Grossi’s ace guitar playing and Durbin’s powerful voice, while “Never Ending Ride” is a window to a post-apocalyptic world of ruin.

I recently spoke with Grossi and Durbin about Maps to the Hollywood Scars, Volume One—which is available now via Amazon and iTunes—and more in this exclusive interview.

How did this collaboration come about? How did you guys meet? 

GROSSI: I met James in 2011 via a mutual acquaintance. I remember being taken back, not only by his obvious vocal prowess but by his knowledge and love for real rock n’ roll. Then, last year I went to a Vegas show he was doing, and we ended up jamming together at the after-party.

DURBIN: After the Vegas show I was involved in ended, I unexpectedly received an email from Alex sending me some instrumentals. I took a listen and was immediately inspired. We started sending ideas back and forth and before long decided, hell, why not make an album or two?

How would you describe the EP in terms of its sound—and maybe how it relates to some of your past projects?

DURBIN: We both have our own influences, and there’s an age gap between us, but I think that works to our advantage as far as the writing and crafting goes. It’s all loosely based around rock n’ roll, so it’s not hard for us.

GROSSI: It’s honestly like nothing I have done to date. We’ve both been involved in many different projects, but this happened so quickly and organically, it really stands on its own.

You’ve mentioned that this project was meant to showcase the darker side of Hollywood and the music biz. Can you elaborate on that? 

GROSSI: It’s not really about selling the industry—or Hollywood—down the river. It’s more of a reflection of where the record industry was, is and where it’s going. What once gave artists and record labels a medium to actually sell music has now become a place where the general consensus is that music is free. Where some people will gladly spend $4 on a cup of coffee without batting an eyelash but feel totally fine about illegally downloading a song or record that cost thousands of dollars and countless hours to create, produce and market.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Grossi and Durbin by Clicking Here!

Nita Strauss Talks “Pandemonium” and Upcoming Alice Cooper/Deep Purple Tour

Nita Strauss

Nita Strauss

When Steve Vai asked guitarist Nita Strauss to take part in his new Favored Nations compilation, She Rocks, Vol. 1, the Alice Cooper Band shredder didn’t give it a second thought.

For years, Strauss has cited Vai as the reason she decided to pick up the guitar in the first place, so getting the chance to contribute an instrumental track to the project was a dream come true.

Strauss’ “Pandemonium”—which you can hear below—is a perpetual burn that showcases Strauss’ infectious style of playing while taking the listener on an extended, hook-laden journey of speed and dynamics.

In addition to the new track, Strauss is gearing up for an Alice Cooper/Deep Purple tour that’ll kick off in August. I recently spoke with her about “Pandemonium,” the upcoming tour, her gear and more.

How did you become involved in the She Rocks project, and what was it like meeting Steve Vai?

It was the most surreal thing. As most people know, I started playing guitar after seeing Steve’s scene in Crossroads. He’s always been my biggest inspiration. But I had never met him until last year, and one of the first things he asked me was if anyone had talked to me about the compilation album he was putting together with [former Guitar World editor-in-chief] Brad Tolinski and Laura Whitmore. I told him I hadn’t, and the next thing I knew, I had gotten an email from Brad.

I wrote and recorded “Pandemonium” in a single evening. My boyfriend, Josh Villalta, played drums and Katt Scarlett played keys. It really came together organically in a very cool way.

How would you describe “Pandemonium”? 

I think by the title. It’s a self-explaining name. I’ve never actually said what the song is about but I really wanted to take people on a journey. An instrumental song doesn’t have any lyrics, but it tells a story, and it could be about anything. I love to hear what journey it takes people on.

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

Firehouse Guitarist Bill Leverty Discusses His New Single, “You’re a Natural”

Photo by Mario Leo Fasolo

Photo by Mario Leo Fasolo

It’s been 25 years since Firehouse won Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist at the 1992 American Music Awards, beating out Nirvana and Alice in Chains.

These days, the band—and its individual members—is still firing on all cylinders.

Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty has just released a powerful new single called “You’re a Natural.” The song, which features contributions by Firehouse drummer Michael Foster and bassist Keith Horne, continues Leverty’s trend of releasing melodic singles full of tasty fretwork.

I recently spoke to Leverty about the new single, his gear, Firehouse’s upcoming tour plans and more.

How did “You’re a Natural” come about?

Just like every song I’ve written lately, it started backwards with the chorus first. With this one, the punch line was actually the first thing I wrote—“You’re a natural, a natural disaster.” I didn’t want it to be real descriptive, so it could be about athletics or any kind of work you do. I took it from that line and started working with the guitar to come up with a riff and chord progression.

What was it like recording with Firehouse’s Michael Foster and Keith Horne?

They’re phenomenal musicians. Michael took the song to an extremely high level of energy and creativity. As a guitar player, I’m usually thinking snare on beats two and four, but his feel and the way he shifts the beat to go along with the rhythm is remarkable. Keith is another amazing player. You give him the song and he just goes off and does his thing.

What are Firehouse’s touring plans this year?

We like to say we’re always on tour. It’s our creed. I think we already have 15 to 20 dates booked. Last year, we did 62 shows and played a lot of really cool places. We played with a lot of really cool bands and met a lot of new fans as well as ones we’ve known for years. We want to do it again this year. This will be another summer where we’ll be out every weekend and catching up on sleep during the week.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Bill Leverty by Clicking Here!

Bassist Nathan East Talks New Solo Album, ‘Reverence,’ and Working with Eric Clapton

Photo by: Kharen Hill

Photo by: Kharen Hill

Bassist Nathan East’s resume reads like a music industry who’s who.

East, a founding member of renowned, contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay, also is one of the world’s most in-demand bassists with credits that include Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston.

East’s sophomore solo album, Reverence, is a collection of original tracks and cover material spanning the R&B, pop, rock and jazz songbook. Included is a scorching cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Serpentine Fire,” originally recorded in 1991 and featuring Eric Clapton on guitar and Phil Collins on drums. There’s also a soul-stirring interpretation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that features East’s 16-year-old son, Noah, on piano.

I recently spoke with East about Reverence, his time performing with Eric Clapton, his gear and more.

Did you have a particular musical direction in mind for Reverence?

I always try to go in one direction, and it’s the same with Fourplay and all of the other projects I work on. You always try to go for sonic excellence. The idea is to keep the bar high in terms of quality and sound.

How did you determine what material to use for this project?

It’s a little more of a challenge as a bass player because you have to play bass and then any lead bass is in addition to it. So it’s actually two separate sets of basses on there. The idea is to find songs that lend themselves to that format in writing or covering. You always want to come up with something that will translate to the bass. The other thing I like to do is make records that are song-based and not just chops. Songs that touch a nerve or someone’s heart is also a big criteria.

Your cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Serpentine Fire” actually began 25 years ago. How did it come about?

That was originally a project I was working on with my brother called Two Faces of East. We were living together at the time and doing work in the studio, and that particular song was one that we put together. Coincidentally, it was also when I was working with Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. I remember we flew over to England and asked if they’d like to lend their talents.

Sure enough, they put their stamp on it. We pretty much finished it up, but the project never got a deal and the song wound up sitting around in a basement on 2-inch tape.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Nathan East by Clicking Here!

Zepparella’s Gretchen Menn Discusses Her ‘Inferno’-Inspired Album, ‘Abanadon All Hope’

Photo by: Max Crace

Photo by: Max Crace

Zepparella guitarist Gretchen Menn’s new conceptual work, Abandon All Hope, is an eclectic study of guitar, art and literature.

The instrumental album, which puts elements of classical and romantic composition through a prog- and blues-rock blender, was co-produced by Daniele Gottardo (Steve Vai’s favorite new guitarist) and—most interesting of all—based on Dante Alighieri‘s epic 14th-century poem, Inferno.

You could say it’s a guitar album that’s 600 years in the making—with a masterful, 21st-century approach.

I recently spoke to Menn about Abandon All Hope, her gear and more.

How did the Abandon All Hope project begin?

I’ve always liked the idea of art that incorporates other art and how you don’t have to just make music but can also make images that accompany it. I’m the daughter of a writer and grew up reading a lot of classic literature. I started playing around with the idea of doing something that would be the music to a work of literature I really liked.

Around that same time, Guitar Player Editor-in-Chief Michael Molenda reached out about doing a collaboration. I remember we met in a coffee shop and he handed me this sheet of paper that said, “Dante’s Inferno: A Journey in 11 Different Musical Moods,” and I was just blown away. It was one of those rare moments where I knew exactly what I was going to be doing for the next few years of my life. That’s how it came about.

You said you pored over orchestral scores and listened to a lot of music to prepare for this album. How did that help you?
I read scores every day, and where some people do crossword puzzles, I do counterpoint exercises [laughs]. But I didn’t want to take “x” from Led Zeppelin, “y” from Igor Stravinsky and “z” from Kate Bush. Instead, I listened to whatever inspired me. I’d listen to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” but I also listened to Roger Waters’ Amused to Death –a concept album he did with Jeff Beck. I really wanted to explore structure and the intense interplay between instruments.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Gretchen Menn by Clicking Here!

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