Mutual Admiration Society: Sterling Ball Discusses Collaborative Album with Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Steve Lukather, Steve Morse and More

Although Music Man CEO Sterling Ball has spent most of his adult life building a brand, the guitar has always played a important role in his own personal development.

There’s also a deep, mutual love and respect that exists between Ball and the artists his company serves. That’s probably why, after word got out that Ball was working on an album of his own, guitarists like Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai and John Petrucci were eager to join in.

The resulting compilation, The Mutual Admiration Society, is an eclectic mixture of songs and tasty guitar work done in a way only the best of friends can do. In addition to showcasing Ball’s own impressive guitar virtuosity, the album also allowed the guest guitarists to step outside the box of what they’re known for, and explore other areas of their musicality.

Whether it’s Morse’s fretwork on the Dobie Gray classic, “The In Crowd,” Steve Lukather’s Delta Blues version of “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” John Petrucci’s Disney medley or Steve Vai’s rendition of the Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs’ hit, “Sugar Shack” (one of Vai’s favorite songs as a youth), Mutual Admiration Society is a record of appreciation and admiration for both the instrument as well as each other.

Guitar World recently spoke with Ball about The Mutual Admiration Society and more in this new interview.

How did the The Mutual Admiration Society come about?

Over the years, I’ve toured Australia with Steve Morse and Albert [Lee]. We’ve also played in England and Germany and done club gigs as a combo in places like L.A. and Atlanta with Luke [Steve Lukather]. It was fun and low key, but I always kept the idea of doing an album on the back burner because I didn’t want to present myself in any way as a peer.

A few years ago, I did an album called Better Late Than Never. Everyone was very supportive of it and gave me confidence. So, I asked John Ferraro (drummer) about doing another album—just him and me. We got some of the basics together and I played them for Steve Morse. Steve really liked it and gave me advice for some things to try. I later sent him back the updates and the song, “The In Crowd.” He said, “You know? I really love that groove. It’s something I’ve never been able to play on since we were in our band.” I said, “Steve, what are you asking?” and he said, “Can I put the guitars on that track?” [laughs]. There went the idea of doing a record with the drummer. You don’t say no when Steve Morse asks to put guitars on your track!

I talk to Luke just about every morning and one day he called me and said, “Hey, Morse told me about the record you’re working on. I want to play on it too.” Then came [John] Petrucci, who said, “Hey, I don’t want to be the one left out.”

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Interview with Sterling Ball by Clicking Here.

Stone Temple Pilots’ Dean DeLeo Discusses the Band’s Rebirth, New Self-Titled Album and Singer Jeff Gutt

Stone Temple Pilots highly anticipated, self-titled album will be released this Friday, March 16. It marks the band’s first collection of new material with their new lead singer, Jeff Gutt.

The album features songs like “Meadow” and “Never Enough,” both of which channel the guitar grit and swaggering rhythms the band first perfected on their monster 1992 debut, Core, while tracks like “Roll Me Under” glide along with nimble bass lines and massive choruses.

Guitar World recently spoke to Dean DeLeo about the new Stone Temple Pilots album, touring, gear and more in this new interview.

How does the new album relate to some of  Stone Temple Pilots’ previous work?

I like to think everyone’s playing has evolved with this record. Everyone has evolved into a new place and has gotten better. Robert [DeLeo, the band’s bassist] actually said something about the album recently that was beautiful. He said, ‘This record breathes resilience.’

How did Jeff Gutt get on the band’s radar?

Robert was doing a gig in Detroit [where Gutt is from] with the Hollywood Vampires. After the show, someone came up to him and mentioned that he needed to check out this singer. So, after Robert got home, Jeff came out and played with us. He was one of the last five people we auditioned over a very lengthy period of time.

I think for Jeff, he wants to honor our catalog with the utmost dignity and respect, and he does just that. For us, we’re just as thrilled about delving into this new material with him. He’s an extraordinary singer and we’ve very fortunate to have met one another.

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Interview with Dean DeLeo by Clicking Here.

Brad Gillis Talks Night Ranger’s ‘Midnight Madness,’ Touring with Ozzy

Me with Brad Gillis

Last year, Night Ranger celebrated the 35th anniversary of their debut album, Dawn Patrol by releasing an all new record, Don’t Let Up! The album’s title is fairly appropriate, once you consider that the band, whose beginnings go back to the early days of MTV, is still going strong in the 21st century.

Proving that they have no intention of slowing down, Night Ranger—which consists of Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy, Eric Levy and Keri Kelli—will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the band’s monster 1983 album, Midnight Madness and songs like “(You Can Still) Rock in America,” “When You Close Your Eyes” and “Touch of Madness,” with a tour.

Guitar World recently spoke with guitarist Brad Gillis about all things Night Ranger, his current rig, and his memories of touring with Ozzy Osbourne.

This year is marks the 35th anniversary of Midnight Madness. What do you remember most about that whole era?

In the mid-Eighties, we were we were probably on the road nine months out of the year. Then for the remainder of the year, we’d be in the studio recording another record. It was a yearlong job but we had a blast. I’ll never forget pulling into the Coliseum in La Crosse, Wisconsin in late ’83 or ’84 and seeing the marquee that read, ‘Night Ranger—Sold Out.’ That was very pivotal moment in our career.

People may not know this, but back in 1982, you had two albums come out in the same week, Night Ranger’s Dawn Patrol and Ozzy Osbourne’s double-live album, Speak of the Devil. What made you decide to leave Ozzy and go full-time with Night Ranger?

Although we’d done a lot of shows and recorded Speak of the Devil, toward the end of 1982 Rudy [Sarzo] had already decided to leave Ozzy to go join Quiet Riot. I decided to roll the dice and go with Night Ranger because we also had a deal pending. Radio was changing back then and playing heavier stuff, but I remember, even after “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” had been released, we weren’t sure if it would do well. Fortunately, MTV had just come out and needed content. They ended up playing our video about 25 times a day.

Our record company really did us a favor back then by holding off on the release of “Sister Christian” on the Dawn Patrol album. They knew that it would become a hit and wanted us to come out heavy with our “sophomore” release [Midnight Madness]. That ended up being our biggest record and took us to headliner status.

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Interview with Brad Gillis by Clicking Here!

‘Psychotic Symphony’: Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal Discusses New Supergroup Project, Sons of Apollo

Photo by:Hristo Shindov

Featuring ex-members of Dream Theater, Guns N’ Roses and Journey, Sons Of Apollo is an exciting new supergroup consisting of Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

The group’s highly anticipated album, Psychotic Symphony, is a welcome introduction to the band, and pulls heavily from the quintet’s eclectic musical influences, which range from vintage prog to classic and hard rock.

Particularly notable on Psychotic Symphony are Thal’s jaw-dropping runs on his 24-fret Vigier double-neck, and his fluid transitions from fretted to fretless.

Guitar World recently spoke with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal about Sons of Apollo and more in this new interview.

How did Sons of Apollo come together?

We certainly weren’t strangers to each other. I had worked with Mike on Metal Allegiance and over the years have jammed with him and Billy in various situations. I also jammed with the guys and Derek at Progressive Nation at Sea a few years ago and have been a huge fan of Jeff’s ever since I heard him on the Yngwie album. It was only a matter of time before we [began to make] music together.

How would you describe Psychotic Symphony in terms of its sound?

When I think of the album, I think of the writing and recording process and the personal involvement. To me, when I hear the album, I hear five guys paying tribute to their influences. I hear The Who, Van-Halen, Led Zeppelin and Randy Rhoads. Everything that inspired each member of the band to play music the way that they do. There’s Billy’s distinct, undeniable tone, Mike’s tremendous playing, Derek—who is the greatest guitarist you will ever hear on keyboards—and Jeff, who takes the craziest songs and makes them into something you can sing along to. He’s a great singer with a fantastic voice.

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Interview with Ron “Bumblefoot” That by Clicking Here!

Robert Knight Discusses ‘Rock Gods’ and His 50-Year Career As a Music Photographer

Legendary rock photographer Robert Knight is widely renowned for his lengthy tenure of capturing a wide cross section of highly influential artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Slash. His ability to closely connect with and generate trust among the subjects he’s photographed has led to a deep, intimate documentation of significant pop cultural moments over the past half century.

Knight is celebrating his 50th Anniversary with the release of his amazing new book, Rock Gods: Fifty Years of Rock Photography, which is available now on Insight Editions. ​

Even if you aren’t a voracious reader, Knight’s incredibly beautiful photographs and personal stories from his time spent with some of rock’s most legendary artists at the beginning and peak of their careers is worth the price of admission.

We recently spoke with Knight about Rock Gods and some of the artists he’s worked with in this new interview.

What made you decide to write a book about your life and career?

The stars all aligned and the time was right. It was the 50th anniversary of the Jeff Beck tour and my time with Led Zeppelin. We preferred to do a smaller sized book that’s very affordable and aimed at younger people. I’ve even got younger artists I’ve worked with in the book towards the end.

What was it about the music of that generation that appealed to you and made you want to become a photographer?

Growing up as the son of a minister, I was forbidden from any of that music. Then one night at a very young age, I snuck out and saw The [Rolling] Stones when they had Brian Jones in the band, and it electrified me. Later, I found magazines with long-haired guys with weird clothes and guitars. I couldn’t figure out what it was all about, but I knew that it was music. I sent away to an English music company and got records by Hendrix, Cream, The Yardbirds and Pretty Things before they even came out in America. But once I saw the movie, Blowup and the lineup of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, that was it for me. I saw what Beck was doing and thought, this is someone I really want to work with.

I want to ask you about a few of the guitarists you’ve worked with and get your thoughts on them. Let’s start with Jimi Hendrix.

I first saw Hendrix back in 1968 at the Avalon Ballroom. I had heard his music before, but hearing it on your hi-fi was a lot different than when you were being pummeled by three Marshall stacks [laughs]. I remember my mouth dropped open and I was just mesmerized by what was going on. It was bigger than life. Then when I met him, he was this sweet, shy guy who was very humble. That’s what you came away with. He was this bombastic thing on stage and then the total opposite off of it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Robert Knight by Clicking Here!

Moon Taxi’s Trevor Terndrup, Spencer Thomson and Tommy Putnam Discuss New Album, the Success of “Two High”

Moon Taxi – Photo by Harper Smith

Nashville’s alt-rock quintet Moon Taxi’s highly anticipated fifth studio album, Let The Record Play, marks the band’s first album for a major label. It’s an infectious, ten-track LP that includes their monster single, “Two High,” which to date has garnered more than 64 million streams on Spotify.

Produced and mixed by Spencer Thomson (who also happens to be the band’s guitarist), Let The Record Play lends itself as easily to home speakers as it does to the band’s dynamic live show.

We recently spoke with frontman Trevor Terndrup, Thomson and bassist Tommy Putnam about the band’s new album, and the incredible success of “Two High.”

To someone who may not be familiar with Moon Taxi, how would you describe Let The Record Play?

Terndrup: It’s a continuation of our story. For people discovering the band for the first time, it’s a great introduction, and hopefully, they’ll go through and check our back catalog. For fans who’ve been with us for more than a decade, they’ll appreciate that it’s a continuation of our songwriting and production skills. We’re always striving to become better songwriters, and we’re getting a more worldwide look with this record.

What was the songwriting process for this record like?

Thomson: One thing we tried to do a little more of on this album was to have a lyrical concept up front. So often, you end up having music that you like, but then you have the task of trying to put lyrics to it. It can slow down the process. What we’ve learned is that if you have an idea, lyrics or a title on the front end, it really helps the song move along and it makes it more of a cohesive concept to work with.

Terndrup: Spencer writes a lot of the lyrics, but everyone generally puts a stamp of approval on it. It’s all collaborative, so it has a pretty thick filter. Usually, it’s one person who comes in with the creative spark, and then the rest of us help push it to the finish line.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Let The Record Play, starting with “Two High.”

Terndrup: The music and the lyrics both happened within a two-week time frame. The idea came from our keys player, Wes, who sent a text that was an auto-correct fail. He had meant to say, “too high” and it came across as “two high”. He told me about it and I immediately thought about the iconic peace symbol from the sixties. It was right around the same time the Women’s March happened and there was a lot of protesting going on. That’s really when the chorus started to shape up.

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Interview with Moon Taxi by Clicking Here!

‘Got Soul’: Robert Randolph Talks Grammy Nomination, Artistic Inspiration

Robert Randolph’s recent Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category for his latest offering, Got Soul, should come as no surprise.

The renowned pedal steel guitarist—who’s already collaborated with such legends as Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Santana—is merely taking the next step in his journey toward becoming of the genre’s most spiritual and accomplished artists.

Having heard almost no secular music while growing up singing and performing the “sacred steel” at church, Randolph was eventually exposed to the blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as soul and rock music in his late teens. The rest is history.

Randolph describes Got Soul as a soulful form of rock and roll. A kinetic, raucously energetic album that puts his pedal steel guitar front and center, it combines elements of blues, funk, jazz, soul and country with the gospel music of his youth.

Guitar World recently spoke to Randolph about the Grammy nomination and more in this new interview.

This is your fifth Grammy nomination. As an artist, what’s it like when you hear your name announced for a Grammy award?

Yeah, this is our fifth time. It feels good to know that you’re respected among your peers and are appreciated by die hard music fans. It also shows the hard work we put into making music and writing songs. It’s a nice payback.

Let’s talk a little about Got Soul. What themes did you want to explore when making this album?

I really wanted to give people good songs that have messages of love, happiness and inspiration and not focus on all the negativity that’s going on in the world. It’s music with big choruses, catchy grooves and rock and roll guitars that allows people to dance. It’s all of those elements put together.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Robert Randolph by Clicking Here!