Category: Guitar World Interviews

Broken Hope Guitarist Jeremy Wagner Showcases His Impressive Collection of Jeff Hanneman Gear

Jeremy Wagner, noted horror author and main riffer for death metal band Broken Hope, has been busily completing a gallery he’s aptly dubbed “Wagner World.” The 4,000-square-foot, music-studio/horror-and-rock memorabilia museum is a tribute to his favorite guitarists and includes rare instruments from the late Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) and Paul Gray (Slipknot), as well as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.

In this exclusive interview, Wagner offers Guitar World a peek at his latest acquisitions. He also discusses his admiration for Hanneman, his latest novel and much, much more.

What was it about Jeff Hanneman and Slayer that first appealed to you?

I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be metal guitar player. It was when I heard Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. I was floored and couldn’t stop listening to it. I immediately went on a mission to find the heaviest music and that’s when I found Slayer’s Hell Awaits. But it wasn’t until Reign in Blood came out that I discovered Jeff Hanneman had written all my favorite songs and riffs and was an awesome lyricist. It was another turning point. The thing that drew me was the extreme nature of his writing. He had this incredible talent to take aggression and extreme guitar playing and mix it with the catchiest riffs you’ve ever heard. He was a big source of inspiration to me on all levels.

When did you start collecting Hanneman gear?

I’ve been collecting gear and different instrument for years, especially vintage Marshall heads and ESP guitars from the Eighties. During this time, I developed a close relationship with Matt Masciandaro, the president of ESP, and became aware of an auction Jeff’s widow, Kathryn, was going to have. I had the unique opportunity to buy direct from her.

Where do you keep your acquisitions?

I’ve got a renovated property near my house that sits on six acres of land. The first floor is where Broken Hope rehearses and where I have a bunch of memorabilia that I like to call the “Jeff Hanneman Museum.” It has a number of Jeff’s awards and prints of live shots of Jeff rehearsing. In that same room is a vault where I have many of Jeff’s original guitars and Eighties-era ESPs hanging on the racks. There’s also a “Paul Gray Museum.” Paul was a friend who always loved Broken Hope and the two of us would talk frequently. I’m also a fanatic about 1984-86 Metallica and have an impressive collection of horror memorabilia.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jeremy Wagner and See Photos
of his impressive collection by Clicking Here!

Advertisements

The Bangles’ Vicki Peterson Talks New Album, Saluting the Paisley Underground

Photo: Autumn de Wilde

It was the dawn of the Eighties when the Bangles (then known as the Bangs), the Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock and Rain Parade were all new L.A. bands at the core of the influential Paisley Underground scene.

Five years ago, the four groups got back together for a charity event that went over so well they decided to do something unique to celebrate their success. They each got to work putting their own spin on one song from each of the other three bands. The result is a new 12-song collection, titled 3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, which will be released on purple swirl vinyl, double LP and CD for Black Friday Record Store Day on November 23, with a wider release coming early next year.

Guitar World recently spoke with Bangles guitarist Vicki Peterson about the new album and more.

What inspired this new project? How did it all come about?

The record is a delayed outgrowth of a reunion we did a few years back. We all got together, Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock and the Bangs, and did a series of shows in San Francisco and L.A. We had so much fun reconnecting that a week later, I was talking with Danny Benair (The Three O’Clock) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate) about doing an album. But instead of recording new material, we thought a sweet project would be for each band to pick a song from the other three bands and cover it. It was a nice way to pay tribute to each other.

Who coined the phrase “Paisley Underground”?

It’s generally credited to Mike Quercio (The Three O’Clock). He was sitting down for an interview and someone asked him to describe what was going on and what the common thread was and he said, “We’re the Paisley Underground.” It was a movement and certainly not mainstream music. At the time, it was the early Eighties in Los Angeles. Punk was winding down and there was a rockabilly scene. All of us shared a common reverence for the music of the mid-Sixties to early Seventies. It was very contrite, and “paisley” really kind of says it best.

I want to ask you about the tracks the Bangles covered for the new album, starting with the Three O’Clock’s “Jet Fighter.” What can you tell me about it?

Generally, it’s the most pop tune on the album. It’s got such a catchy chorus and a great feel. It was one of the songs that when I heard it again sparked a lot of happy memories of going to Three O’Clock shows.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Vicki Peterson by Clicking Here!

Steve Lukather Discusses His New Autobiography, ‘The Gospel According to Luke’

In his new autobiography, The Gospel According to Luke, guitarist Steve Lukather tells the story of how he and his high school friends became the most in-demand session players in L.A., and then went on to form Toto, a band that continues to defy the odds and has sold more than 40 million albums.

Co-written with Paul Rees, Lukather’s biography is an engaging, hilarious and at times tender look into the life of one of music’s most accomplished guitarists and session players. His list of musical achievements alone are enough to fill an entire book. The five-time Grammy winner (and eight-time nominee) has worked with everyone from Boz Scaggs and Paul McCartney to Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis. He was once asked to join Elton John’s touring band and played guitar on Michael Jackson’s Thriller – the biggest selling album of all time. Then there’s his personal, brotherly relationship with the Porcaro brothers and Toto, and all of the highs and lows in between.

The Gospel According to Luke is more than a time capsule of life, love and redemption. It’s a treasure trove of information for anyone wondering what it was like being in the studio and working alongside some of the greatest artists, producers and engineers in music history.

Guitar World recently spoke with Lukather about his new book, session work, gear and more.

What made you decide to write a book about your life and career? Was it something you always thought about doing?

I originally wasn’t looking to do a book at all. A few years ago I got invited to the Grammy Museum to do a Q&A with Scott Goldman. It was one of those interviews where he asked me questions about my whole career, and I didn’t know what was coming. I remember the room was packed and as I was talking, people were howling in the aisles, laughing at all of my stories. When I came offstage, my agents came up to me and said, “You have got to write a book.” From there, I started getting calls from publishers and it morphed out of that. We spent a few years doing it, editing and rewriting. It was hard because there’s a lot of life I remember clearly, and a lot where they told me I had a good time! [laughs]

What was the writing process like?

It was very cathartic and brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad. The session years, in particular, brought back a lot great memories. Those were wonderful times for me.

How did you become involved in session work?

My father saw being a pro musician as something more attainable than a rock star. I played by ear from the ages of seven to 14 and then took proper lessons. From that point, I met the Porcaro brothers. Both they and their father were session players. I started reading liner notes and following all of the great studio guitar players I looked up to, like, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Jay Graydon and Ray Parker Jr. I also happened to be geographically placed where I could actually meet these guys. Jeff [Porcaro] knew them all because Jeff was in Steely Dan when we were in high school.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Lukather by Clicking Here!

Ken “K.K.” Downing Discusses His New Autobiography, ‘Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest’

Photo: Ross Halfin

Through most of his 40-plus years as guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the rock star life.

Now the metal legend is telling his story in a new autobiography, Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest.

Together with writer Mark Eglinton, Downing takes readers on a visceral journey from his impoverished childhood to the biggest stages in the world. In a vivid and often emotional recounting, the guitarist discusses all the highs and lows of his career with Judas Priest, from album cycles and touring to the inner-band battles with an up-and-coming Iron Maiden. Downing also pulls no punches in describing the events that led up to his departure from Priest following the band’s acclaimed 2008 double album, Nostradamus.

Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest will be released on September 18 by Da Capo Press.

Guitar World recently spoke with Downing about his new book, the legacy of Judas Priest and much more in this exclusive new interview.

What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?

So many people have been asking me about it and one day I just felt like it was the right time. I worked with Mark Eglinton, who’d recently done a biography with Rex Brown from Pantera. It was a chronological tour of my life. Mark would call me up and put up scenarios and then ask me what I remembered about them. It was quite a journey, to be fair, opening those locked doors and closets. It was also kind of emotional at times, going back through my life.

Judas Priest songs like “Living After Midnight,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ ” and “Painkiller” are iconic. Did you have any clue how special they would become when you were writing them?

I often think about that. When Pink Floyd was writing Dark Side of the Moon, they had no clue what they were creating. They were just doing the best they could at the time. That’s what we had always done. We worked hard and were very prolific just grinding away. In the beginning, I’d often say we may not be the best band, but if we stuck together and kept working away, one day we could achieve exactly what we wanted.

In the book, you mention about how, in the early days, Rob Halford was really starting to come into his own as a vocalist, and how everyone in the band had to stay on their game so another band wouldn’t come in and scoop him up.

I felt that we needed to have the right band members to stay the course. When Rob came on board, he was very outgoing and a flamboyant showman. I thought, This guy’s got such a great voice. He’s always going to sing and always going to put on a show, and I was right about that!

Read the rest of my
Interview with K.K. Downing by Clicking Here!

Dispatch Guitarist Chad Stokes Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Location 13’

Photo: Allen Ralph

Following the success of their first album in five years, America, Location 12, Dispatch—along with producer John Dragonetti and engineer Mike Sawitzke—went back to the studio to wrap up some recording they didn’t finish the first time around.

The result is Location 13, a collection of material the band has been steadily releasing, one song at a time, every few weeks throughout the summer and will culminate as an album after the last song is released.

The new album finds the band continuing to push boundaries and break new ground. With honest, emotional storytelling and an eclectic sound that infuses the best elements of rock, Americana and folk, Dispatch are entering a new era with the passion and vigor of a band in its infancy and the experience of one that’s been together for more than twenty years.

Guitar World recently sat down with Chad Stokes, the band’s guitarist, to talk about Location 13, gear and more in this new interview.

How does the music on Location 13 compare to some of the band’s previous work?

This album came on the heels of America, Location 12. I see them both as siblings to each other, but this one is a bit darker and a little heavier. The songs we’ve written over these last two years feel more cohesive compared to our recording and writing processes of years gone by.

What was the writing process like?

For me, it usually starts with just messing around with a melody line on a guitar. If it sticks with you as the days go by, then you start fleshing it out. As you start working on it more you begin to see if the song is showing up. Sometimes, you feel like you may be walking through mud, but if you keep walking you get that little extra thing that tells you the song is worth finishing and sharing with the guys.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Location 13, beginning with “Letter To Lady J.”

That song started right around the time when Eric Garner was killed by police in New York. It was preceded by Trayvon Martin and followed by Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. I’m not anti-police at all and have great friends in the field, but there is a racial problem we have in this country with authority, profiling, fear and accountability. The chorus is vague enough to be about justice, but for me the genesis of the song came from police brutality and the overuse of violence and lack of accountability.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Chad Stokes by Clicking Here!

DevilDriver’s Neal Tiemann Discusses The Band’s Country-Gone-Metal Album, ‘Outlaws ‘Til The End: Vol. 1’

Although they’ve always proudly charged against the musical grain, DevilDriver have never made a record quite like Outlaws Til The End: Vol. 1. It’s the perfect combination of country grit and neck-wrecking metal, a game-changer delivered by true heavy metal outlaws.

The band rebuilt classic country songs from the ground up, and injected them with DevilDriver’s signature sonic assault, and vocalist Dez Fafara’s unmistakable roar. The album also features guest appearances by John Carter Cash, Ana Cristina Cash, Hank III and Mark Morton of Lamb of God.

With songs like “(Ghost) Riders in The Sky,” “Whiskey River,” “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)” and “Country Heroes,” Outlaws ‘Til The End might be one of most invigorating records DevilDriver has ever made.

Guitar World recently spoke with Neal Tiemann, the band’s guitarist, about the new album and more in this new interview.

What made the band decide to do a country-themed album?

It actually started with Dez. Like any band, we’ll all be sitting in the back-lounge listening to music as we’re getting ready for a show. So, there was always the fair share of Pantera and In Flames, but he’d also be listening to Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Sr. The rest of us never batted an eye. For me, growing up in Texas, I heard them a lot. One day, Dez suggested we do a country covers record. We all laughed at first but then took a step back, and it slowly came to fruition. But it really all started with that back-lounge hang.

How have fans reacted to the new album?

Surprisingly well. We weren’t sure how people would take to singing on a DevilDriver record but everyone we’ve talked to on this run has been taking it in and loving it.

What was the criteria used in determining which songs to do?

We tried to pick songs that had some kind of meaning to us. Dez was adamant about doing the Willie Nelson song, “Whiskey River,” and whenever I hear Dwight Yoakam, it reminds me of fond memories with my dad. So, “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” had special meaning. We listened to a lot of back catalog but also dug deeper to find songs that had a good melody or could transfer to metal. Then we took it from there.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Neal Tiemann by Clicking Here!

Ronzworld: Artist Ron Williams Discusses His Unique, Hand-Painted Guitars

Photo: Kate Page

If you’ve attended a rock festival recently, chances are you’ve seen one of Ron Williams’ striking, hand-painted guitars.

Founded by Williams, Ronzworld Guitars are all painted by the artist himself, without the use of stickers, prints or wraps. Each design is original and done entirely by hand, which means that no two instruments are exactly alike.

Williams and his art made its debut at Summer NAMM 2016 and caught on like wildfire, leading Williams to partner up with leading manufacturers like ESP, PRS, Ibanez, Dean and Fender, among others.

This summer, and in partnership with The Music Experience, Ronzworld will launch the Official Festival Guitars Experience at a number of rock, alternative and country music festivals.

At each festival date, Ron and The Music Experience will raffle/auction off a limited number of official, one of-a-kind-festival guitars hand-painted by Williams. Fans can enter by making a donation to the current partnering charity for that festival date.

Guitar World recently spoke with Williams about his passion for painting guitars and more in this new interview.

How did you get into painting guitars? Was a career in art and music something you aspired to growing up?

I always played guitar as a kid and had bands when I was in high school. I really love the art and style of the Charvels and Jacksons from the Eighties. I also loved to draw and actually went to college for art. After graduation, I got a job in advertising doing storyboards. That led to a 24-year career as a creative director in New York City. I was eventually transferred to Florida about five years ago.

At the time, my family still lived in upstate New York. So, I was living in an apartment in Florida until we could move everyone down. My office was close to my apartment, and at night I had nothing to do. It was then that I decided to take up drawing again, but I discovered the art store in town couldn’t get an illustration board like the one I used to draw on. I started thinking to myself, “All right. What am I going to paint?” Lo and behold, I saw a Jackson sitting in the corner of the apartment and decided to put some art on it. It came out great and I found a guy who could do a clear coat finish for me. I remember after I got the guitar back, it was the coolest thing in the world. So, it went from being something that I did out of boredom to what I’m doing today.

What kind of mediums do you use for painting?

It’s all acrylic. I started out using a paint brush, but found that the finish you use to seal the guitar turns bumps into a white haze. I now use acrylic paint pens. They look like magic markers but flow acrylic paint. There’s no edge because the paint goes on very thin, and the finish comes out ridiculously cool.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

When I’m showcasing my own personality, I paint what I like. And since my favorite genre is heavy metal, skulls and tribal art are the aesthetic leaning I appreciate. But if it’s a commissioned project, I take the customer’s ideas into consideration. The body style of the guitar also helps out a bit too. There’s not a lot of “canvas space” on your typical standard Strat, and especially if you put a Floyd Rose on it. You get a little more space and can detail more on guitars like Explorers and Deans.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Ron Williams by Clicking Here!