Category: Guitar World Interviews

Phil X: “Livin’ on a Prayer is one of best rock songs ever. I still get goosebumps after playing it hundreds of times!”

Right On The Money is the latest installment from Phil X & The Drills and a dynamic addition to the band’s already explosive discography. The guitar-driven track was recorded at legendary Capitol Studios with Chris Lord Alge and also features Daniel Spree on bass and Brent Fitz on drums.

The new single is separate from The Drills upcoming fifth album, Stupid Good Lookings Vol 2 – it’s a diverse compilation that will feature a different drummer, including Tommy Lee, Liberty DeVitto, Kenny Aronoff and Ray Luzier, on each song.

We recently caught up with Phil X about his new single and Gibson endorsement, as well as an update on the new Bon Jovi album.

Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams were scheduled to tour this summer, but the pandemic cancelled those plans. How have you been spending your time?

“I’ve been keeping busy doing remote sessions in my studio. People will send me their files and I’ll upload the session and lay down the guitars. Then I’ll send them back the session. It keeps my creative chops up. I also feel good about what The Drills are doing right now and being able to include my kids in the video for Right On The Money.”

Speaking of Right On The Money, how did the song come about?

“I do my best writing when I’m driving around. When I’m driving I don’t like to listen to music. I like to listen what’s in my head and one day I had this bouncy riff going on and the phrase Right On The Money.

“It means that no matter what’s going on you just have to stay positive. The song’s an opportunity to lift spirits in this crazy time.”

How did the opportunity to record that track at Capitol Studios come about?

“Chris Lord-Alge is a huge fan of The Drills and he had the opportunity to do a masterclass on recording live bands off the floor at Capitol. So, he called and asked if we’d be interested in coming in and recording three songs. It was a dream come true.

“I’ve done a lot of sessions and my favorites are the ones where everyone is recording together. Anytime I get a chance to do that with my band I just love it.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Phil X by Clicking Here.

The Go-Go’s: “If you think we’re sweet girls who wrote candy-flavored pop songs, our history is going to be a surprise”

Photo: Paul Natkin

The Go-Go’s Documentary, directed by Alison Ellwood, whose other work includes the Emmy-winning History of the Eagles, chronicles the band’s meteoric rise from the LA punk scene to the world of superstardom.

With rare photos, live footage and shocking revelations, fans will discover the grit and determination behind the band’s early years in the clubs as well as their tumultuous UK tour with The Specials and Madness before returning to the States and becoming the first, and only, all-female band to play their own instruments, write their own songs and have a number 1 album.

The new documentary, which also features candid interviews with both current and former members as well as management, also includes the new song, Club Zero, the first new Go-Go’s recording in nearly 20 years.

Guitar World recently spoke with The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock about the new documentary in this new interview.

How did this documentary come to fruition?

Charlotte Caffey: “We were approached by Alison Ellwood about the idea of doing a documentary. At first, we were a bit nervous because we didn’t want it come across as a salacious ‘behind the music’ kind of thing. Alison did such a great job. It really puts perspective on things. ”

Kathy Valentine: “The documentary gave us a chance to get something out that was a more complete narrative than what was already in the public eye. The band coming out of the L.A. punk rock scene is something that not everyone is aware of.

“Alison and her team compiled all of this fabulous filmed footage. It was challenging but it’s a testament to her skills as a director in putting together an interesting and exciting story.”

Belinda Carlisle: “A documentary is a heavy thing to commit to because your story is cemented forever. It took a while for us to put our trust into Alison but we’re so glad that we did.

“For a person who thinks The Go-Go’s are these sweet girls who wrote candy flavored pop songs, our history is going to be a surprise.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with The Go-Go’s By Clicking Here!

Nita Strauss: “No matter your skill level, you can always improve on your own style and personality as a guitar player”

Photo credit: Katja Ogrin/Redferns

In addition to wowing fans around the world as Alice Cooper’s touring guitarist and gracing the cover of Guitar World as one of the guitarists of the decade, Nita Strauss is the first female to have her own signature model Ibanez (the JIVA), including two new models that were unveiled earlier this year.

Her monstrous 2018 debut solo album, Controlled Chaos debuted at #1 on Billboards Top New Artists chart and her guitar clinics are sought out by fans and seasoned players alike.

Now the LA-based guitarist is taking her love of teaching to the next level by launching Rock Guitar Fundamentals, a three-module, online teaching program that’s suitable for guitarists of all levels.

Module One is designed for the novice player and goes over the anatomy of the guitar, including all the basics, including how to correctly hold the pick, fret notes, tuning and more.

Module Two is highly focused on technique and modal theory, approached from a rock player’s perspective to be easily understandable for the modern musician.

Module Three is where you’ll uncover Strauss’ secrets of sweep picking, legato, whammy bar tricks, and more.

Whether you’re picking up the guitar for the very first time of you’re an advanced player who wants to learn some shred tips and tricks, aspiring learners can jump in wherever their skill level is. Better still, purchasing the course gives users lifetime access to all future course updates.

In addition to the new course, Strauss is also hard at work on the follow-up to Controlled Chaos. In this new interview, Guitar World got the lowdown on Rock Guitar Fundamentals and much more.

What was the genesis behind Rock Guitar Fundamentals?

“I love doing my clinics and have had so many requests for lessons via Skype and in person. There was no way to fit it all into my schedule but I thought how cool it would be to put something together that took all or the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years playing guitar and putting it into the same lesson format I learned from.”

What’s do you find most rewarding about teaching?

“For me, the most rewarding thing is being able to pass along the knowledge and skills that I’ve learned. If you’re someone who has a skill or something you can pass along, I feel it’s incumbent on you to pass it to the next generation so those skills and that knowledge can live on.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here.

Bryan Adams: “I realized I had made it when I could pay my rent for more than a month without relying on anyone”

Photo Credi: Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns

Bryan Adams has sold more than 65-million albums and performed to sold-out arenas all over the world. With classic hits such as Cuts Like A Knife, Summer of ’69 and the Grammy-winning (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, his music has been heard by most people in one way or another, and his influence on younger musicians is long-lasting.

Guitar World recently caught up with Adams to ask him about his guitars and a few stories behind the albums in this exclusive new interview.

“I use a 1960s Vox AC30, a new-ish Marshall, my 1950s Gibson ES-295, a 1940s Martin D-18 and a ’60s Stratocaster.”

What can you tell me about your ES-295?

“I have a couple of early-1950s ES-295s but the first one was bought from my guitar tech in the early ’90s. I use them all the time, particularly on the road. I love the look, as it’s really a jazz guitar, but the P-90s cranked up are explosive. I sometimes think it sounds like Malcolm Young when I’m playing it, even though I know he played a Gretsch Jet.”

What do you like most about vintage gear?

“Each guitar and old amp seem to have their own particular characteristics. Except on my first recordings, I’ve always used vintage gear, and I know I’m not alone. Take, for example, the U2 song, One, that Edge played a Gretsch Green Country Club on, or Brian Setzer playing any of his songs on his 6120 for that matter. Fucking unreal sound. It just wouldn’t be the same on another guitar.”

You’ve been working with guitarist Keith Scott for more than four decades. How did the two of you meet?

“Keith is a guitar God, even way back when we first met in 1976 in Toronto. Any band that had Keith in it was guaranteed to have someone at the front of the stage (mostly girls). I suggested we go for a coffee from a chance meeting when I was 16. We became instant friends and stayed in touch.

“A few years later, when I was my about to do my first proper solo tour, I came over to his apartment, played him my songs, and asked him to be in the band. I’d been rehearsing with Ric Parnell on drums from Atomic Rooster, and I think that might have sealed the deal.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bryan Adams by Clicking Here.

Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber: “Inspiration comes at weird times and you always have to be ready for it”

Photo: Raj Naik

Jeff Lorber first heard guitarist Mike Stern in the early 1980s when his Jeff Lorber Fusion project toured the same festival circuit as Stern, who at the time was performing with Miles Davis. But it wasn’t until bassist Jimmy Haslip, who’d worked with both Stern and Lorber over the years, suggested these two seemingly disparate musical forces come together that their new collaboration, Eleven, was born.

The resulting album is an extremely copacetic compilation filled with harmonic meat and aggressive soloing. From the melodic and catchy opener, Righteous, to Stern’s lyrical, African-flavored Nu Som and blues-drenched jams like Jones Street and Slow Change, Eleven is an inspired collection combining tasty elements from many different styles of music.

We recently spoke with Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber about Eleven and more.

How did this collaboration come about?

Jeff Lorber: It’s a small music community, especially when you get into guys who play fusion and jazz. And although we’d never met I’ve known about Mike for a long time. An early version of my Jeff Lorber Fusion Band had even opened up for Miles Davis back in the Eighties when Mike was in the group. I’ve been working with Jimmy Haslip for more than ten years, and when Jimmy was with the Yellowjackets he did a collaboration with Mike. Jimmy was the one who suggested it’d be something interesting for us to do.

Mike Stern: It was fresh because me and Jeff were in different orbits and had never played together. So when Jimmy presented the idea to me I thought it would just be to play a few gigs, but then he suggested that Jeff and I record together. One thing led to another and now here we are.

Jeff, what was it about working with Mike that appealed to you?

Lorber: The Jeff Lorber Fusion has always been saxophone-focused, so working with a guitarist as the main sound was really appealing to me. Of course, Mike is a virtuoso player who has terrific command of bebop vocabulary as well as rock and blues. He also has a free and fluid approach in the way he improvises and plays melodies. I thought it would be a great challenge because he’s such a high-level musician and I was excited to see what would come out of it.

What was the writing process like for Eleven?

Lorber: Each of us basically wrote half the album. Mike had a chance to re-cut a few songs he wanted to take a new look at and I wrote a bunch of new music as well. We got together and cut all of Mike’s stuff live with Jimmy on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums. For me, I’ll usually start with a chord sequence or groove and try to get melodies involved early on. The song Righteous is a good example. It’s a four-chord pattern with a Motown groove. After I write something I usually let it marinate for a while to see where it needs to go. The element of time is something that really helps.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber By Clicking Here!

‘Out of the Blue’: Mike Rutherford Discusses New Mike + The Mechanics Album, Gear, Genesis and More

Photo credit: Patrick Balls

Mike + The Mechanics’ ninth studio album, Out of the Blue, captures the spirit and power of some of the band’s most beloved hits. Featuring music from throughout their 35-plus-year-career, the new album also gives fans a glimpse of the band’s future with three brand new cuts, “One Way,” “What Would You Do” and the album’s title track.

A special deluxe CD version of the album features six newly recorded “as-live” acoustic versions of “Don’t Know What Came Over Me,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “The Living Years,” “Beggar On a Beach Of Gold,” “Another Cup Of Coffee” and “Over My Shoulder.”

In June, the band will meet up with an old friend, Phil Collins, joining him for the first six shows of his European tour.

Guitar World recently spoke with guitarist Mike Rutherford about the new Mike + The Mechanics album, touring, gear and more.

What prompted the new Mike + The Mechanics album?

We’ve been touring the last eight years with two singers, Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, and I observed the way the old hits have become something else. The two singers have made them their own with different interpretations. The sound was something quite special and I thought it would be nice to capture that in the studio.

What’s your writing process like these days?

It always starts with some chords, drum machine programming and bass pedals and guitar synths. Just making a big racket to get some starting ideas. Normally a title comes first but the best ones are when you get the words with the chords.

Let’s discuss a few of the new songs from the album, beginning with the title track, “Out of the Blue.”

I really like the title. In this day and age it has a positive statement on life. It’s fast and, in a sense, it’s also written a bit like a love song. Sometimes you’re looking for someone special in your life and you try and try. Then suddenly, out of the blue, something comes along. At the same time it applies to life and the aspirations and hopes you’re trying to achieve.

How about “One Way”?

I went back to the old Akai to get that crunchy sound again. The intro is my drum machine programming and the strings are me plugging away on the Akai. It’s a nice sound.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Mike Rutherford by Clicking Here!

Interview: Kiefer Sutherland Discusses His New Album, ‘Reckless & Me’

Actor and guitarist Kiefer Sutherland, who has more than 300 shows under his belt and a lifetime of love for music and storytelling, will release his sophomore album, Reckless & Me,” on April 26. The 10-track opus follows on the heels of Sutherland’s acclaimed debut, Down in a Hole, which showcased his infectious brand of Americana/country-rock and his whiskey-soaked growl.

Produced by Jude Cole, Reckless & Me also highlights Sutherland’s master storytelling ability, particularly on songs like “Something You Love,” “Open Road” and the locomotive-like “This Is How It’s Done.” All of which lend themselves equally well to both the record and live performance.

Guitar World recently spoke with Sutherland about guitars, songwriting, Reckless & Me and more in this exclusive interview.

What originally inspired you to record your own music?

I never intended to make a record. I had a bunch of songs I liked and took them to my best friend and incredible producer, Jude Cole, with the possibility of sending them off to see if another artist would record them. After the first few songs Jude said, “I think these are great and you should make a record.” Being incredibly aware of the stigma of an actor doing music I was a bit hesitant, but we decided to record a few more songs to see where we were at. I think it was somewhere around the sixth song that I realized how much I loved the songs and the way Jude was making them sound. We decided to move forward and made the record Down in a Hole and it was one of the best times of my life.

What was the musical direction for the new album, Reckless & Me?

Even though a few of the songs on the new album were inspired by things that happened in my life, a lot of them are songs I wanted for our live set. I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if we had a kick-ass honkytonk song with a driving beat to get the audience moving? That’s when I wrote “This Is How It’s Done.” Then Jude and Brian MacLeod (drummer) sped it up with a relentless locomotive-doing-100-mph backbeat. That song went on the record because I knew it would be great for our set. Then there’s “Something You Love,” which is another driving song that Jude and I wrote together. Instead of sitting in the studio thinking about what sounds would work or what was the most emotionally moving, the choice and direction of the songs for the album were ones that would make for a better show. I’m thrilled with how the record came out and am so excited to be able to go out and play it.

What’s your songwriting process like?

I usually have a guitar with me so typically what I’ll do is noodle around until I find a few chords I like that sound good together. Then it becomes a matter of finding out where they go. The thing I love about acting and songwriting is being able to tell an interesting story. So, if I can get a lyrical idea down, I’ll usually come up with a melody as well. Sometimes Jude will even alter the melody, which is why we always write together. He has a great melodic sense.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kiefer Sutherland by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Eric Schenkman Discusses New Solo Album, ‘Who Shot John,’ the Spin Doctors, Gear

Spin Doctors guitarist Eric Schenkman’s third solo album, Who Shot John, showcases the many sides of the artist’s vast repertoire.

Whether it’s the colloquialism of the album’s title track, the unbridled anarchy and groove of songs like “Agent Orange” and “Locked in the House All Day,” or the hard, Chicago blues feel on tracks like “I’m All Right,” Who Shot John is radio-friendly enough to draw listeners in, while his guitar wizardry reveals a dynamic, effervescent complexity.

Guitar World recently spoke with Schenkman about Who Shot John, the Spin Doctors and more.

How would you describe Who Shot John in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of your previous work?

Sound-wise, it leans heavily on my working with a trio, which is something that I do a lot, and how I’ve been understanding music through the blues these last several years. It’s a good representation of where I’m at now and [looks] at a lot of different angles and perspectives that I’ve come to terms with.

What’s your writing process like?

It happens very differently for different songs. Sometimes a song can be melody-driven, like “Fortune Teller” and “Far Away.” A song can also be very immediate and other times could take years to write. “Agent Orange Blues” is an example of a tight, visceral response to a situation, whereas a song like “Who Shot John” came from a lyric I started about 20 years ago and just recently finished. I had that one in my head for years trying to figure out what the lyric meant.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Eric Schenkman by Clicking Here!

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!

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!