Category: Guitar World Interviews

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!

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‘And Justice For None’: Zoltan Bathory Discusses Five Finger Death Punch’s Latest Album

And Justice For None is the seventh full-length studio album from Five Finger Death Punch. The release marks a new chapter in the band’s history, after the band was forced to overcome internal tensions, along with a well-documented legal battle with their label, Prospect Park.

Produced by Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed), the new album features driving rock staples like “Sham Pain,” and “Fake,” as well as a smashing cover of The Offspring’s “Gone Away”. With inspired riffs and muscular grooves, the band maintains their signature identity while pushing themselves into new musical territory.

In addition to the new album, Five Finger Death Punch will embark on a co-headlining tour with Breaking Benjamin this summer.

Guitar World recently spoke with Zoltan Bathory, the band’s guitarist, about And Justice For None and more in this new interview.

What made the band decide to name the new album And Justice For None?

We were in a lawsuit with the label, and it was a long process. The thing is, no one really wins a lawsuit. So, when we were finished, ‘And justice for none’ was a line that Ivan [Moody, the band’s frontman] dropped. We started thinking and decided to call the album that because it embodied the situation we went through. It’s also a nod to Metallica and we knew it would also piss off the online trolls [laughs]. It was perfect!

How does the new album differ from some of the band’s previous work?

Every record is different and a time capsule of where you are at the moment. This one is a little more diverse. We always write about what’s socially, politically or personally relevant. It embodies every shade of music and lyrical emotion that’s happened to the band over the last few years.

What was the writing process like?

I’m really into film scores and descriptive writing that creates a picture in your head or tells a story. What we do is always write the music first, and the music has to have a vibe or paint some kind of picture. Once we’re all satisfied, we give it to Ivan to work on lyrics. He’ll ask us what we were thinking about when we wrote it and base the lyrics off that. When you create a vibe and the vocal catches it, it’s a double whammy in songwriting and adds another layer of emotion.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Zoltan Bathory by Clicking Here!

Malina Moye Discusses Her New Album, ‘Bad As I Wanna Be’

Photo: Josh Schultz

Bad As I Wanna Be is the third album from acclaimed singer/songwriter and southpaw guitarist, Malina Moye. An album of genre-defying sounds that fuse elements of funk, rock, blues and soul and draws from Moye’s wide variety of influences.

A celebration of self, Moye draws from personal experience in songs like “Betta Than U” and “Enough,” the latter of which also appears in the upcoming film, The Samuel Project. Bad As I Wanna Be also marks Moye’s first #1 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart.

Guitar World recently spoke with Moye about Bad As I Wanna Be and more in this new interview.

You mentioned that Jimi Hendrix and Prince are huge influences on you and your playing. What was it about their artistry that appealed to you?

It was the freedom they evoked as artists in how they played; what they looked like, the clothes that they wore and the expressions they had when they played. With them, there was always one common denominator, and that was that it’s okay to be different. That’s what makes you you. I think that when it comes to the artists you love, in a crazy way, you see a piece of yourself in them.

How would you describe Bad As I Wanna Be in terms of its sounds and how it relates to some of your previous work?

It’s a continuation of my last album, Rock & Roll Baby, but with a more produced sound. I wanted to make it as close radio-friendly as we could, but not to miss the essential elements of the guitar. With Rock & Roll Baby, we made a guitar-driven record that showcased what I wanted to project. With this new record, I wanted to focus more on the songwriting and the melodic [and] draw on my influences from growing up in Minnesota. That sound is in my DNA. I wanted to explore that lane but at the same time continue to evolve and make it a little more contemporary. This album came from a very special place.

What inspires you when you write and create?

It could be many things. With the song, “Betta Than U,” that started when I was just tuning up. Other times, someone will say something or throw on a track and I’ll hear a melody and start to write. When someone touches a nerve, it’s amazing how your body and energy and the process of what you’re feeling reacts. It flows like a faucet.

Read the rest of my
Interfview with Malina Moye by Clicking Here.

A Discussion with Fender’s Newest Master Builders, Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn

Fender recently announced the addition of Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn to the esteemed list of Master Builders in its prestigious Fender Custom Shop.

The appointments come at an opportune time for Fender, which is poised for continued growth. Sales remain strong for fretted instruments, and the ever-increasing demand for Fender Custom Shop guitars could only be satisfied by bringing on some of the greatest luthiers to the company’s Master Builder team.

Thorn brings decades of expertise in guitar luthiery; namely inlay work, to the Fender Custom Shop. His relationship with Fender stems from his wildly successful inlay business, Thorn Inlay, which has been the sole inlay provider for the Fender Custom Shop since the mid-90s.

McMillian brings fifteen years of musical instrument experience to the Custom Shop. A Fender employee for 15 years, McMillian also recently finished a five-year apprenticeship under Principal Master Builder, Yuriy Shishkov, where he worked on nearly 1,000 guitars with the esteemed builder.

Guitar World recently spoke with Master Builders Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn about their new roles at Fender and more in this new interview.

Congrats on your new positions. I guess the first question to ask would be, what’s it like working for Fender?

Kyle McMillian: Working for Fender is an absolute honor. They have the greatest reputation and the finest instruments, for both players and collectors. I’m still beside myself that I have the honor of being a Master Builder.

Ron Thorn: The same goes for me. I’ve only been doing this a short while, but the amount of pride flowing through me is unbelievable. I’ve loved the product for decades, and to be part of the team is really a dream come true.

What do you think makes Fender guitars so special?

Thorn: They have a beautiful design, and what people might not realize is just how much they’ve impacted rock and roll and almost every other genre of music. What’s been done with them over the last 50 years is a testament to that.

McMillian: In my opinion, they’re the best designed, most copied and the most practical. They’re my favorite guitars, hands down.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kyle McMillin & Ron Thorn By Clicking Here!

‘Attention Attention’: Guitarist Zach Myers Discusses Shinedown’s New Album

Photo by: Jimmy Fontaine

Attention Attention is the new album from multi-platinum rockers, Shinedown, and the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed 2015 release, Threat to Survival.

Produced in-house by bassist, Eric Bass, the 14-track album—an emotional and physical journey that follows an individual’s life from the lowest lows to the highest highs—is perhaps the band’s most raw and personal to date. .

From the ominous opener, “Devil”—with its rush of unpredictable rhythms and roaring guitars—to infectious tracks like “The Human Radio,” “Black Soul” and “Brilliant,” Attention Attention is a powerful and enduring statement about the resolve of the human spirit.

In addition to the new album [which will be released on May 4], Shinedown are prepping for a major summer co-headlining tour with Godsmack.

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

Attention Attention has been described as a concept album. Was that the original intention going in?

We didn’t really set out to make a concept record, and it wasn’t until we got to the middle of making the album that we began to realize what it was. It wasn’t something that was forced but came very naturally. But it’s not a concept in the typical sense. It has its own vibe.

How would you describe the concept?

It’s funny, our last record was called Threat to Survival, and this record is almost about self-survival. At times, it’s about one person and other times, it’s about all four of us. We write about what we know, and that’s ourselves and what we personally go through. The album starts out with “Devil”, which is about being in the worst place you can possibly be. It’s when you’ve dug yourself a fifteen-foot hole and now you have to figure out how to get out. Then the album ends with “Brilliant,” which is romantic serendipity. A coming to light within yourself and realizing that you can do many things on your own.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Zach Myers By Clicking Here!

Guitarist Bruno Major Talks Songwriting, Touring With Sam Smith

Following the release of his 12-song project, A Song For Every Moon, last year, London-based guitarist Bruno Major found himself playing for sold-out audiences in North America, and arenas in the U.K. with pop megastar Sam Smith.

Originally a seasoned jazz musician, Major began his career as a session guitarist at the age of 16. His distinctive playing style, inspired songwriting and soulful vocals have earned him legions of fans worldwide. And with more music and another run of his own headlining dates in Europe and North America on the horizon, he’s an artist to watch in the months ahead.

Guitar World recently spoke with Major about his music and more in this new interview.

To someone who may not be familiar, how would you describe your style of music?

At the core of it, it’s songwriting. I’ve played guitar since I was seven and as a jazz musician, I was influenced by Chet Baker, Louie Armstrong and the Great American Songbook. There’s a lot of musicality and soul that I try to emulate as a songwriter. I’m also a huge fan of electronic music and artists like Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. There’s a lot of hip-hop and electronic music when it comes to the production.

In your opinion, what makes jazz so timeless and special?

There’s a wide spectrum of music that’s covered under the umbrella of jazz. What attracted me was that it seemed to be the key to understanding music at large. Whenever I hear jazz, I can also hear everything I love about pop and classical. In a way, it’s like learning a language, like English or French. If you want to communicate your feelings accurately, you have to be fluent in the language that you’re speaking. Grammatically, jazz is the most difficult form.

What’s your songwriting process typically like? What inspires you when you write?

It can be something that someone says; a line in a book I’m reading, or I can sit down at the piano and an idea will fall out. There’s no real set pattern to the process. All I know is that when the moment comes, and you get the feeling that a song’s coming, you have to drop everything and make sure that you’re ready to chase it.

Read the rest of my
With Bruno Major by Clicking Here!

‘When Legends Rise’: Sully Erna and Tony Rombola Discuss Godsmack’s New Album

Photo: Troy Smith

20 years after the release of their debut album—and more than 20 million in album sales later—Godsmack are back with their seventh studio album, When Legends Rise. It’s the band’s first album of new material in four years, following the monster success of 2014’s 1000hp.

Produced by frontman Sully Erna and Erik Ron, the sonically intense, layered record contains the signature Godsmack sound, while pushing the band to new limits of musical creativity at the same time.

From the tribal percussion and lethal riffs at the opening of the title track to the groove-fueled power of songs like “Bulletproof,” “Every Part of Me,” and “Someday,” a theme of rebirth runs through the entire album. When Legends Rise also contains the infectious sleeper track, “Under Your Scars,” the first ballad to ever make its way onto a Godsmack album.

Guitar World recently sat down with Erna and Godsmack’s lead guitarist, Tony Rombola, to talk about When Legends Rise, gear and more in this new interview.

How does When Legends Rise compare to some of Godsmack’s previous work?

Sully Erna: This record is a complete rebirth and a conscious decision to experiment and explore new sounds and more modern melodies, and to invent the next chapter in the band’s career. From zero to 20 [years] has certainly been one journey, and we were beginning to feel like the same thing was happening over and over. So, we took the time to dig in and get to work on taking it to a new level. There’s a whole new generation of fans coming up, and we want to evolve with them. There’s been a lot of changes in our own lives as well and I think this music reflects that.

What’s your songwriting process like?

Erna: It happens in all different ways. Most of the time, it starts with music. But there have been songs that began acapella and then the music was added later. There’s even been times where I’ll play drums and write to grooves I enjoy playing. For the most part, we write what we feel is the best music at the time and hope other people will enjoy it as well. This album also gave me opportunity to explore writing with outside writers who normally wouldn’t be a part of what we do. It opened a different side and allowed me to think outside the box.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “When Legends Rise.”

Erna: The title is a metaphorical statement for rebirth. It’s really about this band coming to a place, both individually and musically, where we wanted to burn this thing down and rebuild it in a different way. For me, I’d gone through a transition over the last few years where I eliminated all the negative things from my life. The other guys in the band were also going through their own transformations, so there were a lot of things that seemed like a rebirth. “Legends” is a metaphor for the phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s a theme that runs throughout the whole record.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Sully Erna & Tony Rombola
By Clicking Here!