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SHAUN BAXTER Jazz Metal Piooner - By Guido Mercati
Which kind of music do you like more right now? I mean be bop, modern
jazz or rock-fusion?
I tend to listen to bebop. Most rock-fusion sounds too cold and clinical to
my ears. I also find most of it comes across as twee and pretentious. I
could also say the same for a lot of modern jazz; a lot of players sound
like they are giving you a geometry lesson on their instrument.
I'd rather listen to somebody with real soul like Django Reinhardt or
I started off with rock guitar, but got good pretty quickly and so was
looking for new challenges. Bebop has got to be one of the most challenging
forms of music. It involves improvising over chord progressions that are
often changing keys several times in one bar - it's a fascinating thing to
study. That's one of the great things about that style of jazz: you never
master it, you just get better.
Who are your favourite guitar players, from the past and for the next
I try not to listen to guitarists if I can help it because I think it's
important to sound different. Although, when I started playing guitar, there
were certain guitar players who I loved - Michael Schenker, Van Halen, Allan
Holdsworth - I went through a big phase of copying all three. I know that it
sounds a bit of a cliché, but, these days, I like to listen to piano players
and sax players.
If I'm in the car, I tend to listen to sax players like Dave Liebman.
Occasionally, I will listen to a new release by someone like Yngwie or
George Lynch, but I usually just make cassette tapes of all the solos so
that I don't have to listen to the horrible music. I've always been a rock
guitar fan, but never a big fan of rock music in general.
Could you describe your gears in details, please?
My main guitar is a cream 'Relic' Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster (57
re-issue). It has a swamp-ash body, a maple neck and fingerboard and uses
'57 -custom' pick-ups.
On my 'JazzMetal" album I used an ocean spray Yngwie Malmsteen signature
model Fender Stratocaster with HS-3 Dimarzio stacked humbucker pick-ups,
alder body and a scalloped maple fingerboard.
I've also got an original 1962 fiesta red Fender Stratocaster with an alder
body, maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard.
My Strats usually only have 21 frets when I buy them, so I usually have an
extra fret added to each of them.
As far as amplification is concerned, you name it I've owned it: Rivera,
Boogie, Fender, ADA.
For my Jazz Metal album, I used the Malmsteen Strat, through a Marshall
Guv'nor foot pedal, into a Marshall jMP-1 pre-amp. For effects, I used a
Rockotron Intellifex and a BBE sonic Maximiser, which is a time alignment
device. This then all went through a Peavey Classic 120 Stereo valve power
amp into two Marshall 4 x 12s"
For the last few years, I've been using a couple of Marshall '59 reissue 100
watt valve heads into two 4 x 12 Marshall cabinets, both with vintage 30
speaker. I've also reverted to a more stripped down effects set-up. I've got
a Boss OD-2 distortion pedal linked up to three Boss DD3 delays. I also use
an old Cry Baby wah-wah pedal, an Ernie Ball Volume pedal and an Aria stage
When I play live, I also use a wireless system.
Recently, I just started using a Cornford custom 50watt valve head and two
2x12s, which is a British hand-built am that all my guitar friends have been
raving about - Joe Satriani has just bought one.
I'll probably use this with an Intellifex etc as a lot of my new tunes
require a harmoniser when I play live (I usually play as a three piece)
For strings, I use Hybrid Slinkies by Picato (009 - 046). For picks, I
usually alternate between using Dunlop 1.5ml plectrums (the purple ones) and
steel ones; which I prefer for rock sometimes because they have all the
attack of a thin pick but also produce all the thickness of tone you get
from a thick pick.
Your 10 guitar albums of the life.
These aren't in any particular order. Interesting that there aren't any
straight-ahead jazz guitarists - it shows that I'm a rocker at heart!
'Strangers in the Night' - UFO (Michael Schenker)
'MSG' - MSG (Michael Schenker)
'Elegant Gypsey' - Al DiMeola
'Live in Leningrad' - Yngwie Malmsteen
'Van Halen I' - Van Halen
'Fair Warning' - Van Halen
'Live in the Air Age' - Bebop deluxe (Bill Nelson)
'Feels good to me' - Bruford (Allan Holdsworth)
'One of a kind' - Bruford (Allan Holdsworth)
'UK' - UK (Allan Holdsworth)
If I had eleven choices, I'd also like to add 'Trilogy' by Yngwie.
This summer you will play with Allan Holdsworth. In the next future a
collaboration on CD?!!? Don't keep the secrets with us, Shaun!
Unfortunatley, that has all changed.
Allan can't make the gig now, which is at The Guildhall in Bath on the 6th
August 2000, so I'm going to do it with Frank Gambale instead.
It's a pity, because I was looking forward to playing with Allan, but they
certainly picked the best replacement with Frank. I'm looking forward to it.
Frank's going to be playing with my trio which consists of Me, Paul Elliott
on drums and Terry Gregory on bass. Terry also plays bass for Martin Taylor.
When you are soloing over a chord progression you think in terms of...
Generally, I divide all the chords in music into one of the following six
different catagories, maj7, 7, min7, min7b5, 7alt and dim7. I have various
scale options for each chord type. It's hard to put in a nutshell, because
I've been studying and teaching jazz for over ten years and, in that time,
I've collected thousands of licks and techniques that will help me to
negotiate various chords and certain chord combinations.
When people ask me to recommend some good books on the subject I find it
very difficult, because there is no one book out there with all the answers.
Consequently, I've decided to write some books on the subject of playing
through changes (from a guitarist's point of view) that will be available on
my web site pretty soon.
Do you compose the harmony and the structure of the song before the
melody or viceversa?
I use a lot of different methods when I write my tunes.
A tune like, 'I'm Not Sure Yet', started off as a chord progression that
suggested a melody, whereas, 'G-Spot Blues' just came out one day when I was
improvising along to a drum groove.
Sometimes a write a tune to order: with 'Birdman', for instance, I wanted to
write an up-tempo jazz blues in Bb, whereas tunes like , 'Strike Up the
Band', 'Make t Reel' and 'Open Invitation' started with some riff that my
drummer, Paul Elliott, came up with.
What are your thoughts about Greg Howe? Like you he's a jazz-metal
JazzMetal is a word and style of music that I invented in the early '90s as
a means of describing my music, which is something that combines the lead
lines and chord progressions of bebop with the aggression of heavy rock. If
you like, somewhere between Charlie Parker and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Players like Greg Howe, Ritchie Kotzen, Bret Garsed and TJ Helmerich are
fusion players who all admit that they are trying to follow in the footsteps
of Allan Holdsworth, which is the very thing that I've been trying to avoid.
I think that Allan Holdsworth is a genius, but it's pointless to try to do
what he does because he's been doing it much better than anyone-else for
nearly 30 years.
For me, I have always liked the sophistication of bebop, but have always
felt that is isn't hard hitting enough. I've also liked the aggression of
heavy metal, but have always felt like it lacks sophistication. I play my
style of music so that I can have the best of both worlds. 'Fusion' is too
lightweight for me. My style of music is heavier and much more aggressive.
I don't want you to think that I don't admire a guitarist like Greg Howe
because I do. If somebody asks me about 'state of the art' rock technique, I
tell them that they should listen to Greg Howe or Scott Mishoe, but I'm just
not interested in sounding like another guitarist. If there are any
similarities it is purely coincidental. Greg Howe was recording his first
fusion album the same year that I was recording my 'JazzMetal' album (1993).
We have some similar rock influences, such as Van Halen and Yngwie, but
that's where the similarity ends.
It's been a long time since I did my first album, but I've been incredibly
busy. A lot of your readers might know my playing from 'Guitar Techniques'
magazine. I've been writing for them for the last 5-6 years. I've had
enormous work commitments and various personal reasons that have kept me
recording for a long time.
However, I have just bought my own studio and started gigging again. I
intend to put out at least one new album every year from now on. I've
already got over half the material for a new one that will be released
towards the end of this year (aptly titled, 'Back In Business')
Will you ever play in Italy?
I'd love to come - I have a lot of fans in Italy.
I've been asked by quite a few big artists to go on tour, but I'm not really
interested in going on tour for months and months on end. My band and I
would like to do things on a much more civilised basis, where we, perhaps,
just come over to Europe one or two weekends a month - that would be nice!
Having said that, I'm due to play with Carl Palmer next Summer and I know
that we're definitely coming to Italy. I'm basically replacing Keith
Emerson. I'll be fronting a guitar, bass and drums three-piece line-up,
playing a lot of the ELP stuff.
Who knows how that might develop?
Carl is very connected and well respected. I know that we've already got
gigs booked in all round Europe, including a Friday night at the Montreaux
Jazz festival and a week's residency at Ronnie Scott's in London.
BRETT GARSED The Heart Of Fusion - By Guido Mercati
Brett , tell me about your musical influences .
I was inspired to play to play after hearing Richie Blackmore play "Speed King" . After that it was Jimmy Page , David Gilmour , Santana , John Fogerty and Jimi Hendrix . Eventually i heard Eddie Van Halen , Allan Holdsworth , Larry Carlton and Scott Henderson so my phrasing started to take on a more fusion sound but i still wanted to be a rock guitarist .
Could you describe your equipment and your sounds ?
I use a Diezel VH-4 Amplifier (great amp !) , a Lexicon MPX G-2 Effect Processor , a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere and an old Wah Pedal that was given to me when i was 15 years old but i don't know what kind it is ! All for guitars , i'm using a Brian Moore MC-1 (absolutely beautiful !) , a Steinberger GS (will be a classic guitar in the next century . Ned is a genius !) and a modificated ESP Telecaster which i've made to look exactly like a real Tele . It's one of my favorite guitars . I own a lot more but these are the ones that get the most abuse !
Actually and future projects ?
I have recorded some solos for my Italian friend William Stravato for the album "Survivor" release for 99th Floor in Italy . TJ and i will playing on a cuple of tracks for Virgil Donati's solo album and we'll be releasing a very experimental and ground breaking vocal albums called "Under The Lash Of Gravity" . It also features Virgil . I'm a full time member of Jenna Music , an LA based rock band . Jenna is one of the most talented singer/songwriters i've ever heard so i believe we'll do some great work together .
Your type of compositions ?
When i compose i usually try to write the melody and chorus at the same time , almost like a solo acoustic piece . I also forget about theory and rules and just let melody and ispiration be my guide as to where the song should go . TJ and I both started in vocal bands so our instrumental writing has a strong vocal quality and structure to it . We usually write strong hooks and melodies and save the heavy chops for the solos .
Do you use a particoular type of records and where ?
We usually record drums in a commercial studio to take advantage of the room sounds and microphone selection especially as TJ is , in my opinion , one of the best recording engineers in the world , not to mention one of the best singers !!! When we release the new album everyone will agree i'm sure . From that point on we'll record at home as much as possible . It saves a lot of money and is more relaxed as time is not an issue . TJ is go good at getting killer tones that it doesn't matter using home equipment . It always will sound great !
Mike Varney say "Virtuoso music is not a trend" but the best period it was 89/90 ...
I agree with Mike in that virtuoso music is not a trend . I think this is proven by the fact that a lot of musicians are still stiving for excellence on their chosen instruments and are forgoing commercial success so as to get their artistic vision out to the public . From teaching so much at Musicians Institute (G.I.T.) i get to see where the young musicians are heading stylistically and fusion is having a huge impact on them . They still want to shred but the emphasis is now on note choice and phrasing . I belive Scott Henderson is one of the main reasons for this . He should be much more well known than he is . I personally owe him a lot of thanks for influencing my playing in the best possible way . The Grunge movement provided us with a well needed break from all the mindless shredding of the late 80's and now everyone is back with a fresh perspective , not to mention more open minds and ears .
Alex Masi , Angi Schiliro' , Dave Sharman ...
I know of these musicians but i don't know them personally and haven't heard their music !
The interview is finish . Tell me some suggestions for the young guitar players full of energy !
My best advice is to follow your heart and express yourself with as much integrity as possible . This may not guarantee fame and fortune but you'll be a lot happier !!! Play because you love to play and everything else will follow !!! Thanx guys !!!
NEIL ZAZA Two Hands One Heart - By Guido Mercati
Neil , how did you get interested in music and who were some guitarists that influenced your playing ?
I was always interested in music and used to listen to the radio constantly . I think that mixed with taht i wanted to meet girls had a lot to do with it ! Actually , whwn i heard Van Halen 1 , i knew that was what i wanted to do with my life . That was the inspiration that did it for me . My influences were Eddie Van Halen (Roth era) , Neil Schon of Journey , Michael Shenker of Ufo , Randy Rhodes , Frampton , Brian May , Yngwie ...
What guitars and other equipment do you favor to get youe great sound right now (and in the past) ?
I have used the 5150s for years now . They are great heads . I have also started using an amazing head that is handmade out of Vacouver , BC . They are Wizard heads and are the most amazing things i have heard . For cabinets i either use the 5150 straight 4*12 or the 4*12 Wizards . For guitars , i have been using the Peavey Wolfgangs (stop tail) and the Ernie Ball EVH Models (stop tail) . I also have been using some fantastic G&L ASATS and a 57 reissue Strat that i burn every night ! For pedals , it has been a Boss LS-2 Line Selector , Boss TU-2 Tuner , Vox Wah , MXR Phase 90 , DOD Juice BOX and a Boss DD-3 Delay . That is it .
Your last album "Staring At The Sun" ...
It features Steve Smith and Ross Valory of journey , Stu Hamm , Michael Lee Firkins and Robin DiMaggio . It is great record that i am very proud of . I am just finishing up a tour with Bobby Rock and Bill "The Buddha" Dickens in support of our double Cd "Snap , Crackle , pop ... Live" . It is going great and the tour is going to end in a little bit up in Canada .
Tell me about Michael Lee Firkins . You are friend , aren't you ?
I have always been a huge MLF fan and when i was doing the tracks for "Staring at The Sun" at Steve Smith's House , he lived a fwe miles away . We mutually knew someone and they set it up . it was amazing to have him come down and play on the record . He is such an amazing player and his tone and technique is fantastic . What a great experience !
What about Shred music ?
I have to say that i really don't listen to a lot of the shred palyers or other players in general . I don't mean that in a weird way , but being on tour , tha last thing i want to hear is more guitar ! I listen to a lot of R&B and Pop Music . I think that is what brings out the melodic side in me . Great playing is fine , but i like to hear great songs more .
Which kind of technique do you like more ? I guess sweep-picking is one of your favorite , but also a very intense vibrato a-la' Satriani ...
I really can't choose what is my favorite technique as they all go into making the music that i play . I do love sweep picking , though . I think all of the different techniques combined really go into the playing as a whole .
Give some pratical advices at all young guitarists around the ... Web !
My biggest advice to anyone is to play from your heart and to love what you play regardless of what people tell you or the trends of the day . it is important to know your voice on guitar and why you are doing what you are doing because at the end of the day , you have to be happy in the music that you made and the playing that you did . Be experimental . Be different , but most af all ... be yourself !!!
ZAKK WYLDE Fucking Guitar - By Guido Mercati
How did you get interested in music and who were some guitarists thet influenced your musical tastes ?
I used to play football and when i could't get big enough i went over to the coach's house to tell him i wasn't going to play anymore . While there , the coach's son LeRoy came out with a Les Paul in one hand and a beer in the other . LeRoy started waiing on Hendrix , Sabbath , Van Halen and "new" Ozzy . I became a lifer right then and there .
What guitars and other equipment do you favor to get your great sound ?
Marshall JCM 800/100 Watt Amps , Electro Voice 200 Watt Speakers , Gibson Guitars/Les Paul mainly , Boss Chorus/Boss Super Overdrive/Jimi Dunlop Rotovibe/Jimi Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Wah Wah .
What are your most recently completed projects and what are you currently working on ?
Black Label Sciety is my new band . Sonic Brew is the album .
How do you write your music ?
Riffs ... Beer ... Melody ... Beer ... Lyrics ... Beer ... in that order most of the time !!!
What about shred music ? Do you usually listen to other guitar players ? Who ?
Al DiMeola , John McLaughlin , Paco DeLucia , Frank Marino , Robin Trower and Albert Lee .
Country hot-rod ... Tell me something about your passion for stuff a-la' Albert Lee or Chet Atkins !
I love the phrasing and all the right hand picking !
Are you a friend of Richie Kotzen right ? What do you think about him and his new power fusion style ?
Richie is a great guitarist and can sing his ass off . I haven't heard his new stuff though .
Do you think you will do another Cd like the marvelous masterpiece Pride & Glory ? What kind of stuff do you like more right now ?
Ya never know ! But it would have to be Brian Tichy , James Lomenzo and myself because that's Pride & Glory . Right now i'm happy as ..... a pig in shit dwelling in the Black Label Society !!!
The interview is going to finish . Give some pratical advise to a young guitar player who wants to become a professional musician ...
Play what you love and whants in your heart and if anyone opposes that tell them to go ... FUCK ... themselves !!!
... mmmm ... Thank you .
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