Here in our Interview section, we've had the unique opportunity to dig-out-the-dirt with some of the best known guitarists around. All interviews listed are current to this month. Be sure and check back soon to see who we have rounded up next.
To dig into this section, simply choose a player from the immense plethora pull-down list below. Ciao!

Interviewed artists include:

    Steve Vai      The 7th sign     -By Matt Cafissi

Steve VaiHello Steve...for starters, tell me about your new CD, The Seventh Song.

I have always liked the positioning of the 7th track on a CD for the instrumental guitar ballad. That is my favorite type of song to play. When I made my first solo CD i thought it would be nice to keep the 7th song as the ballad so that someday I would be able to release a CD of all of the 7th songs from all of my CD's and have a beautiful record of instrumental ballads.

You use a 7 string guitar and have a symbol/logo of 777. Is the number 7 a good luck symbol or something more particular?

No, it's just a cool number.

Now, your new label Favored Nations has become an important point for guitar fans, but up till now all of the releases on your label have been familiar faces. When will you be offering new talents?

Good point. I have just recently received a CD from a guy in Boston and his playing is so beautiful. His name is Johnny A. it's not quite Jazz, not quite rock, etc. It's uplifting to listen to and his touch is supreme. I think he will turn into something.

Rumor has it...that the new CD from Rob Balducci will be released by Favored Nations. True?

I like the way Rob plays and I do hope to release some of his music someday.

At this point, it's been a long time that you've played with the same bandmembers...Does this mean that there is a certain level of serenity and true feeling among you all?

Whenever you are in a band with someone, you want to feel that communication. My band is always changing and evolving .

Sex & Religion (the album that will never go out of style), you were able to compose truely timeless pieces on that record, but many have not yet understood this!

Oh well, maybe someday they will get it. That record took an incredible amount of energy to make. I notice that out of all my past catalog, more people are discovering that CD and I get great responses from them. It's a sleeper.

Now, we are awaiting your long anticipated box set that will collaborate the way, what exactly will it contain? Will it be issued on your label?

1) A CD of a band I had together way back in 82-84 called the Classified. Some of this music was going to be release on Passion and Warfare.
2) The elusive Light and sound- is all the music I ever recorded for films.
3-4) Archives vol 2 and 3 are compilations of songs I've contributed to other artist, (Public Image, Music of west side Story, etc.).
5) Archives vol. 4, Original Recordings of Frank Zappa. Stuff that I recorded with him.
6) Piano reductions. 11 of my songs performed on solo piano by Mike Keneally.
7) Alcatrazz Disturbing the Peace. 8-9) Alcatrazz Live in Japan.
10) Hot Chunks- a bunch of odd stuff that I will be putting together with dialog and weirdness.

One last question, will we once again see Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Stu Hamm playing together on stage in G3?

I bet you do. Thanks Matt.

    Vinnie Moore      Traveling in a New Maze     -By Matt Cafissi

Vinnie MooreVinnie, tell me about your new collaboration with Shrapnel Records.

I will be doing three more records for them.  The next will be insrumental and should be released in early 2001.  There are also plans to do a vocal project or two.

Why are you back to the classical style? Don't you like the great sound of "Meltdown" and "Out of Nowhere"?

I really liked the style of the "Meltdown" and "Out of Nowhere" CD's. But it is important to not repeat the same style over and over.  This would be boring for me. The thing that keeps me excited about making records is that I never know what will come out of my head next.  I didn't decide to go back to the earlier style, it just kind of happened naturally.  I started writing songs and my earlier influences started to come out again.

In my opinion, "Out Of Nowhere" is a great rock album ...

Thank you! This CD is very close to my heart because many of the songs were written about personal things.

What do you think of the music business on the Internet? Is the future on the Web?

It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.  No one really knows what is going on at this point.  The future may very well be on the web, but there is much that needs to be organized and figured out.  If people are downloading anything that they wish without paying fot it, then eventually there will be no more artists because no artist can make music without getting remunerated for it.  This could have a significant impact on our great "artform".

Vinnie, is your next album is a continuation of "The Maze"?

Most of the music is finished.  So far it has turned out basically in a similar style to THE MAZE but a lot different at the same time.  I would say that it is closer in style to Mind's Eye, Time Odyssey, and The Maze than it is to Meltdown and Out of Nowhere.

    Alex Skolnick      No more shred     -By Matt Cafissi

Alex SkolnickAlex, in these years your playing has changed...more 70's influence and no more Shred-Metal, and I like it!

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say my playing is more "70's," although I think I know what you mean. The music I play in Skol Patrol is more influenced by that era. But I try to do it with a modern sound and feel. People at the shows say it sounds like the same guy with a lot more harmonic knowledge, dynamics and musicianship. Hopefully they're right!

But, after your departure from Testament, your musical direction went more jazzy...

That's definately true, although I'm careful about using the word "jazz." It implies a strict style of music, and I tend to think of it more in terms of improvisation (a lot of musicians have said the same thing, including piano great Bill Evans). But yes, my playing is all about improvisation and interaction. I'm playing with different instrumentalists, not just bass and drums and it's really exciting. I'm interacting with the other players, with the crowd, with my feelings, and I never know exactly what's going to come out. That's why I play music. I just can't limit myself to playing the same thing night after night, and realizing that is what's caused this dramatic change in my playing (not to mention devoting the last several years to intense studying).

Is your Skol-Patrol project dead?

Why do you ask that? We just played about a month and a half ago. The players I've been using are very busy, working with people like Chico O Farrel and Meshell Ndegeocello. So I can't always get them and it casues long delays between gigs. Also, I've got other work of my own such as the tour I'm about to do with Trans-Siberian Orchestra followed by another album with Michael Manring and Tim Alexander, the CD I've been recording with NY violinist Joe Deninzon, my new trio, and more. But we'll be playing in New York again in February. Skol-Patrol is definately not dead. Not yet!

Why does a famous guitarist, like yourself (with endorsments and played with a famous metal band in the 80's/90's era) now 'underground'?

It has to do with a couple things. One is that people know me more for my past. In addition, the world of improvisation is a tough one. It's not as appreciated as pop and rock, and to survive as a musician, especially here in New York, you have to work very hard. But it's worth it. Also, I think the idea a known heavy metal guitarist blossoming into other styles is almost unheard of. I think it's too bad because there are so many players out there who put so much time into their instruments, and could do much more with it. Finally, the truth: I really needed to take several years and just practice and study. Could I play Testament well? Yes. Could I play how I wanted to? No.

Any future projects in mind?

I'm very proud to present a new project, the Skol Trio. It's an acoustic trio with Matt Zebroski on drums and Reid Tayor on upright bass, (a couple great young players I've met here in New York). These guys, like myself, grew up on hard rock/metal and went on to explore other styles of music. So what we've decided to do is get together and play in an improvisational context. However, while many groups of this type stick to the established repertoire of improvised music, we've decided to combine that with the music we grew up on and still love. So far, we've been combining standards of the traditional "jazz" repertoire ( Kern, Rogers and Hart, Wayne Shorter etc..) with tunes of great hard rock bands (Kiss and Scorpions, for example). I know it sounds a bit crazy, but it works! There's also a bunch of originals I've written for this group. It's nice to be breaking down these categories such as "jazz" and "rock." The truth is that it's all music and we feel that listeners of all types will enjoy it.

    Neil Zaza      True Depth     -By Matt Cafissi

Neil ZazaNeil, tell me about your latest CD Starring At the Sun and the great guests artists on it.

This was such a fun CD to do. I have always loved Steve Smith and Ross Valory's playing in Journey. It was an amazing experience to say the least. To have Michael Lee Firkins, Robin DiMaggio, Stu Hamm and Tim Bradford join me on the disc is something I will always treasure. What a great bunch of guys and great musicians.

Why have you had such success on the MP3 Site?

I don't know!!! There are so many talented and gifted players on there that I have never heard of. It is really scary. I think it is such a great outlet to get your music out there and get your name known. I think it is a great way to go.

I am not into the whole 'techno/loops guitar trend' as of lately, but you seems to incorporate this into your latest CD. Why?

I think that it is always about the songs. Forget about HOW or WHAT you use to record or get the idea across. I think alot of artists lose focus that the SONG is what it is all about. Plus, I just have to play what I feel...

In your opinion, are your main roots transcended from rock n' roll?

I would for sure say with pride that I am a Rock guitarist. I know what I do best and that is play the style and genre that I do now. I can play other styles and licks, but the true depth of me is what I am doing right now.

Now, you have some great endorsments from Peavey, etc ...and your Hamer 'Spider-Guitar'... what happened to it?

Ahh...the elusive Spider-Man guitar that no one ever forgets! The Hamer Spider-Man is retired to a nice safe closet in my house. It was an amazing guitar with the graphics and LEDs and all of that, but I just look for something different in my guitars now than I did back then. I have been in love with my Peavey Wolfgangs for some time now. In fact, they just came out with a Wolfgang custom shop so I have a feeling that you will be seeing a new Spider-Man Wolfgang in the near future. You heard it here first!

Tell me about the latest experience with Satriani ... A dream come true for all guitarists, don't you know?

Joe was one of the greatest guys I could have ever met. A monster of a player and a sweetheart of a guy. A true gentleman and musician of the highest degree.

    Cyril Achard     France for all     -By Matt Cafissi

Cyril AchardCyril, now you are one of the most popoular guitarists in France, together with Patrick Rondat! What is the guitar scene in France like?

Theres a lot of good guitar players like Chris Godin, Manu Livertout in Metal style. And of course Sylvain Luc, the best guitar player of the universe !This guy plays any kind of styles, very inspired, he has a great technique, with and without the pick, a strong rhythm a lot of feeling... But like in every countries, it's very hard to perform instrumental rock music here, people never take risk to plan guitar shows. Most of time I do demo, master class, and often play live because music schools organise shows themselves.We don't find concerts easily.That's the way it works here.

In my opinion your debut CD, Confusion is very difficult to listen to, but also very beautiful...

Confusion was composed in very short time, all by myself. I had to write all drums, keyboards parts...and we never played together before to record.That's why I didn't feel all the changes inside the song at this point of the album. I couldn't create atmosphere and climat just by working on a computer.

Why the dedication to Jason Becker? Where is Becker?

The dedication to J.B, was something natural for me, I was a lot in his music at this time. I have even been to his home, in Richmond, was received by his father who pretended that he was doing fine and not here this day. But I know he was here, but he didn't want to see anyone.We took pictures with his father, he gave me picks. Later, Jason wrote to me and said that his father recognised me on photos, he said he was very affected to see that I came from France to meet him.

Wow, you have great endorsments with Peavey and others ... but what about the collaborations with Godin and Ibanez?

Today I don't work in an Ibanez school, never been endorsed by Ibanez too. The deal with Godin stopped when I agreed to play on Peavey guitars, not only on the amps. I have contract with Italian strings, Galli.

Do you have any news about your new CD or other projects?

The CD is completed today, it's called " ...In inconstantia constans". We are waiting for labels and publishers answers, we have sent it in the whole world. We already have a publishing contract in germany. Until it's released, we keep on touring for Confusion, with a lot of new songs, mostly acoustic nylon, I love it. Maybe we'll record something with those songs one day.

    Zakk Wylde      Fucking Guitar 101     -By Guido Sarduci Mercati

Zakk WyldeHow 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 !

You are 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 !!!

Lastly, give some pratical advise to a young guitar player who wants to become a professional musician ...

Play what you love and what's in your heart and if anyone opposes that, tell them to go ... FUCK ... themselves !!!

... mmmm ... Thank you . Fuck themselves...let me make a note of that.

    Eric Johnson      Isle of Soul     -By Matt Cafissi

Eric JohnsonThe release of your new album Live & Beyond surprised everybody mainly because of its contents...all unreleased live tracks. Why?

We have been asked over the years by listeners to release a live album so we thought it would be nice to do one but at the same time do new music.

Alien Love Child is the name of your new band...the name reminds me of Steve Vai's album 'Alien Love Secrets', and above all, your CD has been released on Steve Vai's label, Favored Nations...Did this cause any problems?

It was a coincidence unknown to Steve or myself - Alien Love Child started playing together in 95 or 96 - unbeknownst to Steve Vai.

Your sound has moved toward blues more than your older releases...

The Alien Love Child Project has an intended focus of blues influenced music. I will still experiment with other types of music in the future.

I must say that the voice of your drummer Bill Maddox is truly heart rendering....

He's a very wonderful person and a close friend of mine. He is a warm person.
(Manager's note: You may be referring to Malford Milligan, our special guest for the evening. He is an amazing singer from Austin and had a band called Storyville. His voice truly is heart rendering and we were honored to have him involved with the project)

Will you come to play in Europe to promote your new album? When?

I would very much like to. Hopefully in 2001.

Talking about live, there is a lot of talk about G3 and your motives for leaving...tell us the truth.

I did a complete 6 week tour with G3. We did a live record and a video. After the tour, I decided to pursue other touring offers and projects. It wasn't really a question of leaving the tour. The tour was finished and I pursued other interests as Joe was deciding to pursue additional G3 tours.

You remain more or less connected to rock/blues, but what do you think of the last album from Satriani?

I am familiar with many of Joe's records, but as of now, I regret that I have not heard "Engines of Creation".

Future projects? Another live album? Will we have to wait long for a new studio effort?

I have a studio record that is more than half completed. I earnestly want to finish it 2001.
Thanks Matt.

    Brett Garsed      Back to his Roots     -By Matt Cafissi

Brett GarsedBrett, tell me about your latest CD with Helmerich called, "Under The Lash Of Gravity". In my opinion, it's one of the album surprises of the year!

Yeah, I think this album surprised us as well! We had some studio time available to us in late '95 so we went in with no deal ( Legato had gone out of business) and no real direction in mind so we decided to start experimenting with the then-new Sound Designer computer program from Digidesign. We created all our own loops from scratch and composed songs based around that approach.
At first we weren't going to have drums on the album at all but after hearing Virgil Donati play to the music we realized that he was the right man for the job! Some tracks are full performances from Virgil whereas others are sampled sections which we looped. It's an extremely experimental album which uses the studio itself as a musical instrument. A lot of what we did on that album has only now become mainstream so we're quite proud of that. We were both going through some separate personal issues at the time too so the songs are representative of that. It also is a great showcase for TJ's amazing vocal abilities!

Is it true about the collaboration with Dennis Chambers on your next CD with TJ? What's the sound direction?

Well, It's always hard to categorize our music and this is no exception! It will be a mixture of fusion, rock, pop and weird but there'll be a ton of playing from everyone! TJ and I are responsible for the material but everyone gets an equal share of solo's etc. It'll be all instrumental though.

Now you play a Telecaster and no more Steinberger Guitars. Has your playing changed with a Tele?

It has changed a lot with the Tele! I've always been a Fender man since day one due to the Ritchie Blackmore influence but the Tele also brings a country influence which is bound to show up in my playing due to my technical approach and also I just love that kind of music! I'm also having my old faithful Strat worked on so I can play that as well. I'm going back to my roots!

You are an instructor at famous Musician Institute of Technology ...what are some of the new guitar trends from the students?

The only trend I see is an increases awareness of tone, phrasing and note choice. I think this is due to the fact that players like Scott Henderson have become more popular so the new players are influenced by their maturity and musicality. There's still an interest in technique which is great. Great technique combined with supreme musicality is the stuff legendary players are made out of!

Why doesn't a great drummer and friend like Bobby Rock play more with you and TJ?

Bobby and I will be doing another album together this year. We've both been pursuing our own separate careers lately but as of 2001 I'd like to do more playing with Bobby. When I record my solo album Bobby will be the drummer that's for sure.

What are your next projects and tell me the expected release date of your next Garsed-Helmerich Album!

I'm not sure what the actual date of release is but it will be early in 2001.

    Paul Gilbert      King of the hill     -By Matt Cafissi

Paul GilbertPaul, tell me about your lastest album.

"Alligator Farm" was the fastest I have ever written and recorded an album. It was possible because I was having fun, and writing about things that were happening around me .Almost all of the music was recorded live in the studio. Even the guitar solos were mostly one-take live solos! It's so much fun recording this way!I played a Mozart piano sonata using two guitar tracks on the song "Whole Lotta Sonata". I think this is a very interesting song for guitar players to hear.

Why a Shrapnel collaboration, if your solo albums are with vocals?

I have vocals and pop melodies on my solo albums, but there is still lots of intense guitar playing!

Help me to understand, I know about your love for bluesy and 'Beatles' sound and we have heard that on last Mr Big album. Now, the new Mr. Big (w/Kotzen) plays 70's and rock blues ... but your sound is heavier ... do you not like the sound of last Mr Big album?

I love rock/blues guitarists like Robin Trower, Pat Travers, and Frank Marino. I love the incredible songs of The Beatles, Cheap Trick, Queen, and Enuff Z'nuff. And I love heavier stuff like old Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Accept, and Saxon.

Your official website is very friendly, filled with many strange stories and crazy photos!
I dig it!

Thank you! I have fun editing it myself. I will have rare sound clips on it soon!

If you get back with Mr. Big, don't forget about your solo career because I really enjoy your solo sound.

I plan on doing my solo CD's and Racer X for a long time. Both situations are more fun and musically satisfying than anything else I've done!

    Blues Saraceno     New Transmission     -By Matt Cafissi

Blues SaracenoBlues , tell me about your new band and album...

Transmission is my new band. I made this new record (The sky, the stars and the great beyond available on BEYOND records) because I got tired of not hearing any guitar oriented music that had any legitimacy to it.

In my opinion, your "Plaid" album is a masterpiece of the 90's!

I was really grateful to make the three solo records that I made on guitar recordings . They allowed me to showcase my guitar skills.

Other artists like Andy Timmons, Dave Uhrich, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai and Richie Kotzen now all play guitar and sing. Is this is a trend or is simply mature inspirations?

I like to see other artists grow and stretch out . If it happens to be vocal and guitar oriented then all the better.

In the future, will you put out a new instrumental album?

There are no plans in the immediate future for any instrumental records.

Now you have a new guitar and other endorsments ... and the strange Dirty Boy?

I'm using VACCARO guitars along with a couple of mainstay guitars. My main amplifier is a DIRTY BOY amplifier that was built by my father on the kitchen table . For more info on the band and my DIRTY BOY amplifier you can go to my website.

    Dave Uhrich     True change     -By Matt Cafissi

Dave Uhrich Dave , why "Change"?

I called the record "CHANGE" primarily because it has vocals. The deeper reason is because the 'CHANGE' CD was exactly that. It is about a change. I went through some difficult personal changes. This CD is what came out of me. Some tunes are about the death of my Dad. Some tunes are about my divorce.

Have you taken some vocal lessons for this new CD?

I did take some vocal lessons from a teacher in Chicago named Cheryl Rak. They were very helpful. For most of my career, I did not think I would ever be a singer. Now, I work at it quite a bit. It is a whole new world for me.

One of the great things of your lastest CD is the production. Great production...

"Change" was recorded very differently from my other recordings. Jimmy Godsey taught me more about the process than I ever thought was possible to know. Kenny's drum kit was recorded at a studio, direct to Neve preamps into ADAT's. It was in a "garage" set-up so the musicians could all be in the same room. The bass and some guitars were also recorded "live". The vocals and solos were done in my home studio through Focusrite and AMEK mic pre's. All of the tracks eventually ended up back on analog tape (2 inch 24 track machines). They were mixed through the Neve Flying Faders Councel at Streeterville Studios in Chicago. This was the opposite of what I had been used to. I had always taken all of my gear to the studio and prayed for the best. This process was very different, but it actually worked out easier in the end.

Wow! Kenny Aronoff is a great and famous rock drummer! Tell me about his collaboration with you.

Kenny and I have played together in Europe and we just simply "grooved" together. When we talked about doing a record together, it was something that seemed very natural. I told Kenny "You be yourself, I'll be myself, and let's see what happens". This CD is what happened. I think Kenny Aronoff is one of the very best drummers to ever sit behind a drumset. Even moreso, Kenny is one of the best people I know in the music industry. He has something special and unique that he brings to every project he works on. Kenny plays with his "Ears and his Heart". "CHANGE" was recorded without a click track. To me, that is the "Alpha and Omega" of a true pro drummer.

Now you are a veteran of Ibanez Guitars .. and I love these guitars!

I have played Ibanez guitars since the mid 1980's. I don't exactly know what you mean by 'Veteran" but everyone at Ibanez have been great to me. My main guitar is one I purchased. I still play it to this day! Endorsements aside, I love my guitar! If I didn't, I would own a different one!
Thanks for your time, Matt!

    Ryan Maza     Evolution     -By Matt Cafissi

Ryan Maza The debut CD from Warp 3, Music Has Evolved is a great masterpiece on the web ...are you surprised of this success?

Actually...yes. We are quite pleased with how many CD's we've sold thus far, especially in Europe. Now, don't get me wrong...we knew that we had a great thing going, considering it took over a year to complete and all the hard work and creative effort put in to getting 'Music has Evolved' unleashed, but we still were surprised to have been readily accepted by fans of this genre to dig it as much as they have. That makes it all worth it!

Ryan, tell me about your latest projects with the Warp 3 band.

Currently, we are still promoting 'Music has Evolved' through the advertising medium and live performances. Although, the change in line-up kinda' hindered that aspect for awhile. We're getting back on our feet again.
I've always got tons of new idea's for songs, but we haven't really had the time to sit down and solidify them.

Why has there been many changes of musicians with Warp 3 in these past months?

We decided to add two new members to Warp 3, a phenomenal keyboardist, LaMonte Arthur and Percussionist, Kevin Robinson. Since we had keyboards and percussion on the studio album, we thought that we needed to bring these guys on-board for the live shows in order to better re-create the true sound and feel of Music has Evolved. This also have us more flexibility to pull-off some more difficult fusion numbers, since that's definitely their cup-o'-tea!
We plan on continuing on with these two new members.

There is rumored to be a custom Warp 3 prototype guitar that was built ...

Yes, it was built by guitar-maker extrodinaire Bob Mick. He's probably best known for designing the basses that Jazz great, Brian Bromberg plays. Besides it looking extremely kick-ass, he incorporated a unique bass-constructing method for this guitar. The neck is comprised of three different woods! An ebony top, quilted maple back and an graphite core for stability. I guess this method is commonly used on custom basses, but not guitars. He also put in a cool 'LED" switch on the body that enables the Warp 3 symbols to light-up on the body...pretty flamboyant! The neck also has cool engravings on it in pearl and abalone.
Soon, there will be photo's of this beauty on the Warp 3 website.

In your opinion, why do you think Guitar Chef has become so popular over the web?

Because their editor-n-chief, Matt Cafissi is a relentless, ball-breaking hound and will track all artists down, regardless of stature, swiftly and efficiently, Spam them to DEATH until they all give in to an interview! Just kidding Matt...
Seriously, probably because of the vast field of musicians in which you cover. You's the only place were you'll see an interview with Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Ryan Maza (...who?)! It's also kinda cool for us Americans to get an inside perspective into what the Europeans are interested in and listen to.

In the future, will it be possible to watch for a Ryan Maza Solo-Album?

Definitely. I've already begun work on it in my home studio. I'd like to have it released in the summer of 2001. Hopefully, I can ride-the-wave of success that Warp 3 has layed out for me, and coast this solo release right in.
Considering that the Warp 3 CD just came out last year, I doubt there will be a release from us anytime soon. We are still pushin' Music has Evolved hard n' steady.


    Rob Balducci     Perfect balance     -By Matt Cafissi

Rob Balducci's BalanceRob, what are your most recently completed projects and why have you had so many problems with the printing on your 'Mantra' CD?

My most recent projects are my next record Mantra and a compilation cd called Eyebleed which is a cd only available through MP3 Site . The cd includes two songs from Mantra , 3 Live songs and two demo songs called "Of The Earth" and "Dementia" . The problem i am having with Mantra is ... I want to find a good deal that satisfies me and is better than my last deal . A lot of artists today are releasing Cd's themselves , which is fine . But i do not want to do that yet ... I will wait and see if i can get a label who believes in the music as much as i do . I am speaking with Steve Vai about maybe putting it out on his Favored Nations label , so we will see .

I have listened to some of your tracks off the 'Mantra' CD. It seems more modern...without hyper-fast-shred-fury! I like it!

I like the new songs a lot ! I am very proud of my progression from the Balance record . My songs writing is getting even better now . The songs u have heard are just the tip of the iceberg heheheheheee ... there is a lot more playing on this record then my previous Cd . But i still keep my attention on melody . I like to treat the Guitar as a Voice . My songs have a chorus and verse ... like vocal songs ... they are not just vehicles for me to solo , i think this comes across in my music . it is filled with a lot of emotion .

You are a friend of Satch and Vai... tell me about these experiences and repoires.

I have been friends with Joe and Steve for many years . I consider them to be the best players . They have given me mouch inspiration and i enjoy listening to there music a lot ! As far as rapport's or stories nothing to interesting ... just basic kind of stuff . How i first go to speak to them was by sending them some copies of my early demos Balance . they both gave me there criticisms and opinions on what i could do to make my playing better and stuff like that . i am very appreciative of there friendship and i would love to someday play on the same bill as one of them ...

What are your favorite guitar albums of this time?

I do not like much of the music that is out at this time . I do like the new Dream theater Cd , i like the new Sting Cd , Ultra Zone's Steve Vai , Jeff Beck's last records "Who Else" was incredible cd ... I no a lot of people hated the last Metallica record ... but i like it alot ... you cannot expect artists to say the same ... you have to progress and try new things and new area's ... so that is what they are doing ... and i respect it alot . I also like the new Prince Cd ... Rave until the year 2000 ... great Cd and a very under rated guitarists . He is an incredible player and songwriter ...

Is the future of guitar music the Internet ?

The future of guitar is really up to everybody out there . The new technology is just moving so fast ... I predict a new form of the instrument to appear in the next couple of years . since the history of guitar it really has not changed that much . So something will be introduced that is going to blow are heads away and it will not be accepted by the masses , not at first . As far as the Internet is concerned alot more artist's will be releasing there own music and not depensing on the record companies ... It's already starting as we speak ...

    Doug Doppler     Strange but true     -By Matt Cafissi

Doug DopplerDoug, why was there a great silence after your beautiful solo CD, Ground Zero released in 1995?

That is a long time isn't it. First of all, I have always loved both instrumental and vocal music equally, and my attention has shifted from one to the other from time to time. I had the poor fortune of releasing Ground Zero (we ran the label out of my bedroom) at precisely the moment when Grunge was breaking. The record actually charted in the U.S. and stayed on the Gavin Rocks top 50 for six weeks consecutively. Had it not been for the timing we probably would have been picked up by a "Major" if for no other purpose than a tax write off. I got a P&D (press and distribution) in Japan and sold a couple thousand copies over there as well. The good news is that I had a lot of fun, and most importantly I learned one heck of a lot about the business by doing myself and with the help of my now ex-wife.
In Einstone, we purposely made the decision to not solicit the "Majors" until 2001. Instead we began to craft what we feel is an intelligent course of action. What started out as our demo (with the full intention that we would have long since shopped it to the majors) has now become our first disc.
We in turn have spent a lot of time fine tuning our live show in preparation for what we are about to do - a ton of shows. We will be playing in December a total of 7 times at a number of the San Francisco Bay Area's most respected venues. We are lucky in that Hayley, Atma and I are reasonably well known here for our various bands and projects, so we have been very lucky in terms of response from the talent buyers at the various venues. We also put together a somewhat flashy package that gets delivered to each club in a Priority Mail box. Having run a small label, I was always amazed at how poorly artists chose to present their work. I got one package I swear was wrapped in a brown paper bag with a stamp on it. Take yourself seriously and at least people won't snicker if you don't look like they do. Our whole strategy is to become successful on a regional level so in turn we can demonstrate to the major labels that we have what it takes and in turn their job will be to do what we have done but on a larger scale. The band is very commercial, image oriented, and most importantly very dance oriented. We have a lot to offer without a hint of selling out. We all love pop music and crafting a catchy hook laden groove. The key for us is that everything has to be in an odd meter, but feel completely round.
Since we recorded "Space Lounge" we decided to take the dance element of our repertoire and really focus on how we can build our set into an odd-metered dance fest by grooving the backbeat extra hard. We have added a lot of dance sections similar to an extended dance mix to provide our audiences a thorough opportunity to get their dance yayas out.

Tell me about your project... a new band called Einstone , possibly a band for the new millennium?

We are lucky in that we have fallen into something quite original - a blessing or the kiss of death depending on how you see it. The idea of having an odd-metered dance band let alone pop band is something that most musicians would not entertain until they heard it. Hayley has a fantastic voice and is blessed with a completely intuitive ability to both write and sing in odd meters. The fashion model looks don't hurt either, but she wouldn't be in the band if she couldn't turn it on both in the studio and on stage. Atma is best known for his work with Shrapnel artists like Richie Kotzen and Tony MacAlpine. What many people don't know is that he is an exceptional writer and has both a great singing and Dance Hall style scat voice. His arrangement skills are off the hook and when it comes to the fat backbeat groove he is the king, especially in odd-meters.
Our next disc will be more demonstrative of our latest departure from where we have come as a band. Less playing more grooving, but still enough guitar (both distorted and lead) to make a guitar nut happy. Most of the tones I use are distorted neck position sounds that I clean up by backing off on the volume control. I am using Line6 amps (I have two heads and one combo for smaller venues) and love the ability to jump from the fat Rectifier tone to a really rich clean chorus sound which is becoming a bigger part of our sound for some of the Reggae/Ska influenced breakdowns in some of the songs. We just reworked "If We Share Our Hearts" and I am going to be using a lot of the clean sound on that. There are hints of Calypso in another song that we just finished called "Another Pyramid" that mainly switches back between 7 and 6 and "oddly" enough is super danceable. The breakdown section goes to the aforementioned clean tone. There have been way too many bands who have beaten the Ska groove into the ground, so it is understand that in the band you will NEVER hear me doing the traditional upbeat rhythm pattern. Instead I create a harmonic bed on top of which Atma often goes into his Dance Hall rap.

In my opinion, your career is very amazing! You are a former student of Joe Satriani (and have a strange story in that respect?), a masterpiece solo album printed in 1995, designer of DiMarzio's website and your photo appears in the Ibanez catalog... your name is synonymous of a legend!

Seems like you did a little background research. To that I get to add I have been surrounded by a sea of successful musicians, and for whatever reason real commercial success has eluded me to this point, although I am not the least bit bitter. I feel we have a vision and our goal is to share that with the world. We feel that the "Euros" as I affectionately call my European friends will particularly like the band because of our diversity. They love Shaggy and Dance Pop music and we bring a bit of both to the table but with a lot of guitar in the mix! We are grateful for bands like Korn who have blended rock and rap allowing the kids here in the States to broaden their ears. Korn really broke new ground that I think will be very helpful for bands like Einstone in terms of diversity in approach. Per the whole career thing, in many ways I am grateful not to have been too well known for big hair, pointy boots, and too many notes. There are a lot of guys who will never live that down and as an end result will have a heck of a time with their careers. Our whole strategy in this band is do the work, get the result. We live it and I in turn teach it to my students.
In regard to "Satch", when I came back from GIT in L.A. Joe asked me to teach at the studio I still occupy in Berkeley while he went out on the road with (yes really) the Greg Kihn Band. When he came back we alternated teaching days and then when "Surfing" hit he split and I stayed. One of the highlights of our relationship was playing with him at the Bill Graham Memorial in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in front of 250,000 people. Other bands that day included the first reunion of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Journey; Tracy Chapman and numerous others. My ex snapped a photo which I keep by my bed. It is good to keep both the path of the past and the present in mind as you move through life. It will provide balance as you chart your course.

What do you think about the lastest guitar trend...incorporating techno with guitar?
Satriani is one of the first in this genre and now you are another guitarist with these same ideas...

We actually haven't gotten to that phase yet, but I predict that at perhaps a second major label release (if we are so lucky) we will go there. We aren't in that space - yet. I have had some ideas bouncing around my head for about a year since my last trip to Paris and Brussels. I always have music come to me when I am traveling and I can still hum the piece that came to me by the train station in Brussels that my some day be the intro for our live show. No synths, but that huge crashing dance vibe, of course all in odd-meters. We have a song "Every Time" that is more of a disco vibe that will most likely make it to our next self-produced disc that will give a hint of the breadth we have in approaching dance and pop music. We never want to be labeled as this or that. In fact the band changes so much from month to month as we discover more about who we are and where we are going we have decided to use this time to release a self-produced disc every 3 months or so. In this fashion we can chart our growth and give local press something else to write about. I love to redefine myself and the band is deeply committed to exploring and discovering who we are going to be, not just how we are going to be successful.

Since your sound is great, will it be possible to see Einstone on MTV in the near future?

We are working very hard (7 shows this month) to fine tune our act so that when the right opportunity avails to showcase for the major labels, we will be ready according to our standards. Rushing is bad, working towards a goal with a rapid pace is a completely different thing so long as when you get to the door you have enough gusto left to either knock it down or a least give it a good kick to say hello. Getting to the door is the easy part, being ready to pass through it is the key. We know we are on to something and we know the band has a certain image that is modern. We believe that when the time is right we will know it and then we will be ready to realize what really lies ahead. In the mean time we have a concise plan in process for the local model of a national/international success. If we can't do it here, then most likely a major could not pull it off either. So we will do the work and presumably get the result, whatever that may be.
We are very fortunate to be here in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are a couple of "mini-scenes" all of which we are part of in some way, often for very different reasons. There is a small suburb called Concord where there is a really budding hard rock scene with bands like 3rd Rail; The Blue; Doomfinger; and Sytematic (Lars of Metallica signed them to his label). I have a connection in that scene as a teacher so people are eager to check out my band. In San Francisco, there is a "South of Market St" scene which we are a part of simply because at one point or another Atma has played with all of the best musicians. The upscale .com crowd here in S.F. goes to see Hayley's cover band Superbooty and we are integrating them into our fanbase. If all goes as planned all of these areas will overlap into one and we will have the numbers to demonstrate to the labels that we can get the job done. Selling 3,000 CDs, bringing 200+ people to each show, and getting great local press is the goal, and we, are doing the work. That by the way is the unspoken formula for how a local act gets both the attention and the deal from a major label. The right manager can speed that process up, but always be careful who you sign on. Never burn anyone and make sure that you partner up with the right people. It can be painful if you don't - I've seen it happen way too many times to those around me.
Once again, thanks... best, doppler !