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    A couple of photos have surfaced on the Instagram feed of Norm Costa, a drum tech who has worked with Slayer, which seem to reveal the identities of Slipknot's drummer and bassist.

    Apparently, Costa was hired to tech for Slipknot's drummer (whose identity has been kept secret by the band) but was relieved of his duties. Now it looks like Costa is issuing a very public retaliation against the band.

    The photos, which you can see below, appear to show a Slipknot band personnel document that lists all the current members of the band. Among those names are drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Alessandro Venturella.

    We'll keep you posted as we receive more info on the validity of Costa's claims.



    Additional Content

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    Guitarist Dave Weiner has been a part of Steve Vai’s band since 1999, touring the world with him and recently opening his shows in front of European audiences.

    This gave him a chance to showcase songs from his third solo album, A Collection of Short Stories: Vol. 1. Recorded at home with his acoustic guitar, the project was a first for Weiner, and was both fulfilling and challenging.

    A graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology, Weiner has received four Grammy nominations for his work as a guitarist and engineer on some of Vai’s albums. He also created and hosts Riff of the Week, an educational Web series that has millions of followers, and teaches guitar online.

    GUITAR WORLD: Can you describe the dynamic and interplay between the band members?

    Fortunately, we’ve been playing together for a very long time. Philip Bynoe [bass] was here before I was. He was in the band from 1996 until 2000, then he came back in 2007 for the last part of that tour, and he’s been with us for the last two years.

    Jeremy Colson [drums] joined in 2004, I believe. We know each other very well. We can read off of each other personally and musically onstage and we’re all in tune with what Steve requires and needs.

    At those moments of surprises, for instance when a guitar string breaks, we know what needs to happen. As a unit, we’re pretty tight, and for the difficulty that this music presents, we are happy with the results night after night. Everyone makes a mistake here or there during the show, but this show has a million notes, and if one or two are off, who cares?

    Probably the most profound part of this band is we focus a lot on the spiritual side of playing music and living in each note, being very present in each note, in each moment, as it’s going by. Many musicians go through a period in their career where if they make a mistake, they dwell on that for the rest of the show. It ruins the rest of the show for them, and that’s very readable by the audience. That’s living in the past. The spiritual thing, the Zen thing, we focus on it a lot. We talk about this and we put it into practice nightly.

    We play a lot — having a day off today when we had a day off on Monday is unheard of. We have a show tomorrow and another day off. That’s a first in the 14 years that I’ve toured with Steve. It’s usually six shows and a day off. Because of that frequency of shows, we have the opportunity to put what we discuss into practice night after night, so at this point we’re well versed in this mentally of “If you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter at all.” Most of the time, the audience doesn’t know. You have to get past it in your mind, live in the next note and the next note, let time go by, and enjoy every moment of it. That’s not only onstage, but in life in general.

    That’s a very difficult thing to do, but if you can wrap your mind around it and put it into practice, you’ll generally find that you live happier because you're not dwelling on things in the past or stressing about what may happen in the future. As a life concept, it works well. Putting it into the musical context, it’s what we, as a band, try to work on and it’s very unique. I haven’t been in too many musical situations where everyone is focused on that kind of idea.

    How long did it take you to reach that point? Did it come from working with Steve or is it something you taught yourself over the years?

    It’s a bit of both, but I would say Steve is definitely the catalyst. He is very spiritual. He focuses not on religion but on the Zen approach to life and looking at the teachings of many spiritual leaders — and in that sense, religious leaders as well — and what the underlying principal is, and it’s all the same. It’s trying to live happily, stress-free, how does that happen, and it comes down to not living in the past or the future. It’s being present. Steve has been practicing it for decades, and he has brought it to life for me and probably the other guys as well.

    When I’m not on tour with Steve, I’m still investigating, delving deeper and putting these concepts into practice in my own life. It’s difficult, but it provides results for me. It makes sense.

    A lot of people will dismiss the more Zen and spiritual concepts because it’s lofty, it’s kind of out there for many people, but once you dismiss the superficiality of it, the nonsense purview on it, it makes perfect sense and it’s something to investigate. It was for me. I’m in a “live and let live” kind of world, whatever works, but this stuff seems to have a positive impact in my life, personally and musically, and Steve is a big catalyst for proliferating that.

    You have an accounting degree. How is that helpful in managing your career?

    I got that just to have a backup plan, but I will never be an accountant. I know how to keep track of finances, I know how to be smart with money, I know that I certainly can’t spend more than what comes in, and even then, if you want to build a business, you have to save. So, financially, I’m smart about things, and yes, the degree helped. I also spent a year abroad studying international finance and commerce. It put a better financial head on my shoulders.

    Are your students more interested in electric or acoustic guitar? Do you encourage students of one to explore the other?

    Yes. A lot of players start on acoustic because it’s physically more challenging than electric, and I tend to agree with that. That’s the physical side of things. You can get your hands trained a little quicker on an acoustic than on electric, but I don’t play an acoustic like I play an electric, and that’s the difference. That’s creating different kinds of habits. It’s apples and oranges.

    As always, it comes down to what is desired. What is the goal? That’s what I always ask: What do you want to do? What’s your end game? Let’s get on that path and make it happen. If your end game is to make a nice, versatile record, maybe you put some acoustic on there as well as some electric. On both of my electric records, I have some acoustic guitar. It just depends on what the person wants.

    Read more of Dave Weiner’s interview here.

    Alison Richter interviews artists, producers, engineers and other music industry professionals for print and online publications. Read more of her interviews at examiner.com.

    Additional Content

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    Floyd Rose Marketing has announced the release of the innovative retrofitting surface-mount tremolo system for Gibson-style guitars.

    The FRX will retrofit all tune-o-matic and stopbar tailpiece systems with a locking nut/truss rod cover hybrid that will mount behind your guitar's existing nut, which only requires two small wood screws to be installed. This is the only modification that has to be made. There is no routing required whatsoever.

    “We are truly excited to finally make the FRX system a reality and available to guitar enthusiasts worldwide,” said Andy Papiccio, president of AP International. “The beauty of the Floyd Rose FRX tremolo system is that it’s easy to install. No modifications to the body of the guitar are needed; it's a complete retrofit."

    This is a historic moment for Floyd Rose, pioneers of the world’s premier double-locking tremolo system, 35 years after the invention of the industry-standard Original Tremolo System.

    See Floyd Rose at Winter NAMM 2015 in booth 4860 in Hall C.

    For more information, visit floydrose.com.


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    Floyd Rose Marketing has expanded its line of upgrades to include many new items.

    These include the Stone Tone Rock Block, a sustain block made of granite; the Turbo Trem Arm, a superbly agile and durable tremolo arm with two Allen key ends; the Push-In Tremolo Arm; and noiseless springs coated with a revolutionary polymer that eliminates that “spring ping” associated with the tremolo.

    All of these new upgrades are now available in addition to the company's collection of upgradable parts to personalize the millions of existing bridges on the market.

    See Floyd Rose at Winter NAMM 2015 in booth 4860 in Hall C.

    For more information, visit floydrose.com.


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    Bigrock Engineering and AP International have announced a new line of finishes for the Power Pins Advanced Acoustic Pin System.

    Having been available in chrome, black and gold, the line has expanded to include nickel, black nickel, antique silver, antique bronze, satin chrome, satin black and satin gold finishes.

    Power Pins are acoustic guitar pins that never need to be removed.

    Countless guitarists wander into local music shops trying to replace the stubborn bridge pin they mangled with pliers in a heated moment. Now players can have the option of installing the last bridge pins they’ll ever need—after a quick, easy and completely non-invasive installation, players will find an ease of string replacement found only on electric guitars, leading the string right through the pin.

    Even after changing strings, the benefits continue: even the most experienced players will be surprised by increased bridge-to-soundboard contact, amplified and improved tone and resonance, noticeably eased string action due to a shallower string break angle, and protection for the bridge plate from the strings themselves. Whether applied to a modern acoustic guitar or a family heirloom, these pins are the right choice for any player.

    For more information, visit apintl.com.


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    Wisconsin-bred, Georgia-based John McCutcheon has emerged as one of our most respected and loved folksingers.

    He truly is folk music's Renaissance man — master instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, storyteller, activist, and author.

    As an instrumentalist, he is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments, most notably the rare and beautiful hammer dulcimer. His songwriting has been hailed by critics and singers around the globe.

    Johnny Cash referred to him as "The most impressive instrumentalist I've ever heard." Other accolades come from the Washington Post which asserted that "He has an uncanny ability to breathe new life into the familiar. His storytelling has the richness of fine literature."The Dallas Morning News stated that "Calling John McCutcheon a 'folksinger' is like saying Deion Sanders is just a football player."

    His thirty recordings have garnered every imaginable honor including seven Grammy nominations. He has produced over twenty albums of other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works. His books and instructional materials have introduced budding players to the joys of their own musicality. McCutcheon’s commitment to grassroots political organizations has put him on the front lines of many of the issues important to communities and workers.

    John has a busy touring schedule and he has announced winter dates which include special Christmas in the Trenches events in Seattle, Kansas City and New York in later December. These shows will be centered around the 100th anniversary of the World War One 1914 Christmas Eve Truce, especially as memorialized in John’s world-famous song, “Christmas in the Trenches.”

    Additionally, there will be other seasonal songs, both original and traditional, stories about the Truce and related characters and events, and some historical readings. As with any McCutcheon concert, there will be great humor, wondrous instrumental pieces, and plenty of opportunities for the audience to be a part of the concert, as well.

    Tour dates are as follows:
    December 11 International Storytelling Center Jonesborough, TN
    December 12 Laurel Theater Knoxville, TN
    December 14 Craftsman House St. Petersburg, FL
    December 17 First Church Seattle Seattle, WA — Christmas in the Trenches
    December 18 First Church Seattle Seattle, WA — Christmas Truce 100th Anniversary Event (info at http://christmastruceseattle.weebly.com/ )
    December 19 National World War I Museum Kansas City, MO — Christmas in the Trenches Centenary Event
    December 20 Cooper Union / the Great Hall New York, NY — Christmas in the Trenches Centenary Event
    January 3 Attic Productions Theater Fincastle, VA
    January 9 Freight and Salvage Berkeley, CA
    January 10 Devil Mountain Coffeehouse Walnut Creek, CA
    January 11 Center for the Arts Grass Valley, CA
    January 12 Sebastiani Theater Sonoma, CA
    January 13 Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Chico, CA
    January 14 Resource Center for Nonviolence Santa Cruz, CA
    January 15 Modesto Church of the Brethran Modesto, CA
    January 16 U. Universalist Church of Fresno Fresno, CA
    January 18 The Palms Winters, CA
    January 19 St. James Episcopal Church Fremont, CA
    January 30 Eddie’s Attic Decatur, GA

    Find out more at http://www.folkmusic.com

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    Maryland-based songstress, Hannah Gill, is thrilled to announce her upcoming EP, titled I Feel Awake, which is set to be released January 20th, 2015.

    At only 17 years-old, Hannah's voice brings to mind soulful performers such as Florence & The Machine, Lana Del Rey, and Kate Nash.

    Her uncommon vocal talent combined with a wisdom and maturity in her young age is what sets Hannah apart. With a sound that is alive, fresh and vibrant, and includes a jazz vibe that is crisp and modern - Hannah rises above the created and overdone sound that frequents today's airwaves.

    Check out her lyric video for Love And Glory" here:

    It wasn't long before Gill paired up with producer and musician Brad Hammonds. As soon as Hammonds heard her, he understood that Gill was something special. Gill's vocal sophistication conveys deep emotion without resorting to histrionics or autotune synthesized vocals. They were soon on a roll as Gill, accompanied by Hammonds, along with a spare group of double bass, drums and trumpet crooned her way to the effervescent and sparkling sound.

    In the studio or onstage, Gill is spontaneous. After all, she notes, "the whole point of music is to experiment." Her live band - Hammonds, Mathias Kunzli on drums, bassist Jason DiMatteo and trumpeter Matthew Jodrell - brings a wealth of experience with them, ranging from work with Paul Anka to Regina Spektor. Hannah herself has worked with successful music veterans including four-time Grammy Winner, Brian Vibberts, who produced her most recent self-titled EP. Every journey begins with a single step, so the proverb goes. Hannah Gill has made hers into a giant leap.

    Hannah Gill will release I Feel AwakeEP on January 20th, 2015.

    For more information, please visit: www.HannahGillMusic.com

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the January 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Whether you’ve been playing guitar for only two years or more than 20, you probably already know that Fender’s American Standard Series Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars are a great value.

    Thousands of guitarists rely on these workhorse axes on a daily basis, and odds are good that you already own one if you’ve ever shopped for a new Strat or Tele.

    However, many guitarists may not be aware that Fender offers American Standard Stratocaster and Telecaster models that stray from the traditional three- and two-single-coil pickup designs, respectively.

    The Fender American Standard Stratocaster HSS features a full-size bridge humbucker in addition to middle and neck single-coils, while the American Standard Telecaster HH swaps a pair of humbuckers for the bridge and neck single-coils. Recently, Fender introduced new pickups for both models to offer the performance of a hot-rodded custom guitar while retaining the value and versatility that has made Fender’s American Standard series so popular.

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    In addition to the already-revered original Full Contact Hardware system, AP International and Babicz are announcing the release of the Z Series system, a more budget-friendly alternative with the same beloved features.

    Instead of aluminum, the Z Series bridges are made of zinc allowing for everything functionally but without the price tag. It will be immediately available in several popular styles of guitar bridges: 2-Point Strat tremolo, 6-hole Strat tremolo (wide and narrow variations), hardtail and Tele (single-coil and humbucker versions).

    Babicz hardware is designed to maximize and keep consistent contact between the vibrating guitar string and the guitar body as a resonator. Most conventional guitar bridges, especially after making adjustments for intonation and action, leave air gaps between the saddle and bridge, which greatly reduces the sonic integrity of the string.

    With Babicz hardware, you can adjust your action as high or low as desired without ever reducing contact of the string to the body, for maximum tone and resonance.

    See Babicz Full Contact Hardware at Winter NAMM 2015 in booth 4860 in Hall C.

    For more information, visit apintl.com.


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    Just in time for the holidays, multi-instrumentalist Anna Sentina has posted her bass cover (or play-along) of "Linus and Lucy," one of several memorable tracks from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    Anna's demo demos have been popular in various gear circles of late.

    In the video, which you can watch below, she's playing a Carvin X44 Xccelerator bass.

    Adds Anna: "Recorded in the heart of Hollywood, California. Happy Holidays, everyone!"


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    Volume 2 of Martin | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars is available for download!

    The second volume continues to give a deeper look at what is going on at the Martin Guitar Company.

    It includes: A Word From CEO and Chairman Chris Martin IV on Martin’s partnership with the Nature Conservancy in Africa to #SaveElephants, an interview with Martin Ambassador Jason Isbell, and the Martin 2014 summer models.

    Volume 2 of Martin | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars is available for download only.

    Download Volume 2 of Martin | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars here.

    martin journal.png

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the January 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.

    Though the late Lenny Breau never achieved popular acclaim like jazz virtuosos Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery, he is a legend among serious guitarists, admired for the wealth of techniques he perfected as well as his musicality.

    A master on acoustic (nylon-string) and electric instruments, Breau turned pro at age 14 when he became a guitarist in his parents’ country-and-western band. By the time Breau died, in 1984, at the tragically young age of 43, his style was a seamless blend of jazz, country, flamenco and raga—think Joe Pass, Bill Evans and John Coltrane, mixed with Chet Atkins, Ravi Shankar and Sabicas.

    Today, Breau’s influence is still being felt: such renowned players as Tommy Emmanuel, Tuck Andress, Doyle Dykes, Ted Greene, Steve Morse, Eric Johnson and Danny Gatton have all cited him as an influence. Let’s examine some of this guitar legend’s inspirational moves.

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    Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of the new guitar playthrough video for "Tempest" by Canadian progressive metal outfit Divine Realm.

    The video was filmed by Ben Dundas Cinematography, the team that also has worked with Intervals, Mandroid Echostar and Structures.

    The song is from the band's latest album, Abyssal Light, which is available through the band's Bandcamp page.

    For more about Divine Realm, follow them on Facebook.

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    A certain school of guitarists have adopted the mantra “WWJD,” which, of course, means “What Would Jimi Dig?”

    I have no doubt that if Hendrix were still alive and jamming, he’d be all over the Boss GP-10 Guitar Processor for its powerful combination of traditional tones, synth textures and stringed instrument emulations as well as for its instant access to alternate tunings and numerous other features.

    The COSM V-Guitar technology behind the Boss GP-10 has been around for a while now (since 1995, to be exact), but the GP-10 makes that technology both more affordable and more powerful than ever.

    Below, Living Colour's Vernon Reid gives the GP-10 a test drive and explains its features.

    For more about the Boss GP-10, visit bossus.com.

    Additional Content

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    If you—like a lot of us—haven't seen Jimi: All Is by My Side, the Jimi Hendrix biopic that was released earlier this year, you're in luck. It'll be released on DVD and Blu-ray January 13.

    The movie, which was written and directed by Academy Award-winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), stars Andre "Andre 3000" Benjamin of Outkast in the title role.

    The action in the film takes place in 1966 and 1967, starting with the guitarist's arrival in London and ending with his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. It co-stars Imogen Poots as Linda Keith, the woman who brought him to England from New York, and Hayley Atwell as girlfriend Kathy Etchingham.

    Hendrix’s estate refused to let any of his original music to be featured in the movie. Ergo, session pros Kenny Aronoff, Waddy Wachtel and Lee Sklar were hired to perform the soundtrack. In March, Hendrix’s family signed a deal to field offers to make an authorized film.

    You can watch a trailer or two below.

    Additional Content

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    He’s a founding member of the Kinks whose new solo album is Rippin' Up Time. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…

    You played a lot of different guitars in the early days of the Kinks. How many of them do you still own? — Antony Shannon

    None. Obviously, over the years I've had loads of guitars, but they’ve come and gone. I got to the point where I didn’t think it was nice to have guitars and not use them. All the guitars I’ve got I intend to use. I’ve got a couple of Teles with Lace Sensor pickups and maple necks. Maple necks feel softer to play, and I think you get a bit more sustain. I find the rosewood necks a bit tinnier. But I’m no expert by any means.

    I actually went to Gibson a few months ago. They gave me a Goldtop and a Nighthawk, which is sort of a mixture of a Fender and a Gibson. It’s really loud and punchy and I love it.

    But yes, I’d rather use one guitar that gets different tones than keeping picking up guitars. I know a guy who invited me around to his studio in L.A., and he had about 150 guitars, all perfectly in tune. He has the room specially air conditioned. I thought, That’s going a bit far! [laughs] I’m just happy if I have one good one.

    What’s the story behind the Flying V you played with the Kinks? — Gary Owen

    In 1965, I managed to get a hold of a black Gretsch with a Bigsby tailpiece. It was made for George Harrison, but for some reason he didn’t want it. So I thought, I’ll try it, I’ll take it on tour. We landed at LAX, and in those days you took only one bag and one guitar and that was it. We waited and waited for the luggage, and it never showed up!

    So a guy took us to this pawnshop. I looked at all the guitars, and in the corner I saw this funny-shaped box. I said, “What’s in that box?" I took it out, and it was this lovely Flying V. I think he said it was a ’56 or ’57. I paid $200. I thought it was great that I could put my arm through the middle of it.

    I did the solo on “Till the End of the Day” [1965] on the Flying V. We came back from the States, where we had a disaster tour. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. It started off good, though; I met James Burton and Dean Martin. I had such admiration for James Burton, and his influence came out in that solo, some of the bendy things.

    Who were your main six-string influences? — Martha Maciel

    Eddie Cochran was my first real inspiration. My brother-in-law was a jazz player who built guitars and pickups. He had Tal Farlow and Django Reinhardt records, and I liked those. But Eddie Cochran had it all. He was a good player, he looked really cool, he was funny. He was the whole package. Then there was Big Bill Broonzy. I tried to learn all those “guitar shuffle” licks, which added to my learning about rock and roll.

    But I liked everything. I loved Lester Flatt and all that country picking. I used to buy records not because of the singing but because of the guitar playing. I had all of Rick Nelson’s records. He had a cool voice and he looked cool, but it was always the arrangements, where the guitar sat in the song. You know, how did they put these songs together?

    I was also a big fan of the Ventures. Their rhythm player, Don Wilson, played these barre chords. I realized that’s a great way to play because you don’t have to worry about minors and sixths and all that. I also picked up a lot from Charlie Gracie and Chuck Berry.

    It’s odd to think that the guy who played the solo on “All Day and All Night” [1964] also played the solo on “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” [1979], because the styles are so different and miles apart. Were you always trying to learn and evolve? — Damien Linotte

    Yes. I’m not a trained musician, so when I was starting out I figured out a way of playing solos. We didn’t know if were gonna last six months or 60 years, so we went into the studio and did everything very quickly. Ray and I grew up in a musical house. My dad played banjo, and we had all these different musical influences. I was really into picking up “feel” riffs, and I was influenced by everything and learning all the time.

    Sometimes you learn just by meeting people. I learned just as much from meeting James Burton as I did from listening to him play. It’s a bit like being a psychic; it’s an organic thing. Growing up with all those influences—everyone from Bernie Kessel to Burt Weedon—it all goes in there, even if you can’t play it the same way.

    What are the odds of a Kinks reunion in 2015? — Joe Joffre

    I’ve been talking to Ray recently. I’m recording and he’s recording. But I think we’re gonna try and do something. But we can’t do a big tour. Hopefully, it’s not over till it’s over, right?

    What can you tell me about your new album, Rippin' Up Time? — Walt Ames

    I finished it a few weeks ago, and I really like it. Some of the tracks are about my early days and growing up. A lot of them are about where I am today. And there's a few about the future, because you've got to embrace the future. I had an image of all the times overlapping as if they're all in one place in my mind.

    I thought I'd just write it from the point of view of a dream. Also, I recorded it pretty quickly. We were writing songs while we were doing vocals, like, “Shit, I need a line here!” [laughs] That’s what it was like in the old days. My son Russ actually sings on the album. In general, it was great fun making it and working with my old friend, David Nolte, who co-produced it.

    Did you ever meet Jimi Hendrix? — Gloria Mayer

    Yes. He didn’t say a lot, but he paid me a great compliment. He said he always felt the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” [1964] was a landmark recording. He was a total “feel” player, very organic and natural. But he didn’t talk much! [laughs]

    Did the stroke you suffered in 2004 have any lasting effects on your guitar playing? — Randy Kitchener

    In some ways it is different, but in other ways it’s better. I don’t get that panic that I’ve always had.

    If I were to start a Kinks tribute band, what guitar—and what effects—would I absolutely need to own? — Harvey Klinger

    That’s a good one! I’m not great at effects, but you’d probably need a flanger because, if used correctly, it can make your tone fatter and more surreal. For the guitar, maybe a nice Goldtop. Of course, cheap guitars can be really useful. People think they have to get a Gibson or a Fender, but everybody else has got those. Do you want to sound exactly like everybody else? Looking back, I liked my old Guild Starfire. You could get lots of feedback and sustain.

    What Kinks song features the guitar work you’re most proud of? — Brian Cancemi

    Oh dear, that's hard. I like “Low Budget” [1979]. It’s wild. I like that kind of, almost country-style playing. It’s like a shape; I don’t even worry about what notes I play as I’m doing it. And if you catch a few open strings, you might get lucky with a weird clunk or a harmonic or something. I think all the best stuff is the stuff that happens before you’ve even realized what you’ve done. So “Low Budget” and, obviously, “You Really Got Me.”

    Everyone knows you sliced your amp’s speaker cone when recording “You Really Got Me,” but exactly why did you do it? What brought you to that point? — Juan Luna

    I don’t know. I was always into science fiction and science, always tooling around with wires. I loved the mechanics of amps and things. Anyway, one night I just got really frustrated with my amp sound. Every amp sounded the same. I got really, really fed up. I didn’t think I’d actually done anything; I’d just “shaved” it. So I plugged into my AC30, and it really came to life. It was the first “effect pedal.” [laughs]

    Is it true you weren’t crazy about Van Halen’s 1978 cover of “You Really Got Me”? — Ashley Jones

    It’s an accomplished piece of work, but I thought it kind of lost some of the tension and struggle. It’s a bit too accomplished. It takes away from where it came from. It's like a piece of art: if you're copying the original, what does it end up becoming? I don’t like copying. It's hard enough to develop a style of playing. As a musician, you should always try to do something different. But I can’t fault them! And you know those guys have the “brother” thing like us, which is probably why they could relate to our music.

    The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society [1968], one of my favorite albums of all time, seems to have a serious cult following. What do you think makes it stand out? — Jake Stuiver

    We’d come off a terrible, disastrous tour of America. We even got banned. We couldn’t go anywhere. Everyone else was playing Woodstock. What did we do? [laughs] So I think we drew very heavily off our family, you know. If you look through the Kinks catalog, a lot of it is drawn from family and characters associated with family. So whenever you get your back against the wall, you have your family there for support. I think that’s kind of what happened. It made Ray write in a different way. He started looking at these characters he met while we were growing up.

    There are a few tracks like that on my new album, Rippin' Up Time—songs about people I knew when I was 14. But [Village Green] is a very interesting record. It's like everything else we did back then. We'd come up with something—a guitar sound or an unusual concept or idea—that didn't quite fit into what was going on, and four or five years later, people would get it. We’re always slightly out of time, either ahead of it or behind it.

    What’s your favorite Kinks album? — Erik Neilis

    I have a soft spot for Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) [1969] and Sleepwalker [1977]. I felt very confident on Sleepwalker. And I really believed Arthur would start a whole new genre of music. Maybe not music so much, but a whole new idea. It was like doing a show at a theater, but with music.

    It also was the first time the label allowed us more time to do what we wanted to do. Before that, even Village Green was pretty quick. So I felt more relaxed, and Ray wrote some of his most beautiful songs on that album, like “Young and Innocent Days” and even “Australia.”

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    When Frontiers Records wanted to put together a supergroup to record an album of classic hard rock music, they looked to Joe Lynn Turner.

    Turner, the former lead vocalist for Rainbow and Deep Purple, also a successful solo artist, quickly agreed. Before long, bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Carmine Appice were on board.

    Following several unsuccessful attempts at filling the guitarist slot, the band found Karl Cochran, who stepped in to provide some tastefully inspired shredding. With infectious songs like “This Is Who I Am” and “Fire And Ice," Rated X’s self-titled debut sounds like a band that’s worked together for years as a unit.

    Unfortunately, Cochran suffered a stroke during the completion of the album and is still on the road to recovery. I recently spoke with Turner and got an update on Cochran’s condition as well as the Rated X album and the possibility of a Rainbow reunion with Ritchie Blackmore.

    GUITAR WORLD: How’s Karl doing?

    Thanks for asking. He’s improving drastically. His speech is still a bit impaired and he’s paralyzed on his right side, but he’s able to move his arm up to his shoulder and has some feeling in his hand. He’s not walking with a cane, which is incredible for this type of situation. He’s progressing but we know it’s a long, hard road.

    If you don’t know much about Karl, he’s a guitar aficionado. His house is filled with vintage guitars, amps and a workshop. His is a complete guitar world. We’re doing benefits to help pay for his medical expenses. We had a very successful one at the Iridium in New York and are doing a few more. We’re doing what we can because the cost of health care is off the hook these days.

    How did the you come up with the name Rated X?

    It actually started out as just a project we called Project X. We thought that since we were all ex-members of bands, had ex-wives and all had lived “rated X” lives [laughs], that’s what we should name the band.

    The band started out with a revolving door of guitarists. How did you settle on Karl Cochran?

    When we first started talking about the project, the record company suggested we have a “name” for a guitarist. We actually started out working with Bruce Kulick [Grand Funk Railroad, Kiss], but he unfortunately had other commitments and couldn’t do it. Then Carmine and I thought about Jeff Watson [Night Ranger]. We both did Mother’s Army with him, and what he played on that album was just incredible. From the elegance to the shredding, he’s a real virtuoso.

    But again, we needed a commitment and Jeff has a studio at his ranch that keeps him busy. Fresh out of “name” guitarists, I told the others that I had a guy who was perfect and knew exactly what this band had to be—and that’s Karl Cochran. Karl’s been with me for a long time and played on a lot of projects that I did. He jumped at the chance. So he came in and finished a few tracks and then we flew out to LA to finish the videos.

    What was the songwriting process like?

    It was a collaborative effort by friends and band members. We would usually start with the skeleton of the song and then everyone would kick the ball around. We all put our heart and soul as well as sweat and tears into it. It was a very free experience.

    Who will be performing guitar duties on a Rated X tour?

    We were about seven tracks in when Karl suffered his stroke. At that point, there was only one guy I knew who could come in and get up to speed, and that’s Nikolo Kotsev from the band Brazen Abbot. He’s another brilliant player who fit right in. He listened to what Karl was doing and finished the last four tracks for us. He’ll be playing with us live in Europe next year.

    Is the band working on any U.S. dates?

    We’re looking forward to doing some live show here in the States. We have a brand of music that people will love, plus we also can do some of our own hits. For instance, Carmine has a real heavy metal version of the song “Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?” Not many people know that he co-wrote that with Rod Stewart. It’s a metal version that just blows me away. Being in this band also allows us the opportunity to do some Rainbow, Purple and the Firm.

    Speaking of Rainbow, there have been rumors going around about a possible Rainbow reunion with Ritchie Blackmore. Any truth to that?

    I really believe we need a Rainbow reunion and the reason why I popped that rumor is because it’s the 40th anniversary of Rainbow in 2015, and we’d really like to do something with Ritchie to go out in style. I think the fans are owed another record and tour. There are a lot of possibilities about what form a reunion could take, including the possibility that nothing happens at all. So even though I think it’s time, let me just go on record by saying that right now there’s nothing definitive. We’ll see what happens.

    What’s the origin of the Rainbow song, “Street of Dreams”?

    At the time I wrote it, I was having this recurring dream. I would always see the face of this angelic woman in my dream and I kept getting these strange messages. One night, I woke up from one and just went over to the desk, lit a candle and started to write. I woke up the next morning and saw that what I had written was called “Street of Dreams." I read Ritchie the lyrics and he just loved it. He came up with three separate sections of that song and laid down that beautiful solo in one take.

    Can you tell me the story of how you got into Rainbow?

    I have to say getting into Rainbow was probably the most memorable moment of my career. Because at that moment, my whole life changed. I was down on my luck and living in a one room apartment in New York City going to auditions. I realized I needed a band and as destiny might have it, I got a call. It was from a guy from Long Island who had somehow gotten my number.

    He started out by asking me about Rainbow and Purple and I said, “Yeah, they’re two of my favorite bands, but who are you and what do you want?” That’s when he said, “Well, I’m sitting next to Ritchie Blackmore and he wants to talk to you.” I said, “OK, which one of my friends is pulling my leg?” Then he puts Ritchie on the phone and it was a struggle at first because I still wouldn’t believe him! [laughs].

    But eventually Ritchie told me he was looking for a new singer for Rainbow and wanted me to come in and audition. So I went in and we spent the day working on “Midnight Tunnel Vision” and stacking vocals on “I Surrender." It was only then that Ritchie came in with a Heineken, looked at me and said “You’ve got the job!” [laughs].

    Check out Rated X on Facebook.

    James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.

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    Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the premiere of a new version of "Hard As Stone" by the Steepwater Band. You can stream it below.

    The track is from Diamond Days: The Best of The Steepwater Band 2006-2014, which will be released February 17 via the band's new label, Sun Pedal Recordings (Warner Music Group).

    The Chicago rockers asked their fans to help them make the tough decision of which songs would make the cut on the disc. Now that all the responses have been collected, they are proud to bring you a true "best of."

    The album, which revisits the band's 16-year career, also features a new track called "Silver Lining." That track and "Hard As Stone (2015)" are the first studio recordings featuring the band's newest member, guitarist Eric Saylors.

    The "best of" will be a sneak peek of the group's new sound before they release a new full-length album in 2015. The new full-length will be recorded at Crushtone Studios in Cleveland, Ohio, with producer Jim Wirt (Fiona Apple, Incubus).

    Diamond Days: The Best of The Steepwater Band 2006-2014 is available for pre-order here. For more about the band, visit steepwater.com.

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    Late last week, Joe Bonamassa posted the following video on his Facebook page.

    "Here is some a backstage partying with an original 1978 Charvel black-and-yellow stripe guitar just like Mr Van Halen's," Bonamassa wrote as part of the post.

    "No red M&Ms, no dancing girls, just a bunch of Diet Cokes and reverb."

    What do you think?

    P.S.: Be sure to give the Facebook video a few seconds to load in the space below.

    Additional Content

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    Below, check out a new video of two street musicians performing with homemade guitars. One guy made a guitar out of a broom. The other guy built a bass out of a shovel.

    Here's the info (with a bit of grammar/translation assistance) that was posted with the clip:

    "On the corner of Vienna street (Karlsplatz); the young artist was busy playing with handmade guitars; very strange but interesting and creative. I stood with the people to listen and enjoyed it. We were happy to help them out financially."


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