The origin of heavy metal is a very fuzzy thing, but most historians and fans can agree that Black Sabbath’s eponymous 1970 debut was the first true heavy metal album.
Its thunderous drums, sinister riffs and downright evil lyrics left little to be debated. But what we wanted to know was this: What was the heaviest song before Black Sabbath?
We ranked the the following songs based on a variety of factors: distortion/fuzz, playing speed, "darkness," volume, shock value and, most importantly, the song had to have been released before mid-February 1970, when Black Sabbath was unleashed unto the universe.
And sure, it would've been easy to list all the songs on the first two Led Zeppelin albums and call it a day, but we wanted to go deeper than that. We dug deep to find some hidden gems from the era of peace and love.
NOTE: We will be presenting these songs in installments. Check out the first list of 10 below; we'll post the next 10 songs later this week! Until then, enjoy!
50. The Troggs, "Wild Thing" (1966)
This bit of caveman rock, written by Chip Taylor (actor Jon Voight’s brother), is the only song on this list to feature an ocarina solo.
49. The Yardbirds, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” (1966)
Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page teamed up on this elaborate, psychodramatic masterpiece to contribute slashing rhythm parts, zig-zagging lead lines and a witty imitation of a police car’s siren.
48. The Who, "My Generation" (1965)
Studio version not heavy enough for you? There’s always the explosive — literally — Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour version from 1967. Pete Townshend’s ears are still smarting from it.
47. Coven, "Pact With Lucifer" (1969)
Jinx Dawson was Doro before there was a Doro. Coven makes the list for their occult themes and evil-sounding song titles like “Pact With Lucifer,” “Choke, Thirst, Die” and “Dignitaries of Hell,” but ultimately the music just wasn’t that heavy.
46. The Guess Who, “American Woman” (1970)
After luring in listeners with a sweet acoustic blues intro, Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman & Co. hit the stompboxes and showed the world what Led Zeppelin would’ve sounded like if they were Canadian. This one came out in January 1970 — mere weeks before Black Sabbath would redefine heavy.
45. Pink Floyd, "Interstellar Overdrive" (1967)
The song that launched a thousand space-rock bands.
44. The Count Five, "Psychotic Reaction" (1966)
The Count Five’s only hit single was this blatantly Yardbirds-inspired gem from 1966. The band, who were all between the ages of 17 and 19, split up a year later to pursue college degrees. Remember, kids, there’s nothing heavier than an education!
43. The Wailers, “Out of Our Tree” (1966)
A fun, fuzzed-out offering from the Tacoma-based Wailers, one of the first American garage rock bands.
42. Sam Gopal, "Season of the Witch" (1969)
Sam Gopal was the first percussionist to bring tabla drums back from India and incorporate them into rock music. However, his 1969 album, Escalator, was a landmark in rock music for another reason: It featured, on vocals and guitar, a young Ian Kilmister. You may know him better as “Lemmy.”
41. Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love" (1967)
This song was written by Cream bassist Jack Bruce in a burst of inspiration after watching a Jimi Hendrix concert. Hendrix would cover the song a year later, adding some burning guitar licks in place of the lyrics.
Long-scale electric guitars are a logical choice for modern guitarists who crave more depth, resonance and sonic authority yet prefer to avoid the hand-cramping neck width of most seven- and eight-string axes.
Studio engineers’ routinely utilize them to thicken anemic tracks, but onstage applications have understandably been limited by their typically larger bodies and equally unwieldy 28- to 30-inch-scale necks. Jericho Guitars is a relative newcomer that hopes to change this paradigm with its sleek and stylized Avenger.
The Avenger is a 27-inch-scale guitar that looks and feels like any standard-scale guitar and is designed to complement the tonal curve of today’s high-gain super amps.
According to the old joke, guitar players are willing to try anything new, as long as it’s identical to what they’re currently using. Thus, with some careful design and construction choices, Jericho made the Avenger’s length and body size identical to those of any standard-scale guitar and kept its weight in the six-and-a-half-pound range. Specially selected mahogany from a reserve stock in British Columbia ensures that the body delivers the Avenger’s full range of tones, and the short headstock allows for the extra fretboard length without extending the instrument’s dimensions.
In order for the Jericho’s neck to produce clear notes and still withstand the tension exerted by massive strings, Jericho affixes flat-sawn maple to the sides of a rock-solid quarter-sawn maple core and tops the neck with an ebony fretboard. The guitar’s hardware, likewise, is selected for musicality and stability. It includes a Graph Tech TUSQ XL nut, Grover tuners and a TonePros Tune-o-matic bridge. The pickups are Seymour Duncan’s Full Shred humbuckers, which are mated to a three-way switch and master controls for volume and tone. Although not expressly built for a baritone guitar, the pickups’ overwound gain, magnet strength and EQ curve are an ideal match for the Avenger’s weighty voice.
There’s no rule that says you have to string the Avenger with baritone-sized wires. In fact, Jericho encourages players to experiment with string gauge. I ultimately preferred it set up heavy on the lows and light on top. The Avenger is smooth, fast and highly responsive, with the conventional feel of low action paired to a C-shaped neck. When plugged into a high-gain amp channel—preferably one with enough power and damping to deliver the Avenger’s full spectrum of low-end tone—the Avenger delivers extreme levels of low-end thrust, yet it remains musical and expressive. The Full Shred pickups are less focused in the lows, so there’s no need to worry about blowing out your speakers. The highs, however, will scream off the ebony fretboard with tone that is fully developed and three-dimensional, unlike guitars with a higher resonant peak.
Flat-sawn sides and a quarter-sawn core ensure that the maple neck is stable enough to handle the strings’ higher tension, yet has enough bounce to produce organic tones.
Seymour Duncan Full Shred humbuckers deliver their famously hot highs and control the lows without compromising clarity and dynamics.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Jericho’s 27-inch scale Avenger vastly expands the guitar’s range while maintaining the physical dimensions, feel and weight of more commonly scaled guitars, opening a new door into the realm of deep-toned musical expression.
Anyway, here's one that got past us. The video, "World's Fastest Guitar Player 1400 BPM," features a fleet-fingered guitarist named Phil Taylor. The clip, which was posted by Taylor, has garnered more than 100,000 views.
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The latest (and final) installment — Episode 8, which you can watch below — shows Slash & Co. — better known as "Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators"— at a studio in Los Angeles, hard at work on their next album, which will be released later this year.
Each clip in the series provides a behind-the-scenes peek at the band's sessions, courtesy of Ernie Ball. This episode puts the focus on Slash and producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette, who discusses "pushing" Slash to play at his highest level.
Over the weekend, Jack White succeeded in his attempt to break the speed record for recording and releasing a single.
White announced his plan earlier this month, declaring that "Lazaretto" would be "the world's fastest-released record ... in the history of mankind."
At 10 a.m. Saturday — better known as Record Store Day — White and his band recorded two tracks live from the Blue Room at Third Man Records' Nashville HQ, including "Lazaretto," the title track from his upcoming solo album, and a cover of Elvis Presley's "Power of My Love."
The songs were cut directly to acetate, and the masters were rushed from the Blue Room to United Record Pressing, where the 45s were made.
"Originally, we were just gonna do this record and go back to sleep," White told the crowd after a live video screen showed the acetate taken off its machine. Instead, they played a complete hour-long set that included new songs and White Stripes faves. You can see a recap of Saturday's festivities in the bottom video below.
By recording, pressing and releasing the live version of "Lazaretto" in less than four hours, White broke the Guinness World Record that was set by Swiss polka trio Vollgas Kompanie, who released their album Live on August 16, 2008, the day after they recorded it.
In the TOP video below, you can hear the studio version of "Lazaretto," which will be featured on White's upcoming album of the same name. The BOTTOM video is a recap of White's record-setting recording and release of the live version of "Lazaretto."
It’s German piano quartet Salut Salon delivering a highly entertaining live performance of "Wettstreit Zu Viert.”
The Salut Salon quartet – made up of Angelika Bachmann (violin), Iris Siegfried (violin and vocals), Anne-Monika von Twardowski (piano) and Sonja Lena Schmid (cello) – combine virtuosic chops with a comedy and charm to create a completely unconventional chamber music experience.
Playing upside down, behind the back and other crazy variations, what begins as traditional sounding classical music ends something closer to a ..hoedown?
Performing 120 concerts a year, Salut Salon have appeared in cities all over the US, Europe, China and South America. And judging from the video below – they know how to win over a crowd.
People often ask me what it takes to get a song cut. The answer, as I have thought about it, is "Right song, right place, right time."
My Kenny Chesney song, "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven" had been pitched around for months. People liked it.
Several put it on hold. It was actually on hold for a group called "Blue County" when Kenny Chesney called asking to cut it.
Prior to that, George Strait had cut the song but decided it was not right for the album he just recorded.
Kenny had cut an entire album and thought he was done. They decided he needed a fun first single that they didn't have yet. He remembered hearing the song because George had played it for him after he cut it. Kenny checked to see if the song made George's record. When he saw that it didn't, he called to ask if he could cut it.
George's people had released the song, so we checked in with "Blue County" to see if they still wanted it. They passed.
The rest is history. Kenny cuts it, it comes out as a single in about a month, and flies to #1.
As you can see, MOST of that whole saga was out of my control. If George Strait had never cut it and played it for Kenny, he never would have heard it. ALL of Kenny's people passed on the song multiple times.
If George hadn't dropped it, I might not have gotten a single. If Kenny had already cut a song similar to mine, it wouldn't have had a chance. So many factors could have prevented me from getting the cut, AND another #1 record.
I always keep coming back to the ONE thing I can control. The right song. If I write a GREAT song, then people will fight over it. If I write mediocre songs, I will have to fight people to get them to cut it.
I can work hard to get myself in the right places so that my songs get heard. There is some amount of that I can control. And, I can learn when artists are cutting and what they are looking for. That helps me know when the "right time" is for a given artist.
But I spend most of my time on the "right song" angle. I work hard to find great ideas. I don't give up on a song until it's as good as I can make it. I pay attention to what radio is playing so that I know what kinds of things I should write. My goal every day is to write a radio hit.
I believe that, if I write enough "right songs," they will find their place and time. Lightning will strike.
Don't stress out too much over being in the right place at the right time. That can drive you crazy. Work at writing better and better songs every day. Eventually, you will write great ones and they will find a home!
In the new May issue, Zakk "The Beast" Wylde and Joe "The Professor" Satriani meet up to riff on their craziest concert moments, Jimmy Page, and the state of rock guitar in 2014. Also, in an excerpt from his new autobiography, Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir, Satriani recalls the making of tracks from his breakthrough album, Surfing with the Alien.
In addition, learn how Death Angel was poised to be metal's next big thing, until a horrific accident brought their ascent to a halt. Guitarist Rob Cavestany looks back at the group's rise and fall, and the rebirth that has brought them hard-won success.
Later on, John Frusciante, the former Red Hot Chili Pepper, keeps the home fires burning with his latest solo effort, Enclosure, and tells why his performing days are behind him.
Finally, want to master speed, precision and control in your guitar playing? An in-depth guide to hybrid picking will have you playing like a pro in no time.
PLUS: Mastodon, Memphis May Fire, George Lynch, Skaters, Donovan and much more!
Five Songs with Tabs for Guitar and Bass
• Joe Satriani - "Summer Song" • Darius Rucker - "Wagon Wheel" • Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Dani California" • Black Label Society - "Stillborn" • Of Mice & Men - "You're Not Alone"
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of a new behind-the-scenes, "making of" video featuring California Breed, a new trio featuring vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Andrew Watt.
This is the first in a series of exclusive clips that will be premiered prior to the May 19 release of the band's self-titled debut album via Frontiers Records. Visit GuitarWorld.com every Tuesday for new episodes.
California Breed was produced by Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, Rival Sons, Shooter Jennings) and recorded at his Nashville studio. Hughes and Bonham played together for several years in Black Country Communion; Watt — who is a mere 23 — was introduced to Hughes by Julian Lennon in 2013.
The band will announce U.K., European and U.S. tours soon.
The album will be available as a CD, digital download and a deluxe CD/DVD featuring the bonus song “Solo,” two video clips and a documentary. Fans who pre-order the digital download on iTunes will receive an instant download of “Sweet Tea” and "Midnight Oil" (Check out the lyric video below) upon ordering.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of four track-by-track commentary videos by Saliva.
All four songs — "1,000 Eyes,""Redneck Freakshow,""Choke" and "Army"— will be included on the band's new album, Rise Up, which will be released April 29.
Long-time fans of the band will appreciate the album's big hooks, major swagger and impressive guitar work.
Rise Up, which was produced by Bobby Huff (Papa Roach, 3 Doors Down, Tim Finn), features new singer Bobby Amaru, who is featured in all four videos below. The lineup also includes guitarist Wayne Swinny, bassist Dave Novotny and drummer Paul Crosby.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents an exclusive commentary video — and a new music video — by Marty Friedman.
In the clip, which you can check out below, the former Megadeth guitarist discusses "Inferno," the title track off his upcoming album, which will be released May 27 through Prosthetic Records.
"The music video for 'Inferno' is an homage/parody of one of my fave Japanese TV shows, Zenryokusaka," Friedman says. "It's a weekly five-minute show where the entire premise is absolutely nothing but a girl running up a hill. Each week a different girl and a different hill.
"I'm hooked on this show, and think it is genius in its simplicity and ever-so-slight sexual nature. It took me a while to explain the charm of the show to the video director, but I think toward the end of making our video together, he got it. It's like many things that happen outside the culture you were born in; you either get it and it's fresh or you don't and it's just weird."
Inferno was recorded primarily in Los Angeles with engineer Chris Rakestraw (Danzig, Children of Bodom) and mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth). It features what Friedman recently told Guitar World is "the most intense writing and playing I can do."
The album includes guest appearances by Rodrigo y Gabriela, Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho, Skyharbor's Keshav Dhar and Revocation's Dave Davidson. Also included is Friedman's first songwriting collaboration with Jason Becker since the pair played together in Cacophony.
I’d like to focus on riffs and rhythm ideas that represent what I think of as “the real deal” metal.
I’ve designed these riffs to help you build up both your pick-and fret-hand technique in regard to executing pure metal ideas like these with power and precision.
FIGURE 1 is inspired by the heavy riffs of Testament and Pantera and is built from combining a few different scales, such as E major (E F# G# A B C# D#) and E Phrygian-dominant (E F G# A B C D), with sliding two-note power chords.
Across beats one and two, I begin with two-note E5 and F5 power chords that alternate against open low E string accents, all of which are executed with aggressive down-strokes. Across beats three and four, I switch to alternate (down-up) picking. In bar 2, I begin with the same figure over the first two beats, but I switch to a higher single-note riff for beats three and four, one that moves from E major to E Phrygian-dominant.
In bar 3 I repeat the figure from bar 1, which I then follow with sliding two-note power chords, fretted on the bottom two strings, first sliding down one half step, from A5 to G#5, and then up one whole step, from A5 to B5.
FIGURE 2 is inspired by some of Testament’s heavy rhythm parts, such as the one heard in “Over the Wall,” and utilizes a classic metal “gallop” rhythm, which is an eighth note followed by two 16ths. This type of gallop rhythm was previously popularized by Iron Maiden, who used it on many of their biggest songs, such as “Run to the Hills.”
The gallop figure shown here is executed with fast downdown-up picking in conjunction with palm muting on beats one through three, followed by eighth-note sliding power chords. This example is played at a rather quick tempo—194 beats per minute—and practicing it at that tempo will definitely add strength and precision to your pick-hand technique. You’ll hear sliding power chord figures like these on Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” as well as Pantera’s “Mouth for War.”
For our last example, FIGURE 3, I’ve put together a riff comprised entirely of single notes, and I intentionally made it obscure in terms of outlining a specific tonality. Though the open low E note is accentuated, creating a connection to E5 or E minor, the notes themselves do not stick within the structure of any scale. My goal was simply to come up with a cool, heavy-sounding riff that features a few different articulation techniques.
Through all of bar 1 and the first half of bar 2, I repeatedly play pairs of open low E accents in 16th notes, followed by a variety of three-note melodic shapes. Bar 3 presents a shift to 2/4 meter for the fast trills, after which bars 1 and 2 are repeated.
The riff ends with quick pull-off phrases on the bottom two strings, fretted with the index and ring fingers. Apply these techniques to some heavily brutal metal riffs of your own design and have fun with them!
Gus G has premiered the new music video for "Eyes Wide Open," a track from his debut solo album, I Am The Fire, which was released March 18 via Century Media Records.
You can check out the new clip, which was produced and directed by Patric Ullaeus, below.
Gus, who handles the guitar, bass and keyboard parts on the new album, is joined by a crew of friends, including drummers Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy), bassists David Ellefson, Billy Sheehan and Marty O'Brien (Tommy Lee, We Are the Fallen) and vocalists Mats Leven (Candlemass), Blake Allison (Devour The Day), Michael Starr (Steel Panther) and more.
May 1 - Tampere (Finland) - Klubi
May 2 - Helsinki (Finland) - Nosturi
May 3 - Stockholm (Sweden) - Stockholm Rocks Festival
May 5 - Gothenburg (Sweden) - Trädgårn
May 7 - Malmö (Sweden) - KB
May 9 - Krakow (Poland) - Lizzard King
May 10 - Warsaw (Poland) - Progresja
May 12 - Munich (Germany) - Backstage
May 13 - Colmar (France) - Grillen
May 15 - Essen (Germany) - Turock
May 16 - Zoetermeer (The Netherlands) - De Boerderij
May 17 - Hasselt (Belgium) - MuziekoDroom
May 18 - Uden (The Netherlands) - De Pul
May 20 - Savigny Le Temple (France) - L’ Impreinte
May 21 - London (UK) - O2 Islington Academy
May 22 - Nuneaton (UK) - Queens Hall
This week, we are going to plan out and shape our headstock, shoulders and neck.
I am going to build two guitars for you. One will be the classic CBG (cigar box guitar); with the other one, we will show you some of the possible upgrades.
But first, let's take a look at that cigar box. Be sure to follow along with the 19 photos in the gallery below.
We are going to cut two slots in the sides of the box next to the lid. Grab your tape measure and pencil, find the center of the box and measure 3/4-inch off each side of the center line and from the top of the lid. This should be an outline for your neck. Now use your neck to connect the dots. Double check your measurements to make sure it is in the center of the box and repeat on the opposite side.
It's pretty easy so far. But now it's time for an important decision. If you are going to electrify your CBG and use a magnetic pickup, you are going to have to do an offset neck (for offset necks, please use the instructions on my website for shaping the neck: sanercigarboxguitars.com).
We use piezo disk pickups in a lot of our guitars; they have a great lo-fi sound, and you don’t have to cut the box or do an offset neck. The down side to piezos is that you have to take some time to dial in your tone to avoid feedback. There's something new coming down the pike about this; a very special pickup is on the way, so you won't want to miss our next blog post.
Now it's time to break in that coping saw; cut just on the inside of the line you just made. Take your time; you want the neck to fit snug into the holes so it doesn't rattle around. Once you have made the cuts, use some sandpaper to sand the edges until you have a perfect fit. The neck should be flush with the top of the box. Place the neck in the box and leave about one and a half to two inches on the end for tail piece.
Mark where the neck meets the inside of the box and use your coping saw to cut out a slab so the lid shuts. Most lids are 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Take your time as you want to make sure you have a snug fit.
Back to shaping the neck. For a straight-through body and neck, I usually make it 32 inches in length. From the top of the neck, make a mark about 4 inches down; this will be your headstock. Use your coping saw to cut out a slab at 1/4-inch depth.
Finally, it's time to shape the back of the neck. On the back side of the neck, make a mark four and a half inches from the top (so we have room to make shoulders). Now make a mark about 2 inches up from where the neck meets the box. Use your rasp in between each of the marks to grind down the edges until you have a nice round shape on both sides. Use some sandpaper to smooth out some rough spots on the back of the neck and on your headstock.
Whew! Now we have a stick in a box. It's starting to look like a guitar already.
How about a little CBG/One Man Band music to listen to while doing some cutting and sanding? Check out Mike Snowden. I first came across Mike when looking for some CBG lessons on YouTube. We're going to feature some of his lessons in later blog posts.
Mike has a great sound, combining rock and blues to make his self-described “Hobo Rock." Prior to Mike's CBG fame, he was an accomplished bass guitarist playing in bands from coast to coast and opening for acts such as The Indigo Girls, Joe Cocker, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Dave Matthews Band. Mike also is a CBG builder with more than 350 CBGs under his belt.
I’ve been listening to his Cigar Box Guitar Stomp album end to end while writing this, and he truly rocks the box! There is something to the dirty blues/rock and how he puts in a cool little lick at the end of a line that makes me want to learn how to play it and keeps me listing again and again. Check him out playing “Big City Man." He has a pretty cool guitar setup on this; it has one bass string and two guitar strings tuned to DAD. It just rocks!
Here is your recon mission till next time:
Tuning pegs (three each): I would recommend the individual ones and not the ones grouped together (like on classical guitars). Check out your local music shop, eBay and CB Gitty.
Some sort of sealer: Shellac, linseed oil (Careful: Linseed oil is highly flammable, and storing your used rags together can catch fire), polyurethane, etc., and brushes or rags to apply it. I use polyurethane. I just like the results, but others work well too.
If you want to bling up your box, look into some grommets or sound hole covers on CB Gitty. You will have to match up a drill bit or hole saw to fit your grommet or sound hole cover. The sound hole covers are not necessarily needed; we can put a few holes in the box using the 3/8 bit as mentioned before.
Some super glue: Check your local dollar store.
And we are going to use those tension pins mentioned in the last article too!
I owe a big thanks to Shane Speal, Hollowbelly and Mike Snowden for helping me show you the underground world of cigar box guitars.
Keep on playing!
Brian Saner owns Saner Cigar Box Guitars, which makes custom handmade guitars and amps using local dry-aged wood in every guitar. These guitars are handmade and might have imperfections, but that's what makes them unique. Once you hear the howl of a CBG, you might not want to play a Fender or Gibson again. Get one at sanercigarboxguitars.com and devildownrecords.com. Check out his Facebook page.
As I have discussed in previous columns, I often use triadic arpeggio forms within my riffs and solos as a tool to create rich-sounding, poly-chordal sounds.
I’d like to continue in that vein in this month’s column by presenting different ways in which to move from one arpeggio form to another, using a series of specific triads that complement one another well.
Let’s start with the triads F# diminished and D major, as shown in FIGURES 1 and FIGURE 2, respectively. The F# diminished triad is built from the notes C, F# and A, and the D major triad is built from almost the same set of notes, D, F# and A. Both FIGURES 1 and 2 show these triads as played in fifth position for comparison.
If I wanted to get a bluesy vibe, I’d use the D major triad and combine it with the F# diminished triad, as demonstrated in FIGURE 3. Here, the C note is heard as the b7 (flat seventh) of D, implying a D dominant-seven tonality.
Now let’s try combining the F# diminished arpeggio with an A minor arpeggio—A C E—as shown in FIGURE 4. The combination of these two sets of notes gives an F#m7b5 arpeggio (F# A C E: see FIGURE 5). These licks work well over an Am chord, as the inclusion of the F# note, the major sixth of A, implies an Am6, A Dorian–mode type of sound.
As you probably have noticed, all of these arpeggios are played on the top three strings, and I often like to incorporate sweep picking when using arpeggios like this. FIGURE 6 illustrates a combination of an Em7 arpeggio—E G B D—and a Gmaj7 arpeggio—G B D F#. As denoted in the example, in order to sweep pick these arpeggio shapes properly, begin with an upstroke on the first note and then use a single down-stroke to rake across the top three strings to play the next three notes.
The form ends with another upstroke. I then slide up to 10th position and reverse the process, beginning with a down-stroke and then using a single upstroke to rake across the top three strings, moving from high to low. FIGURE 7 offers an example of applying this approach to the chord progression Em7 Am9 F#m7b5 Gmaj7.
This is the last installment of Wild Stringdom for now. I hope these columns have been useful to you and have served to broaden your knowledge of the guitar while building up your chops. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you out on the road!
This is an excerpt from the June 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Nikki Sixx, Pantera, Carlos Santana, the history of MXR pedals, Nergal, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from EVH Gear, Dunlop, Randall, Taylor Guitars and more, check out the June 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.
Crüe Cüt: After more than 30 years together, Mötley Crüe are calling it quits. Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx talk about their past excesses and achievements—and what the future holds for them all.
“After this, Mötley’s done!” proclaims Mick Mars. He’s talking about Mötley Crüe’s recently announced Final Tour, which will see the band crisscross the globe—with Alice Cooper in tow for the North American leg—for one last hurrah. It’s a farewell celebration of the highest order, and one that is, Mars assures, truly a farewell.
Indeed, lest anyone think the guitarist and his Mötley mates—singer Vince Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee—are, like too many bands before them, merely setting the stage for their next reunion, think again. This past January, the Hollywood-bred foursome staged a press conference under the banner “All Bad Things Must Come to an End,” at which they signed a legally binding “cessation of touring agreement.”
The document prohibits the band members from hitting the road, individually or in any configuration collectively, as Mötley Crüe after 2015, effectively putting a cap on what has amounted to more than three decades of onstage decadence.
Why now? According to Sixx, the idea is to end it the way it began, all the way back in 1981. “We want it to be the same four guys,” he says. “We want it to be while we’re still at the top of our game. We want to go out with dignity.”
Below is an excerpt of the Mick Mars portion of the interview. The entire interview — including the Nikki Sixx portion — can be sound in the new June 2014 issue of Guitar World.
EXCERPT: Nikki mentioned that the two of you have been working on a new song together. What can you tell us about it?
This song is for the Final Tour, and it’s about the Final Tour. The working title is “All Bad Things Must Come to an End.” It’s probably about half finished. We have to wait for Vince to sing it, and then I’ll do my soloing and ear candy all over it and stuff like that. But what happens with us after that, music-wise, is kind of vague, I guess. I’m not gonna paint myself in a corner and say, “Oh, yeah, there could be more music coming out,” when I don’t really know. I don’t really have the answers. I know that the contract we signed says that in no way will any of us go out playing Mötley Crüe music as Mötley Crüe. And it’s pretty binding and pretty heavy. So that’s it.
You’ve teased the idea of doing a solo album for years. Now that Mötley-related activity is winding down, will this become a reality?
Absolutely. I’ve been writing for quite a long time, and I’m going through some of the archives that I have, things I’ve written going back to ’95, ’96. And I think what a lot of people may say—and I have to say “may” because I don’t know—is, “This is crap.” [laughs] Or, they may say, “Wow! I didn’t know Mick could write like that! I didn’t know Mick could play guitar like that!” Hopefully that happens. If it doesn’t, then that’s okay too. I mean, it took 20 years for a lot of the fan base and everyone else to realize how groundbreaking the  Mötley Crüe album with John Corabi was. So you never know.
There have been rumors that you and John Corabi might also be working together again.
There’s been a lot of talk about it, but we haven’t gotten together yet. John’s built his name up pretty big here in Nashville, and I would never want him to do something that would take him away from his thing. But to sit and collaborate and write songs together would be cool for both of us, I think. So if it happens, then great. If not, that’s cool too. We’re still friends.
As far as Mötley’s music is concerned, is there anything you look back on and think, “We could have done that better”?
Well, there are two albums that aren’t my favorites: Theatre of Pain and Generation Swine, although there’s a couple good songs on each one. Theatre of Pain has “Home Sweet Home,” and on Generation Swine there’s a song called “Glitter” that’s real good. But those are two records where I felt we could’ve done better.
Guitar playing in the Eighties, especially in hard rock and metal, was heavily dependent on flash and tricks and speed, which was not your style at all. Do you feel your abilities were overlooked as a result?
Sometimes. Because everybody and their mother was playing all scales, all the time. Like, “Oh, I’m a great guitar player now!” But everyone was just doing the same licks over and over and over. My schooling came from listening to records, and thinking about how I felt about the song and following the melody. My goal was always to play something that fit and something that was memorable, not just a barrage of notes. And because I didn’t play all the scales or do this or that, you know, people thought that I was this crap guitar player.
After more than 30 years playing with Mötley Crüe, how would you most like the band to be remembered?
I’d be happy if people thought of us in the top 100 iconic bands that ever came along, like the Stones and Hendrix and Zeppelin and those guys. That’d be nice. If I could get in that category, then yeah, I’d be a happy man.
Have you ever wanted to learn the nuances of songwriting and the music business from one of greatest guitarists of all time?
Look no further than the inaugural Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp, which takes place June 23 to 27 in Saratoga Springs, New York.
And yes, that's Vai as in Steve Vai, the virtuoso guitarist, composer and producer. The camp is billed as the entire manual for being an independent musician — condensed into three days of classes.
The focus of the camp will be the evolution of a song. Attendees will learn how a song gets written, recorded, mixed, mastered, distributed and marketed. Camp admission includes lodging, meals, classes, live performances and jam sessions. Attendees who sign up by March 31 will receive a free Ibanez RG guitar, courtesy of Hoshino.
GuitarWorld.com recently spoke to Vai about his Song Evolution Camp. We also discussed his early practice regimen and what he considers to be the highlight of his career.
GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to host a Song Evolution Camp?
Over the years, I've met and spoken with many young musicians, and what I've discovered is that a majority of them really want to understand the process of what it takes to write a song.
They want to learn about where the inspiration comes from, how to formulate it into a song and how to resonate with other musicians to create something new. There's a wealth of information that will give you clarity on how to capture your ideas and translate what you hear in your head into something that's real in the world. These are key things I believe every musician should understand.
What will a typical day at the camp be like?
Once campers arrive, we'll have a Q&A discussion for a few hours to be followed by three solid days of "curriculum." On day one, I'll talk about finding inspiration, writing songs and the various ways you can come up with ideas, as well as how to work with other people to share them. We'll actually use ideas from campers to build a song and then demo it.
You'll see firsthand the impetus of the song and how to formulate it into something that makes sense. We'll also have professionals on hand who will discuss the vital things you need to know about things like intellectual property rights and publishing.
On the second day, we'll actually record the song. That's where you'll get to see the entire process of recording, layering and how to decorate the stereo landscape. There will also be classes on engineering, producing and some of the aspects of being a producer and mastering.
On the third day, we'll take the finished song that's now been mixed and mastered and explore the various ways of making it available digitally around the world. Finally, we'll talk about how to market the song and the great tools that are available to help the artist have independence. And because I didn't want to exclude the importance of guitar lessons, every night there will also be a jam. We'll have amazing clinics with Vernon Reid, Jeff “Skunk" Baxter and Guthrie Govan.
Besides learning the craft, is there something else you'd like people to take away from the camp?
When you go through this camp, you may find a real attraction and particular clarity for certain aspects of what's being taught. I think one of the things that will be so powerful about this retreat is that it will help people identify with some of the other things in the music business that they really resonate with.
What was your practice regimen like when you were starting out?
A lot of my regimen was based on territories I wanted to cover. Sometimes it might be as mechanical and mundane as practicing an hour of exercises, followed by an hour of scale and then an hour of playing chords. Then afterwards, repeating the process using different exercises and scales. It was the development of technique that I really enjoyed. There was a real interest and reward from doing that and after a while, the reward became addictive.
I was also very fortunate that I never subscribed to the musical consensus of what people thought a guitarist should or shouldn't be. I always moved in a direction that was comfortable for me. There was no pressure to compete with anyone, and I had no expectation of being famous or having to fit in and as a result I started developing my own style.
Did you ever encounter dry spells when practicing?
I never really hit dry spells. There was always a great feeling of freedom whenever I played the guitar. There was never a time where I felt that I didn't want to play. Even today, there's that same pull from the instrument.
Do you ever see yourself working in another "front man" project?
I never rule out anything, but it would have to be an extraordinary situation where the people involved wanted to create something that was new, fresh and artistic. Unless there's something unique and fresh about it, you're really just wasting your potential.
Is there a personal highlight of your career that you treasure above all others?
On a musical level, I suppose the conventional answer would be to say, "Oh, I remember when I played this really big show!" But the real highlight for me is the inception of a fresh, new idea. Whenever I get inspired with a clear vision of an idea, enthusiasm and excitement kicks in. It’s pure creativity. That's the real highlight. For me, deep fulfillment comes from a really exciting idea crossing my mind. One that I know I can bring to life, and then make it happen.
For more information on the Vai Academy Song Evolution Camp, visit vaiacademy.com. For more about Vai, visit vai.com.
Photo: Neil Zlozower
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.
As we announced earlier this month, Fender recently announced its American Design Experience. It's a new offering on Fender.com that allows musicians to design guitars and basses based on Fender’s instruments — the Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass models.
From the company:
Consumers’ personalized designs are then built by hand in Fender’s flagship Corona, California-based facility and delivered to their door within 90 days.
The Fender American Design Experience began in 2011 at the Fender Visitor Center in Corona, which is adjacent to Fender’s factory. There, consumers have been able to hand-select instrument bodies and necks, and personally design their own unique instrument, before having it built and delivered to them within a matter of months.
Now, Fender is able to provide this program only to people throughout the United States via an innovative digital platform configurator tool on its website at fender.com/american-design.
Several professional artists have designed their own instruments with the American Design Experience, including Neon Trees’ Branden Campbell, the Cult’s Billy Duffy, thenewno2’s Dhani Harrison, Joe Robinson and Taylor Swift’s Amos Heller. Consumers can view these artists’ designs — and others — at Fender’s website for inspiration.
Anyway, in the new video below, Guitar World's Paul Riario hits the website and starts designing his dream Fender guitar. Will he go the Strat route or the Tele route? Find out below!