Articles on this Page
- 05/14/14--09:58: _Beyond the Fretboar...
- 05/14/14--11:11: _Nirvana's 'MTV Unpl...
- 05/14/14--11:20: _Recording King to G...
- 05/15/14--08:20: _Betcha Can't Play T...
- 05/15/14--09:02: _Dave Grohl to Host ...
- 05/15/14--09:19: _'The Beauty of the ...
- 05/15/14--09:23: _In Deep with Andy A...
- 05/15/14--09:39: _Phil Anselmo Open t...
- 05/15/14--09:45: _Ren Ferguson to Joi...
- 05/15/14--10:04: _Tony Iommi Says Bla...
- 05/15/14--10:23: _Guitarist Brad Gill...
- 05/15/14--11:45: _California Breed: G...
- 05/15/14--13:43: _Jimmy Page Discusse...
- 05/16/14--08:26: _Betcha Can't Play T...
- 05/16/14--08:31: _Jack White Premiere...
- 05/16/14--08:51: _Did Maximum the Hor...
- 05/16/14--08:59: _Top 20 Hair Metal A...
- 05/16/14--10:15: _Stolen or Lost Ax? ...
- 05/16/14--11:44: _Nikki Sixx Discusse...
- 05/16/14--12:11: _Ed's Shed: Intro to...
- 05/14/14--09:58: Beyond the Fretboard: Visualizing Your Own Scales, Part 1
- 05/14/14--11:11: Nirvana's 'MTV Unplugged' Rehearsal — Video
- 05/14/14--11:20: Recording King to Give Away 10 Guitars in 10 Minutes on June 10
- 05/15/14--09:02: Dave Grohl to Host His Own HBO TV Show
- 05/15/14--10:04: Tony Iommi Says Black Sabbath's Hyde Park Show Might Be Their Last
- 05/15/14--10:23: Guitarist Brad Gillis Talks New Night Ranger Album, 'High Road'
- 05/16/14--08:26: Betcha Can't Play This: Dave Reffett — "Caravan of Cannibals"
- 05/16/14--08:31: Jack White Premieres New Song, "Just One Drink"
- 05/16/14--08:59: Top 20 Hair Metal Albums of the Eighties
- 05/16/14--10:15: Stolen or Lost Ax? Trace Your Hoffee Guitar Case with Snagg GPS Unit
As guitar players, we sometimes get too comfortable with certain scale shapes because they can be easy to remember.
For example, think about the minor pentatonic scale; almost immediately, the mental image of that familiar box shape is probably conjured in your mind's eye. The fact that we can instantly recall various patterns due to their spacial layout over the fretboard is a great thing. But what if we're relying too heavily on existing scale shapes?
Scales are just pre-determined paths that get us from point A (root note) to point B (the octave). Some scales sound very musical, while others have a less-conventional harmonic architecture.
For some younger rock guitarists, the process of learning and memorizing existing scales might be the extent of their development when it comes to improvising.
But what about arpeggios? Arpeggios seem to be an intimidating concept to beginners, intermediates and even some advanced players for a few reasons:
01. The name seems "elitist" in nature and sounds like it should be reserved for classical music.
It simply comes from the italian word "arpeggiare," which either translates to "play on a harp" or "broken chord." All this means is we're playing each note of a chord separately, without any of the notes ringing out simultaneously. On a theoretical level, arpeggios and chords are basically the same thing. The only difference is in their execution; one is monophonic (one note at a time), while the other is polyphonic (multiple notes at the same time).
02. Arpeggios are viewed as being "synonymous with sweep picking."
Not everyone wants to be a shredder. For this reason, some people tend to underestimate or even completely ignore arpeggios because they have been popularly linked with sweep picking. Yes, a lot of technically advanced axe-slingers love using arpeggios. But truth be told, you NEVER have to learn sweep picking in order to effectively use arpeggios.
03. Some of the more popular arpeggio shapes seem difficult to play and memorize.
Since arpeggios are 'broken chord' patterns, they're usually laid out over the fretboard in familiar chord shapes (derived from the CAGE system). But this brings us back to the previous problem. After all, the most economical way to execute a "C shape" minor arpeggio would be to sweep pick it (because that shape consists of a one-note-per-string sequence).
So what's the best way to make arpeggios accessible to ALL guitarists? One way is to visualize them as if they are scales (the only difference is that they consist of chord tones).
That sounds reasonable, but there are a few practical limitations to this proposal. First, the most basic arpeggio (triad) is comprised of a meager 3-note grouping. This makes it rather difficult to plot the notes on the fretboard in a 'boxed' format without invoking the sweep picking approach.
As you can see, it's doable but challenging if you're not used to a wide shape, which involves tough hand stretching and some tricky finger rolling. But if you're up to the task, these patterns can definitely be useful.
Let's try adding an additional note to the mix. The most obvious way to do this would be to experiment with 7th arpeggios (or 7th chords). These chords definitely have a unique harmonic texture that distinguishes itself from the more conventional-sounding triads.
The quick theoretical explanation as to why they're called "7th chords" is pretty straightforward; both the major and minor scales each contain seven notes. Triads are simply the first, third and fifth notes of a particular scale played together (becoming a chord) or individually (becoming an arpeggio). If we add the seventh note in a scale to the existing triad, we arrive at a 7th chord (essentially, all of the odd-numbered notes in a 7-note scale played simultaneously; 1,3,5,7).
So let's see how these guys help in our quest of creating visually friendly shapes on the fretboard without resorting to sweep picking.
(Note: the numbers inside the circles are suggestions for which fingers to use for each note. These are just suggestions, so feel free to use alternate fingering schemes and even slides in some instances)
Not bad, but there's still some stretching involved and the shapes are a little too abstract. But at least we've started to look at arpeggios in a two-note-per-string context. Hopefully this is helpful for those of you who do not sweep pick and aren't interested in learning the technique anytime soon.
In my next column, we'll dig deeper and try to arrive at some comfortable box shapes rooted in the concept of more extended arpeggios. We might even sprinkle in a few passing tones.
Chris Breen is a New Jersey-based guitarist with 14 years of experience under his belt. He, along with his brother Jon (on drums) started the two-piece metal project known as SCARSIC in 2011. They've recently been joined by bassist Bill Loucas and have released an album, A Tale of Two Worlds (available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify). Chris also is part of an all-acoustic side project called Eyes Turn Stone. Chris teaches guitar lessons (in person or via Skype). For more information, visit BreenMusicLessons.com.
Below, check out the rehearsal footage for Nirvana's late-1993 MTV Unplugged appearance.
Note how Kurt Cobain mentions several technical details — as he should, of course — and also gets somewhat snippy with the sound engineer.
The MTV Unplugged rehearsals were generally considered "difficult," with Cobain almost bailing on the show at the last minute.
According to Cobain biographer Charles Cross, “There was no joking, no smiles, no fun coming from him.”
“We’d seen the other Unpluggeds and didn’t like many of them,” Dave Grohl said, “because most bands would treat them like rock shows … except with acoustic guitars.”
As part of the company's “Perfect 10” sweepstakes, Recording King is giving away 10 all-solid 10 Series guitars on June 10.
Players can enter and win one of four different body shapes: the Dreadnought (RD-10), 0 (RP-10), 000 (RO-10) or 12-fret 000 (ROS-10).
Ten winners will be announced, one per minute, beginning 10 a.m. PST June 10. No purchase is required. You can enter here.
Recording King 10 Series guitars give players the benefits of all-solid tonewoods in a great-sounding, low-key package. 10 Series guitars are available in four distinct body shapes to cover every player and any style of acoustic music.
The classic Dreadnought (RD-10) has a 1-11/16” bone nut and 25.4” scale, so dreadnought players who want to upgrade to an all solid model will feel right at home. The warm-sounding 000 (RO-10) has a 1-3/4” bone nut and 24.9” scale, so it's perfect for fingerstyle guitarists looking for rounded tone across all strings.
The 10 Series Single 0 (RP-10) is a great-sounding small body based on a traditional design with a 1-3/4” bone nut and a 25.4” dreadnought scale length for extra projection. For players looking for a heavy dose of vintage vibe, the 12-fret 000 (ROS-10) has a 25.4” scale and a 1-13/16” bone nut, perfect for fingerpicking or strumming and with plenty of warm sustain.
Each 10 Series guitar is crafted with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. Descending-size fretboard dots and tortoise binding give them distinctly vintage and tasteful styling. They deliver the classic sound and historic design we've built our name on.
See the whole line of Recording King guitars and banjos at recordingking.com.
This is a triplet-based run in A minor that starts out in the low register and moves up and across the fretboard, spanning three octaves before settling into a single position and moving back across the strings.
I’m using hammer-ons and pull-offs in combination with picking to achieve a fast stream of notes that "pops" and flows. Each pair of triplets in bar 1 is played within a compact four-note shape that I fret with my index and ring fingers.
When I get to the top two strings in bar 2, I continue the same phrasing approach and bring the pinkie into play to incorporate wide intervals and big fret-hand stretches and use quick position shifts to ascend the neck. On beat three of bar 2 I melodically outline a Gadd2 chord [G A B D], which creates a nice sense of harmonic movement in an otherwise A minor pentatonic [A C D E G] tonality.
Once I get to the high A note at the 17th fret at the end of bar 2, I stay in the 14th-position A minor pentatonic box pattern for the remainder of the lick and work my way back over to the low E string, using double pull-offs in conjunction with chromatic passing tones at the 16th fret on the top two strings.
At the end of bar 3, I play a Jeff Beck–inspired move, picking the C note at the 17th fret on the G string followed by a big, one-and-one-half-step "over-bend" up to that same pitch from A, three frets lower, pulling the string downward with my index finger.
I also do a little bit of string skipping to disguise the sound of the scale pattern, and I finish the lick by adding the ninth, B, to the scale to suggest an A natural minor [A B C D E F G] sound. As I did with the bend, I add vibrato to the final note by pulling the string down, which is the only way to bend the low E string.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has officially been granted his very own TV show, set to air on HBO this coming winter.
The show will expand on the idea behind Grohl's Sound City documentary; it will show the guitarist/drummer visiting and using several iconic studios — and chatting with the owners.
Over the course of the show, Grohl will pay a visit to Steve Albini's (Nirvana, Page & Plant) Electrical Audio studio in Chicago; Don Zientara's Inner Ear studios (Fugazi, Henry Rollins' S.O.A., Grohl's Scream) in Washington, D.C.; Rancho De La Luna studios (QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, Mark Lanegan) in California, and other legendary studios in New York, Seattle and Nashville.
Featured musicians will include Kiss frontman Paul Stanley, Nancy Wilson of Heart, the Eagles' Joe Walsh and Dischord Records boss/Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye.
Finally, the long-awaited English edition of The Beauty of the 'Burst (Hal Leonard), an historic Japanese book, is here!
The Beauty of the 'Burst pays tribute to Gibson's magnificent Sunburst Les Pauls made between 1958 and 1960, the most highly prized solidbody electric guitars of all time. The magnitude of their value is directly related to their look (outrageous wood patterns, or figured timber), since non-players are paying top dollar for them.
The book features lavish full-color photos of these beautiful instruments throughout; the guitars of famous players; a foreword by Ted McCarty; a bio of the author, world renowned collector Yasuhiko Iwanade; and the Science of the Burst section with more than 30 pages of detailed reference facts on every facet of the guitar, including colors, wood figure, pickups, hardware and qualities of voice.
This may be the closest guitarists will ever be able to get to these incredibly collectible beauties!
Be sure to check out my new website, andyaledort.com, which has all of the latest gig info, gear, lesson (private and Skype), session availability and more!
There may be no more an enduring sound that has spanned the long, diverse history of popular music than the blues shuffle.
Born from the boogie-woogie sounds of jazz piano in the very early 20th century, the swinging shuffle groove is built from an insistent and repetitive forward-leaning rhythm that is generally written in 12/8 meter—wherein four consecutive beats are each subdivided into three evenly spaced eighth notes—and comprises a repeating quarter-note/eighth-note rhythm that sounds like “da—da, da—da, da—da, da—da.”
In this edition of In Deep, we’ll unravel the guitar artistry of three masters of the blues shuffle: Chicago’s Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters, and Texas’ Lightnin’ Hopkins.
The first blues boogie/shuffle to become popular was “Pine Top’s Boogie,” released in 1929 by pianist Pine Top Smith. By the mid Thirties, the boogie rhythm had been adapted to many different styles of music, including the swinging big-band jazz of Benny Goodman, the jump blues of Louis Jordan, hillbilly music and country-and-western swing. But the shuffle rhythm also has origins in the late Twenties recordings of such seminal Delta blues figures as Charlie Patton, Willie Brown and Tommy Johnson.
Delta blues pioneer Robert Johnson recorded the classic blues shuffles “Dust My Broom” and “Sweet Home Chicago” in 1936, and shortly thereafter, essential artists such as Son House, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins developed blues music, and the intricacies of the shuffle rhythm, to a fine art form.
Let’s begin with the great Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed, who penned blues shuffle classics like “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby,” “You Don’t Have to Go,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Baby What You Want Me to Do” and many others. To say that Reed’s songs have been influential would be a huge understatement.
It’s impossible to imagine the blues guitar lexicon without his influential playing style and well-loved, oft-covered songs. Reed often performed with guitarist Eddie Taylor, and the manner in which they played complementary chordal and single-note melodic parts together laid the groundwork for the two-guitar approach later expounded upon in the blues rock of the Yardbirds’ Chris Dreja and Eric Clapton (and, later, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page), and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and Brian Jones (or Jones’ successors Mick Taylor or Ron Wood).
Richards refers to the intertwined sound of the complementary guitars in the Rolling Stones music as, “the fine art of weaving.” Employing a thumb pick and his bare fingers, Reed would use his thumb to lay down driving rhythms on the lower strings while fingerpicking melodic lines on the higher strings. FIGURE 1 illustrates a rhythm part along the lines of “Baby, What You Want Me to Do,” played in the key of E.
The pickup bar features a rolling double hammer-on on the D string, followed on beat one of bar 1 with an open low E and a trill on the G string to the major third, G#, played simultaneously. Both the trill lick and the rolling double hammer on provide complementary melodic content to the insistent rhythm sounded on the lower strings. In bar 9, B7/A is played by combining B7-type lines with the open A string, yielding an unusual, and signature, effect. Bars 11 and 12 serve as the “turnaround,” with single-note phrases based on the E blue scale (E G A Bb B D) setting up the “V” (five) chord, B7.
FIGURE 2 is based on another Reed hit, “You Don’t Have to Go,” which sounds in the key of F. Reed would move the capo up and down the neck to change keys, which enabled him to play all of his songs in the same manner—as if he were playing in the key of E without a capo (for example, “Bright Lights, Big City” is played with the capo at the fifth fret, sounding in the key of A). Akin to FIGURE 1, a repeated melodic pattern is established on the higher strings, alternating against the driving rhythm part on the lower strings.
Again, B7/A is used in bar 9, and the turnaround lick in bars 11 and 12 offers a slight twist, setting up a return to the initial lick from bar 1. A complete exploration of Reed’s music is required listening for any aspiring blues guitarist. Also check out the great tribute album, On the Jimmy Reed Highway, recorded by legendary Austin, Texas guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and Omar Kent Dykes in 2011.
Texas blues master Lightnin’ Hopkins was a virtuoso guitarist who often performed solo, developing a chord-melody style that greatly influenced blues-rock icons Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Like Reed, Hopkins combined fingerpicking with the use of a thumb pick.
FIGURE 3 is played in the style of his song “Katie Mae,” and throughout, intricate melodic lines on the top three strings dominate the solo guitar performance. To execute these parts, alternate between the thumb and either the index or middle finger (or both used simultaneously). At bar 5, the “IV” (four) chord, A7, includes a simple melodic pattern on the high E string, moving between G at the third fret and the open string. These single note lines are also based on the E blues scale.
Muddy Waters, known as the “Father of Chicago Blues,” learned much of his guitar style from listening to Son House and Robert Johnson. He also fingerpicked with a thumb pick, and his initial solo recordings, such as “Feel Like Going Home” and “Rollin’ Stone,” became hits.
FIGURE 4, played in the style of “Rollin’ Stone,” features a consistently alternating low-string/high-string figure, adapted later by Hendrix as the basis for “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” Of the four parts illustrated, this is the most complex, so work through each bar slowly and carefully, striving for rhythmic precision and clean articulation.
Phil Anselmo says he is open to teaming up with Zakk Wylde to write a tribute to Dimebag Darrell.
As the 10-year anniversary of Dimebag's death draws nearer, the former Pantera frontman says he'd prefer to write and record a song celebrating the guitarist's life, rather than penning a tribute to mark the anniversary of his death.
It follows Wylde's comments last year that he'd like to fill in for Abbot in a Pantera reunion to honor his friend.
Anselmo said to Artisan News, “If Zakk and I ever collaborated, if we wanted to write an homage to Dimebag together, that would be one thing and I would definitely be up for that. But not for his death; I would prefer to write a song that celebrated his life.
“I don't think there's any tribute in his death. I find it to be a more morose time of year for me.”
Wylde's Black Label Society and Anselmo's Down are on tour together; last week, Anselmo joined Wylde's band onstage for a performance of Pantera's "I'm Broken."
Anselmo has hinted in the past he would be open to a Pantera reunion, but he and drummer Vinnie Paul, Dimebag's brother, would need to settle their long-running feud before that could happen.
Vinnie said this week that he keeps Dimebag close to his heart as he continues his musical career, adding, "The only pressure I’ve ever felt is not to let my brother down and not to let myself down."
Abbott was shot and killed while onstage with his band Damageplan in Columbus, Ohio, in December 2004.
On the heels of Cordoba Music Group’s announcement of its intent to acquire Guild from Fender Musical Instrument Company (FMIC), CMG has now announced that Ren Ferguson will join the company as vice president of manufacturing and R&D for Guild.
He will oversee production of Guild acoustic and electric guitars in Oxnard, California.
Ferguson has more than 50 years of experience in the industry, including 27 years with Gibson.
“We are very proud to welcome Ren to the CMG team,” said Tim Miklaucic, CEO of Cordoba Music Group. “He is an incredible resource and a national treasure. We’re excited to usher in a new era of Guild guitars with his leadership."
Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has said the band's Hyde Park gig this July could be their last — ever.
The band will headline the British Summer Time Festival in London July 4, topping a bill that also includes hard rock luminaries such as Soundgarden, Faith No More, Motörhead, Soulfly, Hell, Bo Ningen and Wolfmother.
Speaking to Metal Hammer about the gig, Iommi admitted he and his bandmates don't have plans to perform after the festival and that, combined with his health issues, the show could mark the last time Black Sabbath fans get to see the band perform live.
"It could be the last-ever Sabbath show," Iommi said. "I don't want it to be, but there's nothing really planned touring-wise after that show, so for all we know that could be it really. To be honest, I don't want to be touring to this extent too much longer, because it makes me feel so bad."
Iommi completed treatment in March after being diagnosed with lymphoma in January 2012.
"I'm at a stage now where I have no support, which means I have to see whether the cancer is coming back or if it's still there or what," he says. "I just don't know. It's a bit of a worry. After we finish this tour I'll go in and have a scan, so we'll see what that shows up."
While several Eighties rock bands have gone the "human jukebox" route — touring behind their catalog of hits without releasing new material — Night Ranger continue to buck the trend.
For the band’s new album, High Road, which will be released June 10, Night Ranger take us back to their roots — a time when inspired songwriting, huge guitar riffs and harmony solos and vocals ruled the airwaves. It's a formula that never gets old.
High Road will be available in two formats — standard CD and a deluxe version, which includes a bonus instrumental track and a DVD featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, plus video clips.
Night Ranger is Jack Blades (bass guitar, vocals), Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals), Brad Gillis (lead and rhythm guitars), Joel Hoekstra (lead and rhythm guitars) and Eric Levy (keyboards).
I recently spoke with Gillis about High Road, his early years and his biggest career highlight. I also got an update on his upcoming solo project.
GUITAR WORLD: How does a Night Ranger album project begin?
There are three factors we look for whenever we make a new record: big vocals, the sound/song structure and the harmony guitars and vocals. I think it's great for a band to stick to their roots and what made them famous instead of always trying to delve off into too many new territories and confusing their core audience.
What can you tell me about the writing process for this album?
It's pretty much the same structure we've used throughout our entire career. I'll bring in some riffs, or maybe Jack will have a song idea or Kelly will have a lyric/vocal idea for a chorus. The three of us will usually get together to hammer down some basic ideas. Then we'll bring in Joel and Eric to throw in their input and build it up from there. It was a bit of a process, but we really wanted to make sure the record sounded huge.
Let's discuss a few tracks from the new album, starting with "High Road."
That song actually came last in the songwriting process. Jack's son, Colin Blades, had written the original verse lines for it and was playing it one day in front of Jack and Kelly. They both thought it sounded great so they took the core idea and brought it into the band and we finished it off. It ended up sounding so fresh and new that we decided to release it as our first single. It's the perfect "driving around in your car/summer" song. It has a good feeling to it.
"Knock Knock Never Stop"
"Knock Knock" was something we threw together as a band. We wanted something that was hard rock but had a little more of an edge to it. It really brings back the heaviness of Night Ranger.
"L.A. No Name," which is a bonus track ...
We took a bit of a break to write songs a few years back. Kelly flew in to town to work with Jack and Joel came over to my house. One night, the two of us started fiddling around and decided to write an acoustic instrumental. We started writing down ideas, honed it the next day and finished it off.
What's your method for choosing and recording dual guitars?
We use the same guitars that we usually play live. Joel plays his Goldtop Les Paul, and I have my old '62 Strat that I played with Ozzy and Night Ranger and do a lot of stuff on. We use different amplifiers to get the best sound we can that will fit the particular song.
Can you tell me a little about your musical upbringing?
It was right around my 8th birthday that I really wanted to start learning how to play. My dad told me that it cost a lot of money for a guitar and amp, but he said he'd buy it for me if I promised to take lessons. So I took lessons, but my real advantage back then was having an older brother who was getting hip on music and buying a lot of records from bands from the British Invasion, Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Santana. I remember I'd always sit in his room listening to the records and learning how to play the songs by ear.
Do you have an update on your solo album project?
I’ve been busy working on the new Night Ranger record, and I also write a lot of music for ESPN and Fox Sports. Now that the album's finished, I've got a few singers lined up and a record deal locked in, so I'm excited to get back to work on it. I've been taking a lot of extra time on the production end with guitar tones and drum sounds to make it sound huge. It's going to be a good one and will be out sometime early next year.
What would you say has been the biggest highlight of your musical career?
I was with the band Rubicon back in 1978 (along with Jack Blades) and we played Cal Jam 2. It was in Ontario, California, in front of 250,000 people playing along with Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart, Dave Mason and all of these other big bands. It was flying in a helicopter and taking limos around. I remember every band on the bill had a brand-new van that had their album cover painted on the side.
There have been some shows with Night Ranger and my first few shows with Ozzy that were just as memorable, but March 18, 1978 — It's still the biggest day of my life!
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.
Former Deep Purple and Trapeze bassist Glenn Hughes, who has spent the recent past guesting with everyone from Black Sabbath to Earth, Wind & Fire, formed Black Country Communion with Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian in 2009.
After three albums and four years together, that hard-rocking foursome — very publicly— called it quits last year.
Now Hughes and Bonham are back with a new trio — California Breed — which is handily rounded out by 23-year-old New York City guitarist Andrew Watt.
The band's self-titled debut, which was produced by Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, Rival Sons), was recorded live and direct to tape. And while you will find several examples of Watt's six-string prowess throughout the disc, you'll also discover he is just as comfortable when he’s falling back into riffs and rhythm work.
California Breed's debut highlights the best of all three virtuosos without overstating the obvious. Because in the end, it really is all about the groove. I recently caught up with Watt to discuss California Breed.
GUITAR WORLD: How did California Breed come together?
I was at a party of a friend of mine, Julian Lennon, when he brought Glenn over and told me that the two of us really needed to meet. After talking with Glenn for a while and discovering we had so much in common musically, even though there’s a bit of an age gap, we decided to get together to write a few songs.
So we hooked up in LA, went into a studio and a few hours later we had written two songs, “Chemical Rain” and “Solo." What’s cool is that the songs we wrote didn't seem to be "Glenn Hughes" or "Andrew Watt" songs. It was this brand-new collaboration neither of us had expected. Right from that point, it started feeling like a band. That’s when Glenn called up Jason to see when we could record. Everything just unfolded in a very natural way.
How would you describe the sound of the California Breed album?
There’s definitely a Zeppelin and Beatles influence, but I’m also a big Nineties Seattle music fan. Bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Nirvana and MudHoney. You definitely hear those kinds of moments all over this album.
Your bandmates have played alongside some true guitar legends — Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Joe Bonamassa. Did you feel any added pressure?
It's very weird. I honestly felt no pressure at all. Only excitement. Although those idols you mention are huge influences of mine, and guys my bandmates have played with before, I don't look at this band as a comparison. This is a new thing. It's three generations of rock coming together in all of our different forms to make something new.
What was the songwriting process like for this record?
It was all very collaborative. There were times when I would come in with a riff or Glenn would bring in a riff and a chorus and we’d all start jamming on it. In the end, everything was always dissected and rebuilt by the three of us together.
What was it like working with producer Dave Cobb?
Unbelievable. He is the greatest rock producer of our time. He really knows where music is now and how to get a classic sound with a modern edge.
What can you tell me about the recording process?
We recorded everything live. I remember before we had even started recording, Dave asked Glenn to sing along the vocals while Jason and I played. It was something Glenn had never really done before, and those takes actually made the album. The only overdubs are the bass and extra guitars. All of the main guitar, vocals and drums you hear are straight live to tape.
Was there a reason why you decided to record to tape?
We wanted it to sound like the records we loved, and those records were all recorded to tape with no fucking around. Capturing that classic rock record, but with a more modern approach. It was just the three of us sitting in a room without things like perfectly tuned guitars or click tracks. It's pure rock.
Do you notice a big difference using vintage gear as opposed to what’s available now?
Totally. They don't make anything like they used to, and we used a lot of vintage gear on this record. We used an old 60's Fender Deluxe and Dave's '55 Goldtop on a few tracks. I also used my '62 SG Special. It brings a Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi and “Santana at Woodstock” kind of sound that’s always been one of my favorite tones.
What are you most looking forward to with California Breed?
I'm excited for this album to come out and get on tour. I'm really proud of this record and am looking forward to being introduced to Jason and Glenn's fans. I’m also excited for the young people of the world — the ones I'm connected to — to see what it’s like to listen to a real rock album that's been recorded to tape and not some digital “Pro Tools” album. This band needs to be heard!
California Breed's self-titled debut album will be released May 20 via Frontiers Records. For more about the band, visit their Facebook page.
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 my cab pulls up to Olympic Studios, located in the quiet West London suburb of Barnes, I’m a bit surprised and amused. With its red brick exterior and modest white archway entrance, the exterior looks more like a quaint American high school than a rock and roll landmark. But a landmark it is.
From the mid Sixties through the Nineties, Olympic was one of England’s finest recording facilities and birthplace to some of the greatest music of the 20th century, including Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced, the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, Queen’s A Night at the Opera and large portions of Led Zeppelin I, II and III.
The recording consoles and microphones are long gone, but fortunately some of the old spirit still remains. Olympic is now an ultra-hip movie theater/café decorated with candid “in studio” photos of rock’s finest musicians and tasteful bric-a-brac that celebrates the building’s past glories.
It is here that Led Zeppelin’s producer and guitarist, Jimmy Page, has decided to unveil the band’s latest archival project to a handful of curious journalists. As long rumored, during the course of the next year, deluxe editions of all nine of Zep’s studio albums will be released, three at a time, in chronological order, each re-mastered by Page.
But the real news is that the band also will open its vaults to share dozens of unheard studio and live recordings. Each re-mastered studio album will have a second disc of companion material comprised entirely of unreleased music related to that album.
Page plays a handful of the never-before-heard tracks over the theater’s state-of-the-art sound system and clearly enjoys the enthusiastic responses from the music press.
Immediately after the listening session, I met with the guitarist for an exclusive one-on-one chat for Guitar World. Page recently turned 70, and you can’t help but be in awe of his youthful enthusiasm and the hardcore dedication he brought to this rather gigantic undertaking.
“I knew the only way to do this project properly was to leave no stone unturned and to listen to every Led Zeppelin tape and performance,” he says emphatically. “Additionally, I really researched what had been bootlegged and what stolen material had surfaced, and I was determined to offer things people had never heard. People will be genuinely surprised by what we have and what we have in store for these albums. We wanted to give these bootleggers a real fright! I’ve actually read reviews of the new albums by people who think they know already know what the extra material will be based on bits and pieces they’ve heard online. I thought, Oh yeah, you think that’s what I’m gonna do…I’ll scare the pants off you!”
Then he pauses for a moment and adds with a laugh, “They’ll probably do bootlegs of what we’ve just done!”
The following is a short excerpt from a marathon interview that will appear in the up-coming July 2014 issue of Guitar World, which hits newsstands next week. In this portion of the conversation, we focused on the final, and alternative, take of Led Zeppelin’s iconic signature song, “Whole Lotta Love.”
GUITAR WORLD: The version of “Whole Lotta Love” on the bonus disc is exciting but is missing some key elements—the guitar solo, the chorus tag, the backwards slide and some of the guitar and Theremin parts in the middle. Why choose this particular take for the bonus disc?
At this point in the song’s evolution, I knew in my head how the whole arrangement was going to go, but I wanted people to hear how focused we were on creating a foundation that was intense…and it is intense! We weren’t the Beatles, so you’re not going to hear us sing “whole lotta love” together on the chorus while we were playing. [laughs] But I think Robert’s performance on this track is also a revelation. He’s just singing a guide vocal, but it’s pretty damn good, isn’t it? And even though you only hear some of the drums, little bits of the final Theremin part and some of Robert’s vocal in the middle section, it’s really atmospheric and stands on its own merits.
While we’re on the subject, how did you create the otherworldly sounds in the middle section that we hear on the final studio version of “Whole Lotta Love”?
I always envisioned the middle to be quite avant-garde. If ultimately I wasn’t able to pull it off, I might’ve had to edit the song down, but I knew what I wanted, and I knew how to go about it. It was just a matter of doing it. I created most of the sounds with a Theremin and my guitar. The Theremin generates most of higher pitches and my Les Paul makes the lower sounds.
I de-tuned it radically and just basically pulled on the strings to make an assortment of growling noises—evil sounds that you’re not supposed to hear on commercial radio. [laughs] I might’ve de-tuned it to a chord, but really I’m just pulling on strings and making them howl! And then, during the mix, with the aid of engineer Eddie Kramer, we did all the panning and added the effects, including using Low Frequency Oscillators on the tape machine to really pull the whole thing down and lift it back up so the sound is moving in rhythm. It was something no one had ever done before in that context, let alone in the middle of a song. That’s how forward thinking we were, that’s how avant-garde it was, and that’s how much fun we were having.
That was the advantage of having artistic control. None of that might’ve happened if had an outside producer. They might’ve questioned, or not understood, what I was doing, or thought I was just making a bunch of noise. I was able to make sure our ideas were carried out without interference.
"Whole Lotta Love” has so many cool touches, how did you go about constructing it?
I was always good at hearing complete arrangements in my head. For example, when we rehearsed the first album at my home in Pangbourne, I was able to envision the finished arrangement of “How Many More Times” before we got into the studio. I knew what was going to be overdubbed and how I was going to use the bow as melodic counterpoint. The same is with “Whole Lotta Love.”
This is a two-part run in A minor that I play in my solo to "Caravan of Cannibals," on Shredding the Envelope’s debut CD, The Call of the Flames.
The first three bars are based mostly on the A Dorian mode [A B C D E F# G], with a couple of "outside" notes thrown in, namely D# and F.
I begin in second position on the low E string’s second-fret F# and move across the strings and up the neck through three-notes-per-string fingering patterns, picking only the first note on each string and using multiple hammer-ons and pull-offs to articulate all the other notes.
Strive to get good "traction" with your fret hand and make the hammered and pulled notes the same volume as the picked notes. Use a light touch with the pick. In bar 4, I use notes from the A harmonic minor scale [A B C D E F G#] to add a neoclassical flavor, and in bar 5, I switch to palm-muted alternate picking, running up and across the strings in ninth position through a symmetrical fingering pattern that includes notes from A Dorian and A harmonic minor.
The run climaxes in bars 7 and 8 with a legato climb up the B and high E strings, culminating in a high bend from G up to the A root note, which I adorn with some wide finger vibrato, using my ring finger, supported by the middle, to bend the string.
Strive for even note volume and economy of pick-hand movement. Mute the idle bass strings with your pick-hand palm to suppress unwanted string noise.
Today, Jack White premiered a new song — "Just One Drink"— over at RollingStone.com.
Be sure to tell us what you think of "Just One Drink" in the comments or on Facebook!
Lazaretto will be released June 10 via Third Man Records. It will be the followup to 2012's Blunderbuss.
A while ago, I interviewed ex-Megadeth shredder/current Japanophile Marty Friedman, and we got on the topic of Japanese acts that Americans should know.
In case you aren't aware, Marty's been living in Japan for a bunch of years and is a bonafide pop celebrity over there, appearing in soda ads, hosting TV shows, adding ripping guitar to hit singles and generally ruling.
Anyway, among some straight-up, saccharine sweet J-Pop bands, one of the acts Marty suggested I check out was Maximum the Hormone. I did a quick YouTube search and found the following video for a song (that might or might not be called) "Stop Winny."
I honestly can't tell if this is parody, pastiche or what, but the video manages to (inexplicably) incorporate grind, noise, thrash, nu-metal, J-Pop, children's music, martial arts, anime, body morphing and a whole lot of cultural references that I am totally missing. Apparently, there are crazier things than Babymetal happening over in Japan.
So, have Maximum the Hormone created the most insane heavy metal song of all time? You tell me. (And wait for it...the true weirdness jumps off at around the 2:50 mark.)
Yeah, they dressed funny and their lyrics often lacked the angst and agonized self-awareness that we’ve come to expect in this decade of the rock and roll sissy-band, but the pop metal acts of the Eighties produced some top-shelf albums during their short reign.
In chronological order, these are the 20 best records woven, steamed and blow-dried by the most esteemed members of rock and roll’s Hair Club for Men before they were abruptly given the hook.
Check out the photo gallery below — and be sure to join the conversation in the comments section below the story.
Snagg, a pioneer in asset recovery, recently partnered with Hoffee Cases, a guitar case manufacturer, for a project that will enable law enforcement to track their guitar cases if they are lost or stolen.
Beginning this spring, Hoffee will begin offering Snagg GPS units and RFID microchips that will be installed in their carbon-fiber guitar and instrument cases. The GPS units can be traced by police if a case is stolen or misplaced.
Snagg GPS units are about the size of a Tic Tac mints container and can be concealed in a variety of valuables. Once embedded into an item, it can be tracked in real time. The units use a partnership network of more than 500 providers in more than 175 countries.
Services start at $49 per year. The basic yearly service includes a daily email update of the unit’s location and remaining battery life. If the time comes to increase the tracking frequency beyond daily tracking, a web upgrade or phone call to Snagg will remotely upgrade the unit to the necessary frequency.
“Hoffee Cases is on the cutting edge of instrument protection, so we're proud and excited to partner with Snagg in offering GPS tracking and microchip ID,” said Jeff Hoffee, president of Hoffee.
“Snagg GPS tracking brings the ultimate technology to an already top-notch instrument case,” says Snagg CIO Brian Schuh.
This is an excerpt from the June 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Mick Mars, 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 Nikki Sixx portion of the interview. The entire interview — including the Mick Mars portion— can be found in the new June 2014 issue of Guitar World.
EXCERPT: With the Final Tour, Mötley Crüe will be bringing down the curtain on performing live. But there is still a future for the band. For one thing, we can expect to hear some new Mötley music soon, correct?
Yes. Mick Mars and I just recently wrote a really cool track that we’ll probably release sometime in the near future. But it’s not like, “Hey, Mötley Crüe’s gonna quit touring and then we’re going to start releasing full-length records every two years!” That’s not what we’re looking to do. Our plan is to cease touring and then see what else is out there. One thing we’re going to do is explore different licensing opportunities.
But the only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to end things with dignity. If you crumble and you fall apart at the seams and then try to do that stuff, people are like, “Oh, look, Mötley Crüe. They were cool once.” But I want the fans to have more than that. I want them to have the pride that they have in certain bands and that I have in certain bands that left at the right time. So it’d be real easy to slap our name on anything and everything that comes our way, but we’ve always been very careful to not do that.
What would be an example of something you wouldn’t want to attach your name to?
Well, look at the bands who were involved in [the 2012 film] Rock of Ages. Their people came to us early and they showed us the movie and we said, “This is a complete farce. It’s a cheesy movie. It has nothing to do with rock. This is like Mamma Mia! with pretend guitars.” We said we didn’t want to be involved. And then you saw all these other bands line up and do it. They did it for the money. And the thing is, we don’t have to do things for the money.
Plus, with The Dirt, you have your own movie coming out.
Right. We knew we were going to make our own movie about our own story, and we knew that it was going to be a real movie. It’s going to be a cross between movies like Boogie Nights and Goodfellas. It’s going to have a lot of bite to it, like Sid and Nancy. It’s going have the same kind of credibility as Walk the Line and the Doors movie. So that’s already in the works. And we’re also going to put together a very in-depth documentary about the history of the band, from the very beginning all the way to the final farewell bow. So why would we go and attach ourselves to something just for the money?
But you know, musicians mishandle their money all the time. And because they don’t usually have any kind of financial education or knowledge about how to build security, what they do is they live from album to album. Then when the steam runs out, desperate people do desperate things. And it starts to get a little bit embarrassing. Our legacy is too important to us to let that happen.
Speaking of legacy, Mötley Crüe’s was to a large extent built on your reputation for over-the-top antics. Do you feel that the band’s extracurricular activities sometimes overshadowed the music?
At times. But then again, was it also not the spoon that served the oatmeal to your mouth? So all the antics—that was not part of a master plan. We were just out of control and it was a time on Earth where, you know, debauchery was king. And we embraced it. But at the same time, music was everything to us. When we sat in the studio, we didn’t talk about how much we drank.
We talked about the great bands that came before us. We talked about great songs and great lyrics and great melodies. We talked about wanting to be the biggest band in the world, wanting to be the best band in the world, wanting to have the best songs in the world. Are there things we could have done better? Sure. But I think every artist will look at things they’ve done and say, “I think we could have done that better.” But at the time you’re doing your best.
For the rest of this story, plus features on Mick Mars, 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.
Photo: Jeremy Danger
In a recent column, I discussed the various reasons your guitar might cut out.
Loose wires, faulty components and other such gremlins raised their ugly little heads.
Rather than sob into your pillow about it, you can sort these problems out — if you know how to solder. Soldering is an essential part of any guitar tweaker’s trick bag. Master the noble art, and you'll be able to install new pickups in your guitar; replace faulty controls, switches and jack sockets. Even custom-build your own cables!
If that sounds good to you, you’ll need to add some new goodies to your tool box (See Photo 1 in the photo gallery below). I’ve included some links in the tool list below. Where you buy your tools in entirely up to you. I just want to make sure you get the right stuff.
Obviously, you need to invest in a soldering iron. Look for a 40-watt soldering iron. That’ll work great for guitar wiring jobs. I would recommend you get a soldering iron holder, too. Most come with a built-in sponge to clean the tip of your iron. That’s important.
You’ll also need a roll of 60/40 rosin core solder and safety glasses. You’ll find a pair in your local hardware store for around $9.
Right. You’ve got the tools and you can’t wait to start joining stuff together. Well, at the risk of being a kill joy, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t talk you through some safety tips first. So don’t plug that soldering iron in just yet.
Heads up: Always wear your safety goggles when soldering (Photo 2). No excuses. Hot solder can "spit" and hit you in the eye. I learned this the hard way; that’s all you need to know. Don’t be as dumb as me. Let’s move on. Work in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in solder fumes. That translates as: Open a window and keep your nostrils away from the smoke that rises when you solder stuff.
Don't let the hot bit of the iron touch any part of your anatomy. A soldering iron burn hurts like hell. Keep it away from other people, animals, soft furnishings; basically anything you don’t want covered in burn marks. Remember that it’s not only the tip of the iron that's hot. The iron's shaft is searingly hot too.
Don't let the hot iron touch your guitar's finish or the coating on any wires in the control cavity. Both will melt. Also, try not to let molten solder drip onto your guitar's finish. Yes, it will cool, but when you pick that little splat of solder off, it’ll leave a permanent mark on your guitar.
Next time, I’ll talk you through preparing your soldering iron and your guitar’s components (Photo 3) and wiring (Photo 4). Stick with me and you’ll be soldering like a pro in no time. Bye for now!
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