Guitarist Gus G Discusses His New Solo Album “Quantum Leap”

Gus G is the guitarist for Greek power metal band Firewind. Gus has also played with Kamelot, Arch Enemy and Ozzy Osbourne. Gus’s latest release is an instrumental solo album titled “Quantum Leap”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Gus about the creation of the album and his progression as a guitarist.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the creation of “Quantum Leap”?

Gus G: This is my first fully instrumental record. I had the idea to do an album like this in the back of my mind for awhile however just never decided to do it until now. With all the lock downs I knew I was going to be stuck home for a while. I was doing press for the latest Firewind record and we were gearing up to start touring and then everything got cancelled. In between all of those interviews I started writing down different thoughts and ideas. Before I knew it, I had seven or eight new ideas. This was around springtime and I knew it was still going to be awhile until we could do any live shows. I figured now was the time do a solo record on my own. My plan was to not have any outside collaboration. I spent all of last summer working on this record.

AL: Did the effects of the pandemic help mold this material in any way?

GG: It could be! I think it had a lot to do with it. To me when you are making albums it’s like a snapshot in time of where you are at. The material reflects my psychology and where I was at during this time. Like everyone dealing with this I had a lot of ups and downs where some days I had a lot of energy while others I had none. This is not your typical metal album as there are a lot of different styles and vibes.

AL: Do you have a different approach for working on an instrumental record compared to one with vocals?

GG: It is a different process. Making music without vocals in general is a whole different process in because you must fill that gap. I wasn’t really used to that. It was an interesting learning experience. I had made instrumental music in the past, but I never really dug deep into that. With this I wanted to find a balance. I wasn’t interested in making a shred album as I wanted to make an album that had cool songs with good music. I wanted there to be a musical statement instead of just a collection of guitar licks and riffs.

AL: Did you build the songs around vocal melodies, or did you add those passages later?

GG: It usually starts with riffs. This part of the process was the same for me as when I am writing for Firewind as it all starts with the riffs. The big difference was where to go after the initial riff starts. You could go any where be it a melody or certain key change. Those are the things I had to find out and build from scratch. At the end of the day, it was about balance as well as the hooks and melodies. At the time I didn’t really have vocal ideas but now looking back maybe I did have ideas about big vocal melody parts that would grab the listener.

AL: What was your process like for producing and editing being it was just you working on the record?

GG: That’s one of those things where how do you really know when something is done. A track is done when you have listened to it enough times through that you are happy with it and you send it on for mixing. There were a few tracks that went through many re-writes and edits. You just get a feeling when you are writing something that it is done. This can be a double-edged sword though because you can always think it could be better. I try and keep a little bit of a distance with the music I make. When I think something is finished, I will not listen to it for a few days and then come back to it with fresh ears. That’s when if I need to, I will make changes. It’s really all a feeling.

AL: Was this all newly written material or did you have some of the material prior to deciding to make the record?

GG: It’s both. I always have riffs laying around. I keep a file of different ideas. Some stuff I didn’t use for other projects and other ones are ones that I came up with at that moment with no specific place for them in mind. I never know what these will end up being used for, but I do go back and listen through them for ideas. Sometimes its weeks or months later that I go back but that folder tends to be a great starting point. I might use things as they are or completely start from scratch.

AL: How do you decide what material to keep for yourself and what to use for other projects?

GG: Sometimes it is hard to do that. It is all my writing and my style. There are times I set out to write something specifically for Firewind or for my solo stuff and during the process that material goes the opposite direction and ends up on something it was originally intended for. Firewind has a certain sound and style so I am less likely to experiment with that material but like I said things have a way of working their way into places they were not originally intended for.

AL: You worked by yourself and provided all the instrumentation for this record. Is that how you prefer to work, or do you prefer the more traditional route of recording with other musicians?

GG: I have always done things on my own for the most part. Firewind actually started out as a file exchanging band in the early 2000’s. I have become very used to putting together a complete and good sounding demo that it was a pretty natural process for me when it came time to record the parts for “Quantum Leap”.

AL: Looking at your guitar playing do you feel it has progressed more naturally or have you taken conscious steps to ensure it has progressed in a specific direction?

GG: I think I am sort of somewhere in the middle. The last few years I don’t think I have practiced as much as I would have liked to. When I do go into practice mode, I really get into it. I try and learn or develop new techniques and licks. Then there are times where I don’t pick the guitar up as much. I don’t allow myself to get sloppy, so I am on top of things, but I am not putting in ten-hour practice days like I did as a teenager.

AL: Now that “Quantum Leap” is out have you started thinking about your next project yet or are you giving yourself a little breathing room?

GG: I did a side project with Rob Chapman from Chapman Guitars and Youtube. It’s called “Criterium” and we did a three song EP. We are not sure when its going to be coming out, but we have been recording and Rob is getting ready to do the vocals for it very soon. I have known Rob since 2006 or 2007 so it has been great working with him on music after being friends for so long.

For more info on Gus G visit www.gusgofficial.com or on Instagram and Twitter @gusgofficial

What Should Every Guitarist Have?

Cooking tools are to a chef what guitar accessories are to every guitarist. Ted’s List believes you just can’t not have them if you want to become a successful guitar player.

So, after securing that must-have amplifier that puts life into your practice sessions, what else do you need to get? Not much, really. Since once you get this step out of the way, there is pretty much nothing stopping you from getting started.

That said, you wouldn’t want to get started in a less-than-ideal state. That means learning about the items that every beginner needs and the ones they might need somewhere along the way.

Seven Things You Should Have as a Guitarist

Here are a few tools that should get you through your guitar-learning journey relatively challenge-free.

Tuner

Tuning your guitar can be a bit tricky when you first start out. That’s because you might not have the “feel” required to tune it accurately, which could result in sounds your audience wasn’t meant to hear.

A surefire way to avoid this disaster is by using a tuner. This little device not only helps tune with precision but also guides you towards the process of manual tuning—something all guitar players must master.

Guitar Strap

Guitars are the prized possession of almost every guitarist. That means you want to exhaust all the ways to protect it as best you can. One of those ways happens to be placing a guitar strap on your instrument. In this way, you can go all out playing on stage without worrying about your guitar falling off.

Aside from providing stability, straps also keep your arms and shoulders from straining after playing for long periods. They are made up of different materials and come in different designs, but this shouldn’t be something beginners focus on. You just want to make sure you get a strap that allows you to practice long-term, period.

Guitar Picks

Picks vary in design, shape, and thickness. As a beginner, you want to secure a couple on the thinner variety, as they make strumming a lot easier. The thinner the pick is, the more it helps you get a feel for the chords and your instrument in general.

Although somewhere down the road, you might want to purchase medium-thickness picks for hitting individual notes. At the end of the day, your choice of picks depends on your specific playstyle.

Strings

Your guitar might already have strings, but for how long? The fact is, there really is no telling how long a set of strings can last when handled by a beginner. Hence, you want to keep at least two sets of extra strings on hand so that you won’t have to run to the store in case you break them.

If not because of your lack of attunement with your guitar, string breakage could be caused by wear and tear, tension, or age. So, beginner or not, it helps to have several sets of strings hanging around.

Of course, what would you even know to do with the strings if you have them? This calls for learning string installment through video tutorials and other online sources. You’ll realize it is worth going through this learning process, as it helps prevent delays in your practice sessions.

Guitar Bag or Case

We’ve previously mentioned protecting our guitars, right? Well, getting a high-quality guitar case or bag is another way to do it. Not only does this keep your guitar dirt- and smudge-free, but it also eases your instrument’s transport process.

If you aren’t looking for anything expensive, a soft bag should be good enough to protect your guitar and carry it to your gigs. Of course, the pricier bags allow you to brave through the elements with your guitar.

Capo

Your learning doesn’t end with basic chords, which is why you want to keep a capo on hand for playing more complex songs in a variety of keys. With this accessory, you can keep things from going beyond beginner-level technically when executing notes. You just place the capo on the fret and let it guide you through an advanced piece using positions you’re already familiar with.

Guitar Cable

Playing through an amp is the best, but it also calls for not prematurely beaming the tone through the speakers. For this, you need to call on a moderate-length guitar cable with reinforced ends to ensure a reliable connection.

Now, You Can Show Them What You’ve Got

Even with all these tools, it might still take time before you can show your audience what you got. However, the good thing about having these accessories is that your progress becomes a lot smoother. It also paves the way for learning different kinds of genres and coming up with a unique sound, which is really what being a guitar musician is all about.

Staind Guitarist Mike Mushok Discusses New Live Album “Live: It’s Been Awhile”

The rock group Staind is back on May 7th with their first release in nine years titled “Live: It’s Been Awhile”. Accompanying the album’s release is a two-night streaming event titled “The Return Of Staind: A Two Part Global Streaming Series”. Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok about the release, the set of streaming performances and the bands plans for going forward.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the decision to release the bands new album now amidst the ongoing pandemic?

Mike Mushok: If this were a record with new material, we would be holding on to it like a lot of other bands are. This was a chance for us to get some material out there as we were trying to put a couple things together at one time. We had filmed the show where we got back together in 2019 at the Foxwoods Casino. We put a lot more than normal into that show and we wanted to capture all of that. Starting May 1st fans can stream that show. The album will come out May 7th and then on May 8th we will be doing another stream celebrating the 20-year anniversary of “Break the Cycle”.

AL: What was it like putting together the “Break the Cycle” show

MM: It is definitely different going out there and performing with no audience. It is almost like a rehearsal that is being filmed. It’s different but, you just get into what you are doing and do the best you can. I thought the venue we chose to film at was great and the lighting looked great as well. I don’t remember how many different cameras were being used but some of what I have seen is really exciting. To go along with the performance is a short documentary which takes fans back to where we were when the album initially was released. I also went back and found a ton of old footage from around that time is well. When I was going through all this stuff, I actually found the footage from our first gig ever in 1995.The cool thing about that was it was filmed about three blocks from where we shot this new performance There’s a lot of other things that fans will get to see besides us performing the record.

AL: How was it as a band revisiting this material?

MM: It was great to be able to go back and revisit such a good time in our career. This was our most successful record and it really changed everything for us. It was cool going back listening to things and relearning that material. There are a few songs that we had never played lived from this record so that was another that was really cool.

AL: The band had plans to go out and tour in 2020 but due to the pandemic those shows were unable to happen. Have there been any talks about trying to reschedule?

MM: We are trying to figure that all out right now. We had originally planned to go out with Disturbed as part of their 20-year celebration of “The Sickness”. That tour was recently cancelled but we are looking at some festival shows in July that we are booked for as well as some shows later in the summer. We are still waiting on confirmation of those so there is still a chance that we will be out there later this year. I think everyone is still just trying to figure stuff out as every place is different which makes things challenging.

AL: How much of an effect did the Pandemic have on the band personally being that you had just gotten back together after some time?  

MM: We had a great plan in place, and it was disappointing. I was definitely looking forward to getting back out there. I can’t complain though as other people have gone and continue to go through way worse things. During that first part of things when I was home, and you couldn’t go anywhere it was nice to be able to be with my family and not have to worry about other obligations. It was great to just be together and now things are starting to get back to the way they were and that is nice also. For the band we are looking to regroup and get things back on track. 2021 seems like it is going to be this feeling out period as more and more things change and open.

AL: Your involved with a couple other projects can you give us an update on those?

MM: I have the band Saint Asonia with Adam Gontier who used to be in Three Days Grace. We are working on some new music and hope to have an EP out sometime soon. Staind is also working on some new material as well. Aaron is finishing up a country record at the moment and once that is done, we can start digging through some of the material we have. I am part owner of the Six String Grill and Stage in Foxboro; Massachusetts and we are starting to look at being able to book shows there again later this year. Combine all of that with being a dad and a husband I am pretty busy (Laughs).

For more info and updates on Staind be sure to visit www.staindofficial.com

Guitarist Alexi Laiho Deceased

[photo credit: Terhi Ylimäinen]

One of the most renowned guitarists in the world, Alexi Laiho, has passed away. The musician, most notably known as the front man of Children of Bodom, died in his home in Helsinki, Finland, last week. Laiho had suffered from long-term health issues during his last years.

Alexi Laiho and drummer Jaska Raatikainen founded Children of Bodom in 1993, and the band was one of the most internationally acclaimed metal acts in Finland up until their very last farewell concert in December of 2019. Last year Alexi Laiho put together Bodom After Midnight, who recorded three songs and shot one music video, which will be released later on posthumously.

Besides Children of Bodom, Laiho was known for acts such as Warmen, Sinergy, Kylähullut and The Local Band. Awarded with a Metal Hammer Golden Gods and several other international prizes, the guitarist was also the main star, leading a group of one hundred guitar players at Helsinki Festival in 2015 in “100 Guitars From Hel” – a massive concert piece he composed.

“We are crushed by the sudden passing of our dear friend and band member. Words cannot describe this shock and the profound sadness that we feel”, Daniel Freyberg, Mitja Toivonen and Waltteri Väyrynen from Bodom After Midnight state.

The talented guitarist and musician relished his roles as stepdad in his patchwork family, and as uncle and godfather. Especially during the last years, the important family ties brought a welcomed balance to his life and the active touring. Laiho was particularly close with his big sister, parents and his sister’s daughter. Laiho’s sister says:

“We are all absolutely shocked and devastated. We ask for privacy and understanding during these hard times. My little brother’s funeral will take place privately.”

Alexi Laiho will also be deeply missed by his family in Australia.

“Alexi was the most loving and magnificent husband and father. Our hearts are eternally broken”, Kelli Wright-Laiho says.

Legendary guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen has died after a long battle with throat cancer .

It was said that in the last 72 hours Eddie’s ongoing health battle went massively downhill — doctors discovered his throat cancer had moved to his brain as well as other organs.

Eddie has been battling cancer for well over a decade. Our sources say he’s been in and out of the hospital over the past year — including last November for intestinal issues and recently underwent a round of chemo. Though he was a heavy smoker for years, he believes he developed throat cancer from a metal guitar pick he used to frequently hold in his mouth more than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, he continued to attend concerts and rehearse music with his son, Wolfgang, who became Van Halen’s bassist in 2006.

Eddie formed the classic rock group in Pasadena in 1972 with his brother, Alec, on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth singing. Eddie served as the main songwriter on their self-titled debut album in 1978 which launched the group into rock superstardom in the ’80s. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and Eddie is widely considered one the greatest guitar players of all time.

FASTEST GUITARIST ON THE PLANET MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO SET TO RELEASE NEW INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM MORE MACHINE THAN MAN ON JUNE 12th VIA RAT PAK RECORDS

Now Available for Pre-Order in Various Bundle Configurations www.ratpakrecords.com/michaelangelobatio

Shred guitar pioneer Michael Angelo Batio will release his 12th studio album More Machine Than Man on June 12th via Rat Pak Records. The album features 13 new studio tracks and is the highly anticipated follow up to 2013’s IntermezzoMore Machine Than Man is an all instrumental shred album from the Fastest Guitarist On The Planet that’s sure to resonate with past fans, as well as garner new fans along the way.  From the infectious guitar riffs from album openers “Laser Guided” and “The Badlands”, to the crushing bonus-track finale of “No Backup Plan” Michael has created something truly special and engaging. 

More Machine Than Man is available for pre-order in numerous bundle configurations here:  https://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/mcihaelangelobatio.

Mixed and Mastered by longtime Batio engineer Chris Wisco, the album also features guest performances by Chris Adler(Lamb of God), lending his drum skills on the tracks “More Machine Than Man” and “The Two Sirens”. Also appearing on the album is renowned bassist Victor Wooten who performs on “AVTD”, and guitar virtuoso Andrea Martongelli who guest solos on “The Countdown Is On”. 

Regarding the release, Michael comments, “This is the most “in your face” album I have ever recorded. I limited the use of keyboards so you can hear the detail and precision of the rhythm guitars. My goals were to write the best songs I could, keep the tracks as raw and natural as possible and make the grooves relentless! I’m borrowing a quote by NITRO singer Jim Gillette that I think describes this album perfectly – “If this album doesn’t rock your socks off, call the coroner ‘cause you must be dead!””
Photo credit: Marie Gregorio-Oviedo

With heavy rhythm riffs, blazing guitar solos and rock-solid grooves More Machine Than Man delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from this high-level player and is sure to be a favorite of shred lovers around the globe!

A video trailer for the new album can be seen here: https://youtu.be/V9Asp196d2o

The track listing for More Machine Than Man is: 

1.  Laser Guided

2.  The Badlands

3.   Put All Fear Aside

4.  More Machine Than Man

5.  Dreamin’ of 1986

6.  Beyond the Outer Limits

7.  The Two Sirens

8.  AVTD

9.  The Countdown is On

10. Rhythm Reprise (I Pray the Lord)

Bonus Tracks (CD & Digital versions)

11. 21st Century Beck

12. Charlie Went To Chicago

13. No Backup Plan

Michael Angelo Batio showcased his guitar techniques and innovations for the first time with his early instructional programs, as well as in his live performances, which are now considered “standard techniques” amongst guitarists worldwide. Michael not only invented but was the world’s first player of the double-guitar and was also voted one of the World’s Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time by Guitar World Magazine.  He also holds the YouTube record for his instructional video “Speed Kills”, the highest views for a guitarist coming in at over 21 million! 

Take Two guitarist Adam Lawton talks about the bands latest release “We Aren’t Big”

Take Two have been performing in and around the Tri-State area since the groups formation in 2012. The four piece band who lists Corning, NY as their home-base bring a unique mix of sounds and styles to the pop-punk genre which they associate themselves with. The group’s latest release “We Aren’t Big” is set for release on March 13th and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with bands guitarist Adam Lawton about the band, the new release and making the transition to a heavier sound.     

Ryan Albro: What can you tell us about Take Two?

Adam Lawton: The band is made up of Josh Cavaluzzi, AJ Kish, Nick Murray and I. The original line up of the band formed in 2012 while some the guys were going to college together in Upstate New York. After a short time they were looking for new guitarist and that’s when I joined the band. We put out our self-titled debut shortly after.  Around that same time we got hooked up with the Cold Cock Whiskey artist program which allowed us to connect with a bunch of other bands and play some new places around NY, NJ and PA. After a couple more lineup changes including Josh moving from drums to vocals and downsizing to a four piece we released two EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken) Through the release of those and connections we made we joined the Dirtbag Clothing Artist program and also started working with ACE Products Group both of which have been amazing! Because of them we were able attend our first winter and summer NAMM shows which took us to Los Angeles and Nashville. Now on March 13th we are set to release a brand new album titled “We Aren’t Big”   

RA: Can you give us some background on the new album We Aren’t Big?

AL: “We Aren’t Big” is the bands 4th studio release. It consists of 9 tracks four of which are brand new. The other five come from two previously released EP’s (Weekend Warriors and Natures Chicken). We re-recorded those with the current lineup of the band

RA: What was the inspiration for the album’s title?

AL: (Laughs) that started out as a joke between the guys in the band. We were on our way to a show one day and we stopped for some food. A couple of us had already ordered when the cashier asked our singer Josh if we were in a band. He replied “Yes, but we aren’t big”. Of course we all lost it and we were like “what do you mean we aren’t big!?” We are huge in our own minds. (Laughs) So since that day we all would joke with each other about being a band but it’s not big. When it came time to decide on an album name that one liner came up and it instantly stuck.

RA: Which songs are you most proud of from We Aren’t Big?

AL: We worked hard on all the songs so to pick just one or two is kind of tough. When you are putting these things together you get really attached to certain parts as you spend a lot of time playing them over and over to get them just right. For instance the breakdown in “Fall”, the verses of “Burner” and the solo of “Lock Up” are ones that stick out for me and fun to play.   

RA: What were your inspirations to blend metal and punk on the album?

AL: That was something that happened organically over time. Each time there was a lineup change we tweaked our sound a little bit. We have had this same line up now for quite some time and we are all into various forms of heavy music along with punk. One of the first new songs we had was “Burner” and being that song is fairly aggressive we figured that the other new songs we were going to include with it should follow suit.

RA: What are your thoughts on current influences in the punk genre?

AL: I think if you look at punk over the years it’s a genre that is always evolving and expanding. “Punk” is such a broad term now and there are just so many sub-genres of punk like Folk-Punk, Afro-Punk, Celtic-Punk you name it. I think punk is more of an idea or thought process in that you are doing something different than what is considered the “norm” at that time. You can be “punk” without looking or sounding any one specific way and that’s really cool.   

RA: What are Take Two’s upcoming touring plans and what’s next for the band?

AL: Coming up on March 14th we will be playing in Buffalo, NY with a bunch of great acts from up there. Being it’s the day after the record comes out we have decided to stream our set via facebook.com/official.taketwo starting at 8:30pme EST. We thought that would be cool way for more people to be able to check out the show and hear the new music in a live setting. From there we will be appearing at this year’s Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, PA. We will be making the rounds that weekend and promoting a song of ours that is featured on the Conference compilation record which they put out each year. Another cool thing we have coming out is we got hooked up with Phameless Records from Philadelphia and have a song appearing on a compilation they have put together so that’s going to be really cool as well. Aside from all of that we have shows booked through the fall around NY and PA and are always looking to add more whenever we can.

For more information on TAKE TWO and to get a copy of “We Aren’t Big” visit the bands official web page at www.officialtaketwo.com

Brent Purgason (lead guitarist of GWAR, U.S. Bastards) Joins Detroit Rockers, AGAINST THE GRAIN

Lead guitar player of GWARBrent Purgason, has joined up with Against the Grain, a veteran rock and roll outfit hailing from Detroit, Michigan and founded in 2009. They have a long history together touring many of the same circuits as well as alongside Purgason’s other band U.S. Bastards.

“I got to know the guys many years ago touring in punk rock clubs and we became close friends quickly. I was a fan of the band right from the start and we’ve always kept in touch.  When I heard Nick was going to take a break and step away from touring for a while I was ready and waiting to help out. We were already jamming together and writing some songs just for fun so it was a perfect fit.  I’m stoked to head out and do some shows this spring,” says Purgason.

Purgason also filled in on guitar with the band opening for GWAR, Sacred Reich, and Toxic Holocaust when Kyle Davis had taken time off touring to have a baby. Footage from those shows can be seen here. 

Against the Grain – Cheated Death Official Lyric Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgtnGgfKGCY

Live in Toronto 2019https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=314Z7fayeQs

Catch Against the Grain live this March as they tour the Midwest. The band has also been confirmed to play Muddy Roots Festival in September. 

Against The Grain Live:

3/18 Kelly’s Bar – Hamtramck, MI

3/19 Walker’s Point Music Hall – Milwaukee, WI

3/20 Lyric Room – Green Bay, WI

3/21 The State Theatre – Logansport, IN 

3/22 Tip Top Deluxe – Grand Rapids, MI

For More Info Visit:https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit/

Lamb of God Guitarist MARK MORTON Reveals Video for Cover of Pearl Jam Classic “Black”

Watch “Black” Featuring Mark Morales Today via Consequence of Sound Solo EP, “Ether,” Available Now via Rise Records

Photo: Travis Shinn

The second video from Lamb of God guitarist MARK MORTON’s new solo EP – a cover of the Pearl Jam hit “Black” featuring vocalist Mark Morales – has been revealed today. Watch the video today, exclusively via Consequence of Sound at https://consequenceofsound.net/2020/01/lamb-of-god-mark-morton-video-pearl-jam-black/

“The early ‘90s were such an important and vibrant time for rock music in general, and I feel like ‘Black’ is one of the great songs from that era,”MORTON says. “Our approach in covering it was to present a super stripped-down version, sticking the essence of the song. It’s got a very lonely feel to it and Mark Morales delivered an absolutely incredible vocal performance.”

EtherMORTON’s second solo offering, was released this month via Rise Records. The primarily acoustic EP is comprised of three original tracks and two covers that showcase MORTON’s diversity as a musician. As with last year’s solo debut, Anesthetic, the guitarist enlisted the talents of various musicians and vocalists to bring his songs to life. 

Morales, who regularly tours as part of MORTON’s live band, sings two songs on the EP – the original track “All I Had To Lose” and “Black.” Additional vocals are provided by Lzzy Hale on TheBlack Crowes cover “She Talks To Angels,” Killswitch Engage/Light the Torch vocalist Howard Jones on “Love My Enemy” and Moon Tooth singer John Carbone on “The Fight.” Ether was produced and mixed by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of GodGojiraTrivium). 

Watch the video for the EP’s first single, “All I Had To Lose” featuring Mark Morales, at https://youtu.be/0oEBUIAqlQYEther is available via digital retailers. For a list of providers, visit https://riserecords.lnk.to/ether.

Physical copies of Ether are available for pre-order via Rise Records. 

AnestheticMORTON’s first 10-track solo album, was made alongside a dream team of highly respected musicians from a multitude of musical worlds. Singers on the album include Chester BenningtonRandy BlytheJacoby ShaddixMyles KennedyAlissa White-GluzMark LaneganChuck BillyJake OniJosh ToddMark Morales and Naeemah Maddox. Musically, MORTON performs all guitars, with Roy MayorgaDavid EllefsonRay LuzierPaolo GregolettoAlex BentMike InezJean-Paul GasterSteve GormanMarc FordYanni Papadopoulos and Chris Brooks completing the band. The single “Cross Off,” featuring late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington and Trivium‘s rhythm section of Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent, spent six weeks in the Top 10 Active Rock US radio chart and has now amassed more than 14 million plays on Spotify and YouTube. 

Following the 2019 release of AnestheticMORTON took his live band, consisting of Morales on lead vocals, Doc Coyle (Bad Wolves) on guitar, Nick Villarreal (Sons Of Texas) on bass, Art Cruz (Lamb of GodProng, Winds of Plague, on a North American co-headline tour with Light the Torch

MORTON recently wrapped a handful of intimate acoustic shows in the UK as a three piece with vocalist Mark Morales and guitarist Joe Harvatt.

Guitarist Paul Gilbert Announces “Behold Electric Guitar”

PAUL GILBERT AND MUSIC THEORIES RECORDINGS / MASCOT

LABEL GROUP ANNOUNCE MAY 17 GLOBAL RELEASE FOR

NEW STUDIO ALBUM BEHOLD ELECTRIC GUITAR

View Video For “Havin It” Here: https://youtu.be/V_c0aoOgWVg 
Pre-Order Here: 
http://smarturl.it/PaulGilbert

Paul Gilbert and Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group have announced a May 17 global release date for a new studio album titled Behold Electric Guitar.  The video for the lead track “Havin It” can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/V_c0aoOgWVg.  Gilbert shares, “I finally wrote a song with long guitar solos! It took me decades to stretch beyond my pop song structure habits, and it feels great to be FREE, and just play, and play, and play. The song still has melodies and themes, and those were inspired by the idea that when you have something good… You still want MORE. Havin’ it… don’t make me stop wantin’ it!”

After his recent move to Portland, Oregon, he set out to connect with the best and grooviest musicians in the area, and record an album in his brand-new hometown. Brian Foxworth (drums) and Asher Fulero (keyboards) were both obvious choices to play Paul’s mix of rock, blues, jazz, and pop flavors. When Paul’s regular Portland bassist Kelly Lemieux was unavailable (due to his touring with Buckcherry), Paul reached out to New Orleans bass legend, Roland Guerin. Roland came to Portland weeks before the recording dates for intense rehearsing and arranging sessions.

With the band complete, Paul enlisted legendary producer and engineer John Cuniberti. John is well known for his work with Joe Satriani, but Paul was primarily interested in John’s expertise with “one mic” recording. Paul explains, “It’s so easy to make albums with overdubbing and editing these days, but I really prefer playing live and just getting the music to sound right because the musicians, the songs, and the performances are good.” After hearing Paul’s band, John recommended a few more mics, but still agreed that the music worked best as live performances with no overdubs. “There is not one overdub on the record. Everything you hear is four guys jamming, listening to each other, and making room for each other. The music almost mixes itself that way! And it’s just a great mindset to have. When you know that you won’t be fixing or adding parts later… It keeps your mind very active to get things right!”

The complete track listing features “Havin It,” “I Own A Building,” “Everywhere That Mary Went,” “Love Is The Saddest Thing,” “Sir, You Need To Calm Down,” “Let That Battery Die,” “Blues For Rabbit,” “Every Snare Drum,” “A Snake Just Bit My Toe,” “I Love My Lawnmower,” “A Herd Of Turtles,” “Things Can Walk To You.”

Paul Gilbert will be touring globally to support the release. Confirmed North American appearances include:

5/31                 Westland, MI                                      The Token Lounge

6/02                 Cleveland, OH                                    Music Box Supper Club

6/06                 Ardmore, PA                                       The Ardmore Music Hall

6/08                 Poughkeepsie, NY                              The Chance

6/09                 Annapolis, MD                                   Rams Head On Stage

6/11-13           New York, NY                                    Iridium Jazz Club

6/17                 Nashville, TN                                     City Winery

Brick By Brick Guitarist Mike Valente Talks About the Bands New Album “Hive Mentality”

Mike Valente is the guitarist for the Upstate New York hardcore/metal band Brick By Brick. The band is set to release a new album titled “Hive Mentality” on February 22nd and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Mike recently about the release, working with “Orange is the New Black “star Jessica Pimentel and the bands upcoming European tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your band Brick By Brick?

Mike Valente: The band has been around since 2004 and at that time we had confined ourselves to be just a local band. We had a couple members that couldn’t do a lot of traveling so it was basically something we did just for fun. As the band progressed and there was a bit of a demand for us we had to look at getting some new members who could commit more time. In 2014 we added Ray Mazzola on vocals and since that time things have been a lot of fun.

AL: What can you tell us about the band’s new album “Hive Mentality”?

MV: The last record we put out really didn’t have the distribution reach that we had wanted. In order to make up for that we went back in and re-worked a bunch of things and finished up some other material that we hadn’t done before. We are now working with Upstate Records and they have been really good to us. At the time we were slated to be part of the Rebellion Tour in Europe and we needed a new record so we went into the studio so this time when we were touring over there people had a better idea of who we were and could get our record. Getting picked up for this tour in March is what really kicked things into motion.

AL: There a few different guests on the record. Can you tell us about those?

MV: Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan has been a friend of mine for a long time. When those guys come through we always have a great time. I had been listening to a lot of thrash music at the time of writing the song and Ray and I though Tony would be perfect for the song as it has a real party vibe to it. The experiences we have had together match perfectly so I called Tony up and he didn’t even bat an eye as he was totally down for it. The song we “In The Ruins” which features Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain was a song we had originally released on a split with the band Ruckus from California about six or seven years ago. The original version was with our old singer and there was a limited amount pressed. Everyone was down for it so that worked out nicely. We also have Jessica Pimentel from Alekhine’s Gun. A lot of people know her from “Orange is the New Black”. I have known her for quite some time as well and thought she would be perfect for the rant part in “Hive Mentality”. Just like with the others I called her up and she was more than happy to do it.

AL: How did the cover of Motorheads “Iron Fist” end up on the album?

MV: We had been asked to be part of a Motorhead compilation that Upstate Records was putting together called “Damage Cases”. We had intended on doing a more obscure song but when we looked at the track listing a lot of other bands were looking to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe no one had picked “Ace of Spades” or “Iron Fist” being they are such iconic Motorhead songs. We chose “Iron Fist” as it’s such a fun song to play. We did our own spin on it and it’s just a great song to play live.

AL: Can you tell us more about the bands European tour in March and about any other shows you have lined up?

MV: We kick things off with our release party show on February 22nd. We are doing that at Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. Anyone who buys a presale ticket will also get a copy of the album. We are doing a bunch of other cool packages for that show as well. The line includes Dying Fetus, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snap Mare and Close to Nothing. After that we aren’t doing anything until we leave for Europe March 6-18. I think this is the eight year that they have done the Rebellion tour/festival over there. We will be playing with Madball, Iron Reagan and bunch of other great bands. That tour is going to be a lot fun and we are defiantly looking forward to it.

For more info on Brick By Brick you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/brickbybrickny and on Instagram at @brickbybrickhc

Guitarist Steve Dadaian Discusses His New Album “Follow the Light”

Steve Dadaian is an Armenian-American fusion guitarist based in the Tri-State NY,NJ,PA area. Steve’s latest album “Follow the Light” is a theatrical, symphonic soundscape packed full of razor-sharp guitar work that will leave listeners slack-jawed. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Steve fresh off his appearance at this year’s Winter NAMM convention where we discussed the albums creation, his work System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first got you started with music?

Steve Dadaian: I grew up in New Jersey and where I went to school they made you take a mandatory guitar class. That was really my first exposure to the instrument. I listened to a lot of classic rock artists like Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhoads. Listening to music like that you get drawn to the guitar and as I got older I started listening to more progressive stuff like Rush and Dream Theater. Listening to all those bands helped me build my technique and was the foundation for where my playing is today.

AL: Your new album “Follow the Light” is a shift from your previous work. Can you tell us about that progression?

SD: With this record aside from one song there really aren’t any vocals. In order to fill that space I had to think about how I was going to write each piece and what I wanted to use on each track. With symphonic music there are so many different ways you can go. This was a lot of fun because I could use different chord structures and voicing’s that a traditional vocalist might not be able to do. As a guitar player I was really able to open up which I enjoyed.

AL: Where did you start when writing these pieces?

SD: That’s something I struggle with quite a bit. Sometimes I will come up with a melody other times it will be just a riff. For the title track of the album I started with the opening riff and then everything came after that. Generally the symphonic stuff comes last. The guitar is my base line as that is what I do. The chords, leads and riffs are the bulk of the song so once I have those I will go back and fill in the space to help each section sound more epic. Aside from that my process always seems to vary.

AL: Did you provide all the instrumentation on the album or did you work with other musicians?

SD: On three of the tracks I collaborated with other artists. I worked with Claudio Pietronik from Italy who does a lot of stuff for Jam Track Central. He is a great player with a lot of knowledge about cinematic music. We were able to collaborate on two tracks and another we co-wrote. For the most part the instrumentation all comes from me. I do love working with other artists but when you have a technical riff it can be hard to add things in order to make it sound bigger. I have a good sense of where I want things to be so for a majority of the album it’s just me.

AL: The track “Soul Connection” has a great back story behind it. Can you tell us about that?

SD: That was the only song on the album with vocals. I like to hear a track with vocals from time to time so I included “Soul Connection”. This was a song I originally wrote for a writing competition put on by Serj Tankian from System of a Down. This song meant a lot to me and I actually ended up being a finalist in the competition. I wanted to do more with the track and the chance to work with Bjorn Strid from Soilwork presented itself. I had told him the story of the song and it resonated with him the same way it had with me so I sent it to him and about three days later it came back perfect. Bjorn gave a brilliant performance. What’s really cool is the first seven notes of the song are the ones Serj came up with through what I submitted to the contest. I feel this song is a pivotal point in the concept record. One other thing that is really great about this song is that all proceeds from it are being donated to the Creative Armenia Foundation. They are an initiative to help fund artists world-wide who might not have resources available to them. They work with musicians, film makers and of other artistic formats. It’s a great cause that I am glad to help out with.

AL: Are there any plans in place to tour in support of the release?

SD: I just came back from a performance at NAMM which was really great. I currently have some guitar clinics lined up around the Tri-State area for this year and I have also been talking with some New York City venues about putting on a few different things. As the demand increases we will certainly look at expanding things. I just had a request to perform in Miami so there are quite a few things that are being put together

For more info on Steve you can follow him on Instagram @SteveDadaian and on Facebook at Stevedadaianguitar

The Crown Remnant Guitarist Will Ash Discusses “The Wicked King: Part II”

Will Ash is the lead guitarist for the Los Angeles based metal band The Crown Remnant. The five piece band which also includes vocalist Geordy Shallan, guitarist Jorge Lopez, bass guitarist Josue Lara and drummer Art Ramirez is set to release a brand new album on January 18th titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Will recently about the albums concept, its creation and what the band has planned for the New Year.

Adam Lawton: Give us a little background on the band if you could?

Will Ash: Los Angeles is kind of a funny place. Everyone has their own things going on so you tend to explore a lot of different avenues when you are trying to be creative out here. I think we are lucky in this band as we have a bunch of guys who are all adventurous enough to want to try a number of different things such as theater, comedy, stunt work and pod-casting. Being that we all come from these different areas of entertainment we are able to use those different experiences to help us create this music. The band sort of started when our singer Geordy came into where I teach guitar lessons. We started talking and had some of the same ideas. He and I coming together kind of solidified the start of The Crown Remnant. The name was already in place and everything so from there we started to audition people. We reached out via Facebook and a bunch of other avenues to get the lineup that we have now.

AL: The new album is titled “The Wicked King: Part II”. Can you tell us about that and how you built on the concept established from the first record?

WA: This was a good creative experience. I like music that is thematic and records that keep a theme throughout the individual tracks. We actually wrote part 1 and part 2 in tandem with one another. We started with a very wide perspective. We knew we wanted an album that was cohesive from the first track all the way to the last track. From there we chose to do a split release. Part 2 is the answer to the call sounded by part 1. The first record has a brighter more idealistic approach and this new album is the antithesis of that. It’s a little crazier, a bit darker and somewhat bigger.

AL: With both records being written at the same time how did you decide what songs went where?

WA: That was a question that went through all of our brains for quite some time. Initially we were very starry eyed and wanted a full 13 track release. The more we thought about it the more saw the benefits two releases could bring. We wanted to keep things consumable so the decision to do two releases was really the first decision we made. From there it was just a question of what songs were going to make it into the records. We looked at the concepts and ideas of each song to see where they would best fit. Geordy and I do a lot of writing together and each of our writings comes out in a certain way. I think that was a big help also when it came time to split things up.

AL: You also score music for video games. How did the writing of this record compare or contrast to that of your game work?

WA: I love video games! It does end up being a little different. I get very excited when I have the chance to mix in more orchestral pieces with the type of music we play in this band. I am very much in to symphonic music so to be able combine these styles is very enjoyable. When I sit down and work on game pieces I am looking a whole different set up instrumentation. Fundamentally things are the same when it comes to writing however beyond the basics there tends to be much more going on within the game pieces. It becomes a different task in that the playing style is more emotive. With the band I have to balance things to be able to include a vocalist and different percussive elements so you have to look at how you approach things to ensure you achieve the feel you are looking for.

AL: What are the bands plans to tour going into 2019?

WA: We are certainly going to be out there! We are very excited to get out there on our first tour. We have not been around very long as a band so it’s a nice feet to be able to string together a multi-state tour. The tour kicks off January 23rd and I believe runs through Mid-February. The record releases on January 18th so it’s going to be a great time to be out there supporting the record. I am looking forward to being out there on the road with my buddies playing music and eating junk food. Hopefully we will be able to get the band’s name out there more help generate some excitement around this new record.

AL: Do you have any other projects outside of the band we can also be watching for?

WA: I try to stay busy as much as I can. Being a young guy I try to juggle quite a few things at one time. I am at the point now where I am very driven so there is not just one project that I am working on right now that I can announce. I do have one project I am heading which falls more on the composing side coming out soon. More details on that should be coming out after we get done with this first run of shows.

For more info on The Crown Remnant you can check out their official website at www.crownremnant.com

Guitarist K.K. Downing Discusses His New Book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”

 

Picture by: Pauli Juppi

Ken “K.K.” Downing is a founding member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. He was active with the group from its inception in 1969 to his departure from the group in April of 2011. Downing has recently released a book via Da Capo press title “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Ken about the creation of the book and where he plans to go next

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background behind the writing of the book?

Ken Downing: Since my departure from the band eight years ago lots of people have been asking me if I would like to do a book. Year after year I just kept saying no and then finally last year I decided to finally do it. I sort of had three basic ideas for doing this. I thought it would be a good opportunity for fans to get to know me a little bit better. That probably sounds a bit ridiculous after having been around for so long now but, there is always another story to tell. I wanted to share how I started off in life and ended up playing some of the biggest stages in the world. Lastly I wanted to bring some sort of closure to the banter which was being thrown about across the internet related to my position within the band.

AL: How did you go about selecting what memories or stories you wanted to include in the book?

KD: That was really the difficulty part as I didn’t have a plan or anything. My ghost writer Mark Eglinton helped quite a bit with this side of things. He helped me dig a bit deeper along the way as we approached things chronologically as one lives life. As we moved along we paid attention to what would come to the surface and tried not to dwell on certain topics too long as we wanted to keep the book moving. If I had elaborated too much on things this would be a very thick book. (Laughs) It was difficult at times as I wanted to keep things honest and after forty years in rock and roll there were a couple stories we had to leave out. (Laughs)

AL: How did you get connected with Mark (Eglinton)?

KD: Mark came to me through my website which is run out of Helsinki, Finland. I had been approached previously by a bunch of other people about doing a book but Mark was in the UK and he made a couple trips down to see me where we just talked and got to know one another. I felt that worked well and we went from there. We did things in chunks based on a certain amount of years. That let me focus on one specific time period at a time. Mark and I would just basically talk. Every now and then he would prompt me to elaborate more on certain periods of the band. Both Mark and his brother have been rock fans for a very long time so he had a fans perspective of what other fans might want to know more about.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of your earlier years growing up?

KD: It was. I had always kept a lot of those memories be it good or bad to myself. My childhood was very personal to me and I had never shared my experiences with anyone. To have someone hear them and then in turn document them for others to read was something I really had to think about. To keep things transparent we went ahead with it. I may have skirted around a couple things or been less descriptive but it’s all there. When you are born in to a dysfunctional family things are going to be a bit different so I didn’t have to go into too much detail.

AL: Had you let any of the people included in these stories know beforehand that you were releasing a book on your life?

KD: No not really. I had talked to my mom as I was a bit concerned she might get a little emotional about me telling the family story. As it happened when I spoke with her she told me she was not worried and she also mentioned she had read Ozzy Osbourne’s book and loved that one. (Laughs) When she did get the chance to read my book she affirmed that that’s how things were so I was pleased with that.

AL: Now that people have had a chance to read the book, are there any pieces you feel you should not have included or been so detailed with?

KD: I feel a little relieved now that it’s out and that I have not received any real adverse repercussions. The general feedback has been much better than I was expecting. Every now and then I think about other things I would have mentioned but didn’t. That seems to happen though be it with this book or records you always want to turn out the best product so you keep working and working at it. Eventually you just have to stop and turn it in. I wanted to put out something that people could get their heads into and find it just as enjoyable as watching television or something.

AL: With the completion of the book are you looking to now shift your focus back to music?

KD: I am thinking with the coming winter here in the UK I am going to disappear into my music room and just see what happens next. I have a few ideas I might want to play about with but this game for me is all about getting that chance to jump back into Judas Priest. If I am not doing that then the name of the game is creating new material.

For more in on Ken you can visit his official website at www.kkdowning.net

Be sure to check out our review of “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” here.

Guitarist Phil Palmer Discusses Dire Straits Legacy Tour

Phil Palmer is a legendary session guitarist who has performed on countless albums for acts such as Robbie Williams and George Michael and Bob Dylan. Palmer has also had the distinction of being a member of both Eric Clapton’s band and 80’s hit makers Dire Straits. Palmer is currently on the road touring with Dire Straits Legacy (DSL) a group made up of former Dire Straits members wanting to pay tribute the bands amazing catalog. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Phil recently about the group’s formation and the bands first tour of the United States in ten years.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some history as to how you initially became with Dire Straits?

Phil Palmer: I was part of the band during the group’s last world tour between 1991 and 1992. I think we did something around 270 shows. Prior to joining Dire Straits I had been in Eric Clapton’s band for about three years. That time period was quite busy for me as Eric’s group was very active and then I went right over to Dire Straits to play over 200 shows.

AL: What was it like transitioning stylistically from Eric Clapton to Dire Straits?

PP: The main difference I guess was for Eric’s tour we did around three days of rehearsal. It was all very much by the seat of your pants. At that time I think he had the best band in the world. The situation was very fluid and the arrangements would often evolve as we began playing as the environment was very free. When I joined Dire Straits we rehearsed for three months prior to the tour starting. There were quite a few complicated sections and the arrangements were very important to Mark. That was probably the biggest difference. To be in Dire Straits you have to be regimented. Half of my job was to make sure that when Mark decided to be spontaneous with his playing that I stayed out of his way while still providing a supportive role. This was much different than where I had just come from. As a session player those are the types of things I am good at so after the three months of rehearsal and we started playing shows things lightened up a bit. The real important thing was the dynamics which tended to be the hardest thing to get everyone in sync to.

AL: Now how did the Dire Straits Legacy project start out?

PP: This group was born out of a chance meeting really. I had not seen any of the other Dire Straits guys in about ten years or so. There was an idea for us to get together and play the Dire Straits music presented so we all met in Rome and at the start we weren’t really in to the idea. After a nice dinner and a few bottles of wine everyone loosened up to the idea. After that a small show was set up for us just outside of Rome. With very little rehearsal we showed up to a field filled with around ten thousand people waiting to hear us play. We realized then that there was a lot of life left in the Dire Straits band and the only person who was not there that should have been was Mark Knopfler. Most of the original Dire Straits personnel from the tour in 92’ came out for this show and had fun.

AL: With Mark not being involved in the project was there any trepidation on your part to do the project?

PP: Yes. We weren’t sure people were going to accept it without Mark. The surprising thing is it’s the music that shines through. Marks songs and arrangements are so good that people still love it and even after twenty five years of being away the shows go over great! The music is just so interesting that people really love it.

AL: Can you tell us about the current DSL line up?

PP: Steve Ferrone and I have known each other since the Eric Clapton days. He is such a great drummer and to have him involved in this is very cool. His history with Tom Petty speaks for itself. Trevor Horn is a guy who I have worked a lot with over the years and, one day I mentioned to him that we were going to be doing this tour. He said he was interested in being a part of it and jumped on board. It’s interesting to look at the resumes the guys in the band have. It’s just extreme! There so much material that we could pull from each of our careers. The other day we were playing “Owner of a lonely Heart” which Trevor wrote and produced for Yes. That’s a great song to listen to and play. It also gives a slight diversion from the Dire Straits stuff. We really wanted to explore everyone’s talent even if it was outside of Dire Straits. We plan to add a few other songs outside of the Dire Straits set as time goes on.

AL: It has been awhile since the group has been to the United States. Can you tell us about the upcoming shows here and possibly why you have been absent from the U.S. market?

PP: We like playing in the States however this project can be a bit hard to promote. We are playing the music of the Dire Straits however we are not the Dire Straits. We can’t legally use the name so it’s hard for us to explain to people what they are buying tickets to see. That’s really been our main issue. We have a showcase booked in Nashville for all the American promoters and it was basically brought us to the States. We are doing some other gigs because we want to play but everything sort of revolves around this showcase which we hope will generate gigs for 2019. By coming over to the States now in late 2018 we are hoping to get the foot hold we need to make a solid presence for next year.

AL: In 2017 DSL release “3 Chord Trick”. Are any of the songs from that album going to be featured in the set for this run of U.S. shows?

PP: We are going to play a few tracks from that album. We had a lot of fun recording that record. The idea was to record the old way where the band was all in one room and not use any modern equipment. It was a lot of fun and I think the album has a depth that you just don’t hear today. It is quite diverse. There are some Dire Straits moments in there as the nucleolus of the band (Alan Clark and myself) we were inspired by Mark’s music but we didn’t deliberately go out and try to produce a Dire Straits album. We like to think that “3 Chord Trick” is the next stage of our development rather than Dire Straits.

AL: Are there any other projects you are currently working on outside of the Dire Straits Legacy project?

PP: Alan and I have been working with Trevor on a project called “The 80’s Reinvented”. It’s a bunch of classic tracks from that era done in Trevor Horn’s signature style. That’s been a lot of fun! We have been working with a full orchestra and a lot of very special guest performers. Trevor being who he is able to call up just about anyone and ask them to be on his record and they more than likely will do it! It’s great fun.

For more info in Dire Straits Legacy visit www.dslegacy.com