Discography (Lion Music)
Reasons for a Decade (2001) Chasin' Voodoo (2015)
1. Please tell me about what you have been up to since releasing your last album
After Reasons was released I ran into some personal issues that kept me from focusing on my music and guitar playing. I played in an acoustic trio for about 5 years playing all over the place and then I had a 7 year run with a rock cover band out of Columbus. We played a lot different styles and I think crowds really dug the versatility. My life began to stabilize again and I decided to leave the cover band and go back to what I really like to do. Thus Chasin Voodoo happened!
2. How would you like to describe your new excellent album
Well ...Its not your run of the mill shred guitar CD - some of the more hardcore shredders might kinda say "eh" and that's cool with me. I went through a phase of listening to a lot of different players and music. I think this time I around I captured a true side of me "MY" style of playing - I have always been driven more to writing good songs that EVERYONE can like and tap their foot without thinking about it. I am very happy with the new CD and I think for players who try to be versatile and try to be a total package they will appreciate the songs a little more.
3. Can you tell me something special about each of the songs on the album ? (track by track)
Rio Da Duvida - was inspired by a book I read about Franklin Roosevelt's exploration of the Amazon - it means "River of Doubt" I reached out to the old keyboard player in Alcazar John Leyen and asked if he could come up with a short intro piece for me to play over. I could have composed something myself but I knew he hadn't been playing at all for quite some time and hoped MAYBE this would inspire him to want to get involved with the new stuff. Things didn't change but nonetheless the piece came out great and I was very with what he came up with for me.
Chasin Voodoo - I was toying around with some odd time signatures and this is what I came up with. Keyboardist Caleb Hutslar came in at the last moment and put down some very cool keyboards on it for me as well.
Cracker Jack Style - Kind of a straightforward, slippery tune I really enjoy playing. I had been listening to a lot of Greg Howe at the time and this one was influenced by him.
Has a very cool paradiddle lick at the end we all double up on. I have been messing around with drum rudiments and picking up and down where the sticking L and R are.
Some pretty cool ideas came out of it like this one.
Cher Chez Moi - The first tune I wrote and finished for the CD. Has a great hook. Nice jazzy breakdown in the middle and Caleb also added some very nice piano on it for me.
Matt and Doug really lock well on the outro solo section with some funky bass slap and pop going on. Really whacked chromatic based ending inspired by an Andy Timmons DVD I saw.
Stranger Avenue - Tune is in 6/8 time. Very cool groove with a great hook. Another one I really love to play live.
At Any Rate - Straightforward rock tune I built on the main riff to the song. It been getting a lot of comparison to Satriani. Another catchy hook on this one.
City of Shadows - This one is in 17/8 time but it doesn't sound so crazy as the time signature suggests. It is very laid back cool groove and in the middle solo section we bring it down and build it back up. At first I wasnt sure it was going to make the CD but the more we played it the better it got.
Wait Up - An upbeat bluesy tune with some cool tapping licks throughout the song - Matt Cistone and I throw in a Vai/Sheehan inspired tap lick together towards the end.
Saliv8 - This one is in 7/8 time. I remember hearing someone say "its hard to write a hook in 7/8" - Challenge accepted! The middle section has a Yngwie feel to it while the solo reminded me of a George Lynch style set of licks. The main riff and ending is a string skipping thing I came up with years ago. Love to play this one a lot as well.
White Room - Heard this on the radio what day and just decided "I want to cover this one!!" Cant ever say I was a HUGE Clapton fan at all but............some very cool tapping arpeggios through the chorus and we throw a little "Sunshine of Your Love" in the solo section for shits and giggles.
4. What guitars, amps and pedals did you use recording the album? And can you tell me something about the process?
Oddly enough my main guitar "Cookie Monster Custom Strat" was stolen out of my car weeks before we were to start sessions for the new CD. I was DEVASTATED. I borrowed a Jackson Dinky off of a very good friend of mine - had it worked on to be in tip top shape. Most of the rhythm tracks and a handful of solo parts were recorded with it. It just was not what I wanted - then a week later I get a message saying a guy found my guitar being sold in a bar and he bought it. He knew this wasn't just an old guitar with a scalloped neck,locking tuners, a Steve Vai autograph on the back etc hahaha Anyways I got it back unscathed and I finished the rest of the CD on my baby. Amps I use VOX and we chained with a Bogner head. Pretty cut and dry and I play the same way live. No pedals at all. I do have a Bad Horsie wah but rarely use it.
5. Are you doing any gigging or clinics, if yes, how frequently does this happen, and what are your plans for the future?
I no longer teach and I haven't really pursued too many endorsements yet - I may try to get back to doing that as it does help expand your fan base and you get to help others improve their chops. I am piecing together a live band as we speak to do a handful of shows this Summer/Fall/ Not a whole lot of demand for instrumental in the Midwest but most likely land some openers for the bigger players or some double bills with a few choice local acts.
6. Are you also performing with other bands than as "Project Alcazar ?
Project Alcazar is my main band - I am not a big fan of being in 2-3 bands. If it is what you do and make a living - I get it completely - play out with whomever and as often as possible. I work 40 hours a week. Have 16 year old son and the music fills in the gaps. I am all for doing compilations etc I just need players to focus on what Alcazar is doing - things progress much faster and its nice to write with other people ....I just cant have my head going in 3 different directions maintaining 100s of songs!!!
7. What goal did you have with making your new album?
I wanted to do it for myself but it was also coming across fans from way back and telling me "Man I loved your last CD!! Are you going to do another one?!?!" And this was years after Reasons came out. So the goal was to release it for all those people who wanted another release. I also wanted to show after 15 years what direction my playing had gone.
8. How do you feel about the music business side of things today?
I don't know - it seems like such a mess anymore. I don't understand what people really like or want. It all seems so manufactured to taste now. All you can do is just put the music out there and hope it comes across the ears that can make a difference. It's definitely not like the old days where all these talented bands were sending cassettes to Sony hoping some A&R rep would go "THESE ARE THE GUYS!! SIGN EM!" I guess I turn my head to the business side these days as I am so stuck on pushing my music out there to as many people as possible. I am sure when its time to take care the business part - I will be ready!
9. what do you think of the younger guitar playes of today?
You mean the 8 year old's that can play "Scarified" blindfolded upside down?!?!" hahahaha I get sent videos of these kids playing all the time and they look like they are being held at gunpoint! Expressionless faces. Technical little monsters.
I know you mean the up and coming shredders - its hard for them because lets face it "its pretty much all been done at this point on the guitar". The young ones usually develop the technique before anything else. I would suggest to go back and listen to the older stuff before shred came along. Try to put your own spin on things - there's more to music than how fast you can play it or sweep pick. I really don't know any names of any up and coming players off the top of my head so....................
10. You have been doing this for quite a while by now. Is it still as fun and where do you see yourself in, say 5-10 years from now ?
I LOVE to play the guitar - even if its sitting down and learning some licks off the old Shrapnel guys one rainy afternoon or flipping through instructional videos looking for some new licks to learn.Putting a band together with guys that are motivated as much as you are is a tough task and can be frustrating at times. Even dealing with the booking side can be a drag too but at this point I have done this all my life so I know what to expect and take things in stride. I am sure in 5-10 years I will still be putting out music. I have just done this too long and wouldn't know any different at this point. I would be bored to death!
11. In what way would you say your new album and aso you as a musician differs from everything else that is out there?
Its a versatile CD when it comes to the songs and playing. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. I feel the songs have good hooks and melodies for the listeners who don't know an arpeggio from a hole in the ground. I also think the guitar players out there can appreciate the overall performance on the CD. I played what I felt needed to be played on the songs and didn't worry so much about "does this song have enough over the top playing to make the hardcore shredders happy?"
12. Don't you think that the instrumental guitar market is over saturated these days compared to when you were starting out?
Without a doubt there are tons of players into the instrumental scene than ever before and it does make it hard to stick out. You just have to stick to your guns and put out music that is true to yourself. You have a handful of players over the last 25 years that made a name for themselves. All you can do is just keep keeping on and hope one day you might be the next one added into that handful..............
13. How much do you practise guitar per day or per week?
I usually try to play everyday but some times that's hard to do. There is a difference between "practicing" and just "playing". Practice is trying to learn something new on the guitar you couldn't play before or working on improving areas you need to - I probably "practice" 3-4 hours a week. I "play" about every other day just to be playing.
14. How do you think that music will survive this new "everything for free" world that we seem to be living in?
A lot of people who thought Lars Ulrich whining about the Napster thing really kinda sees now why he was making a big deal out of it. Yeah he had millions of dollars already but it was also trying to let those who were up and coming know they were going to lose money. The Internet is a great tool to promote yourself - YouTube is great to post your videos for everyone and its free to do it. Now you see entire albums being uploaded to the site and its free to burn them. I listen to them but I don't think I have ever burned one off of YouTube just because I know the artist is being screwed out of the money. Trust me - if I could make CD's for free there are tons of good people out there I am friends with that deserve a copy for free. But its not like that. If you are a true friend then buy one for godsakes. Its a big compliment when you do. Share the posts on your page about the new CD. Tell others how good it is and maybe someone else will buy one. These bands didn't become big handing out CD's for free and letting people into the shows for free all the time. Times are tough for everyone in the world but everyone loves music and it can help you get through a lot of ups and downs. I think the best thing to come out of it is eliminating some of these bigger labels who make millions off bands. If music fans wake up and realize THEY are the ones supporting these up and coming artists then some things might change but its still going to take an awful lot.
15. Any other future plans or anything else you wish to add?
I have just hooked up with a phenomenal keyboard player Caleb Hutslar here in Columbus. We are already writing for the next release and I cant say enough how excited we both are to put this new stuff out. I would put Caleb up there in the ranks with Vitalij Kuprij, Jens Johannsen, Rudess etc - how I missed this guy in the same town as me I will never know but I got him now hahaha I promise this next CD will be just what the shredders ordered. I also want to thank Lion Music for releasing this new CD for me after taking such a long hiatus. It means a lot to me. One thing stuck with me I read in an article several years ago over in a European magazine and someone had wrote "One of the biggest disappointments of the year?" It said "No follow up album from Chris Steberl and Project Alcazar". That stung and I knew at that point in time enough people out there liked the first one that a new one needed to happen. So thanks Lars Mattson and thanks to all my friends and fans out there especially Matt Cistone and Doug Bryant for all of their hard work in helping me complete this new CD.
Thanks fot your time Chris.