Discography (Lion Music)
Plectrumhead / Moonfudge / Motion Control
Tyranny of Minority / Heretic Nation / World Under Fire
Please tell me a little bit about your musical background, your main influences and what you have been doing prior to this release.
I am predominantly influenced by classic 70ís and 80ís Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as well as 80ís shred guitar. Some of the artists I love are Judas Priest, Van Halen, Scorpions, Rainbow, UFO and Dokken. Some of my all time favourite players are George Lynch, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Doug Aldrich and Edward Van Halen. Prior to Motion Control, I was playing and writing songs for my band Vendetta.
Please describe your last solo album just briefly.
Motion Control is a compilation of my solo albums Plectrumhead and Motion Control. Unlike other so called re-masters, a massive amount of work has been done. Extra guitars have been added, extensive equalization has sharpened the lead tone and I also re-cut the lead guitar for three tracks as well as reconfiguring some arrangements. All in all it makes for a much better package.
Are you happy with the reception of your solo albums?
Instrumental music is a niche genre so on the whole I havenít done too badly. Many kind words have been said about my music.
Please tell me something about each song on the album.
This is an up tempo rocker that is influenced by Yngwie and George Lynch. In the words of Billy Milano Ė itís short (2.59) but sweet!
There is a poppy feel on this one. It has a nice lead break in the middle and has a Satriani vibe.
Blue Skies Above
This is one of my most popular tunes. Again itís in the JS vibe. I had the music as far back as 1997 when I was a member of a band called XLR8R. They werenít keen on it so I kept it for me.
This has a heavy slow groove and a sci-fi type melody. I tracked some extra rhythm guitars at the start to add more clarity to the main riff.
This is the track that kick started my career as an instrumentalist. I sent a demo of it to Guitarist Magazine back in 2000 and they featured it on their sound page. This encouraged me to write more songs and led me to my first solo album. I wasnít happy with the original lead track so I have re-recorded the solo guitar and I now think itís the definitive version. The middle lead solo is one of my personal favourites. Incidentally, the 130R is the most challenging corner at the Suzuka track in Japan. The title perfectly fits the driving vibe of the song.
This song was lifted off the original 4 track demo that I did back in 2000. It hasnít been touched up and is a little experiment in sonic textures.
I actually wrote most of this track as far back as 1990 when I was still studying music at college. I had the main melody line, chords and the chorus break but I never got around to doing anything more with it until I decide to give writing instrumentals a bit more of a go in the late 90ís. I re-recorded the lead guitar for the Motion Control album and I am very pleased with it. I finally got the feel and tone just right and itís maybe my favourite track
Five Knuckle Shuffle
Another favourite of mine, this is inspired by the great Michael Lee Firkins. I once played in the pit band for the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and I learnt and mimicked a lot of pedal steel licks and runs so that period of my life came to good use. The middle section is particularly strong. My co-producer/engineer Fred Purser harnessed a superb bass sound. It just pumps and benefits from extra rhythm guitars on the main riff.
This has another heavy groove and a Lydian melody line. I also added extra rhythm guitars. This was one of the first instrumentals that I wrote. The end chord sequence is inspired by Mr Blue Sky by ELO. You just gotta love Jeff Lynne!
This is a very popular song with my students and on You Tube. I think people respond to the positive melody and the simple sentiments the song conjures up. Itís in the key of F# Major which isnít a typical guitar key.
I had this piece as far back as 1993 but again it didnít see the light until I demoed it 2001 and this is the same version but with a little less reverb. I suppose itís in the vein of a track like Dee by Randy Rhoads or Klassisk Romance by Ronnie le Tekro. Itís in another unusual guitar key ĖG# Minor.
This was another riff that was lying around back in the later days of my old band XLR8R. It has a really heavy groove and has an eastern flavoured melody. I could never get the end solo quite as good as the demo version but such is life. Itís a terrible disease Ė demoitus!!
Jack in the Box
This track is the beginning of the Moonfudge album. The tracks from here on in are a little more riff and groove based. This has got a nice feel. The chord sequence backing the middle solo is inspired by one of my favourite players Ė Doug Aldrich and the main theme is in the George Lynch mould.
Welcome to the Grindhouse
This has a dirty sleazy title and the riff is in keeping with that. I actually edited the arrangement of this. The middle section I had sounded really lame and made the song too long. With the wonders of digital technology I can now cut straight into the solo and itís all the better for it.
Axis of Evil
Thank you to George W Bush for this title (he did have his one use). Again I have edited part of the original song. I chose to omit the final verse. It wasnít adding anything and the upshot is we have a clearer and more concise musical message. The middle solo is pretty epic and has a bit of a Marty Friedman vibe.
There are a couple of touch upís. One of the lead guitar parts was really out of tune. So we retuned the original a bit and I played along with an additional part and it solved the problem. A word of advice when recording Ė always check your tuning between each take Ė even if you are on a roll! I also added extra acoustic and new clean guitar parts and it has really brightened it up. The start has been edited as well and Iím really pleased with this song now.
I once went on holiday to the USA and the car we hired was called a Trailblazer so I made a note of that. Itís another short number but I really like it. The riff stretches back to 1992. I tried sharing it with my band but they felt it wasnít right and I lost confidence but ... a riff can always be filed away for later!
This is the name of my childhood home and I wanted to write something that evoked those wistful memories. In truth I thought it was a bit of filler but itís another track that is very popular with fans of my playing. People seem to dig my major key ballads. Itís had extra acoustic and keyboards added and some additional lead.
The title says it all. Itís the home of my second favourite band of all time so it has an LA vibe. Itís also the longest instrumental song Iíve written. I make extensive use of the whammy bar on this one. Iíve always loved the tremelo abuse of Brad Gillis and Steve Vai so that influence comes out to play.
Reverse the Polarity
I completely re-cut the lead guitar to this one and Iím well chuffed. The original was pretty good but lacked focus. It all needed refining and this is now another great driving song. It had an additional end section but I edited off Iím much happier with the arrangements now of all the songs. Theyíve all been brought up to a higher standard.
Big Screen Love Theme
This was a melody line that I had for a long time. I arranged chords around it and built it from there. Itís inspired by the types of themes that John Williams uses in his scores. This is untouched. It didnít need a thing.
Please tell me what equipment you used to record this album as well as and live if you do that.
I used a Soldano 60 watt head, an old Marshall and a Peavey Special as well as my Suhr Riot distortion pedal. The lead and rhythms were recorded with two Japanese Fender Strats and a 1980 Les Paul. Acoustics used were a Yamaha and a Crafter. Live I use a Crate head Ė itís cheap and cheerful but more importantly Ė reliable.
Do you plan to or have you ever played the music of your solo albums music live
I have performed some of my instrumentals at various guitar shows over the years and Vendetta has performed 130R and Axis of Evil in the past.
What is up with Vendetta?
Our guitarist Pete Thompson had to leave the band to concentrate fully on his career as a concept artist but I still play with the drummer and bass player in a covers band. We have just started writing new material and we hope to record a new album in the next few years. It is our hope that Pete will be able to contribute some guitar as well so even though itís unlikely we will gig there will be some new Vendetta music sometime. Iím a firm believer in band chemistry so I would rather do like this than get a new guy in.
Do you also perform with any other bands?
I also play in the classic metal covers band Ministry of Rock. We play Dio, Sabbath, Scorpions, MSG, and Priest to name a few. Only the good stuff, nothing after 1985!
Was Vendetta your first serious band?
From 1989 to 1997 I was in a band called XLR8R and that was my first serious crack at music.
How do you feel about the guitar oriented music scene of today?
There are some great players out there but it is far too confined to you tube and the Ďbed shredí phenomenon. Guitarist need to get out there and write songs and play live. They also need to break out into a more song orientated format. The reason we know of Steve Via for instance is because he got mass exposure with David Lee Roth. If he kept playing Flexible, he wouldnít be nearly as well known.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Iím about to turn 44 (its 2015 now) so if Iím honest I still see myself teaching guitar to earn a living but as for writing, recording and playing live Iím not so sure. Iíve given music everything so perhaps it will be time to think of other things by then. Some people go on but they donít have to lug their own gear or drive themselves to gigs!
In what way do you think your album is different from all the other instrumental guitar albums that are out there?
All the songs are not much longer than minutes with the exception of a few. I donít indulge in long solos or arrangements. Itís all about the song to me and I think this is more in keeping with albums of the past such as Surfing with the Alien or Maximum Security. Instrumental music can get very boring very quickly so I try to write songs that your girlfriend or wife can enjoy.
How much time to you spend practising and rehearsing music per day or week.
In my teens and twenties I used to practice with my band two or three times a week and practice my Guitar 20 to 25 hours on top of that. By the age of 24
I had achieved the magic 10,000 hours and my practice continued at a good rate into my early thirties but in recent times it has got less and less due to work and personal responsibilities. Iím lucky if I practice guitar 5 or 6 hours a week now. I probably have about 30 band practices a year as we donít always practice every week but a two hour session is about all we can manage. This makes writing new music a very lengthy process.
Do you think that music will survive the current "everything for free" mentality and do you think that people in general care?
I donít think people give a damn how they consume their music and they will take all they can get for free. Music will always survive but the days of people becoming big rock stars are over. You probably need to have a Ďdayí job and do your band on the side. I certainly think this is the case with Rock and Metal. I donít know what itís like for someone like Miley Cyrus or One Direction but if I wanted that then I wouldnít have done the things I did in the previous question.
What are your future plans?
Itís March 2015 and Iíve just finished my first new songs in over four and a half years so Iím going to keep going until I have an albums worth and record them. Keep watching this space but I may be some time.......