Wow 2018 was a great year! I achieved some goals and accomplishments and made some advancements. I still did not execute all I had hoped for, but overall it was a victory in my books. 2019 will be an even more successful year.
The year started with my little family moving into our new duplex in Walden. Last year's move had us relocate back to Calgary, having to rent a place until we settled on where exactly to live within Calgary. It did not take us too long to decide on which community as we both really loved the Walden area. I once again have my own dedicated music room in which I enjoy spending many hours practicing guitar, recording demos and assembling various small projects.
Also a big luxury to living in Calgary, is going to Calgary Flames games. This past season, Christina and I attending the most Flames games in a season. 5 games I believe. And looking forward to another one coming up on my birthday!
With the relocation to Calgary, one of my aspirations was to get into or start a kick-ass metal band. 2017 had me audition and/or jam with various musicians trying to find the right venture for my talents. But in 2018, I luckily was able to join one, and start a hell of a ride. In April, I joined Syryn as second/lead guitarist in time before they started performing gigs. 9 gigs overall during 2018. In which we played Calgary a handful of times, Edmonton twice and even ventured out the Metalocalypstick Metalfest in Lone Butt, BC.
In early Spring, my mother came for a much overdue visit. It was great to catch up with my mother. We highlighted her little visit with an impromptu jam where we video recorded me accompanying her on a song she wrote. And uploaded to YouTube to share with family. I am looking forward to seeing her again in 2019.
Also on my musical side of business, WB Gear came along and I was able to sign on to advance my social awareness. Through WB Gear, I was united with S.I.T. Strings and ReVv Amplification in exclusive endorsement deals.
S.I.T. Strings has been a blessing since I go through a lot of sets of strings with the number of guitars I own. (I also change them every 1-2 months depending on how much I play each individual guitar). The guitar strings I had been using prior for more than 15 years had become very difficult to attain. Shops were no longer carrying the brand I preferred and I already started trying other various brands, searching for a quality brand I could believe in. With S.I.T. Strings, I had once again found great quality strings that I can count on to last and not break under intense shredding conditions. (In reality though, I don't play hard enough to break strings regularly).
ReVv Amps are awesome! I already had a great guitar amp in what I had for performing live with Syryn, but was interested in a more condensed amp set up and ReVv Amplification had exactly what I was thinking of. I had put in my order for my new amp head and 212 speaker cabinet and then had to wait.... 5 months but it was worth the wait. At least, I still had my large amp head and 412 speaker cabinet for all the live Syryn gigs and rehearsals this past year. I really love the tone my new ReVv set-up produces. Very tight and clear distortion tone. I'm looking forward to having it onstage in the new year!
Other than the endorsement gear, I also had worked with Master Effects in designing my first custom pedal. A chorus pedal named "The Enchantress". Based on an original Boss CE1. I was able to pick the artwork and it is a staple now in my pedal board for Syryn. One of a kind!
In August, I had decided that my dayjob was not advancing in a way I had hoped. I began seeking out other forms of employment and career options. And luckily in September, I was able to switch careers and start employement with an insurance company at their Calgary downtown office. With my experience and skills developed over the last decade in the automotive repair/autobody industry, I was able to become an image desk reviewer, where I now review autobody repair estimates submitted from various shops for insurance approval. I love it and although it's been an adjustment from my previous careers, it's a welcomed change. I of course would prefer to make my living strictly by playing guitar, but we all know in today's world, that is not possible... Well at the moment for me anyways.
Although I am already busy musically with Syryn, early fall, I had decided to start another project on the side with my long time friend and former Malediction bandmate Chad. "Raged" is a project in which we are writing and recording the material ourselves and will later obtain a drummer and bassist to play the material live. It is a long-term project that we will slowly reveal as it develops. I've already teased a few pieces of some songs in demo, and it shouldn't take long before more will be released and we will start performing live. I'm sure some people will be surprised by my vocal abilities.
I've also had the chance this past Fall/Winter, to fill-in on bass for Chaosbeing. My Syryn bandmate & drummer Bryan's other group, found themselves in need of my services for several shows to which I happily offered my services. Having played 3 gigs between Calgary and Red Deer. Great guys and I relished the chance to get more stage time in a supporting role.
I also vacationed in British Columbia on Vancouver Island in the Spring and Mexico in the Fall. Much needed holidays away from the everyday busy world. I very much enjoyed the waters off of Vancouver Island with Whale watching and relaxing in a cabin playing games with the wife's family. As well as the beautiful visit to Sunny Los Cabos, relaxing and sitting on the beach reading a good book while sipping a Pina Colada.
I also welcomed 2 more lovely guitars into my collection. My black Jackson Kelly KE2 (yes, I love Marty Friedman!) and my white Jackson RR1. I did depart with a couple of my lower end guitars, but replaced them with the high end Jackson USA guitars. My guitars are my big indulgence. I now have 3 USA Jacksons in my collection and aiming to attain 1 more sometime in the future. I still have a couple others guitars, a Japanese Jackson and Mexican Charvel I am considering selling, with eventually only retaining my USAs. You never know, maybe a guitar endorsement deal could come along...
On a sad note, my wife lost her father. He had a stroke in the Fall of 2015 and since struggled to regain his former self. Thankfully, he's at peace now.
I also lost a dear friend and former roommate, Steven Braun. He was always willing to listen and offer advice when I needed it. Steven was also my personal roadie on occasion, even though he spent more time chatting than carrying equipment. But he was there when I needed him. Miss ya bro!
Closing out the year, Syryn officially released a second single "Paradise For Demise". One in which we recorded with Jesse Kopala at his Incite Audio studio , in preparation for our album we already began recording. The new album should be released around April 2019. Syryn released their first single a year prior with their former member I replaced, so this is the first Syryn recording with my talents upon.
One of the goals, or missing elements of my favourite activities in 2019, was my involvement in YouTube videos. I realized I did not upload a single YouTube Cover or new original instrumental throughout the year. The only video I uploaded this year, was the song with my mother. I did a small series of videos outlining my intentions to record a new solo album, but had decided to put on hold with my commitments to Syryn. I have solo EP material archived for when I am ready to resume. Maybe before the end of 2019? Who knows, as I will be busy with Syryn and Raged for some time to come.
In years prior, I was active in uploading YouTube video covers, not a single one this past year. That will change going into 2019 and I have already started putting together a new cover song for Raged. And thinking of covering a couple of my favourite guitar solos throughout the year by possibly Dimebag Darrell, Randy Rhoads or Marty Friedman.
Another struggle throughout my year, was my inability to be consistent with physical activity. I had terminated my gym membership earlier in the year, with expectations to continue my workouts at home. Occasionally, I do exercise in my basement home gym area, but I am not constant enough to make the physical changes I had hoped for throughout the year. I am now revisiting the idea and have a temporary pass for a fitness facility to reclaim my health intentions. So I guess you've already guessed my New Year's Resolution :P Get my ass back in shape in 2019!
So Cheers and looking forward to a Superb 2019!
Well it was a long time coming. I had joined up with WB Gear during the summer and they set me up with the endorsement with Revv Amplification. I was very excited to work with the company after I learned more about them via YouTube. I knew Jeff Loomis started playing Revv amps and when I found out they were a Canadian amp maker just outside of Winnipeg, I was more than thrilled to work with them. I watched a series of YouTube videos and was pleased with the sounds I was hearing. Especially from the compact 40 watt Generator 7-40 head. Rave reviews on YouTube so I trusted in the YouTube personalities and their declarations. The Revv builder's passion for amp building is very enormous and I enjoy following them via social media. They are very much dedicated to bringing a very modern guitar tone and design to their guitar amps. They have been more involved lately in their distortion pedals, but the amps are really the big ticket to an overall enormous sound.
Unfortunately, it took awhile to get my amp as they are a very small operation and their amps are all handwired. They also started getting overwhelmed with amp orders and hired on another amp builder to join them in their facility. In which, thorough training was needed. I was a little frustrated but they had assured me that the wait would be worth it.
And they were very correct. It was worth the wait. The amp is extremely sensational! I was so excited that they made a rackmount version of the Generator 7-40 head, as I want to build a smaller travelling guitar rig. I still have to add a few items yet (effects), but the foundation of a great guitar tone starts with the amp.
The clean tone is very clear and pristine. Lots of headroom and better than I expected. I had tried another high gain 50 watt tube head recently and found the clean channel lacking headroom and figured unuseable for gigs compared to the distortion channel. I had actually started preparing for this expectation by learning to just back off the volume knob on my guitar to clean up my sound during play. So my expectation of the clean channel on this Revv Genarator 7-40 exceeded that expectation already. Clean channel with f'n balls! There is a crunch function to the clean channel that gives it some dirt but not really anything I would use personally... Well not yet anyways.
The distortion channel is stupendous! So much gain that is clear and very dynamic. The "Aggression" stages are so useful in crafting the right amount of "dirt" to one's distortion sound. I spent some time yesterday playing with the amp and I am getting close to crafting a gain tone that really is the tone I've been chasing for many years. No muddiness in this amp!
There are some crafty designs with the amp I still have to learn. It's midi controllable so I can add an effects unit that can switch channels as required, but that is a new territory for me. I'm so used to just using a few pedals via the effects loop on my old amp and just selecting the "loop" button on the footswitch to change to lead. I can also, via the 4 button footswitch program pre-sets, even within the same channel... So I can set up my rhythm sound and then can set a lead sound boosting the same sound, or even add more gain, more mids, etc... Still need to program that aspect of course.
The light up colours for the channels (Blue for clean, Green for crunch, and Red for Distortion) is a nice touch. It will definitely draw some attention when I start bringing my new set up to gigs. Part of the reason I bought the 212 cab was to have that matching emblem from the head. But also to support the brand even more, I have definitely become a ReVv Amplification lover.
The 212 speaker cabinet I am also pleasantly pleased with. The speakers I believed are modelled after classic V-30s but I think there more presence to them which really adds to the guitar tone. The cab is built like a tank so I think it will handle live situations very well.
So now I am getting ready to start doing some recording with this amp and know I will get a very unique, but glistening tone for the Raged demos. Also, it will be a clear live tone for Syryn that will not get me lost in the mix. ReVv will have me heard at all volumes! In a compact, yet powerful 40 watt tube head.
So as many have guessed, I have my new project "Raged". I have joined with my long time best friend Chad to finally do this project. It was something we had discussed for many years. I have started an Instagram account and posted the first teaser from the intro of a song titled "Grind". Chad (A.K.A. Maxx Rage) and I have been putting together demos of songs we've had in pieces for a long time. As well as being greatly inspired lately in writing new riffs. Thankfully, modern technology has made it easy to record demos with almost album like quality with realistic sounding drums.We have not yet chosen a drummer and a bass player to join us in our new band, but rather are recording the initial demos together. We do have people in mind to join us, but as we come closer to finishing the first batch of songs, we will then seek out the players we need to complete our quartet.
So the back story is that many years ago, Chad and I became friends through music. Back in 1994, I needed another guitar player for a band I was putting together with my drummer pal Johnny Roberts. (Now of Kitchener, Ontario based metal band Northshroud). I knew Chad through another friend, asked him to join us and quickly we bonded over our love for guitar and metal. It wasn't long before we were jamming Slayer songs and ready to perform our first concert together. We were joined by Denis Quesnel on bass and "Malediction" played it's first and only concert playing alongside Fist Magnet, The Harshheads, and Frappertetterhead (who I would later join). I was the first and only time I fronted a band as the lead vocalist while playing guitar. I had at one time later on fronted a band, but that band unfortunately never played a gig.
The Rage Bros? Those that know the story, my father somewhat adopted Chad during a challenging time in our adolescences. So for me, he's my brother and was there before my father passed away. We have adopted the moniker of the Rage Brothers. I even have "Rage" tattooed on my upper back. Chad and I have been friends for many years since and have even been the best man at eachother's weddings. So we have a bond like brothers.
So what does Raged sound like? Well, I have labelled it as Groove Metal/Post-Thrash. The music definitely is reminiscent of the music we grew up loving, like Testament, Pantera, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, but especially Machine Head. Vocally, Machine Head and Chevelle are strong influences. It is my first time doing lead vocals after having some professional training so it will be much better than my first vocal inception from 1994. There will be another teaser clip to come on our Instagram page quickly and a few more that we will be posting in the next couple of months before we seek to play our first live performance.
What about Syryn? They are still my main band and I enjoy playing lead guitar with them. We are currently recording our first EP and that should be released soon. I also have been moonlighting as a fill-in on bass for Chaosbeing, having played two concerts with them recently. They have asked me to fill-in again next month so I look forward again to having a chance to do some more vocals live.
So once we have a full 30 minutes of perfected songs, Raged will play it's first concert in the early new year. You can bet on it!
So what happened to my solo project/solo album? I've decided to put in on the back-burner for the time being. I took down my videos and will revamp my project in the future. I realized during my writing process that I need more time developing my vocal skills. Especially since I really want to excel on the vocal aspect of my project. As well as really concentrate on good song writing.
Also, I've been dedicating more time to my bass playing. I have been asked to fill-in for a gig at the end of September and concentrating on learning that band's material for that gig. Even for my own solo project, I will likely play bass and do vocals live and seek 1 or 2 guitarist + a drummer for the live material. Or even possibly put a band together using my material and front as a vocalist/bassist. Time will tell as I have been very occupied lately.
In my daytime professional career, I have some big changes occurring. I am leaving the bodyshop I have been working for as an appraiser/estimator since returning to Calgary, and starting a desk job with an insurance company. Starting mid-September. Very exciting!
I have also started jamming with another group of guys playing only bass in a hard rock style so unsure if that will evolve into a full band. They still are searching for a new singer so it is in the development stages at this point. They already have material written so I would primarily only play bass and not really be involved in the song-writing.
Of course this is all underneath my priority of playing lead guitar with Syryn which is still my bread and butter of playing music. I still love to shred and that will never change. I just like to involve myself musically as much as possible. In all, I am so happy to have some exciting changes and big plans materializing. Keep an eye out... ;)
Yes, I refer to inspiration as a power. It is an unpredictable force that is unforgiving and relentless. Many musicians, such as myself, have to struggle with it at the best of times.
Inspiration cannot be forced or planned. It has a consciousness all it's own. It can quickly come and go, and often and the most undesirable time. Grasping it when it occurs, seems to be an art all it's own.
Just this evening I was having dinner when an idea came to me and I immediately had to finish up eating so I could quickly record my idea. For if I wait too long, the idea will be forgotten. It is unfair that our minds cannot keep the idea for long as we do not have the capacity to retain the ideas for long. Our minds are bombarded with so many thoughts throughout the day.
On the noted idea, I had been struggling with tying together a chorus to a second verse. In fact, it has probably been a couple of years that I had been searching for this idea on this particular piece of music. But alas! It finally came at an opportune time when I could swiftly run to my music room, pickup my trusty Jackson guitar and press the record button before the idea escapes me forever.
Often though, I can be somewhere and an idea enters my mind. I can be driving somewhere, speaking with a client or even waking up in the middle of the night to use the washroom. And something will come into my mind, getting my attention. It can be a drum beat, a guitar riff, a song idea or even a lyrical line. I have found that I need to keep a journal nearby to gather the idea when it strikes, or later on I can be asking myself: "what was that cool idea I had earlier?... ah crap!" I am thankful that with today's technology, I can use my cell phone to type in the memo pad, or even record the strange sounds using my mouth. So that I can later go back to the idea and expand on it further. Sometimes resulting in a full song creation.
I will say that lately, a lot of ideas enter my mind. I have found that I am most alert to the sudden passages of inspirational creation during the late morning into the early afternoon. So on days that I am able (when not working my day job), I try to be ready to receive ideas during this time. Being an early riser, I keep the tedious guitar drills, scales and exercises for the initial morning. Ready and fully warmed up both physically and mentally, to receive the brilliance of inspiration when it hits me best. And a lot of new creations have occurred in the past year thanks to this new found understanding of my own inspirational energy.
So in closing, I'm hoping to grasp the power of inspiration more often to my benefit so I can struggle less, and get my musical creations out to the world at my highest level of design and realization. I still have a masterpiece within to release to the world...
So I've heard and read that sometimes it helps to speak out your feelings to release them. I am a strong believer in the power of intention, law of attraction, "The Secret". I believe we have the power within our minds to control our destinies and also our feelings. So what has plagued me for many years is my feeling towards a very large regret I live with. I don't like to have this regret, but it is a feeling I've held onto for far too long.
During my teens, I was obsessed with guitar. Everyone knows that about me from my days in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A place I both miss, and don't miss at the same time.
I picked up electric guitar at the age of 13 thanks to the influence of my cousin Phil. I spent a lot of time time from that age playing guitar almost non-stop. I was always striving to be better. Not necessarily better than anyone else, just better than I was yesterday. I played with some great musicians at that time and learned how to work in bands. Although my most successful time was playing with Gut Wrench, having recorded a full album and done the most live shows at that time, I much enjoyed my time in Frapperteterhead more. In FTH, we had a brotherhood and friendship. We were all great friends and had some wild times together. I miss those guys and hope they are doing well. (R.I.P. Jay).
But after my father passed away, I was broken inside. It was a very difficult and confusing time of my life. My father's last days were not pleasant and those that know the story, know he suffered from mental illness and was living on the streets his last year. I was lost and unsure of where to move forward. I was looking to my peers and family for guidance and feel I got the wrong advices. I was easily persuaded at that time and made some hasty decisions.
My father supported me greatly with my guitar playing and even helped me out financially as much as he could so I could have decent gear. And when he was gone, my family (mainly my mother) was convincing me it was "time to grow up" and let go of my musical aspirations. Also from someone else's advice, I was better off being single, not getting tied down and let go of someone I cared deeply for, another regret altogether.
So I quit playing music, sold all my gear except for one guitar I held on to (My Ibanez RG570) and moved to another city. My cousin Phil meant well, having provided me with a cheap place to live in Sudbury, but I never felt I belonged there. Within a few months, I returned to the Soo and finished my high school and then went to college.
Although I did enjoy my one year at Sault College for a business accounting program, I never felt it was for me. I do have a higher aptitude for math and numbers, but never did see myself as an accountant. It was an experience no more the less, but during my year at college, I drank and got drunk WAY TOO MUCH. I thought it was part of the college lifestyle.
But once my year was over, I found myself broke, 2 months behind on rent and needing money badly. I ended up escaping to Calgary. I was definitely still lost and trying to find my way. Over the next 8 years in Calgary, I struggled hard, learning a lot of tough and hard life lessons. But one thing remained strongly within myself. I missed playing guitar.
Although I always had a guitar (sometimes a practice amp), I never really did practice or be serious enough as I had before I quit when I was 20. I did somewhat replace it with heavy weight training and bodybuilding, but I was still partying when I could, going out to pubs, and was reminded of that burning desire in me anytime I saw a bar band live. I wanted to be up on that stage.
I started seriously taking my lead guitar studies again after a failed relationship. A very turbulent relationship that was constantly on and off. Once that relationship was finally over, I had decided that I would start making up for lost time. I started buying some gear and even my first digital recording board and started recording my ideas for the 1st time.
I also started seeking out people to play with and slowly, started jamming with people, regaining that love again. I have an old friend from the Soo who moved to Calgary to thank for pushing me to get back into the swing of playing again. (Thanks Dean).
But in a short time, I would find myself on the move again. Longing for my family, I moved back to Ontario. Mississauga this time as I could not find work in Sudbury or the Soo. I had a wonderful year living with my aunt (R.I.P. matante Thérèse) and did more "growing up". But worked a terrible job that had no future, was underpaid and under-appreciated.
Although I enjoyed living among my family and relatives (I would often drive to Windsor to see my mom, sisters and their families), I did not feel like I belonged. My time living in Calgary meant I missed out on my niece and nephews growing up, Do I regret moving to Calgary?, Actually yes I do although I had many good life learning lessons. But I may have had the same lessons had I chosen to stay in the Soo or moved to London which was my other choice. That in itself, is something that I think about often. I need to release that feeling to the Universe.
Within that year in Mississauga, I reconnected with my now wife, who I shortly dated before moving to Ontario. I was more than eager to move back to Alberta to start a new life. Still trying to find myself again.
In Lethbridge, I would really rediscover my love for guitar. Thanks to the influences of my new family, I would discover philosophy and start applying myself in new ways. I started thinking more clearly and with better understanding of who I am. I accepted myself for who I am.
I would also start playing in a bar band and return to the stage again for the first time in over 10 years. That was a magical night and once again, I have my old pal Dean to thank. (And taking over for Tym Morrison in that band was no easy feat!). I would start practicing hard again for the first time in many years.
And since 2009, I have been playing music as much as I can. Having played in cover bands, tribute bands and original bands, I absolutely love it! I even took up bass when I had a hard time finding a band to play guitar in. I just wanted to get some stage experience and return to find a common rapport with other musicians.
But in all, I regret when I stop playing guitar when I was 20. I listened to the wrong people. People I trusted, when I did not trust in myself. One of my biggest aspirations was to go to M.I. (Musician's Institute in Hollywood, California) and had people tell me it wasn't possible because I was Canadian. Then years later, I find out Canadians at that time did go to M.I. IT WAS POSSIBLE! People who had no idea about music influenced me against what I loved.
So I still feel like I'm trying to make up for a decade that I barely played. And now in my early 40s, I feel like I could play forever and want to. I don't plan to stop and will not. I love to shred. It is who I am
Thankfully I haven't had too many like I have had guitars. I remember my 1st electric guitar amp was a little 2 speaker Boss amp along with my 1st electric guitar which was red B.C.Rich Rave II.
Once I started playing in basement/garage bands, I moved up to a Peavey Bandit 112. Not a bad amp but did not have that full tube tone. I had that amp for awhile until I joined Gut Wrench and needed to move up to a larger amp. I luckily was able to pickup a 1st generation Peavey 5150 with 412 cab used.
I kept that 1/2 stack until I had to sell off my gear to go to college. I gave up music for a number of years but periodically played for fun. Once I started playing again, I had picked up a Randall 212 combo that I started jamming around with. Once I started gigging again (Lethbridge) I bought a Peavey 6505+ Head and 412 Cab (with a little financial help). I used this setup during my time in Igniter and Gravity Crash, even adding a 2nd bottom 412 cab at one point.
I wish I could rave about that 6505+ but after a couple years, I started having problems with it. During a Gravity Crash rehearsal, it started smoking. It was before the warranty ran out so the local dealer repaired it. But then it started cutting out intermittently and I had it in for repairs and the issues repeated until the warranty was done. Then I sold it.
Then came my 1st Mesa Dual Rectifier Head that I paired with a cheap Peavey XXX 412 Cab. My favourite tone thus far. Had it for awhile and also pickup up some 412 and 212 Mesa Recto cabs. I also made a trade deal and grabbed a Peavey JSX head which I still own. Swapped the tubes from EL34s to 6L6 and a very nice underrated head. Better clean tones than the Peavey 5150 & 6505+ I formerly owned.
I traded that 1st Mesa Dual Recto head after awhile only to purchase another one (newer multi-watt version) that is my main amp head now. I still prefer to go through a Mesa Cab loaded with Celestion v30s as speakers truly make a difference. During my most recent gig with provided backline, I played the same head through a Marshall cab with Celestion G12t-75s and truly my tone lacked.
Only amp I would consider in the future is an EVH 5150iii. I always loved the 5150 gain sound and the newest model does sound pretty sweet. But I'm rather content with my Dual Recto.
But now with technology having advanced so much with great digital amp profilers like Kempers, would a digital setup is in the future be for me? Easier for travel and consistent tone with recording benefits. We'll wait and see...
Guitars, Guitars, Guitars... yes I have an obsession...
I had an old post on the many guitars I've owned throughout the years and will not repost how many I've actually had (it's a little embarrassing actually). But the majority have been Jacksons, Ibanezs, ESPs, and a few Gibsons.
Best guitar I think I've ever had has to be my black Jackson RR1 USA. Quite honestly, it was the guitar I've always wanted. I've owned a few lower end models of Jacksons RRs including a RR24M and RR3 but the quality of the RR1 is far superior and truly amazing to play. I love it so much, I've ordered another one in white which should be arriving this winter. My newer black Kelly KE2 USA is pretty good too although it's a bit neck heavy. Sweet low action for shredding and is now my main practicing guitar. Honourable mentions are the old red 1991 Ibanez RG770 that I sold to Tym Morrison and a black 90s Ibanez RG570. Those old Japanese Ibanezs were superb!
Worst guitar is my 2008 Gibson Les Paul Standard. I've owned cheaper guitars and could be mentioned but for the money I paid, that Gibson was craptastic! I agree with the online statements of the quality of Gibsons going downhill for years. After owning it only a short while, the neck started warping to the point, the guitar could not stay in tune with the intonation unable to be corrected perfectly. I was so glad to be rid of it. The 2016 Gibson Les Paul Standard was beautiful and better quality, but I cannot stand a guitar that will not stay in tune. Even trying to use the Big Ben's Nut Sauce, I was always pulling my hair out to get it to stay in tune. Could not bend notes on the G string on those bloody Les Pauls without going out of tune.
I much prefer using guitars with Floyd Rose Tremolos. In fact, other than my special, one-of-a-kind custom made V made by Brian Passmore, every guitar I own is Floyd Rose equipped. Even if I don't use the whammy bar much, I prefer the guitar staying in tune and quickly adjustable from the bridge. Just don't break a string.... but that's why I usually bring a back-up.
And the question of the Legators I played? Those wondering I did have an endorsement deal with the Canadian distributor "Anacan" to play those Legators. I overpayed for the guitars in comparison to other makes of the same quality for the media attention only to have them not hold up their end of the contract with any promotion of myself on their website or little media attention. I'm mostly referring to Legator guitars themselves as Anacan did do some media promo. (I pulled most of my demonstration videos off of Youtube awhile back). Shame though as they are well made Korean guitars but honestly, over-priced and the company is making some questionable moves in product changes. No offense to players that like the new headless or fanned frets trend, but I much prefer the traditional 25.5 scale with a sweet in-line 6 headstock. Trying to swim with big fish of Jackson, ESP and Ibanez, Legator will drown in my opinion. In all, I'd rather much play the Jacksons I had always dreamed of playing.
My current arsenal of guitars are:
1. Jackson USA RR1 Black - my new #1 named simply "Jack", kept in 1/2 step down tuning.
2. Jackson USA KE2 Black - Currently my main live axe for SYRYN and yes, Marty Friedman is an influence. Standard tuning.
3. Jackson Indonesian SL2Q Red - Currently my backup live axe for SYRYN.
4. Charvel Mexican So-Cal White - my axe named "El-Guapo" for when I feel like diggin' into the maple fretboard. Killer guitar for rock n blues that screams with Duncan Distortion pickups. I change the tuning on this guitar most and have been using lately for SYRYN rehearsals.
5. And coming this winter is my Jackson USA RR1 white - which will be named "Jill"... haha get it? "Jack & Jill".
Amps... well that's another blog...
It all started thanks to my cousin Phil Melanson. I used to spend summers at his house in Chelmsford, Ontario, from the time I was 10 till 12 and I marveled when I saw him play his black B.C.Rich Ironbird along to Classic Ozzy or his attempts at Yngwie Malmsteen. I wanted to be like Phil, but really, I wanted to shred too. I loved the sound of his guitar wailing tons of distortion.
One of my first main influences was Steve Vai. David Lee Roth's Skyscraper album from 1988 was one of my first favourite albums partial due to Steve's playing. The dood made his guitar sing, scream, talk and just leap bounds. Plus his technique was amazing. And when Steve came out with his Passion & Warfare instrumental album, I was blown away. I still listen to these albums every now and again and always marvel at Steve's playing.
Ozzy had some great guitarists. Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee (Greatly underrated) and Zakk Wylde. Ozzy did have a knack at picking some great guitarists. I'm equally a big fan of these 3 and they are present in my playing. I've learned a lot of licks from these 3 and still trying to learn more. Not to mention they were just all cool and unique.
During the late 80s, guitar was such an exciting time for guitar. So much shred, attitude and hair! There are so many guitarists I could have drawn influence from in that era, especially from the big 4. But the 2 most impressionable guitarists to me are Marty Friedman during his time in Megadeth and Alex Skolnick with Testament. Both took guitar shredding to another level with intense theory and technique. I am still trying to master some of their solos and techniques today. Those 2 guys are seriously 2 of the biggest virtuosos of thrash metal. And still are today. 2 of my favourite solos by those guys are "Tornado Of Souls" by Marty and "Practice What You Preach" by Alex. Masterpieces!
Once the 90s came, things really changed in metal. Especially when Grunge came in. The only Grunge band I really like is Alice In Chains, but they still had some great elements of regular rock and metal. Jerry Cantrell was no shredder, but had style and great song-writing abilities. Not to mention vocal abilities harmonizing with Layne which was a staple of AIC. Although their Dirt album was their most successful, I much more enjoyed Jerry's playing on the Facelift album, which was their first.
But because of Grunge and the anti-guitar hero attitude that formed, it was almost frowned upon to shred solos by the time the mid-nineties came. I myself even remember being booed while playing a solo live with my last original band in the 90s. I shortly after would quit playing for a number of years before returning to play again.
But who kept guitar shredding alive throughout the 90s? Dimebag Darrell. He was seriously the most ambitious shredder of that 90s. His intensive attitude riffage with bluesy feel solos really had me hooked from the beginning. Not to mention his unique abilities with the whammy bar. Tragically he passed away while doing what he loved to do year after saving metal in the 90s. But what an amazing legacy he left behind.
Another genre I had discovered during the 90s was Death Metal. At least there was some shredding to be had at that time. Didn't take long for me to be moved by bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Death, and Morbid Angel. I really took to Chuck Schuldiner from Death and his use of harmonic minor scales. Plus James Murphy from Obituary, Death, Disincarnate and Testament (post-Skolnick) with his masterful use of sweep picking.
During the 2000s, lots of new metal came out. It was finally cool again to shred. But what gave me great pleasure was when Machine Head returned to more of a metal style, leaving the Nu-Metal identity they had formed over a couple albums. They brought in Phil Demmell who was a veteran shredder from the late 80s Thrash movement. Mixing in Phil's great shred style into Machine Head's heavy hooks.
New Wave Of American Heavy Metal also brought Lamb Of God and a wicked lead player Mark Morton. His style brought in some great bluesy feel into modern Metal. Modern techniques with sensibility.
But above all, what greatly influences me is meeting other musicians, be it a singer, guitarist, pianist, drummer, etc who have a passion for playing.
So here we go again with my blog (yes again and maybe I won't delete my entries this time). I've noticed lately a lot more traffic on my webpage so I was thinking it was time to share my thoughts and current happenings. Lots to catch up on.
First of all, I am so thrilled to be part of a band again. During the last year, I spent some time jamming with different people trying to find the right situation for myself. One where I could contribute with input and add my flavour. And I did not just want to be part of any band, but a great band with a lot of potential. And I found one where everyone in the band is friggin' mega cool. No over-inflated egos! You will see some posts on here or on my Facebook but be sure, you'll hear lots of SYRYN in the coming months. We have some big gigs and we plan to crush!
Apart from my kick-ass new band, I have finally settled in Calgary well after moving back here more than a year ago. (Previously lived in Calgary from May 1999 till July 2007). Wife and I rented a small duplex for a year before finding where we wanted to buy our next home. Obviously real-estate is much more expensive in Calgary than it was in Lethbridge so we had to settle for a smaller home. But at least we have a garage again and I have my home studio/music room.
I have been arranging my studio area and preparing for some recording. I will be helping to write new material for SYRYN and my own material. I've got some ideas and a plethora of material I've already written in parts than need completion. I have worked at setting myself up a new arrangement for recording including using a DAW for recording with EZ-Drummer2 for drum programming. I used to use my Boss BR-1200CD digital workstation for my own home recordings, but was limited in the sounds and capabilities I could produce myself. Thankfully, technology has made it so easy to have my own home recording studio. I also had a taste of recording using a mic to a speaker before leaving Lethbridge and found the tone so much more pleasing than digital sim amps. Gotta have that real tone! Now I just gotta put together an isolated V30 speaker in a box and I'm set!
I had released limited quantities of my first little solo EP (Better Late Than Never) in 2016 and definitely looking forward to releasing material with SYRYN. I also have another project that I want to get off the ground that I will lead and front. Keep a watch out for it ;)
So there's much more to reveal, and will be done so in the up coming posts