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