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