You have recorded quite a few Cds over the last few years, which one song are you most proud of and why?
From the FIREWIND albums I'm really proud of the song "I Am the Anger" cause it's just the perfect heavy metal sound to my ears! I'm glad I accomplished that. From the DREAM EVIL albums I'm happy I co-wrote the song "Children Of The Night" with Snowy Shaw and Fredrik Nordstrom. It's one of my all time favorite songs and it went on to become a minor success here in Europe.
What single moment in your career were you the most excited and why?
There have been many moments. Some of them are my live performances with George Lynch (x-Dokken) in Japan, the creation of my signature guitars from ESP, the chart entries of my albums in Sweden and Japan.
Tell us about the new Firewind Cd "Forged by Fire" coming out in the next few months.
This album is our debut with new singer Chity Somapala (x-Avalon) and new keyboardist Bob Katsionis. I feel it's the best FW album of all 3 and it's a new beginning for the band. The album itself has variety from fast power metal songs, to heavy mid tempo Sabbath-inspired tracks, to emotional ballads and another powerful instrumental track in the Firewind tradition with guest solos from Marty Friedman (x-Megadeth) and James Murphy (x-Testament, Death) It will be released through EMI in Japan this November and through Century Media (rest of world) early in 2005.
Which single guitarist do you feel has influenced you the most and why.
Michael Schenker for sure. Schenker always played the "right" notes in a solo and this has been a big inspiration for me, it has made me a much better player and made me think much more before I play each note.
When you first started sending me demos back in the old days, the thing that I thought you had that most young guitarist don't is a good vibrato. How did you develop yours and why do you think most of the other young guitarist don't have this quality in their playing?
Thanx!!! Some of my favorite players are Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum, Michael Schenker and Uli Roth. All the guys I mentioned have extremely good vibrato. I practiced very much to achieve a vibrato like that. It even makes me feel bad when I hear a guitarist with a bad vibrato haha!! I think a lot of young players don't even know who Uli Roth or Gary Moore are. So, they probably never got into that style of playing. And of course, since they are technique fanatics, they think that playing licks fast and clear is what is all about.
If you could put together your dream band who else would play in it?
Michael Schenker - guitar
Me - 2nd guitar (it's a dream band isn't it?? I can do whatever I want in my dreams!) :-))
Tony Martin - Vocals
Steve Harris - Bass
Cozy Powell - Drums
Jon Lord - Keyboards
My favorite CHASTAIN album is "For Those Who Dare". Please talk a bit about those days. I remember I was watching your video on MTV all the time. Did you tour for that album and with which bands?
We toured a lot for the Chastain Cds, "The 7th of Never," "The Voice of the Cult," and "For Those Who Dare." We usually only did headlining tours as I am not to keen on opening shows for other bands. The title track on "For Those Who Dare" did get quite a few plays on MTV which helped bring fans into the concerts but didn't seem to necessarily send people to the stores to buy the Cd in any greater numbers. Leather and I used different line ups on each of the tours. She was a great live performer and I am sorry that she has voluntarily "retired" from the music business. Metal was much bigger in those days for sure but there seems to be a slight resurgence recently.
Talk a bit about the new CHASTAIN album. I certainly enjoyed it. Would you consider doing a tour in Europe?? We would definitely like to support you with Firewind!! :-)
We would need to support you! Your career has really taken off in the last couple of years. We are talking to some promoters now but it would have to be a special circumstance to get everyone together, rehearse intensely, and then come over for the dates. However you never know....
Who are your all time favorite players?
Well that is a tough question. I would use to say Allan Holdsworth but there are really so many. But there is no single guy that I idolize or ever wanted to emulate to any degree. I just listened to everything from Sabbath, Kansas, Trower, Allman Brothers, Rhoads, Van Halen and many others and mixed them all together in some sort of weird concoction.
Will you ever do another ZANISTER album? What about a new solo album?
I doubt there will be another Zanister album. The first one did pretty well but the second one we got ripped off by the European label and it just left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. I do have a solo album in the "can" so to speak but I am not sure if I will release it or not. I have been working on SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN's third Cd over the last few months so I guess that is next. I also have another metal Cds worth of music written that most likely will be another Chastain Cd.
What were the highlights of your careers?
Personally my happiest time in music is after I complete a demo of a new song. While that might not make a cent or in some cases no one will ever hear it, that is the best for me. By the time a song comes out on Cd I have heard it 100s of times so it is no longer a "virgin," so to speak. It has been used and abused! I guess what I am most proud of is all of the songs that I have written, recorded and released. Something over 300.
Why do you think instrumental guitar albums don't sell anymore? I was always a fan of the Leviathan and Shrapnel releases and it's sad that guitar albums like late 80s-early 90s don't come out.
Numerous reasons: Nirvana (killed most anything where someone could play), Guitar magazines (put idiotic untalented guitarist all over their covers and in their mags leading young guitarists to think that was how it was done), monotonous releases (a lot of the Shrapnel releases were recorded in the same places with the same engineers and the same backing players and it began to all phase together in a lot of ways), too many notes (people got tired, even me, of hearing guys just play a million notes a minute with no real melody or feel), MTV (removed all heavy and talented musicians from their playlist), Metallica (As they became more and more popular they got further and further away from lead guitar and they are the most popular metal band and use to set the trends that others followed), etc. I could go on about it but we were just lucky that in the late 80s and early 90s it was a time when those extreme instrumental could sell quite a few Cds and get decent coverage in the press. Still to this day my biggest selling Cd was an instrumental Cd, "Instrumental Variations."