Tuesday, September 29, 2009

V2 Angry Fuzz by Visual Sound

Manufacturer: Visual Sound
Official Site: www.visualsound.net
Price: £130.00
Current Draw: 11-17mA
Dimensions: 3" x 5 11/16" (78 x 144mm)

Despite its name, there's nothing to be angry about when it comes to this fuzz pedal by Visual Sound. With an easy-to-use layout and a variety of fuzz tones, two of which are octave-up and octave-down overtones, the Angry Fuzz is well-worth the look.


The Angry Fuzz features three level controls: volume, fuzz, and (fittingly enough) "Anger." There's also an effect on/off LED and a bright switch. The pedal itself is designed to be tough and has die-cast aluminum housing. In addition, there's an ultra-heavy-duty on/off footswitch that has been tested to withstand over ten million clicks without failing.

The volume control allows for a significant amount of boost to be dialed in. It also lets the user match processed and bypass tones. With regard to the fuzz control, there are ample options, ranging from subtle to full-out tones. The "Anger" level lets the user mix octave-up overtones in varying degrees.


The Angry Fuzz has plenty of character to spare and produces consistently satisfying fuzz effects. By adding in the octave effects of the Anger control, the tone is transformed into something that's sharp and perfect for soloing. Also, strumming chords produces an array of interesting octave-down tones. Fiddling with the Angry Fuzz's tone, volume and pickup settings will produce numerous overtones that are nothing short of outrageous.


Visual's Angry Fuzz pedal doesn't skimp on tone. Its bright switch and incredibly durable footswitch are definite positives. The palette of octave and fuzz tones adds to the high-performance of the pedal and makes it a must-try for fuzz lovers everywhere.

Shadows Fall to Offer One on One Music Lessons

Shadows Fall recently announced that they will be teaming up with RockSource360 (a.k.a. RockDoctors) to provide interactive music lessons. "To give you a little bit of background on the RockDoctors, they set up online music lessons," said the Massachusetts metallers, "[and] all you have to do is sign up for an account with them and sign up for a Skype account."

The band later added: "To kick everything off we'll be giving a few of these lessons away for free, so if you got a golden ticket in your pre-order of [the new album], Retribution, you might be one of the lucky ones to win a lesson."

Shadows Fall guitarist Frank Aresti is offering his services to the site, giving users the chance to learn his guitar stylings in a one on one environment. His profile page can be found here.

James Vendera, co-founder of RockDoctors, is a featured vocal coach at RockSource 360. Vendera is the first person in history to shatter a wineglass by the power of his voice alone (whilst being documented on film). He has even demonstrated his glass-shattering ability on the likes of Mythbusters and an array of other international television shows.

Visit www.rocksource360.com for more information.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Future Tour for the Big Four?

Metallica's official website has released footage from the band's September 17 concert at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (See below for clip.)

The following tunes made up the set list for the event:

01. That Was Just Your Life
02. The End of the Line
03. Ride the Lightning
04. Wherever I May Roam
05. One
06. Broken, Beat & Scarred
07. Cyanide
08. Sad but True
09. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
10. All Nightmare Long
11. The Day that Never Comes
12. Master of Puppets
13. Damage, Inc.
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman

16. Last Caress
17. Motorbreath
18. Seek & Destroy

The band recently kicked off a new North American tour, which started on September 14 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Drummer Lars Ulrich has not yet confirmed reports of a future tour featuring the "Big Four" of the 80s thrash metal scene - Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. During a radio interview in Dayton, Ohio with 103.9 The X, Ulrich was quoted as saying:

"I think it would be a super-fun thing to do. It's something that I would definitely support. It's something that I would love to encourage. It's something I love to be very proactive in putting together. But right now . . . it's not something that's like hush-hush being worked on behind the scenes or anything like that. I read some of those Internet sites myself once in a while, and it's not something that's going down, but it's something that I would be totally for at some point if it could happen. And we would love to be a part of that at any level possible."

According to Ulrich, the idea for a Big Four tour started in March 2009. "...a bunch of us were sitting around way later than we should have been sitting around [having] a bunch of very heavily red wine-induced conversations . . . And the idea of doing that at some point came up in that conversation."

However, the chatty drummer's comments have been noted as contradicting those of Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo who, despite admitting that a tour was indeed in the works, offered a discretionary note in a Metromix interview saying, "It's not a sealed deal. We're working on it."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Robin Lindström to Join The Cold Existence

The Cold Existence has made a new addition to their line-up. The Swedish melodic death metal band recently announced that guitarist Robin Lindström (Vanishing System) will be joining them.

The band, who was recently picked up by Pulverised Records, are set to record their third album at Andy La Rocque's (King Diamond) Sonic Train Studios in Varberg, Sweden. The album will be produced by Peter Laustsen and is expected to be released in early 2010.

Pulverised Records has commented that the new material from The Cold Existence is "very fast and brutal and will be the best album by this band yet." The label's A&R manager, Calvin Chiang, recently commented:

"The Cold Existence approached us some time ago and what we heard on their latest album, Sombre Gates, totally caught us off guard! We have confidence that the third full-length will slay everything else they have done in the past!"

Sombre Gates was released last March when the band was still signed to Kolony Records. At the time of the album's launch, an official press release said:

"...bearing the legacy of Dissection, [The Cold Existence's] blackened/death metal non-compromising sound is also reminiscent of such seminal bands as Behemoth, Nile, At the Gates and Hypocrisy. Willing to tour steadily through Europe, the band now relies on the super heavy and ultra-fast sound of an Andy La Rocque-mastered release. Black/death metal at its finest!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Morley Signature Wahs: Kiko Loureiro and George Lynch Dragon 2

Manufacturer: Morley Pedals
Official Site: www.morleypedals.com
Price: £125.00
Model: Loureiro: KIKO; Lynch: GLW2
Dimensions: Loureiro & Lynch: 19.3"(L) X 5.88"(W) X 2.75" (H)

Morley Pedals, now famous for its wah-wah pedals, got its first major boost in the 1970s when the company's original Power Wah was discovered (and embraced) by funk guitarists. Most seemed to like the pedal's extra-wide sweep range and oversized treadle (which gave the guitarist an enhanced level of controllability). Sometime later, the likes of Mark Tremonti, Adam Darski and Steve Vai brought even more attention to the virtues of Morley with the release of their signature pedals. Even the late Cliff Burton cast an additional spotlight on the company through his use of two original, chrome-cased Morley pedals: the Tel-Ray Morley Power Wah Boost and the Tel-Ray Morley Power Wah Fuzz. Now, Kiko Loureiro and George Lynch have been added to the list of big-name Morley users...and they have the custom-designed wahs to prove it. These signature, multifunction pedals feature Morley's electro-optical circuitry as well as a True-Tone buffered bypass (which allows for a powerful signal regardless of the pedal being off or on).


Kiko's pedal has multiple functionality and acts as a distortion box, volume pedal and wah. Both the wah and distortion have dedicated switches and the distortion can be either mixed with the wah or used on its own. With its three controls - tone, drive and level - the distortion sounds warm, almost tube-like, and is ideal for dirtying up a clean channel or dealing with a crunchy amp. The wah seems tuned to create a deep tone no matter the register. Finally, when the wah and distortion are bypassed, it's always on as a volume pedal. The only major downside of Kiko's pedal is the amount of effort required to return the pedal to full-volume after using the wah.


Switchless and spring-loaded, the treadle on Lynch's pedal immediately returns to the up/off position when your foot is removed. There are two modes, including Wah and Wow. There is a vintage flavour, a distinct smoothness and an overall clear tone with the Wow mode. Low-mid accent is exaggerated in this mode, meaning it can easily tackle heavy distortion. The Wah Lock is activated with another switch and it gives a sound like that of leaving a wah in the half-cocked position (in other words, Wah Lock enables the inductor to filter a tone to any chosen frequency). Sadly, the eye-catching dragon decal on Lynch's textured pedal is not immune to peeling.


Kiko's pedal, while taking care of distortion, wah and volume, produces a wah that's well-balanced and capable of complementing the full range of a guitar. Lynch's pedal is switchless and gives the option of either a lockable wah filter effect or a vintage wah tone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ozzy says Zakk "Don't Need Me Anymore."

Artisan News Service caught up with veteran rocker Ozzy Osbourne at the Sunset Strip Music Festival and got the skinny on the departure of guitarist Zakk Wylde and his replacement by Gus G.

"I haven't fallen out with Zakk; he's a very good- Our relationship goes way beyond music," Ozzy said. "He's got his own thing now: he's got his own band, he's got his own career — he don't need me anymore." He added, "I've a got a guy, Gus G., a guy from Greece — not the musical, the country of Greece."

In an interview with Classic Rock magazine in June 2009, Ozzy said he was looking for a replacement for Wylde, who played with the band off and on since 1988. "Zakk's got his own band and I felt like my stuff was beginning to sound like [his band] - Black Label Society," Ozzy admitted, adding, "I just felt like I wanted a change, y'know?"

Later, on July 29, Wylde responded to Ozzy's comments to Classic Rock during a radio interview in Eugene, Oregon:

"I've gotta be honest with you. The boss hasn't even given me a phone call, so I mean- I'm just like- I don't know what's going on over there. Are we doing this thing or are we not doing it? I mean, it's like, dude, you don't wanna play with me anymore? Fine. Play with whoever the hell you wanna play with. I couldn't give a rat's ass. Like I'm gonna get all jealous or whatever. But you know what? Man up and give me a phone call and tell me what the hell's going on."

Wylde went on to rant about Ozzy, using ample expletives and causing the radio station to insert censor "beeps" into the majority of the tirade.

Ozzy, who has been working on a solo album in Los Angeles, confirmed that Wylde had recorded material for his latest project, but admitted, "I don't know if I want to use it."

And just when it seemed the plot couldn't thicken any further, Wylde's wife announced in an online posting that her husband suffers from "a rare genetic clotting disorder" and that he is receiving treatment in California.

Meanwhile, Gus G. has told the Greek edition of Metal Hammer magazine that MySpace played a part in his new job with the former Black Sabbath frontman:

"I got a message on my MySpace page from Rob "Blasko" [Nicholson], Ozzy's bass player, asking me what I was doing, if I was living in America or not and saying that he wanted to talk to me. I never thought he'd want me for something like that [playing with Ozzy]. I initially thought that maybe he wanted to talk to me about doing a project or something and then he told me that one of Ozzfest's managers was looking for me. The manager said that they wanted me to fly out to Los Angeles immediately for a show that Ozzy was about to do in Anaheim, California."

Regarding his replacement of Wylde in the band's line-up, Gus said, "Zakk is a tremendous guitar player, just like all the guys that have played with Ozzy. In fact, Zakk is my favourite Ozzy guitar player ever and my biggest influence of them all. It's quite an honour for me to step into his shoes."

Gus G., whose real name is Kostas Karamitroudis, currently plays with Firewind. He has also played with Arch Enemy, Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy, and Nightrage.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Orange Dual Terror Head

Manufacturer: Orange Music Electronic Company Ltd.
Official Site: www.orangeamps.com
Price: ₤525.00
Features: Power Switch, output valve switch, 1.5mm Zintec Chassis with steel vented top case.
Controls: Independent volume, tone and gain for each channel.
Output: 30, 15, 7 watts
Valves: Preamp: 4 x ECC83; Output: 4 x EL84

Ever since Orange released the all-tube Tiny Terror in 2007, the company has worked to keep up with the demand for the 15-watt portable guitar head. However, Orange somehow found the time to introduce both the Tiny Terror Combo and the Tiny Terror Hard Wired Edition along the way. Now they've made another addition to the family with the release of the Dual Terror head. This latest Terror has both 7- and 15-watt settings and can put out an additional 30-watts from the EL84-driven power section.


The Dual Terror is more versatile than the Tiny Terror, but all the highly praised features of its predecessor remain unchanged. Even the aesthetics, which include vented, cabinet-free chassis and a chrome handle, have been preserved. Despite the fact that the Dual is slightly larger than the Tiny, it still manages to maintain its portability.

One major difference between the Dual and the Tiny is the tubes. The Dual uses four EL84 tubes whereas the Tiny used two, meaning the Dual is capable of more power and more overall volume. The Dual also has an on/off switch, a single input, a two-way switch for selecting channels and a three-way switch for full, standby, and half power. There are three speaker outputs but no effect loop.


While the four EL84 tubes give the Dual a slightly upper hand over the Tiny, the difference isn't overtly noticeable. The Dual is denser in its harmonics than the Tiny (a detail that is more obvious when the Dual is set to 30 watts, causing a higher level of speaker movement and sound pressure). Also, top notes tend to sound slightly more round and the low end has a bit more kick.

The Dual's design captures more of the warm tube sound. The rhythm and lead channels are much the same, although the lead channel has slightly more fat and gain. The amp's high-gain settings are more rich and defined and the crunch tones are denser.


The Dual Terror offers lovers of the Tiny Terror added power combined with the option to switch between rhythm and lead settings. The new 30-watt setting means the Dual can easily be used in live settings of moderately loud volume and can be used with large speaker cabinets. In addition, the four EL84 tubes add some extra punch. The Dual lacks an effect loop, but features three power options, incredible tones and convenient portability.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Interview - Shred Teacher Kris Kelly

California based guitar wizard Kris Kelly shares some secrets on being a great student.

How long have you been teaching guitar?
For the last fifteen years.

Why do you teach guitar?
I find great satisfaction helping others in their quest to better understand and connect with their instrument. I had some great teachers along my life path and I want to pay it forward, so to speak.

Where is your teaching practice based?
I teach primarily out of my home studio in Redding, California. I also travel to students homes in the area, especially if they are too young to drive.

As far as teaching goes, what is your specialty?
My passion is teaching improvisation and expressive soloing.

What level of player do you prefer to teach?
The student that has already learned the rudiments and wants to learn how to improvise effectively, as well as emotionally.

What makes a player a virtuoso?
A virtuoso, to me, is someone who can express themselves through their instrument so well that people respond to what they hear, on a gut level. I believe a virtuoso can easily be identified within hearing their first few notes. A virtuoso also commands a wide array of chops and techniques, but more importantly, they stamp a number of those chops with their own recognizable signature. Players that come to mind as virtuosos are; Jeff Beck, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Andy Timmons, George Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt, Robben Ford, Steve Vai, Marc Bonilla, Reb Beach, and Joe Satriani. It is quite subjective really, and depends on your tastes.

How fast is too fast, if such a concept exists?
I don’t think a guitar player can ever play too fast. That being said, I do believe some fast players can play fast too much of the time. I love listening to guitarists that shred technically, but if that is all they do, I get bored pretty quick.

From a Teacher’s point of view, what is the number one roadblock to becoming a better player?
Believing in your own mind that you are not good enough, or that you could never be that good.

What makes a good student? Describe the student who progresses really quickly.
One that is committed to the learning process and one that opens himself/herself up to the overall experience. They need to have an open mind and be willing to explore themselves along with their instrument.

Do you find that older or younger students progress faster/learn quicker?
Generally speaking the younger students progress faster, so long as they are fully committed.

What is your teaching format?
There are certain forms that are used with most of my students depending on their level of experience (i.e. chord forms, ear training, scales, modes, improved tuning techniques) but I design each lesson plan for the individual student. Overall, I see my role as a facilitator to help them achieve their musical vision. And if they do not have a vision, I try and help them form one.

What models of learning benefit the student the most?
I think, initially, it is giving them what they want in the short term be it learning a specific song or lick. Then I start to weave lessons into that effort that will take them to the next level. I also form a clear vision with the student of where they want to go with our time together. Aiming high is a good way to define a direction and give them the most rewards in the process.

Is there one piece of advice that you can give the readers to improve their playing right now?
It is very valuable to play with other musicians of any style, as often as possible. This will cause you to grow by leaps and bounds.

How can prospective students contact you for lessons?
Via my new MySpace music page: http://www.myspace.com/kriskellyguitar
Also, I can be reached via e-mail at: wolfman@mail2world.com

Missing: One Five Finger Death Punch Guitarist

On September 20, Los Angeles-based metal act Five Finger Death Punch posted the following statement:

"We have not been able to locate Zoltan [Bathory, guitar] from Five Finger Death Punch since Friday night's [September 18] show in Las Vegas. He has not responded to calls, text messages, or emails, and he was last seen around 2:00 a.m. Friday night at Wasted Space in the Hard Rock Casino, taking tequila shots at the bar with a group of guys from a bachelor party who came to the show.

"If anybody has any information as to the whereabouts of Zoltan, please email ffdp@prospectpk.com immediately. This is not like him and the band needs to prepare for the upcoming tour. We have already notified the appropriate authorities, but any help Vegas fans might be able to provide is very much appreciated."

Later, it was noted that someone logged into the guitarist's MySpace profile, which aroused suspicions of the story's legitimacy.

Five Finger Death Punch begin their The Shock and Roar Tour on September 22 in San Francisco, California and are scheduled to finish in early November. Also on the tour roster are OTEP, Shadows Fall, and 2Cents.

UPDATE (Sept. 21/09): Five Finger Death Punch later issued a statement announcing that Bathory had been found, saying, "We just talked to him and although he sounded somewhat incoherent, he says he'll be fine and the tour will start as planned tomorrow!! Sorry if he worried anyone!"

The band did not provide any information regarding Bathory's whereabouts during the three days he was "missing," nor did they offer an explanation as to why the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had no record of the band filing a missing persons report.

Given the fact that September 22 marks the date for both the beginning of the band's The Shock and Roar Tour and the U.S. release of their new album, War is the Answer, it has been speculated that Bathory's "disappearance" was merely a publicity stunt.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Tom Hess Clinic Tour Instructor Group Interview

Join Tom Hess and 5 pro guitarists for free guitar lessons on the 2009 Tom Hess Instructional Clinic Tour. Don't miss this great opportunity.

Learn how to:
•Immediately Increase Your Guitar Playing Speed
•Know Exactly 'What' To Practice
•Make Consistent Progress EVERY TIME You Practice Your Guitar
•and much more!

September 14, 2009 Guitar Center - Algonquin, Illinois, 7 pm
September 15, 2009 Guitar Center - Grand Rapids, Michigan, 6 pm
September 16, 2009 Guitar Center - Toledo, Ohio, 6 pm
September 17, 2009 Guitar Center - Cleveland, Ohio, 7 pm
September 18, 2009 House of Guitars - Rochester, New York, 7 pm
September 19, 2009 McNeil Music - Vestal, New York, 6:30 pm
September 20, 2009 To be announced
September 21, 2009 To be announced
September 22, 2009 To be announced
September 23, 2009 Guitar Center - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 6 pm
September 24, 2009 Guitar Center - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7 pm
September 25, 2009 Sam Ash Music - Columbus, Ohio, 6 pm
September 26, 2009 Guitar Center - Cincinnati, Ohio, 7 pm
September 27, 2009 Guitar Center - Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 pm

For details, additional videos from the previous tour and to save
your spot, check out:

I caught up with the instructors (Tom Hess, Mike Philippov, Randy Johnson, Paul Kleff, Nick Layton and Zack Uild) for an interview.

How do you prepare for the clinics?

Mike: Everyone practices their parts individually, and shortly before the tour, the whole group gets together for rehearsals. The group practice helps to bring everything together smoothly.

It is a process that occurs over many months. It stems from what I am learning in my own playing. I know by the time I hit the clinic and present that what I am talking about will truly bring a benefit to the people who listen and are willing to apply what I am teaching because I have already seen the benefits that it brings to me. I never have any problems being excited about what I teach because I know what I am sharing can be easily implemented AND help people make great progress on the guitar. Guitar is such a cool instrument. It's a blast to learn. I start with an idea and in my mind create the outline. There comes a point where that thinking flips a switch and I start writing. It comes pretty quickly after that. Then in final stages I put together some clear examples to demonstrate the material. I try and keep the examples simple because most people coming to the clinics are not extremely advanced. I want to provide examples that are more attainable for the people watching. If they are more attainable people are willing to try them and have more belief they can actually reach new levels.

We each selected some topics that we wanted to present that we felt were really important. We all teach, so we all have a good idea of the struggles that guitar players run into. So I chose my clinic topics based on the types of things that I help my students work through.

I always try to anticipate the needs of guitar players. To be very mindful of what they say they want and what they also may need (but are not saying). It's also very important to me when speaking to diverse groups that everything I present to them is applicable to all (or almost all) the guitar players there - regardless of their skill level or playing style. It's very challenging to make that perfect, but I'm confident that what they will learn will do exactly that. I am actually going to be giving 7 different presentations throughout the tour. Some guitar players will be traveling to more than one city to see this clinic tour, so I wanted to be sure they get something new. There are 14 clinics no this tour so every 2 days I'll be giving a different presentation.

Nick: I chose a topic that I'm very passionate about and I've fine tuned it quite a bit over the last few weeks. Because I teach privately I'm very aware of some of the stumbling blocks that students have. A lot of it stems from ineffective practice habits.

Zack: I prepared for these clinics by thinking of topics that will be of the highest benefit to the people attending. I design my presentations so they will benefit the attendees immediately upon hearing the information.

What will each of the clinicians be focusing on?

Mike: All of the topics are related to practicing guitar. Some of us have more than one topic that we will be teaching throughout the whole tour, but all presentations will be about the various areas of practicing the guitar (general practicing concepts, practicing for building speed, practicing improvising, and more).

Randy: All the clinicians will be focused on topics about practice efficiency. How to get the most out of the time spent in practice. This is a concept that Tom Hess has successfully transferred to me as a student and it lives in every student I know of that has studied under him. There is a big broad amount of information that can be learned about the guitar. We only have so much time to reach our goals. Tom Hess's goal has always been to help students get from point A to B as quickly and effectively as possible. So it's only natural that his clinic would be focused on this sort of idea.

Paul: We are focusing on different aspects of guitar technique and musicianship and the best ways to practice to develop and grow as a musician and guitar player. The material we are covering is very valuable. Most clinics consist of a guitar player sitting down and demonstrating maybe a couple cool licks and then playing a couple songs--these clinics are nothing like that. These clinics are jam packed full of practical info. The people who attend will leave with valuable information that they will be able to apply to their own playing right now regardless of their playing skill level.

Tom: This year our focus is on guitar practicing. The other clinicians and I have developed many innovative guitar practice strategies, a few of things have never been publicly taught before... ever.

Nick: Each clinician will be focused on sharing ways to help guitarists maximize their practice time.

Zack: I will be focusing on combining various techniques, string skipping, and improvising with restrictions.

Who should attend the clinics?

Mike: Intermediate players and early advanced players who are looking for ways to get more results out of their practicing in a short amount of time and take their playing to the next level.

Randy: Guitarists of all levels should attend. Tom Hess specifically instructed us all to consider how the principles we share can apply to all levels. As a more advanced player I wish I had heard the information that will be shared during these clinics when I was at earlier levels. Really. The information you will hear in these clinics is well.......it's gonna be sick! There will be information in these clinics that will be applicable to players of all levels there whole lives! I know, yeah I know. Sounds pretty hyped to say that. But well. It is true. And as a teacher myself I would have to say the information in these clinics is not something you will hear in guitar lessons or on the internet very often. The ZEN of guitar! Last year I was privileged to be on the tour and hear the information shared over and over again. I still remember standing in back and listening to these guys and going wow! There is just a ton of good information and this year we were able to get Nick Layton to join us who is a phrasing master! I can't wait.

Paul: All guitar players who are interested in finding the best ways to improve in the most efficient ways possible. And, by the way--the clinics are FREE!

Tom: Any guitar players who want to improve (and improve quickly) on the guitar. It's totally free to attend.

These clinics will really help, encourage and inspire guitarists of all levels. Any guitarist who wants to learn and improve will love this!

Everyone should attend the clinics. It had an incredible value and the feedback we receive has been nothing short of amazing.

How long does a single clinic at a single venue last?

Mike: 90 minutes. During this time, 5 presenters take turns explaining their topic.

Zack: These events last a few hours. There are the presentations, question and answer, and then informal discussion after the event is technically over.

Do you get more or less nervous when presenting a clinic compared to performing, and what are your coping strategies?

Mike: Not really more nervious, but presenting at a clinic requires a different level of preparation that is not the same as practicing to perform, so as long as adequate time is taken to prepare and rehearsals take place before the tour, everything usually goes smoothly.

Randy: I get a little nervy. I would be dead if I did not get a little nervy speaking in front of a bunch of people. My coping strategy is to just get on stage and start sharing. That is the good thing about all this. What I talk about is what I am passionate about. I love playing guitar, I love learning, I love to share what I know. I have a plan, an order to what I share. I am practiced up. I just do it.

Paul: Preparation is important--nobody is just "winging" their presentations. It's a little different than just performing where you can get locked into that music zone in your brain and just go. I have taught guitar for a long time and am accustomed to talking about it and helping people learn and doing a clinic is really a lot like an extension of doing a lesson. I don't really get nervous--once I get started it just goes.

Tom: I do not get nervous anymore when performing or doing clinics. There is no reason to be nervous really. I'm dedicated to giving of myself to others on this tour. So when you do something nice for others you don't really feel nervous. As long as the focus in your mind is all about 'them' you don't get nervous. As soon as you begin thinking about 'yourself, then you get nervous.

Nick: This kind of clinic is focused on sharing valuable information and helping others to improve...so there really is no reason to be nervous. We are doing this to try and help people better themselves and their guitar playing.

Zack: I have never gotten nervous being in front of people honestly. I did a little when I was a kid, but now I don‚t. I realize that I am a total nerd/dork so even if something terrible happens; I just laugh about with everyone.

What did you, as a clinician, learn from the last clinic tour?

With each clinic I do, I get more comfortable presenting topics in front of groups, and also it is easy to see (by the audience responses) what topics are more helpful for larger groups so that I can tailor my clinic ideas in the future to help more people.

Randy: Isolation. The power of isolation in practice. Tom Hess is a master at communicating the power of getting the most out of your time in practice. I actually used some of what he taught on the tour while I was playing on the tour. It was funny because one night I was playing something that I had isolated per his instruction (he knew I was working on it) and looked over at him when I nailed it and was like "Oh Yeah! This KICKS!!!"

No matter where you go, people love to play the guitar and love to learn and improve. I enjoy teaching in a clinic format and have done several clinics on my own since the last tour.

Tom: Many people are afraid to ask questions in a group setting among people they do not know. So this year I have factored that reality into my presentations to better help the person in the audience who may have a question but is too shy to ask it. I don't want people to simply listen to me, I want them to LEARN and apply what they learn into their guitar playing for the rest of their lives.

Nick: This is my first tour. I'm sure I will learn a ton of stuff. Can't wait!

Zack: I learned a lot. Being able to spend time with guys like Tom is really valuable. I learned a lot of guitar related ideas too from the various presentations.

What is your favorite part of a clinic tour?

Mike: I enjoy traveling and teaching others about things I'm passionate about, so there are a lot of things I really like about a clinic tour, hard to pick only one.

Just hanging out with Tom Hess and all the people on the tour. It's just a great bunch of people to hang out with. Everyone is level headed and loves to learn and play. To me it's just a little heaven on earth. It's great to meet the people that come to the clinics too. I hope to see many of them just to say hey.

Paul: Meeting with people before and after the clinics is very cool. Answering questions and talking with people is great.

Tom: I have 2 favorite parts.

1. Seeing the look on people's faces when we share something cool with them and the light bulbs are going on in their heads like they just had a transformational learning experience. That is REALLY cool for me.

2. Hanging out with Randy Johnson, Mike Philippov, Nick Layton, Zack Uidl and Paul Kleff. I had the privilege of teaching and mentoring all of these guys through my online guitar lessons and my Music Careers Mentoring Program.

Nick: I think hanging out with the other clinicians and meeting new people at the clinics will be my favorite parts.

For me, my favorite part is getting to meet people from around the country. I love getting to interact with fans and people who attend the clinics. It really is great.

Share a funny story from the last clinic tour.

Randy: There were many funny things actually. You have to see Tom order chicken fajitas though. That is truly an experience that is unforgettable. I also remember Uli (who is on Tom's staff). You should see her face when the word chocolate is uttered. It is priceless. Then finally the laughing from Mike Philippov when he saw Paul Kleff's cat.

Paul: Doing the tour last year was a lot like being in a band. You spend a lot of time together and everybody gets to know everyone's quirks so everybody gets a turn being picked on at some point.

At one of the venues, the stage was very small and somebody fell off the back of it. I won't say who, but it wasn't me!

Tom: One of them was when our tour manager feel off the back of the stage. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it sure is now. 

I wasn't there but I heard about various shenanigans. Knowing these guys there will be lots more this year :-)

Zack: There are a lot of great stories. I think the funniest thing is Paul Kleff‚s insanely fat cat. It is huge! Seeing that thing and then seeing Mike Philippov almost die laughing at it was pretty great.

Another funny thing was recording some people from the tour snoring and making death metal tunes with the snores in the place of the vocals.

Don't miss this!

Learn more about:
Tom Hess here
Zack Uidl here
Mike Philippov here
Paul Kleff here
Nick Layton here
Randy Johnson here

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Exodus Gets Inked: Thrash Icons to be Featured in Comic Book by Terminal Press

Nuclear Blast Records and Terminal Press have joined forces to produce a new apocalyptic horror comic book featuring Exodus. The comic/metal crossover, entitled Exodus: Death Begets Death, will feature the Bay Area thrash metal legends in a futuristic tale of war and the supernatural.

Terminal Press has issued the following premise for the comic:

Set in a ruined America of the near future, the story follows two war generals who rule over military fiefdoms the size of time zones. General Scraw controls the west coast, while his twin brother General Scraggg reigns from a seat in Las Vegas. The twins amuse themselves by sending the military’s toughest war toys, the Shovel Headed Kill Machines, into the deserts of the MidWaste to exterminate the human rabble that scrabbles for survival there. But when General Scraw learns that his military has been wiped out by a supernatural being calling herself the Earth Mother, he sends five crazed men who may or may not be the members of EXODUS from the bowels of his own prison to stop her. But many more people will die before the strange woman gets what she wants, and the twin generals will learn the price of their own misdeeds.

The one-shot comic will draw on a number concepts from the band itself, particularly those relating to their music and lyrics. "As many things as we get to do as a band, traveling the world, getting paid to drink and play thrash metal, I don't think anything can touch being immortalized in our own comic book!" said guitarist Gary Holt.

Exodus: Death Begets Death is written by Keith McCleary and features the artwork of Rolo Ledesma as well as colours by Narek Gevorgian. It is set to hit shelves in early 2010.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vesica Lead: Innovative or Incomprehensible?

At first glance, the Vesica Lead seems interesting, to say the least. If you're at all like me, you might find yourself experiencing a combination of intrigue and confusion. Upon first seeing the guitar, I initially thought, "Well, that's...different" and after closer study, the question that followed was, "But is that really necessary?" After giving the notion some consideration, I can't help but think it's entirely unnecessary.

Vesica describes its new 6-stringed creation as:

The electric guitar that opens the door to untapped expressive and creative territory and challenges you to explore extraordinary sonic possibilities.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I always thought creative expression came from the music one made using an instrument, not from simply playing something that looks interesting. As a musician myself, I won't deny that visual representation is part of the package, but I still can't buy into the fact that Vesica seems to be marketing a guitar based predominately on appearance. I find this even more peculiar after focusing on the Lead's neck design, which is reminiscent of that of a banjo.

Now, your standard banjo neck is designed as such in order to accommodate an extra string. If Vesica had designed the Lead's neck with this purpose in mind, I'd say that made sense – but that's not the case. In fact, the VL Neck (patent pending!) serves an entirely different purpose. Again, I'll let Vesica explain:

Thanks to the VL Neck™, the guitarist is no longer constrained by only inward movement of the outer strings while soloing or playing lead. This freedom to move the strings in either direction is the logical evolution of guitar design and the ultimate way to expand the palette of the musical canvas in your hands.

If this was actually a problem before, I was completely unaware of it. Call me crazy, but bending strings upward has always worked for me and I have never experienced any of the "constraint" of which Vesica speaks. I know I don't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty confident that I'm not the only guitarist who will be quite content to continue bending high strings upwards.

Awkward neck design aside, the Lead does have some quality features: Graph Tech Nut, EMG pickups, and a Hipshot Baby Grand Bridge, to name a few. It has a mahogany body, maple neck, and ebony fingerboard as well, which is not what I'd classify as "shabby." However, despite this decent helping of admirable features, I'm still not convinced. The Lead carries a £1,380.00 price tag – a cost that I consider a tad unreasonable given the fact that the axe’s main attraction is a seemingly unnecessary neck design.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New release from Ron Jarzombek

Acclaimed guitarist Ron Jarzombek (BLOTTED SCIENCE, WATCHTOWER, SPASTIC INK) has set a September 15 release date for his solo album, 'PHHHP! Plus', which combines the cult fave 'PHHHP!' recordings with 12 additional cuts that delve further into the archives of the legendary guitarist's formative pre-WATCHTOWER days.

"I've been getting e-mails for years about properly releasing 'PHHHP!' on CD from people that had cassette copies of these demos some twenty years ago. I was hesitant for a long time because I was more interested in releasing new music rather than resurrecting the past", says Jarzombek.

"Eventually, I considered doing a digital-only release but I know a lot of fans, prog and metal fans in particular, still want that physical CD rather than just an mp3 for their iPod. So I came around to the idea of pressing up product after all but adding bonus tracks to really make it worthwhile. I started to go through old boxes of tapes and found stuff I didn't even remember I had - demos I recorded on my older brother Ralph's four-track machine over at his apartment while he was away at work. Some time later I got my own four-track recorder, held together with duct tape to keep it from falling apart, and began to record more songs, including 'Ants On My Windshield' and 'Fishies On Leashes' (originally written for my FATES WARNING audition ca. '86), which features my brother Bobby (Jarzombek) on drums. Finally, there is the 'PHHHP!' demos, a collection of a dozen songs I put together in the late 1980's and early '90s after I had already joined WATCHTOWER. None of these tunes were ever played with the band because either there were too many guitar parts, or because it was coming from a totally different musical perspective. If anything this was SPASTIC INK before there was SPASTIC INK."

'PHHHP! Plus' will be issued through Jarzombek's own EclecticElectric label. The album track listing reads as follows:

01. PHHHP!
02. Kill The White Noise
03. This Nice Blonde
04. Nighty-Nite
05. It Looks Like A Chicken
06. Oh No, Mr. Kitty!
07. Electrical Stud
08. Test Tones
09. Pre-Slam Discussions
10. Blink For Me
11. Zits In 3-D
12. That's Odd
13. The Blood Boogie
14. Ants On My Windshield
15. Tri-Vivace
16. Dead Machine
17. Hello There!
18. Die Bleeding
19. Let's Eat Glass
20. Fishies On Leashes
21. Blessed Corpse
22. The Respiratory Therapist Wanna-Be
23. Of The Essence
24. Razor Blade Baby
25. Bombs Away
26. The Slow Song