BY ADAM MOORE
For fans of massive, layered guitars, the holidays can often be a bit of a drag—not only
does gift buying abruptly take the place of
gear buying, but maudlin Christmas music—
full of soft vocal harmonies and the occasional bell choir—begins its perennial creep
into every facet of our lives. Fortunately for
those guitarists that find their sanity slowly
escaping as late December approaches, the
Trans-Siberian Orchestra—a touring company that fuses holiday classics with heavy
metal sensibilities and large-scale production values—also exists, and is likely coming
to a city near you.
sons in New York where I grew up. At the
same time, I was pretty much listening to
nothing but Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.
So those would be the two halves of my education: my record collection and my lessons. I
went to USC, where I was a music major and
from there I came back to New York, went to
NYU and got a Master’s in music.
the Kitaro gig, and I did that for four or five
years, from ‘ 94 until ‘99.
So you were playing new age music?
That era of Kitaro essentially sounds like
orchestral space rock. It was like Pink Floyd
with no singer.
When did you hook up with TSO?
That sounds unbelievable.
I was living in New York just after completing
my Master’s degree, and I got a gig with a
band called Naked Sun on a German label
For TSO, guitar is not an
afterthought; it is one of
the main courses, and
guitarist Angus Clark
happily obliges by creating a thick wall of sound.
In his eighth year with
TSO, Clark has become
a staple of the show,
blowing audiences away
with frenzied renditions
of classics like “Flight of
the Bumblebee” under
showers of pyrotechnics,
all while making it look
easy. And while Clark
admits to being a bit of
a Strat aficionado—he
plays in a Deep Purple
tribute band and has just
released a Strat-soaked
solo effort entitled Your
Last Battlefield—he consistently looks forward to November, when
he can strap on a high-powered Jackson
and live the big guitar dream.
Oh man, it was a great guitar gig. I had
huge, long guitar solos with strings back-
ing me up. We played in front of castles
in Japan, all over the
place. It was phenom-
enal for me as a guitar-
ist. I’m on five of his
records, and four of
them were nominated
Angus’ Plexi bears the scars of the road
distributed by BMG. And we got dropped as
soon as I joined the band, which is a classic
Here’s where it gets
Friedman worked with
Kitaro; he had Kitaro
produce one of his
solo albums, Scenes.
And so Marty would
come see the Kitaro
shows and we became
friends; when Marty left
Megadeth, Al Pitrelli
[playing with TSO at
the time] joined the
Megadeth and TSO
called Marty to see if
he was interested in
doing the tour. He wasn’t available, but he
said, “I know another guy in New York,” and
they called me. It’s only six degrees of separation [laughs].
We caught up with Clark as he geared up for
70 shows over the course of 66 days, stretching from November into the early new year.
We talked about preparing for the TSO tour,
what it takes to be a true professional, and
the definition of heavy.
What was your guitar education like?
I started playing when I was 13; I took les-
We were bound and determined to get a
new record deal. So we got in a van and
went back to L.A., played some showcases
and nothing happened, except that I met
a woman who worked for Kitaro, who is a
Japanese new age artist. They were looking for someone who could play like David
Gilmour, and I basically had the hair, the
Strat and the whole thing going on. So I got
What was the audition process like?
There were a couple auditions, and there
were a bunch of really good guys there.
There were definitely guys there that are
more technically proficient than I am, but the
nature of getting any gig—well, any gig like
this one, at least—is being a good performer.