Whenever I listen to what
[students] are saying with
their guitars…It becomes
very obvious what they need
to work on…And it’s almost
always the same thing that
needs work: Timing and
compressor as well as a Tube-Tech compressor after the mic preamp
to get enough sustain to feel good.
“Will My Screen Door Stop Neptune” begins with a badass line
that sounds a little like what Ralph Macchio’s character played
in the duel at the end of Crossroads. And then you rip out some
jaw-dropping muted licks that sound like they might be hybrid
picked. Are you using your picking-hand fingers there at all, or is
it all pick?
I’m not so familiar with that movie, but I’ve heard great things
about it. My inspiration for this one is kind of unusual. I wanted to
write a song with my favorite tempo. What is my favorite tempo?
“Neon Knights” by Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals,
of course! So I listened to that song and tapped away at my drum
machine to get a number for the tempo. Then I played some drums
at that tempo, recorded it, and switched to guitar. I jammed along
and came up with that riff. Then I listened to it and realized that my
riff would sound better if the drums were played in half time. So, in
the end, I discarded my tempo—or at least cut it in half—but I got
a good riff out of it. And hopefully the spirit of Ronnie James Dio
resides in the music just a little bit.
I think the muted licks you’re talking about are probably the augmented arpeggios—and I was hoping someone would notice those.
Augmented is another great chord that the Beatles and ELO used
to make pop songs. I never had a good fingering for playing them
quickly, but the Bach violin piece I did on this record [“Bach Partita
in Dm”] inspired some new arpeggio techniques that opened a lot
of doors for me, including this one. It’s all picking, hammer-ons, and
pull-offs, but the position shifts and stretches are an adventure.
The twangy rhythms on “Batter Up” sound a little like Bill Kirchen
or another Tele master, while the lead sounds a bit Satriani-esque.
What inspired that?
I was doing a clinic in Sicily and the audience demanded an encore. I
had played all the songs I had prepared, so in a desperate attempt to
entertain I went back onstage and did a drum solo. Someone