caught it on video and posted it on You Tube [search for “Paul Gilbert
concede il bis... sulla batteria!!!”]. When I watched it, I realized that
this was the best drum solo I’ve ever done. So I wanted to write a
song around it—sort of my own version of “Wipe Out.” In studio,
I thought it would be better to let a real drummer take the solos,
and Jeff Bowders did a stunning job. When I listen to the song now,
though, I almost wish that I had shortened the arrangement and left
out the guitar solos. My favorite part is the twangy guitar and the
drums. I’m hoping to teach my drummer how to play the guitar part,
and then I can do the drum solo live. I like playing guitar, but drums
are more fun than anything.
What did you use for the Leslie-flavored chord stabs in “Mantra
That was a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere pedal.
What’s your favorite guitar part on the new album—and why?
I really like “Fuzz Universe.” It’s very representative of the metal
side of my guitar playing, but I think the song and playing are my
best yet in that style. I love so many parts in “Olympic,” too: It has
arpeggio ideas that I’ve never done before over a chord progression
I’ve never done before. I think “Mantra the Lawn” has some of my
best phrasing and vibrato, and “Will My Screen Door Stop Neptune”
has a super-fast solo over chord changes where I nailed it in the first
take. It’s actually the solo from the demo. I don’t know if I’ll ever be
able to play it that well again. I haven’t tried because I never did a
What did you use to record the album?
I used a Marshall Vintage Modern head into a THD Hot Plate and
then into a Randall Isolation cabinet with a 12" Celestion. I used two
mics, a Shure SM57 and a Royer ribbon mic, plugged into two AMEK
System 9098 mic preamps and then into Pro Tools.
Were there any unusual aspects about how you wrote for or
recorded this record?
I think the most unusual thing is that a 43-year-old guy who listens
to Johnny Cash, Silvius Weiss lute music, Bulgarian women’s vocal
choirs, B.B. King, Melody Gardot, Justin Currie, and the Bee Gees
for inspiration ends up with an album of screaming rock guitar. It’s
hard to shake off those teenage years of Van Halen, Rush, Randy
Rhoads, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Frank Marino, Gary Moore, and
the Ramones. [Laughs.]
You’re wearing headphones live both to protect your hearing and
as monitors, right? How severe is your hearing loss, and how does
it complicate the process of selecting tones, getting appropriate
levels, mixing, etc.?
My hearing loss doesn’t bother me when I’m playing music. I can
hear tones easily, I can feel the guitar because I’m playing it, and
Gilbert shows off his Hanes and his Ibanez PGM doubleneck. “The necks are just two
normal 6-strings. I eventually decided to use the bottom neck as a 3-string and I tuned the
three strings in low, mid, and high octaves, allowing me to play some wild arpeggio licks that
would be impossible with a normal tuning.”
it’s rock ’n’ roll, so it’s loud anyway. I really notice my hearing loss
when I’m talking to people. It’s hard for me to differentiate consonants, so the words “Tim,” “tin,” “thin,” and “him” all sound
the same to me unless the person is talking pretty loud. It really
varies from person to person. My wife speaks very clearly, so when
I’m around her I feel like my hearing is close to normal. But did
you ever see that movie with Nicole Kidman called The Hours It’s
about two hours of women whispering to each other. I didn’t have
a fighting chance in that one! I saw it on an airplane where there
were engines to compete with and no subtitles. Through no fault of
her own, I will be angry at Nicole Kidman for a long time to come.
Speak up, woman! [Laughs.]
You’ve done a lot of clinics and seminars over the years—what are
some of the most common questions you get?
I hope that I can answer people’s questions and give them something
useful in my answers, but I think the most valuable communication
between musicians happens musically. Whenever I get the chance, I
go to Musicians Institute to do private lessons. This gives me a chance
to jam with students and listen to what they’re saying with their guitars. It becomes very obvious what they need to work on without
them having to ask anything. And it’s almost always the same