HARD & HEAVY (Italy)
Interview by Fabrizio Chiruzzi - SEPT 2002

Hi Ron, it's a pleasure to interview a so rare and bizarre guitarist.  How did you develop your approach to the guitar and how is it possible to define both your musical genre and your guitarist one?   

Hi Fabrizio - thank you for the opportunity to talk to guitarists of Italy.  I grew up listening to alot of bands, not really alot of guitarists.  I was into lots of metal bands, but also progressive 70s bands and the Beatles.  Hearing Eddie Van Halen made me more interested in exploring the possibilities on guitar.  I would define my musical genre as "guitar-oriented, experimental hard rock" if I had to label it as something.  My guitarist genre? hmmmm...   I guess also "experimental."

In these last years, a lot of guitar players like Steve Vai have make the choice to explore a field of guitar technique oriented to the sound modulation with an elastic sound. Because I consider you similar to his way playing or with guys like D. Zappa, M. Eklundh and Joboj, I ask you: which are your targets? Why guys like you play in a so different way? What are you searching for?

I don't make a conscious choice to play a certain way - I just play in a way that I'm comfortable with.  I'm just expressing myself in a way that feels correct.  From the times I've spoken with Dweezil, Mattias and Joboj, I can say that they all have a good sense of humor, a sometimes abstract view of things, and an intensity to their emotions.  I think this is the same about their music, and they really play according to who they are.

The remarkable Mattias Eklundh's contribution on the track "Don Pardo Pimpwagon", how does your collaboration was born together; also with Dweezil Zappa?

Mattias and I are email friends for years, and Dweezil and I have spoken on the phone a few times.  I just asked them   :)   I had also asked John Petrucci and Vernon Reid if they'd like to play on the CD, but they were too busy with their tour schedules.  Maybe next time  :)

Sound effects are cool inside the tracks, are you more oriented to the use of computer or do you prefer the classical physical approach to the machines?

I don't use alot of effects other than a wah pedal, and sometimes a Line6 FM4 for strange ring-modulator sounds...   any other sound comes from the actual playing...

What's the secret to get a very "elastic" sound like yours? What kind of gear do you usually use?

I use Vigier guitars (and fretless guitars...)  and Line6 Vetta amp, set to a JCM800 type of sound.  I love the fretless guitar, specifically the Vigier for the metal neck.  There's so much freedom on the fretless...  I don't use a whammy pedal or pitch shifter - I get all the high notes naturally without FX, with false harmonics or tapping high notes past the fretboard.  

How did you mind this contrast between a typical rap-core/crossover riffing and a fusion jazz oriented phrasing?

I like alot of styles of music - reggae, rap, metal, jazz, funk, punk, Latin, even lounge music - and it all bleeds into my songs.  I don't intentionally combine things with a plan - I mean, I don't sit at a table with pen and paper and say "I'm going to make a hardcore verse, with a Latin chorus, and a disco break in the middle..."  I just go by a feeling, and focus on the feeling, without worrying about what style it is, and if the styles will match.  Anything can work with anything - it's all the same notes, yes?  

Your compositional fire is highly shown up in Queen-a-like "Legend Of Van Cleef."  What's your composing method and why this track is totally out in comparison with songs as "Fly In the Batter" or "Raygun"?

Music is art, and there shouldn't be any rules beyond our own personal rules.   I don't expect to ever make money from music or be famous, so I don't write for any reason other than the art.  I don't care about being commercially typical, or doing what is expected.  But I don't purposely do the opposite either, trying to *not* be commercial - I just do what I like.  And if other people like it too, that's cool.

One of the most representative track is "Guitars Suck", a thrilling example of warp speed neoclassical, another turning point inside this project, the desire to astonish is certainly remarkable, isn't it? 

That song was written in '98 - I was going to do clinics in Holland and felt like I needed a song that was technique oriented.  I didn't record it for 3 years - every time I played it, the feel was slightly different and didn't want to commit to one defining version of it.  

What's your approach to composition?  Do you prefer writing or improvising?

I prefer to improvise solos - the real you comes out in spontaneous moments.  Songs grow in my head, and when they're ready I play them.  I don't write songs on paper.  I prefer to hear the songs first in my head, before playing them - if I like what I hear, I'll record them.

Projects under construction? Imminent dates? Didactical videos?

I just bought an old house in Princeton NJ that I will be using as a studio.  I won't live there, it will be a place to do music, nothing else.   This way when I produce artists, they can stay there and keep constant momentum.  I'm producing the metal band Evoken there soon, and a Latin pop artist named Troy Kurtis.  I'll be touring France in November (the tour dates are on www.bumblefoot.com)  Hopefully next year I'll be able to start on some ChopsFromHell instructional videos...

Thanks for your availability, I hope to see you soon here in Italy for some concerts maybe for a jam together.

Thank you   :)   Take care!