7 Questions

Hello from Omaha, Nebraska, where I’m immersed in rehearsals for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It’s hard work, long days but a lot of fun. The tour is going to be an over the top experience, as it always is. This year is bolstered by the new TSO album, Night Castle, which, as of this writing, is the number one bestseller on the Amazon.com charts. As a result, I’ve been too busy to write any new pieces that feel ready to share. So for the time being, expect some shorter blog posts over the next few weeks. If I manage to squeeze out anything more essay-like, I’ll be sure to post.

For now, here are Seven questions I recently answered for Jason Shadrick, a friend who, an excellent guitarist himself, helps run the National Guitar Summer workshop. These questions, answered by pro guitarists of all genres, are one feature on Jason’s blog, www.jasonshadrick.com which has a lot of really cool articles, links and other info for guitarists and music fans in general.

7 Questions with Alex Skolnick

1. Describe your first experience playing music

I believe it was at a friends house or a friend of my parents who had a piano. I tapped out the riff to ‘Smoke On The Water”

2. What has been your most significant musical experience?

I think that may have been it! Also, hearing Miles Davis with of his electric bands while flipping channels on TV. He combined screaming electric guitarists (probably it was Scofield or Stern, not sure) with world music percussion, funk bass grooves and jazz harmony. It had the power of metal. Right then it was clear that how deep music could go and how it was all universal.

3. What is the best advice on pursuing a career in music you were ever given?

“It takes ten songs to write one good one.” Several people have said something like this to me and I’ve found it to be true. Then there is the quote by the late Hunter S. Thomson:

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

4. What is your favorite sound?

The ocean

5. Name some of your biggest non-musical influences.

Books, especially those by Erica Jong, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe, Philip Roth, and Henry Rollins, to name a few. Also, food and chefs, especially Anthony Bourdaine and Thomas Keller.

6. What was the most memorable concert you ever attended?

Prince, ‘Musicology’ tour 2005. He made the Continental Arena in NJ feel like a small dance club and was played guitar as well as any great rock guitarist I’ve ever seen.

7. Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first 5 songs that appear

“Better Off Without A Wife” (Tom Waits), ” Now He Beats The Drum — Now He Stops” (Chick Corea), “Mercy Street” (Peter Gabriel), “The Art Of Fugue, BWV1080: Contrapunctus I” (JS Bach), “Thunderbird” (ZZ Top)

14 Responses to 7 Questions

  1. What I need to say ? Enjoy the rehearsals and tour!
    This years is more hard because have a new album to "make the dreams happens". 🙂

    I percepted that my shiat-su/massage patients sleep more when i put sounds of ocean and less with sounds of birds.

  2. Enjoy your rehearsals and perform as you always do…flawlessly. I'm afraid TSO won't be performing in Portugal but I would love to see the show.
    Good luck and have fun!!!

  3. Hi Alex,Thanxs for the update,sounds like your hard at work..cant wait to see ya the shows!Your awsome:).Your #1 selection on your ipod ?..maybe you havent met the right one:):)xo

  4. Can't wait to see you perform with TSO in Cleveland! Good luck with the tour. I'm heading out now to go pick up my copy of Night Castle.

  5. So I guess you aren't hearing much of your favorite sound where you are now…lol!

    I was never much of a Prince fan so a few years back when I heard he was going to play the half-time show at the superbowl I wasn't all that thrilled. (It's the one football game of the year that I actually watch the whole way through & always look forward to the musical performers at half-time.) I was so completely impressed by Prince's performance that I consider it the best half-time show that I've ever seen….and there have been some pretty decent shows over the years. On the other hand, there have been some that I was really looking forward to seeing (the Rolling Stones) and, do I dare say it?…. was not impressed at all!! Anyway, I guess I won't go there – I still consider them one of the greatest rock bands of all times.

    Good luck with rehearsals & best wishes on your tour – I'm so much looking forward to the show as I am every year!…see you in Wilkes-Barre……..

  6. Hi Alex, is it possible for you to give some short answers to 2-3 specific questions about your practice routine? Cause I've been wondering about some stuff you could probably help clear up with just a few words. Regardless, thanks for being an inspiration both on a personal and musical level!

  7. Ha, too cool!!

    Love the Hunter S. Thompson quote. 🙂
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite movies.. haha.

    See you in Detroit with TSO!!


  8. Alex,
    Congrats on having the number one bestseller on the Amazon.com charts!

    Can’t wait to see TSO! Especially, this year with the release of Night Castle. The show is always over the top. Yet somehow each year it gets better and better.

    It must have been challenging coming into TSO rehearsals after being in the studio with TestamenT and AST. Just shifting gears mentally and musically from one situation to the other would be difficult for most. Yet you make look it easy. (Even though we know it’s not.) You put so much of yourself into everything you set forth to accomplish. May you continue to fulfill all your dreams!

    When I saw you in Danbury, CT earlier this year, I felt this would be an important and challenging time for you. I made a promise to be supportive in couple ways. One being, when you look down I’ll be there cheering you on. Because, I believe in you and what you’ve set forth to accomplish.

    So, being a woman of my word….. I’ll see you next week in Hartford CT, Manchester NH, and Providence RI. I originally wanted to go to Worcester, MA too. It is so close to Providence. However, there is only so much TSO Santa can put in the sleigh before the elves start to revolt.

    Continuing to send you the light, love, and energy you need to be well and feel well.

    Take Care and See You Soon,


    The ocean is a wonderful sound. There’s something mystical about the rhythm of the waves. It has the ability to center and focus us, yet it depending on our needs it can be calming or invigorating.

    Not far from where I live is a small beach. I enjoy going there during the off season. It’s quiet, no tourist, just yourself, your thoughts and the waves. Last fall, I took my cousin to this beach. We bundled up, grabbed some waterproof boots and walked along the surf. As we talked and walked, the wave rolled across our steps and carried the conversation out to sea. I don’t remember what we spoke about. It doesn’t matter. The moment was special. Now, whenever my cousin comes to visit, she always asks, can we “go for a walk at that little beach not far from here?”

  9. RE; Miles Electric bands in the 80s.
    Mike Stern was 81, I think. Scofield toured was from 82-85. Robben Ford in 86. Scofield again in 87 and Earl Klugh around there somewhere. Steve Khan, Marcus Miller, Michael Landau, Foley in 89, I think (Amandla?).
    It's a big list, I know. A PBS Special in 86 had Robben Ford in it.
    Probably doesn't help you at all!

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