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?
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)