Interview from Guitar9
1. How did you get started in music, and what led to your selecting guitar as your primary instrument?
Mike Walsh: I was in eighth grade when a friend of my brother had brought over And Justice For All on tape. I was in shock on how cool the music was. It made me start to play that following week in hopes of playing like Metallica someday. The solo to the song One was the guitar clincher for me. I remember having people over and playing air guitar to the tapping part.
2. When did you first realize you had the ability to write original music?
Tom Hess: It was a very gradual process. If I had to narrow it down to a specific time I would say 1994 was when I started writing neo-classical music, 1996 for progressive music and 1996-1997 for classical music (non rock/non guitar compositions).
3. "Opus 1" has a heavy neo-classical feel. Who are your biggest influences in this style of music?
Mike Walsh: Well, Tom is the neoclassical guru. He has a long influence of that music and most importantly the originators, Bach and the Baroque period composers.
4. What gear did you use to record "Opus 1" and how important a role do you think the selection of recording equipment, instruments, etc. plays in the final quality of the album?
Tom Hess: As far as the instruments go, I used one of my Carvin V220 guitars for all the distorted rhythm guitar parts and for all of my solos. I used a 19701s Washburn acoustic and a Takamine classical guitar for the clean guitar parts. The electric guitars went through my T3 preamp, BBE sonic maximizer, Tubeworks Mosvalve power amp and into a 4x12 cab loaded with 75 watt celestians and the mic was a SM57. We recorded the CD with ADATs, and a digital Yamaha console. As far as the production goes, good gear is important but a good engineer is even more important.
5. Do you get a chance to perform the material from "Opus 1" live?
Mike Walsh: Oh yeah, we get to go out and smoke about twice a month. This time around with the new album we have been having better luck with the clubs and people's reception of our instrumental guitar style.
6. What made you decide to release "Opus 1" as an independently produced product?
Tom Hess: There were many factors involved in that decision, mainly that we wanted to write, record and release Opus 1 on our own terms. We have had some recent interest from some smaller companies, but no offers have been made so far that are substantial enough and that would leave the musical involvement solely to us.
7. How do you feel about the national press (Guitar One, Guitar Player, Guitar World, etc.) and how they are currently covering guitar-oriented music? Do you think there is a bias against instrumental artists?
Tom Hess: I think the guitar mags are definitely biased against most high caliber players because the mags are trying to please their target market (young American guitar players) and that market, in general, is just not into high caliber music. I do think that the situation is better now than it was in the 90s. At least now you may see a great player like Yngwie in the press without being criticized by the magazines. It's a business though and the big magazines are only out there to make money. If this year that means saying that Vai is the King, then they'll say it, and the next year Kurt Kobain will be on the cover every other issue, it's all about whichever way the wind blows for them.
8. What do you think the future holds for digitally distributed music such as mp3s or other forms of digital music?
Mike Walsh: Well, this a great time for bands and independent record labels. The exposure is endless and the quality is so much better than even 10 years ago. I think bands will get smart and start to depend less on the company to put it in stores and see more of the future music listeners downloading the album. This would cost less for the buyer and give more to the band. In return, both parties are satisfied and the middle man is dead.. I'm all for that, but not the Napster thing. I think a lot of artists do not want their music out there for free. Now, if they could fix that situation, I think Napster could be a good thing for bands who do (want their music to be on Napster). I just do not agree with Napster's, "we have no control over want is on there" philosophy. It is against some artist's wishes to be out there for free, and artists have copyright laws to protect that.
9. What do you have planned for the next year or two?
Tom Hess: I'm currently composing music for Opus 2. In general, I write very slowly and the next album is about 1/2 written (at the time of this interview). We are hoping to release Opus 2 in the beginning of 2002. I1m doing another compilation cd to follow up on the one we were on in 2000, it will be released late summer of 2001 and will be called, Guitars at an Exhibition ~ Volume 2. Hess will have a new track on there from the upcoming Opus 2 record and Mike will have a song on there from his other band SAGE.
10. What do you think has been the biggest help so far in getting the word out about "Opus 1" to the fans of instrumental guitar music?
Mike Walsh: By far, the overseas exposure of guitar 9 has been the key. We have a decent number of CD's sold and a lot of web traffic through guitar 9.. Playing out and getting our name around through other venues has gained us some momentum also. We are working with the little things: stickers, local music shops and music articles to get some extra exposure. Playing in front of larger crowds is in the near future for us, and we will be gladly awaiting.
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