Guitar News Weekly (Australia)

Last week, we featured Hess and their CD Opus 1. Now Neil Shedden, Editor of Guitar News Weekly [GNW], talks to the band Hess...

1. So Tom, can you tell our readers who else goes to make up "Hess", besides yourself?

Tom Hess: The Hess lineup is: Mark Carozza - Bass, Mike Walsh - Guitar, Scott Hess - Percussion, Tom Hess - Guitar

2. How do you find working together? Are you a natural leader, Tom, or is it more of a collaborative affair?

Tom Hess: Working together has always been easy. I am the primary writer and things go smoother I think when one person does most or all of the writing, I am fortunate to have excellent musicians to work with. The other guys musicality, improvisation and other musical input are very important for the Hess sound. Scott, Mike and Mark also do a lot of the non-musical things for the band as well.

3. Do you like to get out and perform live, with improvisations; or do you prefer the more controlled conditions in the studio?

Tom Hess: Both are great, but I really like listening back to new music after recording it.

4. What was the secret to the success of Opus 1?

Mike Walsh: Not being in a hurry to record this album. The band had been together for at least 5 years with me in it before we did this record. The secret to Opus 1 is the fact that Tom had a few years of developing his sound and the style he wanted to craft. I can not imagine putting out a record of our old material, it really was not like this. And as a musician, you usually grow and express yourself better with time and with an understanding of how you want to come across. Tom has his sound for the band now, and that will be the success of his future albums, even though it took a few years to develop.

Tom Hess: I think it's the unique combination of musical styles. Opus 1 is progressive rock, neo-classical, very dramatic and filled with high-caliber guitar playing. Its quite different compared to other guitar music.

5. Where can people go to hear and buy the Hess CD, Opus 1?

Tom Hess: To order by credit card, here is a direct link to order Opus 1 from this site. To order by mail,  people can send the payment in US dollars to: PO Box 113 Cary, IL 60013 United States of America. You can hear some of Opus 1 at the link above and also at our site: 

6. What's the weirdest, scariest or funniest guitar-related experience you've had?

Mark Carozza: My scariest guitar-related experience was having to improvise in front of a room full of guitarists in some of the classes I took at Berklee.

Tom Hess: My scariest experience was when we opened up for Rik Emmett in 1998. It was our first really big concert, it was also one of the best live experiences I've had. I remember being very nervous as I looked into the crowd to see 1,200 people, as soon as we started playing though, I felt better and played better than I had expected.

7. What are you working on right now, and what are your plans for next year?

Tom Hess: We are rehearsing new music for our next CD, Opus 2 now. Recording is scheduled to begin later this year. We are really excited about the new material.

8. How will Opus 2 sound compared to Opus 1?

Tom Hess: People can expect Opus 2 to be a more extreme version of Opus 1. The progressive aspect will be more progressive, the neo-classical aspect will be even more classical (baroque) in style, the virtuosic passages will be even more virtuosic, the heavy sections will be even heavier and the dramatic/emotional aspect will be even more emotional. If you liked Opus 1, you will love Opus 2.

9. What bugs you about the current state of rock music, and what really inspires you?

Mike Wlash: What is bothersome is that the bands were so determined not to sound like the 80's that most of them forgot to practice. Now, you do not need to have a 30 second solo in every song, and sometimes it is not necessary to solo in every song, but it is almost a lost art in commercial music. Rock is still moving ahead though, it is just basic song structures and is more practical for the non musician to play and follow. What really inspires me about the music now is that the heavy guitar riffs are coming back, and bands like Tool can sell 500,000 copies in a week of progressive, 7 minute songs. Hopefully mainstream rock will get on the talent train and start to appreciate musicians that have spent years trying to get it out right. With the way the pop punk scene is flooding the markets, it is not going to be long before people buy one of those tickets.

Tom Hess: I think Mike said it all with his first sentence! Whatever our musical climate is or will be in the future, we wont let it affect the Hess sound. We believe in what we are doing and that is our primary concern.

10. How do you think the Internet and digital distribution of music, will impact on Artists?

Mike Walsh: I think it will change the way bands break out and how your typical music outlet will die. The problem with the current system is in order for you to get noticed, you have to make it into the stores to be sold 1st. And, bands need to sell to get another shot at a record with a label. With the Internet, hopefully the prices will be better and bands will not need to rely on a label to get their music heard by the thousands.

Tom Hess: It can be a great thing if artists are able to maintain control over their own music being distributed, if that control is lost, then it will hurt bands in the long run.

11. What do you think about the demise of Napster, the antics of Aimster and the corporatisation of

Mike Walsh: The problem with all of those is that they are looking to make money off bands and their hard work. Unfortunately, even if bands start to sell without the labels, it looks like they will have to contend with a new leach. There is good and bad about the above names, they help bands with exposure they would not have gotten on their own. They hurt by making sure you know that and taking what they can. Even if Napster and Aimster are for free, they hurt artists by not reflecting album sells. You can be the most popular band on Napster with the most downloads of your songs, and if the record company does not see your sales go way up, you're gone. For now, exposure is not everything, and that is mostly what those sites offer.

Tom Hess: I think Napster and sites like it are ripping off bands. I was 100% in support of Metallica's lawsuit against them. Bands should have the power to determine if they want to give their stuff away for free or not, not Napster. If it was up to me, the Napster people of the world would be in jail for severe and blatant copyright violations!

12. Do you have any advice for those of our readers looking to create and promote their own CD?

Tom Hess: Go to and read all their promotion and marketing material, it's free and there are a ton of ideas there. Believe in what you are doing. Play as much as you can.

13. Lastly, what would you say to young people who lust after fame and fortune in the music industry?

Tom Hess: Stop dreaming and start working. This is one of the hardest businesses to break into, even if you are a great musician with a great band that has a great product. It's real hard. Be patient and persevere.

Mark Carozza: Play what feels right to you. Don't try to adjust your style to make it more marketable. If you put forth enough effort and stay true to your tastes, there will be people out there that will like your music.

Thanks, guys :)

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