10 Mar 2005
1. Could you tell me about your new CD Opus 2?
Tom Hess: It is very progressive and in the style of neoclassical rock/metal, but the overall feel is more dramatic as what is typical in either genre.
2. What are you striving to achieve musically?
Tom Hess: Self expression in the progressive and neoclassical genres with 19th century expressive influence in a very progressive way.
3. How do you feel the music press, including the well known guitar magazines, are currently dealing with guitar-oriented music, especially from instrumental artists and bands?
Tom Hess: It's still disappointing as all the major magazines are more interested in selling magazines and putting lame guitar players in the magazine instead of educating its readers on what is much more artistic.
4 . How long did the album take to record, including writing the material?
Tom Hess: 3 years to write, 18 months to record.
5. When you started recording, did you have any ideas on how you were going to distinguish this release from the last one?
Tom Hess: Yes of course, the entire picture was there before the recording in the writing process. Opus 2 is an evolution of the Opus 1 CD.
6 . Did you try any new recording techniques or effects on Opus2?
Tom Hess: Only in that many instruments were recorded direct.
7. You've been incredibly successful at attracting reviews for your first CD. Do you anticipate even better coverage for "Opus2" and to what do you attribute your ability to get press?
8. Tell us a little bit about your guitars and other musical gear, and how you use it to get your sound?
Tom Hess: I record with Carvin V220 guitars and use Seymour Duncan Metal live wire pickups. This is the heart of the tone. I now use Randall cabinets and the X2 head, it's great stuff!
9. How do you compare your style on this album with Opus1?
Tom Hess: The style is about the same as Opus 1, but Opus 2 is just better in every way.
10. Let's turn the focus on the music itself. What is your strategy when composing a song?
Tom Hess: The answer to this question is so long that it would take many many hours to fully explain in detail. I have music degrees from University (in Music Composition) the knowledge I gained there (and from other sources) is deep and has given me so many different ways to approach the multiple processes of composing music. I don't use a single strategy or a single process to compose. That can only lead to limited results in my opinion. In most cases the process used was different for each track of the CD.
11. How do you feel about the current state of instrumental guitar?
Tom Hess: In the USA, its still not very good, but it has improved a lot in the last 5 years mainly due to http://www.guitar9.com. In Japan the situation is better.
12. Anything else you want to add to this interview?
Tom Hess: In addition to playing in the HESS band, I am also playing in a new band called Holyhell (which sounds more like Nightwish and nothing like HESS.) Joe Stump is the other guitar player in this band. We are going on tour this June and July in the US, Canada and Europe.
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