Name: Tom Hess (band name: HESS)
Playing History (years): Tomorrow (January 31, 2005) it will be the 19th anniversary of the day I starting playing guitar, I remember it very well.
Genre: I don’t think the common genre labels really apply to what we are doing very well. The style is a combination of neo-classical and progressive, but the music is more emotionally dramatic and expressive than what would be typical in those two styles. 19th century Romantic–era music is more of the mode sometimes.
Two (2) Angelo Hess Infinity-1 prototype guitars (my signature series guitars)
Four (4) 1980s Carvin V220 guitars
One (1) 1992 Carvin X220
One (1) 2000 Ibanez 7 String
One (1) 1981 Korina Gibson Flying V
One (1) 1989 Gibson Flying V (Double)
Several other less significant guitars.
Amplifiers: I use all Randall amps now. The X2 head and 4 x 12 cabs.
My rack: I have a 14 space Anvil shock mount touring rack, in it are:
Furman power conditioner
Juice Goose power conditioner
Korg rack tuner
Digitech TSR-24s effects rack
Behringer Ultra Curve Pro midi programmable EQ.
Alesis 3630 compressor
BBE Sonic Maximizer 462
Gear Endorsements: Randall Amplifiers, Sound Tech PA systems, Angelo Guitars (but not anymore), Dean Markley Strings, Clayton guitar picks.
Past History: Def Leppard’s first three albums were what made me want to play guitar. Hearing Metallica’s as a kid was a major influence. Once I began playing guitar (1986) I got into Iron Maiden, Dio and a bunch of other metal bands. When I heard Yngwie (a couple of years or so later) I was blown away and that changed everything for me musically. I played in bands in high school but usually found myself as the only one who wasn't smoking pot, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. As I got better at guitar, it became harder to find people locally to play with. I was always desiring to compose great music but didn’t have the musical skills to do so at the time. After high school, I went to GIT, but didn’t like it so I came back home. I found 2 great teachers in the early and mid 1990s (Jack Wilson and George Bellas) George and I were getting into Dream Theater at the same time back then. I formed HESS in 1994 with my brother Scott (drummer). I attended Harper College (where I now teach guitar) in 1994 and met Mike Walsh (Hess guitarist since January 1996). After Mike and I graduated from Harper College, I went to Roosevelt University where I received my second music degree, this time in music composition. HESS released our 1st CD (Opus 1) on April 20, 2000. I traveled to Europe in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003 and composed much of the main ideas for Opus 2 there.
Current / Upcoming Projects: As always, I'm composing new music for the HESS band (Opus 3). In addition to that I am working on an acoustic CD with Mike Walsh, Mark Carozza and another really guitarist named Chris Kalkbrenner. I'm working on a new project with Joey DaMaio (of Manowar). Mike and I and are working on a series of instructional DVDs.
What Will People Find In Hess and Opus 2: Self expressive dramatic music in the progressive and neo-classical sub genres.
Influences: My influences now are different from what they used to be years ago. Right now, I listen to a lot of Sage ( Mike Walsh's other band), Gorecki, Chopin, Alice in Chains as well as Dream Theater, Bellas, Symphony X and a bunch of other cool players on guitar9. I listen to a lot of Romantic era music of the 19th century (Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Wagner) and also to Mahler lately.
Favorite Albums: My all time favorite recordings are Gorecki Symphony number 3 with Dawn Upshaw soprano, All of my Chopin recordings of his preludes, the CSO recording of Mahler’s 2nd symphony. As for guitar music my favorites right now are: Bellas Venomous Fingers, the first three Yngwie cds, Jason Becker - Perpetual Burn, Dream Theater Metropolis part 2, etc.
Aims: To master self expression in the guitar genres - as Chopin did on the piano in the 1830s and 1840s. With every new CD I get closer to that goal, but I still have much work to do.
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