Thursday, July 26, 2012

''GUITAR GODS: Bernie Torme'''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 16:17:15 BST

When Randy Rhoads dies tragically in March of 1982, Ozzy Osbourne was in the middle of supporting his second release, "Diary of a Madman". When he looked for a quick replacement, most guitarists shied away from the gig for fear of trying to fill Randy's shoes. One guitarist, however, was fearless, and his willingness to go where angels feared to tread opened the doors for monster guitarists like Brad Gillis, Jake E. Lee, and Zakk Wylde. His name? Bernie Torme'!

Torme', at that time, had been around for a bit on the European scene. The Irish born guitarist had cut his teeth in the clubs after having seen greats like Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. He played in several bands and eventually joined Gillan (when rock vocal legend Ian Gillan left Deep Purple), then formed Atomic Rooster. It was then, in 1982, that Bernie hopped aboard the Crazy Train for a tour with Ozzy.

Following the tour, however, Bernie left to form the Electric Gypsies. The band released several classic albums (including a live album where Bernie really shined), then disbanded. Bernie then joined forces with ex-Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider, then spent the 1990s doing session work for CDs, radio, and TV.

In 1998, Bernie reformed the Electric Gypsies, and the following year released "White Trash Guitar". In 2000 came "Bernie Torme LIVE" followed in 2002 by "Scorched Earth", an Electric Gypsies live disc.

Currently, Bernie is renovating his home studio and gearing up for a new album and tour. You can keep up with him at his web-site!

I had a chance to speak to Bernie recently - check it out!


1) What are your current projects?

I'm currently doing a new album, which has been a bit delayed by my moving house and studio, but its well on the way to completion. Also looking at a few more long term projects like working again with John McCoy and Mick Underwood from Gillan.

2) How does this (do these) differ from your past work?

I'm not the best critic of my own work! I suppose the new album is quite old school, it's back to a band playing songs, and not too much polish on that. Just well recorded, hopefully well played, and very raw and powerful. The McCoy Underwood project will be even more of that - more jammy, spacey, even psychedelic spiritual. Not 80's anthems.

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist?

Not really. I liked Gillan's "Mr. Universe", Electric Gypsies "Shoorah" EP and "Scorched Earth". Parts of Torme's "Demolition Ball" and "Back to Babylon" - it depends on the mood I'm in.

I was having dinner around a neighbours house about a month ago and they had the first Silver album on the stereo, which I played on. I didn't have all that much to do with it, actually, and I really didn't recognize it. Then I heard a solo off it and "...that, that's good, who's that?". I then realized it was me (hahaha!!), it was a really nice feeling digging my own playing without knowing it was me! Maybe a couple of glasses of wine too many were to blame!

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio)?

It's pretty much the same in both cases: Marshall Superlead II, with a Marshall 1960 4X12 and a Hiwatt 4X12. An old L series early 60's Strat (I have a few) with no changes, a pedalboard built by a guy called Pete Cornish, who is a bit of a legend this side of the pond. The pedal board has a Electro-Harmonix big muff, a crybaby wah (which I rarely use), an MXR phaser (which I never use), and a noise gate whose make I can't remember.

I used an MXR and then a Boss graphic following working with Ozzy to make the overdriven sound more Les Paul-ish. But I don't really do that now. It makes it a bit less violent, more processed. Also used to use a chorus because it was a requisite with Ozz, but I ditched it long ago - don't much like chorus.

Sometimes I've used a Les Paul to double track with, but never live. Use a Danelectro 12-string to record too; never live, I'm a Strat man live.

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?

Early influences were very initially George Harrison and Keith Richards Dave Davies and Pete Townshend. Jeff Beck was major, like the coming of the Gods! From him I got into Peter Green and Eric Clapton. Jimi Hendrix was the one who broke all the rules, above everybody else.

I don't get turned on by many new players; some of them are really great technical players, but for me the sound is a bit lacking. Also the feel. I like Zakk Wylde, he's great, and also Steve Morse, but they are not really new players! Please turn me on to some! (editor's note: see the "Guitar Gods Index").

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players?

Wooo! Its not just technique....

7) What are your future plans?

To keep playing, record and play with as many different people as I can, to get better, to take over the world.....

8) Thanx for talking to us, Bernie!

Thank you, David! Best Wishes! 

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