Saturday, July 21, 2012

'GUITAR GODS: Greg Howe''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Thursday, April 01 2004 @ 17:51:54 BST

Greg Howe crashed onto the music scene in 1988 with the release of his debut album, "Greg Howe" (Relativity), which featured bass master Billy Sheehan and drummer extraordinaire Atma Anur. It was immediately obvious to any listener that this guy was a guitar player not only of intensity and technical wizardry, but a musician with deep insight and passion who was here to stay.
The album gained Greg immediate attention and acclaim within the guitar community, and endorsement deals, clinic tours, and magazine spots soon followed. He also gained legions of fans who are still with Greg 16 years and 8 solo albums later (not to mention 2 band albums with brother/vocalist). Unlike many players, however, his guitar playing fans cover a wide range of styles, from the heavy metal shredders to the pop-rock choppers to the nuevo flamencos to jazz fusion buffs.

Greg Howe has also made his mark in the larger mainstream music community, touring with the likes of Michael Jackson, NSYNC, Enrique Iglesias, and Justin Timberlake across America, Europe, and Asia...and "wow"-ing television & radio audiences across the globe.

A listen to any of his recordings is sure to turn ANY heads - from the scorching "Kick it All Over" (the opening track on his debut record) to "Howe 'Bout It" (from "Parallax") to trax like the semi-flamenco "Contigo", the gorgeous acoustic "A Delicacy", and the uber-funky "Bird's Eye View" and "The Tease" from his latest disc - as Greg pours out sweat and soul and fire from his 6 strings.

Greg's latest is the 2003 release, "Extraction", which features Greg's pals Dennis Chambers on drums and Victor Wooten on bass. The record (to be reviewed later here at Tinfoil) finds Greg exploring deep fusion territory while still maintaining the razor edge of his earlier work. With an incredible body of work behind him and tours and an instructional series in his immediate future, Greg Howe continues to be an inspiration to guitarists and music fans everywhere.

Keep up with Greg at his official WEB-SITE, keep an eye on Tinfoil for a review of his new CD, and visit Insane Guitar for a lesson on Greg's style which features some classic Greg Howe licks (ed. note: interview, lesson, & CD review all now reside here at Skinny Devil Magazine).

I had a chance to speak to Greg recently. Check it out!


1) What are your current projects?

Oh, wow - my new CD, of course, "Extraction". But in addition to that, I'm working on an instructional video series. I don't know how it's going to be released, yet, or what context we're doing it in, but we're currently working on that, so that's cool. The other thing we're doing is setting up for some clinics, especially in Europe. I'm supposed to go to Moscow in May or maybe April, so we'll see how that goes.
Greg with Dennis Chambers & Stu Hamm in Russia, 2010.

I'm also producing a rock band that has some major label interest, so we'll see how that goes, too. Gosh, what else? It just seems like it never ends (hahaha!!!).

2) How does this ("Extraction") differ from your past work?

I think it just moves a little closer to jazz, I think. You know, more jazz influence than the previous records; more advanced harmony in the chordal arrangements and composition. Sorta that whole Chick Corea, Return to Forever thing, you know? It also has a freer improvisational thing, not quite so structured. It's cool because it's more free but still more emphasis on composition.

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

I think "Extraction", honestly. I mean, I don't really think of myself as "Greg Howe the guitar player", but just as a musician who happens to probably be most proficient on guitar, so that's the instrument I use. It's all very important to me, but guitar, really, is the least priority in deciding what makes the record or not. If I can't take the guitar out of the mix and still love the song, then it just doesn't make the record.

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

Guitars: Fender Strat & Telecaster, nylon-string Takamine EC132SC, Gibson Les Paul, custom "Card", Chet Atkins-style ESP acoustic, ESP Vintage Plus. Amps: Marshal, Line-6, & Framus. D'Addario Strings.

As for my favorite piece of gear...the Ibanez tube screamer, 808. Don't leave home without it (hahaha!)!

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?
Greg on-stage with Jennifer Batten.

Oh, wow. Influences: huge list. For favorite players, even bigger list! For new players, man, who's that guy I heard yesterday on Guitar-9? Yeah, Scotty Anderson. Whew! He's crazy, that guy! He needs to be stopped!

Influences? Well, when I was a kid, Eddie Van Halen was the guy who made me say "I gotta play guitar!". Then later as I was evolving as a player I was listening to George Benson and Larry Carlton and that whole thing. Then Yngwie Malmsteen came along and started all that shred thing and that made me interested in keeping up with that. But really, I can't listen to a guitar player without being influenced a little because I think everyone brings something to the table, you know. They all have a little something to offer that I think is cool, and that can work it's way into my playing.

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

My biggest thing about that is that there's a difference between being a great guitar player and being an artist. The problem, I think, with many players with great chops is that they're great but they sound like the next guy who is great. So you've got to be true about what you love and what you've got to say and then just hope it's fresh. If you want one of those big gigs like playing on David Letterman or touring with a boy band, then it's not so important - just be as proficient as possible. But if you want to be interesting and make a statement that makes people stand up and notice, then you gotta do something no one else is really doing.

7) What are your future plans?

I really want to tour this year, so we're doing that.

I also want to do a more mainstream act. We're in the process of putting together something very musical but also with broad appeal. I've been thinking about that for years, but musicians aren't always the most responsible or reliable people, myself included (hahaha!!!). But I've got a great singer now and it's going well, so we'll see where that goes. I also have a great manager, now, so if everything goes according to the way I'd like it to go, then that's going to happen. That doesn't mean I'm gonna walk away from my solo instrumental thing, but I want to do something with integrity and broad appeal.

8) Thanx for talking with us, Greg!

Hey, thank you very much, David.

No comments:

Post a Comment