By Salvatore Vecchio
Q. Hi Brett,
Would you like to start speaking about your last musical adventures after Under The Lash of Gravity?
Well, I was a permanent member of a local LA group named "Jenna Music" for about 2 years and it was a really fantastic experience but in the end we had to part ways due to creative differences. I still support the band 100% though! I've returned to Australia a few times to work with John Farnham and will continue to do that as long as John wants me to. I've continued to teach at Musicians Institute as well but I've recently started working with a great singer named Jennifer Paige so I've kept myself busy!
Q. Finally, soon (23 October), will be released your new CD with TJ, titled Uncle Moe's Space Ranch, but seeing the front cover it looks like a band album, and what a Band! Isn't it?
Mike Varney wanted the album to be a band vibe but with TJ and I writing all the songs which we did except for track 2 which is a band composition. Willis and Chambers played to our very rough scratch tracks and of course, played their asses off! Scott's keyboards are unbelievable and it's been an amazing experience to be involved in something with these great musicians.
Q. What is the meaning of the title Uncle Moe's...? Do you like "The Simpsons"?!
I think it has more to do with The Three Stooges than the Simpsons actually! We didn't want to name the album anything pretentious. There's a lot of humour on there so we wanted to reflect that in the title. Or then again, maybe we just couldn't think of anything better!!
Q. This album will be released by Tone Centre (division of Shrapnel Rec.), Mike Varney is one of the most important man for the guitar productions of the last twenty years, could you describe your collaboration with him for this new CD, and what kind of person he is with his artists? Did he tried to influence the work or you sent him the finished product?
The main direction Mike gave us was that he wanted everyone to be featured on this album rather than a lot of guitar solos. Other than that we had total creative control and Mike was most gracious in giving us that. We took a lot longer than usual to complete the album, which was mainly due to circumstances beyond our control, but as I said, Mike was great and gave us the time we needed.
Q. Are you and TJ the only composers of the album or is it a "team work" and what are the most important sound differences from your last instrumental productions?
As I said before, TJ and I wrote all the songs except track 2, which is a band composition. The main difference is we combined traditional recording techniques with computer recording. This is similar to what we did with Under the Lash of Gravity. All the drums and a lot of the guitars were tracked analogue and we combined this with some computer-based recording which is great for editing, effects etc. I feel this is TJ's greatest work as an engineer to date. An album of this sound quality is normally done on a major label with a huge budget and I can assure you we didn't have that!
Q. TJ is a great sound engineer, a kind of Studio Guru for the guitar productions, is him again the engineer of the CD or did you call other people behind the mixer? And also, did you used any hard disc recording system for this production?
TJ is the only engineer on this album. With him around you don't need anyone else, believe me!!
Q. What do you think about the new digital technology for recording and processing the guitar? Did you tried something like Line 6 Pod?
We used only loud, real amps on this album. Scott Henderson very graciously loaned us his Alexander Dumble-modified Fender Bandmaster, which I pretty much used on the whole album. We also had a Hughes & Kettner Tri Amp, a Bogner Ecstasy and TJ's old Marshall so we didn't have to use a POD at all. We recorded all the guitars in our rehearsal room so we could play LOUD!!!
Q. You are always very busy with many collaborations and of course with your band Jenna Music. Do you prefere to be considered as a great solo artist or as a member of a band?
I'm just happy to be playing music and I consider myself blessed to be able to do that. I want to do my own music and also collaborate with other people as well. I'll be recording my solo album later this year with Bobby Rock on drums. I can't wait to play with Bob again! It'll be an independent release so I'll have total artistic control. I'm not really a control freak but I want my solo album to be a very personal statement.
Q. Are there any news about Jenna Music and how change your sound and technical approach in this situation?
As I said earlier, I'm no longer in the band but Jenna Music was a fantastic experience and it absolutely changed my playing in a very positive way. I've returned to my roots a lot more which involves more blues-rock and country influences. I'm playing with a slightly cleaner tone and emphasising melody rather than chops. I feel like my playing is more soulful which is probably due to listening to Jenna sing for 2 years and trying to emulate that.
Q. On all your new pictures, we can see you with an ESP [copy of a Fender] Telecaster. It is not the common shred guitar especially for a legato master like you. Isn't it difficult to have the same attitude on the fretboard as on the Steinberger that we all saw on your beautiful instructional video "Rock Fusion"? And just for curiosity why not an original Fender Tele?!
I like the way different guitars influence me and the ESP is a great example of that. I'll always play the Steinberger and the Brian Moore MC-1 but the ESP and my old Strat bring my past influences to the surface and I've really been enjoying that. To be honest, if it was just about chops, TJ and I could really scare the crap out of people seeing as it's not a focus for us at all. Scott Henderson has been a major influence on both of us in that his phrasing, tone and melodic sense is so tasteful and mature so we've been really lucky to be around that.
Q. So let's speak about your set up (guitars, amps, effects, strings, picks and secrets!) on your last CDs especially on Uncle Moe's Space Ranch? Do you change more from situation in situation, or you have always more or less the same things?
I have a couple of different setups depending on what's required and also what I'm able to carry around! If we play locally here in LA I use my Bogner with an old Marshall 4x12 cab. (it's actually TJ's cab!) I also have a pedal board with the Line 6 delay, distortion and modulation modelling pedals which I think are fantastic. I'd like to get the envelope filter modelling pedal but I can't afford it at the moment. These pedals are a great way to travel with less gear but still have a great sound. I can just rent an amp and cab in whatever town I'm in and still get pretty much the same sound.
Q. Speaking about new musical situations, could you tell us any news about the collaboration with the drummer Joey Hired and bassist Ric Fierabracci? Will be released any CD?
Joey, Ricc and I are all working in the Jennifer Paige band so we're having a great time. I'm hoping we'll be able to make time to record something as well as do some gigs either before the end of the year or early next year. I'm such a lucky guy to be able to play with musicians as amazing as this!
Q. Do you feel better on a more heavy/rock dimension as for example on the Bobby Rock or Planet X albums or in a more fusion dimension like on your solo album (even if of course the rock approach is always presents)?
I really enjoyed the Planet X stuff for the reason that it's heavy! I also really love playing with Bobby as we pretty much track live as opposed to overdubbing solos and it brings different things out of me. I just completed an album with Ricc Fierabracci and Kofi Baker who is the son of legendary drummer Ginger Baker. Kofi's album was tracked really live so it features some great interplay between us. It'll probably be released by early next year. I tend to write more ballad or chord based music as opposed to heavy riffs so I really like working with others that write heavier music.
Q. Speaking about technique, your right hand technique, pick and fingers mixed together, is absolutely great. With this kind of technique is easier to play arpeggios or you feel good as well also, for example, on one string scale and also, I think that it could help to escape from the usual scales and chords box positions, isn't it?
I think the pick/fingers technique affects the sound more than anything as I think you could play most of the same things I do using sweep picking or just alternate picking. I go and see Frank Gambale play as much as possible and he's been a huge influence on how I visualise the guitar. Frank is a true innovator and a master musician. I've never really played from box shapes as I tend to see all the notes as unique individuals. It makes life a lot harder as I can't rely on too many licks but it really puts you in touch with melody and that's what I feel is most important. I like my playing more when it's melodic rather than me just blowing for the sake of showing off. It's great fun to do that but I want to have the amazing melodic and technical control like Henderson and Willis. I have a bloody long way to go but I'll get there!
Q. Even if you are famous for your legato style, do you use also other techniques for the right hand like alternate or sweep picking or not at all? For example looking at your video, it seems that you use your fingers technique also for sweeping or something like that...
Yes, I'll use whatever I have to! I use sweeping a lot in conjunction with the fingers, I combine a LOT of alternate picking with my legato. In fact, I'd say that 80% of what I play is picked. I blend the sound of the pick with the legato which is something I learned by reading as many Allan Holdsworth interviews as I could. I really have to say that Allan is, in my opinion, a true musical genius and visionary and is not only a major influence on me but also a huge source of inspiration. His playing is so soulful that it literally brings tears to my eyes yet so many people only focus on the speed and dexterity. Allan is a perfect example of technique being used as a means to an end, not the end itself. He's one of the most emotional musicians I've ever heard.
Q. Do you practice with the slide guitar?
To be honest, no, but I should! I love playing slide and feel I'm doing some very unique things with it but I only play it when I play it, if you know what I mean!
Q. What are your favourite chords and scales for a great fusion song like yours? I have heard that you looks at the modes like colours...
Well, I look at each chord as a unique entity, which makes the solo extremely melodic. I like to think that if I was playing in a trio that you'd be able to hear the changes in my solo without any chordal accompaniment. Mind you, I get spoiled by playing with Ricc as he's capable of playing chords on his bass while he's also playing the bass line! Talented bastard!!
Q. Are you still teaching at GIT? Do you prefere jamming with your students or starting from the theory?
Oh, I'm a jamming guy!! I'm self-taught and play mainly by ear so my theoretical knowledge is limited but I will analyse things to keep growing musically. I try to train my ears to hear the sound of new ideas so that I can return to an instinctive melodic approach after I've analysed the scale, chord, mode etc. I try to tune my ears to the intervals of scales and chords and see how each one affects me emotionally. It sounds weird but it works for me!
Q. What do you remember of your Italian tour with Willy Stravato?
Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll!! No really, it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life!! William is a fantastic player and a great friend of mine so I had a ball hanging out with my good mate and seeing Italia! It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I almost stayed for good!! Fantastic food, fantastic people and tons of great guitar playing! I want to come back!!!!!!!! TJ and I will be doing some playing on William's new CD!
Q. We will see you here also with this new all stars band (I love Tribal Tech and I love the Dennis Chambers style, so...!!!)?
TJ and I would love to tour Italy with this band but everyone has busy schedules so it may be difficult but I'm always open to offers!! We would love to come over with the Garsed/Helmerich/Fierabracci/Donati band as well! (any interested promoters should email me!!)
Q. Closing: Brett Garsed during his free time without the guitar...!!!
I spend time with my girlfriend Ann-Marita who is a musician as well. She is a country singer from Norway and much better at writing a chart than me!! To be honest, the guitar and music is a very spiritual and healing thing for me so I don't spend too much time away from it. Even if it's just strumming a couple of chords on the front porch I'm a happy guy!