Marco Sfogli’s name may not be on the tip of the tongue for aspiring shredders worldwide yet, but it certainly deserves to be. If you’re a fan of instrumental guitar rock that touches everything from metal to rock to fusion, Italian guitarist Sfogli’s latest CD, ReMarcoble, should be a required purchase. It’s one of the ten best instrumental guitar albums of the decade to be sure.
Players who worship at the alter of highly technical players with impeccable chops and tone—think Petrucci, Satriani, Reb Beach, Kee Marcello, Dann Huff, etc., will find a lot to love in Sfogli’s playing, and his plentiful video output online shows just how effortlessly he delivers the goods.
Our love-fest doesn’t begin nor end with Sfogli’s latest solo record. He’s also the guitar player for Jame LaBrie’s solo band, and supporting Italian keyboard virtuoso, Alex Argento, Sfogli deftly delivers his incredible chops across amazing instrumental fusion rock on Argento’s breathtaking solo release, Ego.
Musical. That’s the key word with Sfogli. Growing up under the influence of hair bands and classic shredders, he never forgot about writing catchy melodies and hooks. No matter what project he sinks his strings into, Sfogli always delivers leads that sing melodies, with shred and without. A remarkable talent, we caught up with him this summer to talk about his latest recordings.
“When Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ came out
that solo changed my life.”
MPc: We first came to know your playing on Alex Argento’s prog fusion album, Ego, and then on James LaBrie’s 2010 release, Static Impulse. This past year, you’ve released an incredible solo album, ReMarcoble, as well as played on LaBrie’s new CD, Impermanent Resonance. Let’s start with some background on your professional music career leading up to these high-profile projects over the past few years:
MS: Well, I started playing, I don’t even remember when. According to my mom, she had a gig, like literally a week before she went into labor. So I basically breathed music since I was really, really young. Coming from a family of musicians helped me for sure to have a more conscious view about music and about what I wanted to do, since a young age, you know. But if I have to set a date about when I started, I’d say when I was nine, that’s when I got my first electric guitar. Just for you know… just for the fun of it. ‘Cause I was a kid, it wasn’t a serious thing… I just took it like a game. But I remember, I do remember the passion [that developed] through several years. I remember when I went to high school I used to skip classes and go back home and practice. So while all the kids my age usually went to fields to play soccer and football, I went home, back home playing guitar. So I’d say I started when I was nine.
And then I had a small break, I went on to drums because I was intrigued by drums at some point in my life. I didn’t play any gig or have any cover band until I was out of high school actually. So it was just a matter of practicing at home. And then soon after leaving high school I knew that I didn’t want to, you know, go to university, even talking with my parents they knew that I wanted to do music for the rest of my life, so they just pushed me to do that. And actually the first thing that they did was to let me [get into] their band, which is a folk band. Kind of classic, Neapolitan folk band, traditional music and folk music. And I did that—I still do that, I still play with them. And then I got through some session works for local artists and some cover bands, playing local gigs. Let’s say I had some real intense days, you know, going from folk to pop, and then maybe throwing some rock and metal stuff the next day. But nothing to be regretful about, I couldn’t d be happier, that’s what I really wanted to do.
And then of course, in 2003, I got the LaBrie call to be part of that amazing project that still exists to this day. So that’s basically the story.
MPc: Who were some of your early musical influences, and then who are some of your favorite guitar players today?
MS: Well back in the early days, I was totally into Edie Van Halen. You know when Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” came out that solo changed my life. I was listening to what ever was hair metal and glam metal back then, so bands like Europe, Kee Marcello, and then I discovered all the Shrapnel [Records] guys, you know the golden age of guitar. And, since I was really young I was—I had the pleasure actually, this is something that maybe a lot of contemporary guys missed out, but I in some ways lived that era, so I breathed that music when it came out. I’m pretty, happy about that and I’m grateful that I had the chance because I actually had… I have an older brother who played guitar who was lending me all these tapes and you know, you remember, of course you remember these [instructional] VHS tapes of “Star Licks” stuff and I remember my dad got me for my birthday the Vinnie Moore tape, and I couldn’t play that stuff, but I just tried to incorporate some of the stylistic stuff into my early playing.
So I definitely say the early Van Halen, then Joe Satriani of course. And then later on obviously I came through to Dream Theater and John Petrucci. That’s a cool story that few people know actually. When I first heard of Dream Theater, and it was right when Images and Words came out, my brother lent me this tape, and it wasn’t an original tape, he just copied the original stuff, and he scrambled the songs. And I was coming from the straight rock glam stuff, so when I heard that for the first time, I just said, What’s this crap? I just took it away, no, I threw the tape away and I went back to my usual listening. Then, next year I was cleaning my room and I found this tape again. And… it was instant love. So I wasn’t ready [laughs], I totally wasn’t ready the first time that I heard the band. And from then on, you know, I started listening to all the prog bands, like Rush, Yes, and… later on Genesis and King Crimson, all the prog stuff of the ‘70s. And then Andy Timmons who actually heavily influenced and shaped my playing to a new level, in terms of improvisation and, you know, even incorporating some jazzy leads into rock playing.
Today, today there are a lot of badass guys actually, which some of them I had the pleasure to work with or just meet some of them. I’m talking about Guthrie Govan, for example, or Andy James from UK, and Tom Quayle. These are, I think, killer players that will bring, that just set the bar really high on the guitar. So those are my past and present influences.
MPc: Well I think today you set the bar pretty high for everyone else.
MS: [laughs] No way. Thank you.
“I just told them, ‘Do whatever you want with this song.
Just make it shine.’”
MPc: Let’s turn our attention to your current solo album, ReMarcoble. It is an amazing collection of guitar-driven songs that span a variety of rock, prog, and fusion styles, much like the other work you do. What was your approach to writing and recording the solo album?
MS: Well, I came from the experience of my first solo record, which was titledThere’s Hope, which came out in 2008, and as much as I loved that record, I wasn’t really satisfied by the diversity of songs. I mean, to me it was great because it showed all my experience and influences over the years, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do because it sounded a little bit fragmented, in a way. There was the prog moment, the rock moment, the fusion, the country… even the country moment. With ReMarcoble, I actually wanted to make a more straight-ahead record. So getting my influences back, but more in a modern key.
In terms of writing, I started soon after finishing the first record. Some songs just came out, you know, like always happens, out of the blue. Just, I had maybe melodies in mind, and I tried to build the core of the song around that melody. And some songs were just leftovers from James [LaBrie’s] records. Maybe some that weren’t, um, maybe modern enough to end up on James’s record and, particularly “Far From Me” and “Save Yourself,” those two songs were written for James, and didn’t end up on Static Impulse. So I used those for my solo record. And also, on that level I chose the musicians according to the songs. I just sent them files, scratch arrangements, early arrangements, and I just told them, “Do whatever you want with this song. Just make it shine. Just use your musicianship to make this song shine.” And this is pretty much it.
I had my core set of musicians, which is my former drummer, and Alex on keyboards, and Matt Guillory, that’s my core set of guys for what ReMarcoable was intended to be. I mean those guys played on There’s Hope, too.
So both my former drummer, Salvyo [Maiello], and Alex Argento on keyboards and Matt Guillory—these three guys played on my first record, too. And then, for this new one I had the pleasure and the honor to have Virgil Donati for one song, and that happened because I was recording for Virgil, actually. I recorded his latest solo record, which is titled In This Life, and it was around that time that I asked him if he was interested in doing a song for my solo record and he said sure, so I just threw him a couple of songs and he chose “Jester’s Tears,” and I think he made an incredible, unbelievable job on it. I mean, it’s classic Virgil Donati stuff going on.
And then Peter, well of course, Peter because he played in James’s band and for him I just give, like, no guides. I just told him, “This is ‘ReMarcoble,’ this is a super metal song. I need you to make it explode from the monitors.” And he did an amazing job, both on that and “Far From Me,” and this is pretty much it with the guys playing on the record. Everyone was actually chosen because their particular style fit the song. There are a couple of guys from Italy playing drums and bass on other songs. One of them is a guy from a band, Astra, from Italy and he was even one of the guys who played on There’s Hope too, and some other session guys from Italy—great players, great friends, and they did an amazing job. All of them did an amazing job.
MPc: Let’s talk about your guitar rig, at least the one that was used most heavily on ReMarcoable.
MS: Okay, mainly I used my Ibanez that came… actually, ReMarcoable marked my switch to Ibanez guitars because I was using another brand before that. I used the Premium models, mostly my RG-870QMZ six strings, which is, I think, an amazing model, an amazing guitar for the price. It has an American basswood body, with rosewood fretboard, and DiMarzio pickups in it.
MPc: Are those stock pickups?
MS: No. I’m endorsed by DiMarzio, so I usually change the pickups in every guitar that doesn’t have them. I use a combination of a [Air] Norton in the bridge, a True Velvet single coin in the middle, and a PAF 36th Anniversary in the neck. That gave me the basic core tone on all the leads of the record. That’s basically the main guitar for both rhythm and lead playing, um, ninety percent of the songs.
And then I use a seven string for the heavier tunes, which is also a Premium model. It’s basically the same guitar, same specs, but with seven strings and on the guitar the only difference is that it has D-Activator pickups from DiMarzio, which are very powerful, very defined, very tight, so they deliver plenty of low end and crunchiness to the tone.
MPc: Do you stick to standard tuning on most of your guitars?
MS: Basically yes. I mean, all the seven strings were tuned to standard B, and all the six strings were standard E, but “ReMarcoble”the tune was dropped C. So I use the six-string guitar tuned down to drop C, which is, from bottom to the top, is tuned to C, G, C, F, A, D. And I used that on “ReMarcoble,” to have that modern metal vibe to the tune.
And, I think probably I did some overdubs on “Jester’s Tears” using a drop-A seven strings, which is basically a standard B with a drop A. That’s the guitars that I used. I didn’t want lower than that because I wanted to save that for… I was already working on the new James LaBrie record, so I wanted to save the lower tunings for James’s record.
MPC: And we’ll get to that one.
MS: [laughs] Yeah. So that’s the guitars. As far as amps goes, I use, pretty much, ninety percent the Axe-FX II, for a few good reasons. One is that I can’t crank the amps at home and I can’t, you know, use the amps at a reasonable volume level as it would be in a studio. So, the Axe FX gives me the possibility to have my ideal tones in a reasonable condo environment.
So ninety percent was Axe FX, I used the Mesa/Boogie Royal Atlantic on one song, which is “Far From Me,” for the rhythm sound. What I did, I recorded with the Axe FX and I recorded DIs from it. Then I went to a studio, and I re-amped those DIs using the Royal Atlantic just to give a little bit of a different vibe to that song.
MPc: What amp models were you using?
MS: I guess it was a [Mesa/Boogie]Mark IV model. It was a lead USA lead model.
MPc: You really embrace the Mesa sound.
MS: Yeah, I embrace the Mesa sound even if I’m now endorsed by a different company. But back on ReMarcoable that was my go-to lead sound.
MPc: I understand you mixed your CD as well.
MPc: I was going to ask you about engineering your guitars, but it sounds like you recorded almost of it through the Axe FX?
MS: Exactly. I engineered the drums, too. I mean, for the songs where my former drummer played, we went to a studio so I… the studio owner just gave me the keys of the studio, he said, “Do whatever you want.” So I was the tech, and the engineer, so I had to mic the drums, I took care of miking the drums and setting up all the sounds. I’m pretty happy, actually, because that was the first experience for me miking a drum.
I think we came out with a pretty constant and tight sound, drums-wise. Some of my favorite drum sounds on the record are from songs like “The Forest” that has a really, really big sound. And I’m happy that it turned out well. I didn’t have any issues, hopefully, in the studio doing that. And then I mixed the record at home. I have a small home studio, just normal stuff you know, a couple of Yamaha and Adam monitors. And I have a Focusrite sound card and a Pro Tools system. So I used pretty much plug-ins, as far as reverbs, delays, chorus, and compressors. Everything was done in my home studio, basically. Aside from drums. Virgil recorded from L.A., and Peter from Sweden, and they sent me the tracks to be mixed.
MPc: What about your guitar effects on the album? Were those all from the Axe FX or did you have outboard effects?
MS: Well this is something that I learned over the years, trying to steal working behaviors from other engineers. I always record dry tracks, for the reason that if I have to change anything later on, I have, you know, just a dry track. So most of tracks were dry from the Axe FX. Unless there was any particular effect like, backwards stuff or just super chorus and reverb effects, but I’d say ninety five percent of the tracks were dry, and then I added effects from Pro Tools. So this is my behavior, mixing-wise.
“No real acoustics were harmed during the
recording of ‘Song of Ben and C.’”
MPc: Let’s talk about some of the individual songs, starting with “Jester’s Tears.” How did you get that beautiful liquid lead tone?
MS: Well that’s basically the same preset I use over, maybe, all the songs. But probably it came out better in that song because of the arrangement. I mean, some of the tones usually can be edgier, you know, smoother according to how many instruments are within the mix, and what kind of instruments. That song has a lot of keyboard—on that song actually there are more keyboards than guitar. Rhythm guitar’s lower into the mix. So keyboards have an edgier sound, and they take some of the harsh, high tops out from the lead tone. So in that song actually even if I used the same sound as the rest, that smoothness came out better because of the keyboards—because of the keyboard placement and mix.
It was based on the Mark IV settings that I use on the real amp and I just copied that from the amp, and I programmed the preset on the Axe FX.
MPc: Was that lead work done on your neck pickup?
MS: You know, sparingly. I usually go from bridge to neck a la Jon Petrucci style and Steve Morse, ‘cause that’s what I did when I was young, when I was practicing. So on the higher part of the neck I usually switch to neck pickup and when I’m doing, you know, chords of just fast stuff on the heavier strings I go back to the bridge pickup.
MPc: The song “Far From Me” has a definite Dream Theater vibe, and on that one your lead tone was definitely different than the “Jester’s Tears” kind of tone. What did you do differently there?
MS: Well first of all, there’s a real amp going on in the rhythm section. So that actually brought some darker image, and sonic image to the tune. Even if the lead was the same, it seems darker because it’s more guitar-driven. So on that one all the small nuances of the lower mid-range area came out better than “Jester’s Tears.” It’s really a matter of what kind of amps played on what songs and what kind of arrangement I did on that specific song that made the lead tone seem to sound darker, or brighter, or smoother.
There’s really nothing different but the rhythm amps and the instruments.
MPc: How did you get the beautiful acoustic guitar sound on “Song of Ben and C?”
MS: That’s, uh, that’s a solid body acoustic [laughs], that’s not a real acoustic guitar. When I was endorsed by Rash guitars, which was the company that endorsed me before Ibanez, and I had my signature model with them, they gave me this beautiful acoustic guitar, which is a solid body, and it has basically an electric guitar neck. So it’s very smooth to play, very fast. And the sound that you hear is basically the Piezo from the guitar. No real acoustics were harmed during the recording of “Song of Ben and C.” [Laughs] Because, you know, I don’t have a tracking room, so all the noises coming from the computer and the monitors and the stuff that I have in the room would have ended up into the song. So I prefer using a solid body acoustic guitar.
And that was pretty much it. More layers, of course, to give the stereo image to the tone, so it’s like four guitars going on playing the same things, and then other two guitars over-dubbing and layering, and that’s pretty much it. It’s just a Piezo guitar.
MPc: Wow. It sounded awesome.
MS: Oh yeah, thank you.
“It’s really not me. It’s me trying to play
like maybe Brett Garsed would play.”
MPc: We first discovered your playing on Alex Argento’s album, Ego, which is as breathtaking as we think your latest instrumental album is. Ego was another instrumental record that just totally floored us. And a big part of what made it so spectacular was your playing on there, which really showed off some awesome jazz-fusion technique. Tell us about playing on a fusion record like that.
MS: That was funny because I never played fusion before. And I never studied jazz. We are old friends. I know Alex since 2003 maybe, and he was already doing the record when I first met him. And he contacted me, saying, “I like your playing, would you like to play on my record?” And I said “Sure. What’s the genre? What are the songs like?” And he sent me a couple of MP3s and when I heard the material I was like, “This is not gonna’ work! I don’t play that stuff. You know I’m not a fusion player and I never play it.” And he said, “Oh you will. Just be yourself.” And I said okay.
So from then on, what I did, I started listening to a lot of kind of fusion players, like Greg Howe, which I never listened to before, or Scott Henderson, Brett Garsed… To try to get into that vibe, I knew I would have never been able to play like them anyway, so I just had a few months of listening… and that ended up being one of the funnest records, actually, because it’s really not me. It’s me trying to play like maybe Brett Garsed would play. But, it was fun, it was an experience, it was a challenge that I took. And you know, it ended up being a good seller, too. Alex was happy about the way it turned out, even economically.
So I was happy, because that helped me to understand a few things about improvisation and fusion in general. But that was really a challenge. I didn’t know what fusion was all about and it was all weird scales to me, weird sounds, you know? Everything was outside playing, and I was like, you know, I’m not able to play this stuff, so I gotta’ sit down and write something to make it work. So most of the leads were written out. It was fun because I got to learn a lot of things, actually.
MPc: It’s a great sounding record. Were you using Axe FX on that?
MS: Well, Axe FX wasn’t out yet [laughs]. That was recorded over a span of years—over four years. I started getting in touch with Alex in 2003, and the record came out in 2007, and the first song, “Moving Around in E” is the first song that he sent me, and it was 2003. So… I used a variety of stuff on that one, but mainly, if memory serves, it was a Mesa/Boogie Triaxis at bedroom levels, at my parent’s house.
And then for leads, I used… one of my students had a boss GT-6 pedal board, or maybe it was a GT-3, I can’t remember, it was a long time ago, and Alex liked that sound so much that it ended up on a lot of leads. And then I used early versions of Guitar Rig, it was like version 2 maybe, 2005, 2006, for songs like “Vibrations.” If I recall it was Guitar Rig, and that was it. It was Triaxis through a 2:Ninety, Mesa Boogie power amp, volume like at zero dot five [laughs] .
MPc: Yeah, I’ve owned a few Triaxis/2:Ninety rigs myself, so I’m just imagining that in your bedroom…
MS: Yeah, you know that’s loud in a medium-small club, go figure in a house to track [laughs]. So it wasn’t really super loud, so the sound isn’t as open as it should be cranking up the power amp. That’s really recorded at bedroom levels. And even if I used several microphones to mic the cab, it still sounds, to my ears, a little bit, you know, non-working as a real tone. It’s small, because of the recording levels of course. I wish I had my Axe FX back then [laughs].
“There were like eighty guys in the audience,
and two of them were Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess..”
MPc: When you first connected with James LaBrie, you really weren’t well known yet, so how did that come about?
MS: It was through Alex. The whole story was that Alex knew [LaBrie keyboardist] Matt Guillory. They were friends you know, Internet friends, and one day Alex told me, “I have Matt Guillory online, do you want to talk to him?” I was, like, “Sure [laughs]. Why not?” And so a good friendship started with Matt. We exchanged files, we promised each to work together, at some point. And that was around, maybe it was early 2004.
And then at some point Matt Guillory told me, “We’re doing this record with James and originally, Andy Timmons was going to track parts, but unfortunately for scheduling incompatibilities, it didn’t work anymore, so would you audition for it?” And I was like, “Sure!” It’s one of those trains that passes once in your life and you got to take it.
So I just said “Yes, why not.” And he sent me a couple of songs, with no guitars, songs from the record, and told me just record whatever you feel is fine for the song and send it back to me. And I did, and the next day I sent him both songs with all the guitars, and to make a long story short a few weeks later, he sent me an e-mail saying you’re in the band. And, you know, I had some crazy visions in front of me, like you know, the holy God and all this stuff because you know… I really had... I really had James’s poster in my bedroom back then, so he was kind of a hero. And the whole band was my favorite band. I was listening to Dream Theater early in the morning, up until I went to bed, to sleep. So for me, it was a dream come true.
And from then on, I recorded that record, which was titled Elements of Persuasion, and the collaboration continued up to today; we just came out with the third record I did with him which is titled, Impermanent Resonance. So that’s the story, basically. It was just a matter of being at the right place at the right moment.
MPc: Wow. When I listen to your work on the LaBrie records I definitely hear a lot more dropped-tuning than in your solo work. Tell me a little bit about—let’s focus on the latest ones, Static Impulse and Impermanent Resonance, and the guitar tones and the guitars used for those records.
MS: Well the whole songwriting changed between the past three records. I mean Elements of Persuasion was still an experimental record, which had some prog elements. On Static Impulse, Matt’s listening changed to a more modern metal vibe, he got into the whole gothic metal genre, and bands like In Flames or Soilwork, [who] used those lower tuning on their guitars. So the goal was to make a record that sounded kind of like that.
Starting with Static Impulse that was a cool record to do because we went all together to Sweden to track—all of us but James, who tracked from Canada. So we went all in the same studio… I mean, it was me, it was Matt, Ray Riendeau on bass and Peter [Wildoer] on drums, all together in the studio, tracking our parts. And for that one, I used—well the lowest tuned guitar was drop A, and I used it on songs like “Mislead” or… gosh I can’t remember the song, I remember just “Mislead.” But anyway that was the lowest tuned song; it was standard B and drop A.
On Impermanent Resonance, the goal was to be even more authentic, in terms of gothic metal thing, you know. So most of the bands he was listening to were like Dead by April; they were even using eight-string guitars. But I just said, for me, an eight-strings is like having a baseball bat in my hands. I can’t really play it. I tried. I had Ibanez send me a couple of models, but they didn’t really stick to me because just the neck is just too big.
So I said, let me experiment a bit with tunings, because the writing process for James’s songs is quite different. Matt writes pretty much ninety-nine percent of the stuff, even the guitar parts, and they have to be exactly that way on the record. I just take a step back, with James’s records, because I trust Matt a hundred percent, I trust Matt’s parts a hundred percent. So I tend to stick to his parts. And for some of his songs he uses some really low tunings, and I had to figure out how to do that. And what I did, I took one of my seven strings, which is a baritone actually, and I tuned it down to G. So that’s really low. It was really, really low. And it was hard to keep the guitar in tune, because it’s a guitar with a Floyd [Rose tremolo]. So even using a super thick string will make it like a rubber band.
So I had this for a lot of songs on Impermanent Resonance, I used this drop G tuning, which is G, D, G, C, F, A, D, so it’s really, really low. And I had to use, of course, thicker strings, trying to dampen a little bit the resonance from all the hardware in the guitar, because at that point the guitar becomes like transducer going that low. And in Impermanent Resonance it was basically all drop G and drop A. And drop C, sorry… There’s always that drop C guitar on “Letting Go.” So it’s a whole drop record to make it sound really authentic, in terms of more metal stuff.
MPc: And what amp did you use when you recorded?
MS: Well, that was basically made through the Axe FX. And there’s a funny story about this too, because when I track for James, the engineer usually wants to have DIs, for eventual re-amping into the studio. So, until the record came out, I knew where one end of the cable went to, I didn’t know the rest of the cable [laughs] where it was going, you know which kind of amps were going to be used, which kind of overdrives and stuff. I knew he liked the Axe FX, but I know that he was used to re-amping from some real amps. I just dropped him an e-mail. So I recorded straight from the Axe FX using some… I guess Boogies, a blend of Boogie and ENGL models, and I made a DI for each guitar.
So I sent the engineer all the stuff, and later on he told me that he used a blend of the Axe FX stuff, and then some early [Mesa Boogie] Rectifier model and a new EVH head from Fender to get the main rhythm sound. For leads it’s still the Axe FX. For leads, there’s my tone, and I don’t want someone to change your wick, you know, so that’s mine. He re-amped the tracks using those amps, and I think it’s one of the best rhythm tones I had in years, because it’s very tight, it’s not super distorted… it’s just very clear and very crisp. So that’s the amp situation for Impermanent Resonance.
MPc: Nice. Now, do you guys ever get out and actually tour with James and play that stuff live?
MS: We did. In 2005, we did for Elements of Persuasion. We did a world tour, we did three gigs in the states—two in New York and one in New Jersey and…
MPC: I don’t even know I missed that!
MS: Well a lot of people passed that, because there were like eighty guys in the audience, and two of them were Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess and their wives, so [laughs]… it was badly advertised, actually.
We literally went on tour, and the record came out, like, five days before. So nobody knew that James had a new record coming out, and the whole tour was, you know, badly advertised and publicized so we [only] had a few people in the states coming to the shows. Actually the situation went better in Poughkeepsie. We did an amazing show there. Then we came to Europe straightaway to Italy, doing three shows in Italy. Then we went to Germany, France, and UK, then Switzerland. So we did a bunch of gigs, and the reaction was amazing. So they definitely want to see us on tour again, it’s just a matter of setting up things properly and having James with a considerable amount of time away from a Dream Theater tour.
So we will see that happen probably in the future, who knows? I hope so.
MPc: Besides being a clinician and instructor, you’ve shot a whole bunch of fantastic videos for JamTrackCentral.com. Tell us about Jam Track and what that’s all about.
MS: Well Jam Track, I think, is one of the most honest, humble guitar enthusiast company out there. It was actually Guthrie Govan who recommended me to contact them because they’re awesome—the way they treat musicians is awesome. The way they handle the whole video thing and backing track thing is just something that no other label does.
So I actually got in touch with these guys last year, early last year, for some backing track videos, and then we talked about the possibility of releasing my next solo record, which ended up being ReMarcoable, through them. And I just did it because they really know how to push things in the guitar community. When I released my first record, actually, I have nothing to complain about, but the advertising was just poor. Instead, with Jam Track, they’re really great, they take care of everything, they’re honest, and most important they pay on time [laughs]. So, ultimately it’s a good thing.
And also what’s great about them is that they’re really positive. They really like to push, so they always propose me with new things to do, you know? “Hey, we have this video with backing tracks. Would you be interested in doing that?” or “There’s this project going on. Would you be interested in doing that?” And it’s something that no other label I had the pleasure to work with did. So I’m really happy about them and, you know, it’s the best thing that I did in my life on a recording label—it’s really great. And I’m grateful to Guthrie who recommended to me to contact them.
MPc: What are you up to now? What’s next?
MS: Well, I have a lot of clinics to do, locally, in September and October. And then, I have some recordings too. There’s a record that I can’t tell you more than this because it’s a secret, but it’s gonna’ be a cool thing… many guitar players on one record. And also, I hope there will be a LaBrie tour, at some point and… just try to keep it busy. Most of it is just about clinics, doing clinics for this new brand that I’m endorsing right now amp-wise, which is DV Mark. They’re really pushing me to do clinics and demonstrate their amps and stuff. And they came out with this multi-amp unit, which is really great. There will be some cool things going on with them. I hope to do the NAMM show in January. So yeah, definitely a lot of good things going on.
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