Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 17
It happened after a lot of touring
with the band, so
were well-oiled. But
there was a sense of
it being rushed; we
didn't get to jam on
the songs. It was done
when Eric [Peterson,
guitar] and Chuck
[Billy, vocals] found
tiny windows of time
and the rest of us were
involved in different projects. Some
tracks have riffs Eric
and I had worked on
Spear" just didn't
make it on to the previous album, but it's got a Baroque counterpoint
section I came up with. Even though it was done in a rush and a slightly
different direction, it sounds really good. Production-wise, it's one of
the stronger records.
Is it difficult to switch gears - play metal, then jazz?
Not anymore. It was when I dove into jazz for the first time: I had to
take a sabbatical from most other music. Once I re-entered the metal
world, when Testament reunited [in 2005], I was doing more of it. I
never stopped it entirely, but it wasn't my focus. Once I started again
in the 2000s, it took a while, but when shows were scheduled, I gave
myself months to review, then after the first day thought, "I'll have
this in a week." Maybe 72 hours later, it came back and never left.
The tones I use for each are very different, the volume is different.
With jazz, I'm not playing through a wall of amps, next to a bass that's
so loud I have to wear earplugs. When I play jazz, the whole band is not
as loud as one instrument in a metal situation. So you're going to play
different. When I play metal, I don't have a hollowbody or a semi-hollow
acoustic with this clean, natural tone that brings out chord melodies.
I have this very crunchy sound. Each lends itself to different playing.
Alex Skolnick: Tom Couture.
Which guitars do you use?
It depends, but my one overlap is my ESP signature model, which
is handcrafted. There's also the LTD version. To me, it captures everything I want and feels effortless for moving around the neck and
its fluidity. And, it has many tones. It's my go-to guitar for Testament
and other heavy projects like Metal Allegiance. But it's been finding its
way into other work, as well. I do a lot of jazz-rock; I've been touring
lately with Stu Hamm, and the guitar sounds great. I'll find different
tones. Or the Jane Getter Premonition... she's a great artist and has
Chad Wackerman on drums and Adam Holzman, from Miles Davis'
band [on keyboards]; that brings out a whole other side of that guitar.
With my Trio, I split between that guitar and one called the Montreal
Premiere, made by Godin. It's a semi-hollow; for the longest time, I
never saw the point of the semi-hollow because I always thought the
sound is closer to an electric than a full jazz box like a 175 or an L-5.
But this one, I flipped out over because it has the elegance of a hollowbody yet doesn't feed back much. I can distort it and it still sounds
great. I can do a screaming solo in the same song as an elegant chord
melody, which I actually do in "Dream On" by Aerosmith, which that
I've revamped and put on the new Trio album, Unbound. It's very
inspired by McLaughlin and Hendrix. - Greg Prato