NEWS: Jason Becker interview on Metal Sludge

Who else reads Metal Sludge? Although it’s not updated as often as it used to be, when its notorious 20 Questions were a weekly occurrence, it’s still hilarious, still poking 80s rock in the ribs, and still a site I check pretty much every day just in case.

They’ve just posted their second interview with Jason Becker. Here’s a small excerpt. CLICK HERE to read the full interview.

Tell us about your latest CD Jason Becker “Collection”. How did you go about choos-ing what tracks to include. What kind of time, etc.. goes into something like this for you?

I had wanted to do a “best of” album for a while. I wanted one “perfect” CD for new people who are interested in hearing me, but who want to get my whole scene without having to buy all of my albums. As you know, my music can be diverse, so if you buy one album, you don’t get the whole picture. I also wanted my old fans to have new stuff. Mike Varney and I talked about waiting for me to write and record new songs. I was nervous about that because I hadn’t written music ever since I couldn’t move my hands or head. It would be a completely new process which might not work. I had to try it though because I owed it to myself and my fans. The California Department of Rehabilitation had just gotten me a new computer, music software and some great studio tools. My girlfriend and I had just broken up, so sex wasn’t a distraction anymore. It was time to see if I was still good or did I lose it all and suck? It was an incredible feeling to be creating again.

I picked my older songs that move me the most, which coincidentally are the pieces my fans write me the most about. These songs apparently speak to “normal” people as well as guitarists. Even when I shred, I am trying to make music. I am happy that people hear my emotion and feelings in my music and playing.

I also added some bonus material that is available when you stick the CD in your computer. I have eleven minutes of me noodling on the guitar back in ’89 for a couple of my students. Also, there are my guitar demos for my guitar concerto “End of the Beginning.” Michael Lee Firkins played on the final version. I thought it would be fun for people to see how the piece started out, with me playing.

It took quite a while, only because of the new songs. I also had to work around my co-producer, Dan Alvarez’s schedule. He did so much work; he is such a genius.

CLICK HERE to buy Jason Becker – Collection on Shrapnel Records.

While you’re at it, check out his classic album, Perpetual Burn too.

NEWS: Behemoth guitarist auctions his first 7-string

Guitarist/vocalist Adam “Nergal” Darski of Behemoth is auctioning a seven-string Ibanez guitar on eBay. From the pictures it appears to be an RG7620, and the bridge pickup has been swapped for a Seymour Duncan Invader 7.

CLICK HERE to see the auction.

He says, “This guitar is an integral part of Behemoth’s history. My first-ever seven-string axe that I bought right before we entered the studio to record ‘Zos Kia Cultus’.
It’s a great-playing instrument that sounds just awesome and heavy as f***!
I used this axe in the studio to nail songs like ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ from ‘Demigod’ or ‘As Above So Below’ from ‘Zos Kia’.
You can also see me playing that beast in the video clips to these tunes.
Also, it served me well during multiple tours all over the world!”

The guitar’s very bashed up, but that just shows its history.

CLICK HERE to see the auction.

NEWS: Bryan Beller Band flees to the Cleve

Forgive the 30 Rock reference in the headline. I just can’t get enough of that show. 

Bass virtuoso Bryan Beller is hitting the road with the Bryan Beller Band for a gigin Cleveland this weekend. Here are the details:

Saturday, March 7, 2009, 9pm
the Bryan Beller Band (special Cleveland lineup!)
at The Winchester
12112 Madison Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44107
Admission: $10
Also appearing: Doug Johns, Tony Pulizzi

The Cleveland lineup is:
Rick Musallam – guitar
Tony Pulizzi – guitar
Rock Wehrmann – keys
Bryan Beller – bass
Chris Ceja – drums

NEWS: Optek Fretlight Video Player

This looks pretty cool: Optek’s Fretlight technology has now integrated with video lessons. I’ve never seen Fretlight stuff here in Australia, but I used to secretly envy it whenever I saw it in guitar magazines. Anyone tried the Fretlight system over the years?

Here’s the press release.

Optek Music Systems Announces Release of Fretlight Video Player

March 4, 2009
Musical instrument manufacturer and software developer, Optek Music Systems today unveiled revolutionary video technology for quickly learning how to play the guitar or advancing one’s existing skills. The Fretlight Video player ( for the PC enables the company’s Fretlight™ guitars, which have lighted fretboards, to be powered by video lessons. The Fretlight Video Player triggers the Fretlight guitar’s onboard-lighted learning system with interactive lessons and other music and video content. Every Fretlight guitar now ships with a selection of free beginner, intermediate and advanced video lessons specifically designed for the Fretlight Video Player.

With the Fretlight Video Player, guitar players will now get their very own teacher at their disposal 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever the teacher plays on his guitar in the video instantly appears in real-time on the student’s Fretlight guitar. Optek’s patented Intellitempo™ technology allows the video instruction to be slowed down by the user without changing the pitch of the audio tracks.

“Most people today are visual learners,” said Rusty Shaffer, President & CEO of Optek. “There are thousands of guitar videos on YouTube and other web sites, not to mention video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band that people are trying to mimic. However, these videos and the toy instruments that come with the video games, do little to accelerate the learning process because finger placement is the biggest hurdle that individuals face when learning to play guitar. The Fretlight Video Player solves this problem because the teacher on the screen is literally triggering the guitar in your hands. It’s almost as if the teacher is reaching through the computer, grabbing your fingers and placing them in the right place. It’s truly a breakthrough for guitar education.”

Unlike Guitar Hero and Rockband, which utilizes plastic guitar-shaped toys, the Fretlight guitar is a real six-string wooden instrument that is played and sounds like any other electric or acoustic guitar. Optek sells a wide range of Fretlight guitar models at varying price points for beginner, intermediate and advanced level guitar players. With the ability to learn and create music at the individual’s pace, the Fretlight interactive guitar learning system represents a significant advancement in the guitar industry.

Optek sees the Fretlight Video Player technology as a tool that allows virtually anyone with a little desire to learn to play guitar. “Just as Guitar Hero and Rockband have inspired a generation of kids to pretend to play guitar, this technology represents a significant advancement for anyone wishing to learn to play a real guitar,” says Shaffer.

For a product demo please go to:

A 30-day free trial of the Fretlight Video Player for the PC, together with Optek’s Beginner 101 and Beginner 102 guitar courses and samples of intermediate and advanced guitar lessons, ships with every Fretlight guitar. After 30 days, the Fretlight Video Player can be purchased for $29.95 at

The Fretlight Video Player for Mac will be released in early 2009.

For more information, visit their web site at

NEWS: Hear the new Queensryche single

“If I Were King” the first single from Queensryche’s new album ‘American Soldier,’ is now available for download from all digital retailers. The song was written based on an interview singer Geoff Tate conducted with Sean Lenahan, a veteran of US conflicts in Somalia and Kosovo.

CLICK HERE to hear the song.

“This is a song about loss and healing,” says Tate. “A soldier who lost his friend in a firefight and spent a lot of time afterwards struggling with his feelings, wishing he could have done more to save his friend. The song is saying if I were king, if I could do anything, I’d have you back in my life again, back by my side. I thought that was a very interesting and inspiring viewpoint.”

Unfortunately, the service it’s streaming from doesn’t work in my country so I can’t hear the song. :(