I missed this last week when I was zipping around California doing NAMM and Seymour Duncan stuff, but Dean Delray recently interviewed Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney for his Let There Be Talk podcast. It’s hard to think of someone who’s had a more powerful influence on the direction of guitar post-1980 than Mike Varney. In his search to uncover the next Eddie Van Halen or Jimi Hendrix he’s brought us players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and Richie Kotzen. And you need to listen to this interview. It’s embedded below, but if it’s not working for you for whatever reason, you can check it out at All Things Comedy or on iTunes. And go give Dean a good review on iTunes. His podcast is a must-hear for rock and metal fans. Read More …
ABC affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco visited Jason Becker recently for a news story. You can watch the video here. It’s so cool to see Jason still composing (and giving cheeky answers to the interviewer).
During the story they show a few shots of the Paradise Guitars USA Jason Becker signature model.
When I was about 14 I bought the second Cacophony album on cassette, but there was something wrong with the tape and on side 2 the left side of the mix was completely silent. It took years before I found a copy on CD so I could hear what i was missing on that other side of the stereo spectrum! I took my tape to a guitar lesson and played ‘Go Off’ for my teacher and said “I wanna play like that!” He was a great teacher but Jason’s style was a million times removed from his, so I never did learn that song. Maybe it’s time I did.
Discussion time! What are your favourite Jason Becker songs or solos?
ProTone Pedals is now shipping the Jason Becker Perpetual Burn distortion pedal, which is based on Jason’s favourite Marshall JCM 800 amp, with a little inspiration from the JCM900 he used later in his career for good measure. It also features an additional clean boost channel at Jason’s request, after he said he enjoyed using a higher gain sound later in his career.
At the Shred Academy forum, ProTone’s Dennis Mollan says the design was originally going to include an overdrive channel and an amp emulation channel, but prototype testing sessions with Rusty Cooley led to the decision to use a clean boost channel instead, to be driven by the emulation channel: “The way the boost interacts with the circuit is extremely cool. It adds more bite and tone to the distortion, and obviously adds more volume. The distortion from the emulator really drives the boost into more distortion… this configuration really sounds great. The overdrive going into the distortion is great in the amp world, but here in the pedal realm it really sucked! Was way too noisy. So we scrapped that plan.”
The pedal features original artwork by Jason’s dad, Gary Becker, and is handbuilt in Texas.
In addition to being a solo artist, Jason was guitarist in Cacophony with Marty Friedman, and replaced Steve Vai in David Lee Roth’s band. His performing career was cut short when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, but Jason still composes music. Shrapnel Records will release The Best Of Jason Becker on November 4, including three new songs written by Jason which feature Marty Friedman, Greg Howe, Joe Satriani, Michael Lee Firkins, Steve Vai and Steve Hunter.
Stay tuned for news of the Paradise Guitars USA Jason Becker limited edition guitar.
Gary Moore – Bad for You Baby Eagle Records
Another blues-rock album from Gary Moore (am I the only one who misses his hard rock stuff from the mid 80s, when he thought he was Eddie Van Halen?), this one includes originals and covers, and is said to be more energetic and all-round rippin’ than his previous album, ‘Close As You Get.’
Pat Metheny & Anna Maria Jopek – Upojenie Nonesuch
This album was originally released in 2002, but is only now finding worldwide release. Jazz legend Metheny duets with Polish singer and keyboardist Anna Maria Jopek, joined by a group of Polish musicians.
David T Chastain – Mystery of Illusion Shrapnel
This remastered reissue of BC Rich-wielding shredder Chastain’s Shrapnel debut includes such metal titles as ‘I Fear No Evil,’ ‘When The Battle’s Over’ and ‘ Night of the Gods.’ There are also two bonus tracks in the form of original demos for ‘Mystery of Illusion’ and ‘The Winds Of Change.’
Revolution Renaissance – New Era Blistering Records
Debut album of the new band by Stratovarius mastermind Timo Tolkki. Although I doubt this album will be as entertaining as Timo’s very public split from Stratovarious, which was pretty much played out on the internet in real time, it’s bound to include lots of grandiose shredding and operatic vocals. Includes the vocals of Michael Kiske (Helloween), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), and Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone).
If you’re anything like me, you probably spent an embarassingly large amount of time during your teenage years searching bargain bins for releases by Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, a label specialising in releases by guitar virtuosos like Marty Friedman, Racer X, Cacophony, Greg Howe and Paul Gilbert. Well those days of eagle-eyed pointy-guitar spotting amid the racks at obscure used CD stores are over, with the news that Shrapnel’s catalog has just become available on iTunes. Now you can pick up rare releases by Yngwie Malmsteen’s Steeler, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Tony McAlpine, Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Vinnie Moore, and many other dudes who spent as much time on haircare as they spent on practicing 8-fingered 4-octave diminished arpeggios – and those dudes spent a lot of time on 8-fingered 4-octave diminished arpeggios.