Interview:Joe Stump- Survival of the Fastest
by Omar Bhoorasingh
Known for his insane chops and incendiary solos, Joe Stump is a certified luminary in the world of neo-classical metal. Ever since the 1993 release of his instrumental debut "Guitar Dominance" Stump has had a loyal and growing core of devotees attracted to his powerful, bombastic music, which contains elements of European power metal and American thrash and always features virtually impossible to duplicate guitar solos.
Stump has released four more instrumental albums since his debut, while also introducing a vocal band dubbed Reign of Terror, featuring vocalist Mike Vescera (Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen), Matts Olausson (Ark, Yngwie Malmsteen) on keyboards and Jay Rigney and Matt Scurfeild (Event, Joe Stump solo) on bass and drums respectively. The band is currently in the studio recording their fourth album. That's where we got up with Stump.
GWO: Tell me about what you're currently working on.
STUMP: Right now I'm working on the new Reign Of Terror album. All the drums and bass have already been laid down. It's coming out very European sounding but a lot darker. There's some speed metal stuff in there and of course a lot of guitar! I'm not sure what the title&mac226;' gonna be at this point. Most of the tracks are fast in tempo.
GWO: Describe your growth as a guitar player.
STUMP: Well as a kid in NY I started out with some old jazz guy and getting out to play clubs on Long Island. I wasn't very good then but I got out and played so that helped. Also around time I got into Berklee I got into Al Dimeola because he was alumni and really got into his licks and picking style. I mostly played the rock of the day with Schenker, UFO, Uli Jon Roth and such. Aside from Blackmore and Hendrix, Dimeola is the first guitar guy I got into. Back in ‘83 I saw Yngwie in a Spotlight column and saw he had some of the same influences as me so I got his Alcatrazz record and started learning the licks. Yngwie was obviously doing the cool Bach shit more cohesively than it has been done in the past.
GWO: Describe your practice regimen and how it compares to when you just started playing?
STUMP: When I was starting out I didn't have much. There wasn't the information that we have now. There wasn't transcription or videos. The guys who were helping me didn't play rock style so I had to learn a lot by myself. I would also study and practice a lot of diatonic scales and such, a lot of arpeggios. I would play transcriptions from players like [Allan] Holdsworth . Now most of the time I'll practice what I'm currently recording. I'll sit with a metronome for hours and go over solo ideas. This is where I come up with a lot of new ideas. I'll come across something I like and work it out and kind of organize it in some meaningful way.
GWO: You mentioned you practiced a lot of classical pieces. How did that come about after starting out totally rock based?
STUMP: At Berklee they had this book "Classical Study For Pickstyle Guitar" and when you enrolled you were issued a copy. It's a really cool book, with that Paganini Perpetual Motion stuff and Bach inventions a bunch of them. Some Bach chordal type stuff, the violin sonatas. Some traditional type chordal stuff that you use your fingers and pick because I'm a loser without the pick.
GWO: We are all losers without the pick. How did you hook up with your current band?
STUMP: The rhythm section has been with me since 96, playing on my instrumental stuff as well as the Reign Of Terror. I met Mike a long time ago when I opened for Yngwie on the Seventh Sign Tour for one show. Mike had his own band a few years ago and they guys he had working were not very good and I got invited to play on his solo record, and I asked him to play on my album. I met Matts through Mike and asked him if he would like to play on the record. He liked the stuff and said yes.
GWO: Describe your writing process for Reign Of Terror.
STUMP: I write all the music. Then I let Mike write all the lyrics and the melody but everything is arranged.
GWO: You covered Rainbow's "Kill The King" on the last record. Are you planning to put a cover on this one?
STUMP: Yeah – Ritchie Blackmore's "Greensleeves." I had originally wanted to put this Schenker tune "Lost Horizons" on but it was like 8 minutes long so I decided not to.
GWO: What do you think of metal now and what do you like out there?
STUMP: I'm not much for the whole grindcore and rapping. If there's not much guitar going on you can't really call it metal. Great metal has great guitar. As far as new bands, I like Arch Enemy and Iced Earth but both have been around for a while. I also like Children Of Bodom, I have a couple of their discs. It's very interesting to see how they put the death metal with neo-classical. Most of the time I'm listening the old stuff like Blackmore in Deep Purple, Rainbow, Schenker. Yngwie's one of my favorites and Uli Jon Roth's new album is great.
GWO: Tell me what gear your using on this album.
STUMP: I have an ESP endorsement so I have four of their custom shop Strat type guitars with Dimarzio YJM pickups in the neck and Dimarzio HS3 in the bridge. They all have reversed heads and scalloped fretboards with large Dunlop fretwire. I also use a bunch of old Marshalls I bought in the 80's and an Engl head like what Ritchie uses.
GWO: Are there certain scales and modes you find yourself gravitating to?
STUMP: Oh yeah, all guitar players do that. A lot of players gravitate to what their favorite players use or whatever they are into, be it pentatonic or whatever. I use Harmonic minor, melodic minor, natural minor, Hungarian minor which is a variation of the Harmonic minor, Double Harmonic minor (I use that for the scary sounding stuff). When it comes to the bluesy, Hendrixy stuff I stick to the blues scale.
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