Interview with Guitar Wizard
(Questionnaire by Patrick De Sloover)
A few days ago, I was asked if there was any interested in doing an interview with Joe Stump. Well, I immediately agreed, as this guitar shredder is one of my long time favorites! Remember the good old days when Obsession took control with Marshall Law, followed by bands like Reign Of Terror and more recently Holy Hell. Every band has a common factor and that’s the shredder Joe Stump! Welcome!!
Q: Well Joe, before we start talking about your other bands and projects; I would like to know how you are doing personally?
A: Very well! I live a charmed life, so I certainly can't complain.
Q: I guess that recording another album is always a challenge. How do you start writing a new instrumental album?
A: I'm always in my workroom or I’m working over on the faculty at Berklee College Of Music. I'm always playing, practicing, composing and coming up with stuff. So for me its just business as usual.
Q: There are already so many instrumental releases, what makes your newest output ‘Revenge of The Shredlord’ unique and different compared with your colleagues?
A: Well I'm certainly not trying to reinvent the wheel. I just take the influences of all of my heroes whether it's be Paganini, Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Shenker, Gary Moore, Hendrix and just try to do my own thing with it. I try to write really strong metal driven guitar tunes that showcase my own killer playing and do it inside compositions that are extremely strong with strong melodies and cool riffs.
Q: If my information is correct, this is the tenth release in two decades. Is composing and writing music your biggest achievement, the necessary quest to fulfill your own personal needs?
A: I don’t know if it’s my biggest achievement. I mean it's just what goes along with one of them. This might be my 10th solo record I've recorded but I’ve also done several records with Holy Hell, then four Reign Of Terror records and I had a band called Trash Broadway who put out a record. So this is probably something like my 17th record overall. But it's just what I do. I've been a musician and released records for well over 20 years now. So releasing records and going out and supporting them live is just what I do.
Q: Besides instrumental releases, you also played in several bands throughout the years. Let’s start with Obsession, one of my all-time favorite EP’s from the early 80ies. How comes that you didn’t join them when they reformed in 2002?
A: I was a guest on a few tracks just because I'm friends with Mike Vescera. We worked together with the Reign Of Terror, so with Obsession I was never really a part of the full up. I didn't really know much about the band other than that Mike brought me in on some tracks.
Q: You did work with Mike Vescera in The Reign of Terror, who released 4 albums. How comes that this band split up as well?
A: The band never split up actually. I released four records with the Reign Of Terror and Mike sang on two of them. What happened was I had been busy over the last several years doing the Holy Hell thing so the Reign Of Terror was really more put on hiatus. I am thinking about doing another Reign Of Terror record this coming year. Who I'll have on vocals? I'm not really sure yet, but it’s something that certainly in the pipes for the future. So the band never officially broke up or anything like.
Q: The Reign Of Terror even played in Belgium, at Mundo in Zottegem to be precise in 2003. It seemed like you all like to play some cover versions as well. Songs like ‘Solder Of Fortune’ (Loudness),’ Crash And Burn’ (Malmsteen), ‘Kill The King’ (Rainbow) and Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ were the final encores. That’s a lot of covers if you have 4 albums on your own belt. How come?
A: Well it's really not a lot of covers because like with “Soldier Of Fortune” and “Crash and Burn” we were just kind of paying respect to some of Mike's back catalog that he sang on with Malmsteen and Loudness. We knew some his fans would like to hear some of those tunes. And then on “Kill the King” and “Burn” those are just things that were a staple of the Reign Of Terror live show.
Q: At this moment, you are also permanent member of Holy Hell. I saw some great live footage on You Tube, from a festival in Germany I presume. Is Holy Hell the main band for Joe Stump?
A: We just finished the 2nd Holy Hell record, that might be coming out sometime this soon. I also play with another power metal band called Raven Lord. There is talk about some possible arena touring. So while Holy Hell has been my main focus over the last several years as far as music with vocals go. I'm also open to doing other things.
Q: When you write new material, do you have in mind how this song will end up at the end? Will it become an instrumental track, or do you feel that there is something missing, lyrics for example?
A: I always know. When I write something I'll know “okay this is going to be a possible Reign Of Terror thing or this could be a Holy Hell thing”. It all comes together and I know immediately as I’m crafting the track.
Q: The new album is spread all over by a download system. We can download the tracks, but I believe that there are no physical cds mailed out. Is this to reduce the promotional costs?
A: The new album is available on CD. It's a real mix out there. Some people in this day and age no matter how old they are like to purchase music via the download while other people regardless of age purchase CDs. I’m sure there will be a time in the near future when CDs are completely obsolete. I mean I don't know if the record companies are necessarily doing it to cut down on promotional costs but I mean it's just the way the industries going. It’s the way of the future. Just like how people are streaming downloads for videos as opposed to only DVDs.
Q: Some complain about the Internet, but this indicates that it can be a very useful tool as well. You can spread your music all over the globe with only a few mouse clicks …
A: I think regardless of whether I like it or not or whether I'm comfortable with it or not, that's just the way it is. In the past only people that were professionals could make records, now anyone can. So has that watered down the market to a certain extent? I guess it has. But there a lot of positive things about the Internet and the way it's made more people aware of music. So I don't have a particularly strong opinion because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. It's not changed my approach to playing or composing or releasing material so I'm just rolling with.
Q: The title of the new album is ‘Revenge Of The Shredlord’, and I guess that you are the mentioned shredlord. What is your revenge, what is the goal that you want to reach?
A: Oh I really don't want revenge towards anything or anybody. I have released so many solo records now and they all have these badass titles, “Night of the Living Shred”, “Supersonic Shred Machine”, “Rapid Fire Rondo”, “Virtuostic Vendetta”, so you know it's much more difficult at this point to come up with a bad ass title. I just think of some cool title that fits and I wanted to work “Shred Lord” into the it, But if I was seeking revenge or retribution it would be against some of those Internet pussy boys that are always talking shit about me. So I decided to step up my game on the new record to silence the nonbelievers once and for all.
Q: The album will be released by Lion Music, another superb label for those that are into great bands. How is the cooperation and support of Lion Music? Is this the perfect label for a man like Joe Stump?
A: Lion does a great job with my stuff. I have a good relationship with everything there and I'm very fortunate in this day and age that I'm still releasing music through a label and still getting an advance when I deliver a record, so no complaints from me.
Q: You are also an Associate Professor on the guitar faculty at the Berklee College of Music. What does this include?
A: I’ve been the metal, hard rock, high-tech shred specialist there for close to 20 years now. It's been a great gig. I love working there. I only work 3 days a week and if I have touring obligations it's certainly easy enough for me to take off time and still maintain my position with the college, so it’s a great job.
Q: How does it flatter you when you are named as one of the 10 fastest shredders of all time by Guitar One Magazine?
A: You know any time you're on one of those lists, whether it's 50 fastest players or 10 fastest shredders or top 10 or 20 shredders of all time and that stuff, I mean it's great to be named along with some of my heroes that I look up to, guys that I respect. It's a great thing. Stuff like that is always cool.
Q: Do you agree that the new album is much more direct, much heavier and extremely intense compared with the previous album ‘Virtuostic Vendetta’. Is it because you are in a different mood nowadays? There is war going on, we all have a financial setback, there are a lot of problems with the Middle East and Muslims, and the world changed so much in so little time… Does it all reflect in your music?
A: When I write my music I don’t reflect on the times or anything that's going on in the world politically. It's strictly just stuff that flows out of me and on this particular record many of the songs just took on a very heavy, aggressive and dark, classically influenced direction. My last record “Virtuostic Vendetta” was a much more diverse where I had some retro rock things, some bluesy things, but this record started out so dark and heavy that I decided to keep the record focused in that direction.
Q: Will you go on tour and support your new album ‘Revenge Of The Shredlord’ live?
A: I just did a bunch of shows in the USA and I just recently toured in Mexico, it was great.
Q: Is there any chance that you will be featured on European stages as well? The label is from Europe, so it might be only a little step to fly over?
A: I’m talking to my agent and I’m hoping to make it to Europe in 2013 to support the record. Whether its a clinic tour or live dates with the band or a combination of both.
Q: How is the reaction of the press so far?
A: Reaction from the press and from my long-time fans is that this is my best record to date. I'm more concerned with what my fan base thinks because they certainly know my music better than anybody, and I've gotten an extremely overwhelming positive response from everybody that this is my finest hour. I'm always striving to improve in all areas so I'd have to agree. It's all been extremely positive.
Q: Will you start writing new material for Holy Hell as well, or do you mainly focus on ‘Revenge Of The Shredlord’ for now?
A: The new Holy Hell record is written and right now I have a bunch of stuff written for a possible Reign of Terror record so I'm always composing things.
Q: We know much more about you skills, and about upcoming plans. I want to thank you so much for your time and last but not least, thank you for the wonderful music that you brought to us. Is there anything more that you want to spread, before we end this chat?
A: Just a sincere thanks to everybody out there that has supported my efforts. I encourage everybody to check out the new record, as far as metal driven guitar shredding goes it's my best work to date. I can't thank everybody enough.
Q: All the best in your future plans and I hope that we will meet again real soon! Keep on shredding!
A: Thanks for all the support.