February 1, 1999

Interview by Arda Turac
1. I know that you're from New York. And I know other guitar virtuosos from New York. What's magical about New York?

Joe Stump: There's definitely no pace in the world like it and I'm proud to be a New Yorker but as far as a bunch of guitar virtuosos all coming from the same place, it's just a coincidence.

2. You studied jazz and fusion in Berkley College. How was your transition to Rock and Heavy Metal?

I grew up playing hard rock and metal. Then when I came to Berklee I expanded my interests and got into Jazz, Fusion and Classical styles, but never stopped playing rock.

3. You played in many bars and clubs in your school days. Would you like to talk about those days a little?

When I was young, all through out high school, I played in numerous hard rock bands playing clubs, halls, etc. And when I left Berklee College of Music I played in a cover band touring all over the Northeast playing 4-6 nights a week. It was a great experience and a hell of a lot of fun. I was much younger and playing wasn't as serious business-wise for me.

4. How was the beginning of your music life? ( As a listener and a musician)

When I first started to play I listened to Ritchie Blackmore with Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Schenker with UFO Then before I went to Berklee I started listening quite a bit to Al Dimeola. I always loved fast guitar, even when I just started playing it excited me.

5. Your first serious band was Trash Broadway, if I'm not wrong. How were those days?

Trash Broadway was signed to a New York based label called Torrid Records who had mainly thrash metal bands like Exodus, Hades and Gothic Slam. We were more like Motley Crue and Van Halen but with much more European sounding guitar soloing and riffs. We played many shows and opened for tons of big acts, but unfortunately the band broke p after just one album.

6. Do you see your old friends from the college days and Trash Broadway?

There was no bad blood or tension between myself and the other Trash Broadway members but I hardly ever see any of those guys anymore. As far as old college friends go my closest friend was the guy I dedicated "End of an Era" to on the new record.

7. How did you get in contact with Leviathan Records? I guess all of your albums are labeled Leviathan, but I heard of Leviathan on your album for the first time.

Towards the end of Trash Broadway I was working on all instrumental material. Then later on I started soliciting demos to various labels in the States. After just a few demos I landed my deal with Leviathan back six years ago and I've been with them ever since. David Chastain runs things at the label and we've developed a close working relation ship. I've been a big fan of David's playing since back in my Trash Broadway days.

8. Some of your albums were instrumental and on some albums you used vocals. Why instrumental (I like instrumental albums very much) or why vocals? Did you decide you had things to say before you started using vocals?

I love recording both types of albums. When I write a tune I usually know what category it will fall into. I'm primarily known for my over the top, very extreme instrumental albums and in the US no matter what the flavor of the month is there will always be a strong core fan base for those records. Worldwide you can certainly reach more people with vocals on your records. Currently I'm beginning work on what I think will be my best Reign of Terror vocal recording yet.

9. Many replacements are going on in your band stuff. What is the reason for this? Or is this the common fate of guitar virtuosos?

Musicians come and go. I myself always have to have guys playing with me who are absolutely driven, dedicated and passionate about music. If they are not 100% then I don't want them in my band. But in the past I've never had any serious falling out with any of my former band mates. Being a sideman for a guitar virtuoso is demanding and you need player with the right mind set.

10. Which guitarists influenced in your life as a musician? ( in rock style)

In rock my favorite players and biggest influences are Ritchie Blackmore, Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker and, of course, Jimi Hendrix.

11. We know that you studied jazz and fusion. Which jazz and fusion guitarists influenced you?

Al Dimeola was by far my favorite also Alan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin.

12. It is a question that is generally left unanswered, but which was the best album you made until now?

I'm very proud of all my records but I'd have to say the new one, "Rapid Fire Rondo." It's got some of my most inspired writing and playing.

13. And which is the best album you listen to? ( Separately as a rock album and a guitar album)

I, still to this day, listen to all of the rock players I mentioned previously. Some of my favorite recordings by them are: Made in Europe, Made in Japan, Machine Head- Deep Purple; Rising, Long Live Rock N Roll, Live on Stage- Rainbow; Rising Force, Trilogy, Concerto Suite- Yngwie Malmsteen; Corridors of Power, We Want Moore- Gary Moore; Assault Attack, One Night in Budokan- Michael Schenker; Axis Bold as Love, Band of Gypsys- Jimi Hendrix.

14. There is a well known quarrel between you and Yngwie Malmsteen. May I hear your thoughts about Malmsteen? Which of you is the more talented?

I know nothing about such a quarrel, I've hung out with Yngwie on several occasions and he has always been cordial and respectful. I've been I big fan of his playing for many years and he has been a huge source of inspiration for me. We also share many of the same influences such as Hendrix, Blackmore, Bach, Paganini and Uli Jon Roth. Just like he took things from Blackmore and brought them to a higher level, I've taken things from him and Ritchie and brought them to an even more extreme level technically.

15. Which one do you think is his best album?

The first Rising Force record is of course a benchmark for neoclassical playing and composing. As far as a vocal record goes Trilogy is totally brilliant, the tunes, the production, his guitar work, and soloing- it's just a great album. Also the instrumentals on that one- " Crying" and "Trilogy Suite" are masterpieces.

16. You musicians have always been people we cannot reach. However you have good friendships among yourselves. Can you tell us about memories you lived with musicians or bands that you worked with or played together with at concerts?

I've met and spent time with many musicians and they're just like everybody else. Some are really friendly, warm people who are easy to get on with and some are complete morons.

17. Recently, at the end of November, you played together with Michael Vescera at a concert. How was that?

18. The show went pretty well, since then I've become friends with Mike and just finished playing a bunch of tracks on his newest solo album. There's also a strong possibility of us doing some shows together.

19. Because of Turkey's economical status, our musicians generally have a second job besides music to earn money. And in most situations, music becomes a second job. How is the situation in your country? Do you have another job?

My only other job is that I am on the faculty at Berklee College of Music in the guitar department.

20. You guitar virtuosos generally make an agreement with a guitar trademark and play only that guitar. Which guitar are you playing now? What did you play before, for example, what was the first guitar that you bought? And which one is the best?

I have an ESP endorsement. They've custom built several stratocaster style guitars for me and they're extremely well made, great sounding guitars. Since I was very young my favorite guitar has been the stratocaster-all my favorite players used them. My first serious guitar was a black 1972 Fender Stratocaster.

21. Last of all we had Rapid Fire Rondo. It was again an instrumental work. Can you tell us a little about your last album? In what kind of mental state were you in while you were preparing Rapid Fire Rondo?

Rapid Fire Rondo contains some of my most extreme and demanding playing and composing. A lot of preparation went into recording that album. The neoclassical sections are very complex and my soloing on the album is totally over the top. I spent many hours practicing both by myself and with the band for that one.

22. Why did you use three drummers in the recording of R.F.R.?

A few of the tracks were recorded during different sessions and periods of time.

23. Which parts of the world have you visited during your tours? Do you have any idea about Turkey and the Heavy Metal potential in this country?

I've toured Europe, Japan, Mexico and of course played many shows in the United States. I've heard that Heavy Metal, especially guitar driven metal, is quite popular in Turkey. In truth the place that is the least popular is the US - so I love to play outside the States at any given opportunity. 24. Keeping in mind that most of the Heavy Metal audience in Turkey is reading these lines, do you have a message for them?

I would like to give my most sincere thanks and appreciation to all my fans in Turkey for their support and tell them I'd love to come and play live there if it is at all possible that way I could meet many of them personally.