JOE STUMP INTERVIEW
By Andy from virtuosityone.com 7.25.03
1. Armed & Ready has just been released, can you give us some information into this recording as I believe it was done differently to your past solo albums.
JOE STUMP: Yes, quite a bit different. Diginet Music did this series of discs with various guitarists affiliated with the label. Each player is presented 8 tunes of bass and drum tracks(fairly basic) and was free to record guitars over them in any given style and turn them into songs. So Armed and Ready is my end result of this.
2. Was this album just intended as a bit of fun and are you surprised at the results that came out of it?
JOE STUMP: Yes I'm really quite pleased with the way it turned out. There's some really cool composed, scripted sections on the record as well as a ton of very inspired improvised playing. Most of the tunes are complete takes, one pass, no punches only a few composite sections here and there and the guitar tones are killing. Also on a bunch of the tracks I'm tipping my hat to many of my main guitar influences, Blackmore, Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Uli-Jon Roth, Hendrix and Gary Moore. I had a great time recording it and really pushed myself playing-wise. It's definitely some of my most inspired work.
3. Any favorite performances on the album?
JOE STUMP: Yes quite a few actually. The last tune Destination with all the Hendrixy shit is one of my favorites and the neo-classical Malmsteen, Blackmore and Roth inspired ripping of Mind Games. I also like the Prisoner Of Time, that one's a total Schenker thing. And Hurricane X which I call the Blackmore shuffle is also cool. You can certainly hear all the influences all over the record but there's no mistaking it's me by any means.
4. You have a very extensive body of work, how do you become motivated to go and in and do "another" album?
JOE STUMP: I love to play guitar and I feel completely blessed that I make a nice living with a guitar in my hands playing and teaching the style of guitar that I truely enjoy. And in addition to all of the very cool things that come with my modest level of success the reason I'm driven and motivated is my total and complete dedication to my craft. And to me each album is a new challenge to push myself and take all the areas of my playing and composing to a higher level.
5. What areas do you feel you have grown in as a player over the over the course of your career?
JOE STUMP: Everything, the tone in my hands, my control over the instrument, all aspects of my technical skill, my compositional and melodic sense. You stay on it and things are always gonna improve. I can pick up my guitar and play
whatever I want anytime, anywhere in any given situation at this point.
6. Are you ambitions now the same as they have been in the past?
JOE STUMP: Of course I wish many aspects were better, but I'm thankful for all of my accomplishments. I never had dreams of selling tons of records even when I was younger, so just as long as I can keep making records, playing shows and clinics and reaching fans of guitar based metal music I'm cool with it.
7. Can you give the readers some info or your thoughts on your back catalogue now i.e. what you like/dislike/ would change or improve?
JOE STUMP: Well after you've done a record you always look back and find aspects about it you'd wish were better. But all and all my stuff holds up quite nicely over time. There are some great moments and killer tunes on each of them. I'm
often compared with many of today's top players and all those guys are doing their records on a much larger budget. So production-wise I thought all of my previous works turned out well considering the budget constraints of recording
for an smaller label.
8. Where do your album titles come from as they are always very memorable?
JOE STUMP: I think of them, it's always gotta be something very cool sounding and in the pocket with my previous titles. Kind of pompous but in a tougue and cheek kind of fashion. As you can tell Armed and Ready I didn't name, it had to be titled for one of the albums tracks which were all named before I got the backing tracks. Most virtuoso guitar players are geeks, all they do is stay home and practice. They don't drink, get laid or experience anything other than the sound of the metronome so most of their album titles and song titles are kind of lame as well.
9. Your album covers are generally cool, is this an important aspect of the album for you?
JOE STUMP: Sometimes I have an idea or concept as far as that goes, but many times I just do a photo shoot for it or use some live shots and it's left in the hands of the artist that's doing the cover. I of course have to approve it but yeah you have to have a cool title and cover. The playing is the easy part, coming up with a cool-ass title after six instrumental records now that's tough, alot of pressure at this point.
10. What do feel instrumental music has to offer in the year 21st Century?
JOE STUMP: I'm certainly no visionary nor am I trying to reinvent the wheel as far as my thing goes. But many players try to put the guitar into less traditional settings as far as using futuristic and industrial sounds and backdrops. And also combining less likely influences. But there's always gonna be a hardcore fan base of listeners that really love
to hear the guitar played well in the context of a strong tune. That I think will be a constant. And more and more younger players and fans are gravitating to intelligent more technical forms of music.
11. You have also released 4 albums with your band Reign Of Terror, what does the band format allow you to do that the instrumental releases don't?
JOE STUMP: With the instrumental thing you're only gonna be able to reach a certain cross section of guitar fanatics, while with a vocalist my fan base expands past that to fans of all types of metal. Also in many parts of the world
the Reign of Terror gets far more recognition than my solo stuff. Europe for example the power metal of Reign of Terror is much more mainstream and the instrumental thing is a bit more underground.
12. The last 2 Reign Of Terror albums have had the same lineup with Mike Vescera on vocals, can we expect a third installment with MV or possibly a live album?
JOE STUMP: I'm not sure about a live album. Also Mike and myself haven't discussed the next Reign of Terror as of yet. But we're still in close contact and good friends so I
don't see any reason that we wouldn't continue to work together on the next Reign of Terror. He's a great singer and together we make a powerful combination.
13. You have been labeled an Yngwie clone on numerous occassions, I know that Yngwie is an often quoted influence of yours yet this is often overlooked. Now is your chance to set the record straight - what does Yngwie mean to you?
JOE STUMP: Well how it's overlooked is a mystery to me
as I've thanked Yngwie of all my records, along with some of my other musical heroes. And I've mentioned his great inspiration and influence in just about every interview I've ever done throughout my entire career. So I would imagine the same morons and clowns that have said I'm merely an Yngwie clone are the same small uneducated group of people that are overlooking that. But luckily throughout my entire career I've never heard that from anyone who's opinion actually mattered or any type of knowledgeable musical source. At this point considering my accomplishments and incredibly highly skilled level of playing it's insulting. But as far as Yngwie goes I have loved his playing since I started listening to him back in 1983-84 when I started learning almost every solo on the first Alcatrazz album and then the great Rising Force record. I first read about him in the Guitar Player magazine
spotlight column. I saw that his influences were Blackmore, Ulrich Roth and Al Dimeola. All my favorite guitarists. So I said to myself that this guy with the hard to pronounce name is gonna be right up my alley. He knocked me out then and
to this day I still always find his playing very inspiring. The clone thing irritates me, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression, I consider his influence to be a really positive and cool thing and I'm proud to have him as one of my main heroes and musical influences.
14. How else are your primary influences and what aspect of their playing do you admire the most?
JOE STUMP: Well guitar-wise Ritchie Blackmore is even
bigger than Malmsteen. I actually sound much more derivitive of Blackmore and have stolen so much shit from Ritchie. Some of his vibe, look, stage persona, as well as a ton of stuff guitar-wise. Who do you think originated that whole bad-ass, dressing in all black, white strat and wall of Marshalls, dark knight of hard rock thing. Where do you kids out there think me and Yngwie got it from? You can't get much cooler than Ritchie, as far as hard rock guitar goes he wrote the book. And anybody's that really knows Blackmore's playing at all hears it in my stuff way before any type of Malmsteen influence. In addition to Blackmore and Yngwie I love Gary Moore, Hendrix of course, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, Al Dimeola, David T. Chastain, Frank Marino, Robin Trower, Stevie Ray and as far as classical composers Bach, Paganini, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven and many others.
15. Any newer bands that you like?
JOE STUMP: As far as brand new nothing comes to mind and most of the time if I'm gonna listen to music it's gonna be one of my previously mentioned favorites. But one band and guitarist that I recently discovered is the German power metal band Atvance. The guitarist is Olaf Lenk and he and the band are just outstanding. They've been around for a bit but I was just recently turned on to them by a friend of mine. Euro- style power metal, some Rainbow and Purple overtones and a heavy Blackmore and Yngwie vibe to his playing as well as some heavy classical influence. I know how unusual that I'd love it huh.
16. From your own personal experience who do you see the state of metal (not Nu) in this day and age?
JOE STUMP: Younger players are certainly starting to gravitate towards more technical and accomplished playing and checking out more traditional intelligent forms of metal and hard rock. I think that they'll be a bit of a resurgence in all types of traditional old school metal. Nothing huge but a definite rise in popularity.
17. Guitar and Amps - what do you use and what do you look for in your equipment?
JOE STUMP: Well I have an ESP endorsement and they've built me a bunch of outstanding custom shop strat-style guitars that I absolutely love. Scalloped fretboards, Dimarzio pickups(YJM and Hs-3's), graphite nut, alder body, both rosewood and maple fingerboards, locking tuners. I love them. Amp-wise I have a Rhino endorsement. I just got the new Black Star YJM Rhino (Malmsteen signature amp) and it kills. I also have a Rhino Beast. In addition to the Rhino stuff I have a bunch of old Marshalls from the 70's some small logo early 70's mark II non-master 50s and 100s as well several later 70's mark II master volume heads. Another amp I use quite a bit which is a favorite of mine is my Engl Ritchie Blackmore signature model head, the thing sounds huge. Ive been using the same basic strat- Marshall setup since 1987-88.
18. How do you record your guitars?
JOE STUMP: I've used as many as six Marshalls at once to record (Super Sonic Shred Machine), sometimes 2 or 3 and many times just one. Two mikes close, Shure 57 and sometimes combined with a Senhiezer 421. I've also used the British High Gain patch on the Line 6 POD to record and that's worked
great as well. One piece of gear that's always with me is my old dod 250 overdrive. I have some old gray ones and yellow ones and also a few of the new YJM 308's, great box.
19. What do you dislike about the current music scene?
JOE STUMP: The fact that in the states it's so closed and trend conscious. If it doesn't fit in the current musical trend there's no room for it to get any real kind of press and exposure.
20. You are on the staff at Berklee Music College, what is your role, what do you do?
JOE STUMP: I am the speed metal, shred and hard rock
specialist there. I'm highly in demand, the professor of shred so to speak. I give private lessons, master classes, clinics, concerts and do some traveling for the faculty as well. Instruction- wise as a rock/metal player you can't get
a better gig. I play constantly, it pays great and I can always take time away for touring.
21. Have you taught any players that gone on to become known as solo artists or band members?
JOE STUMP: A few Rob Caggiano, lead player for Anthrax. He was a great player when he came to me so I'm not surprised. Solo artist Dave Martone and Firewind/Dream Evil guitarist Gus G.as well. You can hear the Joe Stumpisms all over the Firewind disc as far as the leadwork goes. Both excellent players and nice guys.
22. Whats next for the year?
JOE STUMP: A European tour for Reign of Terror, and a brand new instrumental album which will definitely be my finest hour. It'll be a mix of insane shredding, neo-classical speed metal, some retro Hendrixy and Blackmore things and bunch of other shit. I also plan on doing some more instructinal dvds. The next one will be an advanced neo-classical one.
23. Any final messages for the readers of virtuosityone.com?
JOE STUMP: Just a sincere thanks to the fans and players that have supported my past efforts, I really appreciate it. And if some of you reading this haven't checked out my stuff
before, I encourage you to do so. If you like intense guitar-driven metal music you'll definitely enjoy it.
Joe, thank you very much for the time taken out to do this interview.
"Armed and Ready" CD $9.99
Joe Stump's Dark Gifts "Rare and Unreleased Tracks"
Joe Stump (live) "Midwest Shredfest"