Do you consider yourselves metalcore?
I think that word sucks. It’s a dated genre.
I hate that word with a passion. My problem with it is that it
signifies a trend. It’s a fad. The word metal has been around for over 40
years, starting with Black Sabbath and so forth. It’s a very enduring kind
of music. Hardcore has been around I think since the late-’70s punk era.
That’s also an enduring kind of music, but when you put those two elements
together there’s just something disingenuous about it.
Do you care that what you write affects your fan base?
I don’t care one iota. I’m not trying to sound like a dick, but this
is our job. This is what we do. Obviously, we listen to our fans, but at the
end of the day we’re going to make decisions that make us happiest. People
have to accept us for the music that we write. I’m not putting my finger in
the air and looking to see which way the wind blows.
Yeah, but if we write a song that sounds like Paramore, people are
going to be pissed. [Both laugh.
Where do you guys come from, musically?
Mike Martin says his PRS
Custom 22 is the best
instrument he’s ever played.
Photo by Justin Borucki
I would see Slash and Richie Sambora and all these guys on MTV
with all these explosions. All the chicks were backstage and everybody was
rich. I was like, “Man, this whole rock-star thing looks pretty awesome.”
] Slash has always been my favorite guitar player. He’s the guy
that I worship right away. I like guitar players who can play, but I also like
guitar players that have feel. I don’t like robot guitar players. I understand
how amazing Buckethead is, but guitar players like that don’t do anything
for me because it sounds like someone throwing
ping-pong balls on the fretboard. [Laughs.
I started taking lessons when I was 8 years
old. For four years, I just hated it—because I
was in my, “I just want to play sports” phase. My
dad bought me a Les Paul—which was just way
too nice for me to have—when I was 10 years
old. My friend Aaron was like, “You should start
playing guitar again. You got that Les Paul sitting
under your bed. It’s annoying.” [Laughs.
] He got
a band together and played one or two covers at
a show called The Top 40
at my high school. The
whole school went to see it. I thought that was
really cool, so I said, “Wow, I wanna play in that
show!” So we started jamming on songs together
and getting whoever we could to play. Then we
started getting into the heavy stuff and our local
hardcore metal bands. Then I started playing
shows with the local bands, and that’s how I met
Phil and the whole music scene in our area.
For me, it all started in 1988: I started
taking lessons and it was all about metal—
Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer. Primarily, I wanted
to be a rhythm guitar player because that’s what
drove me to really play. I wanted to play riffs. I
didn’t like solos for the first year I was playing
because I thought of [Poison’s] C.C. DeVille and
that high-pitched wankery. Then I remember
being in a high-school cafeteria and this dude was
like, “Check this out!” It was King Diamond’s “A
Mansion In Darkness.” I’m listening to it and the
solo comes and I was like, “Oh my God! Whoever
this guy is, he’s now my favorite guitar player!”
Yeah! His playing just spoke to me.
Yngwie-ish but not so over the top. He plays
to the song, and that’s kind of who I’ve latched
onto for all these years. Also all the guys of that
era, like Marty Friedman, Alex Skolnick, and Jeff
Waters from Annihilator.
Do you guys challenge yourself with other
styles outside of the band?
No. I don’t practice enough to be versatile.
Oli is in the back of the bus practicing 10
hours a day. I have no attention span for that
at all. But I have been going on YouTube just
to learn songs for fun. There’s a song by John
Mayer called “Edge of Desire” that has a really
cool guitar line through the whole thing.
I’m really concentrating on jazz. I’m
trying to perfect all my melodic minor scales and
arpeggio fingerings—just trying to get the feel
for it. It’s fun for me, and it’s interesting. I think
it’s opened me up more. I’ve always dabbled, but
I never really went full bore.
Do you play with any other bands?
No. I’m doing instructional material
for Rock House. I’d rather focus on that first to
kind of get my points across. When I feel like
the time is right, I’ll do a solo album and clinics
and all that stuff.
The touring that we do is so unhealthy
that there’s no time for anything else. [Laughs.
not good enough to do a solo record by any means.
Oh please! I really dig your playing.
Thank you! But I don’t think I have
enough material—I don’t think I could write a
whole record by myself. If there was time to do a
side thing, I would like to play in a regular rock
band. Something less heavy.
What’s your number-one guitar?
I play the Ibanez Xiphos 27-fret. I
like the way the neck feels. I think it has a cool
shape. It balances well both standing and sitting,
and I can swing it up on either leg and do
some cool stuff.
I just got a PRS Custom 22, which is
the most awesome guitar. It’s my favorite guitar
that I’ve ever touched in my entire life.