PremierGuitar.com recently conducted an interview with TESTAMENT/ex-SAVATAGE guitarist and leader of ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO, Alex Skolnick. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
PremierGuitar.com: What was your sonic vision for [the fourth ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO album, "Veritas"] when you went into the studio?
Alex: I wanted it to be the music I liked — music I put on first thing in the morning. It's everything from Keith Jarrett to Bill Frisell to e.s.t. to Bach's "Two Part Inventions". I like music that is energizing, inspiring and very clear. There is something about those types of albums that is just very warm, intimate and direct.
PremierGuitar.com: When you say "energizing," you don't necessarily mean loud and fast, right?
Alex: Definitely not. I have this recording of Bach's "Inventions" played by a classical pianist named András Schiff. That to me is very energizing. I am not sure why that is, but you can definitely put it on to relax at home. Maybe stimulating is a better word. There are different types of music for different purposes. Speed metal serves a different purpose but I wouldn't put that on first thing in the morning.
PremierGuitar.com: Were these tunes tested out on the road or developed in the studio?
Alex: Most of the tunes were put together over the course of a few months. Interestingly, I had written some of them while in Europe doing a TESTAMENT tour with MEGADETH and JUDAS PRIEST. There was a lot of down time on that tour and a lot of mornings spent sitting in the lounge of the bus while everyone else slept. Very often I was overlooking mountains, because a lot of the arena-sized venues in Europe are in remote locations. It was beautiful. At night I would be playing this loud, very aggressive music but then have very peaceful mornings, and I think those mornings really influenced the music for this record. When I would get back to playing with my trio, we would occasionally work in one of these songs, but the vast majority of them were worked out in rehearsals.
PremierGuitar.com: Do you feel that you are influenced as much by your contemporaries as you are more historical players?
Alex: Oh yeah. That's what happens as you get older. You meet people your age or even younger that have developed these skills and taken in their own influences — and in some cases, your influence. That is something I never imagined. RODRIGO Y GABRIELA, this instrumental supergroup I first saw on "Jimmy Kimmel", credits the stuff I did with TESTAMENT as an influence on what they do. I had no idea, but that was a huge honor and acknowledgment that I wasn't so crazy — it really felt so out of left field to be into jazz but be in a speed metal band. Seeing the result of that and the fact that it could influence people like RODRIGO Y GABRIELA is very gratifying. The stuff they have done has also influenced me.
PremierGuitar.com: A fair amount of your past albums included jazz arrangements of classic rock and metal tunes. On this album, you included METALLICA's "Fade to Black". Do you feel you are moving on from that material?
Alex: I think we are moving on. That is one of the reasons why I chose that tune. I think the title was appropriate, but also I wanted to do a METALLICA tune for a while. It seemed a shame not to do one and it was only a matter of time before someone else did. We are sort of in a period where I could just imagine a younger, competent jazz musician taking on a METALLICA tune like "Enter Sandman", or the song from "Mission: Impossible". "Fade to Black" is a tune that is unequivocally great. No matter of what period of METALLICA you like, it's a great song that helped make them a supergroup.
Read the entire interview at PremierGuitar.com.