ARCH ENEMY: 'Be A Guitar Hero' Contest Winner Speaks

ARCH ENEMY fan Ryan Kelly (photo) won the chance to play on stage with the band during the October 6 Gigantour stop in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Commented ARCH ENEMY guitarist Michael Amott: "So the guy who won the contest came backstage and we ran through the song a little together and we gave him a pep talk (no beer though — the dude was 17 years old!). When Angela [Gossow, ARCH ENEMY singer] announced on stage that we had a guest in 'Ravenous', the audience was excited and so were we! Anyway....the guy actually nailed the solo and I think he had a good time, we sure did! Crazy energy on stage tonight — we should do this again sometime!"

Added "Be a Guitar Hero" contest winner Ryan Kelly: "As you all probably know already, ESP, Line 6, and ARCH ENEMY sponsored a competition whose winner would get a chance to play 'Ravenous' on stage with ARCH ENEMY at their Tampa show. My friend had been talking about the show and contest for the past couple weeks and asked me to give him a ride to Tampa (we live in Orlando) so he could compete. I had decided not to compete myself because I didn't have a 24-fret guitar and figured there would be tons of shredders at the contest tearing it up.

"Since my girlfriend lived in Tampa, I figured spending an evening with her would be nice (plus he offered to pay for food and gas, yummy!).

"We arrived to the St. Petersburg Times Forum a couple hours before the show and found the ESP/Line 6 tent set up where some competitors were already warming up. I've played guitar for about 6 years and took the opportunity to snag one of the guitars when everyone had finished up. One of the camera op's and I started talking and he talked me into to trying out for the contest. My friend taught me the solo and I spent about a half hour practicing it at the tent. All of the competitors had warmed up and were now working the last minute kinks out of our solos while waiting for ARCH ENEMY to come down and judge the contest. They arrived and suddenly I forgot the whole solo. Here was a band I had listened to since I was 13 sitting there waiting for me to play the solo from one of my favorite songs! I started to question what I had gotten myself into and wish that I had just dropped my friend off and left.

"Since I was the one who had the least shot of winning I figured I'd go first to make my friend and the other guys look better in comparison. And I did. I hit a plethora of bad notes and finished the solo expecting laughter. I handed the guitar off after their critiques (which were far too kind) and sat down to watch the rest of the guys play. After everyone had finished they asked me to play it again for them. By this point I had stopped worrying about (why worry when you know you've already lost?) and got up and played the solo. Afterwards they nodded and conferred for a little while before announcing myself as the winner. I couldn't (and still can't!) believe it! Here I had learned the solo that night, didn't even have a ticket for the show and I was going to be playing on stage with ARCH ENEMY!

"The events that followed happened in a rush. I got a tour of the backstage area and was delivered to ARCH ENEMY's dressing room where I met Michael and Fredrik then for the first time and as I began to practice the solo with Fredrik it all started to sink in. I got to spend some time with the band just hanging out and getting to know them, while all the time practicing to make sure I didn't forget what I was supposed to be doing.

"Show time rolled around and I walked with the band to the stage and found my spot backstage where I watched their set from. Standing backstage and looking at the crowd singing along with every song I started to get really excited. I was going to be able to play rockstar for an evening!

"'Ravenous' came up in the setlist and I walked on stage after my introduction from Angela and we started playing. Everything became a blur as the band powered through the song. Before I knew it we were at the solo and it all came out in a rush.

"Playing in front of thousands of screaming ARCH ENEMY fans was a rush like no other! The song ended and I left the stage in a trance. Even today as I think back on it the whole thing seems like an incredible dream. After the show I spent some more time with ARCH ENEMY who are some of the most down-to-earth musicians I've met. I watched some more of the bands and got to meet members of LAMB OF GOD who were equally awesome. The entire evening is one I'll never forget and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to experience it.

"Thanks ARCH ENEMY and Gigantour, keep it PURE FUCKING METAL!"

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