What is your favorite song to play live, and why?
With Altar Bridge, “Blackbird” is. It’s funny because it’s both the most fun song to play but it can also be the hardest song to play at some times. It’s a song that, if I’m not feeling comfortable for some reason or the other, it’s the toughest song to get through. But it’s got the best pay off. “Wish You Well” is my favorite Tremonti song to play. It’s just balls out fun, real high energy, and it’s just real enjoyment. It’s really a joy to play.
Is there one piece of guitar or musical equipment that you wished you own, but don’t?
Yeah, there’s a few things. I’d like a ’59 (Gibson) Les Paul. That would set me back a quarter of a million dollars. But I’ve heard they’re just magical. I’ve never gotten to play one. And then I actually have a deposit down on a Trainwreck amplifier, which is a beautiful sounding amp. I’ve already played it up in New York. I’m selling off a bunch of gear so I can finally get it. Other than that, I’d like a Dumble 112 Combo (amplifier). I have a 100 watt Dumble head but not the combo, which just sounds fantastic. There’s a magic to them. Every company and their brother will tell you that they make an amp that sounds like it and there are so many clone amps out there that I’ve bought home and been disappointed with. The closest I’ve seen and heard is the Bludotone. To me, it sounds like if it was just broken in a little more, it would get really close to the Dumble. There’s just a certain magic that the Dumbles and the Trainwrecks have that just can’t be reproduced. It’s only these guys, these geniuses who voiced them, that can really get that sound. A lot of people hate on them because they’re so expensive but if you’ve ever sat down with one played it all day, you realize those amps are just magical.
Who was the last guitar player you heard that blew you away?
It’s tough to say. Right now, Derek Trucks is my favorite living guitar player on earth. I think he’s the most emotive and fluid. It’s like he was born with a guitar in his hand. But he’s not the type of guitar player that I try and learn all his stuff. I just enjoy it, because he plays light most of the time. I actually learned a couple of his leads, without the slide, to try and take a different approach to it, and came up with some cool stuff. But it’s so different than what I do that it’s kind of hard to justify the hours and hours and hours of learning. Joe Bonamassa is blowing my mind these days too. He’s definitely the total package. Carl Verheyen is another a guy I’ve gotten into recently that comes up with some really cool, different, out-of-the-box intervallic licks that I really dig. But for the shred stuff, which is kind of the world that when I’m writing solos, I try to phrase stuff melodically as much as I can, but then some of the times the songs just call for more aggressive leads. I learned a lot from (Outworld and solo artist) Rusty Cooley. He’s just a freak of nature when it comes to the over-the-top technique. There’s a guitar player named Emil Werstler that plays in Chimaira right now that used to play for Dååth that I sat down with a few times. He’s one of those guys where we’ll sit down and play and I’ll be like “What the hell was that you just did? Show me that. Show me this.” It’s good when you meet people like that. Him and Rusty, they’re both really great teachers as well as great players, which is hard to find.