Besides your main instrument, what is the one piece of gear you cannot live without?
I’m not materialistic. My laptop is the way I teach online, so I’d have to say that.
What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?
There were a couple around that time. I’ll go with the less embarrassing pick, which was Judas Priest Turbo. I had the tape and played it on this old, flat player. It looked bizarre, and was from the 70s. This would have been around 1986. Around the same time, I also bought some Def Leppard and Twisted Sister
Do you prefer to write/record at noon or midnight?
I’m more of a day person now, because I’m getting older. I still go through different phases, but I’ve been more active in the morning and day time. These days, in the studio, I prefer an earlier start rather than going in at 6pm and working until 4am. Generally, I don’t sleep a lot anyways, and usually get around 4-5 hours a night.
What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
The first movie that truly scared me was the first Hellraiser. I rewatched it recently, and the reason I think it scared me was because I saw it when I was young and staying at a friends house. His parents fought a lot, I was afraid of his mom, and the whole scene was creepy in general.
If you could record an album with any artist, past or present, who would it be and why?
I immediately go to people in the past…I don’t really know. With collaborations, you think it would be great because you love them, but it also scares me because I think they may be so good at working alone it might not gel. I typically don’t think of collaborations with guitarists, and lean more towards vocalists. I’d go with Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance. I’m a big fan of her voice, and it really moves me. I also like vocalists that don’t normally have a guitar featured in their music. There’s also a drummer I would love to collaborate with. His name is Steve Shelton, and he’s known for a band called Confessor. They’ve been around since the 80s, but haven’t put a lot out. Steve’s drumming is so unique, I’d love to work with him someday.
Would you prefer a vacation on the beach, or in the mountains?
Mountains, definitely. I’m more of a woodsy kind of person. I grew up in a cabin in the woods on a lake, so I learned to have an appreciation for that early on.
What is the last book you read?
Oh, I’m forgetting the name of it…Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. It’s a memoir of a mortician recounting her days working in a mortuary. It’s pretty morbid, but super engaging.
What was your first concert?
Technically, it was a local band in 7th grade. My first real concert was Iron Maiden with Anthrax. It was amazing! I was a freshman in high school and went with some friends. I remember these guys in front of us, and they were just sitting down like they were watching a movie in a theater while we were standing up and rocking out. We joked about how this could happen with Maiden on stage.
Do you have a favorite superhero?
I’ve never been into comics or superheroes, so I don’t have a real answer for that one.
Who inspired you to pursue music?
My mom. She played guitar and always had one lying around the house. She also played a lot of music around the house; Michael Jackson, classical. Music was always around. It didn’t take long for me to get interested.
What is your favorite junk food?
Probably chocolate filled croissants. I really like chocolate filled pastries. I’m not a big sweets guy, but there is a French food truck near my girlfriend’s house, and they’re better than anything I’ve had while touring in France.
Outside of music, what activity helps you decompress?
Running. I’ve been doing it everyday for the past several months. I’d taken a year off, but got back into it this year. It’s helped a lot mentally, and prevents me from feeling cooped up. I’ve recently been running without music since my iPod broke, but I keep my energy from the sounds of nature.
Do you have a favorite 80s pop band/song?
I liked a lot of 80s pop. I love Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, but I never went out and bought the albums like I did with hard rock stuff. With 80s pop, I didn’t really get into them until much later. I really like a lot of pop from that era. I’d probably go with Tears For Fears. As a band, they have amazing production with strong melodic sensibilities, and I feel this is lacking in modern pop which is typically more rhythmic. Honestly, I think a lot of modern pop sounds kind of boring. I was talking with my doctor the other day about this. He’s a little older than me, and we discussed how all modern pop kind of sounds the same. My doctor said he could only tell the difference between new artists from their lyrics. For me, it’s always been the voice or music that sounds unique.
Let’s say it’s been a busy week. How would you describe your ideal Friday night?
I’d love to go out, grab some drinks, and see a show, or just stay in and watch Unsolved Mysteries. It could really go either way. I recently watched the Unsolved Mysteries reboot, but the format is nothing like the old show. It’s good for what it is, though.
What projects are you working on right now?
As far as the bands I play in, no one is active right now due to the pandemic. I was recently talking with other musician friends, and no one is really feeling inspired right now to work on a new record. It’s a weird feeling, because I’ve never felt like that before. The only thing I’ve been working on is a side job scoring music for people’s pet videos. It’s really allowed me to do music I wouldn’t normally write, which feels pretty freeing. If I want to make a techno track I can, or if I want to do an avant garde classical piece I can. The results you get from watching an animal, like a dog freak out, instantly creates momentum and ideas come right away. Eventually, I will get a lot busier again, but for now everyone is laying low. I do have a band with no name that has a full album of material. I really can’t say much more about it, but the music is done, and we’ll try to get into the studio this winter.
Coffee, tea, or soda?
Definitely coffee. Definitely not soda. I like seltzer and I drink this more than anything. I wish I could drink more tea but it doesn’t do anything for me. I probably should drink more water. I drank a lot of seltzer on my first European tour, and I just really got into it. Ever since, I have loved it.
If you were offered a one-way ticket to colonize Mars, would you take it?
Right now, there’s no other time I feel like escaping this planet. Even so, I think we should leave Mars alone. I’m fascinated by what it would look like. Right now, I’m trying to make the most of it here despite current hardships. I still think the concept is fascinating. It’s crazy to think about all the things we won’t live to see hundreds of years from now.
If you weren’t active in the music scene, what type of work would you be doing?
Really, there was never a Plan B, I knew I would just make music work. Early on, I couldn’t make a living off of touring and music. Fortunately, I haven’t worked a desk job in the last 10 years, and can pay my bills playing music, mostly through guitar lessons, session work, other music related things like soundtracks. If not music, I would probably be cooking, or hosting a fishing show, because I love fishing and watched a lot of those shows as a kid and could easily talk about it on a camera.
Do you have any pets?
I love animals, but have no animals of my own. My roommate has a dog. One thing I always look forward to on tour is meeting other people’s pets. In Gorguts, we usually stay in motels. In Dysrhythmia, we often crash at other people’s houses, and I like meeting their pets and taking pictures with them.
What was the last song/album you listened to today?
No albums, but I did check out a friend’s new song. It’s an electronic project called OIXISHA from Toby Driver. He just posted a new track earlier today.
What is your practice regimen?
Another interesting thing about the pandemic, is that since there aren’t any shows, I’m practicing a lot more, which is really cool. I’m practicing more exercises and techniques I’m not super great at. But, I don’t have a devoted amount of time because I’m teaching most of the day. Teaching really keeps my chops up since I’m not touring or having regular band practice. Without teaching, I wouldn’t be playing as much.
What is your favorite way to listen to music: while driving, home stereo, or headphones?
I like headphones. I usually listen this way, while running, or subway rides living in New York. And at home, too. There’s nothing worse than when you put all this time into an album, it premieres on a website, most people listen to it on their cell phone speakers, and then immediately get online and complain about how the album sounds. It sucks. So, I like to listen with headphones so I can properly hear everything. I’ve always liked a lot of records that hide details in the mix, and headphones help you hear them.
What song gets you energized every time you hear it?
I don’t know if I have a go-to song. It’s kind of a joke, but I’ll do karaoke here and there, and my go-to is Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone”.
Are there any metal newcomers that have recently caught your attention?
I feel like here in NY, there’s a pretty good metal scene with new bands like Pyrrhon and Imperial Triumphant. They’re all friends of mine, and most new stuff I often hear is from friends in New York. I feel like less music is coming out now and bands are holding off until it’s safe to play shows, then we’ll likely see a flood of releases. No one really wants to put out anything and not be able to support it live.
As a musician, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Well, it’s not like business advice or anything, it’s musical advice. Working with Luc (Lemay) from Gorguts he has this thing where if something is hard to play, and you just can’t seem to get it, he’s all about singing it. If you can sing it, you can play it. Then you can internalize it, sing the part, then it’s easier to transfer to your instrument. Luc uses this technique with all of us. John (Longstreth) from Origin would say, “I can’t sing!”, but it would definitely help him feel the rhythm and internalize it.