Guitarist Scott Allen Interview
Scott Allen is a Musicians Institute (G.I.T) graduate who has opened for national acts such as: Gary Hoey, Eric Martin of Mr. Big, Dave Maniketti of Y&T, Planet X (which featured Tony MaCalpine and Virgil Donati of The Steve Vai Band, and Derek Sherinian, formerly of Dream Theater),and Frank Hannon of Tesla. In 2009 Scott began his Shred on Arrival clinic series which combines live performances with guitar instruction.
In 2006 Scott Allen released his critically acclaimed debut album What Lies Beyond Words. Scott has just released his follow up album entitled From the Blindside. With good early reviews, and a featured spot on Metal Express Radio’s Daily Album Premiere and 12th hour shows, From the Blindside, is well on the way to living up to its predecessor. Scott is on the new compilation CD from Mad Guitar Records entitled Melodic Soloists. Scott has been featured in Mike Varney’s Spotlight Column in Guitar Player Magazine, as well as, Northeast In-tune Magazine, Rise Music Magazine, Progressive Newsletter, Strutter Magazine, and Unsigned Music Magazine, and Tarkus Magazine. Scott has been interviewed by Chaotic Riffs Magazine, Guitar 9, The Rock Zone, and Fireworks Magazine UK.
Tracks from What Lies Beyond Words have been featured on Ernie Ball Radio and Scott Allen Project has also received radio play on KRXQ 98 Rock, FTM Pod Cast network, The Refinery Rock Radio, Progrock Radio on Progrock.com, Metal Express Radio, Indie Connection Radio Show on X FM in New York, The Fusion Show on WCSB in Cleveland, and the For the Love of Guitar radio show. Scott provided the music for the KRXQ 98 Rock “Bod Squad” DVD. Scott writes instructional columns on the guitar websites Guitar9.com, Chops from Hell, Guitarz-For-Ever.com, and Shredaholic.com.
In 2008 Scott released his first instructional DVD for Chops from Hell. Scott endorses Vigier Guitars, SIT Strings, Dimarzio Pickups, Morley Pedals, George L Cables, and Peavey Amplifiers.
Guitarist Scott Allen Interview
Guitarz Forever - Hi Scott, Hey man.... Thank you so much for taking the time out to do an interview w/ me and my Guitarz Forever.com site. Give our readers a short but descriptive label for your style of music.
Scott - Thanks for having me, my style of music is Instrumental Progressive Hard Rock/Metal. I always say Hard Rock and Metal because depending on who is asking the question it can mean different things to different people. A lot of music that would be considered Metal when I was growing up would definitely be called Hard Rock now. To be honest a lot of what people consider Metal now didn’t even exist when I was a kid. The closest we had was Thrash Metal, there was no Death or Black Metal or Metalcore when I was a kid. My music is very guitar driven and should appeal to fans of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Van Halen, Rush, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Savatage, Yngwie, Jeff Loomis and the like.
Guitarz Forever - What's going on in your music world these days? Any New news we should know about?
Scott - Yes, my band, Scott Allen Project, just released our third album which is titled III. We are extremely excited about this new record and think it is easily our best work. We are currently trying to get the word out about the new record and looking at some live performance dates. All of that is still to come this year, but I want to encourage anybody reading this to check out our website. www.scottallenprojectband.com to hear some samples of the new album and check out all of the info there is to know about us.
Guitarz Forever - Introduce yourself and where is your stomp'n ground
Scott - My name is Scott Allen and I have been a pro musician for nearly 20 years. I have been a recording artist, performer, clinician, session player, columnist, and instructor for that time. I am from just outside of Sacramento, California and my band Scott Allen Project plays mostly on the west coast. It is a cool hometown to be from because artists like Tesla, The Deftones, Cake, Simon Says, Papa Roach, and George Lynch are all from here. Also we are very close to San Francisco so we have a lot of local bands from there as well.
Guitarz Forever - Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? If so, could you name some venues?
Scott - Yes there are a lot of great venues in Sacramento like The Boardwalk, Ace of Spades, The Assembly, Old Ironsides, The Press Club and many more. There are a ton of clubs close by in Berkeley, and San Francisco too.
Guitarz Forever - What is the name of your latest album and tell us how that album came about.
Scott - My latest album from my band Scott Allen Project is titled III, because it is our third album. This album came about because it had been a few years since our previous album, From The Blindside, and my last release was a DVD for Truefire called 50 Rock Virtuoso Licks You Must Know. After that DVD I knew I wanted to get back in the studio and get the next SAP record out. So I finished up the demos and called my drummer and co-producer Tom Frost and we got to work. It took us a few months but we finished it got it mixed and mastered and after all of the finishing touches it is now out and available. Everyone can check out samples of the songs on our website www.scottallenprojectband.com and it is available at CD Baby, Amazon, I-Tunes, CD Universe basically any place you can get music.
Guitarz Forever - How do you come up with the songs, is it one song writer or more of a collaboration with other musicians?
Scott - I write and arrange all of the songs. That is not to say that I don’t listen when others have opinions about song structure or whether a solo was good enough or something, but everything is my writing. As far as how I come up with the riffs and melodies that comes in all different ways. Sometime when I am practicing I will just stumble on to something. Sometimes it hits me when I am driving in the car. Sometimes I will set up my pro tools rig and get a good sound and just jam until something comes out. Once I get a foothold though things usually come together pretty quickly.
Guitarz Forever - How often when you start an idea for a song does it actually get finished?
Scott - Almost always, but sometimes it takes a little while to get it to all come together. I have had pieces of music that I wrote back in the late nineties that are on this new record.
Guitarz Forever - Why did you pick the Guitar as your instrument of choice?
Scott - You know it is funny because I never really contemplated playing an instrument before the guitar. I saw Eddie Van Halen on TV and I was transfixed and from that point forward I knew what I wanted to do. I got an electric guitar a few weeks later and never looked back. I was 10 or 11 years old at the time.
Guitarz Forever - Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
Scott - I am definitely a schooled player; I am a graduate of Musicians Institute, G.I.T. And even before music school I took lessons for years. My bar for what a good player was when I started was Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani and many others and it was clear to me early on that I wasn’t going to figure out how to play like that all on my own unless I had a hundred years to do trial and error. Finding a teacher and going to music school were easy decisions.
Guitarz Forever - So, what type of guitars do you play and why?
Scott - I use Vigier guitars exclusively. They are a company from France and I have been with them for about eight years now. I play them because they are the best guitars you can buy! My guitars are very much hot rodded strat style. I prefer Floyd Rose trems and all of my guitars have Dimarzio pickups in them. Right now in my main guitar I have an EVO 2 in the bridge and a Liquifire in the neck. My strings are all SIT strings gauge .009-.042. I also use SIT strings gauge .009-.052 for my 7 string.
Guitarz Forever - What type of amps do you use? Do you use different amps for the studio vs live shows. If so, why?
Scott - I use Peavey amps both live and in the studio. My main rig consists of a Peavey 3120 head in conjunction with a Peavey Valveking. I use the Valveking for my dry sounds and the 3120 drives my effects. The combination of these amps really gives me the sound I am looking for. In the studio I will use these same amps but I also augment them with the Avid Elevenrack when I double certain parts and don’t want to or can’t mic a cabinet. Sometimes when I am just doing demos I will use the Elevenrack for the convenience.
Guitarz Forever - Do you have any endorsement with instrument and gear companies?
Scott - Yes I have long standing endorsements with Vigier Guitars, Dimarzio Pickups, Morely Pedals, SIT Strings, George L Cables and Peavey Amps. These companies truly make some of the best gear you can get and I would highly recommend anybody who is a player to check out their products. Even things like my Morley wahs make a huge difference in the sound because of where the mids sit in the sweep, it just has a little more bite than other wah pedals. And George L Cables are unquestionably the best cables you can get, just do a little test with them and you will see what I mean. They make a huge difference!
Guitarz Forever - How did you first get into the music business?
Scott - Well I started out playing in pro bands in the late nineties and got into teaching guitar around the same time. It was a tough decision to make whether to stay in Los Angeles or move back up north to Sacramento, but the lack of any kind of scene in LA at the time made the decision to move easier. Also at the time bands like the Deftones, Simon Says and Cake had been signed out of Sac so it made sense. Now granted I play very different kind of music than those bands but what it showed me was there was no real advantage to living in LA. I am more of a Northern California kind of guy anyway!
Guitarz Forever - Where do you see the music business today?
Scott - Well it is not really a business if you play rock music; it is more of a passion because a business implies that you can be financially viable. I am able to make a living in music because I am able to do many different things with a guitar from writing and performing, to doing sessions, teaching and clinics. Everybody I know has to do a lot to sustain themselves including playing with a bunch of different bands to make ends meet. The days of signing with a label and having a chance to live off of an advance are long gone. There is little money to be made in selling records and the bands that are out touring the old fashioned way are struggling. The concept of sleeping in a van splitting a sandwich with your band mates gets old as you reach your mid twenties and many great musicians have to leave the business. It is sad because there are probably a lot of the next Jimmy Pages and Eddie Van Halens that we will never get to hear. But I hold out hope that it will turn around.
Guitarz Forever - Do you do social networking? If so, what are your facebook and twitter web addresses?
Scott - Yes I do because that is a requirement in today’s world. My facebook page is; www.facebook.com/scottallenproject, my twitter is; www.twitter.com/SAPshred, and my reverbnation page is; www.reverbnation.com/scottallenproject. Of course you can get links to any of these sites plus hear my music, read reviews and a band bio at our website; www.scottallenprojectband.com.
Guitarz Forever - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Scott - Well musically my main influences are Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Alex Lifeson, Warren Demartini, Jake E Lee, Reb Beach, Criss Oliva, Ronnie Le Tekro, Yngwie Malmsteen and too many to even list. I started playing at a time where everywhere you looked there were awesome players. As far as how to get going in the business I really respect Rusty Cooley and how he has gone about building his career without the support of labels and major promotion. I learned a lot by watching how he did what he needed to get his name out there.
Guitarz Forever - How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
Scott - Well when I first started out playing my main goal was to play like my heroes, but as I got older I started to appreciate that there is great music everywhere and you can always get better. It took going though music school to appreciate jazz, fusion and country. They are still not my favorite kind of music but I understand that there is a great big musical world out there and I should keep an open mind.
Guitarz Forever - What’s the best thing about playing your own music in front of a live audience?
Scott - The best thing is seeing that something you created can resonate with someone else. I play instrumental music so nobody sings the words back to me but when I see people out there grooving and playing air guitar to my tunes it is an awesome feeling.
Guitarz Forever - Who are you listening to these days?
Scott - I have really gone full circle and am now back to listening to the stuff that got me excited about playing in the first place. I have been listening to a ton of Van Halen, Vai, Ozzy, Dream Theater, Satriani, Ratt, Queensryche, Savatage, Def Leppard, Megadeth, and some more obscure bands like TNT, Shotgun Messiah, Saigon Kick and T-Ride. I have been getting into more recent bands like Nevermore, Firewind, Rival Sons and a great new band called Farmikos which the awesome guitarist Joe Holmes recently formed. I also recently checked out the new Sweet and Lynch record which I thought was really great, as well as, The Winery Dogs.
Guitarz Forever - By the way, who would you say were your biggest influences when it comes to playing guitar as a kid and now today?
Scott - Well at the risk of sounding like a stalker I would say that Eddie Van Halen was my biggest influence when I started and is still my biggest musical inspiration today. His playing is so great it is ridiculous. That is not to say that a lot other players haven’t influenced me but the more I listen back to stuff that blew my mind as kid it is even more impressive now that I know what he is doing. That guy is incredible.
Guitarz Forever - Please give us three top musical goals you would like to achieve this year.
Scott - Well the first is to make sure as many people as possible check out my new record because I am extremely proud of it. Number two is to get out and do a solid run of shows to support the new record. Third is to clear the decks to get the vocal band project up and running. I have about 10 rough concepts for songs already I just need to flesh them out a bit more, get with my drummer and get full demos done and hire our singer. That project will kick ass!
Guitarz Forever - Is there anything else you’d like to achieve in your life personally and or as a musician?
Scott - So many things really; I want to always try to be a great dad and husband first and foremost. As a musician I want to always get better as a player and break through new barriers as a musician. I also really want to play a part in returning rock music to the forefront of music.
Guitarz Forever - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart.
Scott - One thing that I love to do is teaching and I have been fortunate enough to work with a great company like Truefire which has allowed me to teach people all over the world. Anybody who is interested in studying with me please go to www.truefire.com and check out my private classroom called The Metal Shop. I also have three workshop classrooms called Rock Chops, Sweep Picking Essentials, and Tapping A-Z. The private classroom is very much like taking private lessons with me, while the workshops are focused on specific techniques. Teaching is something I am passionate about so I hope everyone checks that out!
Guitarz Forever - I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music
Scott - You got it and thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. I want to encourage your readers to check out our band website at www.scottallenprojectband.com to find out all of the info about our album and live dates. You can also find links to our social media sites and our CD baby and I-Tunes stores. Thanks for listening!
High energy instrumental progressive hard rock in the mold of Steve Vai and Dream Theater with a little Van Halen thrown in for good measure. A guitar feast for the ears!