Jerry Kramskoy Interview

Guitarist Jerry Kramskoy Interview

Ø Scott – Hey Jerry, I hope all is well with you...

Hi Scott. All's good. And thanks for the invite.

Ø Scott – What's been going on with you in your music world these dayz?

Pretty mixed. Lot of playing, lot of writing music and listening to all kinds of stuff. Getting newer players enthusiastic about taking their playing further. There's a huge amount of talent out there.

Ø Scott – Please tell our readers what your high school years were like, what music did you and your friends listen to, and what the musical soundtrack (Favorite Album) would you recall to sum up your senior year in High school.

We were listening to anything and everything that rocked, from Kiss tothe GroundHogs, from the Tubes to Van Halen, Hendrix, Cream, Zeppelin,

Yes ... I don't think any particular album got favourited, we absorbed all we could.

Ø Scott – First big question… Why the Guitar ?

Initially, a happy coincidence. I lived for a couple of years just outside Johannesburg, as a young kid, and one day I was out exploring with my push bike in the bushveld, and I met another kid with a bashed up acoustic guitar ... we swapped. Not sure who got the better deal!

Anyway, once back in the UK, soon got into it. Combined with what was happening in the rock scene, plus friends and older players at school, that was it. I became totally hooked, and have been ever since. It issuch as an expressive instrument. I don't think any other quite matches it.

Ø Scott – Ok, Now for your music … What is the name of the current Album you are promoting at the moment? How did the music come about? (if no album, you can talk about other current musical projects, etc).

So, I and a dear buddy of mine have been threatening to write something for ages, and we're just getting round to it now. Long time ago we did some sessions together, and played together at an Arts Festival in Malta for 14000 people on a beach. Two week paid holiday! Vic (Martin) is a ridiculously talented master of the keyboards, who's played with quite a few big names (BeeGees, Eurythmics, Boy George to name a few) and was with Gary Moore's band until his sad demise last year. We both have a love for trying different stuff, and so we're just starting with something that's a mix of hard rock, groove, tinge of jazz (some would call them bum notes). Vic was one of my inspirations, ages back, to learn about harmony. So, who knows?

Ø Scott – What projects / recordings are you working on at the moment?

I've just started doing some guitar columns. Trying to complement the stuff that's already out there. I've read a lot, from many players / writers, and thought it about time to give something back. Try and share my experience on mistakes I made that slowed down my progress. As a result, I'm writing a lot of music, from modern Jazz, to balls-to-the-wall, and much in between. I'm putting stuff up on soundcloud, and just for the hell of it, including stuff from an old band of mine, Eazy Money, which featured Marc Storace on vocals (Krokus). It was a great band, and we had the number One that was never meant to be, a track called "125". A guy from Island records, visiting from the States, heard it at Island Records in London, while demo tapes were being sorted out ... he reckoned this was a number one single, but the band had split, and no amount of phone calls pulled it back. That's life.

Ø Scott - What musical gear and endorsements to you have and why?

I've been through shed loads of gear. These days, pretty much stick with a Fender Classic Custom shop Strat (62),that I picked up second hand a few years back. I've got a 65 as well. Also, an old PRS with bolt on neck. Had work done on all these, so whammy bar has much more travel.

I've a small selection of acoustic guitars also, favouring a Simon Patrick, which I've had set up for legato. Amp-wise: I use a Rocktron Voodu Valve, with Peavey Classic 120/120 power amp, and Hughes and Kettner speakers. The Voodu Valve has good speaker emulation, and for my home studio, I DI the signal through a MR816csx into Cubase 6.5. I also use Superior Drummer (fantastic), and have just started experimenting with Waves GTR 3.5. I used to have a large desk, but dumped all that, and just use a Steinberg CC121 for mixing. Much more room in the studio!

As for endorsements, the only ones I had were for driving too fast, mostly :-)

Ø Scott - What kind of Guitar Effects do you use ?

Not much really. On acoustic tracks, nothing or a hint of reverb. On electric, depends. Obviously for hard rock, distortion, to the point where it feels like the notes flow as I'm playing. There's nothing worse than a rock sound that doesn't achieve this for me ... it really puts me off playing. For lead, I add a little echo ... it's much more effective than reverb ... the guitar doesn't get lost, but it gives it a nice edge. EQ-wise, not too fizzy. I like a full tone, why still being more metal than bluesy sound. The Voodu valve does all this.

Ø Scott – How many hours a week does it take to put this (your band, writing your music, fammily, a job maybe) all together for the listening and reading masses?

I'm working , so music all occurs in my spare time. I reckon I spend about 15 hours a week or average on something to do with music. I'm always learning something new, there are so many ways to take harmony and apply it, breaking the rules. Or working out new tunes. I often transcribe sax solos to play on guitar, or pick up chord voicings from pianists. Once every couple of weeks or so, I'll consciously just practice scales and intervals (on or off instrument, just in my head) in all scale positions, and chords running through these (maybe for 15 minutes). I rarely practice technique these days. I went through a serious phase of that for about a year, ages ago, practicing all the usual techniques, up to 8 hours a day, and got up to around 200 bpm 1/16th notes, and then RSI got me for many months. Ouch. Best thing really ... forced me to try and become more musical, plus there's many players with technique I could never hope to attain. As I've got older, I've come to the conclusion that technique in your hands create your sound, but phrasing, structure, and note choice, are the real things that define your style.

Ø Scott – So Jerry, what are you listening to allot of these days?

It varies all the time. For jazz, Brecker, Parker, Davis, Coltrane, Grapelli, Django, Birelli, Scofield, Benson, Sanborn, mostly. Rock/metal etc: you name it, especially Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen. Also Andy Timmons. Fusion: Billy Cobham, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale. Old soul, stax, blue note, and funk.Pop from 60's onwards. Little bit of classical.

Ø Scott – Do you have a Dream Car? Or Recreational Vehicle?

I bought an ancient Ferrari 400GT, wrecked, which is still being broughtback to life. Same model as Sammy Hagar bought. Don't know if I can afford to drive it, with UK petrol prices!

Ø Scott – Name some folks you would love to get on the same album or share the stage with… Inquiring minds want to know…

Tricky one. Be great to work with Marc Storace again, and I'd love to dosomething produced by Nial Rodgers. Instrumental-wise, something with David Sanborn.

Ø Scott – 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 …?

I've just finished writing a book, called "Music - The Wood", intended for non-players, and players alike, who've been put off trying to learn from traditional theory books because it's too much like hard work, especially if you're only looking for a couple of new ideas. By analogy, Imagine you want to cook a couple of Chinese dishes, but the only cook books are written in Mandarin Chinese. You going to bother to learn Mandarin just for that? No-one should be made to really struggle to learn music ... everyone should get a crack. The concepts are simple enough, but they get buried in a mire of detail. So I've come up with a totally different way of showing this stuff, very visual, no music score involved. Originally did this just to show some friends how things work, and eventually got persuaded to write it down. Now, I'm finishing off some software to go with it. This is all in my spare time, when I'm not working. Hope to go live early next year. Work-wise, dreaming up new ways of making TV and mobiles and tablets work together, for possible future TV services.

Ø Scott – Lastly, please give our readers one last parting shot across the bow… What is Jerry Kramskoy going to be doing in 5 years?

More of the same. Still playing guitar. Relaxing? Being with family, definitely.

Ø Scott – I would like to thank you for your time and candor with my loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some quality guitar oriented music.

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For some of my playing, check out (I wrote all these)

Hard rock ...

G Minor Groove Chromaticism

Jerry Kramskoy

Jazz ...

Jazz Sketch

For Bears With Sore Heads

Metal for Muthas II (EMI) (Storace, now with Krokus)

Jerry Kramskoy 1 - Telephone Man

The number 1 hit that never happened (Storace,now with Krokus)

Jerry Kramskoy - 1/125-1

Experimental with Vic Martin (Gary Moore)

Jerry Kramskoy- Midnight