The Scott Allen Project is an Instrumental Progressive Hard Rock band based around Musician’s Institute (GIT) trained guitarist Scott Allen. Catching the guitar bug by discovering the magic of one Edward Van Halen at age 10, Scott dedicated his teen years to studying the electric guitar, and upon graduating high school he relocated south from his home of Sacramento to the fabled glitz of Hollywood. There he would study at the world-famous Musician’s Institute and get a chance to learn from the best. The 90’s however were not kind to progressive guitar music, and by the time Scott graduated Hollywood also wasn’t what it once was. He was lured back up north by the success of many local Sacramento bands such as Cake, The Deftones, Simon Says, Papa Roach and others. Even though that wasn’t the music he wanted to play, the scene seemed more vibrant than the late 90’s sunset strip.
Guitarist Scott Allen Interview >>>
Scott - Hi Scott, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com.
SA - Awesome to talk to you, thanks for having me!
Scott – Hi Scott Allen, Tell us a little bit about yourself and the band members, etc.?
SA -I graduated from Musician’s Institute back in the late 90’s. It was a tough decision to leave LA, but I honestly had no interest in what was passing for Hard Rock in 97’, and the only scene left in town were cover bands, rap rock and pop punk. There wasn’t any session work, at least
not enough to sustain yourself. There was a more vibrant scene for original music back in Sac, so I decided there was no point in staying. I am more of a Nor Cal kind of guy anyway. I met my drummer Tom Frost first when we formed a short lived Van Halen cover band, and we played in an original metal band called 7 Years for a while. When that ended I stole him for my band. We found our bassist Brian Kinney and never looked back!
Scott - How would describe the type of music that you play?
SA - I describe it as progressive instrumental hard rock. I used to say progressive metal but I think that what we do is definitely more hard rock than what metal is these days, although there are definitely straight up metal tunes that we play too. These days there are a lot of instrumental prog bands but I think what makes us different is that while our influences definitely include Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Planet X, Rush and Yes, we also have a lot of old
school hard rock and metal influences like Ozzy, Whitesnake, Van Halen, Badlands, TNT and Savatage. Also I am a guitar guy so influences like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie, Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen are there as well. Also I without any shame love 80’s metal like Extreme, Saigon
Kick, Def Leppard, XYZ, Winger, White Lion, Dokken and many others. So there are more of those kind of influences in my music than a lot of the Djent type prog metal that is out there.
Scott - What is the name of your latest album and how did that album come about? What was
the inspiration behind it?
SA - The latest Scott Allen Project release is an EP, although at 7 tracks it is a long EP called Escape Velocity. It is a great reflection of where I am as a musician right now with a lot of diversity. It has heavy prog tunes like Hitting the Wall and Wrecked where the musicianship is a little more out front. The riff to Hitting the Wall came from me trying to channel Criss Oliva of Savatage who is one of my favorite riff writers of all time. Although my drummer Tom says it sounds like an Iommi riff. Either way that is quite good company! But then you have more classic rock type songs like The Tosser, where I play slide guitar. Anthemic songs like Headed Due North, a ballad called Sunset. We also included a fun heavy instrumental version of Aldo Nova’s song Fantasy, which the guys in the band will tell you I have wanted to cover forever!
We were lucky enough on this release to have Keyboardist extraordinaire Derek Sherinian of Dream Theater and Sons of Apollo play keys on three of the tunes and he crushes it on all three!
Upon returning home Scott recruited Drummer Tom Frost and Bassist Brian Kinney and began to hit the club scene. They eventually found themselves opening shows up and down the state for the likes of Gary Hoey, Michael Schenker, Eric Martin of Mr. Big, Dave Menitketti of Y&T, Planet X (which featured Derek Sherinian and Tony Macalpine), Montrose, and Frank Hannon of Tesla. After many shows together Frank Hannon of Tesla offered to produce the first SAP album entitled What Lies Beyond Words. This album would be released in 2006 and would lead to the band getting radio play in Northern California, and to the band providing music to the KRXQ 98 Rock Bod Squad DVD. That same year Scott was chosen by the legendary Mike Varney to appear in his famous Guitar Player spotlight column in Guitar Player Magazine.
Scott - Where do you all hail from? Are there any good music venues in your area that you play
SA - I am from Northern California, my family is from the bay area, but I grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento. It is actually a really cool music town with great bands like Tesla, Cake and The Deftones all from here. I moved back to Sac from Los Angeles after I graduated music school. There are great clubs here like The Boardwalk, Holy Diver and Ace of Spades. I will be honest though the original music scene as far as I can see isn’t huge anywhere outside of Nashville. The upside is that the internet is a great equalizer in that you can present your music to people all over the world, and you don’t have to be limited to one geographical area.
Scott - Why the music biz?
SA - It is more a by product of wanting to create music, and the business part being the only avenue to make a living doing it. I think any artist with a drive to create doesn’t walk into it thinking about the business part, it is more of a drive to create and a desire to share that
creation with others. The business part is just a part of the package. These days though it is harder than ever to make a living, so it is really about the art, I don’t think anyone in 2020 gets into music, especially hard rock music, to get rich!
Scott - How did you first get into the music business?
SA - Well, my first step was going to Musicians Institute GIT, where they not only give you an intense education in music and performing, they give you the first taste of what the business is like. My first band was a Van Halen cover band that quickly fell apart that led to an original metal
band the lasted a couple of years but then fell apart. That is when I decided to start my own band. It was also the drive to play the kind of music I loved, which was a tough sell in 99’-00’. We were lucky enough to have Frank Hannon from Tesla produce our first album, What Lies Beyond Words, and while I thought it was a great record, when we sent it out to the labels the response was a bit lukewarm. So I put the record on the shelf and indulged in a different kind of music that I became taken with in the early 2000’s and joined an alternative pop/rock band called The Morning After. We were kind of like Dave Matthews band meets the Goo Goo Dolls but with blazing guitar. We played all over California for a couple of years and recorded on EP, but ultimately that band ended and my love of metal came back to the forefront. We put out the record we did with Frank and started doing a ton of shows to support and kept on going from there. Escape Velocity is our 4th release.
Scott - Why the guitar?
SA - I fell for the guitar after seeing Eddie Van Halen play on a live video. I was blown away and knew I had to learn how to do that! From then on I was hooked and thought about little else than becoming the best guitar player I could. This was in 1986 and I was 10 years old. It was the best time to start playing because everywhere you looked there were awesome guitar players. I mean, Eddie, Vai ,Satch, George Lynch, Reb Beach, Jake E Lee, Vito Bratta, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie. Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Greg Howe, John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg. I mean every band had a killer guitar player along with the cool tunes, it was great!
Scott - Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
SA - Oh, I took many years of lessons and then graduated from Musicians Institute GIT. I will forever be grateful for my time at MI because it changed my life. It taught me skills I have literally used every day since.
Scott - What type of Guitars do you play in studio and or live?
SA - I use Vigier guitars exclusively for both live and in the studio. My main baby is an ocean blue Excalibur custom that I nicknamed Ocean. That is my number 1! But I also use a lot of 7 string so my Vigier Excalibur Supra 7 gets a lot of work too both live and in the studio. I just received a new red Excalibur custom that I nicknamed Fire to back up Ocean live. It has gotten a lot of studio work too. I can tell you straight up that you will not find a better guitar out there than Vigier guitars, just try them and you will see why! They play like butter! All of my guitars have Dimarzio pickups in them and are strung with SIT Strings Pure Steels .009-.042. On the 7 the low B is a .052. I don’t like to use heavy strings. When I play acoustic, I use Taylor acoustics, the combination of the tone and playability can’t be beat.
Never ones to sit idle for long, the band soon got back to recording the follow up record, From the Blindside, which was released in late 2009. This found traction with Metal Express Radio’s album premier show and led to Scott being featured on Steve Vai’s Guitar TV’s fresh talent show. That year Scott released his first instructional DVD for Chops From Hell entitled The Art of Rock Guitar. Not long after Scott began working with Truefire, the worlds foremost producer of online guitar content. This led to Scott running an online classroom and the Truefire courses, 50 Rock Virtuoso Licks You Must Know, Rock Chops, Tapping A-Z and Sweep Picking Essentials. As Scott has long run a successful private guitar instruction practice this was a natural.
Scott - What type of amps and effects are you using while playing live?
SA - For the studio I use a lot of different amps, and on Escape Velocity I used three amps mainly, a Peavey 6505, and Peavey 6534+ and a Marshall JMD 50 watt. I also used a Peavey 3120 for some of the solos. The main lead tone was the 6505 though. As far as effects I used a Morley Bad Horsie Wah a lot on this release as well as a variety of MXR pedals. Mainly a 78 Badass Custom overdrive, a Phase 90, Flanger and Carbon Copy Delay. With the exception of the Morley wah which I used a lot, everything else was used very sparingly in the studio. Live I give those babies a workout, I like to add phase and flange to various passages live just to give them some spice.
Scott - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
SA - Well, musically the first group of influences would be Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Reb Beach, George Lynch, John Petrucci, Neal Schon and Alex Lifeson. Then there is a second group of influences which would be players like Ronnie Le Tekro, Jake E Lee, Criss Oliva, Warren DeMartini, John Sykes, Steve Lukather, Trevor Rabin, Vito Bratta and Nuno Bettencourt. After that there are so many influences it is too many to list but those are the big ones. On the career part I have to say that Rusty Cooley has been a huge influence as far as how he has used the internet to build his reach. I really respect him and how he goes about his career.
Scott - What were your favorite recording artists and or bands as a teenager?
SA - My all time favorite is definitely Van Halen, but I was also into Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Queensryche, Winger, Dokken, Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Night Ranger, Savatage, Badlands, TNT, White Lion, XYZ, Ozzy. But I also was into the whole instrumental scene as well with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. I also love Richie Kotzen, Greg Howe, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Tony Macalpine. I also love bands that got the short end of the timing stick like T-Ride, Saigon Kick and Extreme. They all came out a little too late to be a part of the 80’s scene but also didn’t really fit in with the grunge scene either. Too bad because they were all killer bands.
In late 2015 Scott Allen Project released their 3rd full length album entitled, appropriately enough, III. In support of this release they did shows opening for artists such as Lynch Mob, UFO, Eric Gales, Steve Morse Band, The Aristocrats, Act of Defiance (which featured Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover of Megadeth), Kingdom Come and many others.
Now in the 2019-2020 window Scott Allen Project is releasing a new EP entitled Escape Velocity. The choice to do an EP reflects the changing times where the album format is less central and shows a desire to try something new. Featuring the most progressive and diverse music to date and featuring special guest Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Sons of Apollo/Black Country Communion/Billy Idol) on keyboards and organ, Escape Velocity is the sound of a band just hitting its stride.
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?
SA - Well, it isn’t really outside of music, but I have had a private guitar instruction business outside of Sacramento for years and teach around 60 weekly private students at a couple of different locations. I also am an instructor for Truefire where I run a channel called Scott Allen’s
Electric Guitar Personal Training. Here students from all over the world can subscribe and have access to a lot of lesson material. They can even take private lessons from me on Truefire as well. I have taught students from all over the world that way. People can also check out my Truefire courses, 50 Rock Virtuoso Licks You Must Know, Rock Chops, Tapping A-Z and Sweep Picking Essentials at www.truefire.com as well. Truefire is incredible!
Scott - Hey Brutha, 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.
SA - Thanks for having me, I really hope everyone checks out Escape Velocity. I am incredibly proud of it. I can tell you as long as I draw breath Rock is not dead!