After five years since their last album, Impellitteri have re-emerged with Wicked Maiden, already being welcomed as a return to form, it finds vocalist Rob Rock back with the band for the first time since Crunch in 2000. SoT's Dean Pedley caught up with guitarist shredder extraordinaire Chris Impellitteri to find out the reasons behind this change and what the future has in store.
SoT: Hi Chris and thanks for talking to us here at Sea of Tranquillity. How are things with you?
Chris: "Great, thanks Dean!!!! We are rehearsing at the moment in preparation for our upcoming tour, and all is looking good…"
SoT: It's been five years since Pedal To The Metal and Wicked Maiden, which marks your longest gap between studio albums. Was there any particular reason for this and is this timescale something you see continuing?
Chris: "I simply wanted to make a great record, with the right people!! It takes a lot of time and effort to make a record that really makes an impact on the listeners. In effect, me and the band slaved away for about 4 years writing and recording "Wicked Maiden", but it was a challenge, and I loved that!".
SoT: Were you happy with the reaction to Pedal...and did you consider recording another album with Curtis Skelton?
Chris: No, "Pedal…" was supposed to be a fun, Parody type of metal record. But our core fans did not like it. Curtis is a great singer and musician, but I think our fans want me to have a screaming vocalist like Rock or Dickinson in the band, and I think we've got it just right…".
SoT: Wicked Maiden sees you welcome back Rob Rock on vocals, of course? How did the reunion with Rob come about and how did you enjoy recording the album?
Chris: "As I said, I knew that the fans wanted me and Rob to pick up where we left off with Crunch, so I called Rob and asked him if he would like to rejoin the band. Happily he said yes and we began making the record shortly afterwards. I really enjoyed working with Rob again because we have a strong writing chemistry. I think we compliment one another in the studio and live."
SoT: So, you immediately got back into the groove of the two of you collaborating as songwriters?
Chris: "Yes, it was instantaneous. Absolutely magical!"
SoT: Have you discussed how long Rob will stick around? Is this a one album project or are you looking further ahead?
Chris: Rob is back in the band - he tells me this is his focus. So we are looking forward to creating a future!!. Of course Wicked Maiden is my creation musically but I will definitely attempt to keep this band going for as long as possible. It feels right now.."
SoT: In my review I mentioned that aside from the shredding and the screaming vocals there seems to be a definite emphasis on writing quality songs. Presumably you would agree...tell us about some of your favourites from the record…
Chris: "Thank you !! Obviously I love to shred and play metal, but I understand the importance of creating a great song too…I usually start by writing a riff that is catchy, melodic, and memorable. For example, listen to "Crazy Train", or "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" by Van Halen. Those two riffs are easily remembered and inspirational, all the way, right? I try to create similar patterns in order to please the listener and inspire them. My favourite tracks on the record are "Wicked Maiden", "Last Of A Dying Breed", "Garden Of Eden", and "Hi School Revolution". I am a metal kid at heart…, so my passion is with the heavy, more aggressive tunes."
SoT: It seems that whenever your name is mentioned I hear people say "influenced by Malmsteen etc" but to my mind there must be dozens of guitarists influenced by Chris Impellitteri. Do you think you've been given enough credit as an innovator and are there any bands where you hear a something and know straight away that you have been an influence?
Chris: "Thanks for the nice comment!! I have my own style of playing, really!! I really think I sound like me and not other players. I am fast, aggressive, melodic, and human, all in one. And, my playing is an extension of my soul. But, that said, I am just Chris Impellitteri!! Yes there are many mega rock-star bands that have told me I have influenced them…. And it's a huge compliment, but I'm just me…"
SoT: Do you still practice every day? Are there still areas where you think you could improve?
Chris: "Yes I practice everyday. It is really important too improve and innovate. In effect, I must practice too grow as an artist."
SoT: What can you tell us about touring plans...I believe Sweden Rocks is in the pipeline? Any chances of a trip to the UK?
Chris: "Yes. We are preparing a major tour right now, actually. We will play a headlining set on the main festival stage with Heaven and Hell, Dream Theater, and Journey at Sweden Rock. We're also doing dates in the US and Japan…. And, I look forward to a European tour including the UK too."
SoT: When considering the set list will you mainly be sticking to the albums that feature Rob?
Chris: "Yes!! It's what defines the band…"
SoT: You often cite albums such as Blizzard of Oz and VH 1 as inspirational but are there any new bands that you enjoy?
Chris: "Yes.., Avenged Sevenfold, Children of Bodom…. That's just two…"
SoT: And finally was there anything else you wanted to add?
Chris: "Thanks for the support Dean, I greatly appreciate it. I hope everyone listens to our new record "Wicked Maiden" and visits our brand new MySpace page and fan club web site to see our new music videos, too. See you all soon!"
(Click here to read our review of Wicked Maiden)