Dave Martone is probably Canada's best guitarist and probably the best guitarist you have never heard of. Blossoming out of fruit and wine country (the Niagara Peninsula) in Ontario Canada, Dave initially took the serious studied approach to the instrument before discovering rock music quite late by the standard of any era. Dave's quest took him through a recording degree and a scholarship at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. He honed his writing, production and performing skills with stints in various metal bands and recording studios all the while keeping his eye on the prize, creating a unique voice in today's overpopulated world of instrumental guitar. He has succeeded magnificently, ultimately creating one of the most diverse and sonically appealing works I have heard in years, chock full of wicked and quirky technique, Demons Dream, reviewed on this site back in 2002. See our review of Demons Dream
He has followed that up with a stunning concert DVD proving that there is indeed no studio trickery behind his jaw dropping technique and sound. The DVD is guaranteed to garner him further accolades and elevate his visibility and album sales to the next level. Dave is currently finishing work on several projects, including his next instrumental Martone band project. He graciously took time out from his hectic schedule to chat with Mike Blackburn of SOT.
Mike Blackburn (SoT): Introduce yourself to our readers. Where you are from, where did you grow up and what are your earliest musical experiences, influences etc.?
Dave Martone (DM): I am originally from a small town called Beamsville (Ontario, Canada) on the Niagara Peninsula outside Toronto. My dad started me playing when I was around 5 or 6 years old. He wanted to play music himself, mainly jazz and classical so he decided to also torture me with the same thing. I didn't even know what the guitar was, didn't necessarily want to play the guitar and didn't care about it. All I wanted to do was play with my buddies in the ravine we had down there but he managed to get me going. He bribed me with 10 cents an hour to practice, to get down there in the basement and start practicing. The very, very first stuff was basically chords and folk tunes. Then he started me off on classical guitar and he had me study with a guy named Gary Santucci. Gary taught me kind of flamenco/classical at that point, when I was probably around 7 years old. I was actually starting to get into it! I don't know why, I guess it was all the cash coming in! I was actually starting to enjoy the style of music.
My parents kept forcing me to play and put me in all kind of different competitions at that time. They had something called the Kiwanis club competition and it was a great experience because number one, you take a scared little kid and put him in these competitions and it taught me to be extremely scared sometimes, but then to get over that, the fear to play in front of people. That is a big thing, because people still ask me today, how can you overcome jitters and not screw up when you're playing in front of people? It's just the more you do it, the better off you are. My number one experience was, I was supposed to play in this big festival of the stars thing for people who had placed very high in a particular competition and I was about 10 or 11. I was so freaked out because I knew I would be playing in front of my parents and 5 or 6 hundred other people, it was a lot of stress for me at 10, so I actually faked being sick. That affected my performance out there because my parents made me go on anyway and it totally cancelled my performance. But I found that I could perform anyway and that is not to say I didn't totally rip out there, but I won't ever do that again.
SoT: When and how were you first introduced to rock music?
DM: Probably at around 11 or 12 I was introduced to my very first rock album. I had been listening up till then to my parents record collection, which was not the coolest, but I did not know that because that was all I had to listen to. I did not have any older brothers or sisters to show me the way of "coolness" so I was listening to all this junk like Harry Belafonte and Bobby Vinton and all this Polish polka music, Hungarian gypsy music and the like.
SoT: You grew up not so far from St. Catharines Ontario, the home of Walter Ostanek the perennial Grammy nominee in the Polka album category.
DM: You are right, and I have been to his music store many, many times Walter Ostanek's in St. Catharines. I went to school there actually.
The first rock album I heard was Black Sabbath's – Greatest Hits which totally changed me cause the sound was heavy, hard and incredibly chaotic sometimes. Dark, distorted, screaming, all the sounds that I had never heard on any of the "regular" music my parents had. Harry Belafonte was not that dark (laughs)! Of course, when I heard the electric guitar I told my dad we gotta get one for me so we could not go looking around in fine music stores like Steve's or Long & McQuade's whatever, money was too tight, so we were looking in the papers and the pawnshops and we finally found one. It was an old El Degas, it was black and we bought it from a Harley Davidson guy. I remember going into his place and he scared the crap out of me! Huge dude, probably at least 6'-4", tattoos with snakes in various containers around his house cause he was obviously into snakes. He was selling the guitar and although I was really scared I figured this is rock n roll you just gotta enjoy it so I took the guitar and brought it home. It was not even in a real case it was in a home made cardboard box case with black vinyl glued to the outside and a green towel stapled to the inside.
The first thing I did when I got home was I took the whole guitar apart because I wanted to see exactly how it worked. Well of course I screwed the whole thing up so I took it to Walter Ostanek's to get it repaired. I asked his guy to show me how to put it back together and what all the parts were for and ever since then, I totally understand what the guitar is. So that is my experience of getting into rock music.
SoT: When did you determine you wanted to make a life or career in music?
DM: I don't know when that happened. I remember telling myself it would be nice to be let's say at this or that level at a certain age, reaching this certain plateau. That was kind of like putting it into a box and saying it has to happen in this amount of time, giving it a limit or something. I was not really getting into music to make it a life dream it was just something that was incredibly fun for me. The first experience I had playing in a band around say 14 or 15 was just so much fun but at that time I never really thought about the future because it seemed illegal to spend your life having so much fun. Slowly but surely I was asked to do little things. Do this little concert, do this little recording and then all of a sudden, there was more than the 10 cents an hour that my dad had been paying me (laughs)! And then, at some certain point it just flipped, and it seemed like wow, this is a job now. The main part is not to let your brain get hooked into thinking of it as work cause as we know; any kind of work is a difficult and regrettable thing. The word work is difficult to even say. When you say "I am going to play guitar" it is much different than saying "I am going to work guitar". You know what I mean? So I think it just happened around 20ish, sometime in my early 20'ies. I realized I can actually do something! I have a talent and I feel I can actually say something on the instrument. I feel like I can say something beyond that with the songs I was starting to write, using the harmonic skills I was starting to learn.
SoT: When during that process did you decide to take your musical education to the next level? You obviously started out on a very theoretical basis, but when did you decide to go to Berklee?
DM: The first time I took it to a higher level was when I got out of high school. That time frame scared the crap out of me cause as anyone who has finished high school knows, it is a very stressful point in their life. People are forcing you to think "What're ya gonna do with your life? You gotta make a decision now, for the rest of your life!" And sometimes that is a very difficult thing for a 16 or 17 year old to have to make a decision for the rest of your life. So at that point, I really had no idea, but I knew I enjoyed playing music so I didn't really know of any music programs around so I went out and researched and found a program at Fanshawe College in London Ontario called " The Recording Engineering and Production Program." I decided to take that course. It obviously had music involved with it and at that point I was always messing around with four track recorders at my house and also with my dad's old two track reel to reel. I enjoyed going to the dump ripping speakers out of TV's and hooking things up. So I went there and had a blast because they of course taught theory but I was also in a world class studio facility! So not only did I get to record, but also other people who were recording needed musicians and engineers for their recordings. It was kind of like a big feeding frenzy and I was in there (the studio) as much as possible either being recorded or engineering a recording. I would hang outside this one big auditorium and just practice all evening usually. And if people needed a guitar part, they would come a knocking and I would just go down and record the part for them because essentially I was always there. That experience gave me a huge amount of knowledge to start getting into the recording side which I grew to love just equally as much as actually playing at that point in my career. After that, I was working in a recording studio in Toronto called Sounds Interchange, very briefly and I realized that you had to work around 16 hours a day making around 37 cents an hour so it wasn't really worth it as I didn't have time to practice anymore! So I decided against that, and took a couple of years off playing in a thrash band out of Detroit called Trash Ballet and then of course, as all good things come to an end, that band ended. I decided to take things a step further and to research further education and that was how I ended up going to Berklee, and that was around 1991 and that of course was an exceptional experience also, going to that school. A lot of people ask me, a lot of my students ask me "Is it worth it?" "Is it worth going there?" "Is it worth the astronomical amount of money that they charge you to go to that school?" I'll put it this way; it is worth it if you are 100% committed to learning. If you're not, I wouldn't go; it is a waste of your time. If you are, I would totally recommend it and it is not just the classes there it is the contacts and the future you are gonna make, cause everyone there who is really 100% into it is going to end up doing something in music, definitely. I am still talking to contacts right now that I made over 10 years ago from that school. Those contacts are helping me out with certain things in the industry today, so that's what I kind of say about going to that higher level of education.
SoT: Would you consider doing a classical or flamenco album similar to what Steve Stevens has done (Flamenco a GoGo)?
DM: I did one in 2000 which is called Synesthesia; you can check that out on Guitar 9 records. It was a world music album with a guy named Navid Nikbakht and he is an Iranian that I met through Berklee, a contact, as I was just saying! So we created a world music album with elements of Persian, Iranian, Hungarian, Canadian, different styles of world music intertwined and it turned out quite well. We had a great time. We had an engineer from Germany who I had many a battle with about the mixing of the recording. We finally came to some agreement. We are doing another one as we speak! About 6 or 7 tracks are done. This next one has more of an influence of kind of a Steve Stevens type idea, but not techno in any way. There will be a lot of vocals on it with Persian/Iranian female chanting. It will be quite different. The tracks are very exciting at this point and I am looking forward to that. I will be finishing it off during February 2006 in London England. That will be Synesthesia II, a world flamenco album with a twist.
SoT: As you advanced your musical knowledge and technique have you found it hard to balance the technical and the soulful side of musical expression?
DM: When I was 17 or 18, at that point all I really cared about was trying to be the fastest guitar player in the world. That was all I really cared about, nothing else. I am sure a lot of people can relate to that at that age so it was exciting pushing the boundaries of yourself to see how physically fast you could go before your fingers would blow off your hands and that's the end of it all right? There is a certain aspect that goes beyond that because if something is being played extremely rapidly for an extremely long time, be it a three minute song, be it a one minute solo be it an entire album, what happens to me and a lot of other people is that over time it becomes regular and boring. That is because it is continuously being bombarded into you and I find that it is much more effective if the speed is used sparingly in context like you have a slower cool sort of melody and all of a sudden it kicks into a short burst of the most insane sounding riff or thing that you've ever heard! It does not have the same shock value if you are listening to several minutes of fast stuff before that burst. Then the whole entire shock value feeling would be gone. I find that a lot of people are missing that point today when they are playing. They don't really understand that. They don't understand the phrasing of things and how to make their music come alive. It is the stopping and changing that makes music come alive and I am at the point right now, I am 34, and I am finally starting to understand that it does not have to be full speed all the time.
Everyone has there own way of doing things. God bless them. Who am I to say what is best? Everyone has their own vision and voice so I think ultimately it is great cause there are lots of people who want to listen to lots of different things. Some people want to listen to 100 billion notes in half an hour while others want to listen to Eric Slow hand Clapton. And then there are people who want to listen to a mixture of both, so they might want to listen to me, or other stuff like that, so ultimately it's great that there is an outlet for all types of stuff. I truly hope my music resonates with a melody, a really interesting groove, interesting sounds and of course some spurts of over the top playing. If you put that all together with different styles like country, classical, blues, jazz, shred or new metal; then you kind of get what my style would be about I think.
SoT: Describe your writing process? Where do the ideas come from?
DM: There are two forms basically. I have an upstairs studio which I call the guitar studio and a downstairs studio which is called Brainworks, which is the recording studio. So in the upstairs studio I will sit there and wait for inspiration. I have tons of equipment up there including a laptop and different recording devices and I will basically just hammer things out and jam around ideas and if I do come up with something I like, I will document it right there either by charting it on manuscript or recording it into the laptop. I used to use a cassette recorder before I got the laptop. I kind of get the ideas scratched out that way. Then I'll make a recording of those ideas I can listen to later that evening and decide if any idea is worth taking downstairs into Brainworks Studio. That is one way things start. Another way, is if I am sitting in the guitar room and absolutely nothing is happening, nothing, zero, totally uninspired, then one of two things will happen; I will forget it, go out and do something else or I will be very frustrated and go down into the studio and sit there being agitated at myself for not being able to come up with something. I will then put on some interesting random kind of drum loop, set a sequence and just start playing. I will usually get inspired by that sound and sometimes I have actually written amazing songs that way, just kind of happening out of frustration. Other times, it can just come out of visualization of say a conversation with someone or a recollection from a movie I have watched. I have even had full blown ideas come from dreams. It (inspiration) is varying and changing all the time.
SoT: How did you hook up with Lion Music back in 2001 for the Demon's Dream album?
DM: Lion Music had originally contacted me to contribute to a bunch of compilation projects and there were several of those. The first one was Warmth in the Wilderness Part I a tribute to Jason Becker, all proceeds going to his Lou Gehrig's disease charity. That was a great project and great that they asked me to be part of this! Obviously I was humbled to be asked, but I was also quite scared cause as we all know, Jason Becker was one monstrous, monstrous talent on the instrument. I was not familiar with that much of his music. Actually I was into a different style at that point in time, so I picked a song called Higher from his Perspective album. The reason I picked this song was because there was absolutely no guitar on it. It was written on but not performed on guitar so I chose it because what was the point of learning guitar parts in exactly the same way as someone who is already famous? What can you add to that? It means nothing to me. You need to take someone's tune, change it, manipulate it, maybe change the time signature, feel, re-harmonize it etc. to make your version different, and hopefully interesting. The whole original idea of this song Higher was done using a choir of female voices singing music he had written. So I tried to emulate that on the guitar, but initially it wasn't coming out correct as to the way I heard it in my head. Then somehow, the idea of using an E-Bow popped into my head. You know, this little magnet thing you hold over the strings to make the strings resonate forever. So I redid the song with that and it turned out great for the first part of the song. Then I changed the time signature, added a full rock band and recorded the second half of the song. I sent the song to Lion and they loved it but they said unfortunately Jason had requested the opportunity to review and approve the rendition of one particular song. A song he had poured a lot of himself into, breathed life into and a particular favorite of his. You guessed it, Higher. They said unfortunately we cannot confirm you will be on the album until Jason ok's the song. So here I was; I had spent a month working on the song and I really hoped that it was gonna pass the test so to speak, for the exposure and thankfully it did. I got a personal e-mail from Jason and his family thanking me very much for the beautiful rendition of the song and also that they totally appreciated me being part of the project. A very cool thank you! So Lion contacted me, told me how much they also dug the song and during the course of that conversation I told them I have this old album called Shut Up' N Listen that I had made while I was going to Berklee, that was now out of print and that I wanted to put it out again. So I asked if they would help me with some financial obligations on that reissue and they said yes! I also mentioned I was currently finishing a new album (Demon's Dream) and they asked that I send along a few tracks from that one as well, so they could see where I was headed musically. I did send some tracks and they really enjoyed especially the tracks from the newer project so they asked me to send the whole album. I did, after which we negotiated for a couple of months and we came to an agreement and that is how that album came out with them. Since then, I have been on a couple of other compilation albums with them. The Shawn Lane one for instance ( Shawn Lane Remembered Vol I ) after he had unfortunately passed away. What a brilliant talent he was by the way.
SoT: What time frame was Demon's Dream written during, and what was the goal thematically of the project?
DM: That was written between 1999 and 2001. The whole idea of what I wanted to happen on that album was firstly for it to be an extension, a growth from the previous album, the Zone album although I wanted it to be a lot more textural. Not in a dreamy kind of way, but I wanted the guitar to have new sounds. I wanted it to sound fresh like if some one was to put on music in say 2020, this might be what it would sound like. That is what I was trying to achieve. I was trying to push the envelope of making "future" sounds and I thought that would happen from experimenting with guitar sounds, with using computers, with using plug-ins on guitar sound and with mixing a whole bunch of different styles. One song could feature flamenco with drum and bass, perhaps mixing ethnic Indian music with new metal and putting all of these things together to see if it could make some new type of sound. And that was my vision, my focus for that album.
SoT: Where in the process are you on your next solo project? Is it also instrumental?
DM: It is basically instrumental. There are a couple of tracks on there with backing vocal work but not the traditional sense of vocal work, more a hypnotic repetitive chant type phrasings that reoccur if you will. It is very close to being done. There are 10 tracks finished and we want to have 11 or 12 on it. I just need to finish mixing the 10, recording the last 2 and it has to be done before January 2006 because my drummer Daniel is getting back out on the road then with his other group so it just has to be done (drummer Adair also performs with the band Nickelback). The sound I would say is more groove oriented there are stranger textural sounds happening on it. There is a theme or feeling on it how should I word it, like ancient Egypt mixed with aliens. That is the kind of visual situation I am trying to make come up in your brain when you are listening to it. The past the present and the future all combined.
SoT: Like when the aliens came to build the pyramids?
DM: Yes (laughs)! I don't really know how to explain it but that was the feeling I was getting when I was working on this one. There is one track in particular called When the Aliens Come. I have played it for some people and they looked totally shocked after hearing the sounds. I enjoy that.
SoT: Are you currently marketing this one or do you have a deal in place?
DM: Not yet. I will not do anything with it until I have it completed and I feel better doing it that way because I do all the recording here ( Brainworks) so there is no real expense other than my time to make it basically. When it is finished I will contact again of course Lion Music, they did a splendid job on Demon's Dream and I will also contact Favored Nations and Magna Carta. I will even contact some different companies. Some people have said I should contact Universal, because I have some good connections there and although their company is into more of a pop thing, I could put some things on the table like a production development deal stipulating selling "x" amount of units etc., so it is all in the works keeping the business side of me going. I wish I didn't enjoy that part but I do like being right in there up to my elbows in all sides of it. Writing, recording, producing, rehearsing, business aspects, DVD making, and video making; it is all just a great thing to be involved in. It is always changing and so it is not like having to do the same thing all the time.
SoT: A lot of your music and ideas would be ideal for neo-metal video game soundtracks don't you think? Ever considered that? Good money in that game?
DM: Yes there is good money . I have a few friends who are writing in that industry right now. Who knows? You never know.
SoT: What was the thought process behind a huge undertaking like producing your own DVD at this stage of your career? Was it calculated to bring your exposure to the next level?
DM: The main idea came around when a lot of the companies who support us musically, as in our endorsement companies decided that they would like to have us do a show. So we looked at how we could get our schedules to meet and started brainstorming a set list. I said how about making a DVD of this event? And everyone thought it was a really great idea. Primarily I wanted to document this point in time visually and aurally and also I wanted to show that people who are kind of at the level I am currently at in my career, whatever that level happens to be, to notice that hey, he has got a DVD out and kind of help push things along. Not as a competition, but just to push my career along. I have read that there are a lot of people who would like to see me play and that have not had a chance to do so, so putting the DVD together was creating an asset in that way also. It also had a chance to span the career of the music I have been writing from the very first album through Zone, Demon's Dream, and also a song from the next album we play live called Really Now. It was also something I wanted to do cause I wanted to get into the world of video. As you know, the visual is a very important aspect to most artists today. Video is very influential and I wanted to start to attack that kind of market in any way I possibly could. I thought very briefly about instructional videos but I believe it is a big step beyond that to have a cool live concert DVD for people to watch. It was a blast to make and an absolutely huge undertaking because I did most of it myself. All the mixing was done in the Brainworks studio. I went to another place to do the video editing on it. Daniel myself and another fellow named Jordan did pretty much all the video editing on it. And there's problems everywhere you turn cause it is the first one I am doing and as you know, when you do something for the very first time you have no idea what you are doing! So you are constantly thinking; how do I do this, how do I do that, what does this mean etc. You are constantly calling people, figuring stuff out, making mistakes, fixing mistakes. Hopefully the next one will be a lot easier and not take 6 months to do!
SoT: You have ended up with a great product sonically and the camera work is great, not to mention the whole bonus section. The greatest way to see just what a wacko bunch you guys really are in stark contrast to the serious technical music you write and perform.
DM: (laughs) You get to meet the band and you get to see that we do fart, drink beer and yes sometimes we write serious music but we are just a bunch of people that like having fun and really enjoy our jobs so to speak. It was a lot of fun that's for sure. And you know, if certain record companies currently have an interest in the band it is also in part due to the personality of the band that comes through in that DVD (which was sent to them). That is another important aspect to having a product like that out there.
SoT: Do you think your brother Paul (shaved headed keyboard player) should apply for a gig in Joe Satriani's band?
DM: Paul, ha-ha he looks just like Joe! There's this running gag we have. We always go into a music shop in a new city and he usually has the shades on and I'll go up to the guy at the cash and say; "Hey, you know who that is huh? That's Joe Satriani!" So people will start calling people on their cell phones and getting excited and then we just leave. (laughs) A lot of fun.
Dave Martone with Joe Satriani
SoT: When is your next tour planned?
DM: I imagine sometime after completing the two projects (next Martone solo and Synesthesia II). I am just talking to contacts now about doing the next NAMM show down in California. So I am trying to see if we can have the whole Martone band play down there at one of the big corporate events down there sponsored by say Sabian or Pearl or something. That's on my mind right now. There are always clinic tours I am doing for Vox and Digitech throughout Canada. I haven't really hit the states yet because they already have people under contract for the U.S., but that's my next plan of attack, trying to get things going on the U.S. side of things.
SoT: How much teaching do you still do? Do you have a lot of students?
DM: I do, but I try to keep the number cut down cause actually although it's a great thing to do and I totally enjoy it, it sometimes takes away from the time you have to create your own things. It is a great way to help your income out and to share your knowledge with people so yeah, I totally enjoy doing three days a week at this point.
SoT: Joe Satriani once told me has never considered doing an instructional video although obviously he has been offered zillions to do one because as a former teacher he finds those videos so one dimensional and sterile and that in his opinion a lot more could be accomplished with even a half hour session a week or better yet by attending a concert. What are your thoughts?
DM: I have never actually bought one myself but have seen some through my friends and I have personally enjoyed more working with some one and figuring stuff out from a CD or an album. Whether you do an instructional or a concert video you are under the heat either way. I can see both sides of it. Today there is so much instructional material available about everything via internet, CD-ROM's DVD's etc, that if some one wants to learn whatever it is the Spanish language, guitar, or anything else, it doesn't matter what it is, you can do it so much quicker than 30 years ago. 30 years ago we didn't have all this information and technology. So in that way it is great in that it enables people to learn things faster. Then again, it all pushes the whole world to go even faster. The whole modern technology, cell phones computers faxes e-mails, we are almost becoming slaves to these things right now. Everything needs to be quick, quick and done right now. 30 years ago you got to things in due priority course. I think we are in some ways being pushed towards an early grave. I don't know what it all means, but I can see good and bad. There are definitely two sides to it.
SoT: I have seen many of these videos and in too many instances there is no real teaching, just a "play what I play" approach. Getting back to the clinics, how many of those do you do in a typical year?
DM: Depends, I have been doing NAMM now for 7 or 8 years. I have also been doing clinics for Vox, Digitech and Parker for the last 5 or 6 years and some one-off other stuff for select companies. See, it is not in any way a near full time thing it is just another aspect of what I do to make a living, so the number can vary from year to year. It obviously definitely helps to spread word of your music around. It is a great way to travel to different areas, shops and locations where you will have anywhere from 30 to 150 people assembled. Of course you always have your merchandise with you at these clinics so it is a good way to spread your name around. I was recently playing In Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. I had never been to Winnipeg before and it was totally great because a number of people there actually knew who I was and I found that to be remarkable and I think that is because of the internet etc. getting my name out there.
SoT: During the NAMM clinics has it been cool to meet your peers and maybe some of your personal heroes during your stay?
DM: Yeah, of course! I remember having a chance maybe three four years ago to personally meet Allan Holdsworth. That was a truly great experience. He seems like an introverted man but he has a very dry sense of humor. You can immediately tell that he is a great guy. I remember being involved in a little conversation with him in a little walkway between the Samick booth and the Carvin booth. All of a sudden there was this huge entourage of about 100 to 200 people with cameras, video cameras etc. and there was me and Allan sitting on the side and we both basically get like run over by a herd of buffalo because someone said "Make way for the great Paul Stanley! Paul Stanley is here to endorse his new Samick guitar!" as Allan friggin Holdsworth and I are getting crushed against a partition. It was a musician's cartoon comedy moment. I could not restage it any better, the irony of Allan Holdsworth being "crushed" by Paul Stanley.
SoT: When and why did you start using Parker guitars and what did you use before that?
DM: I started using Parkers around 1996. I had actually tried them out earlier in 1993 at Berklee because they were made at that time just outside of Boston so they had them there for guitar week in April. Someone decreed "April shall be guitar week!" So anyway, I checked them out and I did not really like them at first touch. They felt weird, too light. They felt like they could break. They did not feel inspiring in any way but cold so I didn't really gravitate towards it as a guitar at all. I was playing mainly Strats before that. Some influence for that definitely came from Yngwie, cause I liked the sounds, particularly of positions two and four (on the five position toggle) because it had that certain bite to it. In 1996 I came to Vancouver and was hanging out and partying with a few people and playing in some different clubs meeting some of the local rock musicians. I was hanging with this one guy gave him some of my demo music. He thoroughly enjoyed it and told me he was the manager of a local music shop, to come on down to see his shop. I did and he pulled out a Parker and asked me if I wanted to check it out. That he had just got it in as Parkers were just really starting to be released to Canada. He also said he was looking for someone to start promoting it to help market it. Of course I remembered I had already tried one earlier in Boston, so I was kind of hesitant but he said; "Just take it home and take your time to check it out." So I did, I took it home and played it for about a month solid. I will never forget the day that I picked up the Strat again after about a month and it suddenly felt like the most cumbersome horrible railway tie, telephone pole kind of a device that I had ever touched in my life. From that moment forward my eyes lit up and I was totally sold. Plus the fact that it's got the whole second side in that you can get the sound of an acoustic guitar. So I can pump that through and get a stereo setup with my magnetic side and basically have four sounds cause I was stereo splitting both the magnetic and acoustic pickups creating a massive sound! That became a great part of the recording of that instrument too. Now I own all kinds. I have Strats again I have my Les Pauls and all kind of different things and I think ultimately it comes down to deciding for what particular style of playing, what sound is the best? For instance, on Got the Blues from Demon's Dream, that needs the Strat. I tried it with the Parker, but it just didn't do it. It didn't seem right. In other songs, like say Attack of the Celery Crunchers, where I need a newer kind of sound, I use the Parkers to give it that edge so to speak. So I think that a lot of it is like picking and matching colors to make your own painting. You can't just use the same color all the time, you'll get stale. You can keep changing colors and instruments and amps to help keep creating the interest in new pictures and sounds for the listener or viewer.
SoT: Maybe you can become the face of Parker then. The only other guy I recall using almost exclusively Parker was Reeves Gabrel from Tin Machine.
DM: I actually met him at the last NAMM show. Great guy, not really sure what he is doing right now but yeah they (Parker) have a bunch of different people at this point in time. They have a new catalogue coming out soon and I have asked if we can have a custom Martone guitar and they have said most definitely! Let's talk about what you want in January 2006, so I am also thinking about that right now. It is all very exciting!
SoT: That leads into my next question. What do you see as the next big technical improvement/leap for electric guitarists?
DM: Well I think… that is a very tough question. It is like trying to see the future. We know we can go to 7 and 8 strings, to as many as 36 frets as some people have tried. We can go from one pickup to nine pickups like Steve Morse, you can have the Buzz Feiten tuning system, the fan frets (Charlie Hunter/Rusty Cooley) etc. You know many people have tried many things to be different right? But I don't think anybody's really hit the main nerve yet at this point. I think Line 6 has their Variax kind off idea with everything built into the guitar but that's like really just an extension of the modeling pedal idea etc. isn't it? So I find, and I think, I would like to see it go another way. To the land of the sound approaching that of soft synths. You know, like synths and computers for recording synthesizers. I am not talking Midi guitar at all here, I am talking the same kind of strings nuts and bolts situation we currently have but also having the alternative internally, but a very lightweight alternative, to be able to create a whole new dimension of sound. I do not necessarily mean having the instrument sound like for instance a flute, but having the availability to make sounds that make people say "What the hell is that thing?"
SoT: Al DiMeola has already done the pan and Andean flute thing with an Ovation acoustic guitar and effects.
DM: Yeah, there are lots of things out there, but the next big deal in my opinion will definitely be about sound, not hardware, unless the hardware helps to produce some major new sound.
SoT: Anyone out there you would love to work with?
DM: I have so many different loves of styles and music, it is quite diverse so I would love to work with say Johnny Hiland (Favored Nations) and get some neat country kind of things happening. I would love to sit down with either Strunz or Farah and burn some flamenco lines with them. I would love to sit down, if I could, with Stevie Ray Vaughan just to experience what it would have been like to sit just a foot away from that soul you know. Those would have to be some of the main ones at this point in time.
Outside of guitar, I would love to hang with Peter Gabriel because he has such a diverse mind and writing style. He can change it up so rapidly and I gravitate toward that because that is what I aspire to. Not that I am placing myself in any way at his kind of level, but just the way he can create music, soundtracks, pop songs etc. He would be someone quite interesting to hang out with. It would also have been neat to hang out with Dimebag Darrell and just party our faces off.
SoT: List your say five indispensable pieces of media; music, movie etc. for a desert island experience.
DM: I need a CD player right? Do I have one (laughs)? OK. Plus I have a hamster to power it right? I would say Passion Music for the Last Temptation of Christ by Peter Gabriel would be one of them. Introspections by Greg Howe would be another. Heat of the Sun by Strunz & Farah. I would add Some Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis and I would take a CD of diverse Gary Moore tracks, in particular The Loner. That was the first guitar song I heard that actually brought me to tears it was just so emotional and he was certainly a big influence for me early on as a result. Of course, if I was on a Caribbean island I would need some Harry Belafonte just for old times sake (laughs). Just kidding!
SoT: Thanks so much for your time Dave and good luck!
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