Interview date

November 2007




We're very proud to make this interview. Our metal website's fans know you very well now, thanks to our chronicles related to your previous album and the "The Alchemists" albums in which you participated. Your new album investigates new tracks, especially with the singing. Can you explain to us what is your purpose ?

Salut Ralph, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for the interview - merci. The reason why I moved on to "real" songs as I call it, was simply the fact that I started to find instrumental music very limiting. I have always been into bands with singers and even when listening to my instrumental songs you can hear the lead guitar functioning as a singer in most of the tunes. With vocal tunes you can reach a much wider audience. I have always written songs with lyrics and sung backing vocals in many bands, so this step was just a question of time.

Can you describe your working methods and environment, how you create songs, how you record them ... ?

Well, I have my own little studio with a sound proof cabin and about 25 guitars around me.
Usually, I write songs while I sleep. This might sound strange but a lot of my ideas come in my dreams. I learned to write them down on an invisible lead sheet and store them in my mind (kind of like what e.g. Mozart did). When I wake up I pull the sheet out of my mind and transfer it to the guitar. Other riffs just happen when I fool around on my guitar.
Then I usually start recording what I call a "snapshot". It's like taking a quick picture to get a first impression. And then I'll take it from there...

It's surely difficult to start again as a singer. However all songs in your most recent album show that not only you have a very good voice with a peculiar tone, but also that you succeed in making a perfect integration of your voice in the music. How do you handle your work from the singing viewpoint ?

Thank you! When i write a song i have a melody in my head and a certain mood/vibe the song has to be in. The vocals are always the last thing I record when everything else is done and can function as a good playback to sing to.
I did not use anything like auto-tune or any other effects, so the voice stays completely natural. I think that the voice is the most personal instrument. It's like taking your clothes off and being completely naked. That's also why I made the cover like this. It's a statement: Here I am, this is the way I am - like it or not.

You are a guitar-hero, which obviously means plenty and constant work. Can you speak about your way to learn guitar, from the early years as a beginner toward today, in particular can you describe how do you work on a day-to-day basis, warming, practice, improvement, how you grow up your play (if it's possible !), how you create music, and so on.

Oh am I...? (laughs) Well, I started on acoustic guitar. I had a six and a twelve string, really cheap guitars with the highest action imaginable... (laughs) I started learning Beatles songs with a little help from a book called "Beatles Complete". Then I got into AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. I love Queen - the first solo I ever learned was Brian May's ending solo of "We Will Rock You". Then I got into Van Halen, discovered Randy Rhoads and then the Varney guitar heroes hype started and I got heavily into the neo-classical shredding.
I am completely self-taught - I have a natural ear and spent hours every day transcribing records and tapes. Later on I studied Jazz & Fusion at the Conservatory and received a diploma at the American Institute of Music. At 20 I got an offer to teach at A.I.M. and that's when I started practicing. Before that I just used to play all day long.
Nowadays I hardly ever practice at all. I basically work in the studio or play live all the time. I live by the motto, "Learn everything, then forget it and play!"

What are the countries in which you have most fans ?

Hmmm, definitely USA and Italy. in Greece I also get a lot of great feedback. Also England and Japan. And Austria ever since I left... (laughs) I also have fans in France (half of my family is French, btw). It's always nice to get feedback from all these countries.

Do you have shows planned in the next coming months and do you have any project to play in France ?

I actually just got back from playing some shows in Germany. Getting to play shows is not that easy, unfortunately. Touring is very expensive. I would love to play in France! If I get an offer or a chance to play, anytime...

Your new album is just finished, but you have surely new projects in mind. Can you give us some clues about your future projects ?

Well, at the moment I am writing and recording new material for my next vocal album in my studio. It will be a lot heavier, more progressive and less bluesy than 'Straight'.
All the bluesy stuff will be put in a separate folder for a future blues album. I also want to release a complete acoustic album sometime in the near future but first and most important will be the follow-up to 'Straight'.
In April/May I also co-wrote 10 songs for the new CD of the German metal band Subway To Sally. I played all the electric & acoustic guitars and electric sitar on their album. It's called 'Bastard' and just entered the German album charts at 7 two weeks ago.
I also have a few more projects in the pipeline. There's always something to do... (laughs)

It was a great pleasure to discover this album and to give your readers the desire to discover it. We all hope being able to discover your future realisations in a few time. Thanks a lot for your music and for your attention to our site and our readers.

It was a great pleasure doing this interview. Thank you for all the good reviews & great support and last but never least, a big "thank you" to all my French fans! You rock!