Interview date

August 2006


Yann G

Live Report : Tony MacAlpine, Billy Sheehan, Virgin Donati in Paris, New Morning, on 7th September 2006

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Thanks Tony for accepting this interview for http://www.auxportesdumetal.com/

You're coming in September for some concerts in France with Billy Sheehan and Virgil Donati. How did you get the idea of this "Devil's Slingshot" Tour ?

Well it was a logical decision really, coupled with the fact that they both are very good friends of mine.
Virgil Donati is clearly the best drummer to come along in the music scene in quite some time. He is extremely unique and has embraced an original sound that has given him a signature that is unmistakable and impossible to duplicate.
Billy Sheehan has been and is still at the forefront of modern bass guitar. He is a player who has taken the bass to a level that no one else will ever achieve in this era.
I have had the pleasure of first working with Billy Sheehan well back into the early 80s, so I know he has a complete understanding of my direction and music. He is on a stage of his own really. They both are for that matter!

It's a very long time that you didn't come to France to play your own songs, doesn't it ? When was the last time ?

Actually I was just in France with my band CAB and we had a great time playing some far away places that I had not been to in a good while. But true, it has been a while since I played solo concerts in France. And I suppose it was really due to the fact that I have been playing in so many different bands and the time did not present itself. You know it takes a lot of commitment and effort to pull off these type of shows. If I feel that I cannot commit my time to the presentation of performing this music live on the level that I desire, then I won't play. And now with my reunion with Hughes & Kettner Amplifiers - a company I worked with in the 90s - I am completely happy now with my new tone. I am using these 100 watt Tri-Amps that absolutely sound superior to anything I have heard in a long while. But then again, it's just a perfect time to hit the road and perform with these amazing mind boggling musicians.

Since CAB4, did you compose some new tracks ?

Not really. I have been working on many other projects. I believe the CAB music writing shall take place during the Winter months, when things slow down a bit.

Is this tour a mean to promote a potential new album ? Do you already have any release date ?

Well in all actuality, Billy and I have been talking about recording another instrumental album and it seems now with this trio rounded out with the addition of Virgil Donati, it is simply something that we must do. So yes we will record something new with this trio. Perhaps a live CD will be the first thing we record followed then by a studio release.

Since "Chromaticity" you haven't recorded any neo-classical metal style. Do you plan to remain in the jazz-rock style or will you come back to your first influences ?

You know to be perfectly honest, I don't think in terms of styles when I write music. Moreover, my thinking is if it's good and I like it, I will record it. But I never say for instance "let me sit down and write 10 tunes that sound a particular way." But I will go as far as saying the new solo album will borrow more from my heavy sound and direction. After all, I will write this music with the solo purpose of these guys playing it - but that's as far as I will predict.

You often toured with Steve Vai these last years. Do you enjoy touring with the space-age guitar alien ?

Ha Ha - thats funny. You know more than anything I really enjoy Steve's friendship and the unique closeness that the entire band shares amongst themselves. It has been a wonderful experience for me to make music with other musicans. Perhaps due to the fact that I started playing classical so young, I was always making and sharing music with other musicians. Playing with Steve's band is really more fun than you could imagine because I get to play keys and guitar - something I love to do together - and of course I am a big fan!!

Do you feel free to improvise or to play your own compositions with Steve ? If no, isn't it frustrating to play only compositions of another musician ?

Well in Steve's band there are many written parts that we are playing and the only time I really improvise is when I take a solo by myself. But its huge fun really it is!

Concerning your parallel projects, what is the status of Ring Of Fire ? Does the band still exist ? Do you plan any future release ?

No - the band no longer exists. The fire is extinguished, I guess you could say.

Same question for Planet X ?

Well I am no longer a member of Planet X. But Virgil tells me the new CD sounds great!

Did you listen to the latest Derek Sherinian's release "Blood of the snake". The number of prestigious guests is amazing. Did you like it ?

Sorry I never heard it.

This end of summer is the return of guitar-heroes of the 80's : Marty Friedman has just released "Loudspeaker", Paul Gilbert has just released "Get Out Of My Yard", you're coming for a tour in France... And furthermore all these releases are really excellent. Do you think that, since the 90s, the time has come for the return of virtuosity ?

Well really it never left. I always felt that all the players I knew were playing better than ever. I just suppose the time has come for the audiences around the world to want to hear something more than the norm. It's an occurrence that happens in music every decade. Who knows - I think the thing to do next is organize a super guitar tour with all those guys on the bill - you know like Vinnie Moore, Greg Howe...you know what I mean.

Which kind of music do you listen to every day ?

Well sometimes I do not listen to music. But when I do it could range from Frank Sinatra to Copeland. I spend a great deal of time playing the piano because it really is my salvation at times. But I am perfectly happy just going on a long bike ride that takes many days to complete and staying away from music for a bit. It always feels so fresh when you return to the instrument with a different observation of things than when you were last there.

You come to tour with Billy Sheehan and Virgil Donati. How do you feel together ?

Well, we all are very excited to get out of house and play for people that want to hear us play the things we like to perform. The set list at this point is not fully decided. It's my guess that perhaps the last week before the tour we will finally decide on the flow and choice of the entire show. We know many of these songs, but I will say we will also play a few of Virgil's songs and a few of Billy's. Should be a whole lot of fun for everybody. After all that's why we do it - because its fun!

What are your future projects ? Recording of a DVD live ? A pedagogical DVD ? ...

Well next in line is a new solo album, followed by a CAB release. I will spend some time during the winter months to go into seclusion and write a lot of music. It's the only way I can get it done. I have to shut out everything. Right now it can't be done because there are many tours to play that are planned, but very very soon!


Aug 30 Studio City, California The Baked Potato (Warm-up Show!)

Sept 05 London, UK Underworld

Sept 06 Verviers, Belgium Spirit'66

Sept 07 Paris, France New Morning

Sept 09 Durango, Spain Platuera

Sept 10 Madrid, Spain Ritmo Y Compas

Sept 11 Barcelona, Spain Venue To Be Announced

Sept 12 Zaragoza, Spain Venue To Be Announced

Sept 15 Rome, Italy Stazione Birra

Sept 16 Worgl, Austria Komma

Sept 17 Ingolstadt, Germany Ohrakel

Sept 18 Aschaffenburg, Germany Colos Saal

Sept 20 Oslo, Norway Venue To Be Announced

Sept 21 Gothenburg, Sweden Sticky Fingers

Sept 22 Copenhagen, Denmark Venue To Be Announced

Sept 23 Zoetermeer, Netherlands Boerderij

Sept 24 Weert, Netherlands Bosuil