Saturday, April 9, 2011

TESTAMENT's ALEX SKOLNICK: 'There's A Parallel Between The Jazz Fans And Metal Fans'

Tad Hendrickson of recently conducted an interview with TESTAMENT/ex-SAVATAGE guitarist and leader of ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO, Alex Skolnick. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. On ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO's 2002 album "Goodbye To Romance: Standards For A New Generation", which caused a stir in several jazz and rock publications because it prominently featured classic tunes by KISS, THE WHO, JUDAS PRIEST and others rearranged as if they were jazz classics: "When we did the first album, we were very determined to do a traditional guitar trio album and keep it within the generally accepted ideas of what that is as far as tones, dynamics and arrangements. The only thing that was different was that we were doing SCORPIONS and KISS jams. There were a few moments of distorted guitar that were unexpected, but it was done in a way that we felt was interesting. We put some confines on it because that was part of the challenge." On ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO being stuck paying some dues that you'd expect to see in a "Spinal Tap" sequel: "We started getting booked on the wrong types of shows. The trio would be on this bill where all the opening bands were shred-prog-metal bands. I would ask the promoters why they would even think to put us on these kinds of bills and they would say things like, 'You played in TESTAMENT.' I would say to them: 'Did you listen to the music? Because we play acoustic jazz. I'm playing through this little amp and I'm supposed to follow guys with arena rock setups?' Most of the time they'd admit that they didn't even listen to our music before they booked us. It's been challenging." On the self-appointed jazz police, who cry foul whenever they perceive a transgression from the true path of jazz: "There's a parallel between the jazz fans and metal fans. It's the whole 'Is it jazz or isn't it jazz?' thing. It's the same with metal — 'Is it metal or isn't it?' It's the same thing with a different look. Then there is the fact that both jazz and metal are constantly written off by the mainstream media, but then every once in a while there is an album that comes out that goes mainstream. These genres keep going no matter how much they are written off and I find that fascinating." On the early success of the new ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO album, "Veritas": "No matter what, that kind of success is something that not a lot of people get to experience. I know musicians who have only played jazz their whole lives who have not been able to experience that. If something like this success would have happened instantly I might have been uncomfortable with it, but it's been so many years. I've paid my dues, and some weird dues too. Yet the music always feels so real and so great."

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