For those of you who may not be familiar with Tony MacAlpine and his storied career, he's much more than just the 80's shred-monster. Yes....he had incredible chops, speed that killed and amazing hair, which is now no longer a MacAlpine feature but it doesn't diminish the self-titled, musical guitar fest that is about to be released on Favored Nations. Tony, who hails from Springfield Mass, was originally a classically trained pianist and violinist. That training served him exceptionally well through his career, most notably during the 80's when neo-classical shred was wildly popular with this assistance of Tony, Yngwie, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert and a whole host of others.
Tony has kept busy since those racous days. Fronting his own band, "MacAlpine" during the 90's and then pulling dual duty on guitar and keyboards (and some vocals as well), through the 90's and into the new millienium. More recently, you'll find Tony behind the keys and on guitar as a member of Steve Vai's touring band.
Now with the release of his new self-titled solo album "Tony MacAlpine," you're as likely to see him on tour with Steve as hopefully, on solo tour dates in the near future. Let's hear what Tony has been up to along with how he approaches writing, rehearsing
Guitar.com: Tony, thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with us. Can you share with us, how you approach writing?
Tony MacAlpine: It is ever changing actually, because I am so comfortable working on the piano or the guitar and I have not picked a favorite at this point in life. I suppose if I had I would prefer one over the other when it comes to songwriting. I would say it is about a 50%-50% split.
Guitar.com: Like many guitarists, the topic of practice varies wildly. Do you still practice regularly? What is your routine?
MacAlpine: I practice about 2 hrs a day with the guitar and many many more with the piano. In preparation for a tour I spend a great deal more time on the guitar. Mostly I spend time working on passages of certain songs or ideas that i would like to convey in solos. All in all I don't practice like I did when I first started simply because I have not forgotten anything yet!
Guitar.com: There's so much new music out there and as difficult as it can sometimes be to find artists, can you share the name of a few artists that you are listening to currently?
MacAlpine: Tosin Abasi, Guthrie Govan, Nili Brosh
Guitar.com: How about of few more established artists?
MacAlpine: Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Charlie Parker
Guitar.com: What format DAW do you use in your home studio?
MacAlpine: Logic Pro 9 And Protools
Guitar.com: Do you ever use guitar modeling plug-ins? Which ones?
MacAlpine: Sure i like Nomad Factory and Wavs
Guitar.com: You are one of the progenitors of the Shred Guitar genre. What are your thoughts on where it stands today?
MacAlpine: There are so many young players who I meet and talk with today who say my music was a huge influence on them in the early years of their development, so I would guess it stands on its own through the contributions of all of us. As long as there is a continued interest in this genre as there is now I think there will always be new players involved. I really don't think it will go the way of the accordion.
Guitar.com: The accordian has made a huge comeback. Not sure if that's a good thing or not but Shred has also seen a good deal of attention in recent years, which IS a good thing for sure. How about tone? What is your typical current signal chain, from guitar to amp?
MacAlpine: For recording: My Ibanez 7 or 8-string into a Hughes & Kettner Coreblade straight!
For live: Same setup, except that I usually have an Ernie Ball volume pedal and a Source Audio Soundblox Pro Multiwave Distortion in the signal chain too.
Guitar.com: How about when you're recording? What chain do you set up for mics, pres, etc.?
MacAlpine: I can use any number of different mics depending on the session and sound I desire and amp I am recording. Many factors to consider. But normally mic into a mic/pre into the DAW.
Guitar.com: Do you teach? What are your students interested in learning?
MacAlpine: My students come from all walks of life and musical experience. Most are very interested in improving their theory and composition fundamentals that many are lacking. And then of course the basic guitar playing routines such as scales..tricks..etc
Guitar.com: How did your training on piano chops help your guitar playing? Would you recommend players to get some training on piano to help improve their guitar playing?
MacAlpine: Not really sure how it helped because I do not know what I would be like if I had not had piano as a first instrument. But I'm for anyone learning to play a new instrument. What ever you decide to play make sure you love it!!
Guitar.com: Tony, thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. For more information on Tony be sure to visit his site - TonyMacAlpine.com. Tony has a benefit date coming up that features lots of artists including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and many others. For more info, visit the site Tony's Site.