All Out Guitar ‘Elevenses’ Interview

February 2008

So what’s your drink of choice at 11am in the morning?

Coffee… A caramel latte.

Which song/album really made you want to play guitar?

Dire Straits: Sultans of Swing – I wanted to be Mark Knopfler for quite a few years… then I heard Eddie Van Halen.

Who’s the world’s greatest guitarist?

Eddie – he did so much for the instrument in terms of sound, technique, style etc… plus he was very cool, and isn’t that what playing the guitar is all about?

Who’s the world’s most underrated guitarist?

Mmm, probably Guthrie Govan.  I guess people would be surprised at me saying that he’s UNDERrated, as everyone who’s heard him seems to worship him.  However, I don’t think many people really know the full picture…  I used to teach in the room next to him at BIMM and every week you’d swear there was a guitarist teaching his lesson who had devoted his entire life to whatever style or technique happened to the subject for that particular week… country, jazz, fusion, sweep picking, tapping etc.  He is just amazing at anything he turns his hand to!

So what are you up to at the moment?

Well, I got married at the summer and then went on tour with Carl Palmer for a few months; I’ve not really had chance to be at home for too long to enjoy married life – so that’s my plan for the next few months.  In that time I’ll be teaching at BIMM (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) and finally finishing my first guitar tuition book which has been a LONG time coming, but I hope will be worth the wait – I’m really excited about it.  I think it’s gunna turn out great and I think everyone should rush out and buy it (shameless plug!).

What was the last gig you went to (as a member of the audience)?

Brahms Symphony no.1 and Sibelius Symphony no.1 at the Brighton Dome – amazing stuff.

Who would be in your dream line-up?

Franz Liszt – Piano
Nicolo Paganini – Violin
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Jaco Pastorias – Bass
Neal Morse – Vocals
And me on guitar (not because I think I’m great… purely selfish reasons!)

All playing a prog rock epic composed by Sergei Rachmaninov.

How many guitars do your own and which one is ‘your precious’?


A PRS Custom 24 (with an amazing Graphtech ‘Ghost’ acoustic bridge)

An old Ibanez RG550 which has frets 12 – 24 scalloped

A very early Ibanez Universe (the white one, like the one on the inlay of ‘Passion & Warefare’ – when I got it, the previous owner had scratched the logo off the head stock so I managed to get Steve Vai to put his signature in it’s place – very cool)

An Ibanez custom 7 string.

An electric Sitar

A Yamaha acoustic

And my precious… an ’89 Strat Plus Deluxe – my first decent guitar, the one I spent most of my teen years on.  I got it in new condition and now it’s got so much wear on it; I recently took it to be refretted and the guitar tech just laughed when he saw what condition it was in.

What’s the last great album that you bought (or were given)?

I got a 3 LP set of Georges Cziffra playing Franz Liszt’s ‘Les Annees De Pelerinage’ – Absolutely amazing playing; my favourite pianist of all time… plus it’s a signed copy!

Do you suffer from stage fright?

No.  I’ve never really suffered from what I’d call stage fright.  Having said that, I sometimes get a little nervous before I go on stage with Carl’s band, which is a 3 piece so any mistakes you make really stand out.  There’s nearly 2 hours of really demanding instrumental music to remember; that’s the biggest battle, remembering all the stuff.  I used to really struggle with mental games during those gigs – voices in my head saying things like, “That long unison run is coming up and you haven’t really practised it… you really should have put in more preparation before this gig… you’re gunna forget how it goes…  see, I told you, you can’t even remember what note it starts on…”.  That went on for about the first couple of years in the band until I read a great book called ‘The Inner Game of Music’ which deals with the whole mental aspect of performing; that really helped me take control of my mind!

So what’s your drink of choice at 11pm in the evening?

Either a German Wheat Beer or a large glass of Merlot.