The Great “melodical instrumental Guitarist” Neil Zaza has given to us an awesome and very interesting Interview.Thank you Neil, hope to see you soon in Italy!
Neil, Thank you so much for this opportunity. I follow you and your music since many years so i’m very happy to tell directly with you about Music and Guitar!!
Q. You have recently published your new Album called “Clyde the Cat”. Tell us about this new project!
A. For me, “Clyde the Cat” was a fun project to make because I got to do a bunch of things that I have been wanting to do for a long time. I had just released 212 and realized that I was not done with what I wanted to say. The creative juices just kept flowing and the result of that is “Clyde the Cat.” I had been wanting to do Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” forever as well as “Adagio” so this was a great time to do it. We did a video for “In My Dreams” which was live in the studio and because we played it so good I decided to just put it on the CD because I thought the fans would enjoy it. I was really excited about some of the new tunes like “Endless Highway” and “Jewel” as well. I always wanted to do modern versions of “Melodia”, “Higher and Higher” as well as “Untitled”. I like these new versions so much better than the original. I think they are way more powerful.
Q. I think that When Gravity Fails, 212 and Clyde the Cat could be considered a music Trilogy. Great songs, great guitar parts, great tone with a “fil rouge” wich links all together..
A. Thank you so much! I think that the last three CDs that I have done (“When Gravity Fails”, “212” and “Clyde the Cat”) really usher in a new era of my music. I feel like there is a real direction to those CDs and there is a progression from one to the next. I can’t wait to hear the next one!
Q. Your auto definition is “melodic instrumental guitarist”. I think is really true! Your Guitar Playing approach is really oriented to the research of the melody!! Why this choice?
A. I don’t believe that I intentionally went in any certain direction. I think that after I got past all of my influences that helped me when I was younger, what I really sounded like was what I sound like right now. There was always that melody that was in everything I loved in other music and I just made it my own. I just really want to play music that I would want to hear and that moves me and makes an emotional connection. I want the listener to really feel the song and not just hear a bunch of fast notes or arpeggios. That’s the difference between playing guitar and playing music.
Q. I think it’s more difficult to play with this type of tone rather than a wet tone, with tons of ambient effects..
A. I always like to have reverb or delay on my sound, but too much effect can put up a wall between the guitarist and the listener. You should be able to really hear what the player is doing. I just always want to give my sound a little “space” with reverb and delay but nothing too much.
Q. The tone of your Guitar on the record is really direct, very present in the Mix, dry without effects. How do you obtain this tune. What type of gears did you use?
A. I used different Carvin guitars for the making of not only “Clyde the Cat” but for 212 as well. For Clyde, I used my Teal CT624 for all the rhythm guitar parts and the dark green CT624 for all the leads. I stayed with those two guitars because they sounded amazing and translated the playing very well. For amps, I used a Diezel Herbert for the rhythm parts and a Wizard Modern Classic 100 watt head for leads. Both were run into a Blackstar 1×12 cab and cranked up loud. I used a Fulltone Full-Drive 2 to add a bit of gain before the heads if I needed it. They were mic’d up with an SM57 and went right into Pro Tools.
Q. You told me that your band is italian. I think you have a special feeling with Italy. It’s true?
A. I really do. A lot of “212′ was written in Italy (Trasacco) and I am always inspired by being here and the wonderful people I meet and play with in Italy. My band is from Italy and there is something special about the connection that we all share. I really believe some of the best musicians in the world are from Italy or of Italian descent.
Q. Tell me about your “One Silent Night” at Christmas. I think it’s so interesting, you may export it in all the world 🙂
A. We are trying to get “One Silent Night…” all over. It is an amazing rock Christmas show that we do with a full orchestra. It really is a powerful show that we have been doing for about 10 years now. It really is something special.
Q. 3 of your roots influences
A. I would say that the three most important guitarists that had an influence on me were Eddie Van Halen, Neal Schon, a few others like Michael Schenker, Brian May, Randy Rhoads, etc. With Eddie I learned the crazy stylings that I love so much. He was insane! From Neal Schon I loved all the melody and that you could hum or sing every one of his solos. They were little compositions within the tune itself. I always love Michael Schenker’s sense of melody and his vibrato and tone.
Q. 3 Guitar Players wich have recently impressed you
A. I really love Andy Timmons and Steve Lukather. These guys are amazing!
Q. Future Projects?
A. I am now working on a series of guitar tab books for all of my CDs. This is going very well and I should start having them available later this year. It will be nice for the fan because the transcription is exact because I did it myself. These should be really cool. Also, I am editing some instructional DVDs that I filmed in Asia a few years ago. I filmed one in Beijing and one in Taiwan. My hair looks different, but the information is still good. Also, I am starting to think about the next songs that I will be recording. They have to be really good so I want to start early and take my time recording them. Most of all I want to get on the road and play!