Vinnie Moore

November 20, 2001

Give us a little background on yourself.

Well, my name is Vinnie Moore. Nah. Play guitar. Had my seventh record just come out called Defying Gravity. I've been playing guitar for years and years. Just basically love music.

Did you take guitar lessons or did you teach yourself?

I took guitar lessons for about five years and then I decided to stop taking my lessons. I bought a four track recorder. I just started experimenting with writing songs and developing my own style. So a little bit of both. I studied a lot of different types of music just from listening to records but I also had lessons in the first four or five years to kind of get me started and pointed in the right direction. I learned some of the real important basic stuff like theory and whatnot.

Did you go to school for any of that?

Nah, just a private instructor and turntable.

I remember those. Who were some of your musical influences and why?

Some of the earliest influences were guitarists like Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May, and Jeff Beck. Then as I started playing and getting a little better I started getting into some fusion guys like Larry Carlton and Al DiMeola. Then some jazz guys like Pat Martino and Joe Pass. I was also into Hendrix and Robin Trower and Frank Marino. Carlos Santana. I had tons and tons of influences and the reason I had so many is because each of them had a different style and just expressed themselves in a different way. There was a lot to be learned from each of those players.

How did you get interested in the music business and how did you get started?

I didn't have anybody in my family who played a musical instrument. I just kind of got interested in guitar for some reason because I was just getting into bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple and that kind of got me interested in guitar. I got a guitar one year for Christmas and just became more and more into it as the years went on. At some point I knew that that's what I wanted to try to do. To be a guitarist professionally.

Do you have any tips for aspiring musicians who want to become a guitar virtuoso such as yourself?

Basically all the basic stuff like practice a lot, find a good teacher who's going to point you in the right direction and give you some really good information, and then listen to a lot of different guitarists and just a lot of different styles of music that may not even be guitar oriented. Just try to learn as much as you can. There's a lot of different music out there and it's all there for the taking. It all can help you get better at what you do.

What kind of gear do you endorse and why?

I endorse Music Man guitars. I've been playing the Silhouette Special for about six years now. Maybe seven. I just love the guitar. I endorse Demarzio pickups also because I like the sound of those and they're pretty much the only two companies that I endorse. Ernie Ball strings. I've been using those for years and years also.

How many guitars do you own and which one is your favorite?

I have probably between 30 and 40. My favorite is my Music Man Silhouette Special. It's been my main guitar for six or seven years and I just really love the sound of it and the feel of it. Kind of gotten used to it and it's been basically turned into my baby so to speak. I've gotten other Silhouette Specials that I like a real lot also. I have two or three but it's the purple one for some reason. I play it most of the time and it's just the guitar that I like most.

Some musicians have their own line of equipment like sticks or guitars. Have you thought about doing something like that yourself?

A signature model? I've actually done that in the past with another guitar company called Ibanez. At this point there are no plans to do it again. But, yeah, a lot of people are doing signature artist models. At this point I don't really know if I want to do that.

How did you get involved with the Deep Purple tribute album?

There were actually two of them. There was one that T. M. Stevens did called Deep Purple New York and I played a solo on that one and I also did the Mike Varney Deep Purple tribute. Kind of odd. Within a year and a half I played on two Deep Purple tribute records. If you're talking about the Shrapnel one, I basically got a call from Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records who asked me to do it. They sent me some tapes and I just did a couple of solos at home and sent the tapes back to them.

Your toured and recorded with Alice Cooper. What was it like to work with him?

It was awesome actually. I had a blast doing that gig. It was just a lot of fun and the other guys in the band were really, really good players. Eric Singer on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. Stef Burns on guitar and Greg Smith on bass. We had a blast doing that tour. It was kind of fun playing those tunes because I grew up listening to a lot of Alice's stuff. It was kind of an awesome experience actually.

How did you get to work with Cooper?

I was in the studio doing a record called Meltdown and an A&R guy at Epic, Bob Pfeiffer, was looking for players to play with Alice on his record. He was having all kinds of guitarists come in like Slash and Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. They asked me to play on the record, the Hey Stoopid record, and I ended up doing two tracks, "Dirty Dreams" and "Hurricane Years". Then they started to put the tour together and they asked me to do it, the tour, and also my bassist at the time, Greg Smith. We kind of both got the gig together and went out and did the Hey Stoopid tour in America. I left a short time after that to pursue my own stuff but Greg Smith actually hung out and stayed with the band and he's still playing with Alice even today.

How do you feel about Cooper as a performer?

I think he's great at what he does. Totally into the theatrical thing and it was real interesting to be a part of something like that because I had never done anything like that before. There were just so many cool things going on onstage. It was like a little show and it was very interesting.

Do you prefer being a solo artist over being in a band?

I like doing both but I definitely like being a solo artist more because then I get to pursue my own direction. I can pursue my own vision and just do what I want. There's more total freedom. I get to express myself in exactly the way I want but there's something to be said for being a sideman also. It's kind of cool being a part of someone else's vision and just playing more of a secondary role. That's kind of fun also. Each has it's own merit.

Why do you enjoy doing guitar clinics?

It's just a way for me to connect with my audience. I actually learn a lot from guitar clinics because there's a lot of dialogue. There's a lot of question and answer and I learn from the people. What they like about what I do. It, a lot of times, helps steer me in the right direction because I learn just what things that I'm writing and playing are connecting with them. Sometimes it's surprising and sometimes it's not to learn exactly what they're digging.

You've put out two instructional videos. What all is involved in that?

Basically you just plan out in advance what you want to cover in your video. Then you pretty much show up and they start filming you and you basically just teach and play. I did both of my videos really quickly. They're an hour long. The first one I did in about 65 minutes and the second one took no longer than an hour and 20 minutes. I just go in and knock them out and all the work is done in advance. All the preparation.

How did you get on the Shrapnel Records label?

Actually I've been on that label twice. My first record, Mind's Eye, came out and that was on Shrapnel. Then I kind of went to some of the bigger labels for a while. I was with Polygram, Mercury, and Epic and Relativity. Then at some point I went back. My latest three records have been on Shrapnel. The Maze, the Live! record, and the new one, Defying Gravity.

Do you prefer that label over the other ones you've been on?

You get lost in the shuffle with some of the bigger labels because they have lots of big artists. They tend to pay a lot more attention to the bigger artists so you kind of get overlooked. Whereas on the smaller labels, especially Shrapnel or a label that kind of specializes in the guitar stuff, you get a lot more attention. There's things to be said for both but at this point it's kind of better being with a more boutique type of label that does guitar stuff and understands guitar stuff.

Can you tell us a little about your latest release, Defying Gravity?

I have Steve Smith on drums. Dave LaRue from the Dregs on bass. David Rosenthal on keyboards. Stylistically, it's really varied. There's some heavy stuff in there. There's some more Latin acoustic sounding stuff. There's some soulful ballady type of stuff. I'm really trying to mix it up and just incorporate a lot of different elements and express a lot of different things. Cover a lot domain stylistically.

I like the "Out And Beyond" track. I thought that sounded really good.

Thanks. That's actually one of my favorites on the record.

Are there any tracks on the new CD that really stand out the most?

I like "Out And Beyond" a lot. "Last Road Home". I also like the song "Equinox". Kind of stands out. A lot of times with me, it's not the shred stuff that is my favorite stuff. A lot of the guys who are playing guitar seem to like the shred stuff the most. I tend to like the real soulful and the melodic stuff like "Out And Beyond" and "Last Road Home". I'm just into that a lot more. The more expressive stuff.

A lot of people are impressed with guitarists like Vinnie Vincent because they can shred a guitar but I feel it takes away from the melody of a song. I like melody more.

Yeah, me too.

How did you get together with the gentlemen who play on your CD?

Dave LaRue on bass played on my last record also. I had played with him in the past and loved his playing. So basically he was my idea. Steve Smith from Journey and Vital Information was the record company's idea and he's incredible so it was a great idea to me. David Rosenthal on keyboards was an old acquaintance of mine. I had known him for years and always thought that it would be great to get him to play on one of my projects and so I thought he would be good on this one.

What would you attribute your longevity in the music business to?

I think it's just sticking to what I do best and what I love doing instead of jumping on any of the bandwagons. I've watched music change a lot. The popular styles over the years have been all over the place and I haven't jumped on any of the bandwagons. I've just continued to do what I love doing and continue to play from the heart and from the soul. I think people can kind of feel that. They know if you're not feeling it and they know if it's not real. They know if you're trying to fake it. You can't get away with it and so I think I've been lucky in a lot of ways but also just sticking to what I love to do. It's been a real advantage.

You have those who play music because they actually like it and you have those who want to get rich.

Money and fame.

What do you think of the music scene today?

Just as always, there's some good stuff out there and some crappy stuff out there. Just like always actually.

Are there any artists you haven't worked with yet that you'd like to work with in the future?

There would be tons of them actually. Anywhere from Jeff Beck to Carlos Santana. I could just go on and on.

Vinnie Moore