Last time we talked, you had put out Defying Gravity and that was back in 2001.
Wow, that's too much time.
Yes it is so we're going to have to do some catching up. You're on the Rush tribute CD. What was the first Rush album you ever purchased?
The first one I had was All The World's A Stage on the live one.
Which one was your favorite?
That was the first one I got into. I was in seventh or eighth grade. Then I went back and heard 2112 and stuff like that but just that time period in general was my favorite stuff that they did.
What kind of a musical influence did they have on you?
They had an influence early on. Right when I first started playing guitar, they were pretty big at the time and they were a real hard rock oriented band. Guitar oriented and they were doing some cool things as a three piece and it was an inspiration to me at that age.
How did you get picked for the tribute CD?
Peter Morticelli from Magna Carta Records asked me if I would be into doing it and it seemed like an exciting project. I had some time open so it all worked out and I agreed to do it.
Did you get to pick the track you played on and if so, why that particular one?
Actually, I played all the rhythm guitars on the record too. All the textures and crunch guitars and he told me to also pick out one or two solos and I played two on "2112". I don't really remember why I chose that song to solo in over any of the other songs. I guess at the time there was just something exciting about it and I went for it.
Why do you think that Rush is still influential today?
Because they're a great band and they've remained true to themselves as artists. They never sold out, had to sell out, or followed trends or changed what they do. They just do what they do and they built up a pretty big fan base over the years.
You had the opportunity to open for them.
Yeah, I did some shows with them on the Roll The Bones tour and that was really cool with my solo band. It was definitely an honor to play with them.
You've played with a lot of really cool people like Alice Cooper. Like I said, the last time we talked you had put out Defying Gravity. Have you put out a solo album since then or are you working on one?
No, I've been pretty busy playing with UFO and we've done a new record and have been touring pretty much. I've been on the road quite a bit for the last year and a half and I am writing some solo songs now. Hopefully I can get a solo record out in the fall. I have some UFO shows coming up starting in May and we're filming a DVD. Then I'll be home again in the summer and whenever I'm off from UFO, I'm writing my own tunes and I want to get the solo record out this year.
When you put out Defying Gravity, I had never really gotten into instrumental albums before. There was something really magical about that one. You put your entire personality and soul into it. I was wondering what goes through your mind when you're writing this music and how you come up with some of the song titles for it.
Thank you. What goes through my mind? If things are going well then nothing's going through my mind. If I'm thinking about then it's not as good. To me, when I just play guitar and sort of let it happen and go with the flow, that's when it's always the best. The more inspirational and the more magical. When you get to the point where you start thinking too much or find yourself thinking about what to play or what to write, then it's not as good for me. Most of my stuff just comes from me sitting down and playing guitar and just going with the flow and enjoying the process without thinking too much.
How do you dream up the titles?
Sometimes I know what I'm writing about from the beginning but most of the time I find that the songs are more abstract. It's more of an emotional thing. I don't really know what I'm writing about specifically so when I'm done, I'll listen to it and just try to come up with a title that's appropriate for the mood of the song. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I can't really think of titles. Sometimes it's not easy to come up with titles.
You joined UFO in 2003. How did you hook up with them?
They were looking for a guitarist and a soundman friend of mine who had worked with me had also worked with them. When he heard they were looking for somebody, he thought that Vinnie would fit in quite nicely with UFO so he mentioned it to their management and then he mentioned it to my manager and so I was asked to send a CD to Phil Moggs with some of my music. I put together sort of a little compilation CD of 10 or 11 songs and I sent it to him just never thinking that they would be interested actually. That I wouldn't get the gig. Then about a week or 10 days later I got a call saying they want me to do it. It all started like that.
Dude, you're a phenomenal guitar player. I can't imagine why you would think you wouldn't get the gig. You did that one album with Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid, and you were on tour with him. Why didn't you continue working with him?
At that time, it was kind of weird because I had the solo thing going on simultaneously and I had just finished recording the Meltdown CD. That was getting ready to come out and Alice originally was supposed to be doing this extensive tour of America which was great for me because I would be out on the road playing with Alice for a year in America and my new record would be coming out. Then he changed his plans and decided to go over to Europe for six months and my record company was saying "well, if you're going to be out of the country there's no point in putting your record out if you're not here. We'll just wait a year before we put it out or whatever." I had to make a decision and then plus, the Rush thing came up where I could open for Rush so I decided to actually leave Alice's band and go with my solo career. Put out the record when it was supposed to come out and do the Rush tour. I ended up doing a year of touring myself. It was one of those things where unfortunately two things were going on at once and I really couldn't do both and I had to make a decision.
Those are always such hard decisions to make too. Aside from the UFO thing which I thought that was very cool when I heard that you were working with that band and your solo album, do you have any other projects going on?
That's quite enough to keep me busy right now. I played a couple of solos on my friend's record, Jordan Rudess, the keyboardist from Dream Theater. I did a couple of solos for his record here at home which that's really funny the way people are recording now. Everybody's doing it in their home studios and then mailing files or emailing files.
Isn't that something?
I actually emailed Jordan two solos on his new record. That's really the most recent other thing I've done besides UFO and working on my own stuff.
That's pretty exciting stuff and we've caught up on a lot. Any other thoughts or comments?
Let me see. Did I mention that I'm going out with UFO and we're doing a live DVD?
When are you going out with them?
I leave the end of April and our shows start on May 4 or 5. We'll be filming two or three shows in Germany and doing some behind the scenes type of stuff also.
Cool deal and when are we going to get our hot little hands on the DVD?
I believe it'll be later in the year. I haven't been given a release date yet so I don't know.
That takes care of everything. It was a real pleasure to get to talk to you again and I hope it's not another four years.
Hopefully it will be later of this year.