Alex Masi

Interview date

27 Juillet 2010




Interview Alex Masi (by mailer)

Alex, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine

You should have played live some months ago in Paris. Unfortunately, your show was cancelled at the last minute. Can you please tell us more about the reason of this cancellation ?

Well, it was really unfortunate because I was truly looking forward to play in Paris! Basically it all came down to horrible organization...The guy who was supposed to set up the gig turned out to be an amateur, at best, asking me to come to Paris at my own expenses and telling me I was going to get paid for my performance two weeks later...I think any rational person would have cancelled the show unless they feel like taking a chance at getting ripped off. But I am really sorry for the missed gig and I hope to be able to come to play in Paris and France as soon as possible!

You played some hard-rock in the 80s, some fusion/progressive instrumental with MCM, then some classical music with your 3 albums about Bach/Beethoven and Mozart. Your new album Theory Of Everything has just been released and it's a typical shred album like guitar heroes played in in the 90s. Did you want to come back to your roots ? More generally can you please tell us more about this new album ?

Really? You think it's a "typical shred album"?...I hope you don't mind if I disagree. In my recent work, from about 2003, I've done everything I could to stay away from typical shred...I've done actual classical pieces, ethnic/fusion, improvised fusion, and now on this new one I've used electronic music, techno and even jungle sounds...

With the exception of Jeff Beck I don't know of other guitar players who have recorded entire albums in that vein. Theory Of Everything is another attempt at trying to build a new playground for my guitar playing...There's funk in it...Of course there is guitar, I'm a guitar player after all but it's not the typical neoclassical thing heard a billion times before...

Production is quite good. Where and how did you record it ?

I recorded in my house, I have lots of equipment in there....I used thousands of samples, loops, different software, all kinds of machines plus the usual guitars and amps.

You use a lot of samples. Why ? Would you like to take an electronic direction in the future ?

I do love electronic music, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Prodigy are big influences and I think they make some of the best music today.

I will do more work in that direction maybe blending more actual instruments with loops etc....

I noticed a lot of influences on this new record. You're going to tell me if you agree with me. Theory Of Nothing seems to be influenced by Patrick Rondat, a french guitarist. Did you already listen to Patrick's albums ? The Past sounds like a tribute to Jeff Beck. Am I wrong ? Breakfast At Owsley's sounds like Steve Vai and Steve Morse. The theme typically sounds as Steve Morse played on his old albums like Stressfest or Coast To Coast. What do you think of Steve Morse ? Jam On Haunted Hill sounds like a come-back to the jam decade of the 70s and your guitar sometimes sound like Hendrix. Can you please tell us the influence of Hendrix in your music ?

I have to be honest and tell you that I heard the name of Patrick Rondat but I have never heard his music, I hope to hear him soon!

Jeff Beck has been a huge influence on me since I was 15 years old, yes, that song has a lot of Jeff vibe in it, on purpose. I love that guy.

Breakfast At Owsley's has some Morse sounds in it, it's true but all of those things come out unplanned, once a vibe is established I stop trying to analyze it and I just let it grow and become what it wants to become, Steve Morse is amazing anyway...especially his old stuff.

Jam On Haunted Hill is exactly what the title says...a's a jam between me and all the equipment that was running...I just let the recording machine run and I started playing along the rhythm track and then built the rest of the piece around that orginal skeleton. Yes, a Hendrix vibe in there for sure.... Hendrix is like a lighthouse for me, not only as a guitar player but as a spiritual entity as well... He's and always will be THE best electric guitar player, period.

Does MCM still exist ? Do you have projects with John Macaluso and Randy Coven ?

MCM is on ice for now, I've recorded a lot of music with Randy back in January that I will try to finish when I get back to Los Angeles. It's some great funk rock stuff...I haven't spoke to Macaluso in awhile...I know he's busy with his new wife and dogs in new york, hopefully we'll jam again someday.

You started your career with hard-rock in the 80s. Most famous albums are Downtown Dreamers and Attack Of The Neon shark (you received a Grammy Nomination for Best Instrumental Rock Album). However, it's very difficult to find them in the stores now. Do you plan a reedition to allow young people to discover them ?

Go to - they have re-released them

Can you please try to explain us the evolution of your style since your first album release ?

My guitar style? I don't's a blend of everything I love, from classical music to blues to hard rock to electric fusion jazz to indian music to avantgarde...I keep learning and keep trying to get better at what I do...You never stop learning or evolving...When you stop evolving musically, you should stop playing. in the eighties i was just trying to be another "guitar hero" and later i realized it was an idiotic it's not athletics...slowly I got more interested in musicality and expression. I hope to continue at getting better.

Your profile is similar to Malmsteen's one : guitar-hero, you started with 80s hard-rock, you love classical music, you play with great musicians (Macaluso/Coven). How do you explain that you're not as famous as Malmsteen to the hard-rock audience ? Is it a choice ? Or difficulties to get deals with record companies ?

Well, it's a combination of reasons...Yngwie is good at what he does but I've been doing very different types of music for many years now. I couldn't do album after album of neoclassical songs with triplets and double kick drum, high pitched singers singing about dragons and wizards... I would be bored after five I do the music that I feel in my bones and if it doesn't reach billions of people it's ok. As long as someone out there wants to listen and understands what I'm trying to do, I'm very happy.

What are you going to do after Theory Of Everything ? Any opportunity to see you live in France ?

When I return to Los Angeles, I will finish an album I started with my very first singer in the USA, Burnie Kimball, he was the singer on FIRE IN THE RAIN he's just amazing, full of soul and energy...This album will rock hard! I truly hope to come to play in France! I really do!

What kind of music are you listening to these days ?

Lots of different things...Hendrix, Chris Whitley, Eric Gales, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Debussy, Funkadelics etc...All the stuff that's in the i-pod that I've taken with me to Europe.

What do you think of instrumental music in 2010 ? About the music evolution of guys like Satriani, Vai, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine ... ?

I love instrumental music but to me instrumental music doesn't mean only instrumental GUITAR music.... I listen to very few guitar players, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Shawn Lane, Eric Johnson, Derek Trucks etc... As far as newer players, my favorite is Fredrik Thordendal from Meshuggah...that guy is intense, I'd love to record something with him. As far as the other names you mentioned, I must say that I don't really listen to them, they are great but it's not the type of music I tend to most of the times...

If Satriani and Vai asked you to join them for a G3, what would be your reaction ?

I would love it...I love playing, anywhere for any type of audience as long as they're willing to listen with an open mind. I would suggest if we could bring Fred Frith along though ;-)