What are you currently up to?
I'm doing a lot of recording at the moment, I've been really inspired by the
response to this album so far so its got me fired up to write a new one!I have
no gigs planned as yet,I would like to gig this album but theres just soooooo
many guitar parts on this album that its potentially a nightmare! I could be
doneI just need to work out how,I think as long as I'm honest and say 'lookI
can physically play everything on the album live it could work, I'll just play
the main parts and have the rest running from a laptop or something.
Could you take us through the new album 'Electronic Guitar'
I've always written instrumental guitar music, from the first momentI could
string together a few chords I started attempting to write tunes,I still have
the tapes and they are hilarious but its a great way to start developing as a
guitarist and writer and I'm gladI started as soon as did.
learning to play it was the heyday of 80's shred metal soI listened to a lot of
satch and vai.I actually got through to a final of a 'guitarist of the year'
competition with an instrumental I'd written and entered but it was pretty
different,I used drum machines and loads of weird sounds and was quite
industrial,I didn't win, it was too weird! butI did think maybeI was on to
something with the sounds I was using and the style I was heading in.
It's always been an ambition to do an instrumental album butI had to find the
right angle for it,I wasn't going to do a shred like instru album as that would
have been pointless, there are people out there doing that that are far better
at that than me, plus I didn't want to do something run of the mI'll.
I think the eureka moment was whenI wrote a b-side for a Victory Pill tune
called 'vital signs' it ended up being an instrumental and when it was mixed we
realized it was made up of all guitar sounds, drums and bass aside obviously, so
it really got me thinking, maybe I could do a whole album of instru tracks like
that using nothing but the guitar for the sounds, and that was the angle id been
looking for. AlsoI couldn't think of a guitar instru album that had an
electronic edge to it, they were all were rock based so again that made me think
i might have something unique on the go.
I had to ignore what all the other guitar instrumentalists were doing and just
do my own thing, which is creating textures and atmospheres using the guitar,
and with a strong sense of melody and catchy tunes to carry the album with no
I can honestly say there wasn't a sound I had in my mind thatI couldn't create
on the guitar for this album, so using a synth never came into it, the only tI'me
i needed to use one was for the bass side of things but that was it.
It wasn't a case of rejecting the whole band thing but I do work well on my own.
I thinkI reached a point where id done everythingI wanted to do band-wise. I've
been touring in bands at a high level sinceI was 21! so I achieved a lot at
quite a young age, I really like this new phase I'm in now which is reinventing
myself as more of a solo instrumentalist, it feels like a new chapter, I'm stI'll
fairly young..ish. Thats not to say I'll never to band stuff again but it will
have to be something pretty damn good!
I worked with the same producer who mixed and produced the Victory Pill album,
Pete Crossman, on this album,he knows my style inside out so wasn't fazed at all
when I'd present him with a track to mix with 60 channels of audio!! There were
SO many guitar sounds, any other mixer would have said' thanks but no thanks'!!
Pete co-wrote 3
tracks with so I wasn't entirely alone.
How different was it composing a solo album as opposed to working in a band
Well my writing process wasn't massively different to how I normally approach
writing songs with vocals.
I normally write
songs as instrumentals first and then add vocals. When I wrote the 'Victory
Pill' album last year all the tunes were instrumental first and then vocals
added later, but I'd always have the vocal melodies in mind when writing the
structures of the instrumental.
though I was writing with a vocalist who would have ideas for melodies or would
even start with an idea for a chorus and then work backwards. But again with
Pitchshifter many tunes were written as instrus first, in fact on the 'Deviant'
album there was a track called 'PSI-cological' which was actually much a guitar
instrumental track, all the sounds on that were guitar generated so I have
always been heading this way I guess!
With Prodigy I was merely adding guitars to pretty much finished tracks, adding icing to the cake rather than starting
from scratch. But with that bandI guessI created a trademark sound for myself with 'Firestarter' which obviously opened alot of doors.
Obviously I set myself the challenge to use nothing but guitar generated sounds,
i did have moments when I thought amI holding myself back by this? and could I
write a better album if I just used what ever equipmentI needed?, ie synths and
samples but that would have defeated the whole object of this album which was to
try and do something fresh.I spent ages hunting around guitar shops while
writing this album, sniffing out weird effects and sounds!
The hardest thing about writing guitar instru music is to keep it interesting to
the listener. It was really important to me that this album could be enjoyed by
a non guitarist as much as a fellow axeman.
I researched a few
guitar instru albums and found them pretty uninspiring, the backing tracks just
seems so dull and unimaginative, you could tell they were a low priority for the
guitarist and that the main thing was that he just shredded for 3 mins 30
WhatI wanted to
do was write catchy, hooky tunes that kept the listeners attention, bringing in
fresh sounds and melodies as much as possible to make the music interesting.I
did shred a little bit but on the whole I held back. there's some tracks on this
album that are beautifully dark tracks and it would have been a crime to just
shred all over them! I just tried to compliment the music lead wise and be as
tasteful as possible, but a little bit of shred did creep in I admit!
I love Steve Vai's
'passion and warfare' album,I dont think there's been a better guitar instru
album since, he has an amazing sense of melody and I think we forget how many
crazy sounds and textures he uses. Paul Gilbert's 'get out of my yard' was one
album I found when I was researching instru albums thatI loved as well, but
I've always had a soft spot for PG, he's been a massive influence on me, we're label
mates now! if he says he likes my album I cry my eyes out and die happy.
One very cool thing about writing this album was I could go in any direction I
wanted and not have to worry about whether was the 'right direction for the
So I did delve
into a few different genres thatI couldn't have before,I love rare groove and
funk and theres a track on the album called 'Hotshot' that has that flavour,
that track is actually my favourite on the album,I got a great jazz bass player
called Mike Edmunds to play on that track, as well as a few others, I'm a fan of
jazz, its something I'm slowing learning as a guitarist!. Theres some hip hop
grooves in there and even a dub step influenced track called 'Rubicon' which is
very slow but pretty heavy as well.
When I felt I'd
hit a writers block I'd just challenge myself to write something in a completely
different genre, for instance a '4 to the floor hard techno' style track, which
was a mission with no synth butI ended up with the 'Rockers verses ravers'
track thats on the album whichI really like.
What have been the most memorable live shows for you and why?
I think the Ozzfest tour of America that I did with Pitchsifter was amazing, it
was 3 months of playing to thousands of people along side some of my favourite
bands like Incubus, Deftones and Pantera.
We really got to
see the States from ground level, we had a great tour bus as well so I have fond
memories of that. The Prodigy's headline gig at Reading in 2002 was also a
highpoint, playing to 60,000 people was amazing,I also did the Big Day Out tour
in Australia with them which was basically like doing 7 headline Reading gigs in
a row, that was pretty incredible too.
How did you get the guitarist slot with the Prodigy and what were the
highlights of your tI'me in the band?
I was at university at the time, I was working loading in the PA for the gigs
which meantI got in free to all the gigs! I wanted to see Prodigy as I'm from
Essex as well so they were always local heroes. It was at that time that I
started getting into dance music and I'd just got the 'Jilted generation' album.
I saw them sound
check and was surprised they didn't have a guitarist so I asked the roadie
afterwards and he said they didn't have one and to do him a demo, so I ran home
and played over a lot of the Jilted album playing guitars on tracks like voodoo
people and break and enter and then gave it to Liam Howlett after the gig.
He rang me up 2
weeks later to see ifI wanted to play in Paris with them the next week! which
was amazing obviously so I did, and then carried on playing live with them for a
year until I left to join Pitchshifter.I rejoined the Prodigy in 2002 for
another year's stint.I also played the guitars on the fat of the land album
which was a massive buzz!
How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of
advice would you pass onto budding musicians?
Giving my demo to Liam was my break,I think my advice would be to take the bull
by the horns, don't wait for people to come to you, they won't. You have to get
out there and sell yourself, be fearless, what's the worst that can happen?
people can only say no.
Pitchshifter in much the same way,I approached them, said I loved the band and
had they considered having 2 guitarists? They gave me a demo of their new album
on which I recorded loads of guitar parts. I thought would Improve the album in
much the same way as the demo I did for Liam. If you believe in yourself and
have confidence then you stand a much better chance of getting a break.
How do you view the current music scene? Have you seen an upswing in interest
over the past couple of years in metal and hard rock?
I don't listen to much current music, rock in particular seems to just go round
in circles, I'm not really into the whole screamo/emo thing, but I like the fact
that the guitar players are playing pretty technical stuff at the moment, rather
than just 3 chords like the Nirvana days!
If I listen to
rock its bands like the Deftones or Pantera and Helmet,I tend to always go back
to my favs. Rock has definitely seen an upturn in interest in it but I think
that will always be the case. Nothing really exciting has happened though in the
rock scene for ages,I remember when we were writing www.pitchshifter.com it was
a genuinely exciting time, we knew we were writing stuff that no one had really
done before, crossing that heavy drum and bass style with metal guitars. There
were a few other bands doing it as well and it felt fresh and new,I dont see
anything like that these days,I sound like my Dad but it does all sound the
You've also worked with Pitchshifter and with DJ's. What attracts you to the
various forms of music you work in such as rock, dance and rave?
I love playing over dance music, it's what has shaped me as a guitarist,I got
bored of rock music very early on when I was learning guitar. I practiced loads
and got to the point where I thought where do I go now?? How am I gonna get a
break when theres millions of good rock guitarists out there.
That's when I got
into electronic music and that gave me a whole new sound really. I love playing
over dance music live, you get so much more power than just a 4 piece rock band,
I love the sub bass and the heaviness you get from electronic kick drums. It has
totally shaped how I play guitar as you have to adjust what you play when you
write over dance music.
What do you like doing with your spare tI'me outside of music?
I'm a history buff! I'm fascinated by Ancient Rome and World War 1 and 2! I
honestly think if I hadnt got a break in music id be doing something in that
area!!! I'm a total geek, all I ever watch is the History Channel. Most of my
life does evolve around music though, most of my friends are musos so its hard
to avoid it. I read alot, mostly historical fiction like Conn Iggulden or Simon
Scarrow, but also factual books about world war 1 and 2.
Message for your fans
I really hope you like the album, its been a hell of a mission to do! Please let
me know what you think at my myspace page
I always try to
reply as often as possible. Thanks for all the support.
April 2009 Jason Ritchie.
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