DATE OF INTERVIEW:
10th August 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: The ĎEvolutioní EP appeared earlier this year, produced by Sterling Winfield of course, and heís been quoted as saying some very complimentary things about yourself and your playing, and how you work, how professional you are, no use of Auto-Tune etc. How did it feel to get such praise from such a renowned producer?
(The Commander-In-Chief on working with renowned producer Sterling Winfield)
"...because heís worked with Dimebag Darrell...I was wondering, hmmm, is this good enough? He really liked it and when I started improvising, he liked that even more."
The Commander-In-Chief backstage at Bloodstock Open Air, UK, 10th August 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
THE COMMANDER: I think itís really cool because itís true that sound engineers and producers have to get this type of reputation and whenever you hang out with record producers or sound engineers, they always talk about these musicians who are lip-synching and using Auto-Tune and all these sorts of things and all these stories circulate. I take a lot or pride in my work when it comes to my guitar playing and my singing so, of course, I think itís really cool when he took the initiative to write something and I thought that was really awesome. It was funny because when I went into the recording studio, I was wondering how the guitar solos were going to beÖI wasnít a hundred per cent sure if these guitar solos were good enough. It was funny because Sterling, he would be tweaking the rig and I was playing all these rhythm things, and every time he walked out I was doing all these lead things and every time he came in I would stop!
The Commander-In-Chief Official Website:
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EPs & Demos
Thanks to Elisabeth Hagen for arranging the interview
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Battle for the Mind (2010)
State of the Union (2009)
THE COMMANDER: Because I was thinking, thatís the one thing that I was a bit likeÖbecause heís worked with Dimebag Darrell, you know! Heís one of my favourite guitar players and I was wondering, hmmm, is this good enough? He really liked it and when I started improvising, he liked that even more. So it really boosted my confidence in my lead guitar playing because lead guitar is the thing Iíve been doing the least. Iíve been a songwriter for the longest.
MD: Is Sterling somebody youíd want to work with again in the future if he was available?
THE COMMANDER: Oh yes! He is really enthusiastic and thatís really cool so, yeah, thatís the producer I want to work with, definitely.
MD: Is ĎEvolutioní supposed to be a self-reflective title about how youíve developed yourself as a guitar player, vocalist and artist?
THE COMMANDER: I think the decision for calling the EP ĎEvolutioní was more because there are four tracks on there and one of the tracks is ĎLet It Goí, another one is ĎThouí, and thereís ĎFamousí... ĎEvolutioní was kind of like the best name.
MD: As well as the Ibanez endorsement, you have other endorsements like Seymour Duncan, Jim Dunlop, Ernie BallÖhave you been surprised at becoming an endorsee for so many big companies so early on in your career?
THE COMMANDER: Oh definitely, yeah, I was very surprised by that. I never expected to get an Ibanez endorsement at that point; that was the first major thing that happened. Simultaneously, I got my Ibanez endorsement and Sterling Winfield remixed my songs and came with the statement, so those two things happened in the span of just a couple of months or somethingÖor the same month, I canít remember. That was really major and really exciting but, for me, the whole endorsement thing is amazing because I never had a lot of gear. I actually started out writing music by hand because I didnít have any recording device. And then, I actually recorded on cassettes; like seriously, old cassettes! So when I got my first program to record properly, which was PreSonus, I was really excited about it and now, all of a sudden, Iím a PreSonus artist!
MD: Iíve read you say in an interview that youíre a big fan of Hank Marvin?
THE COMMANDER: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: A man with his own, unique style, of course. Whatís it about his playing you admire?
THE COMMANDER: A beautiful sound and I think the melodies are really nice. So itís very, very beautiful and thatís why I like it. And, of course, you know, really cool glasses!
MD: So maybe that quiff you have in some of the promo photos Iíve seen was inspired by The Shadows?!
THE COMMANDER: [laughs] Maybe, maybe! Itís cool though.
MD: Itís a good way to learn lead guitar actually with ĎApacheí, ĎF.B.Ií and tracks like that.
THE COMMANDER: ĎApacheí was the first song I ever learnt how to play.
MD: Oh right, ĎApacheí was one of the first songs I learnt on guitar as a kid too and then went on to play an Ibanez and metal so maybe all metallers start out with Hank Marvin!
THE COMMANDER: [laughs] I think his guitar sound is very pristine and beautiful with a lot of beautiful melodies. Not very metal but I dig it.
MD: I read in an interview as well that youíd like to play with Syd Barrett if you could play with anybodyÖobviously if he was alive still and sane because he went mad many years ago! So whatís it about Sydís music that you like?
THE COMMANDER: Well, itís pretty much about the Pink Floyd thing. Iím a big Pink Floyd fan and itís really about him and how he had all these visual arts going on with the music. I think creative people are cool, you know, and if you can do music and visual arts and all those type of ideas, I think itís awesome. So yeah, I love Pink Floyd really and thatís where it comes from.
MD: So you prefer early Barrett-era Floyd before Dave Gilmour joined Ďem?
THE COMMANDER: I like all of it and all their styles because they have an evolution going on, musically speaking. Itís kind of like Queen Ė you can definitely see something moving.
MD: And I think with Queen, like with Floyd, thereís an evolution just on single albums because you could take any one of their albums and hear lots of different styles.
THE COMMANDER: I love ĎInnuendoí, thatís my favourite Queen album.
MD: Whatís your favourite Syd Barrett song then, off the top of your head?
THE COMMANDER: Oh my good godÖ
MD: How about ĎEffervescing Elephantí? One of his solo songsÖ
THE COMMANDER: I donít knowÖnow youíve got me!
MD: What about ĎBikeí?
THE COMMANDER: Yeah, thatís a funny one.
MD: A marvellous song. ĎAstronomy Domineí is also a very good one of course from Barrett-era Floyd.
THE COMMANDER: When it comes to actual songs though, youíve got me there. I know some people know who produced everything and know every single albumÖIím the kind of a person that will just dive into the music and then say, ďwhich song was that again?Ē So thatís a tricky question!
MD: Not from the Barrett era, but ĎEchoesí is the best Floyd song of all-time, I think.
THE COMMANDER: Oh yeah, yeah, thatís cool, definitely.
MD: So my final question Ė what are your goals and ambitions for the future?
THE COMMANDER: Well, my goals and ambitionsÖI think itís cool to play for a big audience and this is my first festival and, obviously, I want to see my music all over the place, like getting really popular. I think itís really cool that it goes down really well with the audience and I think itís really awesome that people are checking it out and Iím getting a lot of views without being signed. And today, I was the first act playing on the Sophie stage and I thought there were a lot of people there to be that early. And itís also something Iíve been seeing when Iíve been playing these clubs and venues around the UK Ė a lot of people come to see me and then they leave early! [laughs] And thatís interesting; itís really, really cool so, yeah, Iíve been asked to come back and play again, like in London at the venues where people show up and then they want me to come back and play. I think thatís a good sign and makes me happy. Today, Iíve been signing autographs for people and taking pictures with people and stuff. Itís really fun.
MD: It must be a nice feeling to get that kind of recognition.
THE COMMANDER: Yeah, it is. Itís really weird but I think itís cool though. I like talking to people so Iíve been talking guitar with people and taking pictures and itís awesome.
MD: Marvellous. Thank you very much for your time.
THE COMMANDER: Alright, yeah, that was really cool. I liked that; that was awesome.