How and when was your interest in music sparked?
My parents were huge classic rock and heavy metal fans, so growing up I was raised on Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Van Halen, etc. I played trumpet in early grade school, but never had any interest in it so my parents asked what other instrument I’d like to try and I chose guitar. It took a few years for it to really click, but once I finally got an amp with lots of gain and effects (Line 6 Spider 2×12 \m/) I couldn’t stop playing. From there I just kept looking for faster, heavier more technical music and it never stopped!
Was playing guitar always your first and only choice or did it start with something else?
Guitar was really the only instrument that really clicked for me, I had a few-year period where I really tried to get good at drums, but it never really got there… Maybe one day!
What was your first guitar and what is your current main guitar?
My first guitar was a bright red, rental knock-off Stratocaster, but the first I actually owned was a Dean tobacco burst strat, that I ended up totaling by trying to put a Floyd Rose into myself (oops). My main guitar now is a custom Carillion Varylian, and it fucking rips.
Speaking of guitar… What guitar players inspired you growing up and what players do you think stand out in today’s metal scene?
I had a lot of influences throughout the years, but I think the ones that shaped my playing most were Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Chuck Schuldiner, Jeff Loomis and Marty Freidman. Each of them had some quality to their style or phrasing or technique that really gripped me. Some killer players out there right now I’d have to say Dave Davidson of Revocation and Brandon Ellis of The Black Dahlia Murder are absolutely killing it.
Do you still practice your instrument on a regular basis? What does your routine like?
It really depends on our touring schedule. Sometimes when I get home from a huge run I’ll take a few weeks off practicing and only play for fun, but before a tour I’ll start a pretty heavy couple hours a day of going through our set, and getting my chops back up to speed. On tour, me and the rest of the guys try and run through at least a couple songs a day backstage unplugged, and it really helps keep your muscle memory up.
Having been with the band since 2015, you’re a relatively new member. Aborted is widely considered one of the most classic death metal bands and a pioneering act in the scene. What was your relation to the band before joining?
I’ve been a big fan of Aborted since I was a teenager, so getting the opportunity to join was absolutely amazing. I’ve known Ken for over a decade and we’ve been in a few other bands together throughout the years, so being able to be in a band with him again and write together again has been great.
Aborted has members on in both Europe and the US. How does this work? Where is your base and where do you get together to practice for tours and recording sessions?
Usually before a tour we’ll schedule a few days of pre-production practicing either at a venue or a rehearsal space, to go through the set and get everything nice and tight, as well as work out all of our live production. As for recording, since I’ve joined the band we’ve worked with Kohlekeller Studios in Germany. For Retrogore, we all flew out and stayed at the studio for a few weeks to track everything. But for Terrorvision, only drums and vocals were tracked at the studio, and the bass and guitars we all tracked ourselves at our former guitar player Mendel’s home studio. For EPs in between we usually will track as much as possible at home, as it’s not so easy to get us all in the same place for just two songs!
Out of everything that comes with being in a band – writing, recording, jamming, touring, traveling (the list goes on)…what is your favorite part?
I would definitely say my least favorite part is the traveling. I am not a big fan of flying (which I realize isn’t the most beneficial trait, being and American in a European band…). But luckily, I absolutely love playing. Seeing the fans and getting to rock out on stage with some of my best friends will never get old. Recording on the other hand is kind of a love/hate relationship for me. I love once everything is done and the mix is finished, but I’m kind of a perfectionist and when it comes to tracking (we’ve quad tracked all of the albums I’ve been on) it can start to drive you insane. Getting halfway through a song, and listening back to what you’ve done so far and thinking “wait… does this suck? Do I need to start over?” Haha! But it’s all worth it in the end.
You are an avid Superior Drummer 3 user. How do you use the program in your work and how does it help your creative process?
I’ve been using Toontrack products since the first EZdrummer, and have used Superior Drummer 2 since it came out, and Superior Drummer 3 since its release. I don’t even know what I would do without them at this point. There’s no better way to get an idea down, and be able to lock in exactly what feel you’re thinking. Especially since we all live so far apart, it’s a huge asset to bounce ideas back and forth and test things out before we actually get to the studio. It gives us the ability to get a near complete, full pre-production of each song to hear them in their final state before we hit the studio, and have the opportunity to make changes before it’s too late.
What other Toontrack products do you use?
I’ve used EZmix 2 quite a lot in the past, it’s a fantastic tool for just slapping on a couple presets and getting a pretty damn solid mix. When you’re writing and trying to get ideas down, the absolute worst thing is getting stuck for hours trying to EQ something just right. EZmix 2 just takes the guess work out and lets you focus on the music itself, especially if you’re not a professional producer like myself, haha!
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d do for a career?
I’d absolute do something in food. I love cooking, and when I’m home from tour cook homemade vegan food at my house with my girlfriend. It’s something that feels just as creative as music and I almost get the same feeling watching someone enjoy food I’ve made as I do seeing fans enjoying our music when I’m on stage.
Best studio or stage moment ever?
There’s been quite a few! I’d say one of my favorites was finally playing Wacken Open Air a few years back to an absolutely insane crowd.
Worst stage moment I can think of right now is probably a time we were playing to click, but the click track was missing the very first click, so we started one beat too late. We ended up having to start the song over three times, in front of a crowd of at least 1000. It was not the sickest moment, although I’m sure there have been worse I can’t think of!
Your all-time top five list of albums!
Megadeth “Holy Wars”
Metallica “Master of Puppets”
Studio computer: I use a custom built “Hackintosh” (PC parts, running OS X) Which I originally built to use Logic, but have since switched over to Cubase, and love it! I use an RME Fireface 400 interface.
DAW: Steinberg Cubase 10.5
String gauge and tuning: 12/16/22w/34/44/62 in drop A/B standard with 26.5” scale
Amp of choice live/studio: I’m an AVID Kemper Profiler user, and that’s coming from years and years of preaching that tube amps are the ONLY way to go. I’ll always have a massive soft spot for Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifiers and Mark Vs. (I use a Mark V profile live).
ABORTED FEAT. THE DEATH & DARKNESS SDX.
Listen to “Deep Red” by Aborted, Toontrack style! This version of the song was mixed using the original mix stems from the recording session. The drums were converted using Tracker, the drum audio to MIDI conversion tool in Superior Drummer 3, and then mixed using the built-in effects in Superior Drummer 3 and a custom kit made up solely from the drums available in the Death & Darkness SDX.