rising musician who combines melodic instrumental rock guitar with
a shred metal rock approach is Canadian guitarist Harant. Simply
going by the name Harant, the guitarist strikes instrumental rock
gold with his 2014 CD Unleashed. Key to the album
sound is Harant playing together with keyboard virtuoso Derek Sherinian.
The album is quite well rounded and, filled with a number of fretboard
moves, theres something for every guitar fan here. The best
tracks are the more melodic cuts, Hope and the CD closer
From The Heart but the harder rocking numbers are done
so quite tastefully. Speaking about working with Derek Sherinian on
Unleashed, Harant tells mwe3.com "Me and Derek connected
on MySpace actually, he had an interest in what I was doing, so he
ended up playing on my project. Derek is sharp, pro and fast with
miles of experience and to the point. It was pretty overwhelming at
first to handle that kind of an encounter especially as I was new
at this. Come on! The guy plays with all top names, but he kinda coached
me through it." Harants homeland is the country of
Armenia and the track here called Armenia is a heartfelt
tribute to the guitarists homeland. Being all instrumental with
no language barriers, the CD is bound to be of interest to guitar
fans around the planet. Harant's Unleashed is a vital and bold
guitar statement. www.HarantMusic.com
an interview with
Tell us something about your background and how you were exposed to
music and how did you become interested in playing guitar?
Harant: The inspiration started at home with my father on violin
and oud when I was really little. I was also deeply moved when I heard
a record from Spain of Werner Muller/Gypsy tango then, some Astor
Piazzolla, then started being drawn to the classical music of Dvorak,
Bach, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky which started to stir up the creation
of music in my head. However I wasnt playing any instruments
at the time.
Around ten years old. I started playing around with keyboards and
bass as I started to be influenced by New Age music and the likes
of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. Its just that music is so
beautiful. But a little later in my teen years, the sounds of hard
rock and heavy metal captured me on a different level.
While still being a huge fan of all other types of pop, folk and classical
music, I couldnt escape the gravity and the soulfulness the
electric guitar when I listened to rock and metal songs. I didnt
really have any guitar idols up to then, I just wanted drop all else
and learn how to play it. I didnt have any guitars then so I
went with my friend to the store and picked up a low budget Strat
with a tiny amp that sounded so horrible even to my vigin ears. But
I was determined and I spent years and countless hours practicing
and playing to get to a level that met my standard that's in my head
and expand further from there.
mwe3: Tell us about the making of Unleashed and who
plays with you on the album. Whats the chemistry like between
the players and how did you meet up with keyboard legend Derek Sherinian?
Who else was involved in the making of the CD, engineers, mastering
/ studio sound?
Harant: I have Colin Kingsmore from Toronto on drums, a superb
guy and a drummer and a professional... very well versed, he knows
his stuff and he delivers! He plays with lots of big local bands.
Steve Bilz on bass, he has a great sense of melody and he is passionate
about my work. It took me a long time to find the right bassist. And
of course the the great Derek Sherinian playing keyboards. He needs
no introduction. Me and Derek connected on MySpace actually, he had
an interest in what I was doing so he ended up playing on my project.
Derek is sharp, pro and fast with miles of experience and to the point.
It was pretty overwhelming at first to handle that kind of an encounter
especially that I was new at this. Come on! The guy plays with all
top names, but he kinda coached me through it.. Even about the structure
and sound of some the tracks. That even more so forced me to push
my playing harder cause his parts are pretty rich and powerful. So
yeah, it got challenging on many levels at times but we pulled through
as studio guitar recordings I use Line 6 products. They honestly make
the best modules and they sound great and very real! Even for live
work. Their floor models kick major butt also theyre light weight,
durable and a consistent great sound. Everything was done with Line
6 interface. These guys have done it right! Everything got mixed at
MetalWorks Studios and mastered at Lacquer Channel studios. These
amazing guys were very patient with my demands but I have no regrets
as the record sounds huge! Its clear, defined and it has the
low end rumble and kick that you would typically only hear on an R&B
record and it just pumps in the car!
mwe3: You got a great guitar sound on the album and theres
a cool looking white Strat on the cover too! Tell us about the guitars
on the CD and whats new in guitar land for you lately?
Harant: I used the Fender Stratocaster thats on the cover
of Unleashed, because its what I used on this record.
It sounds really great, and that guitar is the best fit for Unleashed
cause it has more of that classic crunch. Its a 2006
Fender 60th anniversary Highway One model, a Dimarzio
Air Classic model and HS3s for pickups. They balance perfectly
when I switch back and forth. It was a challenge to find a tonally
I also have many Ibanez guitars loaded with Duncans and Dimarzios
that I use, also including a 7 stringed one and acoustics.
I dont really use much effects, I just use amp distortion for
live and even if Im using a an a simulator being live or not, its
straight distortion with some reverb or delay, but there is usually
a certain type of crunch that must be achieved that I would have to
mwe3: Tell us about your favorite guitar heroes. You can hear
a lot of variety on the Unleashed CD.
Harant: I would have to say Joe Satriani, Yngwie, Eddie Van
Halen, Gary Moore, Vinnie Moore and many more, but these guys I mentioned
really hit the spot for me. I like Satriani for how innovative and
soulful he is and how he crafts his work carefully. I first heard
The Crush Of Love on the radio and was thrilled! I love
how Yngwie simply takes me to another world level. When I listen to
him play with his wicked tone and skill, he is a freak of nature.
I really admire Gary Moore for his beautiful distinct Les Paul sound
and outstanding sense of blues. And Eddie Van Halen, well, what guitarist
doesnt like Eddie? He is the man. I also really liked Criss
Oliva from old metal band Savatage. I honestly have yet to see a guitarist
that has his phrasing and tone, the man died at a very young age in
a car wreck and hence remains underrated.
mwe3: how about new players?
There are many out there now with available tools to musician and
social media that its become a double edged sword, so you would
need to somehow stand out to be heard. I have been listening to Paul
Wardingham a lot, I really like his work and approach.
mwe3: Whats your songwriting process like? Do you prefer
hard rock jams like the title track Unleashed or the more
atmospheric soundtrack sounds? Why do you call the album Unleashed?
Is recording a form of musical exorcism? Sounds like you had
a lot of stuff to get down on disc!
Harant: I called it Unleashed beause it's my first kick
of the can that these tracks are finally coming to life and being
released and heard. I have so much material as many do too. I already
know what Im doing for the next 4 albums however, that being
said, they really are all different. Its hard to say... tracks
like Unleashed, Good Times, Universal
Groove and Pride And Joy are very hard rock driven.
They sound wicked and Im so happy with them but it had its time
and mood, but atmospheric sounds with more progression is something
I'm more drawn to however they are much harder to put together because
its like telling a story or drawing a painting.
mwe3: Tell us something about the tracks Hope (track
4), Armenia (track 6) and the CD closer From The
Heart. They sound very atmospheric. How do you balance the harder
rocking sounds with the more melodic approach? Is it possible to have
a whole album of melodic and eclectic instrumentals? Do you find that
you have to cater to a lot of different audiences?
Harant: My objective has never been to cater to all. Someone
out there will hate your music no matter what you do or you dont.
But I do make the compositions as pleasant as possible to the average
listener without sacrificing technique or intensity and still manage
to make my point. So I do keep an ear out not to over do, prolong
or annoy the audience... yes. Especially with instrumental tracks,
because I know I do when I hear senseless soloing or a 10 minute track,
as has been noticed and noted by many reviewers of this approach of
mine. As far as compositions of how I put them together, honestly
each project will be different. For stuff like whats on Unleashed
it all starts with a riff or a melody in my head or if I stumble on
nice lick when Im playing then build from there. So then I base
the rhythmic structure for it and build the rest of guitar parts.
The ambient overlays comes after thats kind of like how I did
Armenia and From The Heart and thats
how I build a record like Unleashed.
sit and say Im gonna make a new song. I actually
want to put out R&B/lounge/trance instrumental type record which
it evolves very differently. With that I get influenced by a melody/loop
that I hear from somewhere and I start playing along with it and reshaping
it into a song. Sounds so damn pretty and forces me to play differently
because I didnt start the groove. However, the guitar sound
will be very different on these with lots of wah, legato based shreddy
playing and acoustic guitars. I still wont call it hard rock
at all. Another one I want to do with classical instruments along
with my playing, again a very different approach. Ive just gotta
find the time to do all this, but at least I have all the blue prints!
mwe3: Universal Groove and Armenia
are great tracks featuring you and Derek Sherinian. Tell us something
about them. Speaking of Derek what are your favorite recordings by
him, solo and in other bands?
Harant: Armenia is actually a very liked track.
Its a tribute to the dark times of Armenia of the April 24th
1915 genocide. It sounds like a national anthem almost painting a
picture of the peacefully beautiful land, the mountain and blue skies
but towards last third of the track a drop into a dramatic change
in mood occurs as it weeps of anger and sadness marking that event
so does Dereks heartfelt countering solo. Were both Armenian
so it hit the spot.
Universal Groove is another popular one from the bunch,
although its not very difficult to play. But the riff, the drum
toms, the tone do all the work. To be honest its my favorite
Pride And Joy is actually one of my first compositions
but came a long away. Its fairly harder to play, especially
the dueling battle part with Derek...very powerful!
love some of Dereks stuff. I was never too crazy about the Planet
X stuff but his collaboration solo records are more to my liking...
just amazing. I really like tracks Frozen By Fire, Prelude
To Battle, The Monsoon and a few more.
mwe3: What are you looking forward to in 2015 as far as new
music, recording and performances? What kind of album would you like
to make next and are there other artists youd like to collaborate
with in the future?
Harant: As far as performances Im gonna step that up
more this year. But between work, making records, social life... time
flies by you. I want to make some videos too. However my goal is start
my second record, but cant promise that I will finish it by
2015 but I will do my best. Sure wont take as long as Unleashed
did or what it went through Just debating on which collection of tracks.
As far as collaboration, believe it or not I really like like hip
hop and R&B too. I jam killer stuff with Eminem, Sean Paul, K-OS,
tracks. I know, its a very different world from what I do but
I sometimes love to play on such songs. So Id love to play with
R&B artists. It's a different scope and approach of course I have
no one in mind yet but I wouldnt turn down a cool project. As
far as my forte music goes, maybe Tony Franklin or Billy Sheehan for
bass if I ever get the chance to connect. I really like drummer Barrett
Yeretsian from the band Armenian Space Station as well.