T.D. CLARK
T.D. Clark's Shreddtime Stories
(T.D. Clark Productions)

 

If classical composers like Niccolo Paganini were reincarnated rock as metal guitar gods in the 21st century, they might sound like T.D. Clark. Among the heaviest of all the rising hard rock / metal guitarists, Clark cuts loose on his latest instrumental rock outing appropriately entitled T. D. Clark’s Shreddtime Stories. The Illinois guitarist gets solid backup from his band but the focus is right on Clark’s daredevil electric guitar tactics. Much like the horrific / hilarious cover art, T.D. Clark’s Shreddtime Stories will leave you breathless. The eleven cut CD is mostly hard rock instrumentals with no vocals, yet Clark stretches out on a couple acoustic tracks that gives further indication of his well-rounded guitar work (check out track four and the belly dancing guitar vibe of “Moroccan Bedtime Story”). With his hard hitting sonic roller coaster approach to instrumental metal guitar, Clark is recommended listening for fans of guitar legends such as Steve Vai and Tony MacAlpine—as well as up and coming instrumental guitar rockers like Hrant Bedoyan and Chris Bullen. www.tdclark.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
T.D. CLARK



mwe3: Where did you grow up and how and when did exposure to music impact your desire to learn to play guitar and what were some of the early experiences that inspired you to pick up and turn to the guitar in the first place?

T.D. CLARK: I have always lived in and around Chicago in the suburbs and still live in Aurora Illinois ha ha Wayne's World—I have a basement studio to boot—and my mother was always into music of all kinds The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Alice Cooper, John Denver, ABBA, BeeGee's, Elton John just all kinds of stuff. Really quite melodic music. My uncle was an incredible pianist, studied at the conservatory here, and we hung a lot because he was only four years older than me oddly enough. So he was always playing piano and subsequently I got into it. But we could never afford a piano so one day I was digging around in my mom's closet and found a guitar and started fiddling with it. My mom yelled down the hall ‘what is all that racket?’ (lol) and I knew I had found my calling. I also remember ‘air guitar-ing’ to a lot of Bob Seger with a tennis racket when I was 10 or so. (lol)

mwe3: Is there a story behind the 2011 release of the Shreddtime Stories album and how would you say it compares to your Next Big Adventure album from a few years ago?

TD: So I had asked Jimmi Ward to play bass on the CD after jamming with him at NAMM shows for like ten years and Fred Bartolomeo was playing in my live band and totally thunders so it was a no brainer. Jimmi lives in the Bay area and needed to be flown in so I arranged for him to fly in on a Wednesday, figuring we would rehearse the songs Thursday all day, play a gig I had booked Thursday night, continue rehearsing Friday and start recording Friday night. Well on the way to get Jimmi I receive an urgent text from Fred saying his wife's uncle died so he has to leave Friday night at 6. So we rehearsed all Thursday, played the gig then came back to my studio and started recording at 12 midnight till 3 A.M. Got up at 9 Friday morning and played non stop till 6 when Fred dropped his sticks and went straight to the airport. The amazing part is outside of playing along with the CD of the demo songs, none of us had really worked out our parts together and Fred and Jimmi had never even played together. I also wrote the chorus and middle sections of “The Introduction” five minutes prior to us recording that song. (lol) I had thought we would have time to work some stuff out like the rest of that tune. All in all I think Shreddtime turned out totally killer despite everything and think all the mayhem lent to it being so tight. We worked so hard getting it down all in crunch time and there is an energy you can feel in the songs.

As far as a comparison of Next Big Adventure to Shreddtime Stories goes there are several big differences. Shreddtime Stories is a far more concise and listener friendly work and that was totally by design. I wanted to write great rock songs for the non guitar player to enjoy and I wanted high octane playing, as evidenced by “Drop D Symphony” and “The Introduction”, for the shred heads out there. Tracks like the title track and “Grabbing Some Air” showcase a great blend of ripping playing and melody. “5 Durhim” and “Moroccan Bedtime Story” take you on a acoustic journey through the desert. One big difference was that I limited the number of takes on Shreddtime Stories to 5 on each song and took the best from that to keep the solo's fresh. Some times they weren't as tight but they had tons of energy

Next Big Adventure was recorded over a long period of time in several studios so there are a lot of songs and looks at what was influencing my playing at those times. “Play That Funky Music” was the single and did really well and the tracks “Timanfaya”, “El Ave” contain some of my most ripping lead work. “Cafe Around The World”, which is an all nylon string guitar song with cool percussion is a god example of my Latin/Middle eastern music influences. “From The Top Of The Tour Eiffel” is one of my favorites from that disc. On NBA - Next Big Adventure, I did dozens of takes, probably too many (lol) but it was done mostly in my new studio so I was a little excited about having unlimited time to do stuff. I found this is not always a good thing as some of the energy was replaced by mechanics and that for me is what kills guitar music in the first place and makes it hard for non guitar players to enjoy.

mwe3: It sounds like you were greatly influenced by the big metal rock guitar heroes—from Hendrix to Blackmore and more recently groups like Kings X and Great White. Which guitarists and bands would you say influenced your guitar and compositional style the most and how would you describe how these influences impacted your sound and how you also manage to create such a unique guitar sound of your own?

TD: I like all kinds of guitar player—including Rory Gallagher, Andy Mckee, Jamie West-Oram, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, Rick Emmet Adrian Vandenberg, Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, Frank Gambale, Mike Stern, Strunz and Farah, Elliot Easton, Peter Frampton, Satch, Vai, Friedman in no particular order and the list goes on. I also love Elton John, Paul McCartney, Vivaldi, Rossini, Stevie Wonder etc... I like a ton of different kinds of music and really feel that influence in my writing. I like strong singable melodies that stick to you. I am much more interested in impressing listeners by writing good songs than doing gymnastics on the fretboard and I think that is what really sets me apart. I tend to write really memorable melodies which I think is my trademark.

mwe3: Describe the challenge working in the instrumental rock and metal realms and how would you compare the challenge to record instrumental rock with a more vocal based metal rock sound?

TD: Well if you want to do clinics, play NAMM shows, do product demos and videos, make music for cable, sports, film and more, being an instrumentalist is great. I just got back last week from a EMG product demo at Sweetwater with EMG founder Rob Turner and head of national sales Scott Wunchell and it was a blast. I got to jam, hang out with really cool people and live music. I also got a nice check which ain't all bad neither. However If you want to pack the clubs with hot chicks and make fifteen hundred dollars a night it’s a bit tough. (lol) People want to hear Journey, so it makes it hard for any type of original artist to draw let alone instrumental guitar music.

When I do an album with a vocalist it's a totally different animal. You have to play first and foremost what the songs need period. I think it’s almost harder because you have to pick your spots to do cool things without stepping all over everyone else. I also think texture a lot more, guitar blends etc... to give it a nice full sound with out all the wanking. (lol)

mwe3: How has your choice of guitars changed over the years and what guitars best help you get the sound on your albums? What guitars are you mostly featuring on the Shreddtime Stories album?

TD: I used all my ESP's loaded with a variety of EMG pickups. I have an ESP MH 301 loaded with Oc-1 neck and bridge passive pickups which I did all the leads mainly and an EX 351 loaded with EMG 81 and 85 X pickups that was the rhythm guitar. The EX 351 with the X's just pounds. I love the bottom on that guitar. I also used an ESP Hybrid with active EMG single coils. I also have several old Peavy Vandenbergs that I love loaded with the EMG passives that scream as well.

mwe3: Your guitar sound is very processed and modified sounding on the new album which really gives it enormous drive and sustain. How do guitar effects, pedals and amps alter and enhance your sound and which brands, amps and effects do you use and sponsor?

TD: I have a Rocktron Prophesy Pre amp with a Mesa Boogie Simulclass 90 power amp. I use a Nady U1000 wireless unit and a Nady power conditioner. I am an endorser for all those products as well as Dean Markley Strings and Jim Dunlop products. I also use an original Ibanez TS 9 tube screamer I bought from Michael Angelo Batio, a Dunlop 95 Q, a Boss Super Phaser and Noise Suppressor.

I went to digital pre amps this time around to get a super tight sound that really made a huge difference in the overall feel of the Shreddtime Stories disc.

mwe3: Some of the tracks on Shreddtime Stories vary things up with several acoustic tracks too. What other genres of guitar music and music in general impact your music most?

TD: I love Latin, Spanish and Middle Eastern music a lot. I love the sound of a nylon string guitar as it is so passionate with a totally organic feel and so expressive as well. I like Jesse Cook, Strunz and Farah, Paco, John, Al. The soundtrack from Buena Vista Social Club is a must have for anyone looking to hear true Cuban music.

On Shreddtime the tracks “5 Durhim” and “Morrocan Bedtime Story” were either written in or influenced by a trip to Morocco went on a few years back. The entire country, culture was so interesting. I had a great time and learned a lot.

mwe3: You’re also quite involved with music education. Can you say something about your Guitar Fundamentals project and how does it inspire young people to become musicians and show an interest in studying guitar and guitar history?

TD: I started the company about four and a half years ago with one park district group guitar class and now have 60 park districts and 35 schools offering group guitar classes. This year was big expansion year and we will have 6-700 kids through the programs and that figure should double by Fall 2012. We will have over 150 schools onboard next year and should go from roughly 50 instructors to over 100 so that will be intense.

I wanted to start a program that could give quality lessons at a competitive rate in people's backyards and we have done just that. It gives kids an opportunity to enroll in fun guitar classes that get them rocking early on and that are also convenient for mom and dad to get them to. It has been a huge success.

mwe3: What do you say to a kid who’s 11 years old when he asks you about why he should study the guitar and about becoming a musician? What advice do you give young kids looking to become a musician these days?

TD: Question 1 first; I tell them to pay attention in school and get good grades because you have to be really smart and inventive to be a full time musician. Studying guitar is only part of it. That he will have to do every day for hours on end forever but if you don't want to starve you need to be business savvy and think like a business person. I have traveled the world being a musician, gotten product endorsements, met and hung with incredible people and it is by far the most rewarding career on the planet, but it is hardest work you will ever do. That being said I don't feel I have worked in 20 years (lol), because I love every minute of my job. My worst day playing guitar or teaching is better than my best day doing anything else—well, except playing with my kids!

mwe3: What interests or hobbies, projects do you have outside of the music world?

TD: I love travel and have been to 11 countries. I enjoy running and reading books. I have two kids who are my best friends and are my main hobby. I love amusement parks, any, and roller coasters etc. Disney world is so killin' and I go to Disneyland every NAMM show. (lol) I will be playing at the Nady Sustems booth this year. I love talking politics and also practicing my Spanish when I can.

mwe3: What plans do you have moving forward? I know you’re working with Steve Vai—how did you hook up with Steve? What recording, teaching and or performing plans do you have planned for this year and beyond?

TD: Well I would like to finish the Christmas CD I started forever ago but seems to get sidetracked all the time. (lol) We will be doing several Christmas shows coming up though. I am also slowly working on touring Japan. I played two shows there and have gotten distribution and a write up in the August issue of Young Guitar Magazine so we will see how that shakes out.

As far as being on Steve Vai's Digital Nations label goes, I just submitted the tune “Arctic Sun”, from Shreddtime Stories to their A&R guy and they contacted me about signing on with them. I have met Steve several times before so it was a good fit. The fact he likes the tunes is a big plus and the recognition is higher being on DN.

As far as playing out I will be doing a bunch of Christmas shows and such coming up and then play NAMM in January and possibly some shows in the Bay area and more videos for EMG.

mwe3: Can you say something about working with Yngwie Malmsteen in concert this month?

TD: I got a call about a week and a half ago from Live Nation about a show October 21st at House of Blues Chicago. They had asked I resend all my promo material for a possible support date. I forwarded on my kit and went back to working on my Guitar Fundamentals stuff. About and hour later I looked up the date on the HOB calendar and saw it was Yngwie Malmsteen and I was stoked as you can well imagine! Really cool. So I called my band and we put together a set mainly from Shreddtime Stories and some stuff from my other CD's that I thought would compliment the Malmsteen set. This is going to be fun. I have been able to support almost all my favorite guitar players over the years George Lynch, Michael Schenker, Tony MacAlpine, Gary Hoey, Michael Angelo, this is like icing on the cake.

mwe3: What influence did Yngwie have on your playing, writing and overall guitar philosophy?

TD: Yngwie has had such a massive impact on guitar playing, technique, songwriting etc. I remember seeing him on MTV in Alcatraz doing "Island In The Sun" and thinking that guy is insane! Then I heard Rising Force with "Far Beyond the Sun" and "Now Your Ships Are Burned" and was blown away totally.

I wanted smoking technique and to play his songs I needed that and really had to know more about what I was playing modally etc... I never wanted to sound like him like so many people do I just wanted to put that energy into my playing and try to get my technique together better (lol). He by far has had the biggest impact on guitar playing than anyone in the last 25 years with the possible exception of Satriani and Vai. You can always tell by the amount of people trying to sound like him how important he is. First it was Clapton then Hendrix, then Van Halen then Malmsteen. Keep in mind Yngwie has sold something like 60 million records worldwide which is an incredible feat in itself. This is going to be fun! Thanks to everyone at mwe3 for the interview.

Thanks to T.D. Clark @ www.TDclark.com



Buy Yngwie Malmsteen w/TD Clark concert tickets
for the show at House of Blues Chicago


Friday 10/21/2011
Doors: 07:30 PM
Show: 09:00 PM
Prices:
$27.50 - GA - Advanced
$30.00 - GA - Day Of
Ages: 17+

House of Blues Chicago
329 N. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 923-2000







 

 
   
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