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Paul Demske Lmt: Would you have any trepidation remixing any of your back catalogue, as Triumph did on their greatest hits collection and Rush did with Vapor Trails?
“Oh, yeah, I’d be scared to death of remixing anything. Now, I did go back and remaster some of the older stuff, and that gave me the chance to correct a lot of things that I thought were less than optimal on the original mixes. So I did go that far. I would be very hesitant to go back and remix because I’m very happy with the sound of those albums and the way the songs are presented. Anytime you go back and remix, you might improve something – and you’re always going to lose something. [Laughs] Once I get to the point with any project, whether it’s a song I’m recording or a whole album, and I think that if I change anything I might lose something important that I’ve got, that’s when I stop.”
Tim Stevens: I’ve heard that some of the guitars on the first album were recorded at virtually a “whisper volume.” Can you speak about how this was achieved?
“He’s right. In fact, there were some that were recorded at no volume. [Laughs] Many times I’ve recorded the guitars direct, so there was no speaker involved anywhere; I’ve been doing that since almost since day one, actually. You can get a great sound either way: You can go through speakers and put a mic on it, or you can go straight in. It’s what you do with all of the peripheral equipment – all of the EQs and other things that you have at your disposal – that makes it a good sound or a bad sound.
“Of course, I’ve found that one of the best and fastest ways to do that is with the Rockman that I developed years ago. Since the reader brings it up, Heaven On Earth, the first song on the new album, that guitar is all direct. If you walked into the studio, all you would’ve heard was the little stringy sounds from the guitar. Of course, in my headphones it was another matter.” [Laughs]
R. Rondo: If you could improve one thing about your guitar playing, what would it be?
“I would like to be able to play with less warm-up time. [Laughs] It takes me forever to get loose – I don’t know why. I can walk up to a keyboard and rip through Foreplay or the Smokin’ solo at double-speed in the blink of an eye. When I pick up a guitar, I always feel like my left hand has been soaking in a bowl of ice for a week. It always takes me a long time to get loose. I’ve always felt as though the guitar was a difficult instrument to play, and having done it a while, I still feel the same way.” [Laughs]