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Any new guitars you used on the record?
“Well, I used Blue Balls on a couple of solos – that’s the guitar that got stolen on the Hendrix tour in Chicago. [Editor's note: The guitar was recently recovered.] I used him on Angel Of Mercy, Scars, Shades Of Gray. I also used him on Nomad and Hell And Fire – those are bonus tracks. I’ve got two Juniors. Michael Beinhorn gave me a red double-cutaway Junior, a ’58 that Les Paul signed. Ozzy got me a ’57 single cut tobacco burst, like the kind Leslie West has. Those are the two guitars I use on the clean stuff. They sound amazing ‘cause the wood is so old.”
What about the acoustics you used?
“I used my Gibson J-200s, and I used my Epi Masterbilts. Those things sound awesome, man, especially with piano.”
What kind of piano are you playing?
“The piano I have up in the Vatican is the Kawai. That’s the first piano I ever bought when I started making money with the boss. Then I have the Baldwin, too. I’m a Gibson guy, and Gibson owns Baldwin. I got the Baldwin out with me on the road.”
We were talking riffs, but let me ask you: Do you ever come up with riffs that don’t grow up to be songs?
“No, that never happens. If you’ve got a riff, you’ve got a song. When something cool comes to you, you’ll figure out the rest. You'll find a way to bend it and cram it into a song. Or it just becomes its own song – the riff is the song. I don’t have parts sitting around that don’t know where to go. Some guys hold on to riffs. They have tapes and tapes, all these boxes of riffs. I don’t do that. I’ve never gone through tapes of riffs that I came up with 10 or 20 years ago.
“Why would you wanna do that anyway? [Laughs] If a riff isn’t happening for you today, that's cool. So you wait until tomorrow when you’ve got a good one. It’s like if we went out looking for dinosaur bones. You can’t find anything, it's the end of the day, so you go, ‘OK, let’s go get a steak.’ You know the bones are out there somewhere, so you come back the next day and find ‘em. It’ll happen. No reason to get pissed off or depressed and come down with writer’s block. The bones are there. Keep digging.”