"It was a challenge to make a studio recording sound like a live band with only one musician playing all the instruments," says singer-songwriter and guitarist (and, in this case, one-man band) Richie Kotzen of his bruising new song War Paint. In its sun-baked, desert-set music video, premiering here today, he also plays dual roles, appearing as both himself and a mysterious, rapidly aging, pickaxe-wielding doppelganger.
War Paint is one of two brand-new cuts on his just-released career-spanning set, The Essential Richie Kotzen. On the upbeat, dreamy rocker Walk With Me, the multi-instrumentalist, usually heralded for his virtuosic guitar skills, sets down his six-string and goes retro-spacey with a Theremin. "There was a specific sound I was hearing in the song," Kotzen says. "I realized it was a Theremin, so I bought one. I spent a couple of weeks learning it. I used that where the lead guitar would normally go. It was a really rewarding departure for me."
Signed at the age of 19 and originally pegged to be one of the leading sorcerers of shred guitar, Kotzen quickly distinguished himself as that and much more: a gutsy, bluesy vocalist with a knack for writing hook-heavy, soul-laced rock. Along with the two new cuts, The Essential Richie Kotzen features tracks from the guitarist's 18 solo albums as well acoustic performances, bootleg material and a DVD of music videos and bonus goodies. "I've really changed and grown as an artist and as a person," Kotzen says. "I hand-selected songs so newcomers can get into my music and learn who I am as a recording artist."
Having recently finished a world tour with his band The Winery Dogs (which also includes bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Mike Portnoy), Kotzen is embarking on a lengthy solo run of dates throughout Europe, the UK, Mexico and South America, beginning September 5.