As he releases a new record, Andy James talks Slash, Sandman and getting to grips with his own songs...
The song that got me into music… Guns N’ Roses - Paradise City
“For me, Appetite For Destruction was the album that got me into guitar. I was about eight or nine, maybe younger when Paradise City came out. I remember it from school and I heard it on the radio. I wasn’t old enough to have the album but I managed to get a cassette of it from someone. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to pick up the guitar and have a go.”
The first song I learned to play… Guns N’ Roses - Don’t Cry
“A few years after hearing Appetite… I got into guitar at school. Use Your Illusion had come out by then and they had some tab books at school. I think Don’t Cry was the first song that I learned on guitar.
“I learnt the picking parts and then badly recreated the solo. It made sense up to a point, although there were a few bits that I didn’t understand. I didn’t really care to be honest; theory had never really bothered me. I didn’t even know that theory was a thing.”
The riff I wish I had written… Metallica - Enter Sandman
“When I was younger I was trying to be technical and play fast, so something as simple as this would have bypassed me, but this riff is genius.”
The song I would play to someone who had never heard my music… Andy James - What Lies Beneath
“I’d want to ease them in gently. The trouble with instrumental music is that you have to play someone something that has some kind of valuable melodic content. That is how 90 per cent of people operate: they like something melodic that they can sing along to.
“You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate technical instrumental music but you do need to train your ear to understand how that stuff operates for you to be able to get enjoyment out of it.”
The most challenging of my songs to play live… Andy James - Diary Of Hell’s Guitar
“War March is one that I always get asked to play so I have to keep on top of that. But I was in Nottingham a couple of weeks ago for an event and ahead of that I was getting to grips with Diary Of Hell’s Guitar.
“It took me a good hour and there was still some of it that I couldn’t get my head around. I was trying to do this the night before but I’d probably have to train for about a week. That song is a challenge, it is so relentless.”
The song that I never manage to nail… Racer X - YRO
“I revisited this song the other day. It had been driving me nuts and I posted a video on Instagram of me finally getting to grips with it. The picking passage in the Racer X song YRO is something that Paul Gilbert used to use as a picking exercise. There’s a bit in the middle where all the band drops out and he plays this classical piece.
“My picking style is very strange but it doesn’t stop me from playing anything, I just have to re-finger a lot of it and do it differently. The other night I wanted to get my head around this song, so I re-fi ngered it and got through it without messing it up.”
My favourite guitar solo… Guns N’ Roses - November Rain
“This pops into my head when I think of a powerful solo. And I mean all of it, not just one particular part. All of the solos are killer.”
A song that is a technical masterclass… Jeff Loomis - Miles Of Machines
“This is up there as a technical masterclass. Some of the newest Jason Richardson album, I, falls into that category as well. He’s a guy that I have recently looked at and thought, ‘What is the point?’. You work to get to a certain level and some of my stuff is pretty technically challenging, but he just takes it to a whole level that I know I will never get to in my lifetime.”
Andy James’s new album Exodus is out now on Urban Yeti Records.