Interview: David Martone

Dan McAvinchey: David, Your new CD, "A Demons Dream", is your first CD released by
Lion Music. How did you hook up with the Finnish label and what are the advantages for you?

David Martone: I had done a tribute album for them in the past, which was the Jason Becker "Warmth In The Wilderness" compilation. I spent almost a month perfecting this song because I knew I was up against some heavies like Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, and Steve Morse.

I think this was the formal introduction to them. I contacted Lion Music later to see if they would be interested in doing a reprint of my "Shut Up 'N' Listen album" since it is out of print at present time. I mentioned I had a new album coming out and they asked to hear it. I was a little hesitant at first because it was just completed and no one had heard it. I sent it along to Lion in the hopes of getting my reprint. Much to my surprise they asked if I would be interested in releasing the new one with them. I had contacted a few other companies but Lion showed the most interest. Since the release date was October 15th, 2002, promo, reviews and sales are starting now. The main advantages were to reach a larger audience than I could have myself. So far I have been independent with the help of you, Dan, and things were going OK. If you have a company behind you it makes many things a little easier. They have been great to work with and have been totally pro!

Dan McAvinchey: "A Demon's Dream" features a good deal of musical diversity
over the 56 minute running time. Was it a conscious decision you made in order to keep things interesting?

David Martone: I actually tried to make it more cohesive if you can believe that. I was not trying to make it as eclectic as "Zone", but in ways it actually turned out almost more so! There is a good selection of listening on the disc. I am always trying to keep the listeners interest - and my own for that matter. I hate the same sh*t over and over. It gets so monotonous. I was trying to make the album more texturally progressive instead of straight up progressive. There are still odd time things going on, but I think not as much as before. Maybe I am nuts and just can't tell anymore!

Dan McAvinchey: How has your approach to writing rhythm and lead guitar parts
evolved since "Shut Up 'N' Listen", through "Zone" and now for "A Demon's Dream"?

David Martone: I think I have always loved the rhythm guitar. I find that I am placing more importance on it now than I ever did before. Rhythm guitar is one of the driving forces of the tune. On "Shut Up..." the rhythms were simpler and more diatonic. As my musical knowledge evolved so did my interpretation of rhythm and the modes that they were taken from to create fresher sounding riffs. I still have a soft spot for simple songs though. I find the tracks like "Got Da Blues" and "Code Red" to contain some of the simpler rhythm work. As far as leads go, the natural progression went from having everything worked out on "Shut Up...", to 60% worked out on "Zone", to 10% worked out on "A Demon's Dream". Most of the new album is improvised and I am having a hell of a time to try and figure out what I played for live performances. Fortunately, I have all the files at home since I recorded it in my home studio and have the luxury of slowing stuff down or soloing it to hear what happened. I think it is all about the moment when you are recording. Sure I still love the pre-rehearsed ensemble playing, but equally love the improvising nature within the music.

Dan McAvinchey: What is your approach to promoting your new CD, and how
does your label help you in this regard?

David Martone: I think that the best promo is playing live, and to be seen as much as possible. I do many clinics for Digitech, Parker and now Vox amplifiers. This is a great way for people to hear your music and to sell discs at the performances. Also working and performing at Berklee College of Music and the National Guitar Workshop is a perfect outlet for sales and promotion. Berklee has people from all over the world that attend. I also try and hit as many radio stations and ask to be added to the play list or have phone in interviews whereever possible. The Philly Kid and Randy Allar were a great help in this regard. Thanks guys! Magazines also help for exposure for reviews and possible interviews. Watch for the December edition of Axe Magazine from Italy and the March Issue of Guitar One for full interviews, reviews and transcriptions on the latest album. The label helps by sending out promo copies to radio, magazines and web magazines. We are a team to help move this CD to the masses and we will be trying our best to achieve this!

Dan McAvinchey: I heard a great number of creative things going on sonically that
really caught my ear upon first listening to the CD. Do you feel you're more creative compositionally, or perhaps in your use of production/engineering techniques?

David Martone: I think I got more creative in all ways on this release. I am fortunate that I obtained my engineering/production degree from Fanshwawe College in London Ontario years ago. This is invaluable knowledge for a musician to have if they really want to create what they hear in their head. I have also built a project-recording studio with my girlfriend to do most of the work at home. This is the best thing ever that we could have done! You can spend all the time in the world to try different production ideas without any expense but time.

For the CD, I really tried to get the cleanest signal to the hard drives as possible and then use dynamics or effects within the software domain. This makes the mix sound huge, full and uncluttered. EQs on tracks are very important also. I really went for different sonic textures with ADD. I was not afraid to try different things because nothing is really wrong in music; it has or might not have been explored yet! Compositionally, I think the song writes itself. Once you have the first chord or riff, you should hear the next and then the next in your head until the whole song is complete. This is how it works for me.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you ever tempted to hook up with a singer/vocalist in an attempt to try to write/record/release more 'commercial' music in order to become better known as a guitarist?

David Martone: Sure, why not? All knowledge is good knowledge! I would like to hop on a tour of some sort as a hired gun, and actually have had some offers in the past that did not pan out. Instrumental music still moves me, and unfortunately, I am kind of ignorant when it comes to lyrics. They are one of the last things that I would listen to in a piece of music. I don't know why, but that's just how it is!

Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel about the national press in the United States and Canada and how they are currently covering guitar-oriented music?

David Martone: I can say that I think they are honestly trying. Most of it seems geared to popular guitar music, which is OK, but they should also have a section dedicated to people pushing the envelope of guitar. I cannot remember the last time I read anything about Allan Holdsworth, for example, in any of those mags. That is just an example. There are so many people doing different things these days in the land of guitar that needs to be dealt with. I know that they have their hands full with every issue and cannot please everyone, but opening the ears of young impressionable musicians to some crazy shit besides the same old might help push guitar into the 22nd Century with a vengeance!

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Dan McAvinchey: How can an instrumental rock guitarist get more respect in a world where, as one prominent hip hop artist stated, "You don't need to know how to sing, or how to play an instrument - you don't have to know sh*t. All you need to know is how to rhyme over a beat..."?

David Martone: I would like to see this rapper rhyme over some of my beats! He would sound like a floundering fool! I don't give a sh*t about things like this. Everybody has something to say be it good or bad and there will most likely be an audience for almost anything. Of course rap is the biggest thing going at the moment and so be it. You are what you eat, and you are what you listen to as well! Listen to sh*t and well...

Dan McAvinchey: What's up next for you, what are some of your plans for the

David Martone: That is a good question. I am trying to get an album project together with Terry Syrek, James Hogan and Chris Buono which has some interest from a European label at the moment. I really just keep writing music, performing, and putting out new albums. I plan on heading to the NAMM show this January to reconnect with some old mates and meet some new ones, and will continue to hopefully create new and interesting music!

Dan McAvinchey: If you could do a once-off album project with any guitarist in the
world, who would it be?

David Martone: Maybe my dad since he is the one who got me into this whole mess of fun!

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Vancouver-based guitarist David Martone has combined over twenty years of guitar playing with formal studies in music production and engineering and a degree in Music Performance from the Berklee College of Music. His third solo release, "A Demon's Dream", is a feast of memorable tunes and stylistic flourishes cemented together with a superb production. Never content to rest on past achievements, Martone boldly forges forward into uncharted sonic territory.

Dan McAvinchey asked Martone to discuss his latest project, his new relationship with Finland's Lion Music, and the general state of instrumental rock today.