Interview: Eric Mantel

Dan McAvinchey: Eric, when did you first realize you had musical aspirations, and what was the source of your inspiration?

Eric Mantel: I started listening to all types of music since the 1960s and fell in love with The Beatles during this time. My older brother Jon who is 8 years older than me inspired me to play guitar at the age of 10 years old. Jon was already an excellent guitar player when he was 18 years old. So I had a great mentor at an early age!

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little bit about your guitars and other musical gear, and how you use it when recording.

Eric Mantel: For live and recording I use a wide variety of guitars because I play so many styles of music. I own four Gibson Les Pauls, 1961 SG, ES-175, ES-335, five Fender Stratocasters, three Telecasters, a Jaguar, a Jazz Master, a Mustang, a Rickenbacker 330, a Gretsch Country Gentlemen, 1967 Guild Starfire V, Talyor acoustic guitars, one classical - too many guitars to list.

I use two Fender 65 Black Face Twin Reverbs that I run in stereo which is for
my clean sound. I will then use one to two 1é2 stack mid-'70s 50 watt JMP
Marshall Amps for my solo and dirty rhythm sounds. If I am playing a small
club I may just use the twp twins and run various pedals through it.

I use many different guitar pedals: Toad Work Pedals, Radial Engineering TRI-MODE,
Fulltone Tube Tape Echo, Digitiech Pedals, Damage Control pedals, Rocktron
Banshee Talk Box, T.C. Electronics stereo chorus, Pigtronix EP-1, Boss
Pedals, Budda - the list goes on and on and on. I am a guitar pedal junky!

Dan McAvinchey: What are you striving to achieve musically?

Eric Mantel: Blending many styles of music into one commercial vein. To create a musical journey for the listener. In addition, to create music that soothes the soul and that also creates musical magic!

Dan McAvinchey: How do you typically get the ideas for your compositions? Do you have a particular method you use for writing?

Eric Mantel: I write totally out of inspiration, I never force any musical ideas out of myself. I let a higher power channel through me, and that's how I write. I am also a piano player, so I do the same with the piano.

Dan McAvinchey: You placed a track on the "Guitars At An Exhibition, Volume 2" compilation CD. For musicians considering a similar tactic, what do you find to be the benefits of doing this in terms of exposure?

Eric Mantel: It's a good way to get yourself out there and to be heard. It's a great networking tool!

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little but about your current musical projects, and what you have planned for the future.

Eric Mantel: Well I just released my fifth solo LP which is currently selling world wide. Please keep in mind that I released my first LP back in 1982, so I am basically a dinosaur at this point. A 20 year overnight sensation, as they say!

I plan on touring all of Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia, and the U.S., all between 2006 and 2008! I plan on releasing a series of guitar instructional DVDs and a Christmas LP in late 2006. I also plan on launching a guitar instructional web site in the near future.

Dan McAvinchey: What went into the decision to form your own record label and release an independent record?

Eric Mantel: I launched my own record label back in 1989. It is called Holistic Music Entertainment. Major record labels will tell you nowadays that if you have the time, energy and don't mind doing a lot of leg work, you can do it all yourself! Keep in mind that major record labels are basically banks which lend you big chunks of money for recording, promotion, a tour, etc. The catch is that you have to pay them back first before you even see a penny, and they often want 50% or more of your publishing, as well as other considerations. Being your own record label eliminates having to sell your soul. You also have full control over the creative aspects of your music, you own 100% of your publishing, you don't put yourself in debt, you call all the shots, and there is no pressure. With the internet you can network like crazy!

Dan McAvinchey: How have you been promoting "The Unstruck Melody"?

Eric Mantel: I am doing what's called shotgun marketing, which is where you promote your product on every possible level everywhere! My CD is being sold on many web sites, it's being sent to radio stations world wide, to every guitar
magazine world wide, to every webzine, the list goes on and on and on.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you think the future holds for digitally distributed music such as mp3s or other forms of digital music?

Eric Mantel: I think it's great and helps the artist get their music out there faster to a wider audience - but nothing replaces buying a CD with all the artwork, lyrics and liner notes.

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

Eric Mantel: Well they are not promoting instrumental music like they used to. They have to sell magazines, so if putting the guitarist from Weezer on the front of their cover helps them sell magazines, then so be it. It's no longer about talent, it's all about what's the flavor of the month and what's selling. This is not 1987, it is 2006 and the musical landscape has dramatically changed.

Dan McAvinchey: You've been a musician for a while now. If you had to mentor a young musician who is just starting out, what would you tell him or her to get them headed in the right direction?

Eric Mantel: My advice is practice, practice, practice! Learn all styles of music and always remain a student of the guitar! I have been playing guitar for 33
years now and I still know nothing. Also always try to be humble, let your music do the talking - not your mouth! Learn from other great guitar players, steal their licks and then add your own thing to them! Learn from other instrumentalists such as pianists, saxophonists and violinists.

Also, surround yourself with many musical influences. Here are my musical influences in chronological order of impact starting
from the 1960s: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi
Hendrix, Eric Clapton (Cream), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jeff Beck, Peter
Frampton, Greg Lake (ELP), Robin Trower, Duane Allman, Bad Company, The
Moody Blues, Queen, Steve Howe (Yes), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Todd Rundgren
(Utopia), Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth, Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, B.B,
King, Albert King, Freddie King, Elmoore James, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass,
Chet Atkins, Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, John McLaughlin
(Mahavishnu Orchestra), Bill Connors, Al Dimeola, Lenny Breau, Robben Ford,
Ted Greene (Chord Chemistry), Steve Morse, Andy Summers and Sting (The
Police), Albert Lee, Leo Kottke, Eddie Van Halen, Neal Schon, SRV, Stanley
Jordan, Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson - and many others!

Dan McAvinchey: Are there any other guitarists or musicians you'd love to record, or collaborate with, in the future?

Eric Mantel: Yes, I would like to work with Steve Howe, Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, and about 100 more guitar players!

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Eric Mantal has been playing guitar for over 33 years, and has recently released a diverse album touching a wide range of musical styles. As Adam St. James, editor for writes in the liner notes of his CD, "With The Unstruck Melody, this largely undiscovered guitar virtuoso and musical daredevil-wizard stands poised and ready to make the leap to international stardom."

With this in mind, Dan McAvinchey talked with Mantel about gear, early influences, the music business. and his future plans.