Interview: Marty Rice

Dan McAvinchey: Marty, when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you practice to progress as a player?

Marty Rice: I started playing at age 13, with an early interest in rock music and the guitar. I suppose because rock bands are mostly guitar driven, the sound of the guitar really jumped out at me. I really loved playing; I think that's ultimately the key to getting good, if you love doing something, you do more of it, and there were times when I spent whole days playing guitar, only taking breaks for meals. So that's the main key to progress, but there also has to be a focus, not just playing random stuff, but practicing to improve your timing, for example, or alternate picking, or legato or whatever aspect of your playing needs improvement. And I practiced these in the context of a song or solo. I learned a lot of solos note for note, I think that's how my ears became sensitive to pitch and timing. So ear training is important. I studied music after school and I learned scales and theory also.

Dan McAvinchey: When your album "Transcending Limitations" was nearing completion, did you consider contacting labels, or did you envision it as a self-release?

Marty Rice: Yes, it was an independent release, through I didn't really know how I wanted it released in the beginning, I just had the drive to make the album, as long as it got recorded, and I was happy with the end product, I knew I would be satisfied. It was more a personal goal more than anything, something I really had to do for myself. And I have most of the material composed for the next album which I'm quite excited about. I was aware of Shrapnel Records and Liquid Note Records ( there may be others I don't know of), but I remember reading that they weren't looking for new artists at the time.

Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your musical style to someone who has never heard you before, and is it important for you to strive for uniqueness?

Marty Rice: A return to the '80s shred era for the most part, at least in vibe and sound, but you will also hear a lot of variety there, I don't make every song classical, or every song rock, or every song fingerpicked, it's about variety for me, and striving to be unique, which becomes increasingly more difficult as there are more artists out there. But you will hear things on this album you have never heard the likes of before. That's what we need, we don't need the next Malmsteen, or the next Vai, because Malmsteen already did Malmsteen, Vai already did Vai. These players were unique, that's why they became popular, if they simply wanted to copy their influences, they wouldn't have had the success they have had.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you striving to achieve musically, particularly on your last album?

Marty Rice: Musically I strived to be unique to the shred guitar genre, trying not to borrow a single lick from any other guitarist. As a consequence, there are quite a few licks that are entirely my own, the most unique track is "Dolphin Jam", I don't think anyone else has ever done anything like it before.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about the gear you used to get your sound.

Marty Rice: I used mostly a Jackson Kelly with Dimarzio pickups installed. I used a Ibanez RG with Dimarzios for a couple of tracks. For leads I use either neck or bridge pickup depending on what I'm playing. I used a Digitech GNX3000 with my own custom settings for amp modeling, distortions and effects. I make sure always have fresh strings when I'm recording, and for the acoustic track I used a Takamine guitar.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your CDs and music career?

Marty Rice: So far just Facebook promotional groups and my YouTube channel. I am also going to be setting up a Reverbnation profile.

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Dan McAvinchey: From a publicity and promotion standpoint, what do you find is working best for you at the moment? What is not working?

Marty Rice: Word of mouth has been the best thing so far. Most of my students have bought a copy of the album, and shown their family and friends, which has led to more fans and more students. I know people from different places in the world, one who owns a recording studio in Germany, he loved the album and the recording and is getting me a following over there. Facebook has also been great, my page hasn't been up for long, but if I boost a post for $6, 8000 people see it, and I've made some new friends who are in the industry doing similar stuff to me, so the networking is great.

Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think some music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?

Marty Rice: I think it's because it gives the instrument a chance to take the lead, rather than the singer, so the musician can express more fully. A lot of people don't realize that the guitar is a great melodic instrument, and can easily take the job of a singer. You can take a vocal melody, play it on a guitar and make it just as expressive or more so. That's my belief. Also, listening to songs with lyrics, the words are another thing to process, so that takes a lot of a person's focus away from the music itself. Listening to words requires thought. When there's just music you can simply listen. That's why relaxation music is instrumental, if there were words to think about, it wouldn't be very relaxing, it would keep your mind too active. That's also why instrumental music makes good background music. Not to say I don't like singing, I listen to a lot of singers also, I like Celtic singers, and Operatic Metal and rock singers, but it's good to have a change from vocal music sometimes.

Dan McAvinchey: What other kinds of music do you like to listen to?

Marty Rice: I also like some Celtic music, and classical piano music.

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

Marty Rice: George Bellas.

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

Marty Rice: The very next thing will be a pro shot film clip for "Dolphin Jam", hopefully in the next few weeks I will have that done. Also I have the material for another instrumental album. I'm hoping to record it next year, this year I'm focusing on playing live, I have several other projects underway. I'm very excited about the next album, there's some great material I've been working on, including an epic 11 minute instrumental with a lot of different parts. Composing and recording instrumentals is something I've been doing since I was 16 and was doing some rough demos, and it's something I will always do. I am guessing there will be many more albums, I'm only in my twenties, so I'm just getting started.

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Guitarist Marty Rice is an Australian instrumental guitar virtuoso with blistering technique who serves up brilliantly crafted, creative compositions. He is molded in the vein of his influences from the early days of Shrapnel Records, including names such as Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore, Steve Vai, Joey Tafolla and Jason Becker. Rice's CD "Transcending Limitations" is available through

Dan McAvinchey tracked down Rice to discuss his methods for learning to play, his gear, as well as his motivation for creating an independent release.