Interview: Pascal Allaigre

Dan McAvinchey: Thanks for doing this Pascal, let's first talk about your early years, when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you learn and progress as a player?

Pascal Allaigre: I got interested in guitar when I was about 10 or 12. I then got my first guitar (and have still played the guitar same ever since) when I was 14. I was listening to hard rock and rock music when I was a child (KISS, Queen, Deep Purple, Y&T etc.), and I wanted to do the same as my heroes: play the guitar! I also played drums a little, but then stuck to guitar. I first learned on my own, then took a few private lessons. Later on, I had the chance to enroll at G.I.T (the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles). I practiced a lot back in those days (usually exercices with a metronome) - not that much anymore. I try to concentrate on songwriting, and practice at the moment I have to record in order to do a good guitar take.

Dan McAvinchey: Was your latest album "Seven" self-released?

Pascal Allaigre: Yes, my latest album "Seven" was self-released, as were my first six releases. At one point, I had a contact with a distributor, back on my first album. It was a simple hard-copy distribution contract in France. That was for distribution only, but it was a good start.

I also had the chance to be distributed by the Guitar Nine website, which gave me the opportunity to be listened to by people from very various countries. But I also had the situation of getting no answer at all from different labels. I would think that today, it's hard to find labels to produce your music. And also, I'm on a little island in the South Pacific (New Caledonia), so it's fair to say I'm not really in the right place to get in contact with a lot of people, even when nowadays the internet makes it much easier. I think I would also have to find the free time to investigate and do the research. Let's just say that self produced albums, for me, would be like a kind of "no choice" situation. Hopefully it will change someday.

Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your musical style to someone who has never heard you before?

Pascal Allaigre: This is instrumental music, with metal, hard rock, and fusion flavors - guitar oriented of course.

I first went to instrumental compositions because back in the day, it was hard to find people to create a "complete band", with a singer, in order to make compositions. So I tried instrumental, and found it quite interesting as to the songwriting approach. I'm still doing it today. I find that exercice quite fun. Of course, I also compose songs with vocals.

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Dan McAvinchey: How did you write the songs for your most recent album, did you work on them by yourselfx`?

Pascal Allaigre: I always work alone on my compositions. Again, more of a "no choice" situation. It has been quite the same approach for all my albums. But I still try to keep fresh, and explore new grounds. I'm "my own listener and reviewer" during the songwriting process.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you get the chance to showcase your music before a live audience?

Pascal Allaigre: I do play live a few dates per year. The live opportinuties are quite rare in New Caledonia. I played on a live TV show a few months ago, called Muzikmix. It was a great moment, the sound and light show were very cool.

I would love to play live overseas, and to play in a band with people from big countries. Collaborating with musicians far from where I live would be a great experience.

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

Pascal Allaigre: I think maybe that these fans are instrument players, most of them guitarists, if they listen to guitar-oriented music.

Maybe some other fans just want to listen to themes, melodies, and mood without listening to any voice. They just want the voice to be silent, and let the instruments do the job and transport them, without having to listen to lyrics telling them a story. They don't want any story, they can create their own, only based on the melodies. And the story can be different everytime you listen to the same song, as it just depends of the listener's mood of the moment. No words, no voice, just the beauty of sounds. Could be instrumental music without guitars at all, just other instruments. The principle is the same. Let the notes tell you a fairytale.

Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

Pascal Allaigre: In fact, I don't listen to instrumental music that much. The kind of music I like is hard-rock oriented (heavy metal, hard rock, rock). I like old bands like KISS, Queen, Deep Purple, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelein, Y&T, Aerosmith, Toto, Journey, Foreigner, Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Extreme, Lynch Mob, Dio - there are too many to name!

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

Pascal Allaigre: I'm currently slowly working on my eighth album. I'm also re-recording one of my instrumental's songs, but this time revisited, with a singer, to give the song an operatic approach.

I also play in a band called T.R.I.A.S. (with a singer), which has been in a hiatus for a while, but we released an album back in 2008, and are currently finishing a second one.

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A graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology in 1997, Pascal Allaigre has since played with bands in New Caledonia (an island in the South Pacific), and has released an impressive collection of instrumental rock guitar albums - seven in all. The most recent, appropriately entitled "Seven", showcases blistering sweep picking, furious rhythm work and mind blowing solos.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with Allaigre to get an update on his new recordings and fill in some of the details about his early days as a musician.