Interview: Scott Bradoka

Dan McAvinchey: Scott, tell us about your music background. What made you want to pick up a guitar, and who do you think influenced your playing style?

Scott Bradoka: I first became interested in the guitar when a cousin passed down her old acoustic to me. I played that for awhile until my parents bought me my first electric - a Phoenix/Electra by Westone (I think) and a little Marlboro amp. Around this time I was getting into Van Halen's "Fair Warning" album as well as Journey's "Captured" album. I took lessons from a great teacher, Dan Frederick. As I learned more, my tasted broadened. Craig Chaquico, Neal Schon, Carl Verheyen, Jimi Hendrix, Mike Landau, Steve Lukather, and Andy Summers were all big influences (and still are).

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars, amplification and effects are you currently using?

Scott Bradoka: As far as gear goes, I've got a ton of guitars, but my main electrics are a mongrel Strat that has a '54 neck and a '56 body, a '65 Strat, and a Bob Smith Custom. My main acoustics are a Taylor 812-C and a Taylor Leo Kottke 12 string

My live rig consists of a 1968 50 watt Marshall slaved into a Marshall SE-100 speaker emulator, a Custom Audio Electronics 3+ preamp, and a Soldano preamp. For effects I use a Cry Baby Wah, a Rotovibe, a Univibe, a Boss overdrive, a Korg DT-1 rack tuner, a TC Electronics 2290, an Eventide H3000S, a Lexicon PCM-70, a Yamaha SPX-50D, a Rane PE-15 EQ, an Alesis 3630 compressor, a BBE 322, a Rocktron G612 mixer, a Furman PL8, and a Furman AR-117. It's all controlled by a Bradshaw switching system. For power amps, I switch between a VHT 2150 and two Marshalls. For speakers, I mainly use two 1x12 VHT cabinets, though depending on the gig, I'll sometimes use 4x12 Marshall cabs. For acoustic gigs, I have a 50 watt Trace Elliot acoustic amp that is remarkable.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you hoping to achieve musically?

Scott Bradoka: There are two main things I try to do with my music: make something that I like and can be proud of, and hopefully make other people happy.

Dan McAvinchey: You just completed an album, right? Tell us about that, and a bit about your current projects.

Scott Bradoka: I just finished my 2nd album, "Swamp Party". It is produced by Carl Verheyen and myself and features Dan Evans on bass and Scott Williams on drums. They both play in my live band. also featured on the album are Mark La Vang on keys, Dave Marotta plays bass on one tune, Doug Norwien plays sax, Richard Smith plays guitar on two tracks, and Carl Verheyen plays some guitar.

I'm currently getting the band ready for live gigs. We won't be "touring", but we will be trying to get out here and there to different parts of the east coast. I've also been playing with and or producing other artists as well.

Dan McAvinchey: When and where do you compose your music?

Scott Bradoka: Many of the first seeds of a song come to me when I'm mountain biking or jogging. It is at that time when my head gets totally clear and the creative juices start to flow. The tricky part is to remember your ideas until you get somewhere that you can write them down! Then it's just a matter of developing the songs. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hell. You never know when inspiration will hit. I had been working on this tune for awhile, it was somewhat of an upbeat "happy" tune. I was sitting on the couch playing and watching TV as I messed around with this song. Then, the commercial for Hanes Her Way underwear came on and, well...I was inspired. The tune went from being upbeat and happy to down and dirty. That songs is "Her Way" from my first album "Without Words".

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Dan McAvinchey: Do you usually record at home or do you prefer to rent time at a commercial facility?

Scott Bradoka: I have a 8 track reel to reel at home which I use to record demos of my songs. I've also recorded some bands here which ended up sounding very good. For my albums, I always use commercial studios, and I prefer analog to digital any day of the week.

Dan McAvinchey: What inspired you to record and ultimately release an independent record?

Scott Bradoka: Three things inspired me to record. In the late 80's, Neal Schon released an album called "Late Night" which was about half instrumental. It wasn't commercial at all, which I thought was cool. Here's a guy playing the music he loves. Then, in 1990-91, I lived in LA and saw Carl Verheyen. He blew me away. Again, playing music he loves. In 1993, Craig Chaquico sent me a copy of his first solo album, "Acoustic Highway", and that's what made me decide to record the music that I love to play. As far as releasing it independently, I was negotiating with a certain label for 6 months and finally got fed up, turned the offer down and decided to release it on my own.

Dan McAvinchey: In your view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Scott Bradoka: The advantage is freedom, the disadvantage is that it is hard work.

Dan McAvinchey: Can you share any tips or words of wisdom for musicians considering the independent route into the music business?

Scott Bradoka: Play as often as possible, be gracious and humble, make as many connections as possible, be careful of labels and other industry people, play music you love and believe in (it's better to fail at something you love, than to fail at something you're doing because you think it'll sell), keep the rights to your songs, have patience, and most importantly have a sense of humor..

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28-year old guitarist Scott Bradoka has just completed his second independent release, an upbeat, power rock/jazz instrumental album entitled "Swamp Party". The Pennsylvania native's latest CD is a follow-up to 1994's "Without Words", a record which has received a great response from the music press, and airplay on the Instrumentals of Rock syndicated radio show, among others. "Swamp Party" was recorded and mixed in only seven days, and includes nine original songs and a cover of the Joe Zawinul tune "Mercy Mercy Mercy".

Bradoka was kind enough to share with Dan McAvinchey his early musical influences, his motivations for recording, and his opinion on the ongoing analog/digital debate.