Shred virtuoso Michael Angelo Batio was rated by Guitar World magazine to be one of the “Top 100 Greatest Metal Guitar Players of All Time,” as well as “The No.1 Shredder of All Time” by Guitar One Magazine. Being the mastermind behind the double guitar, as well as the over-under technique, MAB is an inventor and innovator. His latest release, “Hands Without Shadows” is one of his strongest albums to-date, and definitely worth checking out! For more info on MAB, go to www.angelo.com.
IC: With the recent release of the new album “Hands Without Shadows,” what are your plans for 2006?
MAB: I am going to tour all over the World in 2006 to promote the new CD. I am already scheduled to perform in Los Angeles here in the USA, Europe and South America. We just shot an MTV style video for the song “Dream On” (from the “HWS” CD). The new video will start getting airplay very soon. The reviews of “HWS” have been really positive so I think we should have a lot of success with this CD.
IC: This new album contains, without a doubt, some of your best playing to-date. Do you believe that there’s any more room for improvement?
MAB: Thank you. I am always learning new things on the guitar. I will practice 14 hours a day if my schedule can accommodate it. Mark Tremonti (guitarist for Creed, now Alter Bridge) and I are very good friends. We get together and play for 6 or 7 hours at a time. Jamming, trading riffs,song ideas and lately, doing insane, legato finger exercises in unison! We are both forever “students of the guitar”. That is the quest- to find new ways of getting better on your instrument- to constantly learn more- to find better ways of expressing yourself through your instrument.
IC: In 2003, Guitar One Magazine named you the “No.1 Shredder of all time” What do you believe was the key for you in attaining such incredible technique and virtuosity?
MAB: A willingness to practice. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year. Also, I have never tried to copy other guitarists and be a “clone” of someone else. I wanted to be unique and develop my own style, both in the studio and in concert.
IC: How old were you when you started playing?
MAB: I started playing the guitar at 10 years old.
IC: Who are your biggest influences?
MAB: Mozart is my all time favorite composer. After that, there are so many influences that it would be impossible for me to name them all. A few of my favorite bands and guitarists at the moment are Yngwie Malmsteen, Alan Holdsworth, Jason Becker, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, George Benson, Children of Bodom, Shadows Fall and Dream Theater. I could name many more.
IC: What is a typical practice session is like for you?
MAB: I start with legato finger exercises. This IMHO is the best way to “warm up” one’s fingers. After that I will start working on Alternate picking exercise, scales, modes, etc…, then Economy picking sequences and arpeggios.
After that it varies. Sometimes I will work on a song, other times I will work on new “riffs”. It just depends on what I want to accomplish at that practice session.
IC: What kind of equipment did you use on the new album?
MAB: I used a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amp head with a Marshall 4×12, slanted half stack for all of the distortion rhythm tracks and various Marshall Amplifiers for all of the lead guitar tracks. I am a Dean Guitars FANATIC, so every guitar used on “Hands Without Shadows ” was a Dean Guitar.
IC: You are the inventor of the double guitar. Can you tell us a little about this instrument? How did you come upon the idea of creating it?
MAB: I wanted to do something that no guitarist had ever done before and I did it. Not to be “better” or “cooler” than other players, just to be different. Here is an excerpt from my website about the Double-Guitar:
Michael’s first version of the Double-Guitar was actually two separate guitars. He took a Gibson “Flying V” guitar and fastened it to a snare drum stand. This was a right-handed guitar faced in a left-handed playing position. Another Gibson “V” was strapped (right-handed) around his shoulder. He played the left side first, then the right side, then both at the same time. The Double-Guitar has come a long way since then.
Dean guitars built the first “factory” custom Double-Guitar. Dean Zelinsky himself designed the bodies and made the first one pictured at the bottom of the page. Next, Michael came up with a new way to attach the two guitars. They took a flight case latch and retrofitted it to the back of each instrument. Now it took about 5 seconds to put the Double-Guitar together.
When Michael first performed the Double-Guitar “in concert” it started to “feed back” when he began to play both guitars at once. Immediately after that show he started thinking about some way to dampen the strings (when he played both guitars at the same time). Something that could stop noise at high volumes and be moved out of way when it wasn’t being used. Michael invented the String Dampener. It is adjustable and fits any guitar. The “String Dampener” has gone through several new modifications and is available through M.A.C.E. Music. Michael has a patent on “The String Dampener”.
IC: Is there anything you would like to say to the aspiring musicians around the world?
MAB: I have a degree in Music Theory and Composition from North Eastern University. I am a huge proponent of education.
I also feel like I have a second music degree. A degree from Rock and Roll University! I got this one by moving to Los Angeles, being the proverbial struggling, starving musician, then getting a Major Record deal and “making it” in music. My advice to any aspiring musician is to “finish what you start”. I finished College. I release CDs and DVDs, meaning I have finished them. I did not stop working until I got signed to a MAJOR record company. To me, it is about a strong work ethic. I hope this helps.
Be sure to go to www.angelo.com and get more info on MAB, as well as check out his legendary instructional DVD’s: SPEED KILLS 1, 2, 3 & SPEED LIVES.