Ibanez: Were there any specific things guitar-wise that you pushed yourself to do differently on the new album, "Overcome"?
Oli: I don't want to say that there was anything different. I think I just pushed myself to do more. I definitely pushed myself in the speed department and technicality. That's just a normal thing. I always try to improve my abilities. I think my biggest goal is always to create a memorable solo, whether it be hard or easy to play. Good phrasing is probably the most important thing to me. I felt overall that I did a pretty good job with that. Hopefully, I'll continue to improve.
Ibanez: There's a bunch of pretty awesome solos on the album.
Oli: Thanks, man. Yeah, I think there are about 20 solos on the album. There are more solos and they're longer! [laughs]
Ibanez: Do you have any favorites or were there any that really gave you trouble?
Oli: Yeah, "Before The Damned" was definitely a puzzle solo. Actually, on that solo I incorporated some economy picking into my playing. It wasn't just sweeping or alternate picking. That's something that I haven't really done too much in the past. I tried to alternate pick the whole thing, and I was like "Nope. That's not gonna work." [laughs]
Ibanez: Do you have any favorite solos that you're particularly proud of?
Oli: Yeah, absolutely. Where do I start? I love the "Undone" solo.
Ibanez: That's funny that you mention that one, because that's my favorite solo on the album.
Oli: Really? Now that solo is probably one of the easier ones to play, but it was one of the first ones I wrote. I used to call it the "Haydn Seek Solo", because it has a very classical sound. It's not the most technical solo, but I think it's melodically driven. I really like the direction that it goes in. I think it's entertaining to listen to, and it's fun to play. Also the next track, "Forever In Your Hands", was a favorite. I saw Megadeth the night before, and I was watching Chris Broderick. I was like, "Damn, that guy's awesome!" I got home and wrote that guitar solo. So it was directly inspired by him. I wanted something that was really Friedman-esque, with lots of fast bendy licks. I wanted to be a really rock 'n roll solo, kind of like "The Air That I Breathe" solo. It was more of a rock solo than a metal solo. It's very energetic. The big end part with the sweepy legato lick was a bitch to do.
Ibanez: I read in another interview that you worked on some of the solos for over a year.
Oli: Absolutely. You gotta start working on licks, because you've got to get your chops in shape for what you want to do. I work in a very slow and methodical manner. I'm not a guy that wakes up in the morning, picks up the guitar and starts shredding. [laughs] Some people can do that, and God bless 'em. Not me, I have to really plan ahead.
Ibanez: What was the writing process like for this album and how did Jason Costa factor into it?
Oli: Jason was awesome to work with. His fills are just amazing. I'll go back to the whole solo thing. Another reason I write my solos early is so that we can have interplay between some of the drums and the leads. The last album didn't really have that. Shannon was kind of a cunt to work with. [laughs] If I can be so bold. Jason was cool about it though. Actually in "Forever In Your Hands", he's doing a big sixteenth-note fill that goes directly under what I'm playing. It matches up. Dream Theater does that all the time.
I want to go to that next caliber of playing as a band. Instead of just having a basic drum beat, I want everything to be really interactive. Even though there's no drum solos, there's so many fills on the album and the drum parts have so much character to them. It has a lot to do with the way he hits, too. He hits harder than anyone I've ever seen, and it really helps the tone. As far as his contribution to the writing, that opening part for "Before The Damned" was inspired by one of his drum patterns. He started playing that, and I wrote the riff around it. That's the only time I think I've ever done that in my life.
I definitely did more of the writing on this album than I've ever done before. I probably did about 90% of the writing, including bass and guitar parts. What made it a lot better this time is I have the Guitar Pro 5 program. So I tab everything out and send it to people's computers, then they learn the stuff and come to practice with it already down. So while we were in the studio, if we changed a part I would go ahead and change it in the tablature.
Ibanez: So you guys always had the sheet music to work off of?
Oli: Yeah, exactly. I'm going to put out another tablature book, like I did with the last album. So there'll be less to do this time to get that ready. I'm finally going to own a laptop on this next tour, so I'll be able to work on it while we're touring as well. This tour I'm just goofing off and playing lots of video games. [laughs] I'm honestly just enjoying myself. I'm practicing, but not in the fevered way that I was earlier in the year.
Ibanez: What is your guitar practice routine like now? Do you still devote a lot of time to practicing?
Oli: Yeah, at the beginning of the year my practicing was intense. I'd be practicing in the studio and then practice until about 3 or 4 in the morning back at the hotel. To me, there is no room for error with rhythm guitar. Everything has to be just so. For a song like "Undone", I wanted to make sure everything was played with the proper muting. That stuff goes on your permanent record. On Warped Tour, I practiced a lot. I had the instructional DVD to do when I got home, so I was really stressing about that. That was my first one ever. On this tour, I probably practice a couple of hours a day. I do things to maintain and prepare for the show, but I definitely have a very stress-free mindset right now. Now I'm just focusing on the shows every night and trying not to take myself too seriously. I find that if you practice too much, you can psych yourself out into thinking you're not prepared.
Ibanez: What drew you to the Xiphos as your main guitar?
Oli: Yeah, I was playing the S for a while. I liked that guitar quite a bit. My only problem was that I felt like I needed a more metal looking guitar. As superficial as it sounds, I felt like that guitar was a little small for me. So I saw the Xiphos, and I thought it looked pretty bad ass. It has the same Ibanez neck, so the feel of the guitar was something I was already familiar with. It actually sounds better though, because there's more guitar. There's more wood that you're dealing with.
Ibanez: What are you guys doing for the rest of the year and into next year as far as touring goes?
Oli: After this tour, we're gonna play a show with Killswitch Engage, Saliva, and Drowning Pool in Rhode Island. That's gonna be cool. Then, we're going to be doing a tour with In Flames. That's gonna start in Montreal I believe. That's gonna be an awesome tour. We're playing some really nice places. After that, we're taking about 5 or 6 weeks off. Then, we're going to Europe.
Ibanez: What are you listening to right now?
Oli: I just bought this Nightwish DVD. I enjoy watching those guys. Their songs are really well written. It's very orchestral metal. It's relaxing to me.
Ibanez: For more info, visit the All That Remains website: