Model(s) Used: RG, RG7, RG8
Band: Ihsahn, Emperor
Ibanez: How did your recent US tour with Emperor go?
: I think it went great. We quit Emperor in 2001, and it's quite a privilege to do a few reunion shows and having big crowds coming from very far away to see us play. The crowds were really appreciative, and it was all very successful and a very pleasant experience.

Ibanez: Were there any shows that stuck out to you?
: I think they all went great. Chicago was the first show, so you need to kind of get started. The New York show was great and even the LA show was great. We even had one of our amps blow up halfway through the show, so there were some technical issues. It's always like that. I think we all personally had shows that went better or worse, but as a whole I think the tour was very good.

Ibanez: What other projects have you been working on lately?
: The most recent thing is something called Hardingrock. My wife, Heidi, and I have a production company, and we've worked together before in a band called Peccatum. Now, I tend to concentrate on my solo career as Ihsahn, and she does the same as Star of Ash. Anyways, we happened to be contacted by a man named, Knut Buen, who is one of Norway's most famous folk musicians. He plays the Hardingfele, a Norwegian national instrument which is very close to the violin. It uses a lot of strange tunings and strange kinds of scales and things. \r\n\r\nAnyways long story short, we made an album of Norwegian folk tunes ranging from more quiet, ambient versions to more extreme black metal versions of the various tunes. We saw it as kind of a curious project for us to all apply our own backgrounds together, but in Norway we've never had as much attention to any of our previous projects as this one. We've also been getting requests for it from all over the world, so it's been very surprising. I guess maybe people are ready for something a little more experimental.\r\n

Ibanez: So it's a pretty eclectic mix of music?
: Yeah it is really. We've tried to apply our more modern music and tones to this folk music that doesn't always have a 4/4 beat. Some of it is just improvised textures, so some of the tunes don't even really have a beat at all [laughs]. It's been really interesting, and even though it has kind of a major feel, we wanted to apply some different modal harmonies and some more minor sounds to it. \r\n\r\nTrying to adapt the fiddle riffs to guitar, we've had to use different tunings. Knut Buen would retune his fiddle for every song according to what strings would be open. It's all been passed down from older musicians, so he doesn't read any scores or anything like that. All in all, it's been a really cool experience.\r\n\r\nApart from that, I've been working on my second solo album, and my wife is working on her second solo album. We're pretty busy in the studio all the time [laughs].

Ibanez: Where are you at with your new solo album?
: Actually, I just sent off ten songs for my drummer to start recording before I went on this U.S. tour. So I have all the songs that I want to use recorded from start to finish. I always do preproduction guitars first, and on the last album I went back and re-recorded the final guitar parts after the drums. This drummer is so talented and tight that I actually went ahead and re-recorded the final rhythm guitars before sending it to him this time around. So all I have left is leads and various solos and layered parts. Then of course it's keyboard arrangements, bass, vocals, and lyrics [laughs].

Ibanez: How do you think your playing style has changed since the early days in Thou Shalt Suffer?
: It's changed quite a bit over the last five years, since I've been doing more tutoring. You have to focus a lot more when you have to explain what you're doing to someone else. I try to have my students choose material for themselves, because that's always been my main motivation for rehearsing. I wanted to play the music that I liked. It's hard to get inspired, when you're not really playing music that you're interested in. \r\n\r\nFor the guitar, I never really had any lessons myself. I'm all self-taught. In the beginning, I would play about 3-6 hours a day. When you start a band and get involved with production and composing and all these things, working on arpeggios and sweep picking kind of lags behind a bit. I think my strong point as a guitar player is developing parts and riffs and kind of rethinking parts that aren't working well together. There are millions of guitar players that do better sweeps and faster runs than I can. I just try to focus on what I feel comfortable doing [laughs]. I don't know if that answered your question [laughs].

Ibanez: When did you first become acquainted with Ibanez guitars?
: Even though we have a good music store in my area, Ibanez guitars weren't all that easy to get a hold of. So I played whatever I could get. I bought my first Ibanez on our 1999 tour with Emperor and Peccatum, and I bought the Universe from one of the guys in our support acts. To go back to your previous question, that's something that changed my playing style quite a bit. Because of the wider neck, I had to use my pinky finger much more. Being self-taught, that was an especially weak link for me. My strength and stretching my fingers has changed quite a bit since then, and it's changed the way that I play and voice chords.

Ibanez: What drew you to the RGT as your guitar of choice?
: I'm kind of a traditionalist. For the guitars that I used to play, I've always had black guitars. I always tried to get a hold of different woods or something, but somehow I always ended up with a black guitar again. So when I saw that RGT320Q with the quilted maple top, it just had so much color and the wood was beautiful. So that's mainly what drew me to that particular guitar. I also got the RGA121 in violin flat and the NT105 artcore.

Ibanez: Any words of advice for young musicians?
: I think it's so important to allow yourself to be serious about your work with music. I've told so many of my pupils this, because they want to start a band. So they start a band with a joke name and write joke lyrics. That becomes kind of an excuse to not play it right. I usually tell them to start one serious band first where you take it serious and do your best. Then, you can start ten joke bands on the side for all I care [laughs]. For your own sake, allow yourself to be a musician. If you don't believe it, why should anyone else?

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