BY NICKY BALDRIAN
For those of you who like to rock to the sounds of the eighties let me introduce you to a gentleman named Gary Schutt, you may here a lot about this man in the future as he has just released one of my fave albums of 1999 "Playthings", which is a hard rock monster, so naturally i wanted to speak to the man, here's what went down....
N.B: What happened with TAKARA?
G.S: I was great friends with Jeff Scott Soto at the time. He saw an opportunity for me to get my foot in the door. Jeff and Neal needed a bass player for the album and Jeff, knowing my multi-instrumental-ability, recommended I tackle the bass tracks. So I became Takara's bass player for a while. Then the Northridge earthquake hit in early 94. That made me take inventory on my life. I was living in L.A. with a less than minimum wage job, on food stamps, no gig in sight and totally freaked out about the earth moving. So I felt a change was needed and relocated to Florida, unfortunately leaving Takara behind.
relocated to Florida after the earthquake did you find it easy
making a come back?
G.S: Well, after the quake there really wasn't anything to make a comeback from. I had played on Takara's "Eternal Faith" and that was pretty much it. Soon after I moved to Florida me and Soto secured the deal for my first solo album, which I was very excited about. Then I got a job playing in a cover band making good money. So I guess you could say that financially I made a comeback.
obviously a multi-instrumentalist, when did you start playing and
what made you decide to try out all instruments?
G.S: My father is a percussionist and he taught music at the local schools. There was always a drum set and a piano in the house. So at a real early age I started banging out Bay City Rollers tunes on his drum kit, even
before my feet could reach the pedals. At the same time I was figuring out Kiss tunes on the piano by ear. I wasn't playing full chords yet, just one note riffs. I also had a cheap acoustic guitar that I would "air-guitar"
along to "Kiss Alive". I took a couple lessons on that but was very discouraged learning how to read music and playing songs like "Three Blind Mice". So I gave up guitar. Later on I would play drums with a guitar
player friend of mine. He, and hearing Van Halen's "Eruption", inspired me to try electric guitar. It was in the distortion pedal - that was the sound I was missing from the acoustic! So I got an electric guitar for Christmas
that year and took lessons from the guy that taught my friend. I was learning popular rock tunes, ya know - a lot more inspiring than "Row Your Boat". After about a year of lessons from that guy, my ear was developed
enough where I was hearing things that he figured out wrong so I quit and taught myself, learning songs right off of records. Soon after, picking up the bass guitar was just common sense and second nature. My senior year in
high school I saved enough money to buy a four track recorder. I experimented heavily playing all the instruments on my tapes and singing really bad. At this point I still majored in drums in school and self taught everything else myself at home.
N.B:So as a self
taught musician what would you say is the easiest instrument to
G.S: There is no easy instrument. Everything takes time, patience and dicipline. My father started teaching me drum rudiments and how to sight read rythms at a very early age. I started playing the drum set along to Bay City Rollers records by what I thought was common sense. I just copied everything I heard off the record. If it sounded like a snare drum, I'd hit the snare. If it sounded like a cymbal, I'd hit a cymbal, and so on. I guess maybe the easiest instrument is your voice, basically because it's low maintenance. There's no strings, reeds, heads or mouth pieces to change, there's nothing to but for it, and you always have it with you. But if you play it wrong you can seriously damage it.
equpiment do you use?
G.S: On Playthings I used a Jackson Dinky Reverse, an Ibanez RG140, an Ibanez RG565, an Ibanez EXB bass and a G&L Legacy guitar. The amp I used was a Digitech RP6 through a Peavey 50/50 power amp into a Peavey 4X12 cabinet miced by a Shure SM57 in my bathroom. I borrowed a friends Taylor acoustic for "Sometimes in a Dream". The keyboard was an Ensoniq ESQ1, the drums were programmed on a Roland R5, and the album was recorded on a Tascam 488 8-track cassette recorder in my apartment. Two Boss SE-50's were used as outboard effects. I have a lot of new gear now that I used to record the album I just finished. Still recorded on the Tascam though, and loved it!
N.B: What was the
idea behind "The Imperial March" cover on sentimnetal?
Was it difficult to dscale down?
G.S: I've always been a huge Star Wars fan and that tune was a favorite of mine. So I decided what a cool thing it would be to do an all guitar arrangement of that piece. Also thinking that it would send a big buzz about the album too. I transcribed the entire song the best I could, wrote it out on notation paper, memorized each part, then laid the tracks. It was very difficult and one of my proudest re-creations. I only wish I wrote the song!
N.B:You mentioned that you have re-created other music scores, which ones?
G.S: "The Imperial March" was the only classical work that I transcribed and then performed it on tape. There's many songs that I just transcribed for classes at Berklee. I transcribed the entire song of David Lee Roth's "Two
Fools A Minute", horn sections and all, and various Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, George Lynch, Randy Rhodes, Brad Gillis and Jake E Lee guitar solos. I also recreated many songs on tape but singing different lyrics over them, ya know, like a Wierd Al Yankovic parody. I'd perform all the instruments note for note and write some goofy words to sing over them. I've spoofed songs by Dream Theater, David Lee Roth, Night Ranger, Extreme, Talisman, Nirvana, Blue Oyster Cult, Queensryche and Metallica.
N.B: Your new
album rocks big time,tell me about?
G.S: Thank you. I intentionally didn't use certain old songs of mine for Sentimetal, I wanted to save them for album #2. "In The Middle" was one of them. Definitely had to be an album opener. Very few of those songs were newly written during the sessions, Those where "Animal Man", "Donut", "Enemy Lines" and "Merry-Go-Round". I recorded 19 songs for the CD but had to cut some. There originally was an extended guitar solo outro for "Animal Man" called "Feeding Frenzy", two different rocked-out versions of "Sometimes in a Dream", a very pissed original called "Wish You Dead", a short goofy jazz number that intro-ed "Donut" and a cover of Queen's "Death On Two Legs". I'm planning on releasing those tracks on a B-side CD someday. Also, Playthings would have been finished in the period of about a month or two if it wasn't for a full time day job, a top-40 gig on the weekends and a live in girlfriend.
N.B:Tell me about your top 40 gig then?
G.S: For the past three years I've been playing in a band called Disco Inferno. We dress up in afros and bell bottom pants and platform shoes and all that garb and play the popular disco funk tunes of the 70's. It's alot of fun, believe it or not. It's the best job I ever had. Before that I was in a top 40 band called The Orphans. We played alot of crap that I didn't like, but it broadended my repitoire. We did stuff like Sheryl Crow, Garbage,
Bill Withers, Gin Blossoms and a lot of other popular house and dance tunes that I didn't care for. Before that I was in a kick ass rock cover band called Signal Zero. We where a three piece, all with wireless headset mics
and we ran around all over the stage and just rocked out. Sometimes I'd play drums while the drummer got out front and sang a Nine Inch Nails tune. We played everything fron Eddie Money to Pantera. I miss those days.
N.B: Did you attend any music schools to get to where you are today?
G.S: Yes, aside from learning how to read music in the orchestra and basic theory in high school, I attended the music school of music schools - Berklee College of Music. My major instrument was guitar, while I also soaked up as much as I could from other guitarists and drummers and bass players and started to develop better singing techniques. I graduated with a degree in songwriting.
N.B:What are you listening too at the momeny Gary?
1. Dokken - erase the slate
2. Judas Priest - '98 live meltdown
3. Kip Winger - thisconversationseemslikeadream
4. Lit - a place in the sun
5. Mullmuzzler - keep it to yourself
6. Joe Satriani - crystal planet
7. Tool - aenima
8. Yngwie Malmsteen - facing the animal
9. Dream Theater - awake
10. Echolyn - as the world
N.B: When you get an idea for a song do you find a headache trying to put everything together, or is everything pre-planned?
G.S: Once I get an idea of a riff or chord progression, I can usually vision how the rest of the song will flow. Sometimes it changes, but I always hear the final product in my head while I'm programming the drums and laying tracks, and I try to match what's in my head as close as possible. It usually comes out better. Most of the time I write the entire song musically then I come up with a melody then words to match the melody. Rarely I have written music and lyrics as I go along.
N.B: So you've been around a bit with various bands and playing live, what is the score for your future then?
G.S: I've been trying to but together an original band for years. My expectations of the players I need are so high that it is very frustrating looking for the right talent. A lot of players don't meet my criteria, plus - of course- they have to like my music and want to play it too. I have a fantastic drummer that I've been jamming with for a year now named Mike Luciano. He slams out my tunes really well. We recently recruted ex-Pat Travers bassist Mars Cowling. Things are slowly coming together. In the short future I hope to recruit a second guitarist. Somebody who can do the guitar harmonies with me and sing the vocal harmonies with me too. Until I can make good money playing my original music, I'll be playing disco!
N.B: On the song "Act of sympathy" i noticed that the riffs were quite spooky, what was the idea behind that?
G.S: That was the first song I wrote after Sentimetal was done. I was in a new location and a new point in my life musically. I had a bunch of new influences for writting - Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pantera and White Zombie. I was experimenting with a drop D tuning and came up with basic chunky groove. I love polyrythmic and odd time and over-the-bar-line stuff so of course I had to incorporate that stuff in there. The verse chords were an accident. I played a D9 for the first chord and when I went to switch to the next chord, I fretted it wrong. I liked it because it was different and erie sounding. Turned out to be a Fminor9 which produces a flat 5 against the root giving that evil sound. Lyrically I can't remember how I got started on that lyrical subject matter but it turned out to be a very dark story. And unlike most of my tunes, it's NOT based on any of my experiences.(laughs)
N.B: Tell me about track six "Sometime's In A Dream"? It's so beautiful and It reminded me of Michael Sweet?
G.S: Funny how you compared it to Michal Sweet since I never heard any of his music after Stryper! I'm flattered, I think. I always thought him a great writter and a fantastic singer. I wrote that in 1993 in my roach infested one room apartment in Panorama City, which is outside of L.A. I was in a very poor and unfulfilling point in my life then and was writting a bunch of depressing tunes. I'm fascinated with "dark" love stories. I have a
couple tunes that deal with love beyond the grave. "Sometimes In A Dream" is about a lonely girl's deceased boyfriend visits her nightly in her dreams waiting for her to join him. There's a song that will be on my next
album called "Apparition" that has a spirit from a past life visit her true love in his soul's present form on Earth. Pretty deep,huh? Just think of the crap I would come up with if I did drugs!(laughs)
N.B: On "Traumatized" the song opens up with some zanny keyboard action before going into a jazz fushion swing, I love the bass part, tell me about this song?
G.S: I also love funk, jazz fusion and big band stuff too, so I try to show my different writting influences whenever possible. I love doing guitar solos over key changes. It's challenging and very out of the ordinary for a pop tune. Lyrically that song described a very bitter and pissed off person dealing with a failed relationship. The intro keyboard run reminds me of the intro to Madonna's "Lucky Star". Haha.
N.B:How has the reaction been to "Playthings"?
G.S: So far, Nicky, yours has been the best reaction! I'm waiting to see what a few other magazines have to say still. Usually all of the people that I've let hear it around here say they are very impressed overall. Mostly
people miss my style of music and with it would come back to the mainstream. Of course they also don't believe I performed everything on it and that it was recorded on an 8-track cassette!
N.B: Finally is there anything that you wish to say to your fans here in the UK and Europe?
G.S: Yes, hello and I hope you see you all real soon on whatever tour that may happen. I promise a kick-ass rock show with some great musicians!!
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