MICHAEL T. ROSS is a keyboardplayer who
played with HARDLINE, ANGEL, ACCOMPLICE and several other bands
and projects. I did an interview with this talented
keyboardplayer, so let's see what he has to say...
First of all, introduce yourself please to the audience (when you started with music, first bands etc.)
I live in Hollywood, California and grew up here my entire life. I started playing keyboards at the age of eight along with my older brother Shael. My first group was called RO with bassist Doug McRoy (Boogie knights, Jeff Scott Soto) and got to play the Sunset strip at 16. In 1989, my brother launched Mean Street Magazine, which today is the largest free music publication in Southern California. I started a section called Musicians Back Alley and featured Shrapnel Records owner Mike Varney for my first interview. I then covered artists such as Yngwie, Marty Freidman, Tony MacAlcpine, etc. I then simply sent Mike my press packet and he placed me in a popular Orange County group called Possumdeth. I was also introduced to several key players including Joey Tafolla, who gave me the bug to be a shredder. I just stuck with it and here I am, still plugging away at the music.
Tell me all about your projects/bands you are involved with, starting with HARDLINE...
Joey Tafolla got me in the group, so thank you Joey for that! Even though I do market myself as a progressive rock keyboardist, I enjoy playing melodic rock and was glad to join Hardline and getting to work with Johnny Gioeli. We are working on the new Hardline record right now and let me tell you, it is sounding awesome. Cant say much more about it right now but the fans wont have to wait much longer. Also, we are enjoying the good reviews from our recently released live dvd release Live at the Gods, which we headlined the largest rock festival in England in 2002. I got to do a 2 ½ minute keyboard shred solo at the end of the set.
I joined them last year and recently completed a West Coast tour. Our bassist, Randy Gregg, also got the gig with Thin Lizzy, my favorite group. Drummer Barry Brandt and I are working together writing material for the new release. Im very thankful to join such a classic band that has a lot of keys. It is an honor to be in the group and replace Gregg Guffria, one of rocks premier keyboardists. Besides, Ive never been in a band that dresses all up in white!
This is an Orange County progressive rock group that I joined after I left Possumdeth. I saw the group when they opened for Van Halen and Rush, then said man, this is my kind of group because they had a lot of Dream Theater like tunes. I soon joined thereafter, and we hit the road as the supporting act for Leatherwolf, Kings X and Skid Row. Then on the flight home from England after the Hardline gig at the Gods festival, I asked Johnny Gioeli to join Accomplice. After accepting, he went into the studio and laid down the vocal tracks for the new release coming out entitled, Shes on Fire. The record was recorded in Hollywood Hills under the guidance of producer Derek Sherinian (keyboardist for Billy Idol, ex- Yngwie, ex-Dream Theater, and Simon Phillips (drummer for Toto, ex-Whitesnake) The record is mixed by Tom Fletcher (mixed the new Yngwie record, Yes, Scorpions) and will be released on Frontiers Records, Italy.
other bands/projects you are currently or in the past played with...
I want to mention another group Im involved with called Project Steiger, headed by GIT guitar instructor Ken Steiger also from Hollywood. I co-wrote and play keys on the track called Edge of Forever for the new release called Defiance featuring Virgil Donati on drums (Steve Vai), bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm, Whitesnake, Blue Murder) and Derek Sherinian on keys who also co-produced. Each of these three players also make up the instrumental group Planet X. I play in Kens group at various shows in Los Angeles and Musicians Institute. Further, I just started recording in the studio for my debut solo keyboard record Deep Freeze featuring Atma Anur on drums (Journey, Richie Kotzen, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker) and Rudy Sarzo on bass. There will be no guitars on this record, but rest assure, there will be some chunkey monkey on the record, thanks to Korgs awesome guitar like sounds. The record will be released on Frontiers Records at the end of the year. I also do periodic special guest appearances at Musicians Institute and recently jammed with Rudy Sarzo there.
As a keyboard player, who influenced you? Who are your keyboard heroes?
First was Rick Wakeman, then Tony MacAlpine, to Kevin Moore and then Derek Sherinian. I really like Ricks classical influences, Tonys fast arpeggios, any solo Kevin did in Dream Theater, and Dereks sounds and attitude.
How was it working with famous people like Derek Sherinian and Simon Phillips?
Ive been working with Derek for Five years now and he has been a tremendous help in every fashion. Ive taken lessons off him, interned for him and he is producing my solo keyboard record. I didnt get to work one on one with Simon because we locked out his studio for two weeks to record the drums, but I did get to hang out in the studio and couldnt believe how talented he is on ProTools. He did play the shaker on one of the tunes on the new Accomplice record called Everywhere.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I will continue to concentrate on Hardline and Angel to get the new records out. Also, I look forward to releasing my solo record, which will show the fans that even though Im on several melodic rock releases, pound per pound, Im am also a true shredder and also an instrumentalist by heart.
And any more bands/projects you are planning to do?
Well, Ive been recently approached by a large group who is ready to embark on a lengthy tour, so Ill probably end up performing other European/Japanese shows later this year as a hired gun. Im also a special guest on Hardlines guitarist, Josh Ramos debut solo record entitled Living in the Light, out on Frontiers Records with Atma Anur on drums, and Accomplice bassist Scott Snyder, who in my eyes is one of the best rock bassists around. I played on track number seven called Telll Me Why with a one minute keyboard intro, which special guest bassist Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) who plays a mean harmonic like solo over it. We hope to hit the road in the near future to support the record. The record was produced and engineered by Kelly Hansen (Hurricane).
How does the future look like for yourself?
Touring plans with your bands and long-term plans? Im preparing for the Angel gig at the Bang Your Head festival gig in Germany in June 2004, possible Accomplice show at the next Gods festival in England, the release of my solo keyboard record, the new Hardline and Angel record, and several other new releases that Im a special guest on. Im currently on a radio interview tour and was aired March 21, 2004, on www.extremeradio.co.uk l in the UK and will be on KLSX in Los Angeles in April.
Thanks for answering the questions, anything to add for yourself?
Please visit my website at www.michaeltross.com and I also recommend visiting Josh Ramos new site at www.joshramos.net As mentioned before Gabor, Im a big fan of Strutterzine and am very excited about being apart of your site.
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