Today I am with a talented prog-metal guitarist who is now working on first solo release. If you’d like to have a little taste while reading the interview, click away!
Lady: Hi Neal. So you’re currently working on your solo album. What will the music be like?
Neal: It will be progressive metal which means complexity, lots of twists and changes. Apart from that I want to keep it melodic and fresh. There will be modern electronics from one side and orchestral sounds from the other. It will combine different styles and influences making one powerful and energetic music journey. The pieces will be mainly instrumental with guest vocals in a few of them.
Lady: Why prog-metal? Is it because it fits your lyrics/concepts/themes better or was it sort of a natural outcome?
Neal: I can express myself the most naturally through this genre. I’ve been listening to rock and metal music for quite a while but before discovering progressive version of it I had felt that there’s something even greater out there. One day I was introduced to Dream Theater and it was an outstanding experience! After that I’ve started exploring other progressive bands and finally I decided to go into this genre myself.
Lady: What inspires you to write music?
Neal: I listen to lots of music and very often it’s not progressive metal. I like music explorations that lead me into very interesting directions and inspire me to writing something I’ve never created before.
Apart from that, I draw inspiration from literally everything around me – various forms of art, interesting conversations, objects surrounding me, events, observing people etc.
Lady: What is your composing process like?
Neal: I’m a solo artist and I create parts for guitars, bass and sometimes synthesizers myself. Then my producer writes orchestrations and most of keyboard parts and then we work on arrangements together.
Lady: Playing progressive metal music requires good technical skills. How have you acquired them and what would you recommend to people who want to get their skills to a higher level?
Neal: I’ve started out having no clue about how and what to practice. I was constantly looking for new learning resources but have nobody to tell me how to use them. I was dealing with lots of frustration and I wasn’t moving forward as fast as I wanted. After taking lessons from a few private teachers I found Tom Hess (Rhapsody of Fire) who has really revolutionized my playing. My skills skyrocketed and in a week I was learning what previously took me months or even more.
I backed great instruction with lots of dedication and drive. I believe that’s the key element to fast progress is a teacher with effective methods and your commitment and passion. If one of these elements are not in place, everything moves very slowly.
Lady: You’re publishing on-line teaching resources yourself. What role does teaching play in your life?
Neal: I like inspiring others and sharing my knowledge. The most important aspect of my career is creating and releasing music, however teaching is another important aspects. I publish articles reaching thousands of people worldwide. The topics I prefer are motivation and practicing. You can find lots of resources on technique but few people write about these two.
Lady: Are you planning to form a band at some point? Or join one?
Neal: I’m opened for opportunities, whenever it will be forming a band or joining already existing one.
Lady: Cheers Neal! All the best!
Neal: Thanks lady!