We recently sat down with one of the best guitarists you have probably never heard of. Hailing from Pittsburgh PA Xander Demos is one of the coolest most talented guitar players I have ever seen. Check out our interview where we chat about guitars, guitars and guitars. Did I mention we talk about guitars? Enjoy!
I am with guitar master shredder Xander Demos, whats going on?
Not much, Keith. Taking it easy tonight. A little songwriting and that’s about it
With that intro you cant go wrong! How do you feel about being a master shredder?
Well that is one hell of a compliment! But to me the master shredder is Shawn Lane.
Then you can take the second position in master shredding, We caught some of your videos today on youtube. How long have you been playing?
Second behind Shawn? Ok… that’s all kinds of awesomesauce… I have been at it 31 years
That explains the skills, LOL!
Lots of noodling
Are you a solo player or are you part of a band?
Yes and yes. I have my own solo band called XDB – full vocals, keys, bass and drums in addition to me. But, I am also doing stuff as a hired musician as needed and I am James Rivera’s guitarist for his solo band
How long have you been playing with James Rivera?
Well, he officially just launched his solo career. But, I was playing in the Pennsylvania chapter of Sabbath Judas Sabbath for the last year
Can you tell us a little about Sabbath Judas Sabbath?
That started last year when a friend of mine approached me about doing it. I was totally into it so I jumped on board. But now that project is on a small hiatus for a while and James is working on Helstar material and some other things.
What would you say is the style you play most professionally?
Haha… great question. I was just discussing that in an interview I did last week. I am primarily “hard rock” but I currently play metal and I am all over the place. Playing with James, and I am currently doing a Journey/Foreigner tribute and my own band is kind of a progressive metal band… that’s some major A.D.D.!
What style do you enjoy playing more?
I don’t know. It depends on my mood. I love playing Journey but adding that slight shred element to it. I LOVE melodic solos and soloing like that. So as long as I have a nice chord progression to play over, I can enjoy it.
Speaking of that shred, you have a pretty cool collection of guitars. What is your main guitar?
Right now I have a signature guitar by David Thomas McNaught guitars. Available in 6 and 7 string. I have been playing the 7 a lot. It’s got 27 frets, EMGs and a low-profile Floyd.
Is that your baby?
It sort of is… I also have a couple of Suhrs that are amazing. One in particular that is one of the best guitars I have ever played. I also have an 8-string fanned fret from Conklin Guitars on the way. 26 frets – low-B to high-A so the lowest note is a B on the open B string, and the highest note is an A on the 26th fret of the A string… yep… nuts
I know you have been playing for a long time. Who have been some of your influences?
The “big three” are Shawn Lane, Michael Romeo and Steve Vai. When I started out it was Eddie Van Halen, Brad Gillis and Neal Schon
What changed in those influences that took you away from Eddie, Brad and Neal?
Well, it was just how music had changed for the most part. The “original three” were AOR guys and although my heart is TOTALLY with that music, I was expanding my horizons. Vai was like everything those guys were and more. Shawn Lane had the best phrasing and melodies I had ever heard and Michael Romeo kickstarted me again in the 90s when I wasn’t happy with where guitar was… for example: the “G” word
You seem to stick to the guitar masters like Steve Vai. Are there younger guitarists that have caught your eye?
Well, younger? I don’t know about younger by age but I am a huge Guthrie Govan fan. Totally love his playing and fellow Suhr artist Andy Wood is another current player I like. I got to know both of them over the past 5 years and it’s great to watch them develop
Do you feel like guitar players have changed over the years due to new technology or has the process been the same for most players?
I do feel like they have changed and I feel like younger players have it good because there’s so many mediums to learn from.
Do you feel like you have gained from being part of the newer generation of players?
Definitely! Consider that I started in 1982 so I was part of the old-school as well as adapting to the new methods. I also think that the internet has made it easier for me to improve
Were you classically trained in guitar?
Not at all
No, I had some teachers. Some really good ones. Dallas Perkins, Ralph Santolla and I have done a few lessons with Derryl Gabel
To someone picking up the guitar now what method would you recommend?
I would say to get as much as you can depending on how serious you are about learning. One-on-one teaching is still preferred to the absolute beginner, in my opinion.
So what’s next for Xander Demos?
Well, recording with my band as we are trying to get the new album out by the winter NAMM show 2014. In the fall, we have Skull Fest, Wolf Fest and Rock Harvest II and we have a few performances lined up for NAMM. Hoping to add more!
I hope so. I was recording some stuff already. I just need to put it together. If there is a demand for it, I am going to work harder on it to get it done.
What would it mean to you to have a kid interviewed 15 years from now and list Xander Demos as a influence in their guitar playing?
Holy crap… I never thought of that. I would be humbled and honored to know that I influenced someone’s playing. In short, it would mean a lot!
Well, with a few hundred thousand views on youtube. It looks like you are on your way. Any last words for the Soundcrave readers?
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. Please have your readers check out www.xanderdemos,com for all the latest that’s going on in my musical world. We’re trying to get out to a bunch of cities so I hope to see you all on the road! \m/
Ok, Xander. One last question. All the strings pop on your 6 string. You only get to keep one. Which one is it and why?
You mean only one string? I gotta go with the G-String. Get it? No, but really – that’s the string that usually marks the position by which I start my solos yet I can still do some rhythmical stuff… tough question!
I think I am going with the Low E, because that the only string I can play! LOL! Thanks for your time!
Nice. Thank YOU!