Whirling hearts and joyous uprisings: exploring the world of Swirl

Photo by Neil Zlozower

There is an increasingly mighty roar coming out of California and it goes by the name of Swirl. This is a band really beginning to make a vocal name for themselves with their multi-flavoured, hard rock fuelled fusion of rock and metal. Welcomingly given the opportunity to get to the heart of the band with Swirl creator and guitarist Duane “DT” Jones, we talked beginnings, songwriting, successes and plenty more….

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Hello to you too. This is ‘DT” guitarist and founder of the band Swirl out of Southern California. Thank you for your interest in Swirl! We are always grateful to anyone taking an interest in what we do.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

I started the band in the Pacific Northwest in a town called Mukilteo, Washington. I had 3 other members than the current line-up; we rehearsed, wrote songs and made plans to record our debut in Santa Monica, CA. About a week before we were to leave I got a call from the drummer saying he wasn`t going to make the trip. I called my brother, Brian “Bam Bam” Jones who was playing in a band in Arizona at the time and asked him to come out to California, learn the songs and track drums to which he was all too happy to help out. That version of Swirl toured the US and Japan on a full length release titled Out Of Nowhere that was produced by former Quiet Riot and now RATT guitarist, Carlos Cavazo with former Rough Cutt bassist Matt Thorr engineering or producing tracks as well.

After those tour dates finished the band parted ways with the original singer and touring bassist. By then Brian had moved to California so I joined him there. I was introduced to current Swirl singer Alfred Ramirez and bassist Shane Carlson by former Dio keyboard player Claude Schnell who was looking to produce a demo for a band they had, however they had parted ways with their guitar player and Claude asked me to write with them so he and I could get into a studio together. After a few writing sessions we decided to go play the songs live and it was there that a friend pointed out to me that Alfred would sound really good singing Swirl songs so I asked him to go into a studio with Cinderella drummer Fred Coury and I. The end result of those sessions were the two songs Mad Disease and Time To Fly with the latter being particularly well received so tour offers followed. The natural choice was then Shane Carlson and we have been together ever since. 2018 will mark the 10 year anniversary of this line-up for Swirl.

Have you been or are involved in other bands?

My only involvement with other bands was the above mentioned writing project that introduced me to Alfred and Shane as well as one other band in California that hired me as one of their touring guitarist for a self-produced disc. That was actually my first ever “bus tour”. Actually it was a converted mobile home, but still I got the rock star treatment on that tour. It was fun, but the band broke up. As that band had already recorded their disc when I joined and there were no writing opportunities I can`t say it had any influence on my writing direction, but it was a great series of lessons on things to not do when running a band.

What inspired the band name?

Usually one look at a picture of the band is all it takes to answer that question, but it goes deeper in that we all have different nationalities and personalities that come to together to create the Swirl music.

Photo by Neil Zlozower

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

No particular theme to starting the band. I just wanted to play in a rock band that wrote songs good enough to share stages with my idols. Some of those goals have been accomplished!

And that same intent drives the band?

Absolutely! At the end of the day we enjoy what we are doing and are hell bent on capitalizing on the success Swirl has had to date. We are not where we want to be, but clearly we are on our way. The crowds are getting bigger, the stages are getting bigger and the bands we have opportunities to work with are larger, more well know bands as well.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

While I am an 80s metal head guitarist at heart I have adapted my playing to a more modern approach when it comes to writing and guitar tones. I guess the best way to think of it is “what if you took a band like Shinedown, Seether, or FFDP and put a guitarist like Jake E Lee, Warren DeMartini or George Lynch in it.

As for the reason for the evolving sound?…The credit for that goes to Brian who wanted to push the music in a more modern direction, but knew I was still going to be me on guitar and have those moments. Our first attempts at this proved very successful with a self- produced EP titled SWIRL that wound up with 3 songs being featured in a full length, 2 time award winning film called Ditch Day. Those songs are Rise Up, Spell, and We Are Alive. That movie is now out in 6 countries with more to follow. Another indicator that Swirl made a smart move in terms of musical direction is the incredible social media success we have enjoyed while being an independent band. We have a very strong online presence.

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

The change was very deliberate and I had to do my homework in listening to bands that normally I would not have given the time of day to, just to get a feel for what was going on with the guitar playing and production. I fought it at first, but in the end decided it couldn`t hurt to try. I am so glad I was open to the idea.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

Well I already touched on my 3 biggest influences on guitar and yes all four of us have very different influences that we bring to Swirl. Shane is the most “metal” of us all with his influences being bands like Korn and Metallica while Alfred cites David Bowie or Billy Idol as biggest influences for him. For Brian and I we started off as KISS fans, but he went in the direction of Rush and various jazz drummers.

For myself when producing Swirl music I lean a lot on Shinedown or Seether for production and “ear candy” ideas, but since I am not the only one working to produce/ mix the songs I am sure the other guys have their influences well represented in the final product that you hear from Swirl.

Is there a particular process to your songwriting?

Normally we start with a guitar idea that is almost a complete song then I get together with Brian to work on the arrangement before presenting it to Shane and Alfred who then add their influences to the arrangement and of course the vocals. Alfred creates them almost exclusively.

Where do you, more often than not, draw inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

I would like to start by saying that when I write lyrics it’s usually tied to a personal experience of mine or one that I have witnessed in the world we live in. I also feel what’s most import is not so much what my lyrics mean to me, but more importantly what my lyrics mean to the listener. I want the listener find their own story within the lyrics. To me that means the listener can interpret and apply them in any way they choose.”- Alfred Ramirez

Give us some background to your latest release.

The Lift is a departure in some ways from the typical writing pattern for Swirl songs and given the new heights of success we are having with it this may become the way we do things going forward. Again I had the basic structure and worked on the arrangement with Brian, before bringing it to Alfred and Shane. However Alfred and I had a separate writing session to make changes to the verse and bounce other ideas off each other. Then we got back together as a band and went from there.

During the final mix sessions Shane Carlson made some more brilliant suggestions to improve the song to let it become what you hear from us now.

Here is the lyric video for The Lifthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaBMGg0ACYo

As Alfred is the songwriter he sets the tone for the theme of the songs. If there is one constant I have noticed when I look at the reviews we get it is that the bands “message” is a positive one. A lot of life affirming, motivational and inspirational themes go into his work and I am very happy about that. I am pretty positive person most days!

Here are some samples of reviews we have received whether they are for The Lift single…

“…everything possesses a joyous, downright celebratory spirit…the track positively teems with life”- Skope Magazine

or the SWIRL EP

“An uplifting vibe…” The Happy Headbanger

“After listening to Swirl in its entirety it has lifted me up mood wise!!”- Metal Temple

“…if you are looking for a really sweet hard rockin’ melodic band that will have you humming along and singing with the CD in just a few listens than make this new SWIRL release yours. 9/10 Stars”- The Examiner

Here is a link to our reviews- https://www.reverbnation.com/socalswirl/press/

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

What The Lift means to me is that we all need help sometimes, be it an emotional lift or a physical lift. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when we need it. We also shouldn’t be afraid to offer to help when were able to. We are all on this planet together and we are all connected, so let’s help one another.

My personal Lift was given to me by “The Minor Goddess” who lifted me out of a depressed and stressed out anxious time in my life. Thank you MG! “Your words will always stay with me “. – Alfred Ramirez

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

We like to have the song pretty much done by the time we go into the studio so we can be more efficient with the recording process, but of course we leave room for those “happy accidents” that happen when tracking that are unique to a session.

One of the unique things about the sessions for The Lift is the process we used to get into the studio. We were introduced to producer Emad Alaeddin at Granted Records by Ditch Day producer Megan Waters. He suggested the band use “crowd funding” to cover the cost of the sessions. This was a first for the band and it was very successful. As an unsigned band who happens to be self- managed as well as our own booking agents we wear many hats to make Swirl the known name that is it becoming. Our fans are our record label and they decide how often we make new music and release videos or tour. We weren`t sure what to expect, but with this first attempt and the success of the campaign (we had enough money donated to book our first session in just 48 hours of activating the page at https://www.gofundme.com/launch-new-music-by-swirl-the-band ). The page will remain active. To be clear we are not opposed to record labels, management or booking agencies….we just refuse to wait on one to discover the band when we can get our music and band out to the people who support us!

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

We are a band that thrives on stage! We love being out there. Swirl is a high energy show with emphasis on the word “show”. There is always “someone doing something”. It`s actually the only way the band “fights”….we fight for the attention of the audience and are quick to let the others know who won the night after our set. It`s all in good fun and ultimately the audience is the winner.. We have been able to tour with established bands like RATT, Cinderella, Extreme, Red Dragon Cartel, LA Guns, Lynch Mob, and Slaughter just to name a few. We also headline shows in Southern California. In fact the first stop on “The Lift” tour will be in Hollywood, CA at the Whisky A Go Go on Saturday February 3, 2018.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

We firmly believe that you create your own luck so yes you can make your mark. The real question is how bad do you want it? We are, have been and remain hungry to succeed! We were recently listed by Gerry Gittleson, a writer for Metal Sludge in Los Angeles as one of three local bands that actually draw a crowd when we play.

Another way Swirl has separated itself to a degree is getting involved in licensing our music into movies and television. For example Swirl has 3 songs in the 2 time award winning Ditch Day movie that stars Emmy award winner Bill Oberst Jr. The songs are Spell, We Are Alive and Rise Up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_RhbgL5Cv0&t=11s ).  So far that film is available in 6 counties. We are working on more licensing deals for our music from the SWIRL EP as well as The Lift.

 How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

I have no complaints about social media! Swirl is doing very well with it. We also spend quite a bit of time and effort marketing our band globally. Again it`s a how bad do you want it situation. We didn`t wake up knowing what we know and have made mistakes along the way, but we learn, we grow and we apply lessons to the next venture for the band whether its online, in the studio or on stage.

We have been able to reach people that would otherwise have had very little chance of discovering our music so we are very grateful for social media. It is a big part of the music business now and I don`t see that changing any time soon.

See for yourself here-

SWIRL website- http://www.swirltheband.com/

SWIRL Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/swirltheband/

SWIRL Twitter- https://twitter.com/Swirltheband

SWIRL Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/swirltheband

SWIRL Soundcloud- https://soundcloud.com/swirl-dt

SWIRL YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/swirlgtr

SWIRL Reverbnation- http://www.reverbnation.com/socalswirl

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you for your time and interest in Swirl. Look for the band to be on tour in and out of the United States in every country where the music making an impact on radio or through movies released that feature Swirl music.

Pete RingMaster 17/02/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Interview with Jay Parmar

Recently The Ringmaster Review was directed and connected to guitarist Jay Parmar and his deeply impressive new album Circle Of Fire by a mutual friend. Though not a favoured style of music we were blown away from the creativity and inspired sounds within its twelve excellent rock fuelled tracks. With a collection of deeply talented musicians and a legend also contribution to the release alongside the mastery of Parmar the album is an essential and irresistible rock album for all and a master class for all budding guitarists. We had the pleasure to talk to Jay to find out more about him, his music and the album.

Hi Jay, thank you for talking to us here at The RingMaster Review.

You’re very welcome.

First question has to be can you tell us about Jay Parmar?

Sure. I guess Jay Parmar is a professional guitarist, runs a recording studio in East Sussex (Sacred Sound), and teaches guitar. I’m just a free spirit wandering through this world expressing myself through my music.

When did you first find a heart for music and then start playing the guitar?

My interest in music started when I was quite young. I remember being at junior school and going to see the music teacher about playing an instrument. The only thing available at the time was a saxophone, which I passed on otherwise we might be talking to my jazz alter ego. That interest kept up and in high school I tinkered with various musical instruments. I tried out keyboard, drums, tabla, guitar and played trumpet for a few years. My dad had actually bought me a guitar probably around 1986-87, a used Telecaster copy made by Maya Guitars, but I played for a little while and then it stayed in its case for a couple of years as being a kid I wanted something with humbuckers and a Floyd Rose vibrato and skulls on the body! My passion for guitar was ignited when I first started to listen to Iron Maiden in about 1988 though and I uncased the Tele and started playing a year later, 1989.  I didn’t appreciate the Tele at the time and eventually took it apart and stripped the body of its paint. I now know it was a beautiful guitar so am putting it back together right now and customising it. It will be reborn as the ‘Snake Charmer’.

Why the guitar, and who were the influences initially that inspired you and have since?

I couldn’t see myself running around a stage with a grand piano strapped around my neck, so I had to settle for guitar. It was the sound and presence that the guitar had. I fell in love with the overdrive sound. My first influences were Dave Murray and Adrian Smith in Iron Maiden. A friend of mine had lent me the ‘Seventh Son’ album and I was totally captivated with the way these guys were playing. That album was really powerful and probably their heaviest and I was hooked. I then bought the ‘Live After Death’ album and that was on constant rotation for months. I learnt pretty much all the songs. From there I discovered Jake E. Lee, during his Ozzy days, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman and then George Lynch entered the picture and took over as my main influence.

Was your family background musical?

No, not really. My dad had a nylon string acoustic guitar and had played at some point when I was a baby, but I don’t recall him playing. My sister took it up for a few years when she was in junior school and when I got into guitar and started playing, she showed me my first three chords, an E, A and D.

As you mentioned George Lynch (Lynch Mob/Souls of We/Dokken) has had the biggest impact on your music, what is it about his playing that makes him so influential to you?

There were so many great guitars players kinda battling for top mantel during the 80s. I was listening to guys like Malmsteen, and Vai and Jake E Lee, then Satriani. Eddie Van Halen came a little later for me, but he was part of that crowd as well. George just stood out from the whole scene. His playing was smooth, but had this aggressive edge and what really did it for me was his pinch harmonics! He has the best squeals man! Also, I realised very early on that George’s playing was always so mesmerising because there was always a progression in his playing and songwriting. He kept moving forward with each song. His sound would change for each album. George’s solos would have the essence of his playing on each new album, but there would be new licks to listen to and learn. And he rarely uses repeating/rotating licks which he plays over and over during a song. There is a lot of movement in his solos and his playing always compliment the songs rather than take them over. I was actually really into Yngwie Malmsteen when I first really noticed George. I had heard one Dokken song previously; ‘The Prisoner’ from ‘Back For The Attack’, but it hadn’t made that much of an impression at the time. I’d discovered Malmsteen’s live album ‘Trial By Fire – Live In Leningrad’ and the speed and accuracy of his playing was astounding. A friend had made a cassette tape copy of ‘Odyssey’ for me and there was little space at the end so he’d put Dokken’s ‘Kiss of Death’ on as a gap filler. I’d just listened to this fabulous Malmsteen album and then the intro riff for ‘Kiss of Death’ starts playing and that was the moment when George Lynch became my favourite guitar player. I was blown away by the song, the sound, playing, everything. It is still like that for me now when I listen to new albums by George. There is so much forward movement and inspiration in his playing. He’s constantly evolving and adding to his playing.

George plays upon a track from your impressive new album Circle Of Fire. You must have been stoked about that and how did that come to be?

Thank you. I’m really glad you liked the album. Yes, George being on the album was one of my musical dreams come to fruition. George and I have been friends for almost 10 years now. I met him when I was working on the tribute album that I played on and produced in 2002-2003 and we’ve kept in touch since. So, when I started out getting this album together I asked him if he’d play a solo on the album and he said he would. The album became my never ending project and it took longer then I envisaged to finish, but once the song ‘When Angels Cry’ was done, we met up a couple of times and I spoke with him and we figured it out. He recorded the solo in LA and the files were sent to me. And there I was one morning, in my studio listening to George playing an incredible emotive, beautiful solo over a song that I’d written, recorded, and the first song that I had sang on. It was a really special moment. I then learnt the whole solo!

Tell us about the album itself.

‘Circle of Fire’ has 12 tracks, most of which I wrote and recorded over the last couple of years. The ideas and inspiration for the songs came from many different directions and sources. Because of the passage of time, there is also a progression and evolution that people will hear in my playing and writing style, which was influenced by what I was listening to, if I was touring, the book that I was reading, and many other factors. So, each track is capturing that unique moment, but still strung together with my sound and playing, which brings it all together. I have a wonderful collection of singers and musicians as well, and they all added their own uniqueness to ‘Circle of Fire’, and I think that keeps the whole album really interesting to listen to. The 12 tracks are the best of the tracks that were written. I think I had about 20 songs done by the time I’d finished the album but some of them didn’t fit the album, or my playing had moved on since they were written, so they were cut. There are two or three more finished songs that I have, which will be released on the CD version of the album in a couple of months.

How does it differ in direction and creation to your previous albums Will Play For Lynch– A George Lynch Tribute and the instrumental solo release Strange Day, apart from in the obvious differences.

The direction is different from both of those albums primarily because I’m always evolving as a musician. The guitarist that I was when I started recording the songs, a couple of which I wrote 5 or 6 years ago, is a different person to whom I am now. So, there was a natural progression that occurred in my writing and playing. The type of songs that I would have written 5 years ago are very different to those that I write now. I’m no longer just trying to write new Dokken songs! (laughs). The creative process was similar in that I have always recorded relatively quickly. I don’t really ‘demo’ songs and then go back and re-record, unless I need to redo the guitar sound with a different amp, or the quality needs improving. A lot of the takes on ‘Circle of Fire’ are first, second, or third takes. I re-recorded some of the rhythm guitars this time, which was different from the previous albums, because I had my studio, I could mic up my Randall amp and turn it up all the way and play with mic placement. There was a lot more thought that went into the songs as well because I wasn’t just creating backdrops to solo over and self indulge, so I was considering how vocals would flow over the music. Even with the solos, I waited until the vocals were laid down so that I could be inspired by and play off them; hence everything works together really beautifully. The production was very, very different because of my studio, which I built in 2008. I also went back to basics, re-learnt all of the production skills that I needed, and then started applying them to the work from scratch. I even changed the monitors in the studio to make sure that the sound quality was the very best that I could possibly achieve.

This may sound a silly question but is there a lot of you in the songs? Is it a personal release as well as a fine collection of inventive ideas?

Not a silly question at all. Yes, all of the music is 100% the essence of who I am. The lyrics that I wrote are as well, and I think that’s the same for everybody who contributed to the album. I’m just doing what happens naturally. I’m just being and allowing. I’m just the means to the music becoming a format that we can listen to. The ideas and inspiration come from a much higher place. It’s not something that happens in my mind because when I do that, the songs always end up in the archives as sound ‘written’ and I can hear and feel the difference in the music. There’s something missing, whether you call it soul, or spirit or whatever else it may be labelled as. Instead, I just allow the creative energy to flow and let it all happen as naturally as possible.

Is there a further connecting theme or emotion to the music on the album?

I guess just the essence of who I was at the time that I recorded the music. And I can also hear that in the vocal takes, which is why on all but two of the songs I asked the singers to write the lyrics. That way each singer injected their own experience, emotions and personality into the words and performance. It is personal to them so they embedded their own essence into the songs. For me, that is what makes the album special. I can feel the emotion behind the words and music.

How long has it been in the making? With the array of talent who have added to the wealth of skill on Circle Of Fire one imagines it was time consuming in a good way.

The process started about 6 years ago, but realistically the album as you hear it now was done in the last two, two and a half years. I’d found everybody except Pete Newdeck probably four years ago, but there were other events that took place which delayed my finishing the album – I moved house and build my studio, Sacred Sound, I went on tour with Eden’s Curse, I was involved in lots of side projects which took up my attention and time. Eventually I decided to drop everything and just focus on finishing the album. The album was completed when it was supposed to be though. If it had been finished even a year earlier then it wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it turned out. Everything synchronised when it was meant to.

People you recruited to help out included the likes of Pete Newdeck, Carsten Schultz, Andreas Novak, Tim Wallace, and Mike Rotella. Other than Newdeck Eden’s Curse, were these particular people you already knew and why did you wish these great musicians to add their skill to your music?

I was introduced to Carsten and Andreas when I was working with Eden’s Curse bassist, Paul Logue. He’d heard some of my tracks and wrote the lyrics and he recommended Carsten for the vocals on a couple of them. I’d been listening to Evidence One for about a year before and was really into them so I jumped at the chance to have Carsten sing. He has that perfect growling rock voice! Andreas I met through working with Paul as well. Andreas was singing on the project that I was recording guitars for. He has such an incredible and emotive voice. I love listening to his singing. The project didn’t come to fruition, but I kept in touch with Andreas and I asked him if he would sing on another project that I was doing with Mike Rotella. Andreas said that he would, but as his schedule was very busy and progress was slow, I decided that it would be better to drop that and just focus on ‘Circle of Fire’. We’d already been working on the song ‘Test of Time’ so I decided to put that one in the album. ‘Hell Is The Place’ was another song that was part of that endeavour with Andreas and Mike and I really wanted the opportunity to work with Mike so I asked him to do the solo on ‘Hell Is The Place’. Mike and I have known each other for many years now. We met as a result of our mutual admiration for George Lynch. He’s an amazing guitar player. His solo is actually just the scratch ideas that he sent me to check he was on the right track! I was like, are you kidding dude? This solo fits perfectly! Tim and I have been friends for a long time also. He has a really punchy and ballsy delivery. Again, I wanted to work with him for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity so I asked him if he wanted to write some lyrics, and ‘Harm’s Length’ is what he came up with. Just in yer face bang! It is beautiful! And I asked him to sing on ‘The Dragon’, which I wrote the lyrics to.

Going back to George Lynch and the song When Angels Cry he plays on, the track seems a natural palate for him to explore did you write it with him in mind from the start?

I didn’t have George in mind when I wrote it. That one just happened. I was playing around with a new guitar that Vengeance Guitars had built for me. It has a heavy maple body and the neck is wrapped in carbon fibre, and it has this really edgy sound and crisp delivery. I’d been playing with some keyboard sounds and had written and laid down the piano part in the song and then I was just noodling on the guitar and came up with the main riff, which sounded great. Different from what I usually write. That’s one of the first songs that I penned the lyrics to as well. Once it was done though and I was thinking about which song to send to George, that one just seemed perfect. He would have sounded great on any of the others but that one was different and knowing George I realised that ‘When Angels Cry’ would be the one that he’d really enjoy working on. He’s done the whole hard rock and metal thing for years, and I know he still loves doing that, but the really special stuff comes out when he’s playing to something a little off reservation, and that is what happened with this song.

The song reminds of bands like Motherjane, can you tell us about its emotion and inspiration?

You know, before you mentioned them I didn’t know who they were but I’ve just checked them out and wow! Amazing band! I understand where you’re coming from. I think it’s probably down to the shared Indian roots. Although I don’t listen to Indian music, my parents did while I was growing up, and I do have a fascination with exotic and eastern sounds, so the soul of that sound and style filtered into my playing and is there in the background. It’s a little more prevalent in ‘When Angels Cry’. The meaning and emotion, I won’t give too much away as I like people to have a blank canvas to work from so that they can come up with their own meaning. The song is all about what we take with us and what we leave behind when we die. The lyrics are quite dark and they felt right at the time because of my understanding of life, death and what comes after. I was thinking about past experience when I was writing the lyrics, but have a very different view and outlook about the whole subject now. It is interesting listening to the song though as it is a really vivid snapshot of a past feeling. The inspiration for the lyrics came from two places. First was a line at the end of ‘Blade Runner’, and the other was something that was said on Ya’el’s DVD ‘The Love Project’ – which is an amazing DVD.

Circle Of Fire is released on Digital Nations the label of Steve Vai, how did you  come to the attention of he and his label?

One of my students in the US, whom I teach via webcam, put me in touch with Tony Macalpine’s manager and he introduced me to the label. I didn’t even know of the connection with Steve Vai when I met him and we were talking for about a year and he gave me some really good pointers and constructive feedback about the album. From the outset I had in mind that that’s where I wanted the album to go. It is the right place for me as they handle a lot of solo artists. It is wonderful to be on board and I feel very honoured to be part of their artist list.

As previously mentioned you worked with Pete Newdeck ,when you toured with Eden’s Curse as second guitarist in 2009. How did that experience and the opportunity to share stages with the likes of Firewind, Stratovarius, Alestorm and The Rotted impact on your own music and ideas?

Impacted me greatly. Working with Eden’s Curse really tightened up my playing. The music demanded it and before the tours, Thorsten Koehne and I hooked up on Skype once a week for a month or two and went through the parts and worked to backing tracks. So, by the time we got to the first rehearsal, which was the first time we were all in a room together playing the music, we were 90% there. We just needed to figure out endings, which we did over the next couple of days and we were all set. I recall a couple of people talking to me after the warm up gig, the first ever Eden’s Curse gig, and saying that they had heard that we’d only met up a few days earlier and that couldn’t be true as Thorsten and I played together like we’d been in the studio together for 6 months, and I said well, actually it’s true! Firewind were an influence for sure – seeing the energy and also because I knew and liked the band. ‘Walking In Circles’ was inspired by Firewind. That whole metal approach and also the intro guitar parts were written a couple of days after I got back from the finishing the first tour. Eden’s Curse were an influence in terms of the some of the guitar parts, for example the harmony parts during the bridge in ‘Walking in Circles’ and the rhythm for ‘Stop Laughing’. The other bands had an impact as well in terms of their musicianship as well. Really had a great time on the road.

On Circle Of Fire Pete not only drummed but was the vocalist on some songs, whose idea was that and was it something he was eager to do from the off?

That is a funny story actually. Pete had been laying down some vocals for some songs he’d written, which became songs for his band Tainted Nation, so I was aware that he had started to work on his singing. When (we) he came on board as drummer on ‘Circle of Fire’ I started to send him the audio files so that he could take them into the studio and record the drums for me, which he did. But most of the songs would come back with lyrics, vocals and some arrangement tweaks as well! Very unexpected but a very pleasant surprise. The songs he wrote were great and he asked who I’d ask to sing them and whether I wanted to keep his vocals and we decided that his vocals sounded fabulous so we kept them. I had him come over to the studio to re-record the vocals for ‘Walking In Circles’ and it was the funniest time. Between recording lines he’d be looking back and pulling faces, dancing around in the vocal booth, arms in the air. It was hilarious. I captured some of it on video and it is on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ-k5TvzrsU.

One of the reasons we loved the album was the lack of indulgence which seems to litter guitar led albums very often, is this a natural restraint you have, and the ability to display your immense skills without showing off just instinctive or something you have to keep an ear on?

It is something that has become instinctive over time. One of the lessons that I picked up from George was to always think about the song, rather than use it as a background to show off guitar skills. There is a place for everything in a song and over indulging just takes the emphasis away from the big picture. I always trust that the guitars will come through loud and clear anyway, so I just hang back and let the vocals take over until it’s time to play some solos or something. Playing every guitar lick that you know on one song is like playing poker and bursting out in song and dance when you land a royal flush. You give it all away. Besides, there is plenty of time on songs for solos. I find the spaces in which to play them and if I do play over vocals then it has to be something that works with the vocals. I always try to compliment what the singer is doing with the vocal melody so that the feel is consistent throughout. My instrumental album allowed me to go crazy with the solos, for this album I wanted the songs to have space and to breathe. That space is so important. Not playing sometimes has more impact sometime then playing. ‘Harm’s Length’ is a perfect example of this because during the second verse everything stops except the drums and vocals. When the guitar solos do come in, they have that extra ‘zing’ and presence.

What are your favoured guitars, and those that graced the album mostly?

I mainly use ESP guitars and I have a signature guitar by Vengeance Guitars as well, which was used on a couple of the songs. I used all of the ESP that I have on this album. My Skull’n’Snakes and Serpent were the mainstays for the rhythm work. I have a custom orange guitar which I used in dropped tuning for the heavier songs like ‘Walking In Circles’ and ‘Circle of Fire’. 95% of the solos were done with my ESP GL56 Snake – which started life as a regular ESP LTD GL256 before I decided to cover it in rattlesnake and python skin. That is a stunning guitar. The tone is just so beautiful. I actually had it in the studio because I was changing out the pickups for Tim Wallace, who is a great guitar player himself, but once I started playing it I just fell in love with it and asked him if I could hang onto it to record with. Anyways, it never made it back to him! (laughs). I bought it from him, it had to stay!

You mentioned earlier you teach guitar too? How can people get in touch regarding learning from you?

They can drop me a line at studio@jayparmar.com or call the studio on 01273 252 441 and check out my website as well http://www.jayparmar.com/gtr.html for details. Teaching guitar is something that I’m really passionate about. I always take my students on their own personal guitar journeys. Everybody’s journey is a little different and unique to them.

What is next up for you? Any live dates coming up to support the album?

I’ll have some shows coming up later in the year. I’m putting a band together to tour this album. It needs to be heard live so that is all in the works. Also, I will have a CD version of the album out in a month or two with some bonus tracks as well.

Thanks so much for taking time out to talk with us Jay. Good luck with Circle Of Fire.

Thanks. It is a pleasure speaking with you.

Could you leave us with one song that any aspiring guitarist can only benefit from studying?

George Lynch’s ‘Mr. Scary’. Learn it like George plays it and then all the variations that he throws in when he plays live! Trust me that will teach you everything you need to know and keep you busy for the rest of your life!

Read the Circle of Fire review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/jay-parmar-circle-of-fire/

The RingMaster Review 03/04/2012

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