Thursday, September 19, 2013

Interview with Maxxxwell Carlisle

Last week I reviewed "Full Metal Thunder" (which is linked at the bottom of this page), the latest EP from shred guitarist Maxxxwell Carlisle. That naturally lead to this interview (it's funny how that works sometimes!) in which I talked with Maxxxwell about his past, present and future plans (at least in regards to possibly touring behind this excellent EP!). If you're a fan of shred guitarists and/or heavy metal in general (and damn fine heavy metal at that!) then I would highly recommend picking up a copy of "Full Metal Thunder"!

Andy (A)- Thanks for doing the interview with us Maxxxwell. If you could, please let us know how or when it was that you first picked up a guitar and decided that being a musician was what you wanted out of life.

Maxxxwell (M)-No problem man. Well, I started playing guitar probably back when I was about 13 or 14. Something like that. I actually played other instruments before that though…Violin if you can believe it. I think when I hit 14 I realized that Violin players didn’t get very many chicks….so I picked up the guitar. My Dad played guitar too so that was definitely something that got me interested as well. From the point I started it was just a natural progression. First it was just for fun, then I met other musicians and started figuring out how awesome it was to be in a band… and I just loved to play and I’ve always liked the feeling of being on stage. Some people get nervous on stage. I’m the opposite. I feel totally at home. All those people are there to see me!

A-Growing up who were some of your influences? This ties back to the first question somewhat.

M-I think my first big influence was Angus Young from AC/DC. He just has a totally bitch’n blues rock style and great tone. He’s not much of an influence on me these days but back then I was totally into that. Also Nuno Bettencourt… one of the first CDs I bought was a used copy of “Best of the Scorpions – Rockers and Ballads” but when I opened the case it was a copy of “Extreme – Pornograffitti “. Going from AC/DC to that totally blew my mind!

A-Could you also share with Heavy Metal Time Machine's readers how it was that you first got started in the music industry?

M-Like I said earlier, there was never a specific time that I was like, “Oh hey I’m a real musician now!” It was just a progression. First I played guitar in my room, then with some friends, then we started a crappy garage band, then we had fog machines. And once you have fog machines…you’re the real deal.

A-LOL, I guess you're right! Fog lights make a band! So, with that said, what was the first band you ever played with?

M-Back in my hometown of Woodinville, WA…the band was named Graceful Chaos. We actually played for many years through high school and into College. The problem was though, that that was when grunge was huge and nobody wanted to hear a metal band. Too many false metal posers around back then… We recorded an EP and even a full-length. Great times.

A-Your credits are highly impressive! You've played with a real list of who's who in the rock and roll and heavy metal community. Has there been a favorite moment for you?

M-Thanks man. I think the favorite moments have actually been off-stage moments. Just hanging out backstage, being able to talk with veteran musicians and of course all the crazy backstage antics.

A-Where you ever starstruck by anyone you've played with?

M-I really haven’t… I’m just not the kind of person to get star struck. Once you meet a certain number of people…you realize that everyone is just as human as the next person… Tony Macalpine was showing me some licks once and he’s like, “yeah I got to go soon…have to meet a tow truck…the battery in my car died.”  You never think of this legendary guitar shredder having car trouble but when it comes down to it he has to deal with the same issues as the rest of us. Anyway,  he then proceeded to show me this sweep picking pattern that totally melted my brain.

A-Was there a moment when you stepped back and said "Wow, I can't believe I've made it this far"?

M- Not one specific moment, but I guess when I have someone come up to me after a show and they are just like, “Whoa dude! That was sooo sick!” That kind of stuff always gives me that “wow” feeling.

A-Tell us how did your solo career get off the ground?

M-I think my solo career got off the ground with my 2nd album, which was my “Speed Force” instrumental album. I had a couple of great guest soloist on it and that brought some good attention to the project from some of the metal news sites like Blabbermouth and so forth. Good press is always a great thing. That led to enough demand for my music that I could justify putting together a live band and start booking shows.

A-On your new EP you combine shred guitar with traditional heavy metal. While your promo material listed plenty of solo guitarists (as far as influences) were there any groups in particular that influenced the heavy metal side of your style?

M-Yeah, I have my obvious guitar influences like Michael Angelo Batio, Luca Turilli, Jason Becker, Chris Impellitteri and so forth… but there are definitely bands that influence me more in how I write songs and arrangements. Some good examples would be Judas Priest, Loudness, Manowar, Racer X, Fifth Angel, King Diamond, Blind Guardian, Ring of Fire… that’s just few.

A-All good bands. So, how has the reaction been so far for the EP?

M-It’s been great! So great actually that now I wish I’d done a full-length instead…anyway the next one will be. I’m pretty stoked about it. I’ve got a ton of new riffs and song ideas that I can’t wait to unleash!

A-Well, now you have me looking forward to new material from you! Any favorite tracks off the new EP and if so why?

M- The title track. I think it just represents everything I’m about. Over  the top. Lots of shredding.  Lots of Metal. I have to say I really like “Time Crisis” as well, simply because it’s banned in China. Apparently they had some TV show that was about people time traveling when they died, and so some people committed suicide thinking they would wake up in a different time period. So now everything relating to time travel is banned. I’m not even joking. That song is all about time travel and I got to use the phrase, “cohesive electrons”. Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead…

A-How was it that you managed to get a couple of really cool guest guitarists like Nita Strauss and Rick Renstrom to play on your new EP?

M-Well I already knew both Nita Strauss and Rick Renstrom before I asked them to guest on it. I knew they were both great players and would fit well with my style. It was just a matter of getting the parts sent to them and making it work with everyone’s schedule. Nita is busy as hell but she got it done just in time. I think I got her solo like 2 days before I had to get the tracks sent to the mastering studio. Nita and I have been talking about doing another project together actually. Might have some news on that soon.

A-Is there any chance you might be touring behind the EP?

M-I’ve been doing some dates already, in California. We are working on some mid-west shows right now and also some Mexico dates for early next year. So far the material has gone over really well live. I wrote the songs with the live show in mind. It’s Metal. It has to be played live and loud!

A-Amen to that! The louder the better! Back to the new EP though and, as far as fans wanting to buy a copy for themselves, where should they go?

M-Easy. Physical copies can be ordered directly from my website, and anyone who wants to download it can get it on iTunes or Amazon.  

A-Hey, thanks again for chatting with us. I'll give you the last word Maxxxwell. Anything you'd like to add?

M-Just that I hope everyone checks out and enjoys the new EP and come checkout my live show whenever I come out your way. Stay Metal!! \m/

You can read my review here:
Maxxxwell Carlisle‏-Full Metal Thunder EP

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