Adrian Galysh is a name heard quite frequently around Los Angeles, as a busy studio player and sideman with Uli Jon Roth. He’s also beginning to develop a substantial internet presence via Facebook and YouTube, and you’ve probably seen his signature spalted Maple-topped Brian Moore guitar show up on Twitter if you follow any of the “guitar money shot” feeds. Any fan of spalted tops would immediately take notice – it’s striking. Also of note is that this guitar is available with or without synth access. His new CD Tone Poet is indeed a tour de force of tones and textures, but anyone thinking it’s JUST an instrumental shred album might be surprised. Of the 12 tracks there are several vocal pieces, orchestras(!), and there’s a very World Music feel about many of the tracks.
I spoke to Adrian about his early influences, his approach to guitar playing, as well the musicians and recording process of Tone Poet.
It’s clear you have a pretty diverse musical taste and range. Tell the readers about your musical upbringing. What originally attracted you to guitar?
My earliest memory of being involved in music is when I began taking piano lessons at age five, simply because my older bothers were taking lessons and I wanted to as well. This lasted just a couple of years, as I suspect my attention span wasn’t quite there yet. My mother was very proficient at classical piano, so I would often hear her play at the house when I was really young. My father played classical violin, but oddly enough, I’ve only witnessed him play it once… I was surprised at how good he was. As a school-aged child I grew up listening to classic rock and heavy metal. It’s what my older brothers were listening to, so I listened to it too. I had to be the only kid in 4th grade seriously listening to Quiet Riot, the Scorpions, Judas Priest and Van Halen. I can definitely say that it was after a family friend gave me a cassette copy of Blizzard of Ozz that I was so blown away by how exciting the guitar playing was. I knew then that if hearing Randy Rhoads play guitar was that exciting, then actually playing guitar myself would be just as exhilarating.
After begging my parents to let me take guitar lessons for two years, they finally gave in and I began learning at age 12. They had just one condition: I had to learn on a classical guitar. I thought, “No problem, Randy Rhoads plays classical… I want to be like him.” I had great teachers, and at that age I was a sponge. I didn’t know it at the time, but my first guitar teacher was teaching me a tonne of jazz, classical and music theory. Of course he included some AC/DC riffs and other rock songs here and there, but I just figured it was all music. I played in my high school jazz band, and accelerated at that, and then went on to study music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
True to its word, Tone Poet is a plethora of tonal textures. What amps and effects did you use in the recording studio?
I started out by recording with my half stack, which comprises of a (discontinued) Marshall JMP1 tube preamp, an Alesis Quadraverb, a Peavey 50/50 tube power amp, into a Marshall Vintage 1960 4×12 cabinet. This rig, which looks like it came from the 90s (it did), usually raises an eyebrow when people see it, but once they hear it, they can’t believe how huge it sounds. The problem is, I recorded my guitar parts at my home studio, and every time I needed to re-track a guitar part, it was near impossible to set it back up, mic it and get the same tone and volume again. A real pain in the butt.
People may be surprised to know, and I’ll be the first to say that I had my doubts, and I never thought I’d do it, but I tried tracking my guitars using Logic 9’s built in amp modeling software, and the results sounded great. After I dialed in some tones, and listened back to the initial mixes, I had to give in and admit that they sounded great… better than the results I was getting with my live rig – and I could tweak the tone, gain, and mic placement later on during mixes! As for effects, I tend to track very dry when using either a live amp or the built in models, but usually a combo of reverb and delay is used for ambiance.
What guitars beside your Brian Moore Signature model did you use?
I may have used my ’87 black Les Paul Standard for some rhythm parts, but I have to say, I found that my Brian Moore guitars delivered most all of the tones I needed. It’s quite versatile. I have another Brian Moore C55 with an Emerald Green finish that I tracked a lot with. In addition to that, there are quite a few acoustic guitar parts on the album, for which I used my Yamaha APX 9C, and a beater Ibanez nylon string guitar that I borrowed.
How did you choose the musicians you worked with on the album?
Going into the initial stages of writing and recording the album, I knew that I wanted to include some vocal songs, and I also knew that I wanted one of my favorite singers, Mark Boals (Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force) to sing them. He and I met years ago, and we have worked with and toured with Uli Jon Roth (ex-Scorpions) together. I think his voice is up there with Rob Halford, Dio, and even Freddie Mercury in regards to range and tone.
The drummer, Todd Sucherman (Styx), used to be my neighbor in Sherman Oaks, CA. and we had always talked about recording together. Our schedules never lined up and he moved to Texas a few years ago, but with computer based recording, we were now able to work together via internet. Todd is such a fantastic, tasteful, musical drummer, who has chops to spare… however, his exquisite technique is always in support of the song.
Philip Bynoe (Vai) and I have known each other for about 18 years now. I met him while I was still in college. We both moved to LA the same year, and we’ve been playing together on and off for 13 years. He has a great feel that pushes the music forward. While I played bass on a few tracks, there were certain songs that just needed the “glue” that his bass playing provided.
About your BM Signature, it’s a beautiful piece, but tell readers what you wanted specifically, construction, component-wise – when you had it built. Do you feel this guitar nailed it?
I have been using iGuitar Workshop/Brian Moore Guitars since 1998. They offer a great modern feel and innovative design with vintage guitar esthetics. I remember seeing some spalted maple guitars that they would show at NAMM, and loved the way they looked. After doing a number of clinics, workshops, and convention performances for them, they asked if they could build me a guitar… I decided to make it my dream machine. Their base design is already great, but I knew I wanted the guitar to also have: 1. a Spalted Maple Top, 2. a satin finish, which is unusual, and quite complicated to do on a spalt; 3. Floyd Rose bridge; 4. be able to deliver a variety of tones. and 5. gold hardware!
Please explain its 7-way switching.
Sure, the guitar has a 5-way pickup selector and a push/pull tone pot. Lets start at the bridge position – I’ll call that position 1. This selection is the bridge humbucker. Position 2 splits the humbucker and gives me the single coil closest to the bridge. Position 3 (middle) is the bridge single coil together with the neck single coil, giving me a Tele sound. Position 4 splits the neck humbucker giving me the single coil closest to the fingerboard. Position 5 is the neck humbucker. At this point, if you pull the tone knob, you then get both humbuckers together, like the middle switch on a Les Paul. If you go back to position 4, you get a combination of the bridge humbucker and the neck single coil. Seven pickup combinations all together.
I grew up listening to 70s and 80s hard rock. I wanted a tone that didn’t have so much output that you couldn’t hear the wood, but could deliver classic tone without the headache of feeding back. I actually tried other brands of pickups with undesirable results, and kept coming back to the JB and Alnico II pro. I have to admit, I kept thinking “What do I know that Seymour doesn’t? He’s worked with every great guitarist in the business.” I trust the years of experience he has and the recorded proof of thousands of great guitar tones those pickups have helped create. The only difference is the Adrian Galysh Signature C90F guitar’s pickups come with gold pole pieces. Fancy, eh?
Nice! Who are your guitar influences?
There are many, but I’ll try to list some… of course Randy Rhoads, Van Halen, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Carl Verheyen, Jimmy Bruno, Henry Johnson, Al Di Meola, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jeff Beck, Reb Beach, and of course its exciting to hear guys like Guthrie Govan, Devin Townsend, and Greg Koch. I have to also mention that Seymour Duncan is a fantastic guitarist and I think he’s one of the best blues players around. To my ears he combines elements of Albert Collins, Jeff Beck, and Roy Buchanan in his playing. I’m a fan!
Are you going to be doing any shows or touring around this release in the near future? If so, who will be in your live band?
Yes, I’ve been booking more and more dates. No tour as of yet, as that is quite an expensive undertaking. But lots of Southern California dates. I have a pool of players that I use depending on their schedules. They include Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper) on drums, Philip Bynoe on bass, Maureen Baker (Klymaxx) on keyboards, as well as some younger LA players like Mike Talanca on bass, John Kerhulas on drums.
What advice would you give aspiring guitarists also looking to be “Tone Poets?”
Music is a language, and we should try to increase our musical vocabulary as much as possible. To that extent, aspiring musicians should play with as many other musicians as they can as often as they can. Its one thing to woodshed by yourself at home, but its much more beneficial to simply be playing music with others, often. That’s where you develop your vocabulary and give it a conversational context.