As the Guitarist for Racer X to ASIA – Bruce Bouillet turns to Seymour Duncan for smooth and even tone
Bruce Bouillet, guitarist from the underground shred metal band Racer X, has played with Paul Gilbert on record and on stage, scored his own record deals with The Scream, and Epidemic. He has performed around the world, including a US and Canadian run on the infamous G3 tour with Joe Satriani. Aside from performing live, he has produced, recorded, and mixed, on six gold albums, and a Grammy winner in 2005. His compositions are heard year round on MLB, NHL, NFL, Nascar, MTV, HBO, and more. Currently recording and touring with the band ASIA featuring John Payne, Bruce is filling the void that was held for years by guitarist extraordinaire Guthrie Govan.
Bruce Bouillet moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1985, to study at G.I.T. in Hollywood. Shortly after arriving on the L.A. music scene he joined forces with guitarist Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), bassist Juan Alderete (The Mars Volta), drummer Scott Travis (Judas Priest), and vocalist Jeff Martin to form the progressive rock band Racer X. Within 3 months, they became a top draw on the west coast club scene selling out 1000+ venues on a regular basis. In December of 1986, he signed to Shrapnel Records and recorded the first of three albums with Racer X – Second Heat. Quickly gaining world wide exposure through featured articles in Guitar World, Guitar Player, Kerrang, Burn, and Young Guitar.
After a two year nonstop blitz of the club scene and two live albums Extreme vol.1, and Extreme vol.2 – Racer X disbanded in 1988. By 1990, Bruce signed to the newly formed Hollywood Records with the band The Scream featuring members Juan Alderete, Walt Woodward (Shark Island), and John Corabi (Motley Crue, Ratt.) In 1991, their first release “Let It Scream” produced by Eddie Kramer landed them on a year long tour of the U.S and England, as well as three videos on MTV. As their fan base was increasing and record sales were on the rise, John Corabi left the band to join the newly revamped arena rockers Motley Crue, and was replaced by vocalist Billy Fogarty.
Bruce is presently writing and recording his third instrumental solo record and developing production company “Flat Fifth Digital” with Dave Foreman. He is also preparing for a world tour in 2012.
Why did you change out your stock pickups?
“One reason is for live touring. I like to have some of my guitars matched as far as output and response. Another reason is that I’ve had the luxury of trying different pickups in the same guitar through the same amp. And the JBs were always one of the best sounding. I have stayed with JBs in my main two guitars. A 1978 Les Paul Standard, and a 1978 Ibanez pf300. The sound of my JBs are smooth and even, with a solid output. Not too fuzzy or scooped.”
How would you describe your playing?
“A little more on the aggressive side. My first full length album was with Paul Gilbert and Racer X – so I still have some of that over the top quality. I lean more toward darker minor melodies. I still like heavy music of all sorts. So that would influence some of my playing when I’m doing my own thing. I also record and tour with ASIA featuring John Payne. In that project I have to cover a lot more sounds, so it’s a great platform to really see what the guitars, amps, pedals, and pickups can really do.”
How would you describe your music?
“My new album coming out near the end of this year is very heavy and back to my metal roots. I been working hard to put out something really special this time. It’s a very dark album, with some very crushing moments.”
Have you used any of the Seymour Duncan pedals?
“Deja Vu Delay. It’s got a great old school sound. And even though its built like a tank, I don’t take my effects pedals on tour much these days, it’s more of my studio delay. Therefore, it’s really under the microscope. It performs great.”
If a guitarist wanted to get into producing, engineering, and mixing records, what advice would you give them?
“If you plan on being in the studio, I think the basics of recording is something every musician should learn. Even if you don’t plan on being a recording engineer, it will allow you to communicate with those tracking you, and if you’re not happy with the way things are sounding in a session, you can direct those to the problem, or jump in and make some moves till you are satisfied. As far as producing, you should become familiar with other instruments, how they function on their own and with other instruments. Also, studying arrangements can be very helpful. Overall, when I go into a session with another producer I want to feel comfortable, and if what I’m playing is not working with the song, I expect the producer to be able to guide me in the right direction without taking all day to get there. So basically, it’s important for someone to have clear vision and a lot of good ideas, and the means to communicate them.”
You’ve had a lot of amazing groups that disbanded after only a few short years. In retrospect, what advice can you give bands so that doesn’t happen to them?
“A lot of the bands that I was a part of started out really great, but by the time a major label got a hold of them the end result was less then great. In general, the band’s sound was always watered down, made more commercial. So in the end you’re left with something less than the initial vision. The other big issue is money, I’ve seen that destroy a lot of great projects. A lot of bands will fight over who’s going to get what before there’s any money. In general, don’t sweat the small stuff, be a band and stand by the music you make.”
Want to hear some of Bruce’s music? Click here: