during the heyday of 1970s prog-rock, it was unheard of but
these days, the idea of a one man instrumental prog-rock orchestra
is not unusual. The age of the internet and the rise of the do-it-yourself
one man rock orchestra has brought a new, previously unattainable
level to rising 21st century artists. Case in point is Sentience
by U.K. based guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Ivan Verrastro.
Living and working in the U.K. rock scene, in the Birmingham / Midlands
scene, Ivans solo debut proves he has a fertile musical imagination
and impressive electric guitar skills. The nine track CD covers a
wealth of moods that runs the gamut from experimental music to instrumental
rock to jazz-rock fusion. Ivan cites his guitar influences such as
Shawn Lane and Marty Friedman and theres plenty of hard hitting
metal prog instrumental sounds to keep your interest peaking throughout.
For a self-produced project, Sentience is a most impressive
debut CD from U.K. guitarist Ivan Verrastro. www.IvanVerrastro.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do
you like best about it?
Ivan Verrastro: I was born in Potenza, a mountain city in Southern
Italy and I lived in a few different places around Italy before moving
to England in 2012. One good thing about U.K. is the great number
of different cultures that can be found, especially in the art and
music scenes. This multicolored atmosphere creates opportunities for
the musicians based here to grow stylistically and to explore new
ways to express their art.
mwe3: What was it like growing up in Italy, where and when
were you born, and what was early exposure to music like and who were
your favorite musicians while growing up? What are some albums or
CDs that you were influenced by?
Ivan Verrastro: I grew up in a very quiet place, where the
music scene was and currently is rather limited. Luckily,
I was born in a family of musicians and music enthusiasts. My mother
was a classical pianist, so I was exposed to Chopin, Debussy, Liszt
and Beethoven in my early childhood. My father is a true, genuine
music fan... he let me listen to thousands of different jazz and rock
artists that I would never have chance to know otherwise. If had to
choose 3 titles that had the greatest impact on me over the years
I would say: Bryan Adams - Reckless; Led Zeppelin IV; Shawn
Lane - Powers of Ten.
What was the original idea with your album Sentience and what
did you set out to accomplish and how did the release come together?
What does the term Sentience mean to you?
Ivan Verrastro: I am a great fan of the Final Fantasy
series, and I really love the soundtracks of the games (composed by
Nobuo Uematsu). I think that Sentience represents an attempt
to create the soundtrack of my own fantasy story. Check out my web
site to learn more,
or at least this was the original idea.
However, I think that the concept behind Sentience is a little
more complex than that, but I really like the idea of composing from
this perspective. Sentience is a word that has many meanings,
one of which is the ability to feel and perceive emotions and sensations.
I chose this title because everything in music is about sentience
mwe3: What guitars are you featuring on the CD and what are
your favorite guitars, amps, strings and effects?
Ivan Verrastro: I have used a modified Fender Stratocaster
and a modified Jackson DK for the guitar parts. Both guitars have
been with me for many years. I have also tried a lot of other guitars
but I eventually chose those because of my emotional connection to
As far as amplification goes, in studio I use a Marshall 1987x MK2.
My pedal board includes Boss SD-1, Ibanez TS-9, and Mad Professors
Deep Blue Delay among others. I use Ernie Ball and DAddario
strings on my guitars.
Where and when was the music written and rehearsed and what was the
recording process like for the Sentience CD? Being that you
recorded it on your own what computer program and other gear did you
use during the making of the album? Who engineered, mixed and mastered
Ivan Verrastro: The music was composed and rehearsed roughly
between 2011 and 2013 initially in my home studio in Italy, and then
in England from 2012 onwards. Most of the album was recorded in Birmingham,
using SonarX1 and Cakewalk UA-4FX as audio interface. I played every
instrument on the record and also engineered and mixed every track.
The album was then mastered by Chris Graham in the U.S.A.
mwe3: Do you maintain a practice schedule or do you mostly
spend time writing music? Does your practicing improve your writing
or does your writing improve your practicing? In what ways do you
strive to become a better guitarist and composer?
Ivan Verrastro: I used to practice a lot when I was about 19-20
years old, and then I started to focus more and more on writing music.
These days I dont even really practice anymore, yet my technique
to improve day by day. As far as practicing goes, I have always tried
not to be one of those boring shredders you see on YouTube. To me
music is not an exercise repeated over and over again. I am only interested
in creating atmospheres and sharing emotions with people who are willing
to listen. I spend most of my time listening to other peoples
music, because I think this is the only way one can be a better musician
and maybe a better human being as well.
mwe3: What are your musical plans as far as writing, recording
and performing for 2014? Any other interesting new things planned
for 2014 or is it just a continuation onwards?
Ivan Verrastro: I have a lot of things to do this year; I am
going to be very busy! There are some side projects and collaborations
going on, which may also include live performances and guest appearances
in a new record. In the meanwhile I have already started to write
music for the next album. I am so excited!
Thanks to Ivan Verrastro @ IvanVerrastro.com