classical composers like Niccolo Paganini were reincarnated rock as
metal guitar gods in the 21st century, they might sound like T.D.
Clark. Among the heaviest of all the rising hard rock / metal
guitarists, Clark cuts loose on his latest instrumental rock outing
appropriately entitled T. D. Clarks Shreddtime Stories.
The Illinois guitarist gets solid backup from his band but the focus
is right on Clarks daredevil electric guitar tactics. Much like
the horrific / hilarious cover art, T.D. Clarks Shreddtime
Stories will leave you breathless. The eleven cut CD is mostly
hard rock instrumentals with no vocals, yet Clark stretches out on
a couple acoustic tracks that gives further indication of his well-rounded
guitar work (check out track four and the belly dancing guitar vibe
of Moroccan Bedtime Story). With his hard hitting sonic
roller coaster approach to instrumental metal guitar, Clark is recommended
listening for fans of guitar legends such as Steve Vai and Tony MacAlpineas
well as up and coming instrumental guitar rockers like Hrant Bedoyan
and Chris Bullen. www.tdclark.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
mwe3: Where did you grow up and how and when did exposure to
music impact your desire to learn to play guitar and what were some
of the early experiences that inspired you to pick up and turn to
the guitar in the first place?
CLARK: I have always lived in and around Chicago in the suburbs
and still live in Aurora Illinois ha ha Wayne's WorldI have
a basement studio to bootand my mother was always into music
of all kinds The Who, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Alice Cooper, John
Denver, ABBA, BeeGee's, Elton John just all kinds of stuff. Really
quite melodic music. My uncle was an incredible pianist, studied at
the conservatory here, and we hung a lot because he was only four
years older than me oddly enough. So he was always playing piano and
subsequently I got into it. But we could never afford a piano so one
day I was digging around in my mom's closet and found a guitar and
started fiddling with it. My mom yelled down the hall what is
all that racket? (lol) and I knew I had found my calling. I
also remember air guitar-ing to a lot of Bob Seger with
a tennis racket when I was 10 or so. (lol)
mwe3: Is there a story behind the 2011 release of the Shreddtime
Stories album and how would you say it compares to your Next
Big Adventure album from a few years ago?
TD: So I had asked Jimmi Ward to play bass on the CD after jamming
with him at NAMM shows for like ten years and Fred Bartolomeo was
playing in my live band and totally thunders so it was a no brainer.
Jimmi lives in the Bay area and needed to be flown in so I arranged
for him to fly in on a Wednesday, figuring we would rehearse the songs
Thursday all day, play a gig I had booked Thursday night, continue
rehearsing Friday and start recording Friday night. Well on the way
to get Jimmi I receive an urgent text from Fred saying his wife's
uncle died so he has to leave Friday night at 6. So we rehearsed all
Thursday, played the gig then came back to my studio and started recording
at 12 midnight till 3 A.M. Got up at 9 Friday morning and played non
stop till 6 when Fred dropped his sticks and went straight to the
airport. The amazing part is outside of playing along with the CD
of the demo songs, none of us had really worked out our parts together
and Fred and Jimmi had never even played together. I also wrote the
chorus and middle sections of The Introduction five minutes
prior to us recording that song. (lol) I had thought we would have
time to work some stuff out like the rest of that tune. All in all
I think Shreddtime turned out totally killer despite everything
and think all the mayhem lent to it being so tight. We worked so hard
getting it down all in crunch time and there is an energy you can
feel in the songs.
As far as
a comparison of Next Big Adventure to Shreddtime Stories
goes there are several big differences. Shreddtime Stories
is a far more concise and listener friendly work and that was totally
by design. I wanted to write great rock songs for the non guitar player
to enjoy and I wanted high octane playing, as evidenced by Drop
D Symphony and The Introduction, for the shred heads
out there. Tracks like the title track and Grabbing Some Air
showcase a great blend of ripping playing and melody. 5 Durhim
and Moroccan Bedtime Story take you on a acoustic journey
through the desert. One big difference was that I limited the number
of takes on Shreddtime Stories to 5 on each song and took the
best from that to keep the solo's fresh. Some times they weren't as
tight but they had tons of energy
Next Big Adventure was recorded over a long period of time
in several studios so there are a lot of songs and looks at what was
influencing my playing at those times. Play That Funky Music
was the single and did really well and the tracks Timanfaya,
El Ave contain some of my most ripping lead work. Cafe
Around The World, which is an all nylon string guitar song with
cool percussion is a god example of my Latin/Middle eastern music
influences. From The Top Of The Tour Eiffel is one of
my favorites from that disc. On NBA - Next Big Adventure, I
did dozens of takes, probably too many (lol) but it was done mostly
in my new studio so I was a little excited about having unlimited
time to do stuff. I found this is not always a good thing as some
of the energy was replaced by mechanics and that for me is what kills
guitar music in the first place and makes it hard for non guitar players
mwe3: It sounds like you were greatly influenced by the big metal
rock guitar heroesfrom Hendrix to Blackmore and more recently
groups like Kings X and Great White. Which guitarists and bands would
you say influenced your guitar and compositional style the most and
how would you describe how these influences impacted your sound and
how you also manage to create such a unique guitar sound of your own?
TD: I like all kinds of guitar playerincluding Rory Gallagher,
Andy Mckee, Jamie West-Oram, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, Rick
Emmet Adrian Vandenberg, Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, Frank Gambale,
Mike Stern, Strunz and Farah, Elliot Easton, Peter Frampton, Satch,
Vai, Friedman in no particular order and the list goes on. I also
love Elton John, Paul McCartney, Vivaldi, Rossini, Stevie Wonder etc...
I like a ton of different kinds of music and really feel that influence
in my writing. I like strong singable melodies that stick to you.
I am much more interested in impressing listeners by writing good
songs than doing gymnastics on the fretboard and I think that is what
really sets me apart. I tend to write really memorable melodies which
I think is my trademark.
mwe3: Describe the challenge working in the instrumental rock and
metal realms and how would you compare the challenge to record instrumental
rock with a more vocal based metal rock sound?
if you want to do clinics, play NAMM shows, do product demos and videos,
make music for cable, sports, film and more, being an instrumentalist
is great. I just got back last week from a EMG product demo at Sweetwater
with EMG founder Rob Turner and head of national sales Scott Wunchell
and it was a blast. I got to jam, hang out with really cool people
and live music. I also got a nice check which ain't all bad neither.
However If you want to pack the clubs with hot chicks and make fifteen
hundred dollars a night its a bit tough. (lol) People want to
hear Journey, so it makes it hard for any type of original artist
to draw let alone instrumental guitar music.
When I do an album with a vocalist it's a totally different animal.
You have to play first and foremost what the songs need period. I
think its almost harder because you have to pick your spots
to do cool things without stepping all over everyone else. I also
think texture a lot more, guitar blends etc... to give it a nice full
sound with out all the wanking. (lol)
mwe3: How has your choice of guitars changed over the years and what
guitars best help you get the sound on your albums? What guitars are
you mostly featuring on the Shreddtime Stories album?
TD: I used all my ESP's loaded with a variety of EMG pickups. I have
an ESP MH 301 loaded with Oc-1 neck and bridge passive pickups which
I did all the leads mainly and an EX 351 loaded with EMG 81 and 85
X pickups that was the rhythm guitar. The EX 351 with the X's just
pounds. I love the bottom on that guitar. I also used an ESP Hybrid
with active EMG single coils. I also have several old Peavy Vandenbergs
that I love loaded with the EMG passives that scream as well.
mwe3: Your guitar sound is very processed and modified sounding on
the new album which really gives it enormous drive and sustain. How
do guitar effects, pedals and amps alter and enhance your sound and
which brands, amps and effects do you use and sponsor?
TD: I have
a Rocktron Prophesy Pre amp with a Mesa Boogie Simulclass 90 power
amp. I use a Nady U1000 wireless unit and a Nady power conditioner.
I am an endorser for all those products as well as Dean Markley Strings
and Jim Dunlop products. I also use an original Ibanez TS 9 tube screamer
I bought from Michael Angelo Batio, a Dunlop 95 Q, a Boss Super Phaser
and Noise Suppressor.
I went to digital pre amps this time around to get a super tight sound
that really made a huge difference in the overall feel of the Shreddtime
mwe3: Some of the tracks on Shreddtime Stories vary things
up with several acoustic tracks too. What other genres of guitar music
and music in general impact your music most?
TD: I love Latin, Spanish and Middle Eastern music a lot. I love the
sound of a nylon string guitar as it is so passionate with a totally
organic feel and so expressive as well. I like Jesse Cook, Strunz
and Farah, Paco, John, Al. The soundtrack from Buena Vista Social
Club is a must have for anyone looking to hear true Cuban music.
On Shreddtime the tracks 5 Durhim and Morrocan
Bedtime Story were either written in or influenced by a trip
to Morocco went on a few years back. The entire country, culture was
so interesting. I had a great time and learned a lot.
mwe3: Youre also quite involved with music education. Can you
say something about your Guitar Fundamentals project and how does
it inspire young people to become musicians and show an interest in
studying guitar and guitar history?
TD: I started the company about four and a half years ago with one
park district group guitar class and now have 60 park districts and
35 schools offering group guitar classes. This year was big expansion
year and we will have 6-700 kids through the programs and that figure
should double by Fall 2012. We will have over 150 schools onboard
next year and should go from roughly 50 instructors to over 100 so
that will be intense.
I wanted to start a program that could give quality lessons at a competitive
rate in people's backyards and we have done just that. It gives kids
an opportunity to enroll in fun guitar classes that get them rocking
early on and that are also convenient for mom and dad to get them
to. It has been a huge success.
mwe3: What do you say to a kid whos 11 years old when he asks
you about why he should study the guitar and about becoming a musician?
What advice do you give young kids looking to become a musician these
1 first; I tell them to pay attention in school and get good grades
because you have to be really smart and inventive to be a full time
musician. Studying guitar is only part of it. That he will have to
do every day for hours on end forever but if you don't want to starve
you need to be business savvy and think like a business person. I
have traveled the world being a musician, gotten product endorsements,
met and hung with incredible people and it is by far the most rewarding
career on the planet, but it is hardest work you will ever do. That
being said I don't feel I have worked in 20 years (lol), because I
love every minute of my job. My worst day playing guitar or teaching
is better than my best day doing anything elsewell, except playing
with my kids!
mwe3: What interests or hobbies, projects do you have outside of the
TD: I love travel and have been to 11 countries. I enjoy running and
reading books. I have two kids who are my best friends and are my
main hobby. I love amusement parks, any, and roller coasters etc.
Disney world is so killin' and I go to Disneyland every NAMM show.
(lol) I will be playing at the Nady Sustems booth this year. I love
talking politics and also practicing my Spanish when I can.
mwe3: What plans do you have moving forward? I know youre working
with Steve Vaihow did you hook up with Steve? What recording,
teaching and or performing plans do you have planned for this year
Well I would like to finish the Christmas CD I started forever ago
but seems to get sidetracked all the time. (lol) We will be doing
several Christmas shows coming up though. I am also slowly working
on touring Japan. I played two shows there and have gotten distribution
and a write up in the August issue of Young Guitar Magazine so we
will see how that shakes out.
As far as being on Steve Vai's Digital Nations label goes, I just
submitted the tune Arctic Sun, from Shreddtime Stories
to their A&R guy and they contacted me about signing on with them.
I have met Steve several times before so it was a good fit. The fact
he likes the tunes is a big plus and the recognition is higher being
As far as playing out I will be doing a bunch of Christmas shows and
such coming up and then play NAMM in January and possibly some shows
in the Bay area and more videos for EMG.
mwe3: Can you say something about working with Yngwie Malmsteen in
concert this month?
TD: I got a call about a week and a half ago from Live Nation about
a show October 21st at House of Blues Chicago. They had asked I resend
all my promo material for a possible support date. I forwarded on
my kit and went back to working on my Guitar Fundamentals stuff. About
and hour later I looked up the date on the HOB calendar and saw it
was Yngwie Malmsteen and I was stoked as you can well imagine! Really
cool. So I called my band and we put together a set mainly from Shreddtime
Stories and some stuff from my other CD's that I thought would compliment
the Malmsteen set. This is going to be fun. I have been able to support
almost all my favorite guitar players over the years George Lynch,
Michael Schenker, Tony MacAlpine, Gary Hoey, Michael Angelo, this
is like icing on the cake.
What influence did Yngwie have on your playing, writing and overall
TD: Yngwie has had such a massive impact on guitar playing, technique,
songwriting etc. I remember seeing him on MTV in Alcatraz doing "Island
In The Sun" and thinking that guy is insane! Then I heard Rising
Force with "Far Beyond the Sun" and "Now Your Ships
Are Burned" and was blown away totally.
I wanted smoking technique and to play his songs I needed that and
really had to know more about what I was playing modally etc... I
never wanted to sound like him like so many people do I just wanted
to put that energy into my playing and try to get my technique together
better (lol). He by far has had the biggest impact on guitar playing
than anyone in the last 25 years with the possible exception of Satriani
and Vai. You can always tell by the amount of people trying to sound
like him how important he is. First it was Clapton then Hendrix, then
Van Halen then Malmsteen. Keep in mind Yngwie has sold something like
60 million records worldwide which is an incredible feat in itself.
This is going to be fun! Thanks to everyone at mwe3 for the interview.
Thanks to T.D. Clark @ www.TDclark.com
Buy Yngwie Malmsteen w/TD Clark concert tickets
for the show at House of Blues Chicago
Doors: 07:30 PM
Show: 09:00 PM
$27.50 - GA - Advanced
$30.00 - GA - Day Of
House of Blues Chicago
329 N. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60654