He was just nominated for best guitarist on Iron City Rocks.com of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and he didn’t even know he was candidate. Xander Demos be opening for Uli Jon Roth(Scorpions, G3) and Leslie West (Mountain,) at the Altar Bar in Pittsburgh on Feb 2. He gigs with his band “Into the Arena”, he has a full length album “Guitarcadia” in the works as well as his own signature McNaught guitar. On top of that, he does guitar reviews for NStuffMusic.com and he’s planning and instructional DVD sometime down the road.
It would seem that Xander is a pure guitarist, but he also works as a contract software engineer. It pays the bills while pursuing his passion with fervor. His goal is to carve his niche as an instrumental guitarist alongside his influences including Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and Shawn Lane. It’s hard to pin him in a corner as to the “type” of guitarist he is, but it surely includes metal and rock. Check out some of his videos and you’ll witness speed and efficiency but also an awareness of communicating the song/hook, and that’s by Xander’s design.
I had a chance talk with Xander about a number of things including his background, endorsements, what beginners should learn, favorite guitarists, and future plans.
Check out this track his upcoming “Guitarcadia” album … “Right Angles”
Get the mp3:
*Look out for a lesson with Xander on how to play this in the coming months.
The Road To Guitarcadia EP is Xander Demos’ first solo release and is just a small sample of what’s in store for the full-length CD simply titled Guitarcadia. The EP came first because Xander wanted to get something out there and time was just too hard to come by with the other musical projects and resources to complete the project.
Guitarcadia will have upwards of thirteen or fourteen tracks and will contain all of the material from the EP completely remixed and remastered. Some of the songs go back to the early 1990′s and some are brand new but all of them share Xander’s musical vision.
The most important part of his playing?
What really intrigued me about his playing is that yes … his technical ability(picking efficiency & speed) blow you away but he says he has always taken the approach of “Song First” to make sure that there is substance to what he’ playing. The hook is often time overlook by technically excellent guitar players but they fall short in communicating the music.
What advice can you give to beginner?
It’s a cliche, but learn the rules … then break them. Slow down to teach your brain and fingers then speed up gradually. Gaining confidence will help you get better, faster. I think that vibrato is the key to finding your voice as a guitarist. Getting good at playing with vibrato will help you play with confidence.
He also think that it’s important to get out of your comfort zone. If you play rock, jam with fusion, blues, or jazz players, learn what you can from others. The guitar is a band instrument, so make it happen.
Rolling Stones recently came out with their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list, if you had a vote, who’s in your top 3?
- Eddie Van Halen – If the list includes “most influential”, EVH is tops because he did things on guitar nobody else was doing and he influenced so many other guitar players.
- Steve Vai – He took what Eddie did to the next level. Check out Passion and Warfare
- Shawn Lane – If you’re a serious guitarist and don’t know of him, you should … incredible fusion player and composer.
He’s endorsed by EMG Pickups, Conklin Guitars, ISP Technologies, David Thomas McNaught Guitars, GraphTech, V-Picks, Jim Dunlop Strings and Accessories, Hughes and Kettner, Tremol-No, FloydUpgrades.com, Scott Dixon Cases and Suhr Guitars, Amps & Effects. Look for him at them next NAMM show in January 2012.
Look out for his signature McNaught guitar to be released early next year.
On being a guitarist and working as a software engineer …
He’s a self-admitted techie/gear heard and he likes what he does for work but he pushing hard to become a full time guitarist. With all that he has going beyond his talent I think it goes to show you it’s hard road to become a career guitarist but he’s got momentum on his side.
I wish him the best and I’m looking forward to his upcoming album and hope to catch him playing live sometime. Check him out for yourself and as always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.