Chris Broderick of Megadeth Talks "Skolnick & Broderick's Winter Guitar Retreat" and "Th1rt3en"
Thu, 22 Dec 2011 11:21:56
"I think the path you take on guitar shows your personality," exclaims Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick. "It illuminates who you are as a person in away. For me, there was always a great need to understand exactly what I was doing and why it functioned the way it did. That's what I got through all of the lessons and schooling that I went through."
Now, he's going to impart that knowledge upon a whole new legion of budding shredders at Skolnick & Broderick's Winter Guitar Retreat from December 26 until December 30, 2011 at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY. He's partnered up with fellow shredder, the legendary Alex Skolnick [Testament, Alex Skolnick Trio, Trans-Siberian Orchestra] for this innovative and informative winter guitar camp. Students learn a myriad of techniques from these two masters, and they all get to jam together. There's nothing better for a young guitar hero in training…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino, Chris Broderick of Megadeth talks "Skolnick & Broderick's Winter Guitar Retreat", Th1rt3en, and so much more.
Where did the idea for Skolnick & Broderick's Winter Guitar Retreat come from?
It was presented to us. Alex and I have toured a lot together and have hung out a lot. Through having similar collegiate backgrounds, we have that theory knowledge we can converse in and relate to each other. It just made sense when it came up. We were immediately like, "Yeah, let's do it!" I've taught a lot, and I still do to this day. It's really gratifying to see people take the information you've required over the years and be able to utilize it.
For you, what's the best aspect of teaching?
When the students' eyes light up and they understand the concept, that's it right there. When they get a new idea or technique down, you can tell they want to take it home and own it. Then they woodshed and utilize the information. That's by far the most rewarding thing about teaching. I realize that everybody's an individual, and their strengths and weaknesses are who they are. As a teacher, I'm always trying to identify those things as well as their learning traits. I try not to overwhelm the student at first. I try to ease them into it.
In terms of the retreat, how did you choose the class topics?
Because of our backgrounds, we both have ideas of what will help other guitarists and musicians out in a very quick and effective way. I've got a class on chord progressions and harmony, and that's a one to two-year course in college. There's no way we're going to dissect it to that degree, but it will have those tips and tricks. Those quick, go-to ideas can really expand your chord harmony, and that's what I'm looking to convey at that time.
Is it particularly gratifying to stretch outside of metal?
Being immersed in metal, Alex has diversified more into jazz, and I've diversified more into classical. It makes sense for us as players, but it definitely increases your work load when you're trying to convey all of this stuff in a class [Laughs].
Metal is particularly open to expansion given the requisite technicality.
That hits the nail on the head. It's one of the reasons I love metal so much to this day. When people approach me and they get to know me, they realize that I have an appreciation for the music style, how it's created, and the depth that it has. Whereas a lot of people that are into metal are those fans who know everything about the history of the bands. I wish I was more of that. They know when this member came in at that time and what happened at certain concerts. I was more on the musical and instrumental side of things.
Who made you first want to pick up a guitar?
I had a friend in fifth grade that I'd just met. I went to his house and he had a guitar there. I started messing around with it and I could never put it down. Every time I was at his house, I was like, "Let's play your guitar!" He'd say, "Let's go ride Motorcross" or something. I was annoying him constantly [Laughs]. A friend of his sold me his first guitar, which was like this Sears guitar. It was hilarious. It had 18 frets, and I couldn't tune it. The first thing I did was paint it red and throw some black duct tape on it like Eddie Van Halen.
Who were your first guitar heroes?
Van Halen was definitely the first one. It quickly went to Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, and all of the shredders from there.
What are you most excited about on the retreat?
I'm most looking forward to becoming like a guitar family and getting up there together and jamming some songs not only with Alex but the students.
Did Megadeth approach Th1rt3en with one cohesive vision?
I don't think so. We had talked about what we wanted it to do in terms of live performance. We were thinking ahead about how we want these songs to come across when we play them out. That was really it. Once you sit down and start writing, the songs take their own course. Sometimes, you can't deny the way a song wants to go and it almost develops itself. Once you're in the studio, that's what tends to happen.
Do you feel like you're a tighter unit?
Personally, I felt much more in my groove. I was much more relaxed and comfortable in the recording environment.
How did the title track come together?
Well, the title track is almost like a history of Dave Mustaine in a way. He's talking about the thirteen times he's been to the well. It's a reflection of the thirteen CDs prior and the number thirteen and how it correlates to him personally. That was a song that we had written some of the riffs to on tour.
Did you have the opportunity to try anything new in terms of the guitar?
I think it was a lot more open in terms of our guitar tones and I was really happy with that. Whereas last time on Endgame, everything was unified in terms of tones. Dave and I used the exact same tones for everything. This time, we set out to diversify a little bit and add more depth in terms of individual tones. I thought that was awesome. It adds another level of interest into the sound.
Do you and Dave both bring different elements to the sound like a Ying and Yang effect?
I like the Ying and the Yang idea. That's definitely where Dave and I come from. He got his playing from picking up records and CDs and figuring them out anyway he could. My approach was much more schooled. When it comes to our individual solos or main melodies, we get to reflect our individuality at that point. It's got to be cohesive to an extent, but there's a lot of that Ying and Yang idea.
If you were to compare Th1rt3en to a movie, what would you compare it to?
I wouldn't compare it to any single movie. You've got a horror classic in "Millenium of the Blind" and you have some angry documentary about somebody in "Never Dead". Then you have some action adventure in "Sudden Death". That's the thing I like about this CD—it's very diverse.
— Rick Florino
Would you go to this retreat?