March 4, 2009, 10 years ago

nevermore news jason becker riff notes jeff loomis has published a new interview with guitarist Jason Becker, and part of the discussion features a few question posed by NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis. An excerpt is available below:

Jeff Loomis: Jason, Many consider Perpetual Burn (including me) to be one of the greatest instrumental recordings, but a lot of people don't know what your experience was like to play and record it. Could you tell me a little bit about recording that amazing album, es-pecially being at the young age you were at the time? Was there ever any video docu-mentation that was done during the making of this album as well?

Jason Becker: "First of all, yo, Jeff, my brother! Thank you so much for sending me your brilliant solo album. I love it a lot!

It means a lot to me that you feel that way about Perpetual Burn. Unfortunately, there was no video taken during the recording. After Marty Friedman and I finished recording Speed Metal Symphony, I was very happy with it, but I had so many ideas that I wanted to get out. I spent tons of time writing at my four-track. I would play stuff for Mike Varney and Marty. It became obvious that this had to become a solo album. There wasn’t any room for vocals. Varney suggested that Marty put together a solo album too. I wasn’t thinking about my age. Playing with and learning from Friedman added years of experience, creativity and confidence to my whole outlook. He was the catapult for everything for me. I recorded at the same studio that we did Speed Metal Symphony in, and with the same engineer, Steve Fontano, so I was comfortable in that way, but this time I had to run the show. Marty wasn’t there when we recorded Atma’s drums. That made me a little nervous, but Fontano complimented me on how I was bobbing my head to keep Atma in time. That felt really good.

I remember when I had Fontano lay the click track down for 'Air', he didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Six minutes of click track is pretty funny to hear in a professional studio. When recording the first licks in Perpetual Burn, I had to use a bar in between them, instead of stopping like I wanted, because there was too much feedback when I stopped, and the gate wouldn’t respond quick enough. This was a drag. I also played them sloppy. I hadn’t quite mastered the technique yet. I did my first take of the blues solo in 'Eleven Blue Egyptians' late at night. It sounded stiff but I couldn’t figure out why. Fontano suggested I get sleep and try again tomorrow. I usually hate to leave something hanging, but I took his advice. The next day it just flowed out of me easily. Marty, of course, was recording 'Dragon’s Kiss' at the same time. He was working extra long hours. He was giving Fontano a break from hitting record during 'Air'. During re-cording, Marty and I both nodded off in the middle of a lick. We woke up and cracked up. One day Marty called me to do my part on 'Jewel'. His dad was visiting in the studio. I have no idea why, but I was being argumentative. As always, Marty was calm and understanding. I still feel bad about that. I was a butthole to my mentor in front of his dad. I love his parents. On another day, Marty called me in to play a part for him because the drummer, Deen, had played it too fast. He knew I could play the part fast enough. That felt so nice, being able to help the person who had constantly helped me.

I met Greg Howe at this time. We got along great. He had me play a harmony to a lick that he had always wanted to play with another guitarist. We had a blast hanging and jamming. Greg was working with Billy Sheehan, so I got to spend a little time with him. I was a little star struck. I was stoked when he compared 'Air' to Van Halen’s 'Eruption' for its uniqueness and innovation."

Go to this location for the interview. Scroll down for Loomis' question.

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