--- Conrad Simon Interview--- 01/Mar/07
First of all thanks for participating in this interview, first of all how long have you been playing and who were your influences growing up?
- Iíve been playing the guitar probably around the same time I was introduced to the academic world of fractions in kindergarten. Just kidding! I was pretty much a late bloomer on the instrument, mainly because I didnít have the discipline to sit there and practice all day. When youíre a teenager; the last thing you want is to be cooped up inside. I always love music thoughÖ Steve Morse, Al Di Meola, Frank Marino, Albert Lee, Chet Atkins, Jean-Luc Ponty, Andr√©s Segovia, and Elliot Easton were all my key influences growing up; they still are. My expression of the highest regard goes out to these beautiful musicians for their unique musical talents!
Being an unsigned artist, how is it you make mends meet, do you teach?
- Actually, I just started teaching recently. I gained most of my experience from hosting guitar clinics for music stores and high schools with really cool faculties across Canada. Iím also a lobster fisherman and oyster cultivator, its hard work for sure and my hands do take a beating.
Instrumezzo, Electric Mysteries of the Sky and The Wrath of Con have been previous releases by you, if you became signed artists, could we see these re-released or would you have a combination of tracks from each to make a new album?
- My original plan was to record and release a full length CD during the summer of 2006 to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Instrumezzo. As you can see and hear; this event never took place. I ended up releasing the demo (The Wrath of Con) instead due to lack of practice. The first song (Ginab) from Instrumezzo will appear on the new album for sure. Iím not too sure about the rest though. Mi'kmaq glossary. Ginab: [ gi-NAB] A benevolent man possessing extraordinary powers.
You gave the pleasure of a free download of ďFly high, Ride LowĒ and offered a free tab to accompany the song, has the response been any good?
- The critics are laying low on this one. Iíll have the complete version with the drums and bass guitar finished within a few weeks. I hopeÖ
I have seen many Troy Grady videos and he is a fantastic analyst of peoples playing, you did a recording with him yourself, what did you think of him and what do you think about his project Cracking the Code?
- I did record with him at his house in Brooklyn. Right now Iím working on an endorsement deal with a company I wonít mention just yet. In turn; I have to re-record my entire segment to promote the guitar. Itís all cool with Troy, just as long as I do it before he wraps up the video. Aside from my mission, Troy is a super great guy with intimidating chops. This guy literally dissects the playerís technique and tackles it note for note. Iím curious to see the final product myself. Is it an instructional video? ďThe Code is an enhancement to instructional videos you already own, not a replacement. Youíll get a lot a more out of your current instructional library when you know what to look for, and after watching the film this will be obviousĒ. ĖTroy-Grady -
Wrath of Con is very well documented over the internet, the limited copies of it are all gone but it is still available on itunes, what do you think made it so successful?
- Most of the people that bought the CD (The Wrath of Con) were supporters from my mp3.com days back in 2003. Iíve received some good pub thanks to interviews like this one, but Iíve also been criticized by other players stating I donít play with emotion. Here I was thinking that speed was emotional intensity! Man, was I ever wrong. He! He! He! But seriously, it took me years to get to that level. My goal now is to maintain my technique and to write better music.
How do you approach practice, do you have set works or do you just do what you want?
- I practice with a drum machine for the sake of speed and dynamics. Iíll play a musical game and accent 16th note patterns at 200 bpm, and then Iíll put the meter up to 250 bpm and play chromatic patterns and descending runs. The objective of the game is to play clear and precise at extreme speed, anything less than that is unacceptable. I also practice few different techniques such as regular alternate picking with triplets, tapping, slapping, finger picking, and of course improvisation. Once in a while Iíll sit down and practice the art of alternative picking, which is what most call economy picking. Iím not a big fan of it but, you can definitely benefit from it at times. I just donít like how most lazy players apply it over ascending runs. If you want to do some outrageous string skipping like Paul Gilbert, you have to learn how to alternate pick!
Your alternate picking is flawless, I have slowed down lots of your stuff to believe itís so clean, were you a natural or did you have to work really hard?
- To be honest, I made a deal with this guy (Legba) a few years back one day on these crossroads! His assistant told me he done changed his name to SCRATCH! Seriously though, I was always naturally fast but I still had to apply the method mentioned above.
I ask this question all the time, due to lots of instructional material such as rock discipline by John Petrucci and speed kills series by Michael Angelo, would you yourself like do create and instructional DVD?
- Moi? Not really unless itís shot and directed by a pro in a studio. Another thing to take in consideration is the content of the video. The poor quality of instructional videos floating around on youtube is actually pretty sad. It seems like everybody wants to be a star these days. Iím the type of guy that takes forever to record a CD, I donít like to upload my pictures on the net, and I donít broadcast my videos on youtube. Iím preserving what little mystery that is left of me mainly, because I donít want to ware out my appearance before I actually come out with something worth viewing.
Finally, what are the plans for 2007? And any closing statement?
- Iíd like to finish my CD and promote it with a tour coming to a city near you.
Thanks for your time.
- Thanks for this opportunity!