Posted on August 14th. 2018
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
I’d like to introduce you all to a top-notch guitar player, actually the axe grinder for the US based progressive metal band Ego. It was Shredguy Records’ CEO Michael McDowell who offered me the opportunity to get in touch with the band’s style of music, he sent me Ego’s newest album “Nosferatu” to review, which I did in the meantime. Totally unfamiliar with Ego before, now listening to their new piece and ! became a fan right on. | would like to know more about the creation of the band and more, the man who wants to speak to me is none other than genius guitarist Mike Risko !
Stefan: Welcome here at Metal To Infinity Webzine Belgium Mike, how are you brother?
Mike: Hi Stefan! I’m great Thanks! We have been working on music for our next album! Everything is going Awesome!
Stefan: While hearing the new Ego effort “Nosferatu”, it was immediately obvious to have a deal with a very talented guitarist. What made up your mind to become an axe wielder?
Mike: Kiss was my first inspiration. Kiss ALIVE was the first album l owned. Didn’t start playing for years later. But Guitar players like Eddie Van Halen, Al DiMeola, Steve Morse, Michael Schenker,… were what made my study & want to be a musician.
Stefan: Who were your idols back then — what about the nowadays sources of inspiration ?
Mike: Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie, Vinnie Moore, Richie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Steve Morse, John Petrucci, Gay Moore. Nowadays more influenced by bands like Opeth, Fates Warning, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate & always listen to my favorites along with my love for vinyl.
Stefan: Did you have a training master or was it a more a tutorial situation?
Mike: I had a couple different Guitar teachers in the beginning years. Taught me the importance of Music Theory, which I am always studying & looking back on things I haven’t used in awhile. I always thought it was Important to study & then branch off with your own ideas & study on your own.
Stefan: What about your own equipment, do you have a unique guitar that preferred to the rest… if so, for what particular reason?
Mike: I have a couple Beautiful PRS guitars, Mesa Boogie Mark IV, A Bogner Ubershail. A Les Paul Black Beauty that I’ve been using.
Stefan: Through the following years, your skills became better and better and I’m sure that, at a certain moment, the time was right was join a band, right? Tell me about Mike.
Mike: I’ve Always been in bands. Even after playing a year. Playing & performing LIVE is where it is at for me… Love it!! We did copy songs for years & made money until in 2006 decided it was time to write & perform.
Stefan: Talking about your new group EGO, how long this band existed and by whom the formation was ignited?
Mike: EGO has been together since 2006. Started off as an instrumental band & then decided to add vocals.
Stefan: I noticed a lot of musicians on the list of past-drummers… do you have an explanation for this situation?
Mike: We have had as many drummers as SPINAL TAP!!! Drummers are a different breed & We’ve always had problems. But Drew are current drummer was with us befcre & has been with us now for a couple years. Hopefuily he will stick around. He is a Great addition & he has the same taste in Progressive music.
Stefan: How the current line-up looks like Mike, they have a musical beckground?
Mike: Dan my keyboard player & I have been working together for almost 30 years. My drummer performs with a Heart tribute band & Trans Siberian Orchestra tribute band.
Stefan: Besides the new album “Nosferatu”, some other works you guys have released?
Mike: EGO has an ep out just called EGO we released in 2006, our first album “Resistance” is released in 2011. We have a Very Special guest — The Amazing Michael Harris — who, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated Musicians out there, & Now NOSFERATU is available through SHREDGUY RECORDS.
We are working on our new album right now have 3 songs completely written & working on another 3 & then we will go and record. This wili be the first with me on lead vocals which I’m very excited about!
Stefan: Michael, the CEO of Shredguy Records offered Ego a deal for a brand new effort, meanwhile released, and much approved by myself ! How did you came in touch with Michael McDowell actually?
Mike: We met through Michael Harris. Then I’ve seen Michael McDowell at some shows over the years started a friendship & the rest is SHREDDING HISTORY.
Stefan: Between the lînes, where the name Ego comes from? What’s the story behind?
Mike: Haha just was going through the dictionary when we were trying to come up with a name & came to Ego … & the rest is history. People over the years says it fits perfectly so ALL is GOOD!
Stefan: Let’s talk about new one “Nosferatu”. First on, where the albums has been recorded, and by whom the production, mastering and stuff was done?
Mike: I wrote all the music, my keyboard player & I work it all out tighten up the sections, then arranged together as a band.
Jason Vanek was the vocalist on Nosferatu. He also recorded, mixed & mastered the album. It was Great working with him.
Stefan: Can you tell me some more on the Iyrical content — where are the topics based on?
Mike: Jason wrote all the Iyrics. Just an Epic evil tale of Nosferatu. Great Iyrics, Great vocalist.
Stefan: How would you like to describe the present style of music — any comparisons with other bands in your opinion?
Mike: There are a lot of amazing Musicians & bands out there! I never have a problem finding new bands to listen too. Along with all my Favorites!
EGO has changed since our beginning, I used to want to just be so complex & insane that it brought you on an epic insane Musical journey But musically Crazy. Now since I’m writing lyrics & singing I try to keep it a little more tame. More about feel & flow of the song. I want it to be more dark, minor sounding & still have insanity at times But I want the song to tell the tale.
Stefan: How the rest of the world have react to the new album so far?
Mike: Everyone seems to like Nosferatu! The album is selling pretty steadily. EGO is ready for Japan!
Stefan: I’m unfamiliar with the band’s early works but can you tell me ‘f there’s a big difference with the contemporary style of the band?
Mike: Like ! said earlier. The first ep & album — I more than Jess wanted to live up to the name EGO & be Over the top intense with insane musical parts. Now it’s more about the feel & flow But still has EGO elements throughout! Always have to have the Progressive side!
Stefan: What can I imagine of an Ego live performance — name me a few acts you’ve shared the stage with so far.
Mike: EGO has been blessed to share the stage with Amazing artists. Michael Schenker, Sanctuary, The Tubes, Between The Buried & Me, Tim RIPPER Owens, John 5, Michael Harris, Stryper, the list goes on. EGO live is all about delivering a Very Powerful energetic show that leaves the listener with nothing but Wow!!! That band Kicks ass!!
Stefan: What are the future plans? More Ego albums to be released when the time is right, maybe you Will bring out a full instrumental effort yourself … Making a prediction about the future is always difficult and uncertain, stil! d like to ask for it.
Mike: The new album already has 3 songs all done. 3 more music is done, just need to arrange & work on lyrics. Would always love to do a more instrumental guitar driven record. Maybe call it HIGH RISK or RISKO BUSINESS. I guess time will tell. ALL I know is EGO is very excited about working with SHREDGUY RECORDS — Sky is the limit!!!
Stefan: I hope that all your plans for the future can come true and | want to thank you for the hospitality to cooperate with this interview, respect and dignity is on my side and wish you loads of success while playing guitar on a very high, world class level class ! Some final words before leaving, go for it brother.
Mike: Thank you Stefan! t was a Honor being interviewed by you! I wish you the Best! I just want to keep growing a songwriter/musician & hopefully one day to be able to go on a little beneficia tour outside the USA to reach more audiences! Thanks again Stefan! / HAIL /