Posted on May 23 th. 2018
Questionnaire by Phoenix Van Der Weyden on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
In a scene that is forgotten by the media but still has a strong underground following , guitar players like Steve Bello gives us a reminder of why instrumental guitar takes a lot of heart and soul to be performed and it´s a life that once you get in you will never want to move away from it.
Phoenix: Hi Steve, it´s a great pleasure to have you here at Metal To Infinity Belgium Webzine. Can you share with us how was the writing process for “Marblehead” ?
Steve: Hey Phoenix! First of all, thanks for the really nice review of my new cd. When I write songs, I just write what feels good. That sounds like a pat answer, but I react on inspiration. I don’t sit down and think “Today I will write a song in 5/4”, it will just happen. Or I will stumble upon a couple of chords and the song takes on a life of its own. Nothing I do is forced, everything has to be genuine and organic.
Phoenix: You have written some remarkable solos along your career. Do you “compose” your solos or do you improvise them along the track ?
Steve: Very rarely will I write a guitar solo. I may hit on a lick and somehow remember it but most of the time it’s all about winging it. Few solos were planned out like “Burn The Sky” from JUPITER RETURN, or “Too Far Below Zero” from LAYERS OF TIME.
The only part of a solo where I knew I wanted to do some crazy sweep arpeggios was the second half of “Time To Fly” from MARBLEHEAD. But all the other solos are spontaneous.
Phoenix: I can hear many great influences on “Marblehead”, from Satch to MacAlpine . Can you tell us what were your main inspirations for this new release ?
Steve: I am flattered to be compared to such esteemed guitarists, so thanks for that. I was grooving to the new Living Colour cd SHADE as well as, you may not believe me, RED BEFORE BLACK by Cannibal Corpse and KINGDOMS DISDAINED by Morbid Angel.
I’m not a huge fan of death metal but I love the intensity and controlled chaos some of those bands bring to the table. Of course, I was digging the new Satriani cd WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
I do try to keep an ear out for new things but sometimes I fall back and pop on some Prince, Zeppelin, or King’s X because it’s all great stuff.
I also have to add that bassist Chris Davison and drummer Ronnie Mormino really kicked my ass in a great way. I was in a funk last summer and was ready to throw everything out. But they insisted on doing this album with me and I’m glad I gave in.
Both of them also have their own instrumental trio called The Inversion Circus.
Phoenix: What gear did you use for recording “Marblehead” ?
Steve: I used my trusty Ibanez RG7420MC 7-string “Pinkie” for this album but I also used another Ibanez 7-string RG that belonged to Chris Macock. He’s the guitarist for the band The Inversion Circus and he’s really great; he also helped produce my new cd along with bassist Chris Davison. Chris Macock’s 7-string has a cool piezo-type saddle that makes his electric sound incredibly acoustic. I used that on a couple of tracks as well as some of the clean electric parts. All my guitars are strung up with GHS Boomers, custom 9-54 sets.
The rest of my gear was as follows (grab a chair): Orange CR120H w/PPC212OB cabinet, Metal Shop Pedal Board equipped with Digitech Whammy 5, Morley Maverick mini-wah, Electro-Harmonix Neo-Mistress Flanger. Also two signature pedals by Checkered Pedals: Nuclear Paradise dual chorus/phaser pedal, and Layers Of Time triple delay/boost/overdrive. All my cables are Spectraflex, including my signature BelloFlex cables. For picks, Swiss Picks Rusty Cooley picks in nuclear green. Lock-It Straps too. I think I need more stuff soon.
Phoenix: Do you like to experiment with different gear for your album releases ?
Steve: Depends on my mood. I used Chris Davison’s Uni-Vibe pedal for one song. I like messing around with pedals when I go into a music store but unless something really grabs me, I don’t buy something for the sake of it. Rick Bethune over at Checkered Pedals is working on two more signature pieces for me, but I can’t say what right now. All I can say is that he takes my ideas and puts his own unique spin on them.
Phoenix: What is your favorite song to play on this new album ?
Steve: During rehearsals, I would get very excited to play “Time To Fly” but then I would like “Nah, I like playing ‘Keep Breating’ more”. So it varies. I will say this: when I get to perform live, “Turn To Rust” will be the hardest song to pull off. I will be excited and nervous about that one.
Phoenix: Would you say that you like to bring some modern influences to your sound ?
Steve: If nobody has ever heard this kind of music, then it will sound modern to their ears. I don’t think I do anything modern per se, but I am unique. We all rely on our past at some point but I don’t sit there, you know? I get excited hearing Consider The Source because they are doing something really original yet reminds me of some of the great fusion bands I listened to in high school. But again, I catch myself reminiscing about how great RISING by Rainbow is (laughs). So it’s a balance. I am retro but not stuck there.
Phoenix: How would you say your music changed from your first release to this new one ?
Steve: I practiced more (laughs). My first album TWISTED METAL was done way back in 2003, which is the Paleozoic Era to me. I rarely talk about my past albums because I’ve moved on from each release. But with each cd, I’ve tried to up my own game and I think I’ve succeeded. Have I written a few clunkers on each album? Yes but that’s all part of experimenting and growing. MARBLEHEAD is right now my best album for a ton of reasons. But get back to me in a few years when I do another album (laughs).
Phoenix: Thanks a lot for doing this interview for us Steve. Do you have any tips for the newly arrived guitar players of the scene and also for the students ?
Steve: Get a good lawyer because everyone will claim you stole their E chord. I would say just play and practice as much as you can, along to records and cd, but of course play with other musicians who are better than you. Find the one genre that stirs your soul but branch out as well, really reach for things that make you uncomfortable musically. You might be surprised what you can accomplish.
Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Phoenix! All the best!