TOWER OF BABEL – A Talk With JOE STUMP (Guitars)

Posted on August 30th. 2017

Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

Joe Stump

Jason: Hello Joe and welcome to Metal To Infinity.  I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your very, busy schedule to speak with us. We’re speaking to you to discuss your latest project which is a band called Tower Of babel.  Could you please share with us what year the band was formed and how you hooked up with the other members of the band and came to form the band?

Joe: I had worked with vocalist Csaba Zvekan in both RavenLord and Exorcism and with both of those bands I just played guitar. I didn`t participate in any of the writing. So Tower of Babel is much more  the type of music I love to compose and play, very Rainbow/Blackmore influenced.

Csaba `s a great singer and he really nails it on this record. A far as the rest of the band lineup goes all of the credit goes to Csaba for rounding up the rest of the guys , they all really liked the music and the direction of the band and were happy to come on board.  It all really came together nicely as it`s a great combination and everyone really shines on the new record.


Jason: I love the band’s name I must tell you…it’s quite an original name, a real conversation piece, sounds like no other band name I’ve ever heard before.  How did you come to name the band Tower Of Babel?

Joe: I was discussing names with Csaba and said to him that it`d be great if the name referenced a Dio era Rainbow lyric or track title. I said something like Stargazer but obviously not that , so he suggested Tower of Stone (which is a lyric from that track) I said no Tower Of Babel.  You see Tower Of Babel is a famous  Rainbow bootleg  of rehearsal recordings during the Dio/Cozy Powell era. It`s very well known amongst true Rainbow fans and given my penchant for all things Blackmore as well as the direction of the band`s music it fits perfectly.


Jason: Besides you Joe who else is in the band?

Joe: Csaba Zvekan on vocals, Mark Cross on drums , Maestro Mistheria on keys and Nic Angileri  on bass. All  well known, outstanding virtuoso players who`s long impressive track records speak for themselves, it`s a killer lineup.


Jason: Tower Of Babel released it’s debut CD:  Lake Of Fire just recently in July 2017.  How happy are you with the response the CD has received so far?

Joe: Absolutely the sound of the band and direction of the music is crystal clear , you don`t need to have a degree in music journalism to know we`re doing our own modern take on classic Rainbow and Purple. And luckily the majority of the press have picked up on that and embraced it . Also the level of musicianship on the record is top notch and the tunes are very strong with great riffs and killer melodies.


Jason: I know you’ve been a solo Musician for years Joe and that you realese Guitar/Instrumental/Shred type of albums so I have to ask after all these years of being a solo artist where you pretty much have 100% total control/say in what you do did you have any reservations about joining a band where you would collaborate with other Musicians  and have to share the spotlight with others?

Joe: In addition to my solo career I`ve always full band records  involving vocalists. Joe Stump`s Reign of Terror, HolyHell as well as my time spent in Exorcism and RavenLord ,so it`s nothing new for me. In Tower Of Babel all of the music is mine with Csaba writing the lyrics and vocal melodies. I`m really pleased with the way the tracks turned out, he really out did himself on this record, both vocal performance wise as well as compostionally. The rest of the band did  a killer job as well with each player bringing their strengths and putting their personal  stamp on the tracks.


Jason: For people who have yet to pick up the band’s CD or have yet to hear the band I have to ask how would you describe the overall sound of the band’s music?

Joe: As I`ve mentioned previously a modern take on Rainbow and Purple  with a few of the tracks like Thoth, Eternal Flames, Lamb and the Wolves and All Out Warfare  sounding like they could be on an older Rising Force record like Yngwie`s Marching Out or Trilogy.  Anyone familiar with my guitar work knows that my two biggest influences guitar wise are Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen so it`s no surprise the record sound s the way it does.  If you`re a fan of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Rising Force, classic Michael Schenker group , Rata Blanca or Axel Rudi Pell then this record should be right up your alley, it really delivers is all aspects .


Jason: Now that the band has released it’s debut CD I have to ask does Tower Of Babel have any plans to tour behind the CD?

Joe: Yes we`ve got some stuff in the works and we`re hoping to get out and do some touring later on this year.


Jason: In regards to the band’s debut CD I was curious if you could talk a little bit about the songwriting process?  I mean did everyone get in the room together and write or did each band member write their own set of songs and then present those individual songs for consideration?

Joe: I wrote all the music and like I said Csaba wrote all the lyrics and melody lines and the rest of the guys we`re freed up to add their tremendous talents and personal contributions to the tracks on their performances.


Jason: In regards to the debut CD how hard was it to pick which songs eventually made it on to the CD and which ones didn’t make it on to the CD?

Joe: No while I always have plenty of stuff to sift thru it was very clear as far as what was going on the record as the band`s sound and direction is very specific.


Jason: As far as recording the CD I have to ask if everyone was in one recording studio together or if the CD was recorded the modern way in which each band member records their parts separate and then you piece everything together?

Joe: Yes it was done the way records are made today with everyone tracking themselves at either their home studios or somewhere near to their location, that`s pretty much standard in this day and age given the logistics and technology.


Jason: Once Tower Of Babel finished recording the CD and you heard the final mix of it Joe how happy were you with the way the CD came out?

Joe: Sonically it`s killer, the guitar tones are outstanding and the overall production is exactly what I wanted. It`s more of an old school classic  hard rock type of sounding record as opposed to a metal record.


Jason: I read on your FACEBOOK page Joe that you also are an Associate Professor at The Berklee College of Music. How long have you been a Professor and how many months out of the year do you teach there?

Joe: I`ve been the hard rock/metal/shred guitar specialist on the esteemed Berklee guitar faculty now since 1993 so over 24 years and I`m there pretty much year round.  But  if I have to take time off for touring it`s never a problem as during my tenure there I `ve toured very frequently during times when the college is in session.


Jason: I have to ask what is something that you really enjoy most about working at Berklee and teaching music to other Musicians?

Joe: Well most of the players I work with there are extremely driven, motivated, dedicated and play at a fairly high level so it`s great to have players that learn from me that share my excitement and intensity for the guitar. Plus there aren`t too many jobs out there where you get to play guitar 8-10 hours a day , only work 3 days a week , get to come in whenever you like , make your own hours and get paid ridiculously well for it. As I say to everyone that interviews me being Joe Stump is a very good deal, I`ve got nothing to complain about , all I do is play guitar whether it`s there or out doing clinics/master classes, shows with my various bands, recording etc.


Jason: I know that you were greatly influenced by Ritchie Blackmore.  Could you share with us the story of how you were first introduced to the music of Ritchie Blackmore?

Joe: I`d say Made In Japan was the first Purple record I had, I had that same strat Blackmore had on the cover, black with a maple neck and a big headstock when I was 14.  And of course hearing the popular Machine Head tracks like Smoke, Highway Star, Lazy and Space Trucking.  Also seeing Blackmore on tv live at the California jam as a kid was bad ass, he had so much balls, attitude and aggression. I was like ok that`s way the way it`s supposed to done got it.


Jason: I have to ask what’s your all-time favorite Deep Purple album if you can possibly pick just one?

Joe: Just one that`s impossible  so I`ll pick 1 studio and 1 live from the 2 main eras  Machine Head and Made In Japan and then Burn and Made in Europe. But if it had to be just one then Made In Japan.


Jason: Would you be safe to assume that “Smoke On The Water” was the first riff you learned to play?

Joe: One of them for sure , not sure if I learned top play it correctly back then but needless to say I`ve refined it since then.


Jason: In regards to Ritchie Blackmore I understand that you also have a Deep Purple tribute band you’re part of called Stormbringer. I think that’s really cool.  What’s the response you have gotten so far in regards to Stormbringer?

Joe: I actually have 2 tribute bands Stormbringer which plays all Purple , the band`s legit as far as executing the Purple material also loud as fuck  so we carry on the Purple tradition in that area as well. The singer Scott Cooper is a monster and nails Gillian`s live Made In Japan Child In time to the tee.  Also the keyboard player has a hammond and 2 leslies so he`s got the sound. My other tribute band is Black Knight`s Castle  which plays all Rainbow as well as a couple choice Purple tracks , a few of my more Blackmore inspired instrumentals and some of my older Reign Of Terror material. It`s great as between those 2 bands and my solo thing I play live constantly and it`s great playing the Rainbow and Purple stuff live I love it.


Jason: Of course Tower Of Babel just released it’s debut CD but I have to ask if Joe Stump fans can expect another solo CD in the near future?

Joe: I `m always playing, creating and composing so I`ve already got a bunch more solo stuff ready to go when I decide to start in on making another record.


Jason: In regards to Tower Of Babel has there been any talk of a followup CD or will that depend on how well the Lake Of Fire CD sells?  What I’m asking is this a one album project or do you not know at this point?

Joe: No certainly not a one and done deal as this band`s pretty special but that being said we`re gonna be working and promoting this debut release for awhile before we begin or even think about a follow-up.


Jason: Thanks again Joe and before we wrap this up is there anything you’d like to say to all the Joe Stump fans out there?

Joe: Just a sincere thanks to my fans for all the support over my many years of making records. And to please check out the new Tower Of Babel record it`s some of my best work to date. As I`ve said previously it  delivers in all areas-top notch musicianship, killer tunes , great melodies / vocal performances and like all of my records it`s a fucking guitar orgy .