Interview with Greg Hampton from The New Czars
By Greg Prato.
There is simply not a single weak link in the newly-launched rock act, New Czars. Singer/guitarist Greg Hampton has worked with and/or produced some of rock’s most renowned acts over the years (Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Bootsy Collins, Buckethead, Tommy Bolin’s ‘Whips and Roses’ releases), while the rhythm section of bassist Paul Ill and drummer David “Chilli” Moreno has compiled an equally impressive resume (Reeves Gabrels, Bruce Dickinson, Puddle of Mudd, Courtney Love, Pink, etc.). As a result, the trio’s debut album, ‘Doomsday Revolution’ (which also contains special guest Adrian Belew providing some additional guitar work), is one hellacious slice of tough hard rock. Recently, Mr. Hampton spoke with Guitarsite about his latest project, as well as the beauty of the six string.
How did the New Czars come together?
Originally had a bunch of song ideas that were coming fast and furious, that really didn’t seem to fit any of the artists that i was producing or writing for. And it started to seem like a cohesive body of work that was organically coming together. Approached paul ill, at that point first, because he is such a great bass player/music person, that knows so much about so many styles of music. He is a very smart cat.
Explain what each member brings to the band.
Those 2 guys are the ultimate in solid foundation…paul ill is like Jack bruce meets stanley clarke - if he needs to be. Just plays what is right for the song. And chilli has a great sensibility for syncopated rhythms, interjecting latin feels. Great metal drumming with muscle, and also sensitive to odd time signatures. There is a lot of "neil peart" that i hear in chilli’s playing…which is not a bad thing!
How was it working w/ Adrian Belew on the project?
He has such an amazing intuition when he hears a song, and his perceptive delivery is certainly not what comes from the normal Guitar hero. It was really refreshing working with adrian, because his "avant garde delivery" has no boundaries.
Memories of recording the new album, and what is your favorite song (and why)?
Really enjoyed the song "time stops." its not some blistering rock thing – but the melodies that had grown along the way certainly were fun, had a bit of trouble with the bridge, and paul really came along and rescued it with writing and by putting the chords together the right way. Also like approaching and building the verses, by writing them on electric piano, then dropping in some electric piano, electric sitar, and some 70’s backwards guitar to tie it all together. Reminded me of early steely dan/hendrix – which really gave me a good feeling listening back, because that’s the only song on the record that really has that vibe.
Which guitars, amps, and equipment did you use on the recording of the album?
Strats ,teles, fernanedes ravelles, gibson les pauls, 335, firebird vii, a dan electro baritone tuned down to a, electric guitar synth guitars by roland/fernandes. I have about 45 guitars altogether. Ten have fernandes sustainers in them. Used the new line 6 spider/bogner 100 head - and various pedals.
Do you follow a guitar practice routine at all?
Just writing and working on composing new songs for hours on end keeps me in fairly good shape. But i am guilty of not being into traditional practice, get a bit bored sometimes. Won't pick up a guitar for a week, then play eight or ten hours a day, three or four days in a row recording, so its hard to do. Sometimes will have to play keyboard parts for days or work on programming, or bass playing, or singing.
Touring plans and future plans for New Czars?
We definitely have a great camaraderie that i have not felt in a really long time, and trly enjoy playing/hanging with these guys. So we are exploring the best pairings for us, and evaluating everyone's schedule for the next six months.
I heard that you're working on a Tommy Bolin tribute album. What's its status, and who will be on the album?
Yes, been really working hard on that for two years, and now warren haynes myself and fabrizio grossi are all hitting a good stride on this. It will be amazing when we are done. So far, we have really gotten some amazing icons involved and some great performances. Will be out by next summer at the latest – that is what we are shooting for. The tommy bolin fanpage will keep you updated on our progress and the artists involved.
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