Interview with Johnny Nap from Spider Rockets
By Greg Prato
Crafting a sound that pushes the line between elegance and aggression, New Jersey-based Spider Rockets has completed work on a self-titled release (their follow-up to 2007’s ‘Ever After’), which will be released on May 19th. Comprised of band members Helena Cos on vocals, Johnny Nap on lead guitar, Bones Hackett on bass guitar and Dan Prestup on drums, Spider Rockets has built a large fan base on the strength of a must-see live show which has seen the group open for many renowned national acts in the U.S. Mr. Nap recently answered some questions for Guitarsite.
How and when did you start playing guitar?
I started taking lessons when I was about 10—in a park, which is pretty funny. I didn’t really take it seriously until I was about 13 or 14. I took lessons for a while and then taught myself from there.
Who were your early influences?
I started listening to music that my older brother listened to. Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Kiss, Judas Priest to name a few.
How about some info about the new release, ‘Spider Rockets’?
We started working on our upcoming CD after our Fall ‘07 US tour. We wrote, rewrote, demoed and rewrote again for about 5 months and then recorded over the course of the Summer ‘08. We spent more time than ever before and are really happy with the way it came out. What’s really cool about this CD is there is not really any filler material on it. Each song has special elements. For example, the chorus for “Kiss You Dead” is catchy as hell. “Power Tripping” moves from emotion to emotion—starting out bare and shifting to the driving chorus and then to the unusual time signature of the bridge—a unique and intense feel. “Anti-Hero” has a very moody vibe to it, as the subject matter is pretty intense.
Please describe your guitar set-up.
My favorite guitar is a Gibson Les Paul classic. I also have a 1974 Gibson L6S and an American-made Stratocaster. I love the sound of Mesa Boogie—so that’s what I use. I read an Eddie Van Halen interview where he said he is a tone chaser—I thought, hey, that’s me. I’ve gone through so many amps, but I always come back to Mesa. I have a Dual Rectifier Tremoverb and a Mark III right now. For effects I use a Morley Bad Horsie Wah, a vintage Boss delay pedal, a vintage Digitech flanger, Boss noise gate and tuner. For strings I use 9-46 gage D'Addario’s. I also use Monster cables and extra heavy picks.
Do you follow a practice routine?
I study guitarists and bands—I go from one to the next and learn from their styles and techniques. It is pretty much a daily thing for me, now that I think of it. Also, I come up with new riffs for songs while I’m messing with my sound—the tone chaser thing.
What do you think of modern day rock guitar, and who are some of your favorite guitarists?
I am glad to see solos are fashionable again—as I guitarist, I love listening to them. I like Tony Rombola from Godsmack, Dan Donegan from Disturbed. From the classic rock side, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Ace Frehley. Also, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eddie Van Halen are two more of my favorites. But, bottom line, I listen to music a lot every day—it’s my haven—so there are many, many other guitar players who I like and listen to.
What advice would you give to other guitarists?
That’s a good question for all of the guitar gods that I mentioned above—they’ve done and seen it all. For myself, I just work hard and do what I love.
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