Interview with J. Rad Guitarist

Have a hankering for mainstream-yet-anthemic arena rock sounds from the ‘80s – comparable to the likes of Queensryche, Winger, and Survivor? Then the Long Island, New York-based quartet, J. Rad (whose guitarist shares the same name as the band), is the band for you. Comprised of members Gino (vocals), J. Rad (guitar/vocals), Zutto (bass), and DieZeL (drums), the group recently issued their debut album, ‘Sons of Priapus,’ available for purchase through iTunes and Recently, J. Rad – the guitarist – talked guitar with

J Rad

How and when did you start playing guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was ten years old.  I guess I was abnormally interested in music for my age, but I was particularly interested in the guitar.  My dad – who is not a musician – has always been a music and guitar enthusiast.  We basically came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to take it to the next level and be a part of the music as opposed to just listening to it.

Who were your early influences?

My earliest influences were definitely based on very intricate guitar work.  Especially instrumental players like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.  I was also heavily influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and also Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who was just making his way onto the scene around the time I started playing.  

How about some info about J. Rad’s new release, ‘Sons of Priapus’.

Our new album “Sons of Priapus” (working title) is an eleven-song compilation, with two additional acoustic bonus tracks.  It came together relatively quick.  We always have a great time in the studio and the time seems to fly.  We tend to write a lot of music in a short amount of time because we all bring so many ideas to the table.  It’s hard to pick which tracks I like the most, because it really depends on the mood I’m in.  If I feel like letting off some steam, songs like “Sunstroke” and “Bleed For Me” seem the most appealing.  If I feel like listening to something on the softer side, songs like “Crazy About You” and “Earth Angel” fall into that category.  

Please describe your guitar set-up.

For the most part, all the guitars I usually take the stage with are various Gibson Les Paul models.  Specifically Les Paul Custom’s.  They also get a great deal of use in the studio, but I spend a lot of time experimenting in the studio.  I’ll use some Fender Strats and also some hollow body guitars such as a Gibson 335 if needed.  Another guitar I like to use in the studio a 1958 Supro that is relatively limited, but unique.  But, on stage I stick to the Les Paul’s and American B.C Riches (occasionally).  The main source of my amplifier tone is from Marshall.  I use three amps on stage, two of which are Marshall Plexi’s (1959slpx reissues). 

I use one for clean tone, and the other for dirty tone.  To get the dirt I want I use Radial Tonebones.  To be more specific I use the Tonebone Trimode for live, and the Tonebone Classic in the studio.  The third amp I use is a Bogner Uberschall.  This is to add some bottom end and gain to the dirty tone.  The Radial Switchbones allow me to combine and switch between the amps as needed.  Other than the Radial pedals, my pedal board also consists of a Dunlop Rotovibe and Crybaby 535q, Maxon Delay, Flanger, and Auto Filter, a MXR 10 band EQ, and also Voodoo Lab Chorus pedal.  My effects rack consists of a Sennheiser wireless system, a Sabine tuner, Rocktron Hush’s, T.C Electronic M-Ones, and a rack mountable crybaby for setting up a few wah pedals all over the stage.

Do you follow a practice routine? 

I don’t really follow a specific practice routine because I’m usually working on something new and exploring ideas I’m not used to.  I go to school at the Berklee College of Music, and there are always new ideas being thrown at me.  A lot of the time it actually comes at me faster than I can keep up with it.  When it comes to warming up before a show, I’ll usually just run through scales/modes for a while and do some finger stretching exercises.  Nothing too complicated though.  

What do you think of modern day rock guitar, and who are some of your favorite guitarists?

I’m fond of some modern day rock guitar.  I like the concept of writing guitar parts geared towards good vocal songs.  Generally, I enjoy good song writing where every member of the band is doing what is best suited for the song.  Lately I’ve been very fond of the styles of Clint Lowery and John Connolly of Sevendust.  One of my favorite players is also Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains.  He knows when to solo, when not to solo, and he also has a great voice.  He plays nice guitar riffs while singing backing vocals, and sometimes lead vocals.  At this point I find myself more impressed by that than any four-minute guitar solo.  

What advice would you give to other guitarists – to both newcomer and already established players?

First and foremost I would say that although it sounds like a total cliché, practice does make perfect.  Practice a lot and explore new ideas and styles of music, because there is nothing that can’t somehow be applied to the music you want to do.  Another opinion I feel strongly about is that you should never underestimate simplicity.  That’s something that I slowly learned over time.  Basically what that means, is try to play what best compliments the song you’re playing/writing and also what compliments the other players.  For me, this frame of mind allows me to enjoy the final product more.  


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