EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: FRANCESCO ARTUSATO TALKS ALL THINGS SHRED
Francesco Artusato is a busy dude: since attending the Berklee College of Music and graduating in 2005, an impressive feat in and of itself, the Italian-born shredder was tapped to fill the vacant guitarist spot in All Shall Perish and hasn’t looked back since. Despite touring the world several times over with ASP and writing and recording their new album This Is Where It Ends, Artusato somehow found time to write and record a record of his own, Chaos and the Primordial, released June 28th on Sumerian Records (order here). The record is exactly what you’d expect from a guy who grew up worshipping Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Allan Holdsworth; a searing blend of metal and fusion played at breakneck speed that doesn’t compromise good songwriting for technical showmanship.
I caught up with Artusato on the phone recently to chat about his new solo record, his influences, the role of “shred” guitar in 2011 and how he balances his solo work with his day job in All Shall Perish. Our chat, after the jump.
Tell me a little bit about your solo record: when did you decide that it would be a good time to release a solo record? and when did you record it?
I basically started working on demos on some of those songs when I was still at Berklee in Boston. A friend of mine needed to work on his skills as an audio engineer. He told me that if I had some music that I wanted to record that he’d give me time in the studio. That was in 2005 – a long, long time ago. I had three songs and was happy with those songs. I showed them to some people and they told me that I should write more, so I started writing more and kept writing for about four or five years, re-recording some of them. About a year and a half ago I decided to go ahead and record everything – the whole album. Right about then I started getting busy because I joined All Shall Perish, and we started touring. There was a lot going on.
Are you happy with the way it came out?
Yeah, I’m definitely happy. I’m always this way: when something comes out, I keep listening to it. There are always things that I wish I had done better or differently. That’s just the way I am. Other than that, I’m happy. I think it sounds the way it’s supposed to sound. It’s exactly what I wanted to do. The love that I had for so many years for the guitar heroes of the ’80s and ’90s and all those guys… I just put together an album that was made in 2011 but with the same kind of style.
When you write and record these songs, do you approach it in a different way than your work with All Shall Perish?
Definitely. The cool thing about writing solo music was that I wanted to have complete freedom of writing whatever I wanted to. That’s how some of the arrangements of those songs came out; just from complete freedom. With All Shall Perish, you need to write music that sounds like All Shall Perish. But even though I’m the new guy, I have a lot of freedom and was involved in the writing process with the guys. I really like to adapt some of my writing to the band and try to make it sound like the entire band.
Would you say we are hearing the real Francesco Artusato on the solo CD?
I don’t think so. My solo CD is more of something that I always wanted to do. When I started playing guitar, one of my dreams was to write a solo record and get it signed and maybe have some kids wear my t-shirt. It’s one of the dreams I had for my music career. There are a lot more things that I want to do. I can’t say that’s who I am 100% but it’s part of what I want to do. All Shall Perish is something else. I’m always, always writing music. I tend to write something that is distinct every time — not completely different, but something that has a different vibe and a different approach. I still think that I need to improve a lot especially in the writing aspect. I like to work with different musicians and get inspiration from different genres. That’s why I listen to all kinds of music, and I do want to write different kinds of music too. I have so many years ahead. I’m sure that I’ll have a lot of different projects.
Just a couple minutes ago you mentioned that there were some solo guitar players that you looked up to. I’m guessing we’re about the same age. Are some of those guys Vai, Satriani, Petrucci – those kinds of dudes?
Yes, of course. Those are definitely the guys I’m thinking about. The whole shred kind of thing: Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe, Andy Timmons and the more fusion kind of thing, Scott Henderson and Allan Holdsworth. Those are really my influences.
You touched on this before in the very beginning — you said that you wanted to make something that sounded like some of those older guys but was more modern for 2011 — you just named some of those newer guys. What do you think the role or the place of solo shred guitar is in 2011? Is there a place for it or is it a relic from the past?
I think in 2008 or 2009 we got to see a lot more shred in music. It seems like it’s coming back. Video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero show kids some of the older music. It’s working a lot right now. A lot of bands are coming out with instrumental projects.
Where do you think that you stack up against some of those guys you mentioned?
I don’t think I can even touch those guys. I grew up listening to those guys, and I have a lot of respect for them. Maybe I don’t listen to those guys so much anymore, but I still have a lot of respect because I admire what they’ve done and what they’re doing after so many years.
Actually I’ve been talking about it with the label and manager. I would love to do that. I think it would be really cool to take a project like that on tour. I think it would be very challenging for me, but I would really love to do it. At the moment, I don’t know when that could happen because I’m very busy touring [with All Shall Perish] right now. It looks like I’m going to be touring for the rest of this year and next year. I’m sure there will be more writing and a new All Shall Perish album. Who knows? Maybe one more instrumental album. You never know. I would definitely love to do clinics. I’ve been asked to do them. We’ll see if we can schedule it with my time. Hopefully.