Interview conducted 22nd April 2009
Back after a five year absence, Impellitteri have delivered a blistering slice of metal in “Wicked Maiden”. We caught up with band leader and world renowned guitar virtuoso Chris Impellitteri to discuss the albums making, the return of Rob Rock and much more.
Chris, many thanks for agreeing to this interview and may I congratulate you and the rest of the band on ‘Wicked Maiden’, it’s a great return to form.
Thank you Andy! I truly appreciate your opinion. We worked extremely hard to make “Wicked Maiden”…. So, having people enjoy the music is very rewarding!!
It’s been 5 years since the previous album, what have you been doing during this time and when did the initial writing for ‘Wicked Maiden’ commence?
It actually took about 2 years to write the music for “Wicked Maiden” first. I wrote many songs and recorded many different ideas in order to create something musically inspiring. Then, after the music, I brought in the band for live rehearsals, and it was those performances that really helped us create that live feel on the album and bring it all together. It’s all about confidence…Once the band felt confident with their performances we then went into the recording studio… and 2 years later, we had the record. Yes, it took some time to make “Wicked Maiden”, but without it, it wouldn’t be the album it is…”.
Rob Rock has come back on board, what led to getting Rob back in the band from a personal perspective?
The fans wanted it, simple as that! I also missed having Rob as the singer, but ultimately, the fans demanded it. We seem to work very well together, and after the “Pedal…. album, I realized I should contact Rock and invite him back to the band. Luckily he said yes!
When did Rob rejoin as there were numerous teaser hints on the Impellitteri website for a few months prior to the official announcement, why were fans kept in the dark for so long?
Rob was on board pretty much from the beginning. But, we did not want to release that to the press until we knew we could make a strong record. That’s the only reason we kept it a secret.
Musically the new album is arguably the heaviest of the band’s career. Previous albums have all had their moments (Crunch and System X in particular) yet nothing quite like this, what led to the more vicious slant?
In honestly it’s a return to our very first album ( The Black Impellitteri EP) …But, with a big production. We were always an aggressive metal band, but I often experimented with melodic structures and different styles of music depending on the target audience. “Wicked Maiden” is an original Impellitteri record, I’d say. It’s pure and honest. We are not copying anyone, and we are not chasing any trends. We are simply playing music we love. So, I guess we are a much heavier band than some people think?
Sonically speaking the album is massive, obviously great care and attention has been taken towards this side, but what were you looking for sonically from this album that was different to previous albums?
I wanted the guitar and drums to really stand out on this record. I worked really hard to create a unique guitar tone, and let the engineer, Greg Reely work on creating an amazing drum sound. I think “Wicked Maiden” definitely sounds original. I can tell you, the record cost a fortune to make, so there should be no one out there comparing this with low budget records others may have made…This album cost more money than some homes are valued at!”
You have said on your official website that this was a more collective team effort, in what sense and what benefits do you feel this has brought to ‘Wicked Maiden’?
The band worked as a team when recording the record, definitely. Each member created equally…, and, I think we had valuable input from each musician equally… Two heads are better than one, basically explains the answer to that question.
There is also a live performance video for ‘Last Of A Dying Breed’, what led to this track being chosen and where was the video shot?
That’s right…We shot the video in Los Angeles, California at SIR Studio with John Logsdon who’s directed Def Leppard amongst others…. We thought this song had a strong riff, good production, etc… and many people had expressed their liking for the tune….We also shot a music video for the song “Wicked Maiden”, but we’ve not yet release it!!
Who played keyboards on the album as I can’t seem to find that information anywhere?
I played the keyboards on the record.
The band profile seems to have exploded for this album – reviews, interviews and also much to my delight some European festival appearances lined up. I am guessing you must be pretty pleased with what Metal Heaven are doing so far?
Yes, I like this label. They seem to have passion. I’m the one responsible for getting the band on the festival – Sweden Rocks, but the label is doing a great job of getting the media involved with us.
I cannot remember any European dates since I became a fan in the early 1990’s, is this something you have been trying to do before and if so what ultimately stopped it?
I had been invited to play Wacken years ago, but I’d declined. Impellitteri were very popular in Japan, and the US., so we played mainly in those territories for years…. But, now it is time to hit Europe.
What can fans expect from the live shows?
Well, we will play all of the classic songs as well as many of the songs from “Wicked Maiden”…Ultimately, we are a fun, metal band!! So our live performances should excite you, and hopefully inspire the audience as well. I promise you, it will be something very special!
Guitar wise, you have got a new endorsement with Dean Guitars. How did that come about as I had you down as a die hard Strat user? What will the forthcoming signature model guitar feature?
OK. The owner of Dean Guitars asked me if I would like to have a Chris Impellitteri signature model. And, after playing some of their guitars I agreed. My model will be a modified Stratocaster. It will be based on an early 1970’s Stratocaster, but with a flatter fingerboard for low action (fast playability) and a humbucking pickup in the bridge, with a single coil in the neck. It will be the ultimate shred guitar, actually!! The paint job will be White, with a really cool thick, black Spider Web.
Was there anything different you did recording you guitar this time as it sounds more potent than ever?
Yes actually! I used 3 amplifiers when recording this time. A Diezel VH4, Engl Powerball, and a Marshall JMP-1. The speaker cabinets were Engl, stocked with 30 watt Celestion speakers.
Finally, what can we expect from here on in from Impellitteri?
More “Wicked Maiden” records!!
Chris, many thanks for your time and we wish you all the success ‘Wicked Maiden’ deserves. Any parting messages for our readers?
Thank you for supporting us, I truly appreciate it. I hope you get a chance to listen to the new record “Wicked Maiden” and hope everyone can check out our new myspace page and fanclub website.