Sevenstring.org Interview: Marco Sfogli

Discussion in 'Artist Reviews & Interviews' started by Chris, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org Forum MVP

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    <div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/marco/ms_xlogo2.png" alt="Marco Sfogli" />
    <b>Interview: Marco Sfogli</b>
    <i><font size="1">By DDDorian</font></i></div><div align="center">
    </div>

    <div align="center">"Marco Sfogli is arguably the world’s hottest guitarist of the next generation. With a style equally at home in almost every genre, from full on shred to straight pop tunes to mind blowing fusion songs, its little wonder that Marco was the guitarist of choice when Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie went looking for a guitarist to perform and then tour for his “Elements Of Persuasion” album. Marco has more recently been heard on the critically acclaimed John Macaluso & Union Radio debut “The Radio Waves Goodbye” and it’s now that guitar fanatics worldwide have the chance to hear what Marco can do when given free reign in the instrumental realm." <i>- official website</i>
    </div>

    <img style="padding:10px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/marco/4.jpg" alt="Marco Sfogli" /><span class="ivorange">Sevenstring.org</span>: Hi Marco! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

    <span class="ivred">Marco Sfogli</span>: Thank you for this opportunity!

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Firstly, congratulations on the recent release of your debut solo album, There's Hope! How have the reviews been so far?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: The reaction has been pretty good so far. It’s been a bit unexpected at first since it’s my first solo work but I’m nothing but happy about the reviews.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Writing, recording and mixing your own album is no mean feat. How long did the whole process take and was it an enjoyable experience?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: When I decided to put a solo record out (shortly after the Labrie tour, around mid-2005) I had already some written material to work on. It took one year and a half to put all the songs together and mix the record. The writing process is always funny and enjoyable, especially if you don’t have any pressure…the mixing a little bit less hahahah. Seriously I had to work hard to get a decent sound out of the record and I learned a lot of things mixing this one.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Do you have a particular method for writing instrumental music? Who are your influences in that regard?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: Not necessarily, it’s all about inspiration for me. I can’t write a song without an idea you know, it just doesn’t work for me. And usually when I have a melody that sticks in my mind I try to write it down and build the song from there instead of writing the music first and then the melody lead. It’s more like a pop approach to the tunes which definitely works better for me. No real influences when it comes to writing, I just try to be spontaneous.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Are there any plans to tour behind the album at all?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I would love to but it’s really hard to tour with instrumental music these days. I’m trying to get the band on the road doing some gigs, the first one went really really well and the reaction was once again unexpected.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: You're most widely known for your guitar work on James LaBrie's solo album, Elements Of Persuasion. For those who aren't aware, how did you get the gig?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I got to James’s attention through Matt Guillory who I knew through another friend. To make a long story short at some point Matt sent James some tunes I did and I ended up getting the gig.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: From what I understand, you actually replaced Andy Timmons as the guitarist for the album. Did Andy take part in the songwriting of the album at all? Did you ever get to hear Andy's opinions on the final product?<img style="padding:10px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/marco/2.jpg" alt="Marco Sfogli" />

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: No, as long as I know Andy was called to record guitar tracks but the songs were written already. I personally sent him a copy of the record when it came out and it’s been great to get his two thumbs up and such cool words!! He definitely liked it.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Did meeting LaBrie the musician live up to your expectations as a fan? What he is like to work with?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>:I still have his mini poster in my bedroom, hahahahaha. No seriously, it’s been one of the best experiences musically wise ever! He’s the most down to the earth, humble, supportive, funny guy you could met so it was like being at home you know.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Did you feel any pressure to emulate John Petrucci or Dream Theater during the recording of Elements Of Persuasion?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I didn’t wanted to emulate Petrucci or anybody else into that record, I just play that way…take it or lose it as they say. Influences unavoidably pop out into the playing and I think it’s cool whether it’s Hendrix, Jimmy Page or John Petrucci.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How do you think working with LaBrie and the rest of the band has changed your approach to your own music?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I think that it brought back some heaviness to my writing and playing that got a bit lost during the years. They also turned me on some bands I never heard before.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Do you find that more doors are now open to you career-wise thanks to working with someone like James LaBrie?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: Sure, I probably won’t be doing this interview without having worked with him, hahahaha. No kidding, the LaBrie gig let me to know John Macaluso who later asked me to record guitars for his solo album and also Jordan Rudess who asked me to play a solo on his record titled “The Road Home”. Plus I got some endorsements due to that gig.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How is the recording of the second James LaBrie album coming along? What can fans expect from the upcoming release?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: It’s going pretty well, we’re writing. Songs are coming out great and I’m sure that fans will once again enjoy the new one.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: When did you first begin playing? Who were your musical heroes during your formative years as a player?

    <img style="padding:10px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/marco/3.jpg" alt="Marco Sfogli" /><span class="ivred">MS</span>: It probably was during mid-80’s, I’ve always being surrounded by instruments and guitars in particular since my father is a classical guitar player. I didn’t take music seriously until I was 15 tho and at the time my heroes were people like John Petrucci, Steve Lukather and Kee Marcello, but also Michael Lee Firkins, Satriani, Andy Timmons and Reb Beach.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How did you go about developing things like phrasing and technique? Do you still maintain a practice regime?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: The phrasing comes from the inside, it’s all about bringing out the emotions and the feelings. The technique comes both from the head and from the fingers so it’s definitely a combination between heart and head. Since the beginning I gave much more importance to things like the touch and the small nuances on the instrument instead of just “how to play that scale faster than yesterday”. The technique came gradually later just practicing and practicing. Nowadays I prefer to write songs instead of trying to reach a new goal bpm wise.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Which bands and musicians currently inspire you?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I like modern bands like Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed and so on. On the guitar side I like Eric Johnson a lot , Andy Timmons, Robben Ford and all the heart-headed guitar players.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What led you to playing seven-string guitars?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I got my first seven strings in 1999, it was an Ibanez RG if I recall. I always liked the heaviness of the seven strings and around that time I used it just a little. Lately on the Labrie record I ended up using almost exclusively a seven strings guitar. I definitely love it!

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: When did you first come in contact with Rash Guitars, and how did you wind up endorsing them?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: It was soon after the Elements of Persuasion tour in 2005. I saw these guitars in a video and decided to contact the guy who made ‘em to see if he was interested doing an endorsment. He was cool enough to send me a prototype and that’s how the relationship started, we came up with a signature model both 6 and 7 strings and I can easily say these are the best guitars I ever used. I couldn’t ask for better.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What was the process like for designing your own six- and seven-string Marco Sfogli signature model?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: We worked a lot before getting out the signature model. Since we don’t live close each other he had to send me a lot of prototypes, each time with subtle changes before getting the final one out. All I wanted was a solid body with some different choices of woods and pickups and some extra stuff on request like the piezo. And the result is just awesome!

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What other pieces of gear currently make up your rig?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I use Mesa/Boogie amps exclusively, more specifically a Triaxis, a Studio Preamp and a Lonestar head. Then I use some TC Electronics and Eventide rack fx’s, a couple of MI-Audio and Xotic pedal overdrives, a Dunlop CFH wah and an Axess FX1 midi controller. That’s it!

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: John Petrucci is an obvious influence on you as a musician, both gear-wise and stylistically. Given the fact that you even play in a band with Dream Theater's singer, do you ever worry about being labelled a "Petrucci clone"? Is the Petrucci influence something you embrace or something you're looking to shed?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I read about it countless times…I get used you know, it’s obvious. But despite what people think it’s a great honor to me to be compared to John Petrucci even if from a music perspective our styles are quite different. I think as long as it’s good music there’s nothing to be worried about. <img style="padding:10px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/marco/5.jpg" alt="Marco Sfogli" />

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How did you get the guest spot on Jordan Rudess' last album? Did you get to choose which cover song you wanted to perform on?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I had the pleasure to meet Jordan a few times during the Elements of Persuasion tour and at some Dream Theater gigs before getting the call . He had a solo spot on a song which turned out to be “Dance on a volcano” and asked me if I was interested to play on it. The funny thing is that I didn’t know it was a cover, so I played on it and I sent him the track without knowing anything about it…a few days later I played the track for a friend who’s a big Genesis fan and he was like “I know this song. This is a Genesis tune!”. Hilarious.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What was your experience recording with Alex Argento like? Are you an official member of his band or just a guest musician?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: Alex is an incredible guy, both musically and personally. We’re in constant touch and stay late at night talking and joking. His record was a bit of a pain in the ass at first, I didn’t know that much about fusion and playing over altered chords so it’s been a good gym to me. Playing on that record helped me to improve and definitely changed my style since. If I’m a member of his band? I think so but this is a question you should ask to him, hahaha.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What is the music scene like in Italy? Are there any Italian bands or musicians that you think we should check out?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: There are many interesting prog and modern bands here, the first that comes to my mind are DGM, Astra and Ueickap. They’re all friends and we keep in touch almost on a daily basis.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What are your plans for the future once the LaBrie album is recorded?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I hope to play live as much as possible and maybe at some point I will record another solo album.

    <span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Finally, any parting words for the readers?

    <span class="ivred">MS</span>: I wish you all the best and thanks for having me!

    <div align="center">
    <a href="http://www.marcosfogli.com/" target="_TOP"><span class="ivred">Marco Sfogli Official Website</span></a> - <a href="http://www.myspace.com/marcosfogli" target="_TOP"><span class="ivred">Marco on MySpace</span></a>
    </div>
     
  2. Chris

    Chris metalguitarist.org Forum MVP

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    Thanks very much to Marco for taking the time to chat with us, and for DDDorian for putting it all together! :metal:
     
  3. Paul Malmsteen

    Paul Malmsteen Yngwie Gilbert?

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    Awesome interview :metal: Although I do feel sorry for the bloke always being compared to Petrucci :erk: I can understand why, but he obviously has his own thing going on. He also has an awesome custom guitar :hbang:
     
  4. DDDorian

    DDDorian Mantis Toboggan, M.D Super Moderator

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    Glad ya dig it:yesway: Looking forward to the new Labrie album...
     
  5. Steve

    Steve I'm a Happy Camper.

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    Great Interview, well done DDDorian!! Thanks Marco!
     
  6. Digital Black

    Digital Black SS.org Regular

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    Very cool!:yesway:
     
  7. noodles

    noodles Contributor

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    Cool interview. :metal:
     
  8. The Dark Wolf

    The Dark Wolf Contributor

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    Nice work, m'man. :yesway:
     
  9. Leon

    Leon {##[====:::. Contributor

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    more pictures of that guitar! :D
     
  10. Blackrg

    Blackrg SS.org Regular

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    he is a freaking wicked guitar player.. but nickelback?:nono:
     
  11. Groff

    Groff Medicine Chief/RHLC© Contributor

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    We need some more pics of that guitar! :yum:
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Whatever man, good music is good music. :yesway:

    Great interview!
     
  13. Alex-D33

    Alex-D33 Golderak is King Contributor

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    This is epic !! :metal:
    this is by far one of my fav interview to this date :)

    DDDORIAN you kickass !!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  14. kmanick

    kmanick Contributor

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    great interview, this guy is a monster of a player, I love his phrasing.
     

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