JOE STUMP (HolyHell) – There’s only one Jimi

JOE STUMP (HolyHell) – There’s only one Jimi

Joe Stump har spilt inn og utgitt hele 10 soloalbum som gitarist. Han har vært med på 4 album som gitarist i Reign of Terror og 1 sammen med Shooting Hemlock. Han har jobbet som musikklærer i Boston i mange år og er en høyt anerkjent gitarist. Joe blir ofte omtalt som en "shredder" og han ble kåret til tidenes sjette raskeste "shredder" i Guitar One Magazine. 10. juli blir han å finne på scenen til Norway Rock i Kvinesdal sammen med hans band HolyHell og her er hans bidrag til The G-String Series.


When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?

I started playing for a little bit when I was like ten but then lost interest. I picked it back up again when I was like 13-14 and I've been hooked ever since. It was Jimi (Hendrix of course there's only one Jimi) that inspired me, everything about him was cool as shit, his look, his vibe, the way he played, the sound of his guitar, it's like he was from Venus or something. Also the hard rock of the day back then – Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Blackmore also cool as shit and Tony Iommi was completely evil sounding. I remember listening to early Sabbath records when I got them as gifts on Christmas morning when I was a kid.  

What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani…who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!

When you really break it down while many great players have done some groundbreaking stuff, nobody`s really re-invented the wheel, everybody draws their inspiration from varying sources no matter who they are. What makes you unique is how you channel that and put your own stamp on it.  As far as feeling versus technique goes, a great player combines all those things, it's not a matter of one or the other. The combination of touch, tone, feeling and great technical command, playing with balls and attitude in my opinion is what makes a great player.  As far as the master of technique goes there are great masters in many styles. As far as hard rock and metal go my heroes are the ones I look to for inspiration. They combine all the elements I just spoke about —Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore and Uli Jon Roth. To me those are the players that really inspired me and helped shape what I do. When it comes to great hard rock/metal, they wrote the book.

What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?

My first guitar was an SG copy, then my first really good guitar was a early 70`s Fender Stratocaster. It was killer, black with a maple neck like Blackmore`s on Made in Japan (one of my all time favourite records). I don't have that guitar anymore but I do have a killer collection of 70`s Strats and one that looks just like it.

Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?

While it's cool to have the proper combination of gear to get your point across, the tone comes strictly from the player, no magic, no bullshit, the tone is in your hands, either you've got it or you don't. 

What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars…pick ups…amps…? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?

I use a combination of ESP custom shop Strats and the MC Guitars Demon Wing.  All those guitars have alder bodies, locking tuners, Dunlop 6000 frets, scalloped necks, Dimarzio pickups (YJM in the neck, Virtual Vintage solo middle, fast track 2 or HS-3 in the bridge). With amps, I`m a Marshall guy thru and thru. I've got many of them. Older 70`s Mark 2`s- 50 watt non-master volume heads, later 70`s, 50`s with the master volume as well, 100 watters, etc. I also use an Engl Ritchie Blackmore model, it's the only amp I'll play thru that doesn't say Marshall on the front, killer amp, I love it. And, no I use the same shit live and for recording.


Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!

The MC Demon Wings and the custom shop ESP`s I just mentioned are just that, all those are built to my exact specs, signature models. The MC Demon Wing has a special tone circuit built and designed by Dawk Stillwell. Dawk used to be Blackmore`s tech back in Purple and early Rainbow. Ritchie had this custom tone circuit in several of his favourite Strats. Also on my main Demon Wing, the volume and tone knobs are from one of Blackmore`s Strats so it's got the Ritchie mojo, how cool is that? String-wise I've been with Dean Markley for a while now and their strings hold up nicely to the abuse.

Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?

That's easy, Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums, Jon Lord on keys, Glenn Hughes on bass.

Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you're just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else's musical themes…would you handle it not participating…not being able to express yourself?

I do compose some of the material for HolyHell. I've also made many solo/band records on my own so expressing my work has never been an issue. In HolyHell I only compose a portion of the material so in that case I really enjoy interpreting the compositions of my band mates. It's a very talented group and a killer combination of musicians.

Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?

I play and compose all the time so I never sit down and force myself into it. The process of it is very natural to me. I just pick up my guitar and things come to me when I'm in the flow of it. Melodies, riffs, chord sequences, I love to play and to me it's exciting anytime the thing's in my hands. If it's not happening then I don't force it.


Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?

I endorse Magic Circle guitars, ESP guitars, Dimarzio pickups/cables, Dean Markley strings, Jim Dunlop picks, BSM treble boosters, Voodoo amp modifications.  I only endorse stuff I like and stuff I use, it's nice to get these things and it is helpful, but to me getting them for free (or very low cost in some cases) is just a cool perk that come with the territory. I didn't dedicate my life to the guitar for cool gear or to be famous or to get chicks. I did it and still do it because I love guitar, love music and love to play, to me that's what's important.   

In all the years that you've been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it? Please go ahead!

My first big festival gig with HolyHell was in the Czech Republic years ago, many people, like 25,000. And my live guitar rig was fucked up and sounded like a bad transistor radio; that was quite painful. While it was a big outdoor show and the sound engineer was able to make it sound quite good out front, for me it was a dreadful experience having everything I play sound like complete ass to me.

Ok then…thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him answering these same questions?

Thanks again and good luck with your project(s).

I always find it cool and inspiring to read interviews and features with some of my all time heroes, even to this day it hasn't diminished one bit .So all the guys I mentioned previously would fit the bill, Blackmore, Malmsteen, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth.

Thanks for the interview, Cheers, Joe Stump