TOMMY ERMOLLI – Feeling cannot exist without minimum technique
Tommy Ermolli er til vanlig gitarist i det italienske progrockbandet Twinspirits. Han er også med i bandene Khymera og Cosmics. Han er kun 21 år og er i tillegg aktiv skribent i det italienske gitarbladet Axe. I fjor slapp han sitt første soloalbum "Step Ahead" på Lion Music. Han begynte å spille gitar som 11 åring, ble først inspirert av Santana, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns n'Roses og Queen og han forteller videre at inspirasjonene i dag kommer fra langt flere hold. Les mer om dette og mye mer i Tommy Ermollis 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 to play the guitar when I was around 11 years old. Some of the artists and bands that pushed me towards the guitar were Santana, Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but also heavier stuff like Guns 'n' Roses or Queen. I think that Slash was the very first "guitar hero model" of mine. I would just go crazy for his solos.
Nowadays I like to listen mainly to different stuff. I love the way Eric Johnson or Tommy Emmanuel write music; and how they perform it, obviously. Anyway I'm still emotionally attached to the guitar wave of Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Gilbert and the other well-known "usual suspects".
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!
Feeling cannot exist without minimum technique. To express your musical feelings with your instrument (in this case, the guitar) you must have at least the sufficient technique that allows you to do so.
In my opinion, Satriani is more a Master of melodies rather than technique. He wrote some of the most unforgettable themes. The beauty of music is that there are no rules. If you don't like Satriani, don't listen to him. If you don't like Satriani but you listen to him, there's something wrong. Envy. Unfortunately, music's world is full of envy. As I said earlier, I always think of technique as a tool that allows you to do whatever comes to your mind. If you come up with complicate parts, you should like to be able to play them, but technique should never be the main element of music.
What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?
My very first guitar was a classical one and I still have it! I don't remember the brand but I guess is something cheap.
Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?
Many years ago, a guy said to Chet Atkins: "Hey, your guitar sounds awesome!". Chet put the guitar on the floor and staring at it, ha answered:" Mmmh, I don't hear any sound…". This is to say that 90% of the sound is generated by hands. Of course, expensive gear costs much for a reason, but if you don't turn it on and use it, it'll never sound great.
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?
In the studio, I use Mayones electric guitars and a Taylor acoustic guitar. Amps and cabinets are all by Bogner Amplification (Ecstasy and Uberschall). Generally, I usually record completely dry guitars and will add some plug-ins in the mixing step.Some plug ins have now reached an astounding quality.
In a live situation I may use a Bogner head or a custom made preamp (with a power amp) if I want to play in stereo and I can't bring two heads. Lately, I've been using Eventide pedals as live effects. When you play small clubs you better have a "quick" rig. For my last shows I had two eventide pedals, a rack with the preamp and the power amp, a two speakers cabinet and my guitars.
Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!
I have the guitar of my dream! It's a Mayones one. But I'll tell you what I like. I like mahogany for the body, maple for top and neck. I like ebony, rosewood and maple for the fretboard. I like DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan pick ups very much. I have and endorsement with Mayones and Dogal Strings, as well. They're very well-known for strings for orchestra oriented instruments, but they do an excellent work for modern instruments, too!
Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?
There are so many outstanding musicians out there that it wouldn't be fair to include just some of them because of "interview space". Besides, I don't play just one musical genre, so I'd have to make an endless list of players!
Anyway, I believe that when you choose your musicians you can't just choose them from a skill point of view. In my opinion you have to choose people you feel comfortable with, as well.
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?
So far, I have been just a performer, even if in all the albums I've recorded I had freedom to make some changes and some interpretations. If you want to become a session player, it is extremely important that you learn how to restraint your urge of interpret a part or make any changes, even though many famous session player are required to interpret or make changes because of their creativity.
Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?
I've never really run out of ideas when writing, but it happened that I didn't know how to go on with a song. In that case, I listen to something else and wait a little time before I get back to the song. That helps me a lot. Lately I've started to write soundtrack oriented kind of music and I find it to be an awesome way to compose music, for me.
Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?
I have an endorsement with Mayones Guitars and Dogal Strings. Endorsements are important. If you can get to endorse quite an important company, that helps you to gain visibility. You may get to showcase at a trade fair or do some clinics and appear on websites or magazines. Getting an endorsement requires a great work of self-management. Prepare yourself.
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!
Quite a few things can happen! As far as I'm concern, one time my effects stopped working, but that was not a big deal, as I had my dry sound to work fine. Another time my power amp stopped working in the middle of a song. I had no sound at all. Luckily I could use the gear of the guitarist of the band who was touring with us and I could finish the show. So, anything can happen. Be prepared for the worse and never look mad. The audience hates that!
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).
Well, I'll answer again that there so many musicians I admire that I can't list all of them. It was a pleasure to answer these questions for you. Thank you!