GEORGE BELLAS – It was just a natural desire
George Bellas er en amerikansk sologitarist som begynte sin solokarriere allerede i 1997. Han ga ut sitt debutalbum "Turn of the Millenium" på Shrapnel Records samme året og har i løpet av sin 13 års lange solokarriere gitt ut 6 album. Han har spilt på en rekke andre plateutgivelser i tillegg til egne skiver. I dette intervjuet forteller George at han begynte å spille på gitar for første gangen allerede som 7 åring. Han ville ha valgt med seg både Chopin og Liszt i tillegg til Chicago Symphony Orchestra i sitt drømmeband og han velger seg James Byrd som sin etterfølger i denne serien. Les mer om denne dyktige og pratsomme musikeren i 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 guitar when I was seven years old. No one person or band inspired me to play guitar, it was just a natural desire that sprang from my interest in music and the instrument. There was an inner desire and a very natural attraction to the instrument, but it wasn’t until after I started playing that I discovered many of my favourite composers and players.
What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique?
Many different elements can make a player unique, such as their way of articulating vibrato, portamento, rubato, along with their phrasing, tone, and dynamic expressiveness. In my honest opinion, it is the expressiveness in a performance that can truly captivate and stimulate the senses; even somebody with underdeveloped technique can play something with the utmost expressiveness. Emotion is the absolute most important factor to me, technique is always second. Having said that though, one that has developed their physical technique to that of a superior level and can also display a level of expressiveness that is transcendental can be truly breathtaking.
Likewise, there are many aspects that make a composer unique, such as their use of non-conventional compositional elements and techniques. But the underlying and defining factor of their uniqueness is the ability to compose music in an expressive manner that is easily recognizable as all there own; to be genuine, ignoring all trends, and to be truly exploratory with no fear of being different. After all, we are all using the same twelve pitches, so it is up to the unique personality of an individual to combine them in a time frame that is an extension of, and reflects, their own personality.
What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?
My first guitar was a small scale classical guitar. And no, I do not have it anymore.
Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?
There is absolutely, positively no magic in the equipment… the magic is within the music and the performance of the player(s). Although, it is indeed nice to have great tone from great equipment, but my point is that a talented player can make magic with even a mediocre setup.
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?
Fender ’57 Stratocasters
Gibson Flying V’s
Gibson Les Paul’s
Fender Precision / Jazz Bass
Musicman Stingray Bass
Marshall JCM 800
Marshall 1976 MKII
Marshall 1977 JMP
Marshall JCM 900 (several, each equipped with different tubes)
Ampeg SVT Classic
Sennheiser MD421 Microphone
Sure SM57 Microphones
Dunlop Jazz III Picks
Dean Markley .010 – .046 gauge strings
Logic Pro DAW
Abbey Road EQ and Compression
Apogee Rosetta 800 Converter
Apogee Big Ben Wordclock
Coleman Audio SR5.1 Sound Distribution
Focusrite Red Series Mic Preamps
Alesis, Roland, and Studiologic Keyboards
RME audio cards
What I use in the studio is the same equipment I use live, except of course for the recording specific equipment that I listed.
Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!
The guitars of my dreams are the ones that I play; Fender 57 Stratocasters, some of which are loaded with stock single coil pickups, and others with Dimarzio pickups. All my guitars are strung with Dean Markley .010 – .046 gauge strings. I also play Gibson Les Pauls and Flying V’s which I love very much as well.
Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?
Marco Minnemann – Drums
George Bellas – Composer, Guitarist and Bassist
Frederic Chopin – Piano
Franz Liszt – Piano
Rachel Barton Pine – Concertmaster
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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 compose all the parts for all my music, which includes: guitar, bass, drums, piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, English horn, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, viola, cello, contrabass, harp, glockenspiel, tubular bells, xylophone, timpani, choir, synthesizer and other miscellaneous instruments. I enjoy writing in baroque, classical, romantic, and modern rock styles.
I am happiest composing all the music I play, apposed to being just a player. I have a relentless desire to compose, it is what makes me want to live each and every day and totally satisfies my inner being unlike anything else. I do also want to mention that I have the highest respect to those musicians that do want to just play and not necessarily compose. There indeed can be great satisfaction in that.
Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?
Never once in my life, and I mean not even once, have I ever run out of ideas. I am not exaggerating nor being pompous in the least bit, the ideas are all around me just waiting for me to make use of them. It’s a constant race to keep up with myself, meaning, I write a massive amount of music, but then I have to record and produce it as well, which all takes a great deal of time. I have thousands of songs and pieces of music that have never been released, but I am always excited to compose something new too, so I do, and all the while I strive to discover new composing techniques and elements, as well as refine and improve upon what I have already laid forth in my releases.
Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?
While I do have some endorsements, I do not think they are important for an artist, for a business man yes, but in no way do they help shape or refine an artist’s skill set.
In all the years that you’ve been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it?
The worst thing that has ever happened to me live was during my teens… The members of the band I was in all started playing a different song than I started, which was due to misreading the song list. But hey, I thought it was cool and progressive!
Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him answering these same questions?
The musicians I admire are people like: Gustav Mahler, Franz Liszt, Frederic Chopin, Brahms, Shubert, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. The melodies, harmony, rhythm, dynamics and unique combination of instruments those composers create is some of the most satisfying music I have ever heard. As far as guitar players though, one player that springs to mind, who I think has outstanding vibrato, tone, great note choice, and captivating feel, would be James Byrd.
Thanks to all my fans, friends, students, and the media for all the support and encouragement throughout the years. I appreciate it greatly. Thank you!