BILL VISSER (Psychoprism) – Passion creates the feeling
After viewing this act opening for U.D.O. at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY recently, I knew I had to find out more about the progressive metal guitarist Bill Visser. Previously involved with Scarlet Records artists Operatika, his new band Psychoprism is a progressive metal act with occasional nods to heavier acts- and they are currently working on their debut album while establishing a foothold in the NY/ NJ scene. This man knows how to play- making his lead breaks energetic and fluid with arpeggio knowledge that has to be experienced in person to truly understand. I fired off this G-String Series interview to him so learn more about his craft through his answers.
When did you start playing the guitar? At what age and which band was actually the one that made you want to grab a guitar and start playing?
I started playing guitar around the age of 10 or 11 , but didn’t start getting seriously until my teen years. About the age of 10 I saw a KISS video of "I Love It loud" and thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
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!
I think the thing that make a guitarist unique is the ability to combine different styles of playing and make it their own . I am a technique player, but even when you are a schooled player that shreds it’s still feeling. I can’t stand when guys say that shredding has no feeling. The amount of time and practice it takes to play that style of guitar is insane. It’s passion that creates the feeling.
What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?
My first guitar was a used no name 50 dollar piece of crap. I traded it up for an Aria Pro 2 guitar that was yellow and thought it was the coolest guitar ever.
Do you think that the guitarist makes the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?
It is the guitarist that makes the quality. The tone is in the hands. Equipment is only the tools. You need the right tools for the job, but the magic is in the hands .
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 currently use Jackson guitars SLS 3 tuned to Eb I recently got my first 7string a Dean RC7. Pick-ups are EMG 81 and 85. Picks are Jim Dunlop jazz 3 blacks. Amps I use a rack set up which includes a Marshall Jmp-1 midi preamp, a fractal audio axe fx ultra and a Mesa Boogie power amp though Marshall 4x12cabs. This is controlled by a Rocktron All Access foot controller. I use the same gear in the studio as I do live.
Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick-ups, strings..everything!
Guitar of my dreams, neck through body emg pick-ups, string though body with tone pro bridge, 7 string normal scale length one volume no tone 16 inch fretboard radius. 24 frets made by Jackson guitars.
Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?
The band of my dreams would drummer Tim Yeung of Divine Heresy, bassist Billy Sheehan, keyboardist would be Jens Johannson from Stratovarius and for vocals Stu Block from Iced Earth/ Into Eternity.
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 normally write the music in any band I have played with past or current, but am open for other members’ ideas also. It is very important for an artist to be able to express themselves. I have so many ideas that I could never not be a song writer in a band. I would just not play anymore if I couldn’t write. I play from the heart and if my heart’s not in it I can’t do it.
Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?
Yes I think everyone has had writers block. Right now I am currently stuck on a solo section of a new song for some time now. Sometimes putting it down for a while helps me or just stop trying so hard and let the music play. I am curious to know how some of the guys I listen to deal with it.
Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?
I had some endorsements when I was in my old band Operatika, I was a Madison Amps artist . Unfortunately they went out of business. I also was a Pro Tones pedal artist. I think endorsements are very important for up and coming guitarists and bands. It helps get gear at lower cost or free and is great press too, in magazine ads and webzines.
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!
Things go wrong all of the time live. There has been something at every show, but it’s how you handle it big and small. I practice before a show and warm up for 45 minutes to an hour before the show. Our drummer plays to a click track and has good timing so that’s a real help live.
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/her answering these same questions?
There are so many guitarists I would love to (punish) this with but I would go with Rusty Cooley as he is my favorite guitarist at the moment.