Solo guitarist, instructor, clinician and leader of Canadian progressive rock band Martone. Dave chats with us about his early years as a musician, writing, improv, new projects and more.
November 22, 2005
Guitarhoo!: Hello Dave welcome to Guitarhoo.com How old were you when you started playing and what started you down the rock ‘n’ roll road?
Dave Martone: I was 6. My dad started me off since he was a guitar player. He taught me classical guitar and then had a teacher from Spain teach me Classical and Flamenco. As far as I knew that was the only style of guitar out there. Since I had no older brothers or sisters who usually show you what to listen to, I only had my parent’s record collection. I will never forget when I heard my first rock record. It was a Black Sabbath greatest hits record. I nearly blew up since I had never heard distorted guitar before. My life changed from that moment.
G!: Have you ever taken lessons? Do you suggest for players to take lessons?
DM: Yes, after Gary Santucci (classical flamenco teacher when I was real young) I learned in my parent’s basement with cassette tapes and guitar magazines. I could not wait for the next issue to come out and figure it out from top to bottom. Playing in bands was one of the greatest learning experiences that I could mention. Then I learned from John Finn, Joe Stump, Jim Kelly and Bruce Bartlett at Berklee college of Music. All were great in helping me try to achieve my goals.
G!: Who were the guys that made you want to play guitar as a beginner and what was it that you liked about their playing?
DM: I would say Angus Young, Gary Moore, Tony Ionimi and Edward VanHalen. First off they were just cool. They all just rocked out and had a certain attitude that had such command over the instrument. Plus they all had cool riffs and big amps!
G!: You started on acoustic, was it difficult for you to switch to electric?
DM: I actually don’t remember if it was at all. It was so long ago and the transition seemed easy as I recollect. I think the acoustic was great for building endurance and articulation since it was quite an animal to play. I still do my warm ups on the classical guitar.
G!: What was the first electric tune/riff you learned and do you still play it?
DM: I think it was War Pigs from Sabbath. Ya, I still like to dust that one off every now and again. I loved the high hat in that song.
G!: You have 3 cd’s out now (all are wicked BTW) , how do you come up with so many ideas that don’t sound like other songs you have already written?
DM: I think they are all different because they document a moment in time to show what ideas I was working on or techniques that I was into at that time and space. Also having a few different influences helps out also. I love all types of music if it is good music, and take what is good and keep it in my mind for inspiration at a later date. You are what you listen to!!!
G!: Having seen you play a couple of times, I was even shocked how incredible you play with a band. The DVD does a great job of capturing your interplay with the band. How did the DVD come about and into a real product?
DM: Our sponsors wanted us to do a show or clinics and though it would be a cool event. From there we decided to do a full show. I then decided to do DVD since we don’t get that many chances to perform together. For that show we only had 2 rehearsals for and you can see some of it on the DVD. Also, I knew that many people would like to see it and it also documents another moment in time with some of my best friends. I love playing with those guys Daniel, Paul and Dave. They all have very “big ears” and that is what is so fun about it. Especially in “Lips Tulips”. The whole mid section was strict improv. That is how we wanted it. There is nothing quite like flying by the seat of your pants. Sometimes it is great and others it is awesome!
G!: The DVD is full of insane shred. Do you have a set warm up / practice routine or do you just wing it for the most part?
DM: That depends. I always have a warm up routine. It gets my hands in shape. I cannot really play over 2 hours strong anymore since I messed my left hand up a while ago. As long as I warm up I will be good for at least 2 hours. After that, the pain sets in. Some songs have the wing it factor while others are planned out. That keeps me on my toes.
G!: Do you have any plans to take “that” band on the road?
DM: Possibly. That would be a great dream. Daniel is now a member of Nickelback and has quite a busy schedule. I would hate to have to replace him since he is an integral part of the group, and because he actually is irreplaceable!!!
G!: You play Parker guitars, and are an endorser, any plans for a Dave Martone signature series? If so how will it differ from other flys?
DM: Parker has mentioned this and we will be talking in the New Year about it. Some small changes are that it would have a beer holder and bottle opener on it. I hate always running for my lighters! It would also have a sustainer pickup on it. I would like some crazy lights on it for stage and some other cool surprises!!!
G!: Have you tried the new Vox AC30’s? What did you think?
DM: I have not tried them yet. I hope they are cool!
G!: I find that you can switch styles almost mid-lick. How did you develop this ability?
DM: Countless years of jamming with my GW50 and trying anything under the sun!!! Also not being afraid to just let it go.>
G!: For a guy with insane chops your music is very well constructed and enjoyable. Do you work each tune out to have a nice melody or do you just improvise till it sounds good?
DM: Some melodies are vocal melodies that I have come up with and fit chords over. Other tunes have the chords and then I improvise to get the melody happening. It also depends if it will be an easy melody or a more insane one.
G!: Are there any guitar players that you listen too for inspiration? Who are they?
DM: I actually do not listen to much guitar music anymore I hate to say it. I used to but now I like to listen to jazz sax and piano music. I like some classical stuff also. I always wanted to play piano but just have not had the time to work that out.
G!: I Put you up there with Ron Thal, Mattias “IA” Eklundh, and Buckethead (but a little more accessible for the regular joe music lover). Are there any up and coming guys we should know about?
DM: One of my students named Keston Barker is just insane. I am sure you will hear of him in the next little bit.
Dave hangin’ with Joe Satriani
G!: Have you ever met any of your guitar hero’s, if so was it cool?
DM: I have met Yngwie, Satch, Gilbert, Vai, Howe, Morse, Holdsworth and they all have something in common besides being mother F@$#@#ers. They all are good, sorry GREAT people and that is great to see!
G!: Who is a bigger influence on your style Mr. T or Liberace?
DM: Wonder Woman. Loved those blue shorts!
G!: On the cover of “Shut up ‘n Listen” those are some interesting shorts, do you still wear ’em?
DM: Ha! Probably a longing for Wonder Woman!
G!: Any advice for up and coming players?
DM: Be yourself, be great, don’t be afraid to speak up and kick some ass!
G!: Hey Dave, thanks for taking the time to hang with us, anything upcoming you want to pimp out?
DM: Watch for the new Martone album in the beginning of 06. Thanks! *Burp* – Peace out!
Interview © 2005 Guitarhoo!