Tell us about the birth of ShredGuy Records.
I started Shredguy Records in 2008 with the reissuing of an album that a local Columbus Ohio band put out in the 90’s. Me and the guitar player of the band, Rob Johnson, had it remastered,...got an award winning artist to do the album cover and I did a short print run of cds..Then I reissued some of Rob’s music with an album called Shredworx...its a compilation of his best tracks from the 90’s..remastered...new artwork.. Again it was a short print run...Both cds are out of print, but you can find copies on amazon or ebay. It was a learning experience. I didnt know anything...just had a drive to get some good shred guitar music out there.
The label, didnt really take off until February 2009....when guitarist Tracy G(ex Dio) agreed to do a song with drummer Ray Luzier(Korn, David Lee Roth band, Toby Knapp) for a compilation album I was doing. Having two well-known names like that gave my label instant credibility. The album which was called Shredding Across The World...Volume Two...really took off...and magazines, webzines, blogs, etc...started to take notice...and review the music I was putting out. Then the label started getting good distro, became an LLC, trademarked, and basically was becoming as real as a label as you can be these days. A great lead singer and friend of mine Joey C Jones(Sweet Savage) schooled me on the business...and I was on my way. I was getting demos from players all over the world....known players and unknown players...and looking for the best in shred. I settled on three unique players for the first three solo guitar releases of new music on the label, and those three I dubbed the Trinity Of Shred....Adrian English, Toby Knapp, and Mike Abdow.
Why a label devoted to shred? Why did you think in your mind, I need to start a label like this?
I am huge fan of shred guitar music. When I heard Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force for the first time...it really changed everything for me. The genre really took off back then(the 80’s)...and I always wanted to be a part of it. So many great players out there, I just wanted to create an avenue for the guitarists to get their music out there and help the genre grow.
Why is ShredGuy Records one of music's most interesting labels?
I think the contact I have with fans and artists make the label interesting. I have the open door policy...you can always contact me with questions or comments. I dont mind all the contacts I have on social media. Someone who owns another label once derided the label as just a myspace label back in the day when myspace was big. But I didnt mind being called that, because the music was reaching people. And thats whats important...whether you reach them through social media or magazines or music stores.
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the guitarists on your label, Toby Knapp . I listened to most of the artists on the label and they are all amazing! Talk to me about the artists on ShredGuy Records.
Toby is a good dude isnt he. Lots of great stuff is happening for him now. Its amazing how much music he is creating. His cds have always been well received in the metal world...his release Static Warfare is the metal guitar album for 2013. Great player!! Also on the label in Michael Abdow, who I dubbed the melodic shred master back in 2009. Really great player....his latest cd is called Life Symbolic. Fans have always gravitated to his playing. His first release Native Alien was the top selling cd at Guitar9.com(used to be the top distributor for guitar music) in 2010. He got to join Fates Warning as their second guitarist last year and will be touring with them in 2014 as well. I mean thats a dream gig for any serious musician. And we also have Adrian English, that crazy shredder from Hawaii. His new cd Total Chaos is shred overload....you have to check it out. Tom Kopyto is a guitarist you need to check out. We released what I feel is one of the best shred guitar cds ever. Great players on the cd accompanying him like drummers Jason Bittner(Shadows Fall), Mark Zonder(ex Fates Warning), great production from Keith Merrow, and just great instrumental SONGS! Anyone who has heard it...loves the cd. Somehow the cd got overlooked by the powers that be..you know those magazines...which is annoying because it is so good and Tom is a good dude who has a passion of teaching others guitar and he isnt some stuck up asshole poser. He is all about the GUITAR! On more of the hard rock side we have Tore St Moren, whose instrumentals actually charted on iTunes back in 2011. Thats rare for instrumental music...Tore is working on a cd as we speak...where he will add vocals to the mix. Should be interesting!! So we are getting a Gary Moore and John Sykes vibe. And also from the hard rock side we have Chris Bickley. Chris is becoming the 21 century Dann Huff....being a great session player and playing on a lot of cds. His Shredguy Release is called Tapestry Of Souls, which mixes vocal songs and instrumental songs. So you have good hard rock songs along with the virtuosity of a Shredguy release.
Also check out Aji Brokenbones...our first artist we have worked with from Indonesia where the label and the artists are the most popular. His release Save Our Culture Of Sundanese is what I call world music shred. Its mixes ethnic Sundanese music with neo-classical shred. Pretty intense! And hopefully we will release more players music in the future.
This is great! The ShredGuy Series guitar--talk about this. What makes it stand out? You said it's for "aspiring shred guitar players" Why did you choose Rick Haines Guitars to make it?
This is a great quality guitar for a great price. Hoping to get some reviews of the product. Everyone who has played one, loves it! For the aspiring shredder because we didnt want the struggling musician have to break the bank in buying a quality guitar....so its at an affordabel price. Rick Hanes Guitars out of Indonesia makes fine guitars....anyone who has played one agrees. With the label and the artists being popular in Indonesia it just made sense to have the partnership. Now the goal is to spread both the label and the guitar company across the world. So there are some fine signature guitars made for Tore St Moren(Norway), Michael Abdow(USA), Richo Bermu(Mexico), etc..guys who are out there touring...Check out www.rickhanesguitars.com for more info on the specs of all the signature models.
Why did you want to come out with a signature guitar?
The label has a pretty strong name when it comes to quality of music. So we thought a guitar with the same quality would be a great idea. We are about GUITAR!
Where can people go to find out more about the artists and cd's they can buy on ShredGuy Records?
Check out our online store www.shredguyrecords.storeenvy.com where we also have some killer shirts and distribute other guitarists cds as well.
For those aspiring guitarists, what do you look for in a future "ShredGuy" artist?
The question is humbling...because there are so many great guitar players out there. And its always humbling that they want to be part of the label. I would say your technique has to be stellar....but also have a unique and distinct sound. We dont need any more Yngwie clones....Also be willing to work, promote, play live, and continually create new music and not rest on your laurels. And be honest and supportive of other players.
What gave you the idea to put together the Shredding Across the World compilation Cd's?
I thought it would be a good idea to have a cd with different styles of shred from players all over the world. It would serve as a launching pad for some solo releases for those tracks that people really liked.
How many releases from ShredGuy Records to date?
22 releases!! And working on a 23rd!
What is going on with ShredGuy Records right at this moment , and for the rest of 2014?
The mother bomb of shred guitar cds is out right now. Adrian English-Total Chaos! Check it out!! Coming soon...Toby Knapp and Markus Johansson....double guitar attack there...and hopefully a cd release from Sean Baker...AND I have a couple more things in the works..
What do you envision for the future of ShredGuy Records from here on out?
To keep putting out music. And hopefully the genre will grow....sponsor some live shows, and see some more live shred guitar music. SHRED IS NOT DEAD.
Interview by Heather Williams
Answers by Michael McDowell