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Interview with Paul Nelson
Guitar Player Extraordinaire
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
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[MuzikMan] Your latest release "Look" is a guitar players dream kind of album, why did you decide to make such a hot session.

Paul Nelson When a guitarist spends untold amounts of time studying their craft one eventually calls for the need to let it all out so to speak. I've always been a big fan of Fusion music and writing an album like this without the usual song structure and vocal constraints to me allows great creative freedom.

[MuzikMan] You contributed your rendition of the song "Blue" to the recent Jason Becker tribute album "Warmth In The Wilderness." How and why did you get involved in that project? Did you meet any of the other contributing artists while it was being created?

Paul Nelson My management ( was in touch with Lion Records ( in Finland a few weeks before the albums release and they were very interested in me becoming involved so I immediately began searching for a song and set up recording time at the Carriage House studios on the East coast. I actually chose the song "Blue" and was lucky that it was available, it really fit with my style and I knew it would allow me to be very expressive guitar wise. All the proceeds from the album go to the Becker family to help with Jason's fight against ALS and I'm very glad I was able to contribute. I've bumped into a few of the artists on the CD in the past and have received thumbs-up e-mail's from several of the musicians on the recording regarding my performance on the tune and that's cool.

[MuzikMan] What bands or projects have you been in the past?

Paul Nelson I was originally in a band called Liege Lord on Metal Blade Records for a few albums and then I joined a band on Rick Rubin's Def Jam label and toured southern Europe and northern Africa with Fernando Pereira and played on his "Live From NY" CD that went gold in Portugal. I recorded on a CD called "Mediterranean Love Affair" featuring some NYC heavy weights and wrote music for the comedy cable soap "Scruff Boys" and sound tracks for radio as well. Last year I guest appeared on a CD in Norway called "Create Your Lover" for singer songwriter named PV ( The song "Summerdays" ended up as a 30sec national TV commercial for some sort of large European Shampoo company "Naturelle", which will run for the next 2 years. I also appeared on "Matter Of Perception," with Chuck Loeb, Jim Beard and Bill Evans. And recently I was hired to do all the guitar parts and compose tunes for the WWF's XFL extreme football league on NBC, TNN, and UPN. I've been busy! I guess you could just go check out and find out much more as well.

[MuzikMan] Steve Vai was your guru while you attended Berklee College of Music. How did you end up meeting Vai? Who are some of the more well-known and colorful characters you met in school? You must have some good tales to tell about your stay there.

Paul Nelson Steve was an excellent player even back then, the only problem was his sight reading, so we would get together and read music from saxophone books to improve together. After that he would give me lessons showing me some amazing stuff like his finger exercises, modal work and some great chordal stuff that I found out later was from his studies with Joe Satriani. And get this; the payment plan we worked out was that I would supply him with a carton of cigarettes for every one-hour lesson I took, not a bad deal! Randy Coven and Dave Rosenthal come to mind as a few notables from back then.

[MuzikMan] Who is the greatest guitar player ever in your opinion? And why?

Paul Nelson That would have to be Jeff Beck! To me he is the most well rounded, his creative career and playing style just knock me out. It's not all about speed and a lot of notes.

[MuzikMan] Do you intend to continue genre mixing with your guitar style? Or do you have intent on progressing as an artist in a more experimental mode? Do have a vision of were you are going the next time the tapes start rolling in the studio?

Paul Nelson I enjoy the genre mixing it's what keeps this type of music interesting to the listener and to the artist as well. Hey you noticed! The experimentation comes from trying to keep it fresh, the problem is you have to know what your dealing with, like a sort of controlled experiment, otherwise your just experimenting for the sake of being intentionally different and that never cuts it.

[MuzikMan] Is the music you make more of a deliberate and planned creation or a spontaneous one?

Paul Nelson Good question! As far as the studio I prepare with charts and also have a complete mental picture of the project on the way in. The magic comes through the proper execution of the pulse and feel of those ideas.

[MuzikMan] For all of the guitar players out there, what kind of equipment do you use and recommend?

Paul Nelson Man that's a tuff one here goes!!! Pedals, Boss CE-3, (2)DD-3's, TS 808, CS-3, or an Ibanez DZF 10, recommended to me by Steve Khan (Steely Dan). The crybaby Wha I use is a vintage Thomas Organ model as well as a Show-Bud volume pedal and Octave pedal. A Lexicon PCM delay unit might occasionally be used as a substitute delay. Alternate distortion pedals may also be used at times, such as an IBA. T10 or a Heavy Metal Pedal in conjunction with an OD1 as a type of pre amp situation. Some of the amps I use are twins loaded with 2 EV 12's with special 3 spring reverb installed by "amp guru" Harry Kolby. I have also used, Music Man 100's, JCM modified Heads and they're run in stereo whenever possible. In Europe where back line is supplied the amps of choice are Fender Twins and Marshalls alternate choices may range from Peavey Classic 50's, Fender Concerts, Roland Jazz Chorus Amps to L5 Amps. Depending upon the situation, these amps might be run in a piggyback fashion (master to slave). At a recent Wacken fest in Germany for example they supplied 2 MESA Rectifier stacks and I still needed to use a distortion pedal in my PDL board to smooth things out. For the WWF's XFL sessions I used a Line 6 flextone and a TS-808 straight to the board. I recommend trying as many products as possible, as far as strings and things I endorse Ernieball Products.

[MuzikMan] Is there something that you always wanted to say or express in an interview and just never did? Now is your chance!

Paul Nelson Ok! Hi Mom.

[MuzikMan] What would you consider to be the greatest tragedy in the music industry today? What are the most positive things that are happening to artists?

Paul Nelson The tragedy is the lack of musical integrity in the main stream caused by an incredibly young targeted audience on the part of the major labels. Its quick cash, but the bottom will drop out. On the positive side… those listeners left out of that loop are now searching for and finding a more talented and musically proficient breed of past and present artists.

[MuzikMan] Any closing thoughts Paul?

Paul Nelson Yes, just that I appreciate your interest in my music and career and thanks for the well thought out questioning on your part, it's been a real pleasure. Till Next time!

Master Control - (w/ Liege Lord)
Wendy Reno/ Matter of Perception - (guest artist)
Burn to my Touch - (w/ Liege Lord)
Create your Lover/ PV - (guest artist)
Live from NY/ Fernando Pierreia- (guest artist))
Powermad 2001/ Comp. CD - (contributed track)
Warmth In the Wilderness/ Jason Becker tribute - (contributed track "Blue")
Mediterranean Love Affair/ Vali - (guest artist)
Return to Fantasy/ Uriah Heep tribute - (contributed track "Too Scared to Run")
Wacken 2000/ Special Report - (Warner DVD/VHS)
XFL/ WWF- (music and guitar on all NBC/TNN and UPN TV broadcasts)
Look / Paul Nelson - (solo project 2001)

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