Nelson, Paul (October 2001)

Interview With Paul Nelson: "Guitar Player Extraordinaire"

Paul NelsonMuzikMan: 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.

MM: 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?

PN: My management ( was in touch with Lion Records ( in Finland a few weeks before the album's 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.

MM: What bands or projects have you been in the past?

PN: 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 30 sec 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.

MM: 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.

PN: 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.

MM: Who is the greatest guitar player ever in your opinion? And why?

PN: 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.

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

PN: 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 you're dealing with, like a sort of controlled experiment, otherwise you're just experimenting for the sake of being intentionally different and that never cuts it.

MM: Is the music you make more of a deliberate and planned creation or a spontaneous one?

PN: 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.

MM: For all of the guitar players out there, what kind of equipment do you use and recommend?

Paul Nelson (courtesy)PN: 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 Wah 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.

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

PN: Ok! Hi Mom.

MM: 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?

PN: The tragedy is the lack of musical integrity in the mainstream 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.

MM: Any closing thoughts Paul?

PN: 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!

Liege Lord - Burn To My Touch (1986)
Metal Blade Vol lll (comp., w/Liege Lord) (1988)
Liege Lord - Master Control (1988)
PV/Paul Nelson
Fernando Pierreia - Live From New York (guest artist)
PV - Create Your Lover (guest artist)
Wendy Reno - Matter Of Perception (guest artist)
Guy Vali - Mediterranean Love Affair (guest artist)
Return To Fantasy (Uriah Heep tribute)
Powermad 2001 (2001) (comp. cd, contributed track)
Warmth In The Wilderness (2001) (tribute cd, contributed track)
Look (2001)

Wacken 2000-Special Report (VHS/DVD)

plus guitar work and music for the WWF's XFL-NBC/TNN/UPN

Added: October 13th 2001
Interviewer: Keith "Muzikman" Hannaleck

Artist website:
Hits: 1766
Language: english

[ Back to Interviews Index | Post Comment ]