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Exclusive: An Interview with Guitar Hero Lead Guitarist "Marcus Henderson"

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"Metal saved my life and I believe it can save others" Marcus.

If you are a Guitar Hero fan, then you must heard the name "Marcus Henderson". He exhibited through this interview how Guitar Hero Series asked him to join them this project as well as the signatured guitar by Epiphone. Plus, Hendreson discussed with us his opinions concerning the Middle Eastern metal scene. Finally, he ended with his grief for the heavy metal legend "Ronnie James Dio". Let's know more...

How did it all start? And what was your influence to pick up a Guitar?

I guess it all began when I was around 6 years old. At that time, guitar playing was seemingly a mainstream, since I was drawn to the sound of distorted guitar and I was lucky enough to have parents with awesome music tastes like Pink Floyd, Boston that we even had some Journeys.
And even when it was a very young age, I used to dream of being in AC/DC or Kiss with my Tennis Racket makeshift guitar. After I broke that during a particularly intense "solo", I realized that if I was going to get that sound, I need some actual strings, attached to an actual guitar, so I badgered my Mom for a guitar for years before she finally brought home a pawn-shop Explorer knock-off from the local Pawn Shop, and to this day I cannot thank her enough.

 

Why did you choose to get involved in solo projects or playing as a session musician than being a part of a constant band?

Well, I have been in bands my whole life basically and when “Guitar Hero” approached me I was able to include two songs from the Band I was in called Drist. The guys were cool but I had trouble balancing my responsibility to the game and promoting our new record. After “Guitar Hero” blew up, the work load increased considerably and I had to make a choice with my time. I love being in bands with other passionate musicians but the game required maximum commitment and since we were on a very strict release schedule, it made sense to apply my focus on something that would make people universally happy and bring families together instead of pissing off neighbors everywhere.

 

The “Guitar Hero” experience, how did you get involved with it?

It sort of came to me in a way when I just met the folks at Wavegroup through a mutual friend and was asked to come in and record "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth for an undisclosed game that was going to break out a plastic guitar controller. After that track, they kept feeding me songs left and right and before I knew it, I had just tracked like 20 of the 30 songs in the game. It was just crazy!

 

What is different about the process of making “Guitar Hero” and all your other guitar playing experience?

Well, recording for Guitar Hero can be much more intense. The process of being super-accurate and having to play these amazing songs note-for-note was maddening sometimes. In some ways, it's easier to write original music because you can be creative and write your musical destiny as opposed to following a pre-fab road map. However, reading the road map can be the trickiest thing of all and since I had no charts for any of the “Guitar Hero” songs, I had to basically learn everything by ear. It was exhausting but so rewarding in the end!

 

How did you manage to get the exact sound of every single track? Which was the hardest one for you?

Honestly, a lot of it was just simply critically listening. Each guitar sound has its own signature, and even answers inside of the tracks themselves if you listen hard enough... Once I established the type of distortion or sonic imprint on the master track, I'd dissect the piece to eliminate studio trickery or some extra effects that were added by the original producer to achieve that sound. Once I had the Amp sound down, I would ask myself the same questions every time; are they hum-buckers or single coil pickups? Is it a big distorted sound or kind of thin and grainy? After a while I got pretty good at identifying the origins of the tone and would continue to narrow it down until I was close. At that point, it was fine tuning the tone and when we had it just right, the magic starts to happen.

 

How did your Gibson flying V make it to the rock and roll hall of fame?

In 2007 Jim Henke from the HOF approached me about putting my guitar in the Hall and I was (and still am) speechless. I mean, here's a guy that did a bunch of covers, and his guitar is next to Johnny Cash’s and Joe Strummer's iconic guitars. It still blows me away and I'm forever grateful and humbled by it. It still seems like a dream actually!

 

Who's the guitarist that you think of as your Role-model?

Oh man! I have so many favorite guitar players; Piggy from Voivod, Randy Rhoads, Robert Fripp, Ty Tabor, Dime, I can't list them all here but they continue to shape my playing and note choices long after they have turned off their amps.

 

What are your musical influences that don't belong to the Rock and Metal genre?

I love to play blues and I suck at playing Jazz (laughs). Most people don't know this but I also play Drums, Bass, Keys and 3 other instruments. I tend to look at Metal and Rock as my musical home base but I'm not afraid to leave my comfort zone to make music across all styles. Never limit yourself to one thing! You never know when a video game will call you and you'll have to record all kinds of styles.


We know you're working on your solo project now, can you tell us more about it?

Sure! It's that time of year to be working on more music so I've accumulated about 3 albums worth material that I'm culling for the very best nuggets. I hope to have at least 2 new records out by the end of the year so keep your ears peeled for news and notes coming soon!

 

Lots of your fans don't know about "Little Kids Rock (LKR)" charity project as you're a Member of Honorary Board of Directors. Tell us more about it?

Absolutely. LKR is an amazing charity project that establishes music programs in schools that are short on funds and need some help. Alongside BB king, Jason Newsted and others, we are there to bring resources and instruments to classes that need it most. In fact, I was out at my class recently and the kids are getting amazing on guitar! I love to see people doing selfless acts and LKR personifies that very ethos. The most important thing you can do as a person is help others and there is no substitute for caring about what you do the most. I think that’s why people dig the game so much, they can tell we cared and gave our very best to offer a fun, non-violent gaming experience that families can enjoy together. Metal is all about community and bringing your very best to the scene. In the end, that's all that matters. Notes and guitars come and go. Being awesome is forever.

 

The Metal scene in the Middle East is kind of fresh and new. What would you advise young musicians in the business?

DON'T EVER STOP. Know your history and become a music aficionado. It's a long road and it may take some time, but by all means you have to pursue your dreams even when it looks pretty bleak. Metal saved my life and I believe it can save others’ as well. Start a band, start a scene and stay together!! Also having a great guitar helps too, so go check out my Marcus Henderson signature model guitar by Epiphone and make some noise!!

ALSO
RIP Dio. Nobody personified caring and awesomeness more than him. Go forth and rock!! Hope to see you metal maniacs in the Middle East soon!

 

Interviewed by: Mohamed Adel
Introduction by: NJ and Monk

1 comment

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    Mattie Comment Link

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