MICHAEL MCDOWELL (OWNER, SHREDGUY RECORDS), MARCH 2018

** 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 didn't 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?

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 didn't mind being called that, because the music was reaching people. And that's whats important...whether you reach them through social media, magazines or music stores.

** I listened to most of the artists on the label and they are all amazing! Talk to me about the artists on ShredGuy Records.

I have added some more great players to the label. Lars Lind from Norway is an exceptional melodic player. His album Soul Kicker has done really well...including getting some radio play on Metal Messiah Radio and RBX radio. Have a new instrumental album coming this fall...and a vocal project release More Than I Need with Jan Le Brandt on vocals. Great singer from Norway, who is also in a band called Big City.

The other guy I want to mention is Sean Baker. You want a shred guitar cd?..One that represents Shredguy the best??..Pick up his cd Game On!! And Sean has a band project called Clownhammer. Its heavy, brutal...yet melodic...great catchy songs. It's been a fun project...those into straight ahead metal should check it out. Its gotten a lot of radio play, and seems to be a favorite with the fans.
And we are going to be working with our first female guitarist Phoenix Van Der Weyden from Brazil. Great instructor of guitar who has helped me with my playing. Cd release coming later this year.

** 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 Hanes 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 didn't want the struggling musician have to break the bank in buying a quality guitar, so its at an affordable 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.

** 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 www.shredguyrecords.storenvy.com and www.shredguyrecords.bigcartel.com

** 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 don't 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?

33!! Including a new release from Toby Knapp called Archives Of Magick...Volume Three.

** What is going on with ShredGuy Records right at this moment and for the rest of 2018?

Well, I mentioned what Lars Lind is doing this year...he will also be playing live gigs..
We just released a single at NAMM in January by Shadow Eden featuring David Mercado. The single is called Brooklyn 1978.
Shadow Eden is playing live gigs, including a Guitarmageddon tour that features Shadow Eden, Joe Stump, and Desiree Bassett. That tour will be in the fall...and in the northeast area of the U.S.
And let me mention Phoenix Van Der Weyden again. Excited about working with her. Check her out on youtube...original songs and some covers.

And finally I am still working on a Europe Tribute...the John Norum era...It wont be on Shredguy, but it is something I am playing on. So a very busy busy year. Which is good!

Thank you Michael for this very interesting interview! I wish you and ShredGuy much future success!!

Glad catching up with you Heather on all things SHREDGUY! SHRED IS NOT DEAD!!

MIKE RISKO (EGO) / APRIL 2019


Mike Risko, founder of band EGO, gives us some insight on his career and his latest album Nosferatu.

** You're pretty buff. I'm assuming you work out. If you don't you have good genes!

I guess I'm pretty fortunate, I do have good genes. I'm always back & forth with dieting & working out. I have my lazy stoner side. Puff puff pass ;)

Although with summer coming, I'm working it !!! Have to get ready for the summer shows! \m/

** How'd you come up with a name like EGO for your band? First thing that comes to mind for me is the human ego concept. Is it related to the old adage that lead guitar players have big egos? :)

When we first got the band going as a 3 piece instrumental band I was just trying to find a good name to describe us. I just went through a dictionary & looked for a Cool name. EGO seemed Perfect! & of course I always get razzed about it, so fitting!

** Your most recent ep is Nosferatu, which was released in 2017. Why are the songs on the album named Parts I, II, III. Why not typical song names. What's behind the name Nosferatu?

Being a big fan of Fates Warning & Opeth we decided we just wanted it in 3 parts. Nosferatu is just an evil epic story. I've always been into writing very dark, minor, harmonic minor feel & I came up with the album name as soon as I started writing the music.

** I really like how Nosferatu is composed. I hear different elements in the album. Not only progressive but also some classic metal elements. Easy to listen to and powerful. Your solos are so good; melodic and powerful. How long have you been playing guitar, how did you learn to play and what have been your influences over the course of your career? Parts of Nosferatu have a King Diamond-esque vibe to it. Is King one of your influences?

I write all of the music, arrange it with Dan Schostek, my keyboard player, then the drummer puts his parts to it. Jason worked his magic & wrote the lyrics to tell a tale.

I've been playing guitar since 1985. I'm influenced from everything from Jazz/Fusion to Classical to Progressive music. LOVE Music!!! My first guitar teacher took me to see Al DiMeola & that changed my world. When I first started playing I was into Metal. Early Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions. Then some of my earlier influences Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Michael Harris. King Diamond is one of my Biggest influences. Love Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning, Opeth, the mellow side of Pink Floyd, Fish era- Marillion, Kansas etc...

** What I find interesting is EGO has been around since 2006, 12 years! Currently, you have three eps in existence: EGO (2006), Resistance is Futile (2011), Nosferatu (2017). Are those other eps available for purchase? Where can people find them?

Nosferatu is available through Shredguy Records. We are looking to re-release the first ep (EGO) & Resistance Is Futile through Shredguy records. www.shredguyrecords.bigcartel.com

** Why over the years has EGO just released eps? Do you plan on one day making a full album?

The first EGO is an ep. Resistance Is Futile & Nosferatu are both over 30 - some minutes; to me those are full albums.

** EGO'a first two eps are completely instrumental. What made you decide to add on a vocalist for Nosferatu? Jason Vanek is a great lyric writer!

I always wanted EGO to be an insane instrumental band, way over the top & Let the music do the talking. We recorded Resistance with Jason, he sang the last song on the album. We clicked & got along so well we decided to write Nosferatu together. Jason is Amazing! Love working with him. We actually played a show with him & did Nosfeartu in its entirety a couple months back. It was recorded by Vidz-R-Us! (Ken Kitt) It came out Great- You can find that on youtube! EGO is back to being a 3 piece, Jason is too busy with other projects & Mercinary Studio.

I've taken over doing lead vocals. We currently have 5 songs written for the next album & working on another 1 or 2 then back to Mercinary Studios to record the next album! Tim Frederick will be on bass once again for the new album.

** Where can fans find you on social media?

www.facebook.com/egorisko

www.facebook.com/mike.risko

** Any tours/shows/festivals lined up for this year?

EGO will put a couple summer shows together with our Progressive Friends & then when a Big band comes through town we will jump on that bill. Always up for some Festivals - I know Michael McDowell & Shredguy Records are working on some BIG Things with EGO!
Michael has pushed Nosferatu quit a bit - Lots of new EGO fans All over the world!

How about a little guitar talk!

** Your favorite brand of guitar, amps/head, strings, and pickups

PRS is my go to guitar, Just love the feel - They play & sound Perfect through my Mesa Boogie Mark IV & Bogner Uberschall. I have some Strats that I love. A Gibson 1957 Les Paul Black Beauty Reissue that I put Suhr Doug Aldrich signature pickups in & it sounds Fucking KILLER!

** What techniques do you use to perform scales, modes, arpeggios, licks, and riffs?

I studied Music Theory for years with a couple different teachers, Then I just kept studying & practicing / listening over the years to grow as a Musician. Always practicing, writing, learning. The stage for me has Always been where I feel most comfortable!

** Do you use a compressor for your pedalboard rig? If so, what is your favorite to use? Can you explain to us what they do for the guitar?

No compressor. I use Starlight amp with cry baby & an Eddie Van Halen phase 90 to give it some depth. I do own a digital delay but don't really use live.

** What advice would you give someone on how to start learning to play lead guitar?

Practice, Listen & just enjoy it. Its a release, an escape. One of the most Important things in my life! Feeling down Crank some Metal!!!

** Any favorite movies, books, tv shows, or foods?

Movies - Soo many. Big Horror fan! Love the Hammer Horror films - Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Love the 70's Dracula's

Same with books - Stephen King, John Saul, Dean Koontz - All the Classic dudes. Charles Bronson movies. Of course stoner movies Food - I'm Italian so LOVE ALL Italian food. Sushi. The list goes on & on

Thank you Mike, so much for this interview. We hope to see more out of EGO in the future!

Thank you Heather!!! It was Great chatting with you. I look forward to unleashing more Epic Evil songs upon the world!