Andy wrote all the lyrics and later told me it was written about his experience with the tour bus we shared after there were a lot of issues in his bunk and being insufferably hot most of the time. Bit of tongue in cheek but a source of inspiration all the same.
You’re known for being an instrumental artist, so what made you want to get Andy and vocals involved?
It all started after meeting the Monuments lads on a tour early 2020, and us really hitting it off as friends along the way. Since I am an instrumental artist I always get people curious to see what would happen with a vocalist and love to tell/ask me about it in my comments... so I decided that I’d try it out and who better to have sing than Andy? He nailed it beyond nailing it in my opinion.
What was it like working with Olly Steele for the solo?
That is the absolute THE LAST TIME I’m working with that lad, that’s for sure!!!
For real, Olly is a one of a kind artist and his skills are phenomenal, he was able to get the solo happening with ease. I really admire his focus to detail that makes his sound what it is. We had discussions during the process and I could tell how deliberate every note is, I think this is the type of attitude that elevates an artist. Inspiring guy that’s for sure.
And how hard was it to learn that solo?
Oh yeh, this was a challenge, many phrasing ideas that are far from comfortable to my playing so I took a bit of time familiarising myself with the tricky licks. For me, I tend to use the drill approach and just drill and drill a lick until it starts to represent the sound I need. I didn’t count the time it took. But I’m glad there’s likely gonna be a lot of time before I need to perform it.
This is your JTC debut, so what do you want people to get out of it?
I’m most passionate about composition, so I hope people get inspired to create and incorporate some of my ideas in their compositions. Especially things like layering and stacking chords to create a sound like I did with octaves and chords. I also hope they get new chord shapes and sounds to play around with too, I really love experimenting with new shapes and sounds. Sometimes one nice chord can inspire a whole section of music.
Do you have a favourite JTC artist?
I love this question. I remember finding Guthrie Govan through JTC with his song ‘Fives’ which just made my jaw drop to the floor, I still watch that video because of how incredible it is and how musical as a composition it is too, I think a lot of players are next level at guitar, but it takes even more dedication to bring those skills into a great composition in its own right. Guthrie has this in spades. Hope to meet him one day.
What have you got planned for the rest of 2021?
So since touring is out of the question I’m planning to spend most of my time writing and recording new music. I have 3 new releases planned including an acoustic album, a collab EP with Jake Howsam Lowe and my own follow up to my last album The Zenith Rise. I’m definitely inspired to be prolific and get more music out there and try and continue to grow my music out in the world.
Any idea for future JTC releases?
Absolutely, I think in the next one I do (lord willing I am invited back 🙏)
Likely an instrumental one where the focus is on the instruments 100% I love creating interesting and tricky riffs with some sort of twist to it and I think that’s something that people may get a lot out of in future.
Before you go...
Check out Ro in action with his playthrough of the track.
There’s nothing better than finding a hidden gem, but when Lew Thomas got in touch, that gem found us. The first new artist of 2021, Lew has brought his super-clean country twang to JTC and we’re already looking forward to future packs.
But while we bask in the glory of Clean Country Soloing , we wondered why a lad from Derby in the UK has such a talent for the most USA of musical genres.
So to tell you more, here’s the man himself.
The Midlands isn’t exactly a hotbed for country, so how did you get into the style?
While studying for my degree I stumbled across Brad Paisley. Hearing those super-twangy, fast-paced, ear-bending country shreds opened up a whole new world of guitar, and led onto Brent Mason, Albert Lee, Johnny Hiland etc. and I’ve never looked back since! Definitely a far stretch for a Midlands lad!
How would you describe your playing?
I like to think of it as straight up 90’s country style guitar - with a hint of British Blues! I studied blues piano before guitar, and don’t think I’ve ever really shook it off!
What is the main takeaway from this release?
I’m hoping that this course inspires players to find that clean twangy tone that we don’t hear as much these days. From a technique perspective, there’s a lot of country-specific techniques, such as double-stops and bends that players will be able to steal and incorporate into their own playing.
Who are your main influences?
Most definitely Brent Mason and Brad Paisley, however I grew up listening to rock and southern rock, so guys like Jimmy Page, Allen Collins and Steve Gaines had a big influence on my overall musicianship growing up. There’s a few young pickers like Billy Strings and Daniel Donato that keep me inspired every day too!
Do you have a favourite JTC artist?
All the JTC artists blow my mind, but I’ve gotta say Andy Wood. Not just because of his country guitar, but because he’s an all-round monster of a musician! Have you heard that guy’s mandolin playing?! Jeez!
What other topics would you like to explore at JTC?
Southern rock would definitely be my go-to secondary topic. I think it’s a great style for rock guitarists looking to develop their country chops, and vice-versa for country guitarists looking to crank the gain!
2020 has been a challenge. Fires in Australia, floods in Indonesia, the passing of a guitar icon, and of course, Covid-19. But if you’re looking for a silver lining, the 2020 edition of JTC Jam of the Month is as good as they get.
Thousands of people, coming together under the banner of musical exploration and in the process creating a community that is vibrant, supportive and constantly growing.
But the time has come to crown a “champion” of that community and to find out who will win the fabled Ibanez AZ Prestige. So to explain how it’s all going to work, here’s a breakdown. But first...
A quick recap!
Since April, Ibanez have sponsored the JTC Jam of the Month, and have offered an AZ Prestige as a grand prize. So each month, we have given away a free backing, and each month our guest judge has chosen their favourite solo. Now, each monthly winner from April to November will battle it out to see who gets the guitar!
How will the final winner be chosen?
The winner will be selected through a combination of public vote and via our judging panel. For December, the guest judges are some of our most elite JTC pros and all Ibanez endorsees: Luca Mantovanelli, Nili Brosh, Brian Maillard, Ruben Wan and Igor Paspalj.
This is how the December final will work...
Each of the eight winners between April and November will be given until December the 18th to submit their solo directly to the team at JTC Guitar.
There are five backings to choose from, but they can only submit one solo. Once submitted this cannot be changed.
JTC will then release each solo one by one into the JTC Jam of the Month group, on the 23rd of December. Contestants will be free to post their solo to their own social channels only after this point.
Once all solos have been shared, we will open a poll within the group for people to vote on their favourite, between 24th and 29th December. The position in the poll denotes how many points that person gets. Example - Joe Blogs wins the public vote so gets 7 points. Joanna Blogs comes eight, they get 1 point.
Each judge will be asked to put the solos in order with the same point system in place.
The person with the most points wins an Ibanez AZ Prestige, and is crowned JTC Jam of the Month 2020 Champion!
The winner will be announced in early January 2021.
Is there a monthly prize for non finalists?
The JTC community is a beautiful thing. It’s ever growing and passionate, and we wouldn't be here without it. So as a special thanks, for December we are also offering all non finalists the chance to win a six month Premium Membership to JTC Guitar. If you are already a member, we will simply extend your membership for free! The monthly winner will also get JTC x Ibanez Picks.
How will the monthly winner be chosen?
To keep things simple, we will ask the judges to directly pick the best solo for December, with a simple majority needed to crown the winner.
How do I enter the monthly contest?
Download this month’s FREE pack featuring five highly jammable tracks.
JTC is a bit of an exclusive club. Our artists set very, very high standards and it is a hard roster to get onto. The even more exclusive club is made up of those who have contacted us in order to get onto that roster. Baris Benice is its latest member.
His JTC debut, 20 Uncaged Rock Licks, is a fantastic tool for anyone looking to break out of restrictive shapes, and is also just a small snapshot into his crazy melodic talents.
So to tell you more, here’s the man himself.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
I call my playing “unpredictable”. In the past, I tried to push myself into the opposite direction of what my fingers tend to do. So, my playing evolved in this way.
I love the catchy melodies. So, you can hear that kind of melodic focus in my solos or improvisations. When I write a solo I don’t try to write the hardest thing. Yes, I know that we all practice a lot to be able to play advanced techniques but I always know that I don’t have to use all of them. I prefer to use these techniques to make my expressions stronger.
And I’m not easily satisfied with my melodies when I create them. I always think about what I can do differently.
You are our first Turkish artist! Has your heritage inspired you as a player at all?
Well, Not so much. But yeah! There are many people from different cultures in my country. So, it evolves our musicians' taste. But I grew up listening to western music mostly and Turkish culture didn't affect my playing style so much. I don't know if it is a good thing or not actually! Sometimes I can hear some melodies in my head which do not belong to western culture, but it's just a feeling.
How did the idea for this release come about?
In the early days, I was having a lot of trouble playing in only one shape. It was one of my biggest problems when I was trying to improvise. I had only one way to create each melody that I built. I mean, I got stuck with the box shapes. So, I decided to develop my own approaches to break out of those boxes. At first, I tried to play basic pentatonic shapes diagonally instead of vertically. Then I played those phrases with different rhythmic variations. And it started to turn into more aesthetic expressions. With some music theory, I applied this approach to different musical scenarios and it became more fluent and unpredictable.. So, I thought that it would be great to share these ideas with a lick package.
What for you is the biggest takeaway from the pack?
I want people to start thinking about how important moving around the guitar neck is to create some unpredictable melodies. We all focus on music theory to develop our phrases. Of course, it’s necessary to know what you can do to express your musicality. But besides this, we have to know there are how many ways to play that same melody on the fretboard. In this way, we can build different futures for our improvisations.
Many players still don’t notice that our brain knows what our fingers cannot do. So, if we can install some new ways to our muscle memory our brain will notice that update. With this approach, we will be able to play what we exactly feel or think.
What was your set up for this release?
It’s my Schecter Silver Mountain guitar. Actually, it’s a new one but I loved how it sounds. And I used my Schecter Apocalypse Red Reign seven-string guitar for slow demonstrations.
They’re directly going into Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly plugin. Aside from that I’m using a wah-wah pedal. That’s pretty much it.
Who is your favorite JTC artist?
It’s really hard to choose only one, there are so many great players at JTC. Guthrie Govan, Andy James, Kiko Loureiro, Alex Hutchings, Martin Miller, Roy Ziv, Claudio Pietronik, and so on. Each one has a unique playing style and I really enjoy listening to their works.
Any ideas for the next JTC release?
I love to use the whammy bar to create melodies. So maybe it would be a great concept. Besides that, I’m recording my debut album these days. So, it would be great to share any of my songs with the “Learn to Play” concept.
And it would be great to do something with other players at JTC!
Check out the release
Huge thanks to Baris for taking the time to talk to us. Make sure you check out his JTC debut. More info below!
The JTC roster is a special place, full of some of the finest guitarists and educators on the planet. So whenever we add to that roster, it’s something to celebrate.
Our latest addition however, takes us to a whole new place. We’re never scared to break new ground, and in Ruben Wan’s JTC debut, he’s helping us do just that.
So here he is, to give you a behind the scenes look of his mesmerising Learn to Play release.
How did you get into guitar?
To pick up girls in highschool…just kidding! I was bored one summer vacation and saw an ad for guitar lessons at my high school. Like most complete beginners, I had my parents buy me a cheap nylon acoustic guitar and decided to enroll. The guitar teacher only knew a few basic campfire chords and that’s the only thing he taught me for the whole two months duration of my vacation but even those few basic chords were enough to get me hooked and addicted to this amazing instrument.
And right now, what are you focussing on musically away from this release?
Before being a full on guitarist, I spent most of my high school days singing and writing cheesy Spanish love songs, everything took a big turn when I moved to LA to study guitar and for the past couple of years I have completely neglected my artist/singer-songwriter aspect of my career. This year I decided to find balance between my guitarist and artist sides so lately I have been writing and producing more songs that involve lyrics and vocals. The goal is to release a song a month, if possible two but realistically it's going to be closer to one song every other month.
Where did the inspiration for this track come from?
To be honest, I was creatively stuck for quite a bit when coming up with this song. I grew up listening to JTC artists/legends such as Alex Hutchings, Guthrie Govan, Marco Sfogli, etc.
Therefore when I was presented the opportunity to release a package with JTC, I was honestly excited and intimidated at the same time. I’m in no way a virtuoso guitarist and regularly feel the impostor syndrome creeping up on me so it was really hard to find the right inspiration for this track. Eventually though, I told myself that all these thoughts are pointless self imposed “Expectations”, so I called up a couple of friends to help me produce the backing track to my composition (Elijah Zhang and Renny Goh), reminded myself that the only important thing that matters is doing your best, and ultimately bringing a new flavour into JTC’s catalogue by combining my old and new guitar inspirations as best as possible.
It’s not often that people tune up a half step. Where did the idea come for that?
First of all I’d like to give a quick apology for doing this, I understand that this might have come off a bit annoying, my apologies. I tuned my guitar a half step for two reasons:
For this particular song, I liked the tension of my strings when tuned a half step up. I use my whammy bar a lot on this song and having the guitar tuned up, enhances the sound of my whammy flutters.
I was annoyed by a single note in my composition that was outside of my fretboard reach due to the standard tuning and key of the track. So to accommodate that single note, I tuned up.
What is the biggest takeaway from your JTC debut?
Don’t doubt yourself, because everyone has something unique to offer the world. A good solution to being stuck creatively is asking friends to help out, this allows you to use their creative input as fuel for inspiration and come up with something even more rewarding.
Shout outs to: Elijah Zhang (Drums) and Renny Goh (Keys/Aux).
Who is your favourite JTC artist?
Without hesitation, “Guthrie Govan”. My favourite JTC artist is actually also my all time favourite guitarist. If you ask any of my close friends, this has been my answer ever since I discovered “Erotic Cakes” back in high school. Though I have completely given up trying to play like him (impossible), everytime I re-listen to any of his songs or solos, I’m just filled with inspiration and emotions. His mastery of the instrument, feel and creativity is simply incomparable in my opinion.
What would you like to explore in the future at JTC?
I’m definitely down to keep writing more guitar oriented songs for JTC but I’m not opposed to doing a Masterclass or a lick package in the future if my time and schedule allows it. It would also be awesome to collaborate with another JTC artist and come up with a dueling guitars “Learn to Play” track!
Find out more
A huge thanks to Ruben for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to find out more about his debut, check out the video below!
JTC Guitar has grown a lot since the “Guthrie originals”, and it’s all thanks to the wonderful community of fans, members and artists. So as we look to the future, we want your help.
Let us know who and what you want to see, what you love and what you think we could do better, and your ideas for the future of online guitar.
By filling out this survey you will be entered into a prize draw to win a year’s membership, and we’ll also give you an exclusive 25% off code for use on downloads- just as a way of saying thanks!
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Terms and conditions The competition ends at 9am BST, 13/10/20. Any entries received after this date will not be valid. One lucky winner will be chosen at random via a prize draw. The winner will be notified via email and announced on social media. If the prize is not claimed after ten working days, or we feel that the entrant has not entered honestly, we will pick another winner. The prize is non-returnable or refundable and has no alternative cash value.