DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Ah, the ’80s… it was a golden period for the explosion of metal, and the period which inspired DevilDriver‘s Mike Spreitzer to pick up a guitar.

“The first song that made me want to play guitar was Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’” says the guitarist. “I was about six-years-old and it was on MTV. I had an older brother and older sister that were teenagers at the time, so MTV was always on and I remember watching and slowly got addicted to it. When I first saw ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ that was pretty much it. I started begging my parents for an electric guitar and I really wanted the Explorer that the bass player was playing in that video. Funny thing is to this day, I’ve never owned an Explorer guitar.”

That led to a broader exploration into the Def Leppard catalog, with Spreitzer backtracking from Hysteria to High and Dry, where “Let It Go” grabbed his attention, as he displays for the viewers.

It wasn’t long before even heavier metal entered the picture, with Spreitzer citing Black Sabbath as an early influence. “One of the first riffs I learned to play, I believe it was a Black Sabbath song off Paranoid and I believe it was ‘Electric Funeral,” says the guitarist.

Spreitzer says he was a big Metallica fan growing up, nabbing the group’s Black Album tab book (which he still has to this day). From there, it was time to backtrack through Metallica’s And Justice for All and Live Shit: Binge & Purge, as he was able to xerox the tab pages from a buddy. So what Metallica song most grabbed him? He displays a bit of “Harvester of Sorrow.”

Looking at DevilDriver’s own catalog, the guitarist cites “Testimony of Truth” and “End of the Line” as his favorite riffs. He also pulls out some of “My Night Sky,” a track he loves to play live due to its groove.

“The first riff I ever wrote for DevilDriver was the verse in “Hold Back the Day” from Fury in Our Maker’s Hands,” adds Spreitzer, recalling, “I wasn’t in the band when they recorded their first record. I came in shortly in between the first and second record cycle. We were on Ozzfest in 2004 and I brought my Line 6 pod with me and I always had my guitar and that pod in the back of the bus. We needed to start writing for Fury while we were on that tour. We had a limited amount of time between getting off Ozzfest, going home to write and then going to El Paso to Sonic Ranch to record the record. So we were all on each others’ ass to keep writing riffs so that we could come home with material to work with rather than starting from scratch.”

Turning his attention to DevilDriver’s upcoming double album, the single “Keep Away From Me” is currently his favorite. “It was one of the first songs, if I remember correctly, that I wrote for the record. It’s always been my favorite song on the record.”

You can hear “Keep Away From Me” in full on DevilDriver’s Dealing With Demons I, which is due Oct. 9. Get your pre-orders in for the album at this location. See more of Spreitzer showcasing some of his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below.

DevilDriver’s Mike Spreitzer Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

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Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

Groundbreaking musician Suzi Quatro is the subject of the upcoming documentary Suzi Q, and she recently took some time to join us via Zoom for this latest edition of Loudwire’s Gear Factor.

Quatro revealed during the chat that she started her music education at a very young age, growing up in a musical family where her father was also a performer. “I began on bongos at the age of 7 and I was pretty damn good. My dad actually let me come to his gigs and play in front of him. Then I went to classical piano, so I took that for about eight or nine years, so I had to learn to read, write and play and I still play now. Then I went to percussion in school and I ended up learning to read, write and play percussion and I ended up first chair.”

Like many of her age, the Beatles‘ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a turning point, with all the kids in the family deciding to start a band. “Everybody quickly chose an instrument,” she recalls “I didn’t speak up, so I was like, ‘Hey, what am I gonna play?’ and my older sister said, ‘You’re playing bass.’ So I went, ‘Okay.’ I didn’t care. So I got this [bass guitar] from my father – 1957 Fender Precision – as my first bass guitar.” And thus Suzi’s bass legacy was cemented.

She tells us, “I think one of the first [riffs], if I go back very early, was ‘Stagger Lee’ by Lloyd Price. It’s very basic bass. That’s what I learned when I learned.” Suzi also cites Motown legend James Jamerson and Canned Heat as an early influence on her playing, displaying a bit of “On the Road Again.”

As for the first song she learned to play, that goes back to The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” “I do remember the first song I tried to learn and because I didn’t try to go from guitar to bass, I never used a pick in my life. Never used one. I can’t get along with them. There was no one to teach me the bass. I taught myself. So I figured you had to put your hands here and then play with your thumb. So I learned to play ‘Louie Louie,'” said Quatro. “But I had a big blister, so then I learned to play like this.”

When asked for her favorite riff, she boasts, “I consider this to be my best bass riff I’ve ever written and I have seen some seriously good bass players do this riff. It’s called ‘Walking Through the Changes.’ Not easy, not easy to play, it’s that deadened string.”

Quatro reveals that she didn’t always make it easy on herself with her bass lines. To demonstrate, she pulls out “She’s in Love With You,” explaining, “I illustrate this when I do my tutorials because the riff is like a machine. You can’t alter it. It’s like a machine. And the vocal, do you hear that? It’s backward.” You can also catch Suzi demonstrating a bit of “Truck Stop” and the super funky “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” as well.

Speaking about her love for the bass, Suzi offers, “I think what you’ve probably noticed by now, my style, for a bass player, it’s very expressive for a bass player. I’m not just playing the notes. I’m getting the light and shade in the notes. I don’t know what that is, but I guess because I’m a bass player in my heart. I actually love the bass. I love the bass notes, I love the runs. It’s really in my heart and soul. I could never be a guitar player, it’s far too delicate.”

Quatro finishes her Gear Factor episode, speaking about the Suzi Q documentary that is being released virtually tomorrow (July 1) and then hitting on demand viewing July 3.

Suzi Q Documentary Trailer

“The documentary has been on my bucket list for a long long time because I always just wanted the record set straight. Everybody that’s in this one wants to be in it. They’re speaking from their heart and you feel it and you start to cry, you know. Alice [Cooper] was wonderful. Debby Harry, bless her heart. Oh she couldn’t have been nicer. Henry Winkler brings me to tears every time. Joan Jett was very sweet. Cherie Curie is good friend of mine. Talking Heads, L7’s Donita Sparks, [The Go-Go’s] Kathy Valentine. I hope I’m not forgetting anybody. They all were just so wonderful,” says the bass legend. “You have to see the film. It’s a terrific documentary, warts and all, and it does put the record straight and it has had rave reviews around the world.”

Watch Suzi Quatro’s Gear Factor below and make sure to get your order in for the July 1 Suzi Q documentary premiere at this location.

Rock Legend Suzi Quatro Plays Her Favorite Bass Riffs

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Rivers of Nihil’s Brody Uttley Plays His Favorite Riffs

Though Rivers of Nihil lean a little heavier, guitarist Brody Uttley reveals in our latest edition of Gear Factor that his earlier roots are a little more rock and blues leaning.

Taking us way back to the earliest of his playing days, the guitarist reveals that his father was really his first teacher, showing him a “Boogie Woogie” progression that would serve as his first riff. “I would just play that over and over again on the acoustic guitar, flat on my lap just picking it out. I guess that was the first real riff that I learned,” says the guitarist.

But it was really Metallica that first garnered his attention, giving him the appetite to really pick up the guitar and progress at a more rapid pace. “[‘Enter Sandman’] actually inspired me to sell my PlayStation, sell my bike, sell some Pokemon cards and go out and buy my first set up.”

Uttley also shouts out his first guitar teacher for really inspiring his love of the instrument and showing him every song he wanted to know. Aerosmith‘s “Mama Kin” was particularly an early favorite, with the guitarist stating, “As soon as I heard that sound, I was totally and completely hooked. From there it was an upward trajectory to infinity, basically.”

Another early favorite was Eddie Van Halen, who essentially introduced the guitarist to the finger tapping style of playing. “When I saw Eddie Van Halen, some live videos of his just playing some solos and smoking a cigarette and just being super cool. He was just making all these crazy noises with the guitar and most of it was based around tapping. I was just completely blown away by that.” He cites “Eruption” as a key song in his progression, stating, “That was the song that changed the game for me and showed me there were no rules as to what you could do on the guitar.”

The guitarist also reveals that he was obsessed with Guns N’ Roses, with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” being one of the first solos he learned, while his room at home was plastered with GN’R and Slash posters.

As for Rivers of Nihil, the guitarist leans toward the band’s most recent work, Where Owls Know My Name, for some of his favorite guitar work so far in the band. He shows off a pair of riffs from “The Silent Life,” calling it an “ass-beater” of a song that really gets the crowd going.

He also serves up a couple parts from the album’s title track, primarily because they’re just so fun to play live. He adds in part of “Capricorn / Agoratopia,” explaining, “I’m a big fan of super spacey parts. It’s just two chords and it’s very Floyd-ian I guess. There’s this note that’s just kind of echoing throughout the whole sequence that has a hypnotic weird sort of vibe.”

Uttley also reflects back to the early years, recalling “Post-mortem Prostitution” as one of the first riffs he ever wrote for the band. He serves up a bit of history on the song before revealing that Behemoth and Vader likely inspired the song.

See more of Uttley’s playing in the video below and pick up Rivers of Nihil’s Where Owls Know My Name here.

Rivers of Nihil’s Brody Uttley Plays His Favorite Riffs

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Ensiferum’s Sami Hinkka Plays His Favorite Bass Riffs

Ensiferum may have a certain sound, but as you’ll see in our latest Gear Factor, the roots of bassist Sami Hinkka’s playing are a little bit more varied that what you may think.

Hinkka was schooled early in metal, coming from a musical family. His father was a drummer and his older brothers made sure to indoctrinate him with plenty of metal at a young age.

“I have two big brothers who made sure I grew up listening to heavy metal – bands like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Dio, King Diamond, Bon Jovi, WASP and so on. My other big brother, he got a guitar at some point and it was so cool to watch him play real songs,” says Hinkka, who recalls asking Santa for a guitar at a young age and getting a small plastic one.

The bassist says KISS was his first love, trying to play tracks like “Lick It Up” and “Heaven’s on Fire,” years before he understood what the lyrics were about.

As for his first riff, he recalls, “When I was 11, I got my first bass and my big brother taught me stuff and the very first riff that I learned to play was ‘Iron Man’ from Black Sabbath. Legendary.”

Even though he plays bass, Hinkka credits his brother, a guitarist, for teaching him how to utilize a four-finger technique on his fretting hand. He also had an appetite for learning his instrument by watching others. “One very defining thing as a bass player for me was the gig, Live After Death, from Iron Maiden. Every day after school I’d get home and play this gig every day just to learn the Steve Harris galloping [parts] and to get some stamina to my right hand, because originally I played with a pick.” Hinkka plays a little bit of Maiden’s “The Trooper” for the viewing audience.

Other inspirations in the bass world include Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and Metallica‘s Cliff Burton. “It’s incredible as it’s almost like he’s soloing all of the time. It’s almost like playing melodies at the same time. Good job sir,” marvels Hinkka about Butler. Meanwhile, he leaned on Burton for the melodic style, demonstrating a bit of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Another Metallica bassist, Jason Newsted, helped him develop a more tight metal bass style of playing.

But Hinkka’s influence goes beyond the hard and heavy style of playing, venturing into funk. He singles out The Brothers Johnson’s Louis Johnson, recalling, “I fell from my chair when suddenly I started hearing [him] … He played incredible slap bass, great soloing and I thought, ‘I can’t do that kind of stuff.’ Check his stuff out. He’s fantastic. He just bangs the bass so hard it looks like he’s going to break it.”

As for his own band, Hinkka says his parts are often to serve the song while the guitars get more of the attention. However, he does display a bit of “Victory Song,” one of the first tracks he worked on after joining the group. He also breaks out some of “Deathbringer From the Sky” and finishes this edition of Gear Factor playing a melody line from the forthcoming song “Andromeda” from their upcoming Thalassic album.

See more of Sami Hinkka’s playing in this edition of Gear Factor in the video below. And look for the Thalassic album arriving July 10. Pre-orders can be found here.

Ensiferum’s Sami Hinkka Plays His Favorite Riffs on Six-String Bass

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Vio-Lence’s Phil Demmel Plays His Favorite Riffs

Phil Demmel is a man of many projects these days, including supergroup BPMD and returning back to his early roots in Vio-Lence. The guitarist recently joined Loudwire for an edition of Gear Factor in which he traces the riffs that helped shape his playing, digging into quite a bit of his early and now once again current band along the way.

While KISS may have been “the band that made me want to be a performer,” Demmel points to AC/DC‘s Angus Young for really starting his musical path. “You felt all of Angus’ emotions and you felt when he was pissed or happy or drunk or horny and you learned it all from Angus and his fingertips. I loved that he was able to emote just by holding a single note. You just felt Angus and I dug that so much,” says the guitarist before playing a bit of “T.N.T.”

Black Sabbath also featured prominently for Demmel in those early years, but the first riff he learned to play may not be the one you’d think. “I think the first riff I learned was a Sabbath song, ‘Warning,’ it’s kind of a jammy part. I think that was the part that I was first able to connect with moving some spots around.”

Demmel also riffs through some Van Halen, Ted Nugent and Aerosmith tracks, showing off the music that shaped his formative years. From there, he takes us back to one of the first shows he saw as a fan, catching Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads during the Blizzard of Ozz cycle.

Eventually Demmel discovered Savatage and Slayer, which pushed him in a heavier direction. He serves up a bit of music from both bands that can be seen in the video above.

As for his own musical career, Demmel flashes back to being a 15-year-old playing in a band with Exodus‘ Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza and demonstrating the music from the first song he ever wrote called “Back to You.” The songs come freely to Demmel, who then revisits an original called “Answer the Phone.”

Eventually, Demmel formed a band called Death Penalty that would eventually morph into what became Vio-Lence. “I started writing songs for them and we changed our name to Vio-Lence. The first song I wrote for them was a song called ‘Knocking on Death’s Door.’ I had this big idea for a big intro,” says the guitarist before launching into his “big intro.”

“I think the first fast riff I ever wrote was [this]. That became ‘Serial Killer,'” says Demmel, who also breaks out some of “Kill On Command,” “Eternal Nightmare” and the Sabbath-influenced “Falling Off the Edge of the World.”

Demmel also shares a bit of the Machine Head song “Halo” and how his playing on the song changed from the initial idea.

Vio-Lence are currently working on new music, while Demmel has also busied himself with BPMD, who have a new album called American Made dropping this week. He’s also come up with the moniker Echoes of Reckoning as an umbrella for all his assorted other recordings. See Phil Demmel’s full Gear Factor episode below.

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GWAR’s Pustulus Maximus Plays His Favorite Rock + Metal Riffs

So how exactly does an interplanetary warrior come to be a guitarist in one of the most beloved bands on Planet Earth? Practice, lots of practice. We’ve got GWAR‘s Pustulus Maximus stepping into the Gear Factor realm, revealing the riffs that helped shape his style and giving insight into his crocodile custom guitar as well.

The guitarist takes us back to the beginning (but really what is time?), explaining, “When I started playing guitar about a year ago, the first song I learned to play all the way through was ‘Ride the Lightning’ by Metallica. The whole Ride the Lightning album is awesome.”

Pustulus also reveals he was heavily influenced by the heavy down picking of late ’80s / early ’90s metal, showing off one of his favorites from Deicide then digging into one of his favorite titles of all-time from Marduk, playing “Christraping Black Metal.” “That’s every awesome thing in a song all at once. It is the quintessential black metal song,” states the guitarist.

Speaking of black metal, there’s a heavy amount of love and respect for Dark Funeral, so much so that he even has a Dark Funeral tattoo that he displays. “The first time I heard Dark Funeral’s Vobiscum Santanas, the track ‘Thy Allegiance Come,’ that wall of guitars … it didn’t even sound like guitars… it was just one of the coolest sounds I’d ever heard. That’s one of my favorite bands,” says Pustulus.

What else shaped his playing? There’s Sepultura and Motorhead, both of which he digs into. But he also shares a love for punk icons the Ramones. “What was crucial about the Ramones was the fucking attitude. Just the attitude and their way of playing, there’s a lot of down picking with the Ramones, and I think one of the first songs from them I had to learn was ‘She’s the One.'” After ripping through a Ramones favorite, he adds, “It makes you do the power stance and everything. You’ve gotta do that shit onstage. It makes you look cool.”

Digging into the GWAR catalog, Pustulus reveals the track that got him the gig in the band was his riff for the “Bonesnapper” song. He displays that, but also reveals another tune that came early on during his start with the group. “I got the job with that tune, but when I came into the first rehearsal, I was like, ‘Hey dudes, I got this other tune. Scratch that. Check this one out,’ and I ended up playing ‘Madness’ instead,” recalls the guitarist. He also plays a bit of “Ham on the Bone,” while admitting it’s not a favorite of his to play.

Finishing out the edition of Gear Factor, Pustulus Maximus gives fans a closer look at his Dean custom guitar, which comes with a green crocodile-skinned look. “It’s probably my favorite instrument of all time,” says Pustulus, then detailing some of the instrument’s specifics and things he’s added along the way.

GWAR’s most recent album was 2017’s The Blood of Gods, that you can get here. Stay up to date on all of GWAR’s happenings via their website.

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Ice Nine Kills Drummer Crushes ‘Your Number’s Up’ on Popcorn Kit

We’ve got something special for you in this week’s Gear Factor. Ice Nine Kills‘ drummer Patrick Galante is providing a play through of “Your Number’s Up,” a “Final Cut” bonus track from The Silver Scream album. But what’s cool is that he’s showcasing his brand new movie popcorn-themed drum kit that was customized by SJC Custom Drums.

“Spencer [Charnas] and I had thrown around a few movie themed ideas, but at at the end of the day, I think Spencer had the idea to make the shells look like popcorn tubs,” says Galante. “There were many different ways that we thought they could’ve looked too. That’s where SJC and Mike Cortada came in to really help us finalize the design.”

The drummer says he’s thrilled to show off his kit for the first time, adding, “This kit is all around pretty amazing, but the special jigged out popcorn rims are extremely well done. Those actually make me nervous to play the kit, I’d hate to ruin the craftsmanship!”

Galante says the new kit will fit perfectly within their growing production. “We have a lot of subtle and very apparent movie-themed props and performances on the stage. For example, everyone’s mic stand is personalized to their movie character, we have an inflatable Freddy hand and Pennywise hand on either side of the stage, and my drum riser has a jigsaw puppet face around it. That’s not even mentioning all the props and costume changes Spencer and Shevy (our makeup artist/prop master) have onstage,” he explains. “The whole show is turning into quite the theatrical performance, and there are some crazy new elements being included in the future.”

Speaking about the decision to rock “Your Number’s Up” for the play-through, the drummer says, “This song is a certified banger. I think my favorite part of this song is also my least favorite part of this song. The kick drum patterns in (what we call) the ‘Drew Barrymore’ breakdown and the ending are crushing and sound amazing, but were very hard to learn and very hard hard to play live. I think I finally got ‘em down though.”

Galante says he hopes to play his new “popcorn” kit for some time, but adds that he has some ideas of drum kit designs he’d like to see in the future. “If we keep going with the movie theme, I’d like to go a little darker and design a zombie-themed kit. Having teeth, blood, bones and body parts coming out of everything could be spooky and fun. We’ll see what the future holds,” says the drummer.

Ice Nine Kills hope to be on tour this fall with Five Finger Death Punch and when they do hit the stage, you can look for Galante rocking this new custom-made kit.

In the interim, Ice Nine Kills recently did a parody of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” titled “Jason’s Mom” coinciding with Mother’s Day and the 40th anniversary of the original Friday the 13th film. Watch that here and pick up coordinated merch for their “Jason’s Mom” release right here. Learn more about SJC Custom Drums here.

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Bad Religion’s Brian Baker Plays His Favorite Riffs

Bad Religion‘s Brian Baker has played in many a band over the years, leading to many a riff. Loudwire caught up with the punk rock guitar slinger for this edition of Gear Factor, revisiting some of the music that helped shape him as a player.

Like many guitarists of a certain generation, Baker first got turned onto the Beatles, which led him down the path to wanting to be a musician. “I would say the riff that got me started, the riff that made me want to play, the gateway drug, was ‘Taxman’ by the Beatles. I was like eight and this was huge,” says Baker, adding with a laugh, “I didn’t really know that was the bass part. I didn’t figure that out for a long time.”

Another early favorite was AC/DC, especially when Baker started becoming more serious about playing the guitar. He breaks out a bit of “Beating Around the Bush,” then “Hells Bells,” crediting the latter song with influencing some of his output in Dag Nasty. The other major early influence for Baker was ZZ Top, and he breaks off a bit of “Just Got Paid,” albeit played in his own way.

Baker recalls one deficit he had starting out that never got corrected until much later, explaining, “One thing I could not do when I started playing was used the little finger on my left hand. My guitar teacher wasn’t really into ‘rules’ because it was the ‘70s,’ and so he never really made me develop any dexterity in this finger and I probably didn’t use it until my early 20s and only then because I wanted to suspend a chord.”

Digging into his own music, Baker shows off riffs from four of the acts he’s been associated with. He starts by sharing his favorite Bad Religion riff from “American Jesus,” pulls out his favorite soundcheck riff from Dag Nasty, recalls his first ever riff on record from Minor Threat and finishes with a taste of his newest band, Fake Names, playing a bit of “Driver” from the current record.

Watch Baker run through the riffs that shaped him in the Gear Factor episode below and pick up Fake Names’ self-titled debut album here.

Brian Baker (Bad Religion / Minor Threat) Plays His Favorite Riffs

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The Glorious Sons Play Their Favorite Rock + Metal Riffs

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Canadian rockers The Glorious Sons visited the Loudwire studios earlier this year, with guitarists Jay Emmons and Chris Koster taking part in our Gear Factor series, reflecting on some of the riffs that helped shape their playing.

Emmons says his start playing music came via a pop-punk classic, deciding to pick up the guitar when he saw his buddies learning Green Day‘s “When I Come Around.” For Koster, it was something a little heavier, pulling out a bit of Motley Crue for the viewing audience.

Koster admits guitar wasn’t his first instrument. “I kind of just wanted to sing over something, so I started on drums and then my brother kind of stole those away from me, so my dad felt bad for me and bought me a guitar,” says the musician, who eventually gravitated toward Prince and Guns N’ RosesIzzy Stradlin as his favorite rhythm guitar players.

As for Emmons, he leaned more to the Rolling Stones growing up. “I’m a big Rolling Stones fan so I like what Keith [Richards] and Ronnie [Wood] do when they’re playing. Keith is probably considered the rhythm guitar player there, but he’s probably my favorite,” said the guitarist before playing a bit of “Satisfaction.”

Koster shares a little of his pre-Glorious Sons history, admitting he couldn’t play the first riff he wrote for a self-penned song called, “Love’s Been Killing My Heart,” but he did serve up a little portion of a song called “One More Time” from his early days.

Digging into their own catalog, they play a bit of “Kill the Lights” before offering some insight on one of their most popular tracks, “S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun).” Emmons reveals he was initially not a fan of the song’s riff, feeling it was a bit too “circus-y” before being convinced to keep it. Koster then reveals that the instrumental part of the song was initially meant for a track called “Black and Blue.”

“The whole instrumental track in that song was done supporting another song entirely and then we loved the instrumental track and Brett [Emmons] wasn’t that jazzed with what was happening vocally,” says Koster. “We all felt that it was good enough that it might deserve a better song, so we wrote completely different lyrics and it became ‘Sawed Off Shotgun.’

Koster then says he loves Emmons part in “The Contender,” saying it reminds him of AC/DC. After a bit of playing by Emmons, Koster shows his talents on AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

Digging into their most recent work, both guitarists choose favorites from their A War on Everything album. Jay chooses “Closer to the Sky,” while Chris picks the album’s title track, expressing his love for the unconventional structure and the “ugly notes” he enjoyed playing.

Check out the full episode of The Glorious Sons’ Gear Factor in the player below and be sure to pick up The Glorious Sons’ A War on Everything here and stay up to date with their touring here.

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Manowar Legend Ross the Boss Plays His Favorite Riffs

We’ve had some great Gear Factor episodes, but now it’s time to show you how “The Boss” gets it done. Ross the Boss visited the Loudwire studio, reflecting not only on his career, but also giving us some insight into the riffs and acts that influenced his guitar growth along the way.

While many in the ’60s were gravitating toward the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, young Ross found himself enamored with a band that had a TV presence. The Monkees enjoyed a solid run in the late ’60s, even expanding their career to include a TV series.

“Back a long time ago, there was this group called the Monkees that had this song called ‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,’ and I thought it was really bad ass because my neighbor had an amp and he was playing it. If you could play that you were pretty bad ass,” recalls Ross, who plays a bit of “Stepping Stone” as well as another Monkees favorite “Last Train to Clarksville.”

Ross recalled his musical journey, eventually deciding to get involved in the band with violin, but as he states, “The violin was okay for a while, but I saw that if you played guitar, you’d be very popular with the ladies.”

Over time, he’d gravitate toward the blues, explaining, “I started playing because of the blues and the most important thing that I thought of listening to blues when I started was vibrato. If you couldn’t do that, you were screwed.”

Digging into his own career, Ross the Boss starts with the Dictators. In a blistering span, he performs a bit of “The Next Big Thing,” speaks about his use of playing with octaves, talks about the band’s varying influences, then rocks out the songs “Cars and Girls” and their cover of “California Sun.”

As for his time in Manowar, the band’s former guitarist tells us, “The first batch of songs we wrote, the first song I wrote for the band, I think it was called ‘Shell Shock.’” He then makes his way through a number of Manowar favorites over the years, including the self-titled “Manowar,” “Dark Avenger,” “Hail to England” and “Hail and Kill.”

Finishing out the segment, Ross hypes his current solo record, Born of Fire. “It’s probably our best record. It’s fierce. It’s amazingly produced,” says Ross. “I strongly recommend this if you wanna get your head kicked in. It’s a beautiful record and you can see the artwork is tremendous.”

Making sure he backs up his statement, Ross then performs bits of “Denied by the Cross” and the Born of Fire album title track. To check out the new album in full, head here. And to see Ross the Boss masterfully rock some of the key riffs of his career, check out the full Gear Factor episode above.

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Slipknot’s Jim Root Plays His Favorite Riffs

Slipknot‘s Jim Root is one of metal’s most respected guitarists and while in quarantine during the global pandemic, he took some time to chat with Loudwire for this edition of Gear Factor.

Root shared a bit of his natural progression as a musician, crediting his parents for turning him onto classic rock before his tastes began to evolve. “I was listening to the Beatles and the Who and stuff like that and I was just in love with the guitar but never had a guitar,” said Root. “My parents couldn’t really afford to get me a guitar so I just had a metal nylon acoustic that had maybe three strings on it where I’d bang around on it or use other things pretending they were guitars.”

He adds, “When I first started playing guitar, I started going away from what may parents were listening to and I was learning to play these Ratt songs and Motley Crue songs like ‘Too Fast for Love’ and stuff like that — ZeppelinBlack Sabbath, and then I started listening to Anthrax and Metallica and Megadeth and that’s when I really started getting my dexterity up and learning those types of songs.”

Like many, one of Root’s first riffs he ever learned to play was Deep Purple‘s “Smoke on the Water.” The guitarist recalled, “I figured that out on this nylon string acoustic guitar and I was all excited and showed my dad and he thought that was cool and everything.” Upon starting to navigate something significantly more difficult with Megadeth’s music, Root decided it was time to learn his scales to play more like Dave Mustaine.

The Slipknot guitarist says the instrument felt natural to him from an early age. “I’m a weird guitar player in that I have the dexterity and I kind of knew the motions before I ever picked up the guitar. Maybe in a past life I was a guitar player or something, but I got it.”

From there Root digs into his past, unearthing a song with one of his first riffs from the band Atomic Opera. He displays a bit of their song “Across the Sea of Doom.”

Getting into his time in Slipknot, Root busted out his new signature Fender Jazzmaster V4. He explains how he had just joined the band upon their self-titled debut, so it was a quick learning curve and he was trying not to step on anyone else’s toes, but by the time Iowa came around, he was allowed to have more of an imprint.

One of the things that first struck Root upon joining Slipknot was their dedication to the craft and building their legacy. He credits late bassist Paul Gray for setting the tone with his work ethic.

“We got done with ‘Tattoo the Earth’ and the next day Paul [Gray] calls me up and is like, ‘Hey, we got everything set up at my brother Tony’s house. Come over and we’re gonna start writing.’ I’m like, ‘We just got off tour, man. Can I have a couple of days to hang out with my girlfriend?’ He’s like, ‘No man, we gotta work.’ So I learned work ethic from Paul and that we’re our own bosses now and if we don’t stay on top of it and we’re not thinking about what we’re doing next, it’s detrimental.”

Digging into Slipknot’s music, Root showcased a couple of more current pieces, picking out one of his favorite parts in the We Are Not Your Kind song “A Liar’s Funeral,” then rocking out a bit of the fan favorite, “Solway Firth.” “The choruses in that go all the way back to that thrash metal era, that Megadeth stuff we were talking about earlier.”

Root’s signature Fender Jazzmaster V4 features all-new signature active EMG pickups, a hardtail bridge, sleek single knob volume control, a three-way switch and white neck binding with white pearloid block inlays.

Check out the Fender website where you can learn more about the Jim Root signature line of guitars and watch Root’s episode of Gear Factor above.

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The Black Dahlia Murder’s Brandon Ellis Plays His Favorite Riffs

The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Brandon Ellis is the latest to enter the Gear Factor arena, sharing some of the background of how he came to be a guitarist, revealing his influences and playing a few of his own riffs.

The ’80s was a great time for guitar heroes, and one of the era’s poster boys initially garnered the attention of young Brandon. He credits Eddie Van Halen for inspiring his interest in playing. “Van Halen for sure made me want to be a lead guitar player. Everything that he did was like so cool to me – the attitude and the guitars. He made his own guitar at the factory and he caught up with guitars with this wacky sideways Humbucker in there,” says Ellis, who also rocks a Van Halen favorite. “His DIY attitude and his lead guitar presence and persona was super special to me.”

Like many aspiring guitarists, Ellis started on a classic riff. “The first riff I ever learned was definitely ‘Smoke on the Water.’ I remember that. It was on my sister’s three quarter scale acoustic guitar,” says the musician, who riffs out the iconic guitar part.

“I started learning guitar when I was 10 years old, but I never took lessons. Members of my family were helping me out and steering me in the right direction and I had friends who were into it to, and we would kind of show each other what we were learning. Also, the Internet was around when I starting out, so there was a lot of googling. I don’t think YouTube was around, but there was still a lot of information on the Internet,” says Ellis, who found himself really digging into music theory from the beginning.

The guitarist says his early interest in guitar pushed him toward more advanced material, which took him down the metal rabbit hole, demonstrating some Iron Maiden as well as an Yngwie Malmsteen economy picking technique on “I Am a Viking.”

Digging into the Black Dahlia Murder’s catalogue, he reveals that the song “Jars” off the Nightbringers album was likely his first Black Dahlia riff. After displaying a bit of that, Ellis turns his attention to the title track from their most recent album, Verminous. First playing the verse riff, Ellis transitions to the chorus riff, which advances the degree of difficulty. “It starts out both guitars in unison and then there’s a harmony part and the harmony part has sort of difficult string skipping,” says Ellis.

Check out Brandon’s playing and the full Gear Factor episode above. You can also pick up The Black Dahlia Murder’s Verminous album here.

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