Arkadiy Starodoub: june 2003 interview

Ark is answering some question from the readers of the website GUITAR.RU 19.12.2003

Arkadiy Starodoub is a bright, original guitarist-virtuoso, known to our constant visitors as the one of the winner of the “GUITARIST – 2000” competition. Judges of the competition gave Ark the highest score and was pleasantly amazed of his playing technique and the original of the musical taught. Thus, Arkadiy Starodoub (guitarist for Yuri Antonov Band) is answering some questions with a great pleasure.

How much do you think the instrumental guitar music is established in our country? To be able to find a quality guitar instrumental music we have to gather information about such guitarists like Firsov, Litkin, Plastinkin and others. Same time we have great western names like Satriani, Moor, Becker... (MegaHans)
A.S: I think that the guitar music that is written here is basically oriented on the guitar auditorium. Musicians can’t really make a lot of money from the sales of these albums. However, same people who are able to do it often times do the formulation, polygraph and other jobs themselves as well. Besides the music, they need to do everything else concerning their album like publishing and sales.

How long have you worked with Yuri Antonov and how did you get into his band? (Eugene)
A.S: Before Yuri Antonov, I worked with a number of pop-singers. One day a buddy of mine called me and said that Yuri needs a lead guitarist, and offered me an audition. I listened to a tape with his recordings, learned his material and came to the music practice. I received a call later saying that I was hired for this job. I have been with the band for seven years now.

Is participating in Yuri Antonov’s band your job or your hobby? (Michael)
A.S: I don’t even know… When you come to play with a band that has a friendly attitude towards you, then you think this is your work and it works out great for you! But session work in any band, even if it’s very interesting work, becomes a little boring due to its routine difficulties. Later on I understood that this is a normal thing. At that time I wasn’t yet a Muscovite. I had to provide for myself and rent an apartment so I had to do other things as selling music instruments. So the band was my passion but also became my second job.

How does the work in such a band satisfy you, as it is not always possible to show all the skills during the performance? (Michael)
A.S: Unfortunately, no one asks if the work is satisfactory for us. Our job is to accompany the music. Playing solo is really only 3 percent of what we do, and it is rare to be asked to contribute something that you composed. But the work in the band is very useful as you can learn something for yourself for sure!

Do you plan to make Arkadiy Starodoub’s Band and follow such musicians as Igor Boiko?
A.S: If I gather enough material, I will try to cut a CD. Then I will think about the band.

What do you think about the contemporary show business? Due to the fact that everything is filled with pop music and live music isn’t valued as before, is it possible for a young band to do a career on the stage? (Andrey)
A.S: I don’t listen to our domestic bands and singers. But I am sure that it’s difficult for the bands to have a career. It’s not enough to just be talented; you need unlimited connections in radio and the television world and of course it takes a lot of money.

A.S: Nopfler is a great musician with wonderful taste! His thinking and playing skills are great and has wonderful sound phrasing. I actually don’t listen to only certain musicians or guitarists; there are many heroes in any style. Most important is that the music doesn’t suffer but playing fast or slow doesn’t really matter. Pro musicians-instrumentalist need to have their own style and sound and it has to be different from everybody else.

Do you have a specific music education or are you a self educated guitarist? (Slava)
A.S: No special education. I did take piano lessons as a young boy. I got interested in guitar when my brother returned back from the Army and I asked him to show me a couple of cords and army repertoire. That’s when it all started.

How much time do you spend practicing? (Tikhon)
A.S: Not a lot right now, 2 – 3 hours a day. I actually think that there has to be a system when you practice. Many practice, but not everyone knows how to organize their time properly.

What was the most difficult thing for you in music (I mean the performance technique)? (Renaissance)
A.S: Any issues with technique have to be solved right away, so that then when you compose things, you wouldn’t spend as much time learning the music episodes. Especially when you learn to play with both hands on the fret board, you have to spend some time learning. Then you have to put all the gammas, arpeggios and phrases into sentences so that while performing, the listener could see the full idea.
I used to overload my playing. It was difficult to get rid of extra notes. Sometimes a pause taken in the right time sounds better than a bunch of fast notes. But a good vibrato, flageolet, bands, intonation – all that are different kinds of colors that can make your music picture look good.
I really like to put different styles together. I think every method is good here, but you got to check out if all those things work out good in the normal speeds. Sometimes it happens that when you come up with the solo and it doesn’t sound bad, but after trying to play with the “minus” nothing comes together. Then you realize that you have to do it a different way, like you try to add pull-hummers and get rid of some dirt. That’s how I roughly go through the process of recording the solos.

What is your attitude towards Jazz-Rock? (Denis)
A.S: Of course I like it. I would like to proceed in a more intellectual music, it is more mature.

What guitar players or composers have influenced your life? (Denis)
A.S: From the time I realized that I am interested in free improvisation I have enjoyed listening to instrumental music, fusion. (Brett Gersed, T.J. Helmerich, Greg Howe, Scotty Mishoe, Shawn Lane, Scott Henderson, Allan Holdsworth, and many others)

What can you suggest to the beginner-musician for the serious professional growth? (Indy)
A.S: There are lots of details to deal with. I think what you have to begin with is getting a teacher that will correct all the issues concerning the technique of sound picking and the hand position. At the same time you have to learn and pick the material that you like the most. You have to listen a lot and play along with the drums so that you learn to improvise. Do it all at the same time so that you are not stuck with only one musician’s style, but learn from others too so that you learn a lot of harmony and stuff.

What would you suggest to do so that you don’t end up at a dead end only concentrating on the technique? How shall we form the musical thinking? (Arthur)
A.S: I think you have to play something you never played before. I mean different music and different styles. It is very useful to play with the bands.

It doesn’t happen very often but there are times when guitarists are risking harming their left had for instance, what would you suggest in that case? (Sergey)
A.S: Nothing I will say new here. I recommend to always warm-up and don’t be in a hurry. If you try to learn anything you have to do it step by step slowly adding the speed. Forcing the speed always brings tightening of the muscle when the hands in the slow motion have to remember all the motoring of the motion. Then you have normal no stern playing.
Learning has to be a seamless process so that your hands would start working in an economy mode. They will start to memorize errorlessly. The sound has to be always under control. If there are many sequences in playing that require a lot of finger stretching, you have to look at it before learning. Maybe you want to replace those sequences so that it is more convenient for you and to avoid too many notes in your song.
The muscles that are used while playing the guitar are not the biceps or triceps but the more fine muscles. They can be easily stretched or “overplayed”. And if you can’t learn something in particular for a long time, you have to slow down or may be even take a break and look at it how it works in a slow mode and then correct the mistakes. BTW, the thickness of the string is very important too. If you just picked up the guitar in your hands and your fingers are still weak, use 0.09 to start out and then go from there.

What do you think about the serial guitars? (Hellcrawn)
A.S: I have played the serial guitars for many years, generally they where Ibanezes of the 500 series. I think that the guitars around $700 are absolutely good for the work and normal growth, especially in the beginning of the development. And then when you grow in playing skills and the sound selection, you will understand for yourself what you need – what sound and what guitar made of what kind of wood. It’s natural that there will be a moment that you will need a better made guitar. From my own experience I can say that it is easier to play on the better made guitars which of course, cost more money.

What is your dream guitar? Do you have the dreams that didn’t come true yet concerning certain musical instruments? (Ignat)
A.S: I have got a few guitars. They are all custom made. The sound is different whether they are Japanese or American made. Currently, I am waiting for a guitar from the ESP Factory in Japan. This is will be a Custom Shop guitar and I have been waiting for her for more than 6 months now. It’s got all my specifications, the wood, radius of the neck and the pick-ups as well as the body shape. I think I will be satisfied there is no doubt to the quality of an ESP. A company named Avalon is the imitator of this idea, and I am very grateful to them for that.

Arkadiy, to be really honest I almost went bananas when I heard your compilation Potpourri. It’s a twister!!! There is a picture of you with a guitar with the maple top. Is it your preference? (Michael)
A.S: That is my Ibanez J-Custom Art 1and is one of my favorite. As I already said, it has DiMarzio Pick-ups, and it has a very fine maple neck 17 mm on the first fret. The maple neck is a completely different color of the sound, different dynamics, different feelings. Actually it has a very special sound; it’s got a rubbery-stringy sound. The look of it may appear a little pop-style, but the sound is very mature and the wood formula is just as good as the Van Halen Music Man guitar. It is registered as #1 on jemsite’s webpage and they only made 24 of them.

Did you try to experiment with 7-string neck-thru guitars? What is your opinion of 7-string guitars in general as the relatively new tendency in guitar music? (Andrei)
A.S: The 7-string has a “fat” sound, these guitars are “adult” guitars. I have one like that, it has a hard-tail neck thru. They sound deeper than 6-string guitars. I thought that this is the 7th string that makes the difference, but I realized that it’s just the guitar that makes it different… I have an idea to use the 7-string in one of my songs. I will try, and then we’ll see.

Arkadiy, what is your opinion on the Ibanez Guitars? What models did you play and what is your preference? (Andrew)
A.S: I tried all types of Ibanezes, with the 24 frets, all the “authorized series”. Ibanez are good guitars.

What about your business? How is it doing (Max)
A.S: Actually it is more of a hobby than a business, as the demand of the expensive guitars is small in Russia, so the market is very specialized. I have always been a fan of bringing new guitars that are rare to Russia. It is always cool to bring something fresh to the music scene in Russia!

June 2003