Alex Skolnick: and interviews

Part 1 of an in depth interview by
What spawned the concept for VERITAS? It sounds like the first Alex Skolnick Trio album that, not to demean your work, but bears a real sense of consistency.

Well, it was the first album where we really let loose the reins. We decided to have no stylistic limitations and really do an album that felt right regardless of any expectations – be it as a jazz guitarist or a guy who plays in a metal band.

Have you found that the project developed a sort of stigma about it over the years, where jazz purists refused to take it seriously?

Yeah, it’s been a challenge. But at the same time, that has given it a purpose. Our primary goal is to challenge misconceptions.

And on the flipside, I recall back when you started this, the metal community immediately wrote it off as a novelty act. And yet you persisted.

I know, I’m still here, dammit! [Laughs] But you know, when I did it, it was not a novelty; it was a true reflection of what I was passionate for. And I am very passionate about sophisticated jazz guitar. I am also rejecting the notion that only people who limit themselves to that kind of music can do it.

As well, I am rejecting the idea that people who play in metal bands can only play metal. It’s been a battle my whole life, and it is finally starting to feel like I am proving it. It’s taken a really long time, but honestly, the skills required to play metal or jazz take a long time to develop. In the case of metal, they were skills I was fortunate enough to develop at a young age.

But ever since then, I’ve been refining my craft of jazz guitar. It has taken a long time, but like I said, it has given me purpose. I think the title of the album, the fact that it’s an acoustic jazz album with different genres on it and the consistency that you mentioned is all a part of that. more

Plus Spinner interview

Released through imprint of the metal label Magna Carta, 'Transformation' and 'Last Day in Paradise' didn't do much to boost the band's jazz profile, and they got stuck paying some dues that you'd expect to see in a Spinal Tap sequel. It would have been comical if it weren't so frustrating for the band.

"We started getting booked on the wrong types of shows," Skolnick explains. "The trio would be on this bill where all the opening bands were shred-prog-metal bands. I would ask the promoters why they would even think to put us on these kinds of bills and they would say things like, 'You played in Testament.' I would say to them: 'Did you listen to the music? Because we play acoustic jazz. I'm playing through this little amp and I'm supposed to follow guys with arena rock setups?' Most of the time they'd admit that they didn't even listen to our music before they booked us. It's been challenging."

Skolnick also reunited with his Testament bandmates for tours and a reunion album that was strong enough to bring that band back to life, which led to some revelations. more