Tony MacAlpine: talks in detail about Maximum Security

Tony MacAlpine

It's ‪#‎TMacTuesday‬! Share some Tony MacAlpine! In light of his upcoming Maximum Security 2014 US Tour, Tony shares his recollections of the recording sessions for the album. Listen to the album while reading! Check out the tour dates here:

(For those not old enough to remember - this is a vinyl LP)

TONY MACALPINE - The King's cup - (Maximum security - 1987)

"At the start of this period of creativity it was towards the end of the Eighties, and I had been writing plenty of tunes that displayed guitar prowess. But now as per the request of Cliff Burnstein who wanted me to explore deeper into what I figured was “safe,” I decided to push the limits of my playing as well as my writing. In other words, it was now time to play on the edge and completely forget about trying to put something commercially acceptable together.

On this record I had such a strong desire to work with some other musicans - guitar players, yes - that I admired. So two of my favorites at the time were George Lynch from Dokken and Jeff Watson from Night Ranger. The first song I wrote with George in mind was “Tears of Sahara” a very sultry ballad with a very spacious trade section for us both. The next song I wrote was the up-tempo piece called “The Kings Cup” with Jeff Watson in mind.

TONY MACALPINE - "Key To The City" (Official Video) HD

Many more songs quickly followed like “Hundreds of Thousands,” “Dreamstate,” and “Time and the Test,” so the need to round out the rhythm section was becoming more and more necessary. So we held some drum auditions up at the studio and the first drummer we listened to was Deen Castronova of Journey. We knew after he played it was really not necessary to continue the auditions, but then we weren’t counting on hearing the monster player that is Atma Anur. I heard him play and was so stunned we knew we had to have both of these great players on the album. So as it was, now we had two great drummers and for one reason or another we had no bassist for the actual sessions, so I found myself in the position of performing all bass duties myself.

The recordings started with the basic track formation and the tunes fell into shape. There were some setbacks, like when the green crackle B.C. Rich guitar (pictured on the back of the album) fell off a chair and the headstock snapped clean off. It was repaired but it was never the same after that - perhaps it was mental on my part but that’s how it went down. Then there was the time I was driving back to San Rafael very early in the morning listening to some of the mixes and I see this VW in flames burning on the 101 freeway and thought to myself “Wow that looks just like the engineer Steve Fontano’s wheels!” Well guess what - it was!

But overall there was this incredible musical energy around the studio at that time - with Paul Gilbert and the Racer X dudes in rehearsal next door and George Lynch in the control room - we felt like we could do no harm. Jeff Watson had a studio in his place in Mill Valley and it was amazing to go over there and hear his great work on “The Kings Cup” and still feel the energy. And you know, it was also very cool to have had the opportunity to see the eight-fingered technique up close. I thought Steve Fontano did a miraculous job of blending all of those different guitar sounds as well as the Chopin Etude #4, Opus 10 on tape and making it all fit.

Tony MacAlpine - Tears of Sahara - Official Clip (High Quality)

Armed with my latest array of B.C. Rich guitars, I was more than tempted to recreate the guitar lines exactly as they were from demo stage to album level. However it was during this time that I remembered that it was perfectly acceptable to explore and feel free to play many of the parts differently than I had when I first wrote them. So in essence, they really grew into these more aggressive guitar pieces with a purpose of their very own rather than just a collection of songs designed to pick up where Edge of Insanity left off. I was very pleased with the instrument playing and technical work of everyone on that release, as were Cliff Burnstein and Mike Varney.

For me it’s so very important to learn from each and every time you go into the studio, whether it’s a demo or master, and the things I learned from the Maximum Security sessions were not to be afraid to record music that might not be globally satisfying to all, but uplifting to those select players and listeners who desire that type of individual expression. As well as establishing a number of new and lasting friendships that have continued to this day, I have since begun to look at music as a true universal language that has its own unique message. And what we get from the message is not nearly as important as what we learn along the way to hearing it. For it’s these lessons of life that truly shape who we are and the musicians that we become."

Maximum Security in full as part of the set, along with a preview of my upcoming solo album Concrete Gardens. The band is: Aquiles Priester - Drums; Bjorn Englen - Bass. (Editor Note Nili Brosh is not playing on this leg of the tour)

Sep 21, 2014: Bogota, COLOMBIA - Metal Millennium 2014 @ Coliseo Cubierto El Campín TICKETS

Oct 06, 2014: Denver, CO - Quixote’s True Blue TICKETS
Oct 08, 2014: Kansas City, MO - Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club TICKETS
Oct 10, 2014: Chicago, IL - Reggies TICKETS
Oct 11, 2014: Westland, MI - Token Lounge TICKETS
Oct 12, 2014: Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern TICKETS
Oct 13, 2014: Pittsburgh, PA - The Hard Rock Cafe TICKETS
Oct 14, 2014: Philadelphia, PA - North Star Bar TICKETS
Oct 15, 2014: Dunellen, NJ - Roxy & Dukes TICKETS
Oct 16, 2014: New York, NY - The Iridium (2 shows: 8:30 and 10:30) TICKETS
Oct 18, 2014: Cambridge, MA - TT The Bear's Place TICKETS
Oct 19, 2014: Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java TICKETS
Oct 20, 2014: Raleigh, NC - The Pour House Music TICKETS
Oct 21, 2014: Atlanta, GA - Smith's Olde Bar TICKETS
Oct 22, 2014: Nashville, TN - The High Watt TICKETS
Oct 24, 2014: Denton, TX - Dan's Silverleaf TICKETS
Oct 25, 2014: Houston, TX - CPN Metal Fest @ Concert Pub North TICKETS
Oct 26, 2014: Austin, TX - Saxon Pub TICKETS
Oct 29, 2014: Scottsdale, AZ - Pub Rock Live TICKETS


  1. No recording or gear details given, at all. Just something about a guitar that broke and an "array" of B.C. Rich. So sad.. and almost pointless interview.


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