Center Stage with Ed Degenaro

The world is full of great guitarists. Spend just half an hour on Youtube and you will be convinced that every bedroom in the world now houses an unknown prodigy. Standing apart from this crowd has become no small feat, but Seattle based guitarist Ed DeGenaro has managed to do it by blending an unusual approach to the guitar with a bottomless musical imagination. The result is tasty jazz-fusion, seasoned with Latin, country, and rock, and topped with a dollop of humor. It is a musical flavor that is uniquely his own. Recently I got a chance to chat with Ed about his guitars, his music, and his new CD "Less is Seldom More".

Congratulations on the new album. “Less is Seldom More” is a great record - a great progression from “Doghouse”.
(Laughs.) That’s because it cost me about five times as much as “Doghouse”. It also has some great musicians on it.

Yes, lots of great playing! I have to say that the bass part on Ave. D is just smoking.
That was Ric Fierabracci. He really hit that shit out of the ballpark.

I’m curious about your writing process.
Well on “Less is Seldom More” I did such a small part of the writing. Much of it was done by other people for me. Like Ave. D was written by Chris Taylor. And the way that started was Chris sent me a loop - you know - a drum loop and a bass line, and I just improvised over it. And he would cut it up and go “Oh, this sounds like a great melody,” and then I would record it.

I was curious about that….it sounded like there were loops….
No, no, no, no…they started out as loops. There are no loops in the final product.

Are there samples? I cracked up the first time I heard Yes Man. I noticed that the vocals aren’t credited. Are they samples you found somewhere, or what?
The munchkin vocals?

Ya. Did you do that?
No, those are actually samples. Same with the voice on Ave. D. The only samples are the spoken voices.

Tell me about your recording process. Digital? Analog?
The first part of question, yes, the second part no. I use something called Sequoia. It is German software that’s total high-end…it’s used for classical orchestra usually. And what happens is we just transfer, bounce.

You have a lot of different guitar tones. You must use quite a range of amps and guitars.
(laughs) Actually, after I was done recording I sold about 16 amps, because I realized out of all the amps I used about 3 on the album, out of the 20 set-ups I had.

Which ones?
The majority of the album is the Axe-FX direct into the recorder. I’d say about 75% Axe-FX, a couple of little bits are an old Marshall or an old Fender, and the majority of the gain tones are the Axe-FX into the VHT Deliverance.

You are really known for your fretless guitar playing. How much of your playing on “Less is Seldom More” is your fretless guitars, versus standard fretted guitars?
You know what – “Less is Seldom More” really doesn’t have all that much fretless on there. I think there’s a little bit of fretless on Ave. D, and then there’s some on Monkey Bawls, Matt’s Bible Camp is all fretless on the distorted guitar, Yes Man has some fretless in it. Confirm Walk Forward has some fretless in it. Id say about 1/3 is fretless.

And Neck Bone is a nod to your country influences. Are you still playing with your country project?
Yeah….I gotta eat. (Laughter.) I’ve only sold about 100 copies in the last two months of “Less is Seldom More”. But then again, you know, it’s readily available on your favorite download site for free.

Do you have to deal with a lot of piracy?
Of my stuff? Yeah! I’d say I spend a day a week chasing down blogs that host my album, like on Rapidshare and those kinds of sites, just to have that shit shut down - and a week later it’s up again. Like last week I came home, and I ran my weekly Google search for pirate downloads, and it just had gone up just a half an hour before. I contacted Rapidshare, to take it down. By the next morning they had it up on Rapidshare again. I contacted them again, and they took it down in like three minutes, which was awesome, and then they put it up on, you know, on some MyFiles or some other file hosting site. So we took it down there, and then finally Google took the listing off. I mean it’s a frikkin’ headache-and-a-half!

It sounds like an ongoing nightmare.
I mean there are people who think it’s good advertising, but where will I make that money? At a gig where I charge $5 dollars? I don’t think so.

Going back to the country thing, have you managed to incorporate your fretless guitars into that, to imitate pedal steel or something?
Everyone once in a while I’ll bring it out if I’m bored, but there are so many guitar changes and it’s so fast paced, that it’s….I’m pretty stuck with Tele’s and Strat’s. At my own gigs I use the fretless for an hour, before I go back to fretted again.

You have some amazing guest musicians on the new album. Are these all guys that you have musical relationships with, or do you contact them just for this recording?
Short answer: yes. (Laughs.) Some of them I’ve played a million gigs with. Others I found when I started on eSession.

I notice you have become a member of eSession. Have you managed to find work through that service? What do you think of it?
Work? Yes. Much? No.

Is that something you think will be growing in the future?
I hope so, because the concept is really a great idea.

I think so too. I write a lot of country tunes for pitching in Nashville, and it’s sometimes tough to find good musicians to record parts.
Yes, it’s cheaper and a hell of a lot easier than going down there.

The song Joe Z was on your last album, “Dog House”. Why did you decide to record it again for “Less is Seldom More”?
It was very simple. When we did it on “Dog House” Joe was still alive. When we did “Less is Seldom More” Joe had passed, and I thought - you know what? I was never happy with the fact that it didn’t have bass and drums - that it was programmed. We redid it for the bass and drums.

And I have to ask because I don’t know…who is Joe?
Joe Zawinul the keyboard player from Weather Report, among other things. And in Miles Davis’ band

So…to honor Joe and to get some live musicians on there?
Yep. To make it the version that it should have been in the first place.

This CD gets the Aaron Cheney stamp of approval! Go buy "Less is Seldom More"! If you are a fan of fusion or just love great guitar you won't regret it.

Ed Degenaro Website

Buy "Less is Seldom More"


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