George Bellas Interview
by Nicky Baldrian
3 Fav Bands?
Gamma, Styx, Symphony X
1st album bought?
Kiss Alive? I'm not sure actually.
Last album bought?
Hmmm, a whole handful upon my last Tower Records visit, various selections of Bach vocal music.
1st Gig attended?
Some band in 7th grade... They played cool UFO, Nugent and Montrose covers.
Last Gig attended?
Person most influenced by?
Carl Sagan, Einstein, Bach
2001 A space Odyssey , Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, The Abyss
Favorite Food / Beverage?
Granola Bars, Yogurt, Fresh Fruit and Orange Juice
Thought for the Day?"If we truly 'are' alone in the universe, that would sure seem like an awful lot of wasted space, wouldn't it?"
Tell me a little about your history?
I started playing guitar when I was 7. I have always been a bookworm and constant a workaholic.
The new album sounds great, how long did it take to make from start to finish?
The title 'Venomous Fingers' is from a song I wrote dating back to my youth. The song (from my youth) isn't on the album, but the original song, from back then, was an odd meter progressive guitar fest. Anyway, i thought the title was unique and rather descriptive of the new album. I've been laying tracks down and composing for this album over the period of the past few years. I actually put the album on hold for a while after my Father passed away, everything seemed so fake to me at one point, the industry, Hollywood, etc... My Father had supported my dream from the get go, he was the one who took me to get my first guitar when I was 7 and helped and allowed me to study and practice an excessive amount while growing up. I am very grateful.
It must be a lot of work being "hands on involved" with all aspects of the making of the album?
I really wanted full control of all aspects on this album. I don't feel my previous releases really came out the way I would have liked, even though all those guys played 110% and I love their performances. This latest album came out truer to my original compositional vision.
Can you tell me about the new songs please?
They all use only 12 notes. I am serious too! Awe, Okay, a few micro tones as well, if you include the bends. I composed every single note on the album, as well as improvised a lot of the solos. Sometimes it is very difficult to get players to perform very demanding parts the way you had originally intended, without any alterations or added fills. Though working with highly talented individuals can yield very exciting results when approached collectively, I wanted complete creative control on this latest album.
Are there any special meanings to the songs and do you have a favourite on the new album?
Every note has a special meaning to me. I am very happy with the way this album turned out, compositionally, performance wise, and production quality. i always seem to feel that i can do better, the desire to learn more, expand and dream new ideas.
Did you do anything different on this album compared to your previous albums?
Yes, I composed all the parts and was in full control of the production and artwork.
Do you write all the songs or is it a total band effort?
On this album, I wrote everything. Every single note for every instrument.
The production sound is very good, how did you get it to sound so professional?
Thank you. Practice and study for years while going through the ups and downs of life paying my dues resulting in once in a lifetime performances. Gear wise - I used Strats, Les Pauls, Flying V's, Marshall JCM900 4100 series amps, Focusrite Red Series mic pre-amps, Macintosh G3, 2 G4's, and a new Dual G5, Cinema Display, Logic Platinum, Waves plugins, Mackie 824's monitors and a whole lot of other gear.
Are you happy with the final results of the album?
Tell me about your previous projects and what has been your most proud moment?
Yikes! that is a long list of stuff, let me try to sum up some of the finer details.
- Turn Of The Millenium (Solo Instrumental)
- Edge Of The World (UFO/MoggWay)
- Mind Over Matter (Solo Instrumental)
- Extreme Measures (Vitalij Kuprij)
- Mind Journey (John West)
- Permanent Mark (John West)
- The Oracle (Ring Of Fire)
- Hundred Year Flood (Magellan)
- Messenger Of The Gods (Mistheria)
- Forward And Beyond (Vitalij Kuprij)
- Venomous Fingers (Solo Instrumental)
Each one of the above albums have their highlights. But surely one of my happiest moments was the day I came home to find a recording contract in my mail from Shrapnel Records.
What was it like to work with such praised artists like Deen Castronova on your first album "Turn Of The Millennium" and how did you manage to get Dean involved with your music?
Mike Varney called me and said he had this killer drummer that would turn my music upside down. During the recording of TOTM, it felt like I was getting hit in the gut when Dean was playing. He is an extremely hard and heavy hitter, and wow, what a great improviser - very, very powerful! To bad the production turned out so thin sounding, I would love to remix and re-master that album. For MInd Over Matter, we all met at Prairie Sun Recording Studios in CA, hung out, had a blast and recorded some great tracks. Dean kicks some serious ass man!
What was it like to work with Pete Way and Phil Mogg on the "Edge Of The World" album?
It was great. Those guys are super nice and a great pleasure to work with. It started out by Mike Varney calling me and asking if I would be interested in joining UFO, I said yes and bam, that was it. At first I flew out to Pete Ways house a few times, hung out and worked on some song ideas, eventually Phil Mogg started flying in and meeting us at Pete's house. It was a real blast working with those guys. Phil was trying hard to get the full legal rights to the band name (UFO) from Michael Schenker, so we could use the name. Phil fought the legal system up to the last minute, but MS wouldn't give up the rights to the name.
You also wrote some songs for John West how did that happen?
John is a great singer and super cool guy. I wrote and played on his 1st album out at the Shrapnel camp (Prairie Sun Studios) and then was asked to do his 2nd album as well. Circumstances arose and instead of playing on the 2nd album, I wrote some songs for John and his album 'Permanent Mark', but Jeff Kollman and Scott Stine wound up playing my songs and guitar parts for the album, they did great!
You then ended up joining Ring Of Fire with Mark Boals, what was he like to work with and how did you find the whole Ring Of Fire experience and are you still part of the band?
Mark and Vitalij called me on the phone one day and said they were putting this band together and asked if I wanted to join, I sad yes. Mark and Vitalij flew out to my studio in Chicago, we worked on the material for a few weeks, layed down some tracks and then flew out to Steve Vai's place to meet up with Virgil Donati and eventually hooking up with Philip Bynoe to complete the band and album.
What did you learn from working with these artists?
To be ready and give your best all of the time. Sure keeps me on my toes!
Are you involved with any other projects at the moment?
Yes. I have been working on new material for my next album, I want to release another instrumental album next year and I have so many ideas for it.
Musically and vocally who are your inspirations?
My deepest inspirations don't necessarily come from music, but, more from inner soul searching - so to speak, more meditative, scientific and spiritual feelings expressed through sound and composition.
How did you hook up with Lion Music and how have they helped you so far with your solo career?
Lasse Mattson of Lion Music approached me with a deal, and I accepted.
How has the reaction been from the fans and music press towards the new album?
Very positive. There will always be someone that doesn't care for my music, but that's okay - it's art, not a sport.
Will you be doing any shows in support of the new album?
What is next for you?
Breathe more air, eat more food, write and play more music, and eventually, take a long dirt nap...
What have you learned about the music industry so far and what advice can you give to others?
Stand by what you believe in, no matter what anybody else says. i write and play music because i feel an inner desire to, and if others can enjoy some of that music, well, that's totally cool with me!
Finally is there anything that you would like to say to the fans?
Thanks for all the support over the years. My music is for such a niche market it seams, so I really appreciate all the mail and suggestions from my students and fans around the world. You people rule!This interview can also be found here: AOR Dream Zones