George Bellas Interview
by Italian Magazine
One of the most prolific and innovative guitarist and composers of our time, George Bellas presents his latest instrumental album…
Hello George, thanks for taking the time to speak with metallized fans…
You're welcome and always a pleasure.
Let’s talk a little bit about your new album “Step Into The Future”…when did you get the inspiration?
The composing process for "Step Into The Future" began December 7th, 2007. I had all kinds of neat intervallic ideas that I wanted to use that I hadn't done so on any of my previously releases. So, I had a build up of compositional techniques that I really wanted to use and felt the need to get out. And once I actually started writing the album, on December 7th, 2007, I wrote like a madman everyday until the middle of January 2008, which is when I completed the composing. The whole writing process took about 6-7 weeks. But each and everyday I wrote frantically. Many times stopping in my tracks when an idea hit me to write it down, and once I started writing a particular idea down a lot more usually flowed out as well. It really was an intense burst of inspiration.
Could you take us through some personal of the highlights of “Step Into The Future”?
There are many sections on the album that I enjoy the sound of... One thing I like about the album is it's dynamic range; many soft and subdued parts contrasting with louder and dense parts. Another aspect I like are all the neat scales and chords. The album utilizes, quite extensively; Intervalic Sets, Polychords, Polyrhythms, Polymeters, Serialism as well as a wide range of guitars and amps. And the drumming, WOW, Marco Minnemann is just unreal. I always send Marco the drum scores for all the drum parts and it just amazes me when I hear him play through these intricate rhythms, and the amount of "Minnemann Pizzazz" he adds is nothing short of amazing.
The last years have been very prolific and intense from the musical point of view with three important release ( “Flying through infinity”, Planetary Alignment” and “Step into the Future”)..are you feel satisfied about your album?
Yes, I am quite satisfied with these recent releases. Each one of them is unique to the other. In other words, each of these albums use different composition techniques, and although it still sounds like me, they all have a different sonic character to them. I really enjoy and get inspired with using things that are not so common and have a fresh, unique sound to them. It's easy to listen to other artists and get inspired to the point were you may want to write something similar, but on the contrary, I have always asked myself... okay, what haven't I heard, let's do that! I suppose some artists may feel it is risky venturing into unchartered musical territory thinking that their current fan base may not enjoy or be expecting such eccentric music.
Would you consider “Step Into The Future” a new direction in your music?
No. It is the same old me but just utilizing different compositional techniques that I haven't used yet. I write modern progressive, and old neoclassical music, and that's what I've been releasing since my debut album "Turn of the Millennium", and not to mention what I've been writing since my childhood. To me, the modern progressive style is way more exciting due to it sounding so fresh and unique, compared to old writing techniques. Although, I think many people have a misinterpretation of what authentic neoclassical really is. So, I have always mixed up the two styles, old and modern, which keeps it exciting for me. Now, if I came out with a country-western album you could then rightfully say I've changed direction.
I consider Marco Minneman ( your drummer) one of the best drummer in musical panorama..do you?
I absolutely consider Marco Minnemann to be one of the best drummers that has ever lived. He is such an incredible drummer and I really can't find the proper words to express how phenomenal I think he is. His contributions to my music are magical and so appropriately fitting to the style. Throughout my life I have always had an extremely difficult time trying to find drummers that could play the music I write. For this reason, as well as others, discovering and working with Marco is a godsend to me.
Could you tell us about your guitars, amps, effects, that you have used?
Sure... let's talk gear! I have an ever increasing collection of guitars and amps. In my youth I played Gibson guitars, and then when I went through my Robin Trower phase I discovered the Fender Strat, and ever since those elementary school days I have been playing both Gibsons and Fenders. My collection includes several Fender '57 Stratocasters, several Gibson '60 Les Pauls, some Gibson Flying-Vs, a Fender Precision Bass as well as Fender, Ovation and Spanish acoustics.
For amps I have a nice collection that includes a Marshall 1976 MKII, Marshall JCM800 and several JCM900s all running through Marshall cabinets. Another favorite amp of mine is the 1965 Fender "Blackface" Bassman. I discovered that amp when I was very young and have been hooked ever since. It is just a tone-oozing monster.
I don't really use any effects. I either plug straight into my amps, or if anything, I'll use a Tube Screamer between the guitar and amp. I mainly prefer a very low saturated sound that allows me to hear all the notes I am playing. I do also like to crank up the gain, but for a lot of things I like that smooth, softly overdriven sound. I like my sound to be very articulate.
Will “Step Into The Future” be sounded in its entirety in some live performance?
Yes I would like to. It would be fun to play it start to finish with a complimenting futuristic stage design. I enjoy very much spending a great deal of my time writing and exploring new ideas, so it becomes challenging to do both performing and composing. So if I can break away from composing long enough l would certainly love to set up some dates and play through this album.
Do you have any other plans for 2009?
Yes! Write, Practice and Record. I don't want to reveal what I have in store just yet, but I already have some exciting things that I will be announcing on my website in the coming months. My website is currently undergoing a new design, and once complete I will be announcing my new music projects and events. Please checkout www.georgebellas.com for any news regarding what I am currently working on and what I have planned.
You collaborated with a lot of great musicians: which is the one you loved to work again?
Marco Minnemann and Virgil Donati would be my first picks. I plan on working with Marco well into the future. But, you are right, the musicians that I've worked with are some of the best talent in the world and I feel quite fortunate to have worked with so many of them. But, due to my complicated rhythmic composing style, Marco Minnemann fits the bill exceptionally well.
What kind of music do you listen to nowadays?
Most of the time I spend listening to music is in my car, and when doing so it is usually of rough mixes of the music I am currently working on. I love so much great music, but I feel limited in time to get my ideas out, so I work hard at bringing these creations to life.
How did you feel about Lion Music?
I am very happy with all that Lion Music has done to help me bring my music to people that enjoy listening to it. The label is top notch and brimming with high quality talent. The way they handle the company is very good I think, and it's always a pleasure dealing with the owner Lasse Mattson. It's unfortunate for labels and artists that the time we live in right now is so full of piracy.
What do you do in your spare time outside of music?
I love reading and listening to lectures about science and math. Astrophysics has always, since I was very young, been a big influence and source of inspiration to me. Some of the scientists I have been inspired from include; Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku. I also love the visual arts; photgraphy, graphic design, painting and drawing. Something else that I enjoy very much is Mountain Biking. When Mountain Biking I come up with a lot of musical ideas, and usually when I return from biking I will grab paper and a pencil and write down the ideas I that I came up with.
Who would be in your dream line up?
Marco Minnemann, Virgil Donati, Vitalij Kuprij, Lalle Larrson and Jonas Hellborg.
How many guitars do you have?
More than I can play at one time! Every time I turn around there is another guitar or amp in the house. It's crazy. I fly around the continent looking for and buying guitars. In fact, I recently picked up this beautiful Gibson "Black Beauty" Les Paul.
What’s the last album do you bought?
I think it was Virgil Donati's "Serious Young Insects". He is another one of a kind drummer. Awesome talent.
I hope you’re going to perform in Italy soon, do you?
Thank you for that. Yes, I do want and feel the need to get out and play, in Italy and abroad. After I finish my current musical projects I will be looking into setting up some dates and making it a reality. I love performing very much, but I also love composing, and when doing one or the other it's difficult to accomplish both. But, I do hope to make it to Italy in the near future for some insane guitar shows. Sounds like a lot fun to me!
A final message to your metallized fans…
Thanks to all of you that have checked out my music throughout the years as well as the fans that may have only recently discovered the eccentric music I write. I appreciate each and everyone of you very much. You can expect much more music from me in the very near and distant future. Just don't expect the same things I have already done... Expect the unexpected!