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Interviews

Interview with DMME.net

June 2008

Interview by rock journalist Dmitry Epstein

There's a lot going on for Mario Parga. Highly respected for his guitar craft, the English-born Las Vegas resident, the axeman of choice for such heavyweights as the great late Cozy Powell, has recently released his second solo album, "Entranced", and embarks now on a new endeavor, SAVAGE PARADISE, the band fronted by former BLACK SABBATH singer Tony Martin - preceded with a vocal version of the tremendous ballad "Spirit Of Night" - and a new label of his own. But is it strange that the happy family man, with a baby girl born prior to the album's release, is so full of energy? Let's ask the maestro.

There's been a splash of activity since the release of "Entranced". Why is it now that you decided to remind the world of who Mario Parga is?

Well... I left the music industry back in late 1993 as I'd just gotten sick and tired of all the bullshit within it. The music industry is really that: an industry; it has little to do with music and musicality. I'd been around on the international guitar scene since I was eighteen years old, and I'd just reached a point in my life where I was bored with non-musical people trying to tell me how I should play or what I should play in order to make a living. I still kept in touch with a few people though, such as my old friend Graham Bonnet who asked me to play on his "The Day I Went Mad" album in 1998.

It was really Matt Williams, the head of Liquid Note Records who encouraged me to record again in 2001, I provided the tune "Valse Diabolique" for LNR's "The Alchemists" album. When my first website was built in 2003, I received a surprising amount of fan mail from around the world from people wanting to talk about guitars, my early career and "The Magician" and "Valse Diabolique". I was quite touched that I was still remembered after my long absence.

As for "Entranced", it was made up of several tunes I'd written during my time away from the public and media, I'd invested a lot of money in studio and musical equipment around 2004 so recording a new solo album since 1991's "The Magician" seemed like a good idea! It was kind of therapeutic, too.

Therapeutic? In what way, please?

Mostly as I was able to get a lot of music out of my system that had been sitting there for several years. Being able to play all the instruments, produce, engineer, mix and master my own recordings in my own studio without budget or time restraints was also very therapeutic. I remember recording "Haunted" and "Spirit Of Night" very late at night whilst looking out at the moonlit woods across from the then studio, it was very calming being alone whilst recording.

Has parenthood boosted your creativity?

Well, first of all, I know you're a new father too, so congratulations! (Smiles.) I wouldn't say parenthood has boosted my creativity yet, as I'm tired these days from the baby waking during the night! (Laughs.) Having a child certainly makes you look at things in a different way though, things that were once important are now almost irrelevant as my baby daughter always comes first. Both my wife and I are touched on a daily basis with how wonderful she is. I've written a song for her, it's called "Lullaby For Skye" and is an all-acoustic track. I'll record it one day soon.

What about "Spirit Of Night" - was the vocal version an afterthought or had you had it in mind from the start?

When I originally wrote that song, I heard the melody as a voice but recorded the tune as an instrumental. When "Entranced" was released, I had so much positive feedback about "Spirit Of Night" from fans and the press - you yourself said some very cool things about it! (Smiles.) - that I decided I should try it out as a vocal based song. Tony Martin immediately sprang to mind as I've always loved his voice, I knew that he was very capable of singing this kind of non-metal song and that his vocal melodies would fit. I also knew that his voice would suit "Spirit Of Night" perfectly, and I was right... (Grinning.) I'd worked with Tony back in the early Nineties so I knew what he was capable of. Tony's a bit like Graham Bonnet: both are phenomenal vocalists who can sing anything yet are often type-cast into repeating their past successes.

Do your new projects with Martin mean you're going back to where your road to fame started?

Not really, as I found fame and success as a guitarist several years before meeting Tony. But in a way it feels like old times though, and I'm looking forward to the future and the SAVAGE PARADISE project.

Don't you find it a bit offensive when somebody describes you as a heavy metal guitarist - after playing with the likes of Cozy Powell and Graham Bonnet?

(Laughing) Not really, I'm kind of used to it. I've never really been a 'heavy metal' player, I started out playing rock, fusion, classical and latin jazz, my biggest musical influence is Al Di Meola. I'm more offended when non-musical people compare me to Yngwie Malmsteen - no disrespect to him - as I don't sound anything like him, have never been influenced by him nor even owned one of his recordings! I guess it's the fast alternate-picking thing... sadly a lot of people within the rock movement don't realise that Di Meola was picking fast years before Malmsteen - as were many others... Growing up in Spain meant I was exposed to a lot of flamenco and Moorish sounds; I don't believe harmonic minor scales and the Phrygian Mode are common within Swedish music? (Grins). I saw some amazing Spanish guitarists as a kid who led me to experiment with different sounds, far from 'heavy metal'... Having said this though, the new SAVAGE PARADISE project is pretty heavy... but still musical.

How did you hook up with Graham and Cozy?

I was offered a major recording contract back in 1989, and my then manager who owned a well known studio got in touch with Graham Bonnet who agreed to sing on the first album. Typical of the music business, the day before we were to sign contracts with the record label, they pulled out, stating that they required the money they were going to give us to fund something else they'd already invested heavily in... (Laughs.) Graham and I kept in touch though, and it was he who got me to play on the FORCEFIELD albums and introduced me indirectly to Cozy Powell.

Did you hear the original HAMMER's tapes prior to joining Cozy's band?

No, I didn't. We didn't play any material from that period either. It was Don Airey who put me forward for Cozy's band. Don came over to my house and we ran through some ideas - Don was originally going to play in the band. When I first hooked up with Cozy, we played a few tunes from his then new album "The Drums Are Back". On tour, we played a selection of RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH, WHITESNAKE, Cozy's solo stuff, Tony Martin's solo stuff and even a Billy Cobham instrumental! Cozy was very cool though as he allowed me free reign with the solos, so I didn't have to copy someone else's.

The FORCEFIELD project featured a wealth of talent including such guitar greats as Ray Fenwick and Micky Moody. Did you chance to meet the guys and learn from them?

Back in the FORCEFIELD days I knew Ray Fenwick quite well. We worked together on my "The Magician" album in 1991, and Ray did a guest solo on the song "The Midnight Cafe". I was endorsed by Ibanez guitars at the time and I remember taking Ray with me to see them where they gave him a beautiful guitar. Ray's a great blues player, he has a wonderful tone and vibrato. I never met Micky Moody though, he recorded his parts on a different day to me.

Ritchie Blackmore once said he'd found it hard playing slow as he used to be fast. Have you gone the similar way?

No, not at all. Playing fast, slow, mid tempo, etc. should be a part of any guitarist's or musician's repertoire. As much as I was a 'shredder' back in the Eighties and early Nineties, I still recorded and played ballads. Part of the problem with today's new generation is that they can't play slow, or even play a decent rhythm. They spend all their time concentrating on speed alone, and much of what they play is musically void... I wrote an article on this very subject for my blog.

Speaking of today's guitarists... Do you think they have the right to play what they call rock without knowing how to play the blues, the basics of the genre?

'The blues' is a basic form of music and real and great blues guitarists are very rare. Whilst 'classic rock' was bluesy, modern rock and metal (nu-metal, industrial, thrash, etc.) has different influences. Musical style variety is always a good thing. Although great blues players shine with obvious musicality, the blues genre tends to attract a lot of bad musicians; I've heard countless 'blues' and 'blues rock' guitarists play with as much musical credibility as a learner pianist playing the tune 'chopsticks'... Whenever technique is questioned - even bare minimum - they claim that they're 'feel' players and disinterested in technique, and hide behind this in an attempt to shroud their obvious lack of talent. Bending a string and pulling a silly face doesn't automatically produce 'feel' nor emotion, there's a bit more involved than just that. Some of the most emotional music in the world came from the Romantic period within classical music, with violinists and pianists in particular having great control of their chosen instrument whilst playing moving slow passages. Those same violinists and pianists could play anything from the super-technical to a haunting adagio: somewhat more than just a handful of pentatonic licks with two or three fingers.

A band of yours is being born right now... But weren't you trying to set SAVAGE PARADISE in the early Nineties? Why did you fail then?

Yes, SAVAGE PARADISE was originally conceived in 1993, the year I left the music business for a while... I'd recorded some material at a friend's studio in London but struggled to find the right singer. I always liked the name though, and it fit the new project. None of the material recorded from the SAVAGE PARADISE sessions in 1993 will be used with the new band. Incidentally, the song "Entranced" from the album of the same title was from the original SAVAGE PARADISE project.

What do the words "savage paradise" mean to you - image-wise? What would be in the painting with such a title?

The very world we live in is a savage paradise. Despite the staggering beauty of Earth, there's an ugly side to it caused by man. If I were to paint a picture to represent it, I'd probably paint half of the painting with a tropical paradise island, with distant mountains and a beautiful sunset. The other half would probably depict the state of the world today; crime, famine, terrorism, corporate greed and destruction, and so on.

Will the new SAVAGE PARADISE be a touring project or a studio one?

When I first came up with the concept, we were just going to be a studio-based band, but I've since had several credible offers from tour promoters who are very interested in us, so I think we'll tour at some point. We'll start recording the first album around October time, we all have other commitments at the moment so we'll have to base SAVAGE PARADISE around them.

SAVAGE PARADISE is a band of yours. How did you react when the newslines on the project mentioned Tony and you were sidelined?

That wasn't entirely the case as I saw several newslines that mentioned both of us. There were numerous guitar-based sites that only mentioned me. To be honest though, I really don't mind at all. SAVAGE PARADISE is a band project and not one of my solo guitar things. I don't care which individuals from the band are mentioned, as long as the band's name is! (Laughs.) I think there's a lot of natural curiosity out there amongst fans and the press with regard to Tony, as he's been away from the scene for a while. All I can say is that he won't dissapoint them, I sincerely believe he's at his peak right now and sounds incredible.

What did make you want to form a band again - now that your solo record's just been released?

I like working within a band situation, the problem is always finding the right singer and chemistry with the other members. When Tony agreed to be part of the project, it all made sense and encouraged me to pursue the other band members. We're looking for a keyboard player right now, the full requirements can be found on my site. I'll still record instrumental guitar music though; in fact, I'm starting work soon on a new album.

What did you do when you got away from the music business?

Beg, steal, borrow, ran away to the circus... (Laughs.) I went into hiding and stayed with my sister for a while. I played some low key 'local' kind of gigs with an all-acoustic set and also spent some time with my father back in Spain. I did quite a lot of artwork too, mostly 17th century Old Master copies and portraits. I also painted the murals inside one of England's oldest houses built in 1260 AD.

How often do you get to paint these days? Would you like to have your works exhibited one day?

I hardly ever have time to paint these days as I'm usually recording or playing guitars! When I'm not involved with music I like to spend the remaining time with my wife and daughter. I've had artwork exhibited in the past, but my heart and prime interest will always be with music.

The cover picture of Bonnet's "The Day I Went Mad" that's something! Who was your inspiration as an artist?

The original version of the cover was painted with oil paint, it was very detailed but got accidentally damaged whilst some of the paint layers were drying. (Sighs.) The second version that was used for the cover was painted under pressure of a very looming deadline, so I had to use fast drying acrylic paints. The painting's style was inspired by the strange visions of Hieronymus Bosch.

How instrumental was Liquid Note Record in raising your profile anew?

Very. Without Matt William's encouragement and support, I probably wouldn't have recorded commercially again. It was Matt alone who enticed me out of my hiding hole... We're actually very good friends, when I lived in England Matt visited me regularly and we often had epic conversations about guitars, music, books and movies.

What are your favorites in each of the categories?

Guitar-wise, my favourite electric guitar  for a few years has been a Washburn X50 PRO. I only play mahogany bodied electric guitars now (I have done since 1993), and prefer through or set necks and strung through the body. I stopped using whammy bars about ten years or so ago. I prefer fixed bridges as tuning is way more stable, and let's be honest, harmonics played with a whammy bar is now a little dated and overdone... My favourite acoustic guitar is a Crafter CE15-N that I use for most of my acoustic work. It's nylon strung and has Koa wood back and sides. I like acoustic guitars for their dynamics and pure sound.

My biggest musical influence is Al Di Meola, so he has to be in my list! I like a lot of film soundtrack music, I think that some of the greatest contemporary talents work within this field. I also like some ambient and new age music. I don't listen to as much classical music now as I did when I was younger. Rock or metal stuff these days is pretty dull, but THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND always amazes me with albums like "Infinity" and "Terria'. I usually listen to older albums, I was playing "Passion, Grace & Fire" by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia earlier today.

I've not read a book, or novel, in years as I just don't have time these days. The last book I bought and eventually read was an art book about Caravaggio. I remember reading Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" back in the Eighties, it was a great book, full of King's dark humour. I also remember reading "Jaws" by Peter Benchley when I was a little kid, it gave me countless nightmares!

Hmmm... movies... I like so many, I'd end up compiling a massive list! I think movies in recent years have been pretty bad though, and I'm sick of all the pointless remakes. Some favourites off the top of my head are, in no particular order: "Godfather" I and II, "Blade Runner", "For A Few Dollars More", "Alien" and "Aliens", "Once Upon A Time In America", "Rocky", "Monty Python And The Holy Grail", "The Devil's Backbone", "Perfume (The Story Of A Murderer)", "Leon", "Leaving Las Vegas", "The Deer Hunter", "The Shining", "Pulp Fiction" and "This Is Spinal Tap".

What was the motive behind MidnightCafe Music? What qualities should an artist have for you to sign him?

The motives were quite simple: I was sick of dealing with dickheads at record companies! I realised that I had enough contacts and resources to create a label, so it wasn't a particularly difficult thing to do. This way, I'm in total control of my own music and don't have to explain my art to a non-artistic moron. Another reason is that record companies seem to look down upon instrumental music. They're more interested in silly fabricated pop songs that everyone forgets the year after. As I mentioned earlier, the music industry is an industry, where making money is more important than making music...

As for artists and bands interested in the label, well, originality and musicality are what we're looking for. We're open to all musical genres, and people can email us their demos at music@midnightcafestudios.com.

Is MidnightCafe amassing a roster already?

Let's just say that I've got my eye on a couple of things. (Smiles) The biggest problem I have right now is how busy I am personally, it's hard to find time for other acts at the moment.

http://www.dmme.net/interviews/parga.html

Interview with SapoDeOtroPozo.com
May 2008

Interview by Elizabeth Ford for the South American magazine

Hello Mario, nice to meet you. I am Elizabeth for Sapo and I would like to ask you a few little questions:
Could you let me know about your music?
Hi Elizabeth, nice to meet you too :-)
 
My music is mostly guitar instrumental based, I have a new album out called Entranced. I've been around since the 80's playing this kind of music.

When did you form your first band?
The first band I played in was back when I was ten years old. The other guys in the band were in their teens and we played cover versions of popular songs at the time. I think I was around twelve years old when I formed my first band.

You are working with Tony Martin, one of Black Sabbath's singers. How was the experience?
I've known Tony since 1992, we played in a band together called 'Hammer' with Cozy Powell. We had a lot of fun touring and kept in touch over the years. Tony's just finished recording vocals for an instrumental song of mine from Entranced called 'Spirit of Night' which will be released as a single on June 27th. I think his voice is better than ever, and he's done a truly great job on the new song. We're putting a band project together at the moment, also included in the lineup is drummer Kevin Valentine who's played with Kiss and Cinderella. The new project is called 'Savage Paradise' and will be announced on my website soon (www.MarioParga.com).

Do you mainly work with well known musicians?
No, not at all. A famous name means little to me, I'm more interested in a person's musical ability. I've worked with complete unknowns in the past who were great musicians - everyone has to start off somewhere! As we all know, there are many well known ‘musicians’ out there with little or no talent...

Where do you live?  Las Vegas, Spain or England? In MySpace you are in Las Vegas. (
www.myspace.com/marioparga)
I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. with my wife and daughter. Up until recently, we had a house in England, but the travelling was too much, especially with a new baby. I was born in England, grew up in Spain, and returned to England where I lived for a while. I think that's where the confusion lies with which country I live in now! :-)

The number of the beast... intelectual stupidity or beware of the devil, it bites? Do you have any demons? Do you deal with them?
:-D ...666... The number of the Beast... Personally, I don't believe in the biblical God and Devil thing. But although I'm not a religious person, I do think there's something out there. I've never cared for mainstream/organized religion - one only has to look at the horrors both past and present caused by it...
I don't have any 'inner demons', well... maybe my addiction to loud guitars... ;-)

Stairway to Heaven... do you have visions about the Rock Industry? What is going to happen with all these pests like Pop Idol and the like?
The rock industry, and music industry in general, is in a pretty strange state. Everything sounds the same these days, with all the bands copying each other and recording cover versions. The same applies to the movie industry, everyone's making stupid remakes...
 
Pop Idol exists for the many people out there who want/need five minutes of short lived fame. I personally don't watch any 'reality' shows, they bore me sensless. Reallity shows are also a cheap way for TV companies to make a fast buck, the programmes themselves cost little to create.

http://www.sapodeotropozo.comhttp://www.sapodeotropozo.comhttp://www.sapodeotropozo.comhttp://www.sapodeotropozo.com.ar

Interview with All Out Guitar.com
January 2008

The Melodic Maestro: MARIO PARGA!

Today's Elevenses Throws Eleven Quick Questions At 'The Melodic Maestro' Mario Parga!

Mario Parga has performed and recorded with Graham Bonnet, Cozy Powell, Tony Martin and Don Airey to name a few. He has a busy solo career and has appeared in numerous mainstream magazines such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces and the underground guitar fanzine G-Force. He has played live on MTV and on numerous radio shows in the UK and around the world.

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So what’s your drink of choice at 11am in the morning?

That depends where I am, and whether I’m awake at that time! At home in Oxford, UK I drink regular coffee & water, but at home in Las Vegas, USA I drive down the road to my favourite Starbucks. I’m totally addicted to Starbucks coffee!

Which song/album really made you want to play guitar?

Difficult question to answer really. I started playing the guitar quite young, and during that time I listened to a lot of Beatles/60’s stuff and was exposed to a variety of violin based music. I used to play along to Beatles For Sale as a kid, but Al Di Meola’s Elegant Gypsy had a major effect on me and made me want to progress further.

Who’s the world’s greatest guitarist?

There’s no such thing. There are many great qualities in many different players. Some have great vibrato, some great phrasing, some great rhythm, some can compose better than others, etc., it would be impossible to pick a single guitarist and brand him/her as the world’s greatest. Also, it’s very much a matter of personal opinion.

Who’s the world’s most underrated guitarist?

Again, there are probably several… I always thought Steve Stevens never really got the credit he deserved from the guitar world, and flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo should be known to a much wider audience.

So what are you up to at the moment?

I’m busy preparing material for the follow-up to Entranced, and I’ve just recorded a vocal version of ‘Spirit of Night’ (Entranced, 2007) with ex-bandmate and ex-Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin.


I’ll shortly start work on an EP called Somewhere at the Midnight Café which will consist of five instrumental songs.
I’m also in the process of laying out the foundations for a special edition instrumental to be released in April, 2008 to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the death of my old friend Cozy Powell. This track will be available on my website as a permanently free download to everyone.

What was the last gig you went to (as a member of the audience)?

Speaking of Cozy… The last gig I went to was the Brian May Band at the BIC in Bournemouth back in 94 or 95?. I was living fairly locally at the time and was invited to see them play. Cozy of course played drums for the band. I’d jammed with Brian and Hank Marvin a couple of years earlier, it was great fun :-) This was also the last time I saw Cozy before he died, we left the post-gig party together and he gave me a lift home. Bless him.

As you can probably tell, I don’t go to see many live acts, mostly because there aren’t many interesting gigs these days. The 80’s were full of variety, the 90’s had some good bands, but I think the 2000’s have so far been pretty dire for music and film. Everything’s so monotonous…

Who would be in your dream line-up?

Wow… let me think… living musicians? As an instrumental band playing my music with me as soloist? Probably:

Rhythm guitar: Rudolf Shenker, Bass: Flea, Drums: Jason Bonham, Keyboards: Vangelis

How many guitars do your own and which one is ‘your precious’?

I don’t own many guitars these days. I used to have so many, they’d just sit around getting rusty strings! I now only own 9 guitars, and my favourite by far is my Washburn X50 Pro. I used it for the vast majority of the guitar work on Entranced.

I haven’t used whammy bars for years, I prefer hardtails with through-body stringing and set necks, and the Washburn suits me perfectly. It’s loaded with my favourite Seymour Duncan pickups: Custom Custom in the bridge and ’59 in the neck. It has a mahogany body (my favourite wood) with a quilted maple top and it’s colour is transparent blue. This guitar travels with me personally, and is mostly used in the studio.

What’s the last great album that you bought (or were given)?

I haven’t bought an album in ages. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about the current state of music. The last album I can remember buying was Devin Townsend’s Accelerated Evolution. Worth every penny just for the song ‘Suicide’… Awesome…

Do you suffer from stage fright?

No, not in the same way that other’s do. I’ve seen singers puke before gigs and know of other musicians who get the shits before they go onstage! LOL I get an adrenaline rush to begin with, but this then settles as the gig progresses.

So what’s your drink of choice at 11pm in the evening?

I usually wind down with a glass (or two…) of red wine.

http://www.alloutguitar.com/interview/elevenses/the_melodic_maestro_mario_parga

Interview with The Bailey Brothers (Rock United)

June 2007

Shred's Not Dead!

MARIO PARGA


Exclusive Interview with The Baliey Brothers


We can remember inviting this young guitar wizard on to our MTV show. He was armed with a yellow Ibanez similar to the one we were giving away as a prize signed by Paul Gilbert and the Mr Big band. He was very fast and very flash but had a really mellow charm about him.


Parga later went on to work with the likes of Cozy Powell, Tony Martin and Graham Bonnet to name but a few rock icons. He has a new album titled Entranced available on his newly formed MidnightCafe Music label. Mario Parga is living proof that 'Shred's Not Dead'.

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Mario, there are so many instrumental albums available at the moment, what's going to make Entranced stand out from the pack?

Well, hopefully the compositions and overall sound/production. Yes, there are a lot of instrumental albums out there, but other than fast licks, these albums contain little else… Some of the 'new breed' of shredders sadly appear to have ignored fundamental basics such as melody, harmony, vibrato, and rhythm. Their main concern seems to be with how many notes per second they can achieve. A lot of them can alternate-pick a scale at speed, but are incapable of playing a decent rhythm or writing a memorable melody.

You have done everything on this album, played all instruments, produced, mixed, mastered and then released it on your own label. Why?

Purely out of ease and being able to work on recordings at any time of the day and night since I have my own recording facilities, MidnightCafe Studios. It meant that I could spend quality time on the recording and settings, keyboard patches, arrangements, orchestration, reverb programs, mixing, mastering etc. without having to watch the clock or comply with budgets. I also did the cover art.


My reason for releasing Entranced on my new label MidnightCafe Music made sense from a business point of view as well as being practical. The internet has made a lot of previously inaccessible things very accessible, such as world wide advertising, promotion and sales. It also meant that I was in control of my own product and its future. Having been in the instrumental guitar world for twenty years gave me enough insight into marketing a guitar album.

I'm sure someone like Lion Music would have released it in Europe. Why didn't you approach another label?

Lasse from Lion Music and I know each other from the Lion release of Warmth in the Wilderness II (Tribute to Jason Becker) where I donated the track 'Hourglass'. Lion Music are a great label and are helping to introduce guitar music and other non-commercial music to many new listeners, but I'd always thought about creating my own label and the timing worked out well for me.

Do you think a lot of musicians will become self contained in this way releasing albums via the web?


That would depend on a number of factors. Anyone can record an album, just as anyone can get a CD pressed. There's more to releasing your own album than just selling it via a website. It helps if the artist is known and established, I think a totally unknown musician would probably struggle.


How did you approach the writing of this album in terms of the style of playing you wanted to capture?


The tunes on Entranced were written over a long period of time, some not in their entirety, but in parts. The title track 'Entranced' was mostly written in 1993, when I was putting together a band project called 'Savage Paradise'. I recorded a demo version of it (without the verse and chorus melodies) in '93 as it was originally going to be a vocal based track. I finished writing it as a full instrumental track in 2005 and re-recorded it at MidnightCafe Studios.


The remainder of the material was written on and off between 1995 and 2005. For most of this time, I had little involvement with the music industry as I'd gotten sick of it and the non-musical people who often control it. I also saw some very hard and sad times during this period and Entranced often reflects this in tracks such as 'Haunted', 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell'.

My playing style and overall sound has changed considerably over the years. We all mature as musicians and things I once liked when I was in my early twenties no longer appeal to me at the age of 37. My early demos and recordings were often rushed and recorded with little preparation. I'd simply turn up at a studio, plug into an amp and start recording. The Magician (President Records, 1991) was recorded in a matter of days, and features what I now regard as an unacceptable guitar tone. My sound these days is more musical and has more depth. In terms of guitar tone, I no longer play with a harsh distortion; I prefer a cleaner and 'thicker' sound. I also use reverb differently for big, open hall effects and keyboards are now used to add depth to my recordings.


You say you recorded these songs over a period of time and you have changed your sound especially the tone. You have done really well to make the album sound as though the songs were recorded at the same time, how did you manage to achieve this?


I wrote the tracks over a long period of time, the recordings took place over a period of approximately two years or so. I'd already gotten the guitar settings I wanted, so it was relatively easy to achieve a consistency throughout the album. The hard part was getting the initial overall sound of all the instruments.


My electric guitar tone changed during the mid 90's, I just wanted a cleaner and fatter tone. I achieved this by turning down the presence and using less distortion.


Let's discuss some of the songs on the album and maybe you can talk us through the recording process and explain some of the guitar playing techniques you used.


As far as guitar technique goes, my playing style is predominantly based around alternate-picking, sweep-picking, string bending and vibrato. I play a lot of emotive slower things, and I incorporate technique with melody. My sound these days is cleaner than it used to be, and my big reverb sound is all part of it. I get fan mail from around the world, and the reverbs and guitar tone are often mentioned.


With regard to the recording, I use more or less the same settings for everything. This way I can record with a consistency throughout a project and create the 'Mario Parga' sound on every recording without having to start afresh with the settings.
I use a variety of software that I'm familiar with (including sequencers for drums) and reverbs with modified settings to suit my sound. I use two amps, a 100 watt stack and a small 30 watt combo for variety (Entranced was recorded entirely with the combo). For recording purposes I have two electric guitars, a nylon strung electro-acoustic and a steel strung electro-acoustic. I have a no-name bass guitar. I have a synth-workstation with a vast patch library and additional tone generators. At the moment, I don't endorse any musical equipment so I'm not going to mention brand names. If they wish to endorse me then I'll tell all...! :-)


There's a lot of nice pivoting and string skipping techniques on the song Journey. How did you approach this song?


Thank you :-) 'The Journey' was one of nine pieces I wrote for solo electric guitar. 'Valse Diabolique' (The Alchemists, 2001) was originally one of these nine solos. (I plan on releasing 9 Solos for Electric Guitar later on this year). It consists of a ballad-like intro, then a melody based around a D minor arpeggio, with a sweep-picked arpeggio middle and an alternate-picked ending. It's a short little piece, inspired by some of the short violin compositions of both the baroque and romantic periods within classical music.


How do you decide where to go next with an instrumental arrangement as it's not like a vocal song where you need to follow verses, bridges and chorus etc?


This is exactly why I prefer instrumental music! Vocal music to a certain degree demands the usual formula of verse, bridge, chorus (as at times does some instrumental music). But with an all-instrumental composition, anything's really possible as long as it remains melodic and musically interesting. I usually don't decide in advance how I'll write a particular piece, I just go with the overall sound and follow my instinct. The main instrument in an instrumental composition becomes the 'voice' and if played with mastery can convey any emotion the musician wishes without having to explain the song with lyrics.


'Haunted' is another cool song. It starts with a nice chord progression picking out single notes and then you bring in some really melodic slow playing. Would you describe the sound as classical?


Thank you, I'm pleased you like it. 'Haunted' is a very melancholic piece of music written at a pivotal period of my life. It's not about anything 'haunted' in the supernatural sense, it's about memories, and how they often haunt us. Some memories are good, some bad, and some are very sad. It's mostly keyboard based with walls of keyboard pads and a piano, the guitar plays the melody lines until the solo piano ending. It could be described as 'neo-classical' but not the 'neo-classical' people associate with the 'shred' genre. 'Mirage' is another example of this
.


I find the concept of being able to release your personal emotions instrumentally using musical instruments fascinating. I find it very therapeutic being able to write songs but I can use lyrics to tell the story. I guess this goes way back to the silent films when music would set the scenes but even then there was writing on the screen (or so my mother says)
.


A musical instrument can convey just about any emotion. Some of the most beautiful music ever written is instrumental with a specific instrument as the main 'voice'. I listen to a lot of film soundtrack music, and as well as fitting the particular scenes they were written for, soundtracks often convey the intended emotion without the need of the visual counterpart.


All the tracks on Entranced are full of emotion and all have a particular meaning to me. Perhaps the most relevant to your question are 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell', both very personal to me and written during particularly sad times.


I'm going to have to get a few personal opinions over whilst we are talking about the album as I would like to give you the opportunity to respond.


Ok. It's always interesting to hear others' opinions.


The album, for me, loses some energy and dynamics without a drummer. Is this a fair analysis?


It depends on what you expect from the album and what you're listening for. I agree that sampled drums cannot compete at all with a real drummer, but these days samples and sequencers can create pretty good sounding drum kits unlike the awful programs of the 80's! I didn't use any pre-set drum patterns, I quite literally loaded individual real drum samples (kick, snare, cymbals, etc.) into my sequencer and programmed every pattern myself. Considering I'm not a drummer, I think I did an ok job! :-)


With all due respect I thought the drums were too basic and plod plod. I also use sequencers to write. It's so fast, just set left and right locaters, hit the record button and bang in a drum beat . You can quantize it if you are slightly out of time and it's great for writing and doing demos . I also have some amazing drum samples but there's no substitute for using a drummer. I feel you can also end up stuck in the same tempo. The fills a drummer puts in or different than what a guitar player thinks a drummer would do. You can change tempo and timing with a real drummer instantly, it just all sounds and feels more natural and how it was meant to be. I find by the time you have programmed your sequencer to do this you have lost the will to live. I wasn't suggesting that your samples were weak it's the lack of movement in between passages that a drummer would have pushed or embellished .Take the opening title track, there's some great guitar moments and changes but very little in the way of drums, it's very much the same drum pattern . I would argue that it would have been more interesting and dynamic with a real drummer but maybe you will say it's all about the guitar anyway?


I would disagree about the drums being too basic, but as I said earlier, sampled drums cannot compete at all with the real thing. I didn't just input a basic rhythm and hit the quantize key though, I programmed the drums in measurements of two bars so there were plenty of variations to choose from in the track. Even a 'real' drummer repeats drum patterns on a piece of music. And as you rightly say, a guitarist can't write a drum fill as good as a drummer would. I would always prefer real drums over a machine. I think that the drums on Entranced work fine, and they fit the overall mood and style of the album. Yes, it would have probably been better with real drums, but at the time, the sequencer route was the best way to go.


The same argument can also be had with keyboards. Can a keyboard really compete with a real orchestra? Or a real grand piano? Whilst some keyboard samples are very impressive, the 'human touch' has yet to be perfected in technology.


You have already showed your talent as a guitar player with your previous releases. Wasn't it time to do a Milan Polak and record a vocal album?


In a word, no. I don't class myself as a vocalist and I have no desire whatsoever to sing. I'm known purely for my guitar playing and music and happy with that. The vocal thing is a modern phenomena, people seem to think that vocals should be on everything in order to be more commercial or interesting to people who need to focus on words rather than music. I think instrumental music should remain instrumental.


Ok let me come back in here. I wasn't meaning why don't you sing I was thinking about you doing an album using a vocalist. Take what Paul Gilbert did with a fantastic band called Mr Big. I would have thought something like that would appeal to you?


That would depend. I don't listen to a lot of vocal based bands as I've always preferred instrumental music. I think Paul Gilbert is a wonderful guitarist and musician, and I much prefer his solo material (instrumental and vocal) over anything he did with Mr. Big. A vocalist who I think is outstanding is Devin Townsend. The material he's recorded with Devin Townsend Band is phenomenal. Albums like 'Infinity' and 'Terria' are prime examples. And, there are hardly any guitar solos!
So yes, under the right circumstances and with the right musicians, a vocal band would appeal to me. The problem (as always) would be in finding a singer!


There's a constant use of arpeggios and picking that is regarded as very 80's style rock. Why did you feel the need to incorporate this into a modern release?


I don't think it's very 80's at all. I'm mostly influenced by Al Di Meola who I discovered at an early age during the 70's. Fast picking on the guitar has been around for a very long time, Django Reinhardt was playing fast scales in the 1930's. I think the 80's saw a lot of sudden 'neo-classical' players modeled on Yngwie Malmsteen, and they probably turned people off anything containing fast picking due to their monotonous use of the technique. I think that Malmsteen popularized the technique in the rock genre during that decade so it's become associated with it amongst rock fans.


Alternate and sweep-picking are part and parcel of my style. I've been playing the guitar since the age of four and began alternate-picking at around the age of 10 or 11 after hearing Reinhardt and Di Meola. It was roughly during this time I also began experimenting with arpeggios as I was aware at an early age of specific classical composers.


Personally I think whammy-bars and tapping are very 80's but still part of current players' styles; Joe Satriani and Steve Vai spring to mind amongst others. Floyd Rose whammy bars were the big thing in the 80's. With regard to the tapping technique, I think that although Edward Van Halen was probably the first to record it in such a groundbreaking way on 1978's 'Van Halen' album, it became universally recognized during the 80's, unlike the picking techniques mentioned and recorded during previous decades.


I suppose you create a fan base where the fans expect a certain style and sound and it's hard to move on without disappointing them?


Not at all, my sound and playing has evolved since the time I began playing. Entranced is very different to The Magician but my fans like both albums. I plan on recording an all-acoustic album soon, and I'd like to think that my fans will enjoy that just as much. I've never been one to play to others' 'expectations', that would be insincere and ultimately show in my music. In order for me to create music, I have to be happy with what I'm doing.


Tell us about your plans for the MidnightCafe label?


MidnightCafe Music is a new independent record label I've set up. As well as releasing all my music, we plan on adding other artists to the label from all different musical genres. I would like to make it quite clear that the label isn't solely for guitar instrumental music. At the moment, we're open to submissions from bands and artists who would like to have their original (no cover versions) material considered for release. Full details are available on our website
www.midnightcafemusic.com


Have you got the facilities to record live drums at your studio?


Yes I have, but it's more practical to use a local studio with a great drum room and then transfer the music files to the MidnightCafe. My next project Somewhere at the MidnightCafe will feature 'real' drums and will be recorded this way.


What type of artiste are you hoping to attract to the studio?


MidnightCafe Studios is available to anyone for mixing and mastering. The recording facilities are only for my music and projects. We offer a number of services, catering for both the amateur and professional, details of which can be found on the
studio's website. We also create soundtracks for film and TV, examples can be found in the 'Midnight Gallery' on the site.


If you are working with producing other artistes won't this mean your own music will suffer? Or are you also wanting to be recognized a good producer?


Not really, as my involvement would be at the end of the recording with the mixing and mastering. If a band/artist specifically wanted me to produce them during the recording phase then that would be arranged between my own projects' schedule.

I've never really thought about producer recognition. Quite often, producers are overrated and given more credit than they really deserve. Good producers are few and far between, simply mixing an album isn't 'producing' in my book. After all, it's the artists who come up with the goods…


I totally agree with you to a point, a solo artiste writing instrumental material the way you do is very much in control anyway. A producer would offer an unbiased opinion maybe say, did you really need to come back and sweep pick all over the ending of this melodic offering when you have already shown your speed on tracks A, B and C? He would have challenged you on the drums, He may have heard things you have missed etc but if he would have been able to actually really improve on what you have achieved on your own for his slice of the royalties would be dependant on the final outcome. Bands however are a different kettle of fish and a good producer can really prevent band members from killing each other.


I hear and understand what you're saying Dez, but I prefer to produce my own music for a number of reasons. I don't use a technique purely to show what I'm capable of, I listen to the overall piece of music and play what I think fits. I admit that I used to when I was younger, but as I've matured, so have my musical goals. If I think an ending should have sweep-picked arpeggios then I'll add them, similarly, if I think an ending should be atmospheric and have less guitar, then I'll record it that way.

I think that as far as solo instrumental music goes, a producer isn't always necessary. Bands can be a little different though; producers are often employed purely to keep the members sober and keep the album on target and budget, and as you've already mentioned, to prevent wars…!!


If we all listened to producers, our art wouldn't really be ours. Dirty Harry once summed it all up in a movie and said: "opinions are like assholes… everyone's got one".


If you were to produce a band what qualities would you be looking for especially if they were unsigned?


Originality and ability. I'm sick of hearing bands who all sound the same, the pop and nu-metal genres produce a lot of these. I'm neither a big fan of cover versions. We currently live in an artistic climate of copies. The movie industry is doing the same, making stupid remakes of already great movies. Originality and creativity are essential in the arts.


Milan Polak was talking about you guys doing an acoustic album together. Are you any nearer a date for this project? Will you initially record it separately sending files down the net or just get together from scratch?


Due to our current schedules, it's unlikely we'll record the acoustic project in the foreseeable future. The original plan was to demo the tracks by sending files to and from, but we would have recorded the final versions together in either Milan's studio or mine.


What are you doing in terms of promotion for this album? Do you intend to do some live shows?


Yes, the band is eager to get going! I'll announce show dates as and when on my website.


Once again how can the fans purchase your new Entranced album? Is it available to buy as a download?


Yes, Entranced is available as a CD or high-quality MP3 download. It can be purchased from the
store.


Mario Parga should be writing music for film and Television. His music should be appreciated by a much wider audience than just the lovers of good shred guitar. He's definitely got the talent and the business accruement to run his own label, whether he has the financial clout and the marketing recourses to get this album to the masses we shall have to wait and see. If there are any European publishers reading this then we suggest you grab Mario Parga by the guitar neck he will be attached to and get his signature on a contract. The USA is a big market for Mario and he's seriously considering a move but whereever he resides, the ever improving Mario Parga is a musician we will always be interested to hear from.

Check out the Entranced album especially 'Haunted' and 'Farewell'. We think many of you will be pleasantly surprised.


Interview by the Bailey Brothers


(c) 2007 RockUnited.com


Parga later went on to work with the likes of Cozy Powell, Tony Martin and Graham Bonnet to name but a few rock icons. He has a new album titled Entranced available on his newly formed MidnightCafe Music label. Mario Parga is living proof that 'Shred's Not Dead'.

________________________________________________________


Mario, there are so many instrumental albums available at the moment, what's going to make Entranced stand out from the pack?

Well, hopefully the compositions and overall sound/production. Yes, there are a lot of instrumental albums out there, but other than fast licks, these albums contain little else… Some of the 'new breed' of shredders sadly appear to have ignored fundamental basics such as melody, harmony, vibrato, and rhythm. Their main concern seems to be with how many notes per second they can achieve. A lot of them can alternate-pick a scale at speed, but are incapable of playing a decent rhythm or writing a memorable melody.

You have done everything on this album, played all instruments, produced, mixed, mastered and then released it on your own label. Why?

Purely out of ease and being able to work on recordings at any time of the day and night since I have my own recording facilities, MidnightCafe Studios. It meant that I could spend quality time on the recording and settings, keyboard patches, arrangements, orchestration, reverb programs, mixing, mastering etc. without having to watch the clock or comply with budgets. I also did the cover art.


My reason for releasing Entranced on my new label MidnightCafe Music made sense from a business point of view as well as being practical. The internet has made a lot of previously inaccessible things very accessible, such as world wide advertising, promotion and sales. It also meant that I was in control of my own product and its future. Having been in the instrumental guitar world for twenty years gave me enough insight into marketing a guitar album.

I'm sure someone like Lion Music would have released it in Europe. Why didn't you approach another label?

Lasse from Lion Music and I know each other from the Lion release of Warmth in the Wilderness II (Tribute to Jason Becker) where I donated the track 'Hourglass'. Lion Music are a great label and are helping to introduce guitar music and other non-commercial music to many new listeners, but I'd always thought about creating my own label and the timing worked out well for me.

Do you think a lot of musicians will become self contained in this way releasing albums via the web?


That would depend on a number of factors. Anyone can record an album, just as anyone can get a CD pressed. There's more to releasing your own album than just selling it via a website. It helps if the artist is known and established, I think a totally unknown musician would probably struggle.


How did you approach the writing of this album in terms of the style of playing you wanted to capture?


The tunes on Entranced were written over a long period of time, some not in their entirety, but in parts. The title track 'Entranced' was mostly written in 1993, when I was putting together a band project called 'Savage Paradise'. I recorded a demo version of it (without the verse and chorus melodies) in '93 as it was originally going to be a vocal based track. I finished writing it as a full instrumental track in 2005 and re-recorded it at MidnightCafe Studios.


The remainder of the material was written on and off between 1995 and 2005. For most of this time, I had little involvement with the music industry as I'd gotten sick of it and the non-musical people who often control it. I also saw some very hard and sad times during this period and Entranced often reflects this in tracks such as 'Haunted', 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell'.

My playing style and overall sound has changed considerably over the years. We all mature as musicians and things I once liked when I was in my early twenties no longer appeal to me at the age of 37. My early demos and recordings were often rushed and recorded with little preparation. I'd simply turn up at a studio, plug into an amp and start recording. The Magician (President Records, 1991) was recorded in a matter of days, and features what I now regard as an unacceptable guitar tone. My sound these days is more musical and has more depth. In terms of guitar tone, I no longer play with a harsh distortion; I prefer a cleaner and 'thicker' sound. I also use reverb differently for big, open hall effects and keyboards are now used to add depth to my recordings.


You say you recorded these songs over a period of time and you have changed your sound especially the tone. You have done really well to make the album sound as though the songs were recorded at the same time, how did you manage to achieve this?


I wrote the tracks over a long period of time, the recordings took place over a period of approximately two years or so. I'd already gotten the guitar settings I wanted, so it was relatively easy to achieve a consistency throughout the album. The hard part was getting the initial overall sound of all the instruments.


My electric guitar tone changed during the mid 90's, I just wanted a cleaner and fatter tone. I achieved this by turning down the presence and using less distortion.


Let's discuss some of the songs on the album and maybe you can talk us through the recording process and explain some of the guitar playing techniques you used.


As far as guitar technique goes, my playing style is predominantly based around alternate-picking, sweep-picking, string bending and vibrato. I play a lot of emotive slower things, and I incorporate technique with melody. My sound these days is cleaner than it used to be, and my big reverb sound is all part of it. I get fan mail from around the world, and the reverbs and guitar tone are often mentioned.


With regard to the recording, I use more or less the same settings for everything. This way I can record with a consistency throughout a project and create the 'Mario Parga' sound on every recording without having to start afresh with the settings.
I use a variety of software that I'm familiar with (including sequencers for drums) and reverbs with modified settings to suit my sound. I use two amps, a 100 watt stack and a small 30 watt combo for variety (Entranced was recorded entirely with the combo). For recording purposes I have two electric guitars, a nylon strung electro-acoustic and a steel strung electro-acoustic. I have a no-name bass guitar. I have a synth-workstation with a vast patch library and additional tone generators. At the moment, I don't endorse any musical equipment so I'm not going to mention brand names. If they wish to endorse me then I'll tell all...! :-)


There's a lot of nice pivoting and string skipping techniques on the song Journey. How did you approach this song?


Thank you :-) 'The Journey' was one of nine pieces I wrote for solo electric guitar. 'Valse Diabolique' (The Alchemists, 2001) was originally one of these nine solos. (I plan on releasing 9 Solos for Electric Guitar later on this year). It consists of a ballad-like intro, then a melody based around a D minor arpeggio, with a sweep-picked arpeggio middle and an alternate-picked ending. It's a short little piece, inspired by some of the short violin compositions of both the baroque and romantic periods within classical music.


How do you decide where to go next with an instrumental arrangement as it's not like a vocal song where you need to follow verses, bridges and chorus etc?


This is exactly why I prefer instrumental music! Vocal music to a certain degree demands the usual formula of verse, bridge, chorus (as at times does some instrumental music). But with an all-instrumental composition, anything's really possible as long as it remains melodic and musically interesting. I usually don't decide in advance how I'll write a particular piece, I just go with the overall sound and follow my instinct. The main instrument in an instrumental composition becomes the 'voice' and if played with mastery can convey any emotion the musician wishes without having to explain the song with lyrics.


'Haunted' is another cool song. It starts with a nice chord progression picking out single notes and then you bring in some really melodic slow playing. Would you describe the sound as classical?


Thank you, I'm pleased you like it. 'Haunted' is a very melancholic piece of music written at a pivotal period of my life. It's not about anything 'haunted' in the supernatural sense, it's about memories, and how they often haunt us. Some memories are good, some bad, and some are very sad. It's mostly keyboard based with walls of keyboard pads and a piano, the guitar plays the melody lines until the solo piano ending. It could be described as 'neo-classical' but not the 'neo-classical' people associate with the 'shred' genre. 'Mirage' is another example of this
.


I find the concept of being able to release your personal emotions instrumentally using musical instruments fascinating. I find it very therapeutic being able to write songs but I can use lyrics to tell the story. I guess this goes way back to the silent films when music would set the scenes but even then there was writing on the screen (or so my mother says)
.


A musical instrument can convey just about any emotion. Some of the most beautiful music ever written is instrumental with a specific instrument as the main 'voice'. I listen to a lot of film soundtrack music, and as well as fitting the particular scenes they were written for, soundtracks often convey the intended emotion without the need of the visual counterpart.


All the tracks on Entranced are full of emotion and all have a particular meaning to me. Perhaps the most relevant to your question are 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell', both very personal to me and written during particularly sad times.


I'm going to have to get a few personal opinions over whilst we are talking about the album as I would like to give you the opportunity to respond.


Ok. It's always interesting to hear others' opinions.


The album, for me, loses some energy and dynamics without a drummer. Is this a fair analysis?


It depends on what you expect from the album and what you're listening for. I agree that sampled drums cannot compete at all with a real drummer, but these days samples and sequencers can create pretty good sounding drum kits unlike the awful programs of the 80's! I didn't use any pre-set drum patterns, I quite literally loaded individual real drum samples (kick, snare, cymbals, etc.) into my sequencer and programmed every pattern myself. Considering I'm not a drummer, I think I did an ok job! :-)


With all due respect I thought the drums were too basic and plod plod. I also use sequencers to write. It's so fast, just set left and right locaters, hit the record button and bang in a drum beat . You can quantize it if you are slightly out of time and it's great for writing and doing demos . I also have some amazing drum samples but there's no substitute for using a drummer. I feel you can also end up stuck in the same tempo. The fills a drummer puts in or different than what a guitar player thinks a drummer would do. You can change tempo and timing with a real drummer instantly, it just all sounds and feels more natural and how it was meant to be. I find by the time you have programmed your sequencer to do this you have lost the will to live. I wasn't suggesting that your samples were weak it's the lack of movement in between passages that a drummer would have pushed or embellished .Take the opening title track, there's some great guitar moments and changes but very little in the way of drums, it's very much the same drum pattern . I would argue that it would have been more interesting and dynamic with a real drummer but maybe you will say it's all about the guitar anyway?


I would disagree about the drums being too basic, but as I said earlier, sampled drums cannot compete at all with the real thing. I didn't just input a basic rhythm and hit the quantize key though, I programmed the drums in measurements of two bars so there were plenty of variations to choose from in the track. Even a 'real' drummer repeats drum patterns on a piece of music. And as you rightly say, a guitarist can't write a drum fill as good as a drummer would. I would always prefer real drums over a machine. I think that the drums on Entranced work fine, and they fit the overall mood and style of the album. Yes, it would have probably been better with real drums, but at the time, the sequencer route was the best way to go.


The same argument can also be had with keyboards. Can a keyboard really compete with a real orchestra? Or a real grand piano? Whilst some keyboard samples are very impressive, the 'human touch' has yet to be perfected in technology.


You have already showed your talent as a guitar player with your previous releases. Wasn't it time to do a Milan Polak and record a vocal album?


In a word, no. I don't class myself as a vocalist and I have no desire whatsoever to sing. I'm known purely for my guitar playing and music and happy with that. The vocal thing is a modern phenomena, people seem to think that vocals should be on everything in order to be more commercial or interesting to people who need to focus on words rather than music. I think instrumental music should remain instrumental.


Ok let me come back in here. I wasn't meaning why don't you sing I was thinking about you doing an album using a vocalist. Take what Paul Gilbert did with a fantastic band called Mr Big. I would have thought something like that would appeal to you?


That would depend. I don't listen to a lot of vocal based bands as I've always preferred instrumental music. I think Paul Gilbert is a wonderful guitarist and musician, and I much prefer his solo material (instrumental and vocal) over anything he did with Mr. Big. A vocalist who I think is outstanding is Devin Townsend. The material he's recorded with Devin Townsend Band is phenomenal. Albums like 'Infinity' and 'Terria' are prime examples. And, there are hardly any guitar solos!
So yes, under the right circumstances and with the right musicians, a vocal band would appeal to me. The problem (as always) would be in finding a singer!


There's a constant use of arpeggios and picking that is regarded as very 80's style rock. Why did you feel the need to incorporate this into a modern release?


I don't think it's very 80's at all. I'm mostly influenced by Al Di Meola who I discovered at an early age during the 70's. Fast picking on the guitar has been around for a very long time, Django Reinhardt was playing fast scales in the 1930's. I think the 80's saw a lot of sudden 'neo-classical' players modeled on Yngwie Malmsteen, and they probably turned people off anything containing fast picking due to their monotonous use of the technique. I think that Malmsteen popularized the technique in the rock genre during that decade so it's become associated with it amongst rock fans.


Alternate and sweep-picking are part and parcel of my style. I've been playing the guitar since the age of four and began alternate-picking at around the age of 10 or 11 after hearing Reinhardt and Di Meola. It was roughly during this time I also began experimenting with arpeggios as I was aware at an early age of specific classical composers.


Personally I think whammy-bars and tapping are very 80's but still part of current players' styles; Joe Satriani and Steve Vai spring to mind amongst others. Floyd Rose whammy bars were the big thing in the 80's. With regard to the tapping technique, I think that although Edward Van Halen was probably the first to record it in such a groundbreaking way on 1978's 'Van Halen' album, it became universally recognized during the 80's, unlike the picking techniques mentioned and recorded during previous decades.


I suppose you create a fan base where the fans expect a certain style and sound and it's hard to move on without disappointing them?


Not at all, my sound and playing has evolved since the time I began playing. Entranced is very different to The Magician but my fans like both albums. I plan on recording an all-acoustic album soon, and I'd like to think that my fans will enjoy that just as much. I've never been one to play to others' 'expectations', that would be insincere and ultimately show in my music. In order for me to create music, I have to be happy with what I'm doing.


Tell us about your plans for the MidnightCafe label?


MidnightCafe Music is a new independent record label I've set up. As well as releasing all my music, we plan on adding other artists to the label from all different musical genres. I would like to make it quite clear that the label isn't solely for guitar instrumental music. At the moment, we're open to submissions from bands and artists who would like to have their original (no cover versions) material considered for release. Full details are available on our website
www.midnightcafemusic.com


Have you got the facilities to record live drums at your studio?


Yes I have, but it's more practical to use a local studio with a great drum room and then transfer the music files to the MidnightCafe. My next project Somewhere at the MidnightCafe will feature 'real' drums and will be recorded this way.


What type of artiste are you hoping to attract to the studio?


MidnightCafe Studios is available to anyone for mixing and mastering. The recording facilities are only for my music and projects. We offer a number of services, catering for both the amateur and professional, details of which can be found on the
studio's website. We also create soundtracks for film and TV, examples can be found in the 'Midnight Gallery' on the site.


If you are working with producing other artistes won't this mean your own music will suffer? Or are you also wanting to be recognized a good producer?


Not really, as my involvement would be at the end of the recording with the mixing and mastering. If a band/artist specifically wanted me to produce them during the recording phase then that would be arranged between my own projects' schedule.

I've never really thought about producer recognition. Quite often, producers are overrated and given more credit than they really deserve. Good producers are few and far between, simply mixing an album isn't 'producing' in my book. After all, it's the artists who come up with the goods…


I totally agree with you to a point, a solo artiste writing instrumental material the way you do is very much in control anyway. A producer would offer an unbiased opinion maybe say, did you really need to come back and sweep pick all over the ending of this melodic offering when you have already shown your speed on tracks A, B and C? He would have challenged you on the drums, He may have heard things you have missed etc but if he would have been able to actually really improve on what you have achieved on your own for his slice of the royalties would be dependant on the final outcome. Bands however are a different kettle of fish and a good producer can really prevent band members from killing each other.


I hear and understand what you're saying Dez, but I prefer to produce my own music for a number of reasons. I don't use a technique purely to show what I'm capable of, I listen to the overall piece of music and play what I think fits. I admit that I used to when I was younger, but as I've matured, so have my musical goals. If I think an ending should have sweep-picked arpeggios then I'll add them, similarly, if I think an ending should be atmospheric and have less guitar, then I'll record it that way.

I think that as far as solo instrumental music goes, a producer isn't always necessary. Bands can be a little different though; producers are often employed purely to keep the members sober and keep the album on target and budget, and as you've already mentioned, to prevent wars…!!


If we all listened to producers, our art wouldn't really be ours. Dirty Harry once summed it all up in a movie and said: "opinions are like assholes… everyone's got one".


If you were to produce a band what qualities would you be looking for especially if they were unsigned?


Originality and ability. I'm sick of hearing bands who all sound the same, the pop and nu-metal genres produce a lot of these. I'm neither a big fan of cover versions. We currently live in an artistic climate of copies. The movie industry is doing the same, making stupid remakes of already great movies. Originality and creativity are essential in the arts.


Milan Polak was talking about you guys doing an acoustic album together. Are you any nearer a date for this project? Will you initially record it separately sending files down the net or just get together from scratch?


Due to our current schedules, it's unlikely we'll record the acoustic project in the foreseeable future. The original plan was to demo the tracks by sending files to and from, but we would have recorded the final versions together in either Milan's studio or mine.


What are you doing in terms of promotion for this album? Do you intend to do some live shows?


Yes, the band is eager to get going! I'll announce show dates as and when on my website.


Once again how can the fans purchase your new Entranced album? Is it available to buy as a download?


Yes, Entranced is available as a CD or high-quality MP3 download. It can be purchased from the
store.


Mario Parga should be writing music for film and Television. His music should be appreciated by a much wider audience than just the lovers of good shred guitar. He's definitely got the talent and the business accruement to run his own label, whether he has the financial clout and the marketing recourses to get this album to the masses we shall have to wait and see. If there are any European publishers reading this then we suggest you grab Mario Parga by the guitar neck he will be attached to and get his signature on a contract. The USA is a big market for Mario and he's seriously considering a move but whereever he resides, the ever improving Mario Parga is a musician we will always be interested to hear from.

Check out the Entranced album especially 'Haunted' and 'Farewell'. We think many of you will be pleasantly surprised.


Interview by the Bailey Brothers


(c) 2007 RockUnited.com


Parga later went on to work with the likes of Cozy Powell, Tony Martin and Graham Bonnet to name but a few rock icons. He has a new album titled Entranced available on his newly formed MidnightCafe Music label. Mario Parga is living proof that 'Shred's Not Dead'.

________________________________________________________


Mario, there are so many instrumental albums available at the moment, what's going to make Entranced stand out from the pack?

Well, hopefully the compositions and overall sound/production. Yes, there are a lot of instrumental albums out there, but other than fast licks, these albums contain little else… Some of the 'new breed' of shredders sadly appear to have ignored fundamental basics such as melody, harmony, vibrato, and rhythm. Their main concern seems to be with how many notes per second they can achieve. A lot of them can alternate-pick a scale at speed, but are incapable of playing a decent rhythm or writing a memorable melody.

You have done everything on this album, played all instruments, produced, mixed, mastered and then released it on your own label. Why?

Purely out of ease and being able to work on recordings at any time of the day and night since I have my own recording facilities, MidnightCafe Studios. It meant that I could spend quality time on the recording and settings, keyboard patches, arrangements, orchestration, reverb programs, mixing, mastering etc. without having to watch the clock or comply with budgets. I also did the cover art.


My reason for releasing Entranced on my new label MidnightCafe Music made sense from a business point of view as well as being practical. The internet has made a lot of previously inaccessible things very accessible, such as world wide advertising, promotion and sales. It also meant that I was in control of my own product and its future. Having been in the instrumental guitar world for twenty years gave me enough insight into marketing a guitar album.

I'm sure someone like Lion Music would have released it in Europe. Why didn't you approach another label?

Lasse from Lion Music and I know each other from the Lion release of Warmth in the Wilderness II (Tribute to Jason Becker) where I donated the track 'Hourglass'. Lion Music are a great label and are helping to introduce guitar music and other non-commercial music to many new listeners, but I'd always thought about creating my own label and the timing worked out well for me.

Do you think a lot of musicians will become self contained in this way releasing albums via the web?


That would depend on a number of factors. Anyone can record an album, just as anyone can get a CD pressed. There's more to releasing your own album than just selling it via a website. It helps if the artist is known and established, I think a totally unknown musician would probably struggle.


How did you approach the writing of this album in terms of the style of playing you wanted to capture?


The tunes on Entranced were written over a long period of time, some not in their entirety, but in parts. The title track 'Entranced' was mostly written in 1993, when I was putting together a band project called 'Savage Paradise'. I recorded a demo version of it (without the verse and chorus melodies) in '93 as it was originally going to be a vocal based track. I finished writing it as a full instrumental track in 2005 and re-recorded it at MidnightCafe Studios.


The remainder of the material was written on and off between 1995 and 2005. For most of this time, I had little involvement with the music industry as I'd gotten sick of it and the non-musical people who often control it. I also saw some very hard and sad times during this period and Entranced often reflects this in tracks such as 'Haunted', 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell'.

My playing style and overall sound has changed considerably over the years. We all mature as musicians and things I once liked when I was in my early twenties no longer appeal to me at the age of 37. My early demos and recordings were often rushed and recorded with little preparation. I'd simply turn up at a studio, plug into an amp and start recording. The Magician (President Records, 1991) was recorded in a matter of days, and features what I now regard as an unacceptable guitar tone. My sound these days is more musical and has more depth. In terms of guitar tone, I no longer play with a harsh distortion; I prefer a cleaner and 'thicker' sound. I also use reverb differently for big, open hall effects and keyboards are now used to add depth to my recordings.


You say you recorded these songs over a period of time and you have changed your sound especially the tone. You have done really well to make the album sound as though the songs were recorded at the same time, how did you manage to achieve this?


I wrote the tracks over a long period of time, the recordings took place over a period of approximately two years or so. I'd already gotten the guitar settings I wanted, so it was relatively easy to achieve a consistency throughout the album. The hard part was getting the initial overall sound of all the instruments.


My electric guitar tone changed during the mid 90's, I just wanted a cleaner and fatter tone. I achieved this by turning down the presence and using less distortion.


Let's discuss some of the songs on the album and maybe you can talk us through the recording process and explain some of the guitar playing techniques you used.


As far as guitar technique goes, my playing style is predominantly based around alternate-picking, sweep-picking, string bending and vibrato. I play a lot of emotive slower things, and I incorporate technique with melody. My sound these days is cleaner than it used to be, and my big reverb sound is all part of it. I get fan mail from around the world, and the reverbs and guitar tone are often mentioned.


With regard to the recording, I use more or less the same settings for everything. This way I can record with a consistency throughout a project and create the 'Mario Parga' sound on every recording without having to start afresh with the settings.
I use a variety of software that I'm familiar with (including sequencers for drums) and reverbs with modified settings to suit my sound. I use two amps, a 100 watt stack and a small 30 watt combo for variety (Entranced was recorded entirely with the combo). For recording purposes I have two electric guitars, a nylon strung electro-acoustic and a steel strung electro-acoustic. I have a no-name bass guitar. I have a synth-workstation with a vast patch library and additional tone generators. At the moment, I don't endorse any musical equipment so I'm not going to mention brand names. If they wish to endorse me then I'll tell all...! :-)


There's a lot of nice pivoting and string skipping techniques on the song Journey. How did you approach this song?


Thank you :-) 'The Journey' was one of nine pieces I wrote for solo electric guitar. 'Valse Diabolique' (The Alchemists, 2001) was originally one of these nine solos. (I plan on releasing 9 Solos for Electric Guitar later on this year). It consists of a ballad-like intro, then a melody based around a D minor arpeggio, with a sweep-picked arpeggio middle and an alternate-picked ending. It's a short little piece, inspired by some of the short violin compositions of both the baroque and romantic periods within classical music.


How do you decide where to go next with an instrumental arrangement as it's not like a vocal song where you need to follow verses, bridges and chorus etc?


This is exactly why I prefer instrumental music! Vocal music to a certain degree demands the usual formula of verse, bridge, chorus (as at times does some instrumental music). But with an all-instrumental composition, anything's really possible as long as it remains melodic and musically interesting. I usually don't decide in advance how I'll write a particular piece, I just go with the overall sound and follow my instinct. The main instrument in an instrumental composition becomes the 'voice' and if played with mastery can convey any emotion the musician wishes without having to explain the song with lyrics.


'Haunted' is another cool song. It starts with a nice chord progression picking out single notes and then you bring in some really melodic slow playing. Would you describe the sound as classical?


Thank you, I'm pleased you like it. 'Haunted' is a very melancholic piece of music written at a pivotal period of my life. It's not about anything 'haunted' in the supernatural sense, it's about memories, and how they often haunt us. Some memories are good, some bad, and some are very sad. It's mostly keyboard based with walls of keyboard pads and a piano, the guitar plays the melody lines until the solo piano ending. It could be described as 'neo-classical' but not the 'neo-classical' people associate with the 'shred' genre. 'Mirage' is another example of this
.


I find the concept of being able to release your personal emotions instrumentally using musical instruments fascinating. I find it very therapeutic being able to write songs but I can use lyrics to tell the story. I guess this goes way back to the silent films when music would set the scenes but even then there was writing on the screen (or so my mother says)
.


A musical instrument can convey just about any emotion. Some of the most beautiful music ever written is instrumental with a specific instrument as the main 'voice'. I listen to a lot of film soundtrack music, and as well as fitting the particular scenes they were written for, soundtracks often convey the intended emotion without the need of the visual counterpart.


All the tracks on Entranced are full of emotion and all have a particular meaning to me. Perhaps the most relevant to your question are 'Spirit of Night' and 'Farewell', both very personal to me and written during particularly sad times.


I'm going to have to get a few personal opinions over whilst we are talking about the album as I would like to give you the opportunity to respond.


Ok. It's always interesting to hear others' opinions.


The album, for me, loses some energy and dynamics without a drummer. Is this a fair analysis?


It depends on what you expect from the album and what you're listening for. I agree that sampled drums cannot compete at all with a real drummer, but these days samples and sequencers can create pretty good sounding drum kits unlike the awful programs of the 80's! I didn't use any pre-set drum patterns, I quite literally loaded individual real drum samples (kick, snare, cymbals, etc.) into my sequencer and programmed every pattern myself. Considering I'm not a drummer, I think I did an ok job! :-)


With all due respect I thought the drums were too basic and plod plod. I also use sequencers to write. It's so fast, just set left and right locaters, hit the record button and bang in a drum beat . You can quantize it if you are slightly out of time and it's great for writing and doing demos . I also have some amazing drum samples but there's no substitute for using a drummer. I feel you can also end up stuck in the same tempo. The fills a drummer puts in or different than what a guitar player thinks a drummer would do. You can change tempo and timing with a real drummer instantly, it just all sounds and feels more natural and how it was meant to be. I find by the time you have programmed your sequencer to do this you have lost the will to live. I wasn't suggesting that your samples were weak it's the lack of movement in between passages that a drummer would have pushed or embellished .Take the opening title track, there's some great guitar moments and changes but very little in the way of drums, it's very much the same drum pattern . I would argue that it would have been more interesting and dynamic with a real drummer but maybe you will say it's all about the guitar anyway?


I would disagree about the drums being too basic, but as I said earlier, sampled drums cannot compete at all with the real thing. I didn't just input a basic rhythm and hit the quantize key though, I programmed the drums in measurements of two bars so there were plenty of variations to choose from in the track. Even a 'real' drummer repeats drum patterns on a piece of music. And as you rightly say, a guitarist can't write a drum fill as good as a drummer would. I would always prefer real drums over a machine. I think that the drums on Entranced work fine, and they fit the overall mood and style of the album. Yes, it would have probably been better with real drums, but at the time, the sequencer route was the best way to go.


The same argument can also be had with keyboards. Can a keyboard really compete with a real orchestra? Or a real grand piano? Whilst some keyboard samples are very impressive, the 'human touch' has yet to be perfected in technology.


You have already showed your talent as a guitar player with your previous releases. Wasn't it time to do a Milan Polak and record a vocal album?


In a word, no. I don't class myself as a vocalist and I have no desire whatsoever to sing. I'm known purely for my guitar playing and music and happy with that. The vocal thing is a modern phenomena, people seem to think that vocals should be on everything in order to be more commercial or interesting to people who need to focus on words rather than music. I think instrumental music should remain instrumental.


Ok let me come back in here. I wasn't meaning why don't you sing I was thinking about you doing an album using a vocalist. Take what Paul Gilbert did with a fantastic band called Mr Big. I would have thought something like that would appeal to you?


That would depend. I don't listen to a lot of vocal based bands as I've always preferred instrumental music. I think Paul Gilbert is a wonderful guitarist and musician, and I much prefer his solo material (instrumental and vocal) over anything he did with Mr. Big. A vocalist who I think is outstanding is Devin Townsend. The material he's recorded with Devin Townsend Band is phenomenal. Albums like 'Infinity' and 'Terria' are prime examples. And, there are hardly any guitar solos!
So yes, under the right circumstances and with the right musicians, a vocal band would appeal to me. The problem (as always) would be in finding a singer!


There's a constant use of arpeggios and picking that is regarded as very 80's style rock. Why did you feel the need to incorporate this into a modern release?


I don't think it's very 80's at all. I'm mostly influenced by Al Di Meola who I discovered at an early age during the 70's. Fast picking on the guitar has been around for a very long time, Django Reinhardt was playing fast scales in the 1930's. I think the 80's saw a lot of sudden 'neo-classical' players modeled on Yngwie Malmsteen, and they probably turned people off anything containing fast picking due to their monotonous use of the technique. I think that Malmsteen popularized the technique in the rock genre during that decade so it's become associated with it amongst rock fans.


Alternate and sweep-picking are part and parcel of my style. I've been playing the guitar since the age of four and began alternate-picking at around the age of 10 or 11 after hearing Reinhardt and Di Meola. It was roughly during this time I also began experimenting with arpeggios as I was aware at an early age of specific classical composers.


Personally I think whammy-bars and tapping are very 80's but still part of current players' styles; Joe Satriani and Steve Vai spring to mind amongst others. Floyd Rose whammy bars were the big thing in the 80's. With regard to the tapping technique, I think that although Edward Van Halen was probably the first to record it in such a groundbreaking way on 1978's 'Van Halen' album, it became universally recognized during the 80's, unlike the picking techniques mentioned and recorded during previous decades.


I suppose you create a fan base where the fans expect a certain style and sound and it's hard to move on without disappointing them?


Not at all, my sound and playing has evolved since the time I began playing. Entranced is very different to The Magician but my fans like both albums. I plan on recording an all-acoustic album soon, and I'd like to think that my fans will enjoy that just as much. I've never been one to play to others' 'expectations', that would be insincere and ultimately show in my music. In order for me to create music, I have to be happy with what I'm doing.


Tell us about your plans for the MidnightCafe label?


MidnightCafe Music is a new independent record label I've set up. As well as releasing all my music, we plan on adding other artists to the label from all different musical genres. I would like to make it quite clear that the label isn't solely for guitar instrumental music. At the moment, we're open to submissions from bands and artists who would like to have their original (no cover versions) material considered for release. Full details are available on our website
www.midnightcafemusic.com


Have you got the facilities to record live drums at your studio?


Yes I have, but it's more practical to use a local studio with a great drum room and then transfer the music files to the MidnightCafe. My next project Somewhere at the MidnightCafe will feature 'real' drums and will be recorded this way.


What type of artiste are you hoping to attract to the studio?


MidnightCafe Studios is available to anyone for mixing and mastering. The recording facilities are only for my music and projects. We offer a number of services, catering for both the amateur and professional, details of which can be found on the
studio's website. We also create soundtracks for film and TV, examples can be found in the 'Midnight Gallery' on the site.


If you are working with producing other artistes won't this mean your own music will suffer? Or are you also wanting to be recognized a good producer?


Not really, as my involvement would be at the end of the recording with the mixing and mastering. If a band/artist specifically wanted me to produce them during the recording phase then that would be arranged between my own projects' schedule.

I've never really thought about producer recognition. Quite often, producers are overrated and given more credit than they really deserve. Good producers are few and far between, simply mixing an album isn't 'producing' in my book. After all, it's the artists who come up with the goods…


I totally agree with you to a point, a solo artiste writing instrumental material the way you do is very much in control anyway. A producer would offer an unbiased opinion maybe say, did you really need to come back and sweep pick all over the ending of this melodic offering when you have already shown your speed on tracks A, B and C? He would have challenged you on the drums, He may have heard things you have missed etc but if he would have been able to actually really improve on what you have achieved on your own for his slice of the royalties would be dependant on the final outcome. Bands however are a different kettle of fish and a good producer can really prevent band members from killing each other.


I hear and understand what you're saying Dez, but I prefer to produce my own music for a number of reasons. I don't use a technique purely to show what I'm capable of, I listen to the overall piece of music and play what I think fits. I admit that I used to when I was younger, but as I've matured, so have my musical goals. If I think an ending should have sweep-picked arpeggios then I'll add them, similarly, if I think an ending should be atmospheric and have less guitar, then I'll record it that way.

I think that as far as solo instrumental music goes, a producer isn't always necessary. Bands can be a little different though; producers are often employed purely to keep the members sober and keep the album on target and budget, and as you've already mentioned, to prevent wars…!!


If we all listened to producers, our art wouldn't really be ours. Dirty Harry once summed it all up in a movie and said: "opinions are like assholes… everyone's got one".


If you were to produce a band what qualities would you be looking for especially if they were unsigned?


Originality and ability. I'm sick of hearing bands who all sound the same, the pop and nu-metal genres produce a lot of these. I'm neither a big fan of cover versions. We currently live in an artistic climate of copies. The movie industry is doing the same, making stupid remakes of already great movies. Originality and creativity are essential in the arts.


Milan Polak was talking about you guys doing an acoustic album together. Are you any nearer a date for this project? Will you initially record it separately sending files down the net or just get together from scratch?


Due to our current schedules, it's unlikely we'll record the acoustic project in the foreseeable future. The original plan was to demo the tracks by sending files to and from, but we would have recorded the final versions together in either Milan's studio or mine.


What are you doing in terms of promotion for this album? Do you intend to do some live shows?


Yes, the band is eager to get going! I'll announce show dates as and when on my website.


Once again how can the fans purchase your new Entranced album? Is it available to buy as a download?


Yes, Entranced is available as a CD or high-quality MP3 download. It can be purchased from the
store.


Mario Parga should be writing music for film and Television. His music should be appreciated by a much wider audience than just the lovers of good shred guitar. He's definitely got the talent and the business accruement to run his own label, whether he has the financial clout and the marketing recourses to get this album to the masses we shall have to wait and see. If there are any European publishers reading this then we suggest you grab Mario Parga by the guitar neck he will be attached to and get his signature on a contract. The USA is a big market for Mario and he's seriously considering a move but whereever he resides, the ever improving Mario Parga is a musician we will always be interested to hear from.

Check out the Entranced album especially 'Haunted' and 'Farewell'. We think many of you will be pleasantly surprised.


Interview by the Bailey Brothers


(c) 2007 RockUnited.com



All content copyright 2013 Mario Parga/MidnightCafe Music. All rights reserved.