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Guitarist Jake Dreyer On The Current State Of Instrumental Music

Posted by on July 15, 2011

While many guitarists are still practicing in their parents’ garage at 19, Jake Dreyer has already released four EPs and an album, studied under Chris Broderick (Megadeth, Jag Panzer, Nevermore) and David Shankle, and won several awards for best guitarist of the year. The guitarist has just released his first instrumental EP, In the Shadows of Madness, with assistance from Arsis’ Noah Martin on bass and former Into Eternity and Echoterra drummer Adam Sagan. Metal Insider caught up with Dreyer about the current state of instrumental guitar music and what he’s taken from studying with the masters. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from studying under guitarists like David “The Shred Demon” Shankle and Chris Broderick?

I have learned great and valuable things in the years that I have studied under these amazing players. Besides all the great licks and techniques Dave Shankle has shown me on the guitar throughout the years, one of the unique things that Dave has done for me is he’s responsible for why I have the endorsements I have with Bogner, Kahler and EMG.  In January of 2010 I attended the Winter NAMM show with Dave and he was a machine in handing out my press kit to all the various artist relations guys at those companies.

Chris Broderick really has spent a lot of time on getting my technique to where it is today. Chris basically sent me to metronome boot camp. During these lessons he was able to point out all my flaws and bad habits I had developed, and with Chris’s help I basically relearned how to alternate/sweep pick and completely changed my vibrato technique around.  These days when Chris isn’t out on the road we mainly work on a lot of theory together. Another player I take from (I know, I am a lesson whore) is an underground guitarist named Terry Syrek. Aside from all the ridiculous techniques and licks Terry has shown me. He has helped me a lot with my songwriting. Chris, Dave and Terry are all monster players, but, more importantly all three of them are really great guys and extremely cool.

You’ve won many titles and honors at such a young age. Is their one particular accomplishment that you’re most proud of?

I would say that my favorite accomplishment so far has been this EP. Just due to the fact that I had a such great time writing and recording it and all the guys that were part of it JJ Crews, Adam Sagan and Noah Martin are all awesome dudes. I am pretty proud of the final product. As far as the awards it was definitely cool to win some the guitar awards but at the same time it’s also humbling because now I feel like I have something to live up to. I remember after winning the first one the very next day I went back to my room and started practicing harder and longer.

With bands like Animals as Leaders, Scale The Summit and to a lesser degree Pelican, do you feel that instrumental metal is making a sort of comeback or is in a better place than it had been?

I think instrumental music is definitely getting a little more popular, mainly due to those bands mentioned. I have seen Animals as Leaders a few times and they are an instrumental band that can hold the attention of the crowd for quite some time. Their music is interesting enough that it doesn’t get boring after listening to a few songs.  I totally can see newer instrumental music moving more in the direction those guys have tapped into. With that said sadly I still don’t see it becoming as popular as genres that have vocals in it. I hope I am proved wrong with that theory.  I mean I would have set myself up for sheer disappointment if I recorded this EP for the sole purpose to make money by selling it. Even in the peak of the Shrapnel days instrumental guitar was still considered a very unpopular form of music. Pushing the negativity aside I think bands like AAL and Scale the Summit are doing a great job broadening  the audience of this genre of music to people rather than just musicians.

Some of the guitarists you were influenced by, like Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, had multiple albums on Shrapnel Records, a label devoted to instrumental guitar music. That seemed like  a self-contained way to find out who the latest instrumental guitarists were. Whats the best way to get noticed as an instrumental guitarist now?

That’s a great question, that I am not sure if I have the answer to. I would say that I am still trying to figure that out. Things that have helped me out on getting my name out there are various forms of press. Doing interviews like this. Getting the album reviewed by webzines and magazines. Also guitar clinics at music schools and various other places where your music can be heard are very beneficial.  Due to the internet, so many instrumental guitarists have been able to be seen and there are a ton out there. So making yourself be a little original is always a plus. Not saying that my music is original or anything like that. It sounds a lot like many other people. But, I knew going in that I wanted the project to sound like a band and have a band atmosphere. So that meant getting individual guys to play their parts and letting them put their stamp on the songs. I noticed that a lot of players who do solo instrumental records always seem to use a drum machine for whatever reason to cut a lot of their drum takes and that’s totally cool and obviously it has worked well for a lot of people. I am not ragging on it at all. I personally just prefer a real drummer to record I think in the end it makes the recording sound more natural and it gives it a little more flavor. I really give props to Adam Sagan for doing a great job on the drum tracks on this release.

Would you join an established band as a guitarist? What are your thoughts about joining a non-instrumental band?

I would love to join an established band as a guitarist. That’s one of my main goals is to do that or form or an original band with a vocalist. I love instrumental music and I enjoy what it is all about. But, like we had talked about before unfortunately it has an extremely small audience. I am definitely not married to the idea of being an instrumental guitarist for my whole life. If the right band were to come along I would be more than happy to join them!

You’ve studied under a lot of guitarists. Which current musicians inspire you?

I am influenced by so many different players that this is question is going to be a lot longer than it should be.  Some of my main influences are of course a lot of the guys from the Shrapnel label. I am still a huge fan of Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert and Greg Howe. Yngwie Malmsteen’s playing on the first Alcatrazz record as well as his first three solo albums blow me away. John Sykes has one of the most killer vibratos around. Jeff Loomis and Al Di Meola are phenomenal players. I have also recently gotten into a lot of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy Jazz.  He was incredible, and to know he was doing all of his stuff with just two fingers is scary. I am also a fan of a lot of 70’s rock bands. Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac and Brian May from Queen; the way their guitars sat within both of their bands is un-matched.

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