You might not know his name but you definitely know his music. Those people who like the fantastic voice of ex-Yngwie Malmsteen singer Michael Vescera were probably upset with various experimental projects he did after leaving the maestro. BUT Michael came back very strong with famous American guitar wizard Joe Stump, who is one of the best guitar players on the heavy metal scene in the States for now. In the past Joe released some brilliant instrumental solo albums and two Reign Of Terror discs with a different singer. Now we have the brand new album of Reign Of Terror "Conquer And Divide" (it's actually the 4th one) with Mr. Vescera on vocals again. Here are answers from Joe Stump about his whole music career. What's your date of birth?

Joe Stump: 18 September, 1960. When and how did you get into rock music?

Joe Stump: Listening to Jimi Hendrix when I was 13 or so. Was guitar your first instrument? Why did you choose guitar?

Joe Stump: Guitar was by far the coolest and I had absolutely no interest in playing anything else. Guitar was then and still is the only instrument that I play. Who were your influences when you started playing guitar?

Joe Stump: Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore with Deep Purple, Michael Schenker with U.F.O., Black Sabbath and later on I got into Al Dimeola, Gary Moore, Uli Jon Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen. Do you practice regularly?

Joe Stump: All the time, I'm always practicing or playing. Constantly working on things I'm either going to record or perform live. How the band Trash Broadway was formed? Why only one album? Why did the band split?

Joe Stump: Trash Broadway released our first album in 1989, then after some touring to support the first record we wrote and demoed up all of the material for our second release. The indie label we were signed to at the time (Torrid Records) were going to sell us off to a major label but it never came about. I was already doing my solo stuff while still playing with Trash Broadway and eventually the band just fizzled out. Why it took four years to release the first solo album "Guitar Dominance"?

Joe Stump: Well I was still playing with Trash Broadway up until 1991 and I finally broke away from the label we were signed to and secured my own record deal. So the whole processs took a few years by the time "Guitar Dominance" was released. Do you tour with instrumental albums?

Joe Stump: Yes I've been to Mexico, Europe, Japan and all over the States. I love to play live. How do you give names to your solo albums and tracks from them since they have no lyrics?

Joe Stump: Sometimes the track brings something to mind and other times I just come up with a cool ass title. How did you hook with Brian Sarvela, singer on first two Reign Of Terror albums?

Joe Stump: He was a singer in a local band and I thought his voice would be well-suited for the European influenced power metal stuff that I like to write. The first two Reign Of Terror albums were released in Japan on Alfa Records. All your instrumental albums were released by Bandai Music. Since both companies are out of business who owns copywrites to your albums in Japan?

Joe Stump: I believe those releases are fair game once again in Japan, perhaps my label in the States Leviathan will try to get them re-released over there. How do you compose bonus tracks from Japanese solo albums?

Joe Stump: When I compose a track I have no idea whether or not it's going to make it on to the full version of the disc or be a bonus track for some other region. However when I include a cover song (usually a Rainbow or Purple tune) those are usually ment as bonus tracks. WHow many songs do you compose for one instumental album and how many of them end on the final version?

Joe Stump: Sometimes I'll write as many as 15-20 tunes for an album. But usually only 10 to 12 make it on to the final version of the disc. Why did you name the band Reign Of Terror?

Joe Stump: Joe Stump's Reign of Terror, I thought it had a cool ring like Blackmore's Rainbow or Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force. Why covers of Reign Of Teror "The Second Coming" and solo album "Rapid Fire Rondo" were changed in various countries?

Joe Stump: It's not unusual for record companies in various parts of the world to change the artwork, especially the cover. Do you plan to re-release the first two Reign Of Teror albums in Europe?

Joe Stump: Perhaps the first one Light in the Sky, Second Coming is still available in Europe as far as I know. Why did you split with Brian Sarvela? What does he do now? Do you plan any projects in future?

Joe Stump: He had a bit of a rift with the band's manager at the time. Like all singers he's a bit high mantainence. And no I'm not planning any projects with him in the future. How did you find Michael Vescera?

Joe Stump: I met Mike while he was still singing with Yngwie. He asked me to play on his solo album and then returned the favor by singing on Sacred Ground and our working relationship grew from there. Why the Japanese version of "Sacred Ground" had two bonus tracks and the European version had different bonus tracks?

Joe Stump: Many times record labels request bonus tracks that are exclusive to their territory. Plus the European version of Sacred Ground was also the U.S. version and we thought the instrumental bonus tracks would be good for my U.S. fans that support my solo albums. Why did Reign Of Terror split up from Limb Music after just one album?

Joe Stump: Limb Music was dragging their feet as to when they could release "Conquer And Divide". Also while they did a nice job promoting "Sacred Ground" in Europe they didn't do all that much in the States to promote the record. Their North American distribution was also very poor. So I was happy to let my label in the U.S. Leviathan take it in the States and Lion Music is a very guitar oriented label so that was a nice fit for Europe. Why did you decide to record cover-versions of Rainbow "Kill The King" and "Stargazer"?

Joe Stump: It was "Kill The King" and "Starstruck". We also did "16th Century Greensleeves". I always record a Blackmore cover for each record or in this case several. Just a tip of the hat to my hero Ritchie Blackmore. His playing and composing has had a huge impact on me. Where was live version of "Crack The Whip" track from the album "Dark Gifts" recorded?

Joe Stump: At the "Channel" in Boston, a great old rock club that's since shut down. I used to play there on a somewhat regular basis. Where were live versions of "Shredding In Shuffle City" and "Psycho Shred Suite/Gtr. Cad." from the album "2001: A Shred Odyssey" recorded?

Joe Stump: From "Never On Sundays", a club in Cincinnati, Ohio. Another venue I play at pretty regularly when I'm out that way touring. Where and when was the album "Midwest Shredfest" recorded?

Joe Stump: From some different shows during a tour of the Midwest in the States. Who came with the idea to call the new Reign Of Teror album "Conquer And Divide"?

Joe Stump: That was Mike's clever play on words from the track and we thought it would make a cool album title. What kind of contribution do basist and drummer have on the new Reign Of Terror album?

Joe Stump: I write all the tunes but they do a nice job interpreting their parts and I give them a decent amount of freedom as far as adding some input into the music. But only as far as their parts go. They do a wonderful job and they're great musicians and very easy to get along with. How did you engage Mats Olausson in the album "Conquer And Divide"? Was it through Michael Vescera?

Joe Stump: He was in the States staying at Mike's place working on Mike's solo album "Animation" and it was right around the same time that I began to record "Sacred Ground". So I asked him to play keys on some of "Sacred Ground" and he was happy to do so. He`s a great musician, top notch and I feel quite fortunate to have had him on the last two Reign of Terror discs. He's ideal for this type of classically influenced music. What is the difference between the original version of "Guitar Dominance" and the new repackaged one?

Joe Stump: Some newer photos, a short bit of text from me talking about the 10 year anniversary of the record and it's remastered as well and sounds quite a bit better. Do you play any covers during shows with Reign Of Terror?

Joe Stump: Yes some Rainbow also one of Yngwie's tunes "Crash and Burn" from when Mike used to sing with him. Do you plan to release a live album with Reign Of Terror?

Joe Stump: No plans in the near future, perhaps after the next studio band release I'll consider a live record with Reign of Terror. When will the new instumental album be released?

Joe Stump: I have new one entitled "Armed And Ready" that will be out sometime in June this year.It contains an isane amount of lead guitar work and some very inspired improvised playing. I'm very pleased with the end result some ripping stuff for sure. What are your favorite composers in classical music?

Joe Stump: Bach, Vivaldi, Paganini, Beethoven, Mozart. I also like Mendelson as well. Do you have instructional videos?

Joe Stump: Yes two instructional DVDs. One is a sweep-picking DVD and the other is a technique chop-building one. Do you have any job apart from music?

Joe Stump: In addition to releasing CDs with my solo thing, Reign of Terror, touring, doing guitar clinics and my instructional material I'm also on the guitar faculty at the world reknown Berklee College of Music. Isn't it a problem to get promoted in the States since metal scene is almost dead there?

Joe Stump: It's certainly not easy but I have developed a strong, very loyal fan-base in the States and I'm extremely grateful for that. What guitars and what amps do you use?

Joe Stump: ESP custom shop Stratocaster style guitars with scallopped fretboards and DiMarzio pick-ups. As far as amps go I have a bunch of old Marshalls (early 70's 50 watters) that I use and also an Engl Ritchie Blackmore signature series head. As well as a Rhino Beast. Joe, thanks a lot for the interview! It was great talking to you!

Joe Stump: Thanks a lot! My pleasure!

Dead Ripper
(December, 2002)

Special thanks to lady Irina Solovyova from the company "CD-Maximum" and Mr. David T. Chastain from "Leviathan Music" for their enormous cooperation in making this interview a reality.

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