Jason Richardson has made a name for himself as a metal guitarist icon, playing alongside some of our favorite acts as well as dominating as a prominent solo artist. Best known for his lightning-fast and expertly complex playing techniques, Richardson delivers a style that transcends genres and sets the bar for technical guitarists everywhere. As of recently, he has captivated the progressive metal community with his 2016 solo album, I, and 2017 is looking to be just as relentless. Richardson gave some behind-the-scenes details of how he crafted his album, his time at NAMM, and some other goodies for his fans:
It Djents: First things first: What was your experience at NAMM like this year?
Jason Richardson: Pretty hectic to be completely honest! [Laughs] Not that it’s a bad thing by any means. I was never expecting to ever be this busy at a NAMM conference before. I had to play 3 times a day between two different booths this year, both Ernie Ball and JST(Joey Sturgis Tones). [It] was stressful the first day, but after we ironed out all the kinks with everything, it was a lot more fun and smooth sailing from there on out!
ID: 2017 started off with a bang at NAMM and now you’re about to embark on a tour with Polyphia and Covet as well?
JR: Yup! Played our first show to a sold out crowd in Dallas, TX last night and, despite some technical difficulties, it went really well and the reaction was way better than either Luke or myself could have anticipated! I played my guest solo on the Polyphia song “Aviator” too last night for the first time with them. [It] was a lot of fun!!!
ID: What has it been like working with Luke Holland?
JR: Awesome! He’s able to take all my drum ideas I come up with/program out and make them ten times sicker while putting his own spin on everything too! I absolutely love how all the drum parts came out on the album!
ID: Speaking of recent music, what were the influences behind your debut solo album, “I”?
JR: That’s a hard question to answer because all the songs were written over a huge span of time. I wrote “Breaking Damnation” around the age of 16 and was religiously listening to bands like Dream Theater and Children of Bodom so you can really hear that influence on that song, in my opinion. “THOT 2.0”, for instance, I started writing while I was still in Born of Osiris and finished up around 2012-2013 and that song was just meant to be the craziest stuff I could think of the whole time pretty much [laughs]. I also really enjoy listening to film scores and video game soundtracks and things like that. I don’t listen to metal too much to be honest. Very few bands in that vein catch my attention these days. I’ve been trying to branch out and get my influences from more pop type stuff recently, like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pvris… I could go on forever with the list [laughs]. I love writing metal but my listening tastes seem to drifting further from it the older I get.
ID: How did the writing/recording process for the album come about? What was your method behind piecing the puzzle together?
JR: I had about half the album already written when I decided to do the full thing. I wrote the second half in about 4 months time before going into the studio. Those songs were “OMNI”, “Hos Down”, “Mirrors”, “XV” and “Chapter II”. I intentionally left two songs unfinished going into the studio to finish writing them with Taylor Larson and Luke Holland so they could have a different feel from the rest of the album. Those songs were “Fragments” and “Tonga”.
ID: Tell us about your most recent video for the track, “Hos Down”. Between Rick Graham, Jeremy Tremp, and Holland himself, it’s quite the production feat.
JR: Thanks! The random costume changes for the ho down and jazz parts was a spur-of-the-moment idea during the shoot [laughs]. I’m really glad we rolled with the idea. I think it’s hilarious! [Laughs] Rick filmed his part on his own and sent us the footage to edit in.
ID: I also see that your most recent signature gear features the brand new ‘Toneforge’ guitar plugin. Tell us the specs, details, and tech behind the ‘Joey Sturgis Tones.’
JR: The tone was all concocted by Taylor Larson! The main rhythm tone is 3 separate layers all phase aligned. One is a Friedman Smallbox with really low gain for more note definition and pick attack. Second is another Friedman layer with mid gain. Third is a PRS Archon with high gain for the really heavy beefy part of the tone. Lead head is a Soldano head and the clean is a Tone King. All the impulses we took are ran through Taylor’s processing as well! I’m blown away by how well the plugin came out!
ID: What other updates or goodies can we expect from you as 2017 develops? Any hints or surprises?
JR: Luke and I are definitely getting more shows lined up for later in the year and I am going to be teaching at John Petrucci’s Guitar Universe camp this summer from August 7-11! Go to johnpetruccisguitaruniverse.com to find out what it’s all about! A ton of incredible guitarists are going to be there!
ID: Any other info you want to tell readers and fans?
JR: Love you guys and thanks for reading! Hopefully my signature Ernie Ball Musicman will be finished by next NAMM!
Order Jason Richardson‘s debut solo record, I, here. Catch him with Luke Holland on “The Lit AF Tour” alongside Polyphia and Covet through April 1st! Check out Jason Richardson’s Toneforge product with Joey Sturgis Tones here.