FanRoom Live is happy to present a super rockstar virtual meet and greet featuring Alex Skolnick from Testament and The Alex Skolnick Trio, on Thursday May 20th at 8:00 pm EST/5:00 pm PT.
Alex Skolnick is the cofounder and one of the songwriters as well as the lead guitarist of the thrash metal band Testament. He also has the jazz band called The Alex Skolnick Trio and has played with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the heavy-metal super group Metal Allegiance. Alex will be speaking with fans, and answering their questions. Fans will also be allowed to purchase VIP tickets allowing them one on one time with Alex.
FanRoom Live Is the new interactive virtual event series online where fans get to meet their favorite actors, comedians, athletes and musicians in a group town hall style meet and greet with Q&A’s.
What do you hope to get out of appearing on FanRoom Live?
I love talking to fans. When I play my instrumental music it’s in smaller venues. It’s easier to meet people afterwards. But when I do the bigger shows like with Testament, especially when we are a supporter for a big headliner, it can be so crazy because there are thousands of people. With FanRoom this is a way to connect with people and have these interactions with people that can’t really get to a show. And even if they could get to a show it might be one of the bigger shows and they wouldn’t get to say hello. So, I really enjoy meeting folks and I haven’t lost touch with what it feels like to be a fan, and to go to concerts, and have questions for the musicians, and the excitement of getting to know the musicians.
What’s a California boy doing in Brooklyn?
I like it better. I like the culture…. When I came out to New York I was originally in Manhattan for about 5 years. Brooklyn wasn’t trendy yet. It was kind of considered a step down from Manhattan, but I liked it better. I came here in around 2003 and never left. I like living here because it’s close to the city but still feels like a neighborhood. I like the East Coast energy better. My family is originally from the East Coast so I just kind of blended right in as soon as I came here.
It was in your blood.
Yeah it really was. I was late coming home.
Many consider you the best Thrash Metal guitarist on the planet. What’s your take on that?
It’s very flattering….
You can have bragging rights…
I am humbled that people feel that way. There are a lot of guitar players that I look up to and always will look up to. And they also play music outside of metal too. I play jazz, I play blues, I play instrumental jazz rock and they play with some great musicians. I have been lucky to have been able to play with some favorite musicians of mine. Also, I know musicians who aren’t that recognized, so I’m appreciative of any amount of recognition but I always feel and I always did like I’m still learning.
Have you had your ultimate stage fantasy yet?
That’s a good question, I never really thought about that. I don’t know that I have. I’ve had moments that were like that. I’ve never reached like headliner status, but I’ve played giant venues, like arenas. Although I did play for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for a while. There were moments in the show where I was featured. I had a couple big moments where it felt like being the headliner. We were the headliner, but then again, it’s just a big show with so much going on. I have felt it at times.
Can you recall a moment that changed the trajectory of your life?
I think when I was taking guitar lessons from some local players in the town of Berkeley where I’m from. I kept hearing about their teacher who was this mysterious teacher who had come from the East Coast. He had the reputation of like a classical piano teacher, but on electric guitar. There were very few musicians like that. It was a big move to study with someone like him, so I decided to seek this guy out and take lessons from him. It turned out to be Joe Satriani. So, just listening to my instincts and deciding that I should find the best teacher it turned out to be this great thing and he inspired me to be a much better player and then he’s somebody who is well known to the rest of the world too.
In California as you know the West Coast is a little different, it’s a little bit more of a laid-back attitude, there were musicians around that said “no you don’t want to study with someone like that.” They said that he was too serious and music is supposed to be fun. Not listening to them and going to study with Mr. Satriani was the best thing I could’ve done. So,a I learned from that and I also learned from listening to my own instincts and not listening to the crowd.
Do you recall what made you pick up a guitar in the first place?
There were a few things. I think the seeds were planted. I have an older brother that was a musician in his teen years and early 20’s. So, I was around him and he played in some club bands. One of my earliest memories was that he was a massive fan of Peter Frampton. I remember Frampton was on the stereo all the time and by the way I just spoke to Peter Frampton for my own podcast called “Moods and Modes”, and I blamed him….we had a good laugh. So, I remember noticing Peter’s guitar at a very early age. There was a movie that came out called “American Hot Wax” and it was all about early rock ‘n’ roll. All of these musicians played themselves like Jerry Lee Lewis, and the one that stole the show was Chuck Berry. Then right around the same time I discovered Kiss, first through the merchandise. I just thought “oh my God these guys are like comic book superheroes.” So all of those things happened within a short period of time, but I think that Chuck Berry and Kiss kind of sealed the deal and made me want to pick up the guitar.
I wasn’t aware you had a podcast, talk about that for a minute.
Yeah… I had been planning it for many years. I can’t entirely blame procrastination although in the grand scheme of things it’s kind of hard to avoid it. I have been traveling so much it’s been very hard to do. I had wanted to do this since the previous decade. I finally got a chance to get it together during the pandemic ironically. I do it a little different. It’s not just a chat. I know there are some great shows like that and so many people have podcasts that now there are even jokes about it. I tried to do it a little different, it’s more of a storytelling series and it’s a combination of jam sessions that I’ve had with other musicians. That in some cases it’s a tribute to musicians. Tribute episodes have gotten a lot of traction. Unfortunately, we lost some major musicians like Peter Greene and Eddie Van Halen, so I put together episodes of tribute. Each one is a little different. A couple of them are even field trips. I did an event in Sweetwater with the Amazon of music instruments and sort of told that whole story. I did one in a small vintage guitar shop in Brooklyn called Retrofret. It’s going really well. It’s growing and getting sponsors and we’ve lined up the next dozen episodes. It’s become a big part of what I do and it’s called “Moods and Modes.” We’ve got about 15 episodes so far.
I know that you do some projects on your own aside from Testament and your podcast…for example you have a jazz band?
My main band outside of a Testament is called (it’s not the most original name) “The Alex Skolnick Trio” but it started out as a guitar trio. That’s why I named it that. If it were four people it would’ve been called the Alex Skolnick Quartet. Originally it was a standard jazz trio, hollow body guitar, upright bass and drums. Over the years it has developed into something a little more eclectic. The jazz guitar is still the foundation, but I throw some electric guitar as well, acoustic guitar, and it covers a number of different styles. We got our start arranging rock and metal tunes because I hadn’t heard anyone do that.
Our first album has songs like Kiss, of course, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath and then gradually there has been more and more original material. We have about half a dozen albums out. We will do another one next year.
Is there anything else that you would like to talk about that I haven’t covered?
I’m just trying to be productive in a strange twilight zone type year that we’ve had. New York is opening up and I have my trio playing in New York in September at the Iridium, which is a regular venue and I’m excited about that. I have some other instrumental shows coming up. Testament is booked in October at the Aftershock Festival. It was supposed to take place last year but instead it will take place this year. It’s got Metallica, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, and so many other bands. That feels like it’s going to be the sort of coming out party.
Get your tickets to meet Alex Skolnick on FanRoom Live on May 20th at 8 PM EST by going to https://www.fanroomlive.com