Paul Gilbert has many well-known songs and The Curse of Castle Dragon is definitely on the top of the list! Any Paul Gilbert fan will be able to tell you the technical challenges in this song. They will even tell you how each part is played at the most detailed level. Or if I played anything wrong in this video. But I feel I have something else to express through this song cover.
Learning straight from the master, Paul Gilbert
If you don’t know, I was very lucky to be able to interview Paul Gilbert when he was here in Singapore for a gig in 2019. You can read all about my nerve-wracking experience here. On top of that, I am also part of his online music school at ArtistWorks.com
The motivating factor
I started playing guitar at an age that’s considered too old by many. Impossible to be able to reach the standard I so desire. I had no teachers or could I afford one then. But I stumbled upon the great Paul Gilbert and his “Down to Mexico” video. The insanely fast and accurate picking with fancy costumes and the quirky greenscreen background caught my attention right away. Not to mention how humble Paul was. That became my catalyst to pursue in guitar playing. It took me 15 years to find the courage to cover “The Curse of Castle Dragon”! I fell in love with the song when it was first released and had been messing around the sections of the song over the years. Never have I found the right phase of my life to put it together.
That was until I met Paul last year. I had the privilege to chat and interview him during his gig in Singapore back in 2019. It felt so surreal to be standing right next to someone who I watch on videos and admired so much for all these years. I told myself, that has to be the sign for me to start taking my life seriously.
Paul Gilbert is back in Singapore to promote his 15th solo album, “Behold Electric Guitar”, and we met him for a quick interview. Ranked one of 50 fastest guitarists of all time (Guitar World), the lead guitarist of iconic rock band Mr. Big is no stranger to our sunny island – Paul was here with Mr. Big in 2009, 2014 and 2017, and he also came as himself in 2002 and 2005; I may have left out some tours, but wouldn’t you think he has a lot of love for his Singaporean fans? Tonight was no exception for all who purchased VIP tickets to his 10 Dec show as everyone was able to meet their guitar hero in close proximity and lose their minds a little bit.
Fans queue patiently to meet Paul Gilbert
The interview of my lifetime!
I’ve always been a really huge fan of Paul Gilbert, but never in my life did I think I would one day land a super-rare opportunity to sit beside a guitar legend and enjoy some great conversation with him! When the big day came, I took all the years of experience I gathered as a performer and compressed them into this ultimate chill pill. With a deep breath, I walked forward and began my short interview with him.
I asked him 3 questions.
Time was tight, and there were several others who were waiting to meet Paul. As Guitar.com already had an in-depth interview with Paul, I decided to ask 3 questions I felt would provide a more unique angle to readers, specifically education-centric questions, since Paul and I both teach. I might have taken him by surprise a little, but he had some very insightful replies to these questions, nevertheless:
What do you think are the essential qualities of a guitar teacher?
What can the current generation do to boost the guitar industry? (Since it seems digital music is the trend now, and guitar lessons aren’t in great demand.)
What are 3 songs that every guitar student should have a go at?
The full video is at the bottom of this article.
The man behind it all
We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to a very special person, who has made Paul Gilbert’s Singapore visit happen, and he is none other than Inokii, owner of the eponymously-named record store in Far East Plaza. It’s no easy feat bringing in an artiste due to the enormous amount of coordinating work involved, but Inokii has undertaken all of this and given the local music scene a much-needed boost. So guys, if you see him at the show, don’t forget to say hi and a big THANK YOU!
14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #03-30. Call 6337 9230
The rest of the band!
While I did not get to meet Asher, the keyboardist, it was great to be able to catch up with Bill and meet the bassist Roland! I previously did an interview with Bill about his experience working with Paul. Click here to read and watch all about it.
Paul Gilbert’s Band 2019
My loot for today!
Well, of course, I am still a fanboy! As soon as the camera was off, I whipped out my prized possessions and got Paul to sign them! If you pay careful attention, Paul has been using my guitar the entire time during the interviews. Paul agreed to sign at the back of the headstock because we both feel that the front is too beautiful to have something signed on. I also got my copy of his “Intense Rock II” signed. He was really surprised to see that book because it has been a really long time!
Secret pedal on Paul Gilbert’s pedalboard!
While Evigan Xiao was conducting his interview with Paul Gilbert in Swee Lee Singapore, they talked about a mysterious pedal sitting on his pedalboard. There was no indication on that black pedal about what the knobs do or what it does. As far as I can share with you at this point in time, this is a new prototype pedal developed by a pedal maker and will soon be released as a product for the market. Perhaps, if you are at the front rows of the show, you might want to pay real close attention whenever this pedal gets activated.
No prize for guessing which pedal maker is behind the black pedal. The signs were obvious!
Tonight was amazing. Tomorrow will be crazy! 2019 has been a great guitar year, with not one but TWO close-up sessions with my idols. In case you missed it, I met up with Jack Thammarat in his studio in September! Read all about it here!
Thank you our dear photographer Alvin for the lovely shot!
In a rare stroke of luck, Bill Ray chanced upon Vinnie’s Instagram post and left a comment. That quickly escalated to a newfound friendship and an exclusive interview with Paul’s drummer! In this interview, Bill shares his experience of maintaining the rhythm section for Paul. Similarly, he also talks about his experiences and plenty of tips for budding drummers! Full video of this interview at the bottom of the article.
Bill Ray, a man of wise words.
Throughout the interview, Bill was constantly giving tips and advice as a veteran musician. His years of experience translated well into his speech, helpful to all budding musicians. The interview is slightly over an hour long and we recommend you listen to it like a podcast. Put on a pair of earphones, make yourself a hot chocolate and absorb all the wisdom Bill has to offer. If not, we will try to summarize some of the notable quotes for you.
Music is a conversation, not a competition.
The idea of music as a competition is really strong in Asia. Everyone thinks that joining a music competition will guarantee some form of success, if not training. That is quite the opposite of what music should be. Music, as Bill mentioned, is a language. If you speak music, you converse with the rest of the band. When the band is talking with their instrument, they sound awesome to the audience. The common adjectives you hear people use are “tight” or “in the pocket”. Being on time is a by-product of being able to speak the language. Bill nailed the art of music as a language.
There is no level, it’s all circle.
When Bill was 21, he asked Dennis Chambers “How do you get to the next level?”. To which, Dennis replied, “There is no level, it’s all circle”. The idea of being successful in the industry really boils down to interpersonal relationships within the music industry. It is always nice to be nice – people remember nice. Can the person pick the phone and dial your number? (sic)
Left to Right. Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Roland Guerin, Bill Ray, Asher Fulero.
Learn to read music! Standard notation!
Bill shared how he would turn up to a gig only to find that they didn’t have a drum chart ready for him. For many drummers, this spells trouble because there is no way to play along to the band then. Bill would then request for a trumpet lead sheet or any lead sheet he can get his hands on. This is because those standard scores would have the structure of the song written out neatly. What a clever solution but only applicable if you can read music, properly!
If music can be boiled down to one thing, it’s congruent.
“If you can be congruent with other players, congruent with the environment that you are playing in, congruent with the music, you can get those areas covered, then people will definitely call you back. They gonna say this person listens to everybody in the band. He doesn’t try to play all the stuff at one time. They listen and put down what needs to be there. They’re not playing so loud that is blowing everybody off the club. Everybody is dialed in. If you can be congruent within that arena then you will be called back to work. ” – Bill Ray
In conclusion, Bill is perhaps one of the nicest musicians I have ever spoken to. Regardless of his tremendous ability on the drums, there isn’t the slightest hint of arrogance. Nice and sincere describes him best. Above all, I guess my biggest take away from this interview is that no matter what level of musicianship you are at, it is important to be a real and genuine human! Thank you, Bill, for this interview, and see you during your show with Paul Gilbert here in Singapore!
Get your tickets to Paul Gilbert Singapore 2019
If you are still undecided, note that the tickets are almost sold out! Or you can read our previous articles about this upcoming gig.
Alex Kalino Hooi, Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy did an interview with us!
At just 16 years of age and already the Young Guitarist Of The Year 2018 Finalist, Alex Kalino Hooi, Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy did an interview with us! To date, no one else has come close to Alex’s achievement. As he is only 16 years old, we were curious to find out more about his plans and future projects! Alex very kindly came to our music school in Singapore for an in-depth and exclusive interview!
Young Guitarist Of The Year Experience
Perhaps the one question that everyone has is why and how did Alex Kalino Hooi prepare himself in the final round of the Young Guitarist Of The Year competition! Or maybe what techniques he used to hone himself into becoming Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy. Turns out, it wasn’t about planning, strategies or even thinking of ideas to outdo his competitors! Here in Singapore, we have been ‘trained’ by our kia-su mentality to think that is what we need to be doing if we ever want to win a competition. However, the real reason why people are winning competitions comes from deeper within than just unadulterated competitiveness or rivalry. Alex shared how he had a great time during the competition period and how he became close friends with Abgail Zachko and Hunter Hallberg instead of seeing them purely as his competitors.
Alex Kalino Hooi, the cat person!
If you’re thinking Alex looks like a dog lover, sorry to burst your bubble – because in our interview Alex shared that he’s definitely a cat person! Here at Vinnie Classroom, we are very cat-oriented too! If you don’t already know why, it’s because we have 2 cats Mao Mao and Meow Meow! They are our PR managers and have been doing a good job so far with their daily duties of entertaining our students and parents diligently! Cats are awesome!
Our Interview with Singapore’s Guitar Prodigy, Alex Kalino Hooi
Full, in-depth and exclusive!
Let’s cut the blog short and let Alex share all the juicy information in our video! Do remember to watch until the end for the cool outro. Also, do subscribe to our Youtube channel to help us create more of such awesome content!
Exclusive Interview: Jack Thammarat with Vinnie Classroom 2019
As much as I think that perhaps it was just a dream, I actually did an exclusive interview with Jack Thammarat IN HIS STUDIO in Chiang Mai! He shared more information than I was hoping for. In fact we went in-depth into his past: how he first started playing the guitar, how he realized his love for it and how Jack Thammarat eventually became Jack Thammarat! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, the Jack Thammarat Interview 2019!
Jack Thammarat started on the guitar at 12 years old!
We’ve all heard how various guitar maestros developed their love for guitar at a young age, well, Jack was no exception. He started playing the guitar at the age of 5 under the influence and guidance of his father. This seems to be a familiar story with all our favourite guitar heroes. While it may be a little too late for many to get really serious about the guitar dream, it is not too late if you are going to become your child or nephew/niece’s best guitar teacher! But of course we highly recommend you send them to a music school for a more well-planned learning experience.
Guitar Idol 2009 changed his life forever.
Without a doubt, many know Jack Thammarat from the iconic guitar competition back in 2009. The stage was filled with amazingly talented guitarists from all over the planet and nobody expected the winner to be someone from Thailand (although to be fair, most of our guitar heroes back at 2009 were primarily from the U.S.A.) Jack took to the stage with precision playing and his powerful stage presence. Watching the video footage of the competition today is still as jaw-dropping as ever!
Jack shares how his life experiences and his good attitude helped him to eventually win the competition. This is definitely helpful if you are planning to live your life as big as him!
His experience while touring with Wang Lee Hom.
Jack Thammarat now spends much of his time as a touring guitarist with Chinese Pop superstar Wang Lee Hom. Together, the team tours all of Asia and seemingly endless rounds in China. To date they have done around 200 shows and over a period of 2 years! That is a really insane figure if you realize that every show has an audience of at least 10,000! Jack shares his story on how he tackles these mega shows.
Jack Thammarat soloing during a Wang Leehom concert in China
Jack Thammarat, 10 years from now!
Because we all know Jack Thammarat as a guitarist and a guitar idol, therefore it is most natural for us to hope that he will resume writing his amazing songs. Well, HE IS! Jack shares how he plans to release more of his original compositions in the near future. What’s more, with all the experience he has accumulated from his years of guitar playing performances, Jack performing as a solo artist is only coming back stronger and crazier!
The Asian guitar hero!
As much as I hate to say this, there aren’t many notable guitar heroes from Asia. So Jack is iconic as he has journeyed on the road to achieving his dreams. We all know Jack did not get this overnight. It was after years of hard work and dedication. No sidetracking or losing focus. 10 hours of daily guitar practice and endless number of shows, Jack is definitely an Olympian in the guitar industry. Jack, if you are reading this, thank you for inspiring all of us! You are the perfect role model we all can’t thank enough!
Help Vinnie score more of such interviews!
Yes guys, I need your help. If you think I did well for this interview then please follow up with a subscribe! Help me attain the Youtube Silver Play Button by subscribing to Vinnie Classroom’s YouTube channel! This way, my work will be able to reach more viewers. With more viewership, I stand a better chance of doing interviews with guitarists you wish to find out more about!
If my video hasn’t sung enough praises about my guitar lessons with Jack Thammarat, let me emphasize yet again! It was such a rewarding trip. I am very thankful this took place! I guess the lesson was not so much about how to pick faster or how to play crazier. It was about how to discover and rediscover myself. It is only when I discover more about my own routine, habits and attitude then I can move forward. However, you probably need not start with someone like Jack to correct your playing. If you are keen in improving your guitar playing, sign up for a trial lesson with us!
My first-hand experience!
If you have not read my detailed blog post about this experience, just clink on this link to read more about it. Sometimes, it is easier to write my experience down. But if you’d rather watch, then this video above should be for you!
Interview with Jack Thammarat
If you are waiting for the interview video I did with Jack Thammarat, subscribe to my youtube channel and set the notification bell on. I will be premiering it on 24th September 1am Singapore Time, or 23rd September 1pm GMT -4.
My Current Goal
Jack Thammarat’s YouTube Silver Play Button
I know most people don’t regard this as anything special or significant. YouTube creators have repeatedly shared that having a huge subscriber base does not equate to more views per video too! However I feel that should I cross the 100,000 subscribers mark, I will be able to get my work out to a greater group of audience. Furthermore, if they subscribed to me it’s because they like my content! So if you have not subscribed to my YouTube channel and you agree with my hardwork in creating all this content, please consider subscribing.
Yes that is right, I actually set my guitar on fire! Now I know that many will be out there ready to call my move a gimmicky one or simply a “click-bait”! It is more than just that.
I was influenced by Jimi Hendrix
You see, as a guitarist, I’m a rather big fan of Jimi Hendrix! I was always fascinated by that iconic moment when he lit his guitar on fire with zippo ON A LIVE SHOW. I will certainly not get a clearance in doing this on any stage I perform so I choose doing it in a controlled environment. So, if my guitar sacrifice ritual is a gimmicky move, I guess so can be said for the legendary Jimi Hendrix.
I set the Gibson SG on fire
I’m actually particular about my guitars!
On regular days, I am very careful with my instruments. I was from a concert band beginning and was a trombonist. We were taught to take very good care of our instrument from day 1. Not even a fingerprint was supposed to be seen. So trust me, burning this guitar is quite a scary moment for me. However, over my years of working in a guitar store, I picked up the skills for repairing and modifying guitars. With that confidence in mind, I took this old guitar I had lying around for a really long time to prove a point. Will the paint on the guitar body help against the fire? I was also interested to know if I can create a unique finish through this ridiculous move! Or will I simply destroy a guitar and offer it to those above.
See how careful I am to my instruments? I just added bubble wraps to the inside of the flight case! I don’t trust the flight case! As to where I am headed to, follow my Instagram to find out more! It’s gonna be a very exciting trip!
Going on a trip!
Yes as mentioned above, I’ll be off on a rather exciting trip! I can’t wait to share more here! To get a more instantaneous update, follow my instagram now!
However, if playing guitar is all you wish to do, you can find out how here.
You can also find out if I will restore this guitar into it’s former glory if you subscribe to our youtube channel!
POG2 has been around in the guitar industry for a rather long time but it has never been a popular pedal. Many bought and sold it soon after because of the “limitations” of the pedal. However, these limitations are a result of the user’s imagination! Think about it, the pedal allows a massive 8 user presets to be stored and there must be a reason for that! Still on the subject of “limitations” of pedals, you may want to check out this other episode where I create TONES with Cheap China Pedals! Really interesting even for me…
In this episode, I share 4 of my presets that are guaranteed make you rethink the Electro Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator on your pedal board. Maybe those who don’t own one will now change their minds, and those who blacklisted it will take the listing off! To me, this is one of my must-have pedals ever since I bought it and the versatility it provides is still beyond me!
I don’t blame if you are unaware of my recent series of youtube videos but hey now you know! I’m dedicated to keep this going and your support in subscribing to the channel will definitely help! Contribute to the video by letting me know what you think about them or what you would like to see!