If you are a fan of 80's shred guitar, you must check out guitarist, Ethan Brosh. With the release of his new 13 track, all instrumental, guitar-opus, ‘Live the Dream' (on Carmine Appice's- Rocker Records), Brosh is winning over legions of new fans with his lightning-fast leads and virtuoso guitar techniques. But, what makes Brosh so unique is his ability to incorporate melody with his flashy guitar style. This results in some very powerful and aurally satisfying musical compositions, all which be heard on the ‘Live the Dream' release.
Brosh will be performing later this month on a short tour, as guitarist on Drum Wars, featuring Carmine and Viiny Appice. This is a very entertaining and must-see musical event.
What follows is an exclusive RMS interview with one of the most innovative musicians in rock music today- Ethan Brosh.
Rock Music Star: I just want to start by discussing your new CD, ‘Live the Dream.’ It's really a great guitar rock album and it definitely brings back memories of the early Yngwie Malmsteen stuff, which I love listening to. It seems like you should have been born a little earlier. You would have fit right in, in that 80’s shredder era.
Ethan Brosh: Yeah. I’ve heard that my whole life; “I should have been born 20 years earlier,” and all that stuff, which is true, you know? I wish I could have, but that’s not the case. So, I mean, I’m just trying to do my best with, you know, whatever we have left.
RMS: You have a song on your CD entitled, “Up The Stairway.” This song is obviously based on the Led Zeppelin song, “Stairway to Heaven.” Are you concerned, at all, about being sued by the band, Spirit, because now they’re suing Led Zeppelin for that song?
EB: (Laughs) No. Everyone is asking me if I’m afraid of being sued by Led Zeppelin, you know, and just the other day, I was telling someone else that interviewed me, “You know, I think Led Zeppelin are now in trouble for this, and I think I’m the least of their problems." But…no. And, I think those other guys that are going after Led Zeppelin; they have a much bigger fish to fry. I mean, the money’s there. So, I don’t know. I’m not foreseeing any problems. But, you know, who knows? No such thing as bad publicity, I guess.
RMS: That’s for sure. Now, do you think that lawsuit is justifiable? First of all, it’s coming up like, 30-some years later…
EB: Yeah, I’m not sure, honestly, why it took that long. I don’t know very much about it, but, what I can say is that I did hear the original song, and I know that Zeppelin were on tour with them, and it does sound like an exact rip-off. So, if in fact it was written earlier, and Zeppelin went on tour with them, I’d think it’s pretty obvious. But then again, you know, we weren’t there. So, I don’t know, there’s probably a little bit more to it than we know.
RMS: Now, as a composer yourself, do you ever get yourself in a situation where you wonder where the music comes from? That you may have accidentally, perhaps, lifted it from somebody else? Has that ever occurred with you when you are composing? Or do you just write the music and worry about the consequences afterwards?
EB: I’ve always worried about that, especially at the very beginning. When I first wrote my first few tunes, I remember feeling like, “Well, that’s a great melody, there’s no way I wrote it myself. It must be a rip-off of someone else.” You know, or something else. I remember, I used to actually play my tunes to other people and ask them, “Hey, do you think I ripped it off from someone? What does it sound like to you?” You know, I couldn’t believe that I actually came up with it myself. And, after a while, people were like, “Well, you know, it kind of reminds me of something…” and I was like, “Well…no, it really can’t be that.” And then after, a lot of people told me, “Well, it’s your melody.” I was like, “Well, I guess, maybe I can write a melody." I’m not sure if it’s good or not, you know. People will have to decide if it’s good or not. But, it’s not necessarily a rip-off. I remember reading an interview with Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, and he said, “If you’re just writing music, and it ended up being somewhat similar to something else, it’s just inspiration. But, if you know, specifically, what you’re copying from, then this is a rip-off.” So, if you’re just inspired by things, and you just write your music, and whatever comes out comes out, that’s inspiration. So, I don’t worry about it as much as I used to, but I’m always cautious. I really don’t want to be a rip-off of anyone. Like, for instance, Yngwie Malmsteen is a guy that gets ripped off all the time, and he’s been getting ripped off for like, 30 years. And, he’s a guy that I’m trying very, very, very hard to actually go to a different direction, and not do what he’s doing. He’s the absolute best at what he does, and no one can touch him, and everyone that tried to rip him off, in my opinion, failed, and they’re not doing it justice. So, I’m not even touching it, you know. I’m just going to a different direction. I’m doing my own music and trying to do something melodic, and I try to have every tune on my records be completely different from the next, and explore many different tones, many different sounds and moods, and things like that. You know, here and there, occasionally, I’ll have a tune that’s neo-classical, but that’s really not my main thing; that’s not what I’m trying to go for.
RMS: I think Steve Harris was right on with what he said; that does make a lot of sense, that philosophy.
EB: Yeah. Well, he can write.
RMS: Oh, absolutely. In addition to being a touring musician, you’re also a teacher. I’m just wondering, what kind of material are students requesting to learn these days? Are they into the old 80s stuff; are they into modern music?
EB: Well, it varies a lot because I teach lots of different ages and lots of different levels. But, I can tell you that, over the years that I’ve been teaching, I’d say that 90% of students- when you ask them what they want to do- usually the answer is, “Uhhh.. I dunno.” So, they basically leave it up to you to just teach them whatever. So, I’d say that’s 90% of people, and in that case, I kinda teach them what I like. And, if they’re young enough, sometimes I make them little rockers, and some of them end up really loving it, and some of them are like, “Well, whatever,” they’re not into guitar that much, anyways. So, it’s hard to tell. When I teach at Berkley, I have a lot of rocker kids that come to me specifically because they know that I’ll teach them that style. And there are other people that just end up with me. If it’s a girl that plays acoustic guitar, she’ll be into singer/songwriter stuff, so I’ll work more on strumming patterns and picking patterns, and stuff like that. Some guys are into more of the modern music, which, I’m not really into, so I’ll try to like, meet them halfway somehow and figure it out.
RMS: You are a graduate from Berklee College. What kind of experience was that like for you, and how did that influence your guitar playing?
EB: Well, the experience itself was great, because Berklee is a school that is just for music, and you have about 4,000 students that are almost all great musicians, and all the teachers are phenomenal musicians. I love the vibe of Berklee. Once you’re there; just being around all of these people makes you want to explore music on such a deeper level. Most people there rarely ever talk about gigs or touring, or stuff like that; they’re really into just music. So, when you’re in that environment, it just makes you want to play more, makes you want to learn more, and all that good stuff. And that’s why, even as a teacher, I need to go back there in the summer just stay sane as a musician, and actually, for a second, forget about all the hassles of the music industry, and actually really learn music and deal with what really got me in here in the first place. So, the experience is great, and I love it, both as a student and as a teacher. And, how it affected my guitar playing? It’s hard to put my finger on it. I did learn a lot of music theory; I learned song writing. And, all of these things do have an affect on my guitar playing. But, it’s hard to put my finger on it because, honestly, my guitar playing has evolved since the first day that I picked up the guitar. Now, you know, I keep searching for new ideas for writing new music. So, Berklee was part of the journey, but it’s hard for me to tell how it actually affected my guitar playing, because my guitar playing kept evolving, and it keeps evolving as time goes by.
RMS: It was very interesting, reading your bio that you were born in New York, but grew up in Israel.
EB: Yeah, I was born in Suffern, New York. But, since I was one year old, my parents went back to Israel and I grew up there.
RMS: What was it like, growing up in Israel, during all of that political unrest?
EB: It’s always been like that in Israel, and it’s still like that in Israel. That’s just what I was basically raised into. It’s what I took for granted. I didn’t know any other way. But, it wasn’t fun, I can tell you that. Everyone always talks about politics and war all the time. Everyone’s stressed out. Sometimes there are periods that are more crazy than others, and you’re actually afraid of what’s going on there. I remember the Gulf War, back in ’91, and that really wasn’t fun, especially as a kid. That wasn’t a fun thing to go through, I can tell you that. So, yeah. Me being in the United States, and just worrying about rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal, that’s really what I need to do with my life, and I’m very happy with where I am at the moment.
RMS: Living in Israel, how did you get your first exposure to heavy metal? Is there a heavy metal scene over there, or is there an underground trading? How did you get exposed?
EB: Well, keep in mind; it was the 80s and early 90s. I have two older brothers, and one of them was already listening to bands like Def Leppard and Megadeth, and all kinds of bands like that. And, Israel was always influenced by the United States, and still is. The United States really influences a lot of the world, you know, as far as pop culture, at least. I remember my brother; I went through his cassette collection at one point, and I found a tape of, ‘Number of the Beast,’ of Iron Maiden, and really, that was it for me. That’s how the whole thing started. I just went through his cassette collection, found ‘Number of the Beast’ in there. Just that painting that Derek Riggs did for Iron Maiden just like, threw me right into it. I’m like, “I gotta listen to this thing.” And then I remember, before I even listened to it, a friend of mine told me about it; “This is heavy metal.” And I was like, “Heavy metal? Wow, that sounds so cool! I really gotta listen to it!” So, I started listening to it, and I got hooked right away. And then I was curious about, “Well, how do you make that sound? What is that sound?” And someone told me, “Well, that’s an electric guitar.” And I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “You mean like, a piece of plastic?” I thought electric guitars were made of plastic back then. I was like, “You mean a piece of plastic with six strings can actually create that sound?” And they’re like, “Well, ya!” So, I just got obsessed ever since then. And yeah, that’s what really made me pick up the guitar. And from that point on, you know, here and there I found out about more stuff. Then I found my electric guitar teacher; his name is Eyal Freeman, and he basically got me into all these shrapnel guitar players and all that good stuff. There was no YouTube or Internet or any of that stuff that you could just find out about everyone in a split second. I used to spend like, 50 or 60 bucks for those instructional videos, and maybe learn one lick off of the whole tape. I used to take the bus to town just to buy one videotape like that. Nowadays, you can just go on YouTube and you can watch all of them for free, and it’s just ridiculous. It’s so different.
RMS: Last year, you went on tour with Yngwie Malmsteen. You mentioned him before as being a major influence. What was it like to go on tour with him, and did he have any comments about your playing? Did you get any feedback from him?
EB: Yes.Yes, I did. Well, the thing is, that tour was- for me- it was a lot of fun. It was very, very, very stressful, and it was intense in every possible sense of the word. And, as you can imagine with Yngwie Malmsteen, nothing is chill. Everything is on 10… or 11. And everything is just very intense. Just the travelling itself- it was 14,000 miles that we had to drive. It was very challenging; very stressful in many different ways. But, all the shows were really good; the crowd reactions were excellent. I could not have expected it to go any better than it did, so I’m very, very happy about it. Yngwie actually, from what he told me, he really liked my playing, which, for me, I’ll take it to the grave. To get such a compliment from Yngwie Malmsteen is something that you don’t take lightly.
RMS: Yeah, he doesn’t seem to give out too many compliments.
EB: Yeah, Yngwie is a straight shooter. You know, he’s not gonna say something that he doesn’t mean. And for him to tell me something like that, and for him not to think that I’m another rip-off of him- for me, that was huge. I was just so happy when he told me some stuff like that right before I went home- for me- it made everything so worth it.
RMS: Wow, very cool. You’re doing a couple of gigs with Carmine & Vinny Appice’s Drum Wars coming up, later this month month. I saw you play “Bark at the Moon,” when you played in Buffalo, NY with them. I thought it was incredible. I thought you guys really had a real chemistry on stage; you and the brothers and Jim Crean on vocals. You guys sounded great.
EB: Thank you! I appreciate that because, for playing "Bark at the Moon," I played a completely different rig. I played the rig of the guitar player that played the rest of the show, and his rig is just a different world from the tone that I am used to, and I was having a really, really hard time on stage with that. And then, when I went to the front, of course, I couldn’t even hear myself at all because there weren’t any monitors there, so I was just guessing what I was supposed to be hearing. So, if I actually managed to fool everyone there, I’m very happy to hear that (laughs).
RMS: I thought you were spot on and it was a really good solo.
RMS: So, what is it like, playing with Carmine and Vinny Appice? They’re drum legends. You must love it.
EB: Yeah! I’m really looking forward to actually playing a full show with them and using my own rig and being comfortable. But yeah, just playing ‘Bark at the Moon’ with them- I mean, I can tell… you can feel the experience there. I mean, it’s amazing, you know? They’re so tight in their playing, and they add all kinds of cool stuff in the middle, and it’s amazing. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with both of them. I love playing with drummers like that because drummers are really, really hard to find- rock drummers that play well. I’ve played with so many drummers, and it’s always an issue on stage. But luckily, I have gotten the chance to play with some really great drummers, like the guy in my band, John Anthony; he’s a great drummer. And I got the chance to play with Mike Mangini, and I got the chance to play with Rhino. So, now I’m going to be playing with Carmine and Vinny, and I can tell, when I play with these drummers, they’re real legends. There’s something different; there’s just something that’s tighter about their playing, and that’s really how a rock drummer should be.
RMS: Do you have any plans for a new release any time soon? And, if so, would you ever consider using a vocalist on a few tracks?
EB: Yeah. I mean, I think that I’m going to release the first record of my other band, Burning Heat, which- that’ll have a vocalist. Yeah. So, it’s not that I do the instrumental thing exclusively. I like both instrumental stuff and vocal stuff. I grew up my whole life listening to songs just like everybody else. So, I love it. It’s not that I want to be exclusively an instrumental guitar player. You know, I play guitar, and I’m really into guitar, so that’s why I end up writing some instrumentals. But, I also write songs. Yeah, definitely. And besides Burning Heat, I have probably 15 other songs that are not completely finished, but are a work in progress, and they’re just waiting for a vocalist. So, I’m not sure how I’m going to release that, or when, or with what band, but I do work on it. Vocalists- good vocalists- are really hard to find.
RMS: Have you ever been approached by any established bands to join them?
EB: Not so many established bands. Like first, when I did the Angels of Babylon thing, I thought this really had a shot when I was in a band with Dave Ellefson and Rhino. Unfortunately, a bunch of things happened with that band and it just didn’t really go anywhere. Once we released our first record, Dave Ellefson went right back to Megadeth. So, I mean, I had a lot of hopes for that band, and unfortunately, it didn’t end up getting any success. I spent a bunch of time on that. But yeah, that’s one of my biggest dreams, you know. I mean right now, Doug Aldrich just left Whitesnake, and that’s like my dream gig and I’m trying my best to get to David Coverdale, but it’s not an easy thing to do.
RMS: Wow, yeah that’d be awesome. So, you would consider joining an established band- like the Whitesnake. What if Warrant or Quiet Riot, or a band like that ask? Would you ever consider doing something like that?
EB: I would love to do something like that, yes. I would love to. You know, I would love to play with any 80s band like that, absolutely.
RMS: Well, we’ll get the word out; see what we can do to help you out with that.
EB: I appreciate that, yeah. That’s one of my biggest goals, for sure.
RMS: You also have a picture of you and Jason Becker, who is suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), on your facebook page. How did you end up meeting with him and what was that experience like?
EB: I met him a couple of years ago. I met him through a friend of mine named Max Dible. Max is a friend of Jason’s. Max is also working on a transcription for Jason Becker’s “Perpetual Burn,” for quite a few years now. Recently, they posted some video of Max teaching some of Jason’s music, and he does a great job of it; he is a really great guitar player. But, he introduced me to Jason and we went to Jason’s house and I got to hang out with Jason and I got to play for him. That’s what you do if you are a guitar player and you go to Jason’s house; you have to play guitar for him within the first minute that you walk through the door. So, it was a pretty intimidating experience. But, everything worked out really well. Jason is just about the greatest guy that you will ever meet. Even though he can’t talk, and he needs to communicate through his eyes, and someone needs to translate what he is saying, we were still hanging out; Jason, Max and me. It was just like three guitar players just talking. We discussed our favorite guitar players and stuff like that. Jason is still a rocker and a guitar fan. But unfortunately, when you see Jason and what he is going through, although he is very positive, he is still dealing with a very difficult life.
RMS: You recently also lit up your Facebook page by posting some negative comments about Nirvana. Were you surprised at the amount of comments you received and the heated argument that pursued?
EB: (Laughs) I was a little surprised. I was actually in Israel at the time, and I heard a Nirvana song in the grocery store that I was shopping at. I had this tiny little phone that I got while in Israel. I barely had an internet connection and I could barely type on the phone. I just made that comment and I thought that a couple people would like it. I didn’t expect it to start a huge argument. So, I got a little bit of a kick out of that.
RMS: Do you think that, because you are so musically gifted, that you sometimes over look the fact that songs can also be very basic and still be brilliant?
EB: No, I don’t think so. I do appreciate a lot of music that is very simple. However, I don’t appreciate people that can’t play at all, and when they do play, it’s completely out of tune. I can tell the difference between someone who is a very good musician naturally and can write simple music. I like a lot of pop music, with songs that are only two chord songs. Songs like that can be catchy. But, when I go to a bar or someplace and I see a band that is very amateur and they play out of tune, I can tell right away that it’s not their main thing. I have no respect for that. But I do respect artists that try 100% and live for their art and suffer until their music is perfect. Where does Nirvana fall in, I’m not exactly sure. I just made that comment about Nirvana based on something that I heard on the spot, which was out of tune and I didn’t like the song. I didn’t even realize that it was Nirvana song, at first. But, it was just me thinking out loud.
RMS: Excellent. Well Ethan, I appreciate your time, and it’s going to be fun transcribing this interview. Thank you, again. I really enjoy your music and I’m so happy I went to that concert and discovered you.
EB: Yeah, I really, really appreciate that, Thomas. I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed by you. And yeah, I’ll talk to you soon.
For more on Ethan Brosh, click here.
Special thanks to Dana Kaiser and also to Chip Ruggieri for setting up this interview.