Interview - june 2005.
1) Dear Tom, please, introduce yourself shortly.
Hi everybody, my name is Tom Riepl, I live in Munich / Germany,
I am 43 years old and I'm a guitar player. This includes touring as a sideman
for various artists, beeing a studio musician, composer, recording artist and
producer. I also have a regular column in "GITARRE & BASS", Germany's
premier guitar magazin.
2) Reading your biography noticed that in the beginning of
your music career you were fascinated with the blues and big names of that music
genre. Who were the greatest heroes of the blues music scene for yourself and
Blues is the most important element in modern American guitar
music, because Blues is all about feeling and without feeling you won't have
that magic tone on guitar. For me, one of the greatest heroes was - and is -
of course, Robert Johnson. That's where it all came from. He played unbelievable
stuff on his Gibson L-1 acoustic guitar, with an energy like no one did before.
I mean, this was 1936 down in Mississippi and most people could not believe
that a man could play like this. Actually, they thought Johnson had sold his
soul to the devil... I also liked Johnny Winter back then, well, he's not so
much traditional Blues but more Blues Rock. I liked his technique, his fast
and fluid style...
3) Many young people want to be good guitarists. Given that
you applied many various techniques during the process of guitar playing learning,
what could you suggest to the young guitarists in that regard? Does some technique
(learned by some famous guitarist) might be limitation factor in the rest of
career of some guitarist (in sense that he might miss to build / develop his
own style of guitar playing)?
If you just started to learn guitar and want to become a good
player the most important thing is to keep your ears open! Listen to every style
you can and try to figure out what's going on. You don't have to listen to pop
music necessarily, because that's no artform but just business and there's no
guitar in today's pop anyway. Better check out the ones like Eddie van Halen,
Steve Morse, Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather. If you want to know from whom
those guys learned to play go back in time and listen to Eric Clapton, Jeff
Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix. And if you want to know where THEY got their
influences from, go back in time a little bit further and you'll stumble on
Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Son House and all the other great Blues men. The
other important thing is to develop an own style as a guitar player. Trying
to play like other guitarists is good in order to learn the instrument, but
it is definitely a limitation for future uniqueness. Better play only 5 ! of
your very own slow notes instead of 50 fast licks of Van Halen. There's only
ONE Van Halen and there's only ONE you, so you have to decide whether you want
to be the guy who tries to play like Van Halen, or the guy who will be recognized
for his own style...
4) Thanks to your good music playing you are promoting equipment
of many worldwide known producers of such equipment. What such work is bringing
to you (beside the financial compensation) and is it sometimes too much time
consuming (are such performances sometime obstacles in realization of your regular
music activities)? What is good point of that work?
Well, first of all, the financial aspect with those product
endorsements is not as good as you might think :-). I started doing those clinics
& workshops in the beginning of the '90s, driving from town to town and
doing a guitar show every day. I learned a lot! How to entertain the audience
and keep the show exciting for 2 hours... Those shows also gave me the chance
to sell a lot of CDs and become known to a wider audience. It's time consuming,
yet it's no obstacle for my own musical activities. I performed 5 times at the
Frankfurt Music Fair, made many international contacts there and got lots of
recognition from the trade press. Eventually, the Japanese guitar company IBANEZ
offered me a deal and they built my own signature guitar model. They have not
done this before for a German guitar player, only for Americans. That's the
real good point of that work...
5) You released 5 instrumental solo albums (The Only One -
1988, Dance The Blues - 1991, Let The Guitar Do The Talking - 1993, Planet G.
- 1997 and Hollymood - 2002). Please, describe each of them in sense what was
goal of each of them? What (music) stories you tried to say fans of your music?
The goal of the first album, which was a 4-track vinyl EP,
was simply to have an own album and get played on the radio. Well, it worked
and I even was invited to a TV show to play one title, which was really great
for me back then. "Dance The Blues" was a band project, we recorded
this CD and went on tour, playing small clubs and selling the CD after the shows,
which was also a good experience. These first two albums were more Fusion-oriented
and the next one "Let The Guitar Do The Talking" was actually my first
real Rock guitar album with lots of solos and all that stuff... "Planet
G." was the first album with a concept behind it. It took the listener
on a trip to a distant planet on which guitars, amps and music are what it's
all about. The fans liked it and I liked the idea of having a good concept behind
all my future CDs. A good concept is the key to an interesting and musical sounding
album... Then I did "Hollymood" and that concept was just perfect.
That CD became my most popular and successful.
6) Tried to find out more details about your recent release
- concept-album "Hollymood", but data on Internet were very modest.
May I ask you for more detailed story about that project.
"Hollymood" is like road movie without pictures,
a guitaristic ear movie. I'm fascinated by old Hollywood movies, American TV
series and the film industry in L.A. So I stay a few weeks in Califonia every
year visiting the Universal Studios in Hollywood a few times and that's where
the inspiration came from: I got into a real Hollywood mood - The HollyMood.
So I started writing the music and out came 12 scenes of an immaginary movie.
It's great fun and I think you can hear the California sun on the album. By
the way, German Musik Express magazine rated "Hollymood" best instrumental
Rock album of the year...
7) Three years passed since you recorded and released album
"Hollymood". I truly believe that you already have finished some new
project. What will it be and could you describe the sound / style of it?
No, I have not finished it yet, but you're right, there's a
new album coming out by the end of the year and I'm busy working on it. First
I planned to to a sequel of "Hollymood" like "Hollymood Part
II" or something, but then I decided to do something different. The new
album will be less Rock but more R&B, Fusion... Real nice & slow guitar
melodies, the ideal night time music and that's also the concept behind the
new CD: Guitar music for the night... But I think I'll also do "Hollymood
Part II" in the near future and this will be fast, loud and rocking again...
8) We in B&H (it applies also to this much wider area)
are not so much familiar with nowadays German music scene. Which music style
is prevailing and who are the most popular representatives of such music scene?
This question do not refer to pop music, but the music which is considered as
good and qualitative.
The German music scene nowadays is as it ever was: there's
good music and there's bad music. Good music can be heard in small clubs and
at festivals and the bad music is on TV and radio. Jazz, Fusion and Blues is
kind of niche music and you won't hear that on the radio very often. Pop and
HipHop are prevailing! German record labels don't care very well about their
local artists, they rather distribute all the US artists. The record companies
only provide music for teenagers and don't care for the middle aged (25-50)
fans. That's the big problem, because there ARE lots of fans of good music and
there are also excellent musicians in Germany...
9) For the end of this interview - what would be your message
to the listeners of radio show The Jeans Generation which will have an opportunity
to listen some songs from your album "Hollymood"?
To all the listeners of The Jeans Generation, thanks for listening
to my "Hollymood" album, I hope you like it. If you have any questions
on my music, guitars, or whatever please don't hesitate to contact me. How?
Just check out my website www.tomriepl.com
10) That would be all. Thank you Tom.
Thank you, Dragutin. You're welcome!