Adrian Galysh is known in guitar circles as a force of nature, a player's player. He has been a part of major projects involving Uli Jon Roth, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch and many more as well as a solo artist. Additionally he is the online lesson columnist for Guitar World Magazine and Education Coordinator for Guitar Center Lessons. Twenty years ago, Adrian issued his first solo record Venusian Sunrise. However as time went by, he felt an itch to correct things technology-wise that he felt were lacking in the original. Last month, he released Venusian Sunrise - 20th Anniversary Edition. I was in contact with him recently to find out about why he decided to update this amazing record.
antiMusic: I guess the obvious first question is why did you decide to revisit your very first solo recording?
Adrian: I recorded my debut, Venusian Sunrise, when I was about 22 years old, on a single 8-track ADAT machine in my parents' basement. I had just gotten out of college and was eager to prove myself, and had the lofty goal of recording an album of original guitar music. While the CD proved to be a pretty good recording, and sold well, over time I began to hear things that bothered me with the production and some of the performances.
As I made more records, my playing got better, and the production quality also improved, and the more I listened to Venusian Sunrise, the more I began to think I should re-record it. It wasn't until last year, after completing Into The Blue, that I realized 2018 would be the 20th anniversary of my debut, and what better time to redo the record?
antiMusic: Tell us how the original record came together. Where were you in your playing career and when did the idea of a solo record come to you? Following that, how quickly did the material come together?
Adrian: This was early on, at the beginning of my career. I was just out of college, doing recording session work, performing, and teaching guitar lessons. I had been writing and playing some of the songs already when I was in college/music school, but after I graduated, I kept writing, with the intent of doing a solo CD. I was young, and ready to take on the world, and Venusian Sunrise would be my way of getting my name 'out there'. I think it took about 6 months to record and complete the CD.
antiMusic: Listening back to the record in recent years, which particular parts stuck out to you as moments that cried out for a modern touch?
Adrian: The first thing that bothered me, and it's on most of the record, was the electronic programmed drums. They're decent, but so dated, and there were some questionable drum tracks. Also, for the acoustic tunes, where there are no drums, I didn't have a click track, so I just 'winged it', so while not horrible, there were a couple timing issues that stuck out to me over the years.
antiMusic: Writing an album can be a very laborious process at times. Was there a lot less pressure to this project knowing that the bedrock was there and instead of digging deep creatively (from the starting line), you could either work some different arrangements or try some alternate trappings?
Adrian: Certainly, having the material already written, with the 'blue prints' right in front of me, the process of recording was easier than usual. I always kept it in the back of my mind that the new recording would have to exceed the original in quality and performance, but after 20 years of playing and experience, I gotta say, one of the benefits of that experience is being able to get a great performance in just a couple takes. I used to labor over guitar parts and solos, piecing together ideas, punching in and out many times to get a full solo. These days, I get a take I like and move on, or at worst piece together two solos if it's a long part.
Most of the song arrangements are the same, and the updates came in the form of using current sounds and samples, real drums, and generally better, more mature guitar playing. I did alter the arrangement of "What On Earth" adding an addition verse after the solo sections.
antiMusic: Producing yourself is sometimes an exercise in constraint. Hearing this material over 20 years, you obviously had moments of wanting to re-do parts. When you had the chance, did you have to pull back from "fixing" any songs too much and simply letting them be, like giving them a new coat of paint instead of a whole new blueprint?
Adrian: There is always a point where you have to simply 'walk away from the painting, and put down the brush'. My first challenge with these tunes was to simply make sure all the parts were there: piano, drums, bass, guitars, synths, etc. At that point I could then take a subjective listen and decide if I wanted to subtract any parts, change sounds, or add stuff. Which made things kind of easy. I could make sure that the orchestration and instrumentation added to the song and its arrangement, things I probably didn't consider so much when I was younger.
Also, now that I think about it, having 20 years to think about redoing Venusian Sunrise was probably really helpful. Over time, a few of the songs that we always played live morphed into what you hear now. It's like by the time I actually got to re-record the record, I had a very good idea of what I wanted to fix, after thinking about it for so long.
antiMusic: Tell us about the original recording of "Venusian Sunrise" and why you decided to have this as the title track.
Adrian: The title track is like the overture of the album. To me it's a musical introduction to the record - a bit epic, with classical undertones, and paints a mental picture of a kind of 'birth' to my music. I've played this song at the beginning of almost every gig my band has played. And of course the title eludes to the beginning of the day, however from a different planet!
antiMusic: One of my favorite tracks is "Blue Jungle". It goes from a real laid-back kind of noodling to some note-blurring fire. This one sounds like it would have been a lot of fun to put together. What was the original idea behind this and how did the name pop up?
Adrian: I'll give credit where credit is due. The groove and overall vibe was inspired by Pittsburgh guitarist Rick Mals, who was an amazing talent. He had an album called Rhythm Museum, and he played all the guitar and bass parts, and programmed amazing drums... which made me believe I could do the same. I wrote the riff in an attempt to copy his vibe. The song includes steel drums, and marimba giving it a tropical sound, and those parts alternate with a minor blues section... so the name made sense, "The Blue Jungle". On the original recording the outro solo is me trying to shred, but live, the solo section always was a slow burn, building up in intensity, and that's what I wanted on the new recording. Stu Hamm did a great job on bass on this, and his solo is really fun.
antiMusic: Another favorite is "Lullaby of South Aiken St." What's the story behind this one?
Adrian: I have a clear memory of me coming up with the whole song while I was in college. I was having dinner over at a girlfriend's apartment, and as she fell asleep I came up with this on the guitar. She lived on South Aiken Street in Pittsburgh, and I literally played this as a lullaby for her.
antiMusic: "So Close So Far" and "What on Earth" really rages yet retain a strong melodic sense. It seems with your material that melody doesn't take a back seat to your superior soloing skills. You really find a happy marriage with both. Is this important to you?
Adrian: I am absolutely a melody person. Granted having the right chords, and rhythm sure helps, but if the melody isn't memorable, then there is no point to it. While my song arranging skills back then were much simpler, and certainly not sophisticated, I knew I could come up with a good melody. That was, and is this record's strong suit. Since then I have always tried to write music as if I was writing a catchy vocal song ie.: with verses, pre choruses, choruses, and a bridge.
antiMusic: As an add-on to the last question, I know you are an Uli guy and you can hear traces of that in your playing. It also seems to me that the melodic sense of constructing a "pretty solo" which evolves into a flurry of notes kind of Schenker way. Was Schenker also an influence to you as much as Uli?
Adrian: Schenker is definitely an influence. He's so melodic, and his style and tone was probably more attainable to me than what Uli was doing. Uli has the Hendrix thing down, and Jimi's playing wasn't in my wheelhouse back then. Michael Schenker's acoustic work on his Thank You albums was a big inspiration to my acoustic playing as well.
antiMusic: Tell us a bit about the musicians you asked to play on the new recordings. What was it about Stu Hamm (I realize this is kind of a dumb question but you know what I mean) and Glen Sobel in particular that you felt deserved to be heard on this record?
Adrian: I'll start with Glen. He and I played together for about 5 years before he got the gig with Alice Cooper, so he was already familiar with my music and even some of the tunes from Venusian Sunrise that we had played live. He grew up listening to the same music I did, and he has a lot of experience recording with other guitarists like Jennifer Batten, Tony MacAlpine, Gary Hoey, and Paul Gilbert, so were are often on the same page regarding what the drums should be doing in songs like mine. He has great instinct when it comes to this kind of music, so to me, it was no-brainer.
I jammed with Stu Hamm a few months ago at an event in Hollywood and it was great fun. To have Stu on this record really brings the project around full circle for me. I was a fan of his 20 years ago, and of course his history with Joe SatrianiantiMusic: Finally, in 2018 did you finally succeed in matching the artistic vision from your 22 year-old self with this record?
Adrian: I think I did. Back then I did my best with what I had. I have enough sense, after 20 years, to realize that every record is a snapshot in time, and reflects myself and my skills at that time. That's why I included the original recording on the CD as well. Are there parts on the original that make me cringe? Yes, but there it is for the world to hear. Having the new recording and the old one on the same disc lets listeners hear where I was and where I am now. I get to re-release an out of print record, and scratch an artistic itch that's been bothering me for over ten years.
Morley and antiMusic thank Adrian for taking the time to do this interview.
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