Interview: Blaze – Teenage Guitar Titan From Fresno!
15 year old classic rocker Blaze from Fresno, California may be the busiest man in guitar show-biz. He is currently in two original bands, a rock cover band and in the studio working on his solo album. His original song “Rock Gods” was nominated in the rock category at the Hollywood Music Awards. Blaze took a few minutes out of his jam packed schedule for a 300guitars interview. In this interview Blaze talks about how he got started playing the guitar, his favorite players and tools of the trade. He also lets us in on some future plans. Rock on Blaze!
300guitars: Hi there Blaze. Tell us a little about yourself.
Blaze: I was born in Springfield, Missouri. My dad is a guitarist/songwriter and got me started on lessons when I was 6 years old. After seeing KISS in concert when I was 5, I knew it was what I wanted. My parents opened a Blues Club and some of the best players were coming to play: Guys like Duke Robillard, Chris Duarte and Walter Trout. Walter told me a story of how his idol Duke Ellington had given him some advice when he was young and he wanted to pass that advice along to me. He said, “Always play from the heart.” It was good advice and I always do.
When I was 12 years old, we moved from rural Missouri to Los Angeles, CA. It was really cool to play at the Whiskey (where Eddie Van Halen started) and the Roxy. Later on I played some shows with Shelby Cobra (Disney’s KSM) as a duo. I was also part of a Rock Star Prodigy TV pilot with Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison). Another fun thing I got to do was to play a few songs on stage with Gilby Clarke (GNR). I’m 15 now and travel back and forth from Fresno to LA to play in different bands.
300guitars: Did you teach yourself how to play or did you study with someone?
Blaze: A little of both. I started out with an instructor who was strict on technique so I didn’t pick up a lot of bad habits early on. I’ve had several instructors over the years, the most recent being Howie Simon (Alcatrazz). I have also learned a lot from instructional videos and by ear.
300guitars: What kind of guitars do you have?
Blaze: The Epiphone SG was my first guitar. I have been playing an Ibanez S470DX alot as well as a Gibson Les Paul Menace. I also have an 80’s Dean Hollywood Z. My current favorite is an Ibanez Prestige RG770DX limited edition.
300guitars: What type of amplifiers are you using?
Blaze: My amp on stage is a Marshall JCM 2000 TSL 122. In the studio, I like to experiment and try different types of sounds for different songs. I have a Peavey 6505 Plus and a vintage Rockman XP100 amp.
300guitars: What effects do you have on your pedalboard?
Blaze: On my pedalboard, I have a Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb, an Ibanez digital delay (from the 80’s), an MXR Eddie Van Halen Phase 90, a Boss TU-2 Chromatic Stompbox Tuner, an Ibanez flanger (also from the 80’s), and a Dunlop Slash Crybaby. I occasionally use a Digitech Wammy Pedal too.
300guitars: Who are some of your favorite players?
Blaze: My all-time favorite guitarist is Eddie Van Halen. That first album with Eruption and Ice Cream Man blew my mind. Randy Rhoads, Slash, Tom Scholz, Joe Satriani: all of them are amazing. I really like the heartfelt bluesy feel Slash put into the song Fall To Pieces. And wow, the first Boston album was so original in style and sound. The guitars just soar. Another guitarist that I’ve been listening to recently is Dann Huff from the band Giant. I heard “I’m A Believer” on the radio one day, and I thought “Who was that!?” I had never heard of Giant before, but I became a big fan after listening to some more of their songs.
300guitars: Tell us about your band? Do you have any CD’s available?
Blaze: I’m currently playing in original projects in LA and a classic rock cover band in Fresno. I am also working on a solo project in the recording studio. We’re bringing in guest vocalists for each individual song. It’s great because I can match up each song with the perfect voice for that particular song. As far as live performance, I’ve been playing a lot of weekends with Krossover lately, and that’s been a lot of fun. I will be playing the national anthem in July at a Fresno Grizzly’s baseball game.
300guitars: Is there a big scene for your style of music out there in LA?
Blaze: Lots of kids my age really like 70’s and 80’s influenced hard rock. We didn’t get the memo from that guy who decided that guitar solos aren’t allowed in songs anymore.
300guitars: Tell us about the Hollywood Music Awards.
Blaze: My song “Rock Gods” was nominated in the rock category and the event was held at the Kodak Center on Hollywood Blvd. This was the first song I recorded for the solo project. We had Brian “Hacksaw” Williams sing the lead vocals on it. He sings like a mix of Brian Johnson and Ronnie James Dio. I didn’t win the award, but it didn’t matter at all. I was happy just to be there and to be nominated.
Chris Bellman, who works with Van Halen, Elton John and so many great artists, mastered the song for me. Afterwards, he asked me who my favorite guitarist was. I told him it was Eddie Van Halen. Chris told me to hang on for a minute and he went into a room in the back of his studio. I heard him rustling around back there for a little while. Finally he came back and put a plastic box on my lap. I said, “what is it?” He said, “read it” I couldn’t believe it: It said Van Halen Diver Down. He had placed the original multitrack Reel of that album in my hands. It’s something I’ll always remember. I asked him if I could keep it. He thought that was pretty funny.
300guitars: What’s on the horizon for you?
Blaze: We are putting together a video for Rock Gods and hope to have it on YouTube soon. I plan on making some instructional videos and finishing the solo CD that I’ve been working on. What I like most is playing live so I really want to go on tour. That could be with one of the original bands I am in, or I have imagined hooking up with some great band from the 80’s who has reformed and wants to tour. So let’s get the word out on that.
300guitars: Thanks for taking the time for this interview Blaze. You are a smoking player and I’m sure you have a bright future ahead!
Blaze: My pleasure! Thank you for letting me be a part of 300guitars!
Here is a rippin’ clip of Blaze playing “Joy Ride”.
You can learn more about Blaze at the links below.