Warren DeMartini Talks ‘Infestation’ and Gear

April 9, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Warren in action (timstuck photo via flickr).

Warren in action (Tim Stevens photo via flickr).

Part 1

Warren DeMartini (yeah!) – one of the best, tastiest guitar-slingers from the ’80s – has a new album out, Ratt’s Infestation. Is his playing still tasty? Yep. Fluid and fleet? You bet. The album’s good, Warren’s playing is great as usual, and I wanted to talk to him about it. The folks at Roadrunner Records were kind enough to set that up, so here we go.

First, if you’re wondering what Warren is like, I found him very cool, laid back and super nice. Just a heck of a guy and a pleasure to talk to. We started in with the new album, and then moved on to gear – current AND historic!

WoodyTone: How do you feel about the album? Are you happy with it?

Warren: Yeah, I’m very happy with it. We just got the final mastering about 2 weeks ago, and we’re really very excited about the way it’s sounding.

It sounds like classic Ratt. Was that done intentionally?

We had a loose idea of revisiting the energy and sort of the point of view and the spark and color of the Out of the Cellar, Invasion period. That kind of was a guide to choosing tempos and the style of the riffs.

Did you play all the leads and fills?

Carlos [Cavazo] and I shared the lead work on most of the songs. For example, on “Best of Me,” Carlos played the intro [very tasty], and I played the middle solo and the outro. We kind of loosely followed that [trading off] pattern on several songs.

On “Take a Big Bite,” we’re trading off pretty quickly. The first 8 bars is me, the next one is Carlos, the third is me again, then we start the double lead [harmony] section. In “Don’t Let Go,” in the lead section, I’m playing slide in between Carlos playing some solo stuff. There’s a different approach on almost every song.

On “Take Me Home,” Carlos and I used sustainers, and just kind of came up with these long overlapping notes – two different parts that sort of make one texture.

There are a lot of harmony leads on this record. Why is that?

We were revisiting the style that Robbin [Crosby] and I sort of developed, and are continuing on in the spirit of Thin Lizzy and real early Scorpions stuff. We’re really big fans of that stuff. It’s something that’s really fun to do, and it’s a way for us both to play lead.

What’s it like having Carlos in the band? What does he add?

It’s like we grew up listening to the same bands – cool stuff coming out of the late ’60s and early ’70s, hard rock and roll – so we’re really in kind of similar schools in that sense. So even though I met him way back when, I really didn’t know him that well before he joined up. But what he brought with him is sort of familiar – it seems like we come from a similar place musically.

I always liked listening to his guitar-playing, and it was a cool thing that he started playing with us. It opened up revisiting all that cool double-lead stuff that we sort of founded the sound of Ratt with. He also brought new stuff to the band. “Best of Me” he brought in [a tune that sounds like classic Ratt!], the “Eat Me Up Alive” riff was something he brought in [listen below – those two tunes are the two album singles], sections of “Last Call.” So he’s a good writer, a good player and he fit right in.

The ‘Last Call’ intro riff sounds sort of like a Tele or a regular Strat. What did you use for that?

That was a recorded on my Charvel [Frenchie, not currently offered as a production model]. The amps were a Diezel V4 [VH4] and Soldano SLO 100-watt. We plugged them both in and sort of split the frequency spectrum up: the lows of the Diezel combined with the highs and upper midrange of the Soldano, so you have a really nice slash across the spectrum. I used that [setup] on every song except the rhythm guitar track on “As Good As It Gets.” That was the Diezel only through a Diezel cab. [The Soldano also was run through Diezel 4×12. If the cabs were stock – Warren wasn’t sure – they contained Celestion Vintage 30s.]

The “Lost Weekend” solo just rips. You’re on fire on that one. Was that worked out or a spur of the moment thing?

The “Lost Weekend” solo was special for me because it was something I came up with almost as I was playing it – almost simultaneously with the printing of the actual [rhythm] guitar part. It was really a matter of working out on the fretboard what I was hearing in my head. There’ve been other times when that’s happened, but it usually takes a little more time. That one kind of blew into the room.

Were all the parts recorded separately on this record?

Everyone was together live at the same time in the room. It was exciting to track the way we did. When you’re playing something, you know you have it right there and then. It was a really fascinating process for these songs to seem to appear out of nowhere.

Every song was done that way. We did a couple weeks of pre-production in LA – that was when we separated what [songs] would be on this Infestation CD. Then we did the Out of the Cellar 25th Anniversary Tour, and then flew to Virginia Beach and started tracking. Everyone was in the room and we’d just done the tour so there was a tightness that you get when you’ve been on the road. Combined with new material and new surroundings, it made for a really cool recording process.

The way we approached this record was more natural. Everyone was allowed to really do what they do. So we were really seeing the real colors of what everyone can do.

Were other Ratt albums cut live like that?

Everything but Reach for the Sky was cut that way. It just never gets better than everyone all going at the same time, every song.


> Warren said Ratt intends to put something on its website that breaks down who played what guitar parts on the album.

> Sometimes Warren is called a shredder, presumably in reference to the era he came up in: After grunge, alternative and whatever passes for music these days (e.g., Nickelback, cookie monster metal, etc.) arrived, every guitar-slinger who came up in the ’80s was lumped into the “shredder” category. Some guys were all about the speed and number of notes, but Warren wasn’t. His licks were tasty and blues-influenced, still stand up today, and believe it or not I don’t think he ever once right-hand “tapped” on the fretboard!

> Thanks to fellow Warren fans on thegearpage.net for contributing questions for this two-part interview. In the future, I’m going to post interview question requests here on WoodyTone.

> Part 2 with Warren will be posted Monday. LOTS of gear details.

> I’ll be interviewing Carlos soon, so if you have any questions for him – about gear, Ratt or even Quiet Riot – send them to me here.

Category: Carlos Cavazo, Charvel, Diezel, Soldano, Warren DeMartini

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. WoodyTone! - DETAILED Warren DeMartini Gear Rundown | April 12, 2010

Leave a Reply