Legendary guitarist Jeff Loomis’ highly anticipated sophomore solo album, Plains of Oblivion, is available now through Century Media Records. There are many special guests featured such as guitarist Marty Friedman, vocalist Ihsahn (formerly of Norwegian black metal band Emperor and current solo artist) and vocalist Christine Rhoades. Loomis was the lead guitarist for the metal band Nevermore from 1991 until the band parted ways last year. He is proof that if you put the time and energy into something that you really believe in, so many positive things will come your way.
In support of his latest release, Loomis is currently on tour with Protest the Hero, Periphery and The Safety Fire. I met with Loomis before the Denver show to talk about the new album, the tour and his career as a musician. “The tour is going very well, I’m having an awesome time. All of the bands are all very chilled out and relaxed and everyone gets along,” he said. It’s been awhile since he toured, so he is having a great time being out on the road and being back on stage. “I’m very, very happy that people are digging what I’m doing and accepting the instrumental band.”
The music that inspires him as a musician varies, starting with the music of the ‘70s from his father’s music collection, which included bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra and Queen. “I then started to get into the guitar shred guys…Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman…and I would sit down and play the music very slow, like half speed, and try to figure out what they were doing musically…I spent eight or nine hours a day practicing my ass off until I got to be as good as I wanted to be,” he explained.
Loomis is a very passionate musician who spends a lot of time in his basement writing music. He comes up with twenty or so riffs a day. “You kind of put it together like a jigsaw puzzle…I come up with the basic drum idea and then add the guitar to that,” he stated. He also plays drums and piano.
The new album, Plains of Oblivion, is one of his best thus far, and fans will be more than thrilled once they hear it. There is one song on the album that is a little different than the rest, and it’s called Chosen Time. It is a beautiful ballad with Christine Rhoades on vocals. While it is more of a slower song in comparison with the rest of the album, it is one that will undoubtedly earn Loomis new fans. “I wanted to make the record extremely diverse and I didn’t want it to sound the same all the way through. I wanted there to be different feelings going on with elements of thrash, rock, balladesque kind of songs and instrumental music,” he said. Loomis wrote four songs for vocalist Christine Rhoades and two of the songs (Chosen Time and Tragedy and Harmony) are on the U.S. release and the other two songs are on the Japanese release.
Loomis doesn’t want to be portrayed as a guitar virtuoso. He wants to be known as a good songwriter and a good player. “I don’t want to be on this pedestal as a guitar hero or a guitar god. I just do what I do because I enjoy it and that’s the bottom line,” he explained. He hopes to inspire another generation of kids to play music and that’s what means the world to him. For the next generation of musicians, he has two pointers, “Don’t listen to just one style of music…there is so much more out there. There’s classical music which expands your mind (Chopin is a favorite of his)…expand your mind and listen to jazz, classical, rock, death metal. Listen to everything. It will expand your horizons when it comes to guitar playing. Also don’t be a ‘bedroom guitar player,’” he said. It’s important to play with other musicians. Loomis does indeed listen to everything. He explained that at this time he’s listening to Adele, Meshuggah, Opeth, Decapitated, and a lot of classical, depending on his mood.
Loomis has a message for his fans: “I’m happy to be touring again. Be looking for more of me in 2012. There will be more tour dates in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also forming a new band with a vocalist.” Luckily for music fans everywhere, there is much more to come from Jeff Loomis in the near future.
Plains of Oblivion track listing:
- Mercurial (featuring Marty Friedman)
- The Ultimatum (featuring Tony MacAlpine)
- Escape Velocity
- Tragedy and Harmony (featuring Christine Rhoades)
- Requiem for the Living (featuring Attila Voros)
- Continuum Drift (featuring Chris Poland)
- Surrender (featuring Ihsahn)
- Chosen Time (featuring Christine Rhoades)
- Sibylline Origin
For more information about Jeff Loomis: