As far as rock guitarists go, Alex Grossi is by far one of the most dedicated, hardest-working musicians out there. To name just a few of his accomplishments, by 20 years of age, Alex had landed a major label deal with Atlantic Records; later wrote, recorded, toured and performed with three different members of Guns n' Roses - his favorite band; and secured his spot as the third official guitarist for the legendary metal band Quiet Riot, which meant following two incredible talents - Carlos Cavazo, and the late, great Randy Rhoads.
Alex has continued his musical exploration with his latest project - Maps to the Hollywood Scars - which is a collaboration with American Idol finalist and Quiet Riot frontman, James Durbin.
Promoting the release of the Maps to the Hollywood Scars' EP debut, Volume One, Alex discusses the inception of this project, his professional career, as well as some other insights for all you rock lovin' string-benders out there.
Q: What is the concept behind Maps to the Hollywood Scars, and how did this collaboration between you and James Durbin come about?
I met James in 2011 via a mutual acquaintance. I remember being taken [aback], not only by his obvious vocal prowess but by his knowledge and love for real rock n' roll. Then, last year I went to a Vegas show he was doing, and we ended up jamming together at the after-party.
As far as the “concept” - It's more of a reflection of where the record industry was, is, and where it's going. What once gave artists and record labels a medium to actually sell music has now become a place where the general consensus is that music is free. Where some people will gladly spend $4 on a cup of coffee without batting an eyelash, but feel totally fine about illegally downloading a song or record that cost thousands of dollars and countless hours to create, produce and market.
Q: What did the writing process for ‘Volume One‘ look like?
Very Organic and simple - I would send James a demo with no preconceived ideas about how it should be or what it should be about and he kept churning out some GREAT stuff. We ended up demo-ing about a dozen tunes, and picked 5 to be released [as 'Volume One'].
Q: As the EP title implies, are their subsequent volumes in the works?
Yes, we are currently working on the final mixes of the next batch of songs; they are coming out great.
Q: While I know you get this question a lot, as a huge fan of 80's metal myself, I have to ask - when you first joined Quiet Riot, you were following in the footsteps of some of Heavy Metal’s most terrifying guitarists Carlos Cavazo, and of course the legendary Randy Rhoads - what was your approach to honoring their legacy while at the same time distinguishing yourself as a player?
When I first met Kevin DuBrow, he told me to learn the solos and riffs, but to make them “my own” - there is always going to [be] haters that say “you don’t play it exactly like the record” and then at the same time call you a “clone” - Quite honestly, at the end of the day if it weren’t for those [two] amazing players, the songs - and the QUIET RIOT legacy, I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. I do my best every night and every time I enter the studio to honor it, and also put my own DNA on it at the same time.
Q: I had read that when you were first recruited by Kevin Dubrow for the “Bad Boys of Metal Tour,” you were required to learn over 40 songs - how much time did you have to prepare, and how did you accomplish such a feat that many players would be overwhelmed by?
I literally spent a good solid month woodshedding - and without the help of computer programs or online lessons, I did it all to the CD’s, by ear; It wasn’t easy, but I feel it made me a better player, by far. I was actually very flattered that Kevin thought enough of my playing and work ethic to put me up to that insane task.
Q: How was it that you and Kevin first crossed paths?
We shared the same Agent in Hollywood, I was in Beautiful Creatures and he was doing solo dates and needed a guitarist - We hit it off instantly.
Q: For many players, there is always that one artist who inspires a guitarist to want to pick up the instrument for the first time; who was that artist who inspired you and why?
For me? I would have to say Slash - I was never a fan of the “80’s shredder” type guys, I was always more into Joe Perry, Ace Freely, etc. Slash embodied all of those things, and had a great tone and bluesy [feel] that really stood out from the overblown [goofiness] of late 80’s hard rock guitar playing.
Q: What are some of the aspects of rock guitar that you feel players focus too much on, and what are some aspects that you feel are being neglected?
I think a lot of guys aren’t aware of how important your tone is, and how it needs to be consistent - especially when touring. Don’t worry about having $30,000 worth of gear, worry about being able to plug in and go for it, while sounding good at the same time.
Q: It seems that so many aspiring artists find great difficulty in managing to get even just one project off of the ground - present company included - but at a glance, your resume seems to reflect an endless array of accomplishments; with that said: how do you keep so many projects going at once? And what kind of advice, or encouragement can you offer to artists who are struggling with bringing their own personal artistic visions to life?
Just stick with it and believe in what you do - I have never stopped or let anything get in my way -- neither should you, if it is really what you want to do.
A great and many thanks to Alex for his time, and be sure to check out more of his work at the following links: