The Pi of Shred

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Nevermore have been going through a good momentum after their highly acclaimed (and rightfully so) album This Godless Endeavor. While waiting for a follow-up, the fans of the band, appreciators of good music and quality musicianship, have been graced with two solo efforts coming out from the Nevermore camp. We took the opportunity to talk with the shredder extraordinaire, Mr. Jeff Loomis and ask him a few things about his new album Zero Order Phase and of course, check up on Nevermore.

So Zero Order Phase is finally out. Did it become everything you’d hope it to become before the project started?

Very much so. I’m really happy with it. I was able to work with some very talented artists, and working again with Neil Kernon was very cool too. It brought back a lot of cool memories of working with him on some of the older Nevermore stuff.

We were lucky enough to be able to record MOST of the CD right in my own basement studio, so the whole recording process was very relaxed. Sometimes it became a bit stressful simply because it was just Neil and I, shooting ideas back and forth for a month and a half.

When you have an entire band in the studio, there are ideas coming from four or five different people which can make the whole flow of things work a little smoother.

How’s the response been thus far?

The CD just came out in The States about a week ago and I’ve been reading some great reviews so far.

I’m very aware that the whole instrumental thing has been done many times before and was very popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This was something I’ve personally wanted to do for myself for a very long time. It was really challenging as well, so I think any fan of Nevermore will appreciate this music in the same way.

Did the album go through various phases, directions or did you have a clear idea of what it would be from the beginning?

I really treated the whole writing process in the same way I write Nevermore music. I woke up early and came up with as many riffs as I possibly could. I would usually end up with about 20 to 30 ideas. I would then take that down to about 10 really good ones. If I was lucky by the end of the day I would have enough to put a piece of music together.

Of course all the tunes went through many different phases. I think all of my music usually does. Usually when I go into a project, i don’t stop until it’s done. I hate going into something and then taking a break from it. It tends to lose a lot of vibe if I go about it writing this way. Neil really had a big part of helping me with many of the arrangements too. For the most part, I knew exactly what i wanted from the beginning. Neil Kernon just saw how it all worked as “the big picture” and helped me put it all together.

Were there plans for a vocalist before the album began to take a shape, or was it always clear that Zero Order Phase  would be an instrumental?

Century Media initially wanted me to think about having a vocalist on the CD, but I Just figured that I would have the whole thing instrumental because I have been doing vocal work with Warrel for the last 15 years… so why not have it all instrumental. Who knows, maybe for future projects I will work with another vocalist.

Solo albums are a mixed breed in the sense, that usually they’re not that good or are extremely awesome. What does a solo album mean to you and how does it differ from working for Nevermore?

I think a solo record can really showcase someone’s talent on whatever instrument they play, but it can also  show another side to someone’s playing. I think this record shows just that. It shows a much more emotional side to me, rather than just playing a million miles an hour all the time.

Zero Order Phase is also a very diverse record. This CD does not sound the same musically from beginning to end, which was something I was really shooting for. It has many cool styles of music that I enjoy listening to. Whether it be classical, jazz, rock or something else.

I love working with Nevermore and always will. It’s something I started from the ground up with Warrel and Jim, but sometimes it can be cool to do other projects too. The only difference from working with Nevermore was that I pretty much had the freedom to do anything I wanted to do musically When you’re in a band, or at least in our band, everybody has to agree on something before it can become a song.

It’s rare to have two guys from the same band doing a solo record at the same time and come out almost at the same time. Did you have a playful arms race with Dane?

No not at all. Warrel started writing his solo stuff WAY before me. Personally, I’m not a very good multi-tasker, so it’s hard for me to write on the road. Warrel wrote a lot of his vocal melodies and lyrics for his solo project while we were touring, but I like to be tucked away in my basement with nothing else going on around me. When the “This Godless Endeavor” tour finally ended, it was the perfect opportunity for me to get my project rolling. So, I called Neil and Mark and two months later we were recording.

At any point, did you think about doing a Neurosis-sort of a trick, so that both of your solo albums, when played together, would have created a third separate album?

[Laughs] No. But that could have been cool!

So if you were held at gun point, which one of the two albums you’d pick? Or distract everyone by pulling out a new Nevermore CD?

[Laughs]  Good question. Look, I’m happy Warrel and I both got the chance to do solo projects. I think it was healthy for us and healthy for the band. I’ll just say I’m very excited to get to work on finishing up the writing for the new Nevermore album. I know a lot of fans will enjoy our solo projects, but everyone is always asking us WHEN IS THE NEW NEVERMORE COMING OUT?!

Speaking of which, what’s happening in the Nevermore camp? The DVD’s just around the corner, and from what I gather it took quite a while to come into shape?

Yeah. There were some issues with the editing of the whole thing. It comes out mid November. It’s a full concert in Germany that has some of the best tunes we have ever written. It also has a bunch of extras that the fans will enjoy. Right now, I have about six new songs written, and we plan on being in the studio by January for a Summer release.

Shifting focus back to you, I’ve heard rumors that you’re interested in doing soundtracks? I do notice some soundtrack-sort-of-influences on your album, but did you have some sort of a visual in mind when you composed the songs?

That’s one of my lifelong goals. Write a soundtrack to a movie. I’ve already got some people interested in using some of my solo stuff for that purpose, but I did not intend for that to happen. If I did do one, it would be more orchestral sounding. I mess around with keyboards and piano all the time at home, so hopefully one day I will put something like that into play.

Whose soundtracks have had an impact on you?

Of course, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer are great. There are also the two dudes that go by the names of Tom and Andy [I think] that do great work. I believe they did some cool sounding music to the movie “The Covenant” and I also like John Murphy and John Williams.

And if you got to do a proper soundtrack, what kind of movies or projects are you interested in working with?

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe something set in the future. I’ve always been a big fan of “Blade Runner” and all the” Star Wars” movies. Something with intense orchestration.

You know, I’ve got an animation coming out next year…

That could be cool too. Make sure you call me if you need a composer!

While we’re talking about composing, how the hell do you come up with all those riffs? Lock yourself inside a room, a bunch of guitars and a mountain of energy drinks? Consult the animal spirits? Steal souls from mere men?

I never really have no idea. Most of my best riffs were written at the spur of the moment. I tend to work really well when I’m under pressure. If I sit down and spend hours and hours at something, it can lose a lot of what I’m looking for as far as the intensity of it. I just sit down, play and press the record button. You would be surprised at what you can get when you have a listen back.

Actually, thinking about it [stealing souls], that almost sounds like a movie in the vein of Highlander. Except this time there only could be one guitarist? Which guitarists would you cast in that movie?

Jason Becker of course!

Moving away from the movie world, how’s the Hellraiser-line doing? Any plans for some new gear that’ll raise the GAS of guitarists all over the world?

My guitar is selling really well. A lot of people are very happy with it from the amount of good reviews I’ve read.

Right now there are no plans for a new design. Out of all the good 7-strings out there, my guitar is pretty damn affordable. It’s a solid heavy chunk of wood that sounds killer. I’m very happy with it.

Ah well, I suppose we’re about finished here. What’s happening next with Jeff Loomis, aside from the new Nevermore album? Can people expect to hear your or Dane’s solo stuff at gigs?

I plan on doing an instructional DVD and maybe a book too. Right now it’s just focusing on the writing for the new Nevermore. I might do some clinics in the near future as well, but I don’t think we will perform the stuff with Nevermore.

As a nice, warm and fuzzy closure, what’s the question you’ve always wanted to answer, but which has not been asked from you?

Have you ever played a solo with ski gloves on? The answer is yes.

I did this for a guitar competition many years ago and freaked a few people out!

Thanks a lot for taking the time to have a chat with us. All the best with Zero Order Phase and whatever is stored for you around the corner!


Zero Order Phase is out now on Century Media Records.


  1. Commented by: Staylow

    Great interview Apollyon! Jeff seems like a really cool guy.

    His solo album is fucking awesome – I like it much more than Dane’s solo effort, which didn’t get on the gas enough for my tastes. With that said, I can’t wait for the new Nevermore album to come out!

  2. Commented by: axiom

    Nice review, Jeff’s one of my favorite metal guitarists. I guess I better buy that solo CD. The Nevermore DVD has me really psyched, I’ve only been able to see them in support roles.

  3. Commented by: faust666

    this man is a freakin god.

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