Instrumental rock guitarist Bill Lonero and his band, LONERO, gave birth to ‘Guitarcore’ with their first release entitled Relentless in 2007. Undoubtedly influenced by six-string heroes Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, and Joe Satriani, he is pushing the limits in both songwriting and shredding. Today on August 2nd, the guitar virtuoso and his rocking group have released The Defiant Machine studio album, the follow up to 2011’s J.F.L. – and they have certainly produced a fantastic collection of songs.
THE METAL DEN’s Randy “Rocket” Cody recently conducted an email interview with guitarist Bill Lonero of LONERO band for his loyal Den Headz around the globe.
ROCKET: How’s life been treating you?
LONERO: Fantastic!! No complaints here. Everything is moving along and the new album is finally out. So that’s a big weight off my shoulders. Now the hard work of promoting starts.
ROCKET: Let’s talk about the new album by LoNero entitled “The Defiant Machine” . Where was it recorded and who produced it?
LONERO: Most of the guitars were recorded at our studio with some recorded at my house. The drums were tracked at our drummers house. I produced it. I did all the artwork as well.
ROCKET: What was the songwriting process for the album like? Did you write songs together as a band?
LONERO: The initial album started completely different. I had written 24 songs and was pretty happy with the direction. Then I had written song 25 which was “Defiant”. It was my first attempt at writing keyboards and drums. I really liked the way it turned out and decided I wanted the whole album to be in that style which was a more progressive style you could say. So I trashed the previous 24 songs and started from scratch. The next song I wrote I called “The Machine”. With those two titles I had the ground work for the whole album. Most of the songs I wrote but our other guitar player J.R. Manalili added some really great stuff and he brought the song “In Pursuit” to the band. We traded off melodies on that one. On the song “Burning of Ideals” he brought in that beautiful clean section before and during the piano solo. He also contributed the really cool rhythm right before and after the outro solos. He also added some great solos to the album as well. Our bassist Mike McKaigg played fretless bass throughout the cd and even played a Chapman Stick on “In Pursuit”. Amazing player!
(Photo by Neil Zlozower)
ROCKET: What is the meaning behind the title of the album?
LONERO: So after writing those two songs I started thinking “what could be a defiant machine?” and then it hit me that war is the ultimate defiant machine. It doesn’t matter how many people protests or how many marches there are or banners you wave saying “peace not war”, there will be and always has been war. That is human nature. We are a destructive creature. It’s sad but it’s true. I knew I wanted the photos for the album shot aboard the U.S.S. Hornet CVS-12 aircraft carrier. That ship is the ultimate defiant machine. In three major wars it was never hit by a bomb, torpedo or kamikaze. So I called my friend Neil Zlozower who is one of the most legendary rock photographers in the world and told him my idea to shoot on the Hornet and he drove up from L.A. and we did the shoot over an 8 hour period. This album is a concept album of war throughout the last 100 years. Starting with WW1 to Desert Storm. I’ve never really heard a true instrumental concept album wherein the packaging and the music all tie in together. I’m sure they are out there, but for myself I haven’t heard it so that was something I wanted to approach and see what we could do with it. The reaction so far has been amazing so I think we did a good job.
ROCKET: LoNero has been busy touring all over the place the past few years supporting the likes of Tony MacAlpine, Marty Friedman and more, will you be doing a lot of touring in support of the new album?
LONERO: Well we went out with Tony MacAlpine for two U.S. tours and that was just amazing. Tony and his band are such talents and very nice guys. We really got to know them well and call them friends now. Growing up, Tony was always one of my guitar idols so it was a pleasure every day on tour hanging out with him and watching him play. We only did one show with Marty Friedman but I’ve known Marty since his “Music for Speeding” album and of course it was a pleasure opening for him. We had just separated from our drummer after the last tour and about a week later I got an email asking us if we’d like to open for Marty in San Francisco. Of course I said yes but I didn’t have a drummer. A friend of mine had suggested this guy named Will Sharman. He came in, auditioned and nailed the songs. He learned the set and two weeks later we opened for Marty. Will then took the next two weeks to record all the drums for the new album and he just took it to a whole other level. Fantastic player.
ROCKET: You still playing mainly the Peavey Wolfgang guitar?
LONERO: Absolutely! It is and always will be my main guitar. I have 3 purple ones that are identical. To me, the new Wolfgangs just don’t have the same feel or sound as the Peavey’s. Unfortunately Peavey doesn’t make them anymore so any chance I have to buy a purple stop tailpiece I try to get it.
ROCKET: What kind of guitar amps were used for the album?
LONERO: We used a lot of amps. Everything from Diezel Hagan, to Engl Savage 100 to Voodoo and AxeFx. I own a lot of amps and wanted to get as much variation as possible.
ROCKET: Did you pick up any new effects?
LONERO: Not really. I’m not a big effects guy. I like some delay and reverb but other than that I’m good.
ROCKET: I know last time we did an interview together back in 2012 you were jamming the prototype Dunlop 535 wah, the chrome one. Is that still in your arsenal?
LONERO: It is but right now it’s in sick bay lol. On the last tour it took a nose dive at a show in Texas and I had to use a backup 535 which I’m still using. I haven’t gotten around to getting the other one fixed. Mainly because I don’t want anyone screwing with it. I’m hoping it will magically heal itself but I know that’s a long shot lol.
ROCKET: What brand strings and gauge do you use currently?
LONERO: I use Dunlop .09 gauge. I’ve always used that gauge. Even when my guitar is tuned down a whole step and the low “E” is dropped to “C”. I know for some people that’s too much slack for them but I like that feeling.
ROCKET: Your guitar sound on the “The Defiant Machine” is amazing! How long did it take to record the album from start to finish?
LONERO: Oh, man. lol From start to finish it took 3 years. But that was because of touring and there was lineup changes and a myriad of other things that just kept pushing the album farther and farther back. It was being as defiant as it could be. But we held out and persevered and emerged victorious lol. I’m really proud of this album. It’s completely different from our other CDs in that we branched out with more harmonies and keyboards and song structure. I know bands say that all the time “this album is totally different from our last cd dude” lol but this one really is lol.
ROCKET: Who did the mixing and mastering?
LONERO: The mastering was done by Anthony Casuccio of Xtreme Mastering out of Buffalo, NY. He mixed my solo album “Slather” and our first cd “Relentless”. I’ve always liked working with him. He’s got great ears and he doesn’t compress the hell out of the songs. Mixing was done by Eric Pederson. Originally I responded to an ad he had on Craigslist saying he was a guitarist and mix engineer. I contacted him because we had just fired our third guitarist and I wanted to find a replacement. So Eric came down to our studio and we hit it off. He couldn’t tour but said he could mix our cd. He had just moved to the area and didn’t really know anyone. It was a great fit. Now he works out of our studio and he’s a great guy.
ROCKET: Where is the best place for fans to pickup a copy of “The Defiant Machine”?
LONERO: Any online retailer or if you want a signed copy we are selling those directly from our website at http://www.LoNero.net or http://www.TheDefiantMachine.com.
ROCKET: Is it available in both physical CD and digital?
LONERO: Absolutely. All the usual streaming places for digital. I’m a huge proponent for physical CDs. I still love holding a cd in my hand and reading the liner notes. I think people that just buy mp3s are missing out on the whole package. I understand the allure of mp3s and the convenience of them but there is a lot more to an album than just the music.
ROCKET: What other hard rock or metal albums released this year have impressed you?
LONERO: I haven’t really listened to anything. I have Sirius in my car and I usually listen to the Elvis station or the Sinatra station. Rock and metal have become stagnant to me. The same lyrical subjects. The same riffs. Everyone is tuning lower and lower and it’s just sounding stale. It seems like rock and metal are getting lazy and record sales are reflecting that.
ROCKET: I know you’re a big AC/DC fan. What is your opinion of Axl Rose now fronting the band?
LONERO: I think it SUCKS!!!! I’ve been a huge AC/DC fan since I was a kid. I’ve seen them 19 times. I played with a Cliff Williams on stage. They got me into rock and wanting to be a guitar player. To see what’s happening now is absolutely saddening to me. AC/DC without Brian, Malcolm and Cliff is not AC/DC. It’s Angus with other people. Cliff said he is retiring at the end of this tour. I think Axl sucks as the front man. He doesn’t have the “every day man” persona that Brian has and he doesn’t have the voice. To me it sounds like nails on a chalkboard and he’s way overdressed for the band. In G ‘N’ R it’s great. He fits perfect. And I couldn’t imagine anyone else singing those songs. It’s the same for AC/DC. 36 years of Brian just can’t be replaced like that. If they are going to go out like this I think it’s a sad footnote in such an illustrious career that no other band can match.
ROCKET: What are some of the upcoming shows and or festivals Lonero will be playing this year?
LONERO: I’ve been talking with our booking agency, Blue Mouth Promotions to see what tours can be set up. So right now we play the waiting game. We are ready to tour any time, any place.
ROCKET: Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions. Great job on the new music!! Any last words for your fans?
LONERO: Thank you! It was my pleasure as always! Yes. Thank you for listening. Thank you for all of your support. Thank you to the new and old fans for coming out to the shows and buying our music. I always say, without you listening, music loses its meaning. If you’re on Facebook please add us at http://www.Facebook.com/LoNeroMusic.