Track Premiere: Andrew Lee – “Maybe”

Andrew Lee

If endless riffs and shredding are what you crave above all else, you can scratch that monstrous, gnawing, inner itch with Andrew Lee‘s Heavy Metal Shrapnelout via Nameless Grave Records on December 10.

Also of Decibel death metal faves, Ripped to Shreds, Lee’s desire is to bring the power of the riff and sleazy, grimy stylings back to instrumental music.

The record also features some pretty solid guests, including solos by Hagamoto (Bodies Lay Broken) on “Heavy Metal Shrapnel,” Antoine Daigneault (Chtheilist) on “Deliverator,” and Phil Tougas (Chtheilist, First Fragment) on “Maybe.”

We talked to Lee about the record, and to get everyone stoked for the release, check out “Maybe,” and prepare to get your face melted.

What inspired you to bring back the precision of instrumental shredding to the world of grimy death metal, and why is this mission important to you?
I don’t think there was ever a question of NOT combining shredding and death metal. The shredding stuff is so formative and important to me when I was getting into guitar and learning how to play, so if there’s any solos in my music, which is a non-negotiable requirement, it’s gotta be ’80s shredding bullshit.
As for why specifically this type of instrumental, solo guitar album, no one’s really done a Shrapnel Records-style album since the late 90s. Paul Gilbert started making dad rock stuff solo pretty early on, Yngwie more or less stayed the course, but his albums have always been vocal-focused;Tony MacAlpine started making djent-influenced stuff, and the entire modern crop of shredders play EDM, fusion, metalcore/djent, or neo-soul/funk. I know Phil Tougas has been talking about making a Shrapnel-style, instrumental record soon, but I guess I beat him to the punch. So, even though shred has been dead for 30 years, I don’t think anyone’s really taken a good shot at resuscitating it.
What was the writing and recording process like for the track?
I knew I wanted this to be a synth-driven track that stays pretty mellow with a slow backbeat on drums that explodes into a big solo towards the end, so I started playing around with my keyboard, trying to find the right riff. Most of the song is key driven; I don’t even use a bass guitar—it’s synth bass. When recording my leads, I focused on trying to find the right kind of articulation and vibrato to give the melodies a really vocal feel.
I considered making this song a drum machine track actually, to give it a really authentic, 80s vibe, but in the end, I’m glad that Alex put live drums on it because it really gives the whole thing a much more live feel. When I got Phil’s solos for the breakdown halfway through the song, I was so excited I jumped out of my chair, I had been planning to do a typical, shred-o-rama thing for my solo spot, but his lead drove me in a totally different direction, much more restrained and stately rather than just balls to the wall fire. I think that ended up serving the song much better, because it leaves room for the solo at the end of the song to really go crazy with fireworks.
Do you have touring or support plans for the album?
Unfortunately not, with finishing up the new Relapse album or preparing for festivals/tours for RTS, I don’t think I have the time. This music requires a huge amount of preparation, and I’d need to find both a second guitarist and a keyboardist who can keep up with the shredding throughout the record. I guess it would be possible to perform solo to backing tracks, but that doesn’t sound very fun from an audience perspective, or for myself as a performer.
What modern-day death metal bands are you digging? Who do you think is moving the sound forward?
For death metal, I can’t say I really care about “moving the sound forward.” I’ll leave that for future generations to discuss who “advanced” death metal because I just want to hear sick shit. I really dug the new Decrepisy album, as well as Witch Vomit.
For modern shredders … it’s really hard to think of ones that play in a style I’m looking for. I really enjoy Marco Sfogli and Martin Miller, but they’ve been around for 15 years now and are pretty pop/fusion focused. Probably Phil Tougas and Steve Janssen (Crypt Sermon) are two “new” and younger shredders that are really sick and play sick metal, but I don’t know if they’re “advancing” shred guitar, because I think they wear their influences on their sleeve (as do I!)
Do you have any plans in the works yet for the next record after this one, or any future projects?
Yes, the second album will be titled “Heavy Metal Hairspray,” and it will be focused around vocal hooks. I’m trying to find the perfect Don Dokken, Mark Boals type glam singer for it. I haven’t started writing yet, being busy with other bands, but I have a pretty solid concept in my head of how I want the whole album to go.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Heavy metal never dies! Don’t ever stop shredding!