Saturday, April 28, 2007

Steve Shannon Interview


One of my latest discoveries was the amazing guitarist Steven Shannon. It's strange when you think that Neoclassical Metal has reached its limits and then suddenly a young man appears and blows away all predictable thoughts that you may have about the scene! Steve's playing is much more emotional that the average guitarists of the genre and he's preparing to show the world his virtuosity by releasing his debut CD. He was kind enough to answer my questions so check the opinion of someone that will definitely leave you speechless with his wonderful playing!

What strong wave of enthusiasm forced you to pick up the guitar and at what age?
I started to play guitar early… at the age of 8. My Mother played guitar and sang which in turn got me interested in the instrument. My love for the instrument really ignited 6 years later when I first heard the song “Black Star” by Yngwie Malmsteen… this song had a profound effect on me in a way that can not be put into words. All I can say is that after that moment… guitar became an obsession.

Which are you all-time favorite Musicians?

This is a hard question because there are so many great players. I’m inspired by, Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Rachmaninoff, Uli Jon Roth, Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, James Byrd, George Lynch and many more.

Why you chose "Neoclassical Fusion"as you claim your style to express yourself?

My style is based on what I like and want to do. I like to fuse the intensity & aggression of Rock with Classical… the marriage of both styles intrigues me. In my opinion, as far as melody and structure of arrangement, Classical music is more superior because it is more intense and emotional.

Your playing is much more emotional and intense than that of the average Neoclassical guitarist. For the songs that I’ve listened to, you insisted on really strong sentimental melodies and you prefer to neglect speedy, double-bass songs. Why?
Thank you for the kind words Dimitris. I want to create music that people will remember. My solos are like little compositions because they’re totally spontaneous & improvised. That’s the way I do it. I think that as a musician you have to play from your heart and not necessarily what music theory suggests. I’ve known of musicians who will learn music parts off another artists CD recording and then assemble them into their own song… which is entirely different from what I’m doing. I think very much the same way a classical composer would think. I use the bass to play the root, then a melody line and blend those together with a fifth and sometimes an octave above. I write melody lines then write the verse chord progression with relative chords. I plan on incorporating some double bass songs into future recordings.

When do you plan to release your first CD. Can you tell us details about title, label and its contents?

I’m currently unsigned and producing this myself which in turn slows down the process when you lack capital so if there are any labels reading this interview and you’d like to contact me please do so at

I’m putting together my debut cd at George Bellas music studios… my goal is to get the project finished this year. Since the cd will be all instrumental I wanted to name the project something that would reflect this so I came up with “Where Words Fail… Music Speaks” as the title. I’m also collaborating with some well known musicians and will have some guest players on the cd. At this time I do not want to disclose who they are but fans of Neo-Classical will definitely know them.

Do you plan also to feature some vocal songs in your future releases?

Yes, I would like to do a cd with vocals and that is my goal for the next cd.

In one of our previous contacts, you said that success is not your main goal, but you want to bring your music to an audience that will appreciate it, musically-wise. Is that true?

Yes and No. Obviously I’d like to be able to sustain my living costs and focus solely on just being a musician because music is my true bliss. Unfortunately, I’m still a victim of being a wage slave so I work a corporate job which requires a lot of my focus. I guess what I want everyone to know is that I’m not writing my music with dollar signs in my eyes… it is truly being written from my heart. Every fiber of who I am as an individual is in this project and I really would enjoy being able to share my passion with the world. Having the right vehicle to share my music on this level such as strong label support and advertising would help me to reach this goal.

George Bellas used flattering words for your work. What do you think of him?

Getting together with George is a great story. I was in a guitar players contest and he was one of the judges. We happened to talk during one of the intermissions and seemed to hit it off real well. The rest is history. I’ve been studying with him for 3 years now and I can not begin to tell you how grateful I am to have this relationship. George really inspires me and has helped me tremendously with left & right hand techniques. When I came to George I had little guitar training… most of what I’ve learned has been from self study and experience. To this day I’m still unable to read music. I play from the heart and what I hear. I’m currently learning how to read and also starting to learn more about harmony & tonal music techniques. Besides being a mentor… he is a great human being and I feel blessed to have him in my life.

There’s a brand new wave of Neoclassical Metal coming from the States with artists like Matthew Mills, Chad Sloan, of course you and many more. In a country that’s so hard to promote a demanding musical style like yours, how do you explain your enthusiasm?

I really don’t think about all the negatives that as an artist in this genre we’re up against nationally. I prefer to focus on the positive aspects… such as how popular Neoclassical still is in other countries. All I know is that I’m writing & playing the music that I truly love and it’s coming from my heart... wherever it goes and how far is a matter of the unknown.

Do you plan any concerts or guitar clinics?

I would love the opportunity to do concerts worldwide but for me, getting signed is my first priority. As far as guitar clinics, I’d like to pick up some endorsements and do those as well.

What will the future be for Neoclassical Metal?

I think that Neo Classical Metal will be here in the future as long as there are listeners that enjoy brilliant arrangements and melodies based upon virtuosity & spectacular musicianship. I think before it becomes main stream like rap music or pop we’ll need to see artists of this genre receive more support & airplay. Imagine if they had a progressive metal American idol show someday… this would help bring the publics attention to this style of music.

Add anything you may want

Thank you for this interview and helping to support my vision of reaching out to a lot of people who probably wouldn’t hear me because of limited exposure and lack of advertising. Thanks also to all of you who read my interview and support this style of music because without your interest… the genre would be perhaps over.
I look forward to sharing my music with everyone in the near future and achieving my goal of playing worldwide. In the meantime, please visit my music site @
and let me know what you think.

Dimitris Starakis

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