Q: Did you ever skip school only to practice guitar:
A: Probably, although I can't really remember. This was aeons ago you know... :)
Q: Do you remember what amp settings you used in song "Broken"?
A: I don't even remember what amp I used :)
Q: What amps you used in Cain's Offering album and what's your usual live rig?
A: On "Gather The Faithful" I used a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier with a Mesa Boogie 4x12 Rectifier cabinet, which is also pretty much what I use live. I tend not to use any effects live anymore, just the guitar, the amp and the cabinet. Very meat-and-potatoes setup :)
Q: Have you ever thought about giving lessons, or sharing your music knowledge with others in other ways (Books/DVD's/etc.)
A: I've been asked to give lessons many, many times, but I don't think I would be very good teacher, as I'm a very impatient person and also think I couldn't really "teach" that much, as I basically most of the time don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I do have somewhat working knowledge of music theory, but I really don't see myself giving lessons. There are other people who could teach you everything I could, and more, and they do it better. As many of you probably know I've done some instructional stuff for the Japanese Young Guitar-magazine -you can find the clips from the internet-, but I think that's as far as I'll ever go with the instructional stuff.
Q: Are you using Ibanez guitars because you prefer them or is it just the sponsorship or something?
A: I started using them because I thought they looked really cool, and the first one I got was also a really good and easy guitar to play (an RG560, for those interested). Of course the endorsement also helps, but I really do like their guitars :)
Q: In older pictures I saw you had your guitar about the height of the chest, a bit below the breasts, but in time I've seen that you play the guitar at the height of the hips. Is it for convenience? Just another way to play it? More comfortable to play in the first frets?
A: This is actually a bit more about aesthetics and rocking out than it is about ease of playing. When I was younger I just wanted to play as perfect as I could, and especially the more difficult passages are much more easier to execute when you wear your guitar high. With time however I wanted to "rock out" a bit more, and lets face it, wearing your guitar down just looks helluva lot cooler :) Also, one can just raise a leg on the monitor and thus lift the guitar higher for those more demanding parts. Attached are two pics to illustrate the difference :) (Sorry for the bad quality, the 2012 was the only recent one I found)
Q: Any tips for not novices, but not experts to play?
A: Anything and everything. Learn songs you like to play.
Q: How the hell can you play so damn fast and clean?
A: I can't :)
Q: Why do you Jazz III picks?
A: I got into Jazz III's when I read that Petrucci was using them. I got a few, tried them out and never looked back. They just seem to fit my technique very well, they're small enough for my style and hard enough to get a really clean and sharp attack. Used to use these when playing acoustic guitar as well, but with my style of playing it just sounded too... violent. Picks are a matter of taste really, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for you. Experiment and find out what works. I went through a helluva list of picks before finding the Jazz III's.
Q: How do/did you pick the rhythm parts in "Don't Say a Word"?
A: In the studio it was all downpicking. Sometimes live I would go for alternate picking instead, after playing for 1h+ during a show I might feel like giving myself a break :)
Q: Do you use economy picking sometimes?
A: Not really, I did practice it at some point, but it never became much of a thing for me. I guess I just wasn't good enough at it, but it always sounded a bit sloppy and lame to me, whereas alternative picking was more aggressive and precise.
Q: Have you ever been burned out from the guitar, and if so, how do you get out of it?
A: Yes, a few times actually. Usually the best solution is to just put it aside and not play or think about it for a while. The desire to play will eventually come back, usually with a bunch of cool new ideas you haven't thought of before.