Artension is a hot band that has emerged in recent years. Their sound is a combination of metal, prog and neo-classical. Their latest album Sacred Pathways has just been released in Europe to critical acclaim.
In this interview, we get the lowdown on the band past and present, from Swiss guitarist Roger Staffelbach.
2/9/02 Interview conducted by Andy Craven
Andy: When did you start playing guitar?
Staffelbach: When I was 14 years of age.
Andy: Who are your greatest influences and inspirations?
Staffelbach: Malmsteen, Van Halen, Marty Friedman, Eric Johnson, Vai
Andy: Which players do you admire the most, and why?
Staffelbach: Malmsteen for his incredible vibrato and his sense of composition.
Andy: What guitars and amplifiers do you use?
Staffelbach: I mostly like Marshall amps, as well as the Pod from Line 6, pretty amazing stuff.
Andy: How did you hook up with Artension keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij?
Staffelbach: I met Vitalij about ten years ago, after seeing him play in a little bar in my hometown in Switzerland. Surprisingly for me he was also living there at a host family maybe 1/2 mile away from my house, as he was studying at the Basel conservatory at this time. He lived in Switzerland for about 4 years. I convinced him to just jam together and we became very close friends immediately.
Andy: Do you have any releases outside of Artension?
Staffelbach: Not yet.
Andy: Will you ever release a solo album?
Staffelbach: Thinking about doing it.
Andy: Has Artension ever gigged, or is it strictly a studio project?
Staffelbach: Unfortunately we have not played live yet. I hope this changes with our new record. We were supposed to play in Japan, after the release of Phoenix Rising, everything was already planned, we were already rehearsing in Cotati, CA. We were flying without Vitalij, as he got Visa problems. We thought that finally he could still make it, but it finally didn't work out. But this wasn't Vitalijs fault at all, the responsible person just didn't pay enough attention to the fact that Vitalij possesses a Ukrainian passport and everything needs to be handled way before time.
Andy: Please give us your current views on the following albums (what you liked, disliked, would do differently now if given the chance)
Into The Eye Of The Storm
Staffelbach: Our introduction to the Music Business. Great Songs, maybe a little bit of a dry Production.
Staffelbach: Superb Songs, great production, nothing I would wannna change on this one.
Forces Of Nature
Staffelbach: We changed a little bit our style. In my opinion an absolute killer recording.
Staffelbach: Some pretty crazy stuff on this one, for example Evolution in Reverse, but I also like this one a lot. I kinda like all the cd's. They're all a little bit different, but there's plenty of stuff on all of them to be discovered.
Andy: How would you compare Sacred Pathways to previous Artension releases?
Staffelbach: It goes back a little bit to the style of our first 2 releases. I'm sure it's gonna bring us one step further. Sacred Pathways has got the backing of an independent record company (Now & Then/Frontiers) with a good reputation for promoting their acts through touring.
Andy: Are there any plans for festival appearances in Europe?
Staffelbach: We're right now working on a tour. Let's just hope it works out. It's not that we never wanted to tour, but everybody living far away from each other doesn't make things easier at all. Let's hope (for) the best.
Andy: How are the albums recorded?
Staffelbach: Is it everyone doing their parts at separate times or is there any live interaction? First we all rehearse together for about 7 days the Songs. Then the Drums and Bass are being recorded altogether in 2 days. This was the case on all our records so far. After that Vitalij, John and me start to record our parts, which altogether takes about 2 weeks.
Andy: Vitalij's dedication to you on Forces of Nature reads: "My best friend Roger (I believe we are going to cross many difficult stages in our careers in the future, like we did in the past)...". Was there a specific situation to which this referred?
Staffelbach: This was probably because of our history. Still nowadays we talk about the early days, when we both together sometimes didn't even have enough money to go purchase a drink, but the passion for what we were doing was strong enough to help us go through all that. It was probably meant that if we made it to this point we probably make it also even further.
Andy: How do you see your career developing in the future?
Staffelbach: Time will tell.
Andy: Funtime: Name your ideal supergroup members (including yourself if you wish).
Staffelbach: Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Romeo (Symphony X) - Guitars, David Coverdale vocals, Billy Sheehan, Bass, Alex Van Halen Drums
Andy: Name your five favourite solos.
Staffelbach: There's to much good stuff to pick out 5 solos. There's too many good artists that made really good music that it's impossible for me to pick out five of them.
Andy: Name your five favourite albums.
Staffelbach: Yngwie Malmsteen - Trilogy, Van Halen - 1984/Fair Warning, Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers/Burn, Symphony X - 5: The New Mythology, Metallica - Master of Puppets
Andy: Roger thanks for agreeing to the interview and hope Sacred Pathways brings you the success the band deserves.
Staffelbach: Thank you very much, was a pleasure for me.
We at Dinosaur Rock Guitar would like to thank Roger Staffelbach for taking the time to answer our questions. Copyright ©2002 All rights reserved.