MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO IS PROBABLY THE FASTEST GUITARIST ALIVE. HIS SKILLS ARE DESCRIBED AS “OUT OF THIS WORLD” AND “SUPERNATURAL”. NO WONDER PEOPLE SAY SO! IF YOU’RE AMAZING AT PLAYING THE GUITAR, THAT’S GREAT… BUT NOW YOU HAVE TO MANAGE 3 MORE GUITARS AT THE SAME TIME TO CHALLENGE THE MAESTRO FOR A DUEL! ARE YOU READY TO TRY?
Your new album, Intermezzo, is coming out this summer. Would you like to tell us what should we expect from it?
It is an instrumental progressive rock, metal guitar record featuring all new songs that I wrote within the last year. I am featuring my piano playing and acoustic guitar work on Intermezzo as well.
What does the title Intermezzo mean?
The dictionary definition of “intermezzo” is “a short piece of music that is performed between longer movements of an extended musical composition.” It is basically a piece of music between two longer pieces of music. But for me, this album is an important time in my life. I use the word “intermezzo” to mean where I am in my life. It is the record between where I have been and where I am going in my musical career and in rest of my life.
What thoughts did you have during recording and what inspired you?
I recorded over 100 musical ideas on my iPhone while I was touring the world the last 2 years. When I started writing the music for Intermezzo, I listened to all of the ideas, took the best ones and wrote music based on those ideas. Also, my experiences inspire me. Places I’ve been, people I’ve met. I see everything and anything as a source of inspiration.
Who plays with you on the new album and why?
I have a lot of amazing guest musicians on Intermezzo. On one of the songs called 8 Pillars of Steel I have 7 different guitarists and Elliott Dean Rubinson (owner of Dean Guitars) playing bass on the song. The guest guitarists on this song are – George Lynch, Jeff Loomis, Craig Goldy, Rusty Cooley, Dave Reffett, Andrea Martongelli and then my guitar playing makes the 8 Pillars of Steel. I also have guest solos by Guthrie Govan, Lick Library owner Stuart Bull, Joe Stump and several more fantastic guitarists.
You’re an inspiration to guitar players all around the world. How do you feel with that?
I sincerely want to be a positive influence on the guitar community and sincerely want to help. It makes me feel good that I have inspired so many people and that my life, my guitar playing and my guitar teaching have made a difference.
Who are/were your inspirations and what happened that a little boy from Chicago became a true maestro, a genuine rock star and endorser for Dean Guitars?
I listened to many styles of music when I first started playing the guitar at the age of 10. I studied jazz guitar first and loved listening to George Benson, Wes Montgomery, then Frank Zappa and then all of the standard rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, etc… Regarding becoming a rock star – it was after I graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles from my hometown of Chicago. In one year I turned from Mike Batio to Michael Angelo. I looked completely different and I played completely different. I discovered who I was as a person and an artist and never looked back. I have L.A. to thank for that!
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to everything. Literally. I listen to rock, progressive rock, metal, country, fusion, orchestral, experimental. Everything.
What is your earliest memory connected with guitars?
The music I listened to was guitar orientated and featured guitars. I loved the way the guitar sounded and loved the way it looked. I still feel that way!
Do you remember the feelings you had during your first show?
I performed my first show at 10 years old, the first year I started to play the guitar, in front of my entire school. I was not nervous and I ended the song playing the guitar behind my head, a move I copied from Jimi Hendrix. It was an amazing feeling and I still have an amazing feeling every time I perform on stage.
You played with Holland and Nitro before. What happened that you decided to start a solo career?
Holland and Nitro were both major label bands. I loved both bands, but in the USA, the style of music we call grunge took over and it was very different from what we were doing. It then seemed like it was time for me to become a solo artist and that is what I did. I have enjoyed every second of my career, both solo and with Holland and Nitro.
If you could create a band with other famous musicians, who would it be with and why?
I would put together a band with these musicians because I love what they do and respect what they do: Guitar – MAB, guitar – Dave Grohl, bass guitar – Sting, drums – Phil Collins, keyboards – Elton John, vocals – Chris Cornell. What a band!!!
We all know rock stars have their own prerogatives and rights. What do you think are the most important things in rock ‘n’ roll life except for the music?
My life revolves around 2 things – touring and making records. I love being famous because it gives me freedom to create music and art that I want to create. But, what I really love about the rock star life is that it is always different. Every show is different and I have toured in 53 countries. As the movie says – “it’s a wonderful life!”
Where did the idea of the 4-neck guitar came from?
I just wanted to take guitar playing to the absolute limits!
You have a very characteristic image. Do you create your own style or does somebody help you with this?
I created my own look. As I have gotten older, I find that I like to dress in black! I like a kind of gothic meets the 80s look. The more detail and accessories on my clothes, the better!
What are your most important tattoos and what do they mean for you?
Each tattoo represents a time in my life that was positive. Two of my tattoos are double-guitars. One of my tattoos signifies the rock star life and virtuoso guitar playing. Each one has a special meaning to me.
Did you ever try to do anything else in your life? What was that, and could you imagine yourself doing this if you weren’t a successful guitarist?
I knew when I was 10 years old that I was going to become a famous guitarist and tour the world. I never thought I would do anything else. Never. I do not believe in back up plans. Plan number 1 was to play music professionally and tour.
What are the things you wish you’ve had more of?
I wish I had more hours in the day and that I could live forever. Imagine the knowledge and things a person could do!
You’ve been in this business for almost 30 years. What changed for the worse and what changed for the better?
Everything has changed. Mostly for the better. I am not afraid of change and know that is what is to be expected – change, but the biggest negative change is the fact that a lot of people today think it is OK to download and get music for free. No one wants to work for free. No famous artist likes that fact that his or her music and art is now available for free. Unfortunately, that is the way it is now and that until the entire world does something, every country, there is nothing we can do at this time to change it.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
My plans are to release Intermezzo this year and to tour with my “Tribute to Rock Guitar” multimedia show.
What would you want to tell your fans and guitarists who admire you?
I would like to say, if you have an idea or a dream to do something, do it and do not let negative people stop you. Also, to my guitar playing fans – “practice, practice, practice!”
And to conclude this interview – could you please share with us any crazy stories you’ve had with the other famous musicians or fans!
There are so many great stories I would not know where to begin!
Thanks for a nice chat! We hope to see you here on your next European tour!
Thank you! My website is www.angelo.com