One of the most outstanding instrumental albums in recent years is 'One Zillion Guitars' by DANIEL CHRISTOPHERSON. Mike Rimmer investigates the talented American.
In the last issue of Cross Rhythms magazine, you many have read the 10 square review I wrote for the phenomenal Daniel Christopherson album 'One Zillion Guitars'. You were also able to hear one of the tracks "Now And far Away" off the album on The Experience CD. Somehow 'One Zillion Guitars' seems like an apt title for an incredible instrumental album created by a serious muso and guitar practitioner. However there is more to the man than merely making music, he's also a guitar teacher and his website www.zillionguitars.com offers practical tips, zillions of chords as well as comments about his own music.
Stylistically the album moves from the mellow acoustic pieces to the full on rock guitar of "Secret City" and "Door Of Fire". When it comes to influences, Daniel comments, "In terms of learning from guitarists I am always focusing on what I like about any guitarist I hear, and in this way, I become more focused on the elements I would like to develop in my own style. I grew up listening to Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola, Pink Floyd, Robin Trower and Johnny Winter." It seems as though he learns as much from the learner guitarists he is tutoring than the recognised 'masters' of the instrument. He explains, "After you have played for 15 or 20, your biggest barrier is KNOWING. The greatest asset of a beginning guitarist is inexperience. They don't KNOW what they can't do! They don't KNOW the rules, so they break them and teach the rest of us!! If my mind closes, so does my potential."
The recording of the album took place over a long period of time and perhaps his success in creating something extraordinary is because it was written and recorded under completely different circumstances to the average album. Simply, it was more experimental. Daniel comments, "I'm sort of a mad scientist when it comes to recording guitars. I get real crazy and passionate about my experiments with multiple guitar melodies and sounds. So 'One Zillion Guitars' is really about me opening up my laboratory and letting the world hear what feels like ear-candy to me. Made with no rules, and a zillion guitars."
Daniel hasn't always lived the cloistered existence of the mad scientist with the guitar strapped to his back devising new sounds in his studio. "I spent 11 years in Hollywood, California, recording and producing in some of the best studios around. I hated it. I also performed in legendary clubs and did shows with acts like Guns & Roses and Robin Trower and was on MTV when I played in front of audiences as large as 30,000. But as a whole, it was a terrible experience for me. You have to turn a part of your heart off in order to live in that city at least that is how it felt to me." These days he teaches his Zillion Guitar Method to musicians of all ages in Seattle, and spends time developing his website.
Daniel is confident that he has created a CD that will cross musical frontiers. He explains, "This CD belongs in anyone's CD collection who appreciates extreme guitar playing and especially guitarists who want to hear what it sounds like to push guitar sounds to the edge. Many of these songs feature eight to 12 guitar tracks at the same time in orchestrated guitar melodies which you won't find on other guitar-based CDs at least not that sound like this. I can tell you that everything on this CD is about real feelings, there is no "see what I can do" stuff here, unless it serves a musical purpose. Sometimes I joke that this is guitar music for people, rather than guitar-heads."
Chris is equally passionate about his Christian faith, "My search for
truth has been passionate since I was very young, when I studied the
Bible and world religions. Those studies eventually led me to the
works of great Christian thinkers. I became a follower of Christ's
teachings by trying what didn't work until there was no other choice!
Our firmest convictions are a matter of what we have experienced
firsthand. It is said that "Only love is real," and I have found this
to be true in my own life experiences. All other promises and
seductions are dead end roads."