Alex Scholpp is a busy man. He is probably one of the most well known German guitarists in the world, officially supplied by ESP and Blackstar, touring with Tarja Turunen, and is giving clinics for “Schöol of Metal”. He also played in bands like Farmer Boys and Tieflader. After meeting him shortly at the Musik Messe this year, I thought I could ask some questions about all that… let’s start !
Alex, first of all, thanks a lot for your time !! How are you doing ?
Hi, thank you, I’m right now working on several productions, recording, reamping etc… and in September I will be back on the road with Tarja.
Let’s go back in time, do you remember how you were introduced to the music world ? Did you have
parents that were listening to music all day, or did it come later ?
My parents had some BEATLES records and the first record I listened to frequently was ‘let it be’ by the BEATLES.
What was the first band/singer that really gave you the kick to make a musical career ?
I guess the BEATLES🙂 As a little child I liked SCORPIONS and then soon after I got introduced to IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA SLAYER and that’s when I really picked up on the guitar.
Do you remember how you came to play guitar ? And what was your first guitar ?
I was always interested in playing guitar as a little child and finally my parents gave me my first classical guitar for Christmas when I was 10.
How did you learn to play guitar ? All on your own, or you had a very good teacher ?
I had a really good teacher when I started with 11, besides learning some notes and playing pieces of Bach he would show me how to play my favorite METALLICA riffs.
You played in bands like FARMER BOYS and TIEFLADER, what are these bands doing today ? As far as I know, Farmer boys is sleeping since a few years, but Tieflader is still active.
Well, there are some things coming in the near future.:)
How do you manage your time between all this, Schöol of Metal, Tarja, Tieflader…
It’s not so easy sometimes scheduling wise but everything has its time so somehow there is always a solution for everything.
Now to Tarja, how did you get the job ? She is very famous, and she got you just like that, among thousands of other talented guitarists 🙂 ?
The producer of Tarja’s first record, Daniel Presley, asked me for the studio recording session and from there on it developed. I think because of what I did in the past I have a good perspective on Tarja’s music and understand the role of the guitar there. It’s not so easy sometimes to fit in with all the orchestra and stuff that’s going on there. It’s challenging and at the same time a lot of fun.
How is it to work with and for her, regarding all the things she achieved with Nightwish and in her solo career ?
It’s really great to play together and record/ write and get out the best possible of her songs and her music. Of course she is a great singer and very outstanding of everything that is there so I’m happy that I got this opportunity. We have a really good relationship and I’m happy to hit the road again soon since it was mainly writing/recording work in the last months. It’s time to get out again !:)
Now, let’s get to the point that is interesting me: Schöol of Metal. You had your own music school around Stuttgart. This was not enough ?
I still have my music school, ‘Alex Scholpp’s guitar camp’ in stuttgart. Since many years I’m teaching and I got asked to write 2 issues of the ‘guitar’- mag special ‘school of metal’. After that, together with the ‘guitar’ magazine and my endorsers ESP and Blackstar amps, we decided to take it on theroad.
Are you satisfied with the audience you meet ? Do you have good and bad experience to tell ?
Of course I’m happy with the audiences that come to see a show that I’m a part of. Only good experiences really, for example in Minsk a group showed up after the show outside and played and sang in a choir in the freezing cold for us. Those are moments I will never forget.
How did you learn music ? You know a lot of things about music theory, enough to be able to explain to others how it works.
As I was a child I learned notes but soon switched to ‘autodidact’- mode. Then years later found out how everything is connected. I think still the most important is to let it flow and then after to finetouch things you involve the knowledge.
What guitar do you use ? 6 strings ? 7 ? 8 ? 9 ? Only ESP ?
Only ESP, only 6 strings in all kinds of tunings.
How did you come to have contract with ESP and Blackstar ?
I’m with ESP since 15 years now, the relationship started with the 2nd FARMER BOYS album. Blackstar is quite a new company and I just love the sound.
What happened to you black ESP “EVH Like” guitar ? Seems that you removed the pickup with a chisel ?
Haha, I assembled that guitar as an experiment myself because I just wanted to do it one time myself. So I got the parts and put them together. I only put in a bridge pickup, so there was never a neck pickup in there. I didn’t know how the guitar would turn out to be but for some reason it’s one of my main guitars now and sounds and feels really awesome.
You were a the Musik Messe this year, where I saw you playing. How was it ?
It was really cool and a lot of fun! I was there the last 2 years already playing and it’s nice to meet all the people there and talk only guitars and amps and effects etc… for some days haha!
What tips would you give someone who wants to improve his skills ? What is for you the most important thing in the process of learning the guitar ?
There are many ways to attack this and it’s also a very individual thing. I would say: practice every day, use a metronome and keep in mind that music is about emotions, not technique.
We reach the end… thanks again for your time, good luck for the future. You have the last words…
Thank you very much and I hope to see you all somewhere soon!
Photo : music-photography.pl / Rui Almedia
Thanks to Unholy for this interview !