Interview with Shred lord Maxxxwell Carlisle

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Interview with Shred lord Maxxxwell Carlisle


Tell us a little bit abut how you got started in the music business.

My start in the music business was very slow and gradual. I played in bands for a long time, since I was about 15, but I really didn’t start what I would consider a “career” until I moved from Seattle to Los Angeles in 2007. That was the time that I started seriously writing songs for my first solo album and dedicating myself to practicing long hours on the guitar. Before then I would just learn whatever I needed to to get by and then I would stop there. That’s not to say that I was a bad player back then, but I just never pushed myself beyond what was required of me. Anyway, in 2008 I began recording my first solo album, released it in 2009, formed a live band in 2010 and I’ve just kept building from there. Of course since then I’ve done a lot of other things besides my solo band like playing in Deathriders, local bands, and lots of writing projects on the side. All of that has helped moved my career forward.


At, we love shred, but as a whole Shred guitar is a less popular genre. Why did you decide to play in this style?

That reminds me of this old poster that was on the wall of a classroom when I was in elementary school… “What’s popular is not always right, and what’s right is not always popular”. That pretty much sums up how I feel about it. I have an undying love for shred guitar and I couldn’t care less if it’s not the most popular music genre. It calls to me and it fits who I am… so I do it.

Do you have any comments to detractors who say that people who play fast have no ‘feel’ or other silly comments?

Those comments almost always come from people who either are guitarists who can’t play, or by fans who have suddenly discovered that their favorite guitarist isn’t actually as good as they thought they were. Comments like that come from a position of fear or insecurity. I’ve never understood why our culture doesn’t celebrate virtuosity more. It’s like people are afraid to set high goals for themselves.

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Who are some of your shred players who inspired you?

The guys who inspire me are the ones who I consider to be the “technical masters”. Guys like Michael Angelo Batio, Chris Impellitteri, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Bruce Bouillet, Rob Marcello, Luca Turilli, Jeff Loomis…there are also some incredible guitarists from Japan that I really dig like, Syu from Galneryus, Akira Takasaki and Takayoshi Ohmura.

Why did you decide to go the independent route? Have you approached other guitar based record labels like Shrapnel, Lion or Leviathan?

I think that unless you want to be a Pop start or something similar, staying independent is the best way to go. There are still good reasons to get distribution deals, but a traditional record deal is really just not going to do much for you. More and more established musicians are turning away from record companies, and those companies are becoming smaller and smaller. By working as an independent artist you can retain the rights to, and control over, your music. You have to be willing to invest a bit of money up front for market, publicity, etc. and put in a bit more time working on those things, but I think in the end you’re so much better off.

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Do you do clinics or teach?

I don’t. Occasionally I show someone a lick or two, if they ask, but in general I don’t teach or do clinics. I’d like to do clinics someday but it’s another one of those things that I would like to do but just don’t have time for right now.


Tell our gear-heads out there what your basic set-up is?

My rig is pretty straight forward. I’m playing a variety of ESP guitars, mostly M series, with either Seymour Duncan or active EMG pickups.That runs into my BOSS GT8 multi-effects, which then goes into my Marshall 50 watt JCM2000 Dual Super Lead, into a Marshall 1960 cab. A few side notes, obviously the BOSS GT8 is an older model but I’ve got my patches set up exactly how I want them so I’ve kind of been putting off upgrading it. Also, on the JCM2000 I have my mids all the way up! I’ll set up almost any amp I use that way. Mids = Balls.

Tell us a bit about your machine gun guitar. It looks wicked!

Ha! Thanks! To be honest, that guitar is really, really hard to play. The ‘clip’ blocks all the upper fret access and it will only stay in tune for a couple songs. I’ve never played a whole set with it. I usually just bring it out for maybe one song. It has a laser mounted to the headstock though, so that makes up for some of the other technical problems!

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This is a tough but fair question, I hope. Has anyone commented or challenged you on your similarity in image between you and Kane Roberts?

Oh absolutely. I actually talked to him a few times. I’ve even considered asking him to guest on one of my albums. We could probably come up with some kind of video concept that would be hysterical. But yeah, of course there’s an obvious similarity.

Tell us a bit about your bodybuilding career. 

Sure. I’m hugely passionate about both music and bodybuilding. I’ve been a gymrat and into weightlifting since High School and it has been such a massively great thing for me in so many ways. I can’t stress enough the positive benefits of that lifestyle. I have competed in over 20 bodybuilding competitions since I started back in 2002. I’ve placed very well in some of them…got my ass kicked in others. I often get asked if bodybuilding gets in the way of my playing, like if it effects my ability to play fast or something. The answer is no. I’ve never had any complications or detrimental effects due to my time in the gym. Obviously in terms of the lifestyle… there are some big differences between bodybuilding and the typical metal guitarist’s daily routine. I’m “that guy” with the protein shake backstage at a metal show. I get a lot of weird looks sometimes, but then when no one else is around, I’ll get guys coming up to me saying, “Hey man, I want to lose a few pounds…any advice?”, that always makes my day.

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What was it like working with Neil Turbin in Deathriders? 

It was a great experience. Neil is an interesting guy. He’s a great singer but at the same time he puts a lot of pressure on himself to live up to the work he’s done in the past with Anthrax, and I think sometimes that holds him back a bit. He has a new Deathriders album that he has been working on for years but he never feels it’s quite good enough to say it’s done and get it released. The songs are great and I really wish it was available for people to hear. It’s a shame, because I really think he’s capable of great things…he just gets in his own way sometimes.

Even though her music is not completely ‘Metal’ in the strictest sense, a while back we interviewed Tina Guo. Her album was amazing and she seems really cool. What was it like working with her? 

Working with Tina was fantastic. I’ve actually known her for many years now and it’s been great to see her reach such a high level of success. Regarding recording with her, she is incredibly professional and skilled. There were some parts that I had written out on sheet music for her and of course she sight read them flawlessly. She also did an improvised solo which she did, I think, 4 takes on, and every one of them was great. She gave me so much great material to work with, which was very refreshing. She is extremely driven and I’m sure she will continue to build her career and legacy.

How did you secure the gig in Hellion. That is a pretty sweet gig in a legendary band.

Yeah, the Hellion gig is really cool! I’m totally from that 80s school of metal and to be part of a band that has that legacy is really awesome. Basically, Ann Boleyn and I had a mutual friend who put us in touch when he found out that she was searching for an LA based guitarist to reform Hellion. The band had been on a hiatus for several years and the old line-up just wasn’t really around anymore. So over a period of several months Ann and I started talking about what she wanted to do with the band and what she needed from a guitarist. It was clear to both of us that I was a good fit for the band. My writing style was in line with what the band needed, plus I had worked with female vocalists before. Things just progressed naturally from there and the rest of the line-up fell into place with Simon Wright on drums, Bjorn Englen on bass and Scott Warren on keyboards. The new material is finally about to come out and I think Hellion fans and metal fans in general will totally love it!

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Why are you so Metal? This may sound like a stupid question but in this day and age many younger guitarists seem afraid to.. well…shred and write music and lyrics about METAL! It’s refreshing to see and hear. Where does that inspiration come from?

Metal is the way forward. The more I embrace it, the happier I am and the better my life gets. It’s true that a lot of younger guys are afraid of straying too far from the mainstream. I don’t know… I guess I’m used to standing out and not fitting in. Sometimes you feel isolated by it, and maybe that used to bother me… but not anymore. When I root myself in the fundamentals of metal music, fighting for your beliefs, not giving up, having confidence in your ideas, etc. I’m able to overcome huge challenges and propel myself forward in every way. It gives me an advantage over those who don’t have metal in their lives. Maybe not everyone will understand that, but they don’t have to understand it for it to be true.

Any last words?


 Maxxxwell Carlisle
Bodybuilder and Shred Guitarist