Mike Campese

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Guitarz For Ever Interview

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014


The long awaited eighth studio release from Mike Campese is finally here!

CHAMELEON embodies the entire essence and culmination of Mike’s years of experience as a composer, guitarist, songwriter, and of course includes plenty of serious guitar shredding.

Mike Campese is back with a new solo release, titled “Chameleon”. This is Mike’s 8th solo Cd, it contains 12 new tracks and it is a little over 60 minutes. This Cd really packs a punch! If you heard Mike’s previous Cd’s you will realize that he has really honed his writing and musicianship. The first track “To the 9’s” is slamming, it is a blistering tune with incredible melody and alone it is worth the price of the Cd. Not only is Mike a guitar virtuoso, but he does sing on a few tracks on this disc as well. The titled track “Chameleon” has some real nice haunting melodies and some nice lush vocal harmonies. There is some serious shredding on this Cd and plenty of melody as well. With the blistering guitar and the Paganini inspired section in the tune “Raise the Bow” and the multiple meter changes in the song “Pasta and Bananas” that progressive rock fans will love. Mike returns with his blues roots on the tune “She Burnt the House Down”, which has some incredible soaring leads that are in your face and some real nice vocal melodies. Campese gets funky on this Cd as well, the tunes “Funky Monkey Man” and “Firefly in a Bottle”, feature some pretty awesome funk grooves and some nice vocal lines. If you have been following Mike’s music and career, you will know that Mike is known for his great sense of melody and melodic shredding on the guitar. A perfect example of this is the tune “Flashback”, this beautiful ballad was inspired when Mike was living in Hollywood and attending Mi. “Vegas”(playing the slots) is probably one of the most unique tunes on the Cd. When you are listening to this song, you will think you are in Vegas playing a slot machine. Now lets cross the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian volcano inspired tune “Kilauea” erupts with some incredible guitar lines with some in your face guitars.

For the first time on any Mike Campese Cd, Mike has a very special guest, his friend and guitar legend, Vernon Reid of Living Colour. Mike and Vernon are trading off with some crazy solos at the end of the jazzy tune “Do it for the Cats” Mike is a very versatile guitarist and on each Cd he incorporates a little jazz and other styles in his music, which makes him known as a musical Chameleon. The last tune “Meant to Be” is another jazzy tune with a great groove and some very catchy melodies. Mike Campese fans are going to love this Cd and it is the one they have been waiting for.

Mike’s upcoming Italy Clinics, Melodic Shred Lessons and hard hitting progressive rock Music can be seen, heard and PURCHASED NOW here at his Official Website:


Hi Mike, How are you doing these days?
Hello Scott! I have been great and I have been real busy lately. I wish there was more time in a day.

What’s the genesis of the “Chameleon” project?
Well, I love to write music and “Chameleon” is my 8th solo release. The project just came together like it usually does for all my Cd’s I have done so far and I feel very fortunate to be able to write my own music. My music moves around a lot and it changes musical colors like a Chameleon and that is I got the idea for the title. When I was composing the tunes I didn’t want to jump around too much with different styles and I wanted to make sure the music on the Cd was cohesive and it had a mood to it. Also, there is a special guest  solo by Vernon Reid on this Cd, that I’m very exited about.

How do you come up with your songs?
There isn’t just one way I write, I usually just get small ideas in the beginning and I will record the ideas or maybe write down some notes. If I want to turn an idea into a tune, I will jam on it for a while and get other ideas and it will come together into a complete song. A lot of my music comes from life experiences, I could be anywhere. I have written a lot of music on an airplane with just a laptop on a long flight to Hawaii, for example.

Tell me in your own words what it is that spoke to you about this project.
The music was really like a Chameleon like creature that changes colors with different moods.

Are there plans to tour? 
Right now to kick it off, I’m putting together a small clinic tour in Italy for the fall and after I’m planning on putting together some shows to promote the Cd. I take things day by day, so we will have to see what comes up. Also, things tend to happen last minute.

Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
Even though I’m a GIT graduate, plus I took lessons for a while and I studied with some of the greatest guitarists in the world. I feel like I’m self taught as well as schooled because, I learned alot of info and ideas by myself.

Did You developed your style by ear or by messing around on the neck playing what sounded cool to you?
I did develop my style by ear and by concepts I have learned over the years. I mainly write music by ear, but sometimes I will start with some type of concept, like a scale or something that I’m working on and then my ear will take over. Also, sometimes I will be just messing around and I will get some great ideas. This will help develop your style overtime.

I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?
Occasionally, I will hear music in my dreams, but when I wake up I usually forget it. There was a time when I composed a tune and after I said to myself, wow I think that this was the tune I was hearing in that dream. If I do have a dream with music in it, I will try to get close to what I heard. It does not happen too often though.

How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?
Most of the time the song will get finished sooner or later if I feel it is catchy and I like it enough and I may record the ideas and put it together later. I don’t like to have unfinished songs. I have hundreds of hours of riffs and ideas that can be seeds for a new songs or solo ideas.

Are you the kind of person where if you come up with an idea, you stick with it and finish the song?
Yes, if I really think it is a good idea and it is catchy I will finish it. Sometimes, I get a lot of ideas at once and I will always record them or write down certain things so I don’t forget it. A lot of times it is like a puzzle and all the ideas will come together to a complete song. The best songs happen real fast, before your eyes.

Do you find sometimes ideas get forgotten, or you come back years later and finish it?
Yes, sometimes I will listen back to older ideas and go, wow this sounds cool. Actually, on “Chameleon” there is a tune that I did a scratch recording of a while back and for a long time I wanted to redo it. So, I redid it and it is on the new Cd.

So then tell me a little bit of what you’ve learned about human nature during this new production and earlier collaborations like on your earlier albums.
I know I definitely got better at the production side of things from my earlier albums. If you listen to my earlier Cd’s and compare to the latest, you can obviously tell the difference in the recording quality. My writing is more refined as well and every Cd you do is truly a learning experience. But, one thing I learned is never wait a long time for someone, if they are holding you up get someone else.

What are your personal highlights on the new album?
I love the first track “To the 9’s”, I think it is one of the best tunes I have ever written and it pumps me up when I listen to it. There is a bunch of other highlights on the album like, “Do it for the Cats” with me and Vernon Reid trading solos, I like “Funky Monkey Man,” “Flashback,” “Pasta and Bananas,” “Vegas” (Playing the Slots) and the list goes on. I’m real proud of this Cd.

How did you first get into the music business?
Ever since I started playing the guitar, I have been in bands and performing in clubs and I knew right away this is all I wanted to do.

Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
My main influence was Black Sabbath. I was into the whole rock scene and I was listening to Dio, Ozzy, Van Halen to just name a few. I started listening to Al Di Meola and Yngwie in my early teens. I was heavily into Paganini and Jimi Hendrix as well, which I’m still very much into. I was pretty much into music that had great guitar playing, that was fast and had soul, which I still am.

How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
When I first started out I was shredding most of the time. I’m much more melodic, more versatile and a better song writer than I used to be. I still like to shred, but I like to mix it in tastefully and with as much feel as I can. It is a never ending journey and I’m always trying to improve.

What do you do in your spare time outside of music?
That is a tough one, because I live and breathe music 24/7, performing, teaching , recording etc. But, I do occasionally like to go outside clean the cars when I get time. I like watching movies and I even play guitar during them sometimes. I’m hoping to get on my elliptical machine more often and do more bike riding.

So Mike, what is the top 3 albums you couldn’t live without? 
I like a lot of Cd’s, but some of the ones that stick out to me that I have listened to a lot are, “Band of Gypsies” by Jimi Hendrix, “24th Caprices” by Niccolo Paganini, played by Itzhak Perlman and “Awake” by Dream Theater. There is more I could name….

What are you listening to these days?
I jump around a lot with my music listening. I like to listen to Jimi Hendrix, especially his unreleased material and I like the bluesy stuff too. I really like to listen to classical music, like Paganini etc. Also, I really like listening to Al Di Meola, like his earlier material and other fusion artists as well. I’m pretty versatile with my listening, If it has melody, soul and great rhythm, I will like it. I do tend to like the really fast stuff.

What musical gear and endorsements do you have and why?
I endorse products that I use and I don’t endorse products just to get free stuff. As a full time musician, it can really help you save money and the support is great. Some of the main products that I use and endorse are: Tom Anderson guitars, Mesa Boogie amps, D’Addario Strings, IK Multimedia software, Xotic Effects, Seymour Duncan Products and there is more to list. These are just the main ones.

I also don’t want to forget this, tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
If I’m not working on music I’m teaching it. I teach guitar and it is a great way to reinforce what you know. I started doing Skype lessons as well. I like to travel and I love going to new places, It inspires me to write new material.

Lastly, please give our readers one last parting shot across the bow – What is Mike Campese going to be doing in 5 years?
I plan to continue writing music, keep putting out Cd’s and to do more touring. Also, I will continue to work on my playing and writing to be the best I can and to keep following my musical journey.

I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some quality music.
Your welcome! Thanks very much for the support!