Interview by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
I recently saw him headline the NAMM Metal Jam at the Whisky on Wednesday, January 22nd, along with Neil Turbin’s Deathriders and a ton of special guests, and I saw him at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, where he was busy doing signings and performances for Dean Guitars. When I first saw Michael Angelo Batio perform live at the Rock N’ Roll Autograph Show this past September I was completely blown away. After seeing his unique over under technique, I had to take some time to sit down with him for a one-on-one…
MBM: Tell me about your technique. You call it the over under technique, right?
Michael: I’ve always been a visual performer. I used to think… Jimi Hendrix smashes guitars. Richie Blackmore flipped guitars over his shoulder. Every artist you can think of has something that they do. It might not be anything major, but it’s something that’s uniquely theirs. I’m a lefty and I play right-handed guitar. I play piano and I started doing the over under stuff as a kid. I have played the guitar since I was ten years old. The audience kept encouraging me the wilder I got with it. At ten I was really slow. By the time I was 11 or 12, I was getting a little faster. By the time I hit my 20’s I had it down. When I first moved to L.A. I had that move down. So it’s my unique signature move. (LAUGHS) And then I have the double guitar. I can one up that…
MBM: Wow. That is completely insane! I need to see that. You have your own signature double-neck guitar?
Michael: Yeah. I even have single guitars. I have ten signature models. It’s doing well, but I like to play live. I always said to myself, there’s millions of guitarists on the planet. What makes me different then any of them? Can I play better? Maybe. Doing good records and having a live show where people go “Oh my God.” That’s what I wanted to do.
MBM: Tell me about your nickname “Hands Without Shadows.”
Michael: I’ve got a huge fan base in China, and when I was there about six years ago, the promoter of this big magazine called Guitar China said, “Michael, the Chinese people have given you a name. You are the shadowless hands.” I go “What does that mean?” He goes, “Your hands move so fast they do not cast a shadow. You are called Hands Without Shadows.” This is actually it. (Shows me tattoo) It’s a name like a martial arts name and I’m known as that. They know me as Michael Angelo Batio, but when you say this name, it’s like my assigned Chinese name.
MBM: Wow… That is so cool. Tell me about your latest CD.
Michael: It’s a cool title. It’s called Intermezzo. It’s an Italian word in music for in-between major events. For example, in a really long opera, like maybe from a Wagner… I mean, these things are five or six hours long. People can’t handle it all at one time so they have an intermission. And during that intermission they might have some short piece of music; that’s an intermezzo. And so, it’s between two large things. I kinda use it like as a life experience. I mean, I’ve had this great career that keeps going and going and going, and it’s a new world. It’s new music out there. I’ve made a lot of decisions about how I’m going to go forward. I’m, knock on wood, really busy… And I’m grateful. This is the in-between time from where I was and where I’m going to be.
MBM: I like that.
Michael: I’ve got great guest stars: George Lynch from Dokken, Craig Goldy from Dio. I have some new school guys: Jeff Loomis from the band Nevermore.
He also played with Chris Broderick, who is in Megadeth now.
MBM: Who else is in the band?
Michael: A new guitar player named Guthrie Govan. He’s like the “it” guitar player among guitarists. The list goes on and on… Michael Romeo from Symphony X. It’s a guitar record. I’ve got the best of the best.
MBM: So is this all instrumental or do you have vocals?
Michael: No, this one’s all instrumental, but I have a great singer. My last album has vocals. I’m doing the other one next.
MBM: You alternate.
Michael: Yeah. But you know, I’m a creative guy. I have these songs and I want to get them out there. And people ask, you know… There’s enough of a market for this.
MBM: Do you write everything yourself?
Michael: Yeah. I’m really good on piano, so I play piano. But I use a keyboard, so it won’t always be a piano sound. It might be a synthesizer sound or strings.
MBM: Sounds great. Thanks for your time. I look forward to getting a copy of the new CD and seeing you the next time you’re in L.A. Anything you want to say to your fans?
Michael: Please visit www.angelo.com. That’s the main site.
MBM: You guys heard it! Thanks for reading and for checking out Michael Angelo Batio. Definitely pick up a copy of his latest CD Intermezzo and catch him live if you can. It will be worth it. I promise!