interview with Brian Tarquin for the new album.
Brian Tarquin (born December 2, 1965, New York) is an American jazz guitarist, recording artist, sound engineer, record producer, songwriter, and author who founded Jungle Room Studios in New York. He specializes in guitar instrumental music and smooth jazz, but he is also no stranger to rock or metal music. All where he can show himself with his art. He has collaborated with many important artists and groups.
Let's break down his latest album Brian Tarquin & Heavy Friends - Brothers In Arms
Pigeon - How long did it take to record the album with so many guests?
Brian Tarquin - I started the project before the Pandemic, doing a lot of pre-production like composing and recording basic tracks. Then during the lock down of 2020-21 I was speaking with a lot of the guests and going full bore on recording and production. I always wanted to work with one my heroes Joe Satriani and this album gave me the opportunity. This project also had me work with other world class shredders I hadn’t before like Vinnie Moore of UFO and Jeff Duncan of Armored Saint. Because I’m a guitar instrumentalist I always have to make sure the message comes across in the music that’s why I hand pick the guests for each track. All the guest guitarists are seasoned instrumentalist as well, which makes it a perfect fit.
Pigeon - Where was the album recorded and who produced it?
Brian Tarquin - I produced the album and it was recorded in my studio. I have a very unique mobile recording studio called Jungle Room Studios housed in a 28-foot custom made trailer. It was designed in Southern California equipped with 2 separate rooms, a live room and a control room. The studio features a modified 1986 British Trident 24 recording console, an Otari MTR 90 2” Analog Tape Machine, a Ampex 440c 1/4” 2 track analog tape machine, and a variety of classic outboard gear such as, the Neve Compressor 33609, Rupert Neve Designs Portico II Master Buss Processor, Neve 1074, Chandler ltd Germanium Compressor, and a host of other gear.
Pigeon - There are a lot of guests on the album. Are they all friends, or did someone have to persuade for a long time to work together?
Brian Tarquin - I love collaborating with other guitarists on special projects for helpful causes. I’m always trying to outdo myself with composing and guests on my records. All of the guest guitarists are seasoned instrumentalists as well, which makes it a perfect fit. So, I wanted to create an instrumental studio version of benefit projects like ARMS Charity Concerts envisioned by Ronnie Lane for multiple sclerosis and Hear 'n Aid by Dio for famine relief in Africa. Except Brothers In Arms is a veterans relief project.
For years I have had an NPR radio show called Guitar Trax on WFIT 89.5FM in Florida where I have interviewed many of the guitarists on the album, which helped to build a musical rapport between us. I have spoken to Joe Satriani in detail a couple of times in the past for the show and we hit it off, so I asked him if he would be willing to guest on a track for Brothers in Arms. I wanted to compose something special for him and for the album to give the listener a real treat. So, as I was composing “Speed of Sound” I imagined a scene in the deserts in Iraq where the skies were blackened by a sandstorm as American troops were lost in the valley of death trying to get back to safety. I wanted to paint a feeling not only of great aggression but also a scene of desperation and dramatic emotions. Sure enough Joe really liked the track and within 2 weeks he sent me back the final solo you here in the song.
Pigeon - What is the main idea of the album?
Brian Tarquin - Larry Coryell once told me in the studio that “we as musicians have to do as much as we can through our music to make people aware of social issues.” I actually have 3 ‘Heavy Friends’ themed releases, Guitars For Wounded Warriors, Guitars For Veterans & Brothers In Arms. The whole series was created to honor our service men and women and of course veterans. I wanted to bring awareness to veteran’s issues as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health issues. Homelessness is one of the end results of some of these issues and is heart breaking because these men and woman have put their lives on the line to keep us all safe at home.
Pigeon - Is there also a live performance of the album with guests? A concert line?
Brian Tarquin - Unfortunately, no that would be a real impossible task to get everyone in the same place for a live performance. However, I just produced a video for the single “Speed of Sound featuring Joe Satriani” https://youtu.be/ZdkUu_zJcJQ
Pigeon - What about the Czech Republic, have you played here before?
Brian Tarquin - Unfortunately, I have never been to your country.
Pigeon - Do you know some of our musicians?
Brian Tarquin - Of course, Jan Hammer is great!
Pigeon - What about our classical music composers, do you know any?
Brian Tarquin - I’m not much of a classical guy. I have always been influenced by progressive rock, jazz and of fusion.
Pigeon - What do you say about the influence of native (with Czech roots) Jan Hammer on jazz music.
Brian Tarquin - Jan Hammer I know well from Mahavishnu Orchestra, I always loved the music he did with Jeff Beck. In fact, I remember buying the album “Jeff Beck Live with the Jan Hammer Group” when it came out. It was such a fantastic record, completely blew me away. That is how instrumental rock should sound. To this day I think it was Beck & Hammer’s best performance. I actually recently worked with the violinist from that record, Steve Kindler. He kept up with both of them beautifully!
Pigeon - Plans for the future, do you have any?
Brian Tarquin - I have a fantastic follow up to this album called “Bothers In Arms: DEUX” which is in the jazz fusion flavor featuring another group of incredible musicians as Jean Luc Ponty (Mahavishnu Orchestra), Eric Johnson, Robben Ford (Miles Davis), Dean Brown (David Sanborn), Hal Lindes (Dire Straits), Chris Poland (Megadeth), Steve Morse (Deep Purple), John Tropea (Billy Cobham), Steve Kindler (Jeff Beck), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Larry McCray (John Mayall), Steve Morse (Deep Purple) & Phil Naro (Billy Sheehan). This should be out later in 2023 or early 2024.
Pigeon - Is there a dream of cooperation? Who to play with - jam sessions or work in the studio?
Brian Tarquin - Jimmy Page would be a great session! He is such an iconic guitarist and producer and really shaped the world of guitar. Always has been one of my heroes.
Pigeon – Thanks for the chat, and hopefully we'll see you at a live show sometime, in the Czech Republic or Germany.
Brian Tarquin - Thank you for having me.