Q&A with guitar virtuoso Mike Campese, a all-around music performer, session artist competent in many musical styles

"Music is a universal language that helps keep people together in all types of culture. It can be healing, and it can touch people in many different ways. It is important for me that when people hear my music, they feel it in their heart and it brings out an emotional response in them."

Mike Campese: Reset of Rock Fusion

New York-born Mike Campese is a known as a guitar virtuoso, he is an all-around music performer, session artist competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He is best known for being a member of the multi-platinum group, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra and received a gold record for his work. Mike has been featured in many national guitar magazines such as Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar One, Axe Magazine and Guitar Club in Italy. Currently, Mike writes for Italy’s top magazines and has his own monthly guitar column in Axe Magazine in Italy. Mike is a versatile musician who describes his style as “Rock Fusion” and writes vocal and instrumental arrangements, electric and acoustic. As well as playing concerts, Mike hosts masterclasses all around the world. In 2022, Mike did a series of Masterclasses and a live show for Abbey Road, in Paris.                                                  (Photo: New York-born guitarist Mike Campese)

Once again, the versatile musician has crafted a smorgasbord of music that has defined his style. Mike’s guitar playing on his new 12th album “Reset” (2022) features an abundance of fierce shredding and melodies, with no signs of slowing down. Mike does not disappoint on this album; he has put his heart and soul into it like all of his previous releases. Mike Campese fans, new and old, are going to love it. Finally, “Reset” is dedicated in memory of Nicholas J. Campese, as he was one of Mike’s biggest supporters throughout the years.

Interview by Michael Limnios          Special Thanks: Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has Classical music and Rock Culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I was really into rock music in the beginning and then I started getting into classical music. Typically, rock music is a much more simpler form of music than classical or jazz. There are exceptions because there can be some pretty intricate rock music too. When I started, I was heavily into Black Sabbath, Dio, Ozzy etc. As I started progressing as a guitarist I started getting into other types of music, like classical, Jazz and other styles. I like the energy and the image of rock and the harmonic structure of classical, jazz and other styles of music.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? What characterizes your music philosophy?

I’m a very versatile musician and my music moves around a lot. I don’t think about it too much, it just comes out from being open to everything and the experience over the years. The main ideas just come to me without forcing them. Afterwards I will experiment with different techniques in some sections of the song to come up with different sounds. 

Where does your creative drive come from? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

Not sure exactly where it comes from. I do feel very fortunate and grateful. I like to challenge myself and do things that I have not done before from album to album, song to song. Every album is a different experience and a snapshot of my life. Putting your soul into the music is the most important thing. You have to put your heart and soul into everything you do. To me there should be a balance, a lot of technique and no soul is not good. Just because it is technical doesn’t mean there is no soul in it.

"There are several things I learned over the years. One thing is never really on anyone else to do anything for you. The show must go on, even if you have to play it by yourself and always be prepared for anything at any time. This is something I always stood by from the beginning. Always be true to yourself and be as original as you can. Music is self expression and you have to always channel your creativity." (Photo: Mike Campese, the versatile musician has crafted a smorgasbord of music that has defined his style)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I have been very fortunate to work with and meet many artists over the years and there have been a lot of great experiences. One that comes to mind is being a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and being around the founders. Also, working with one of Jimi Hendrix’s very close friends. As well as all the other great musicians I worked with over the years. The best advice for any musician is to be yourself and to be the best “You” you can.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I have had several great experiences over the years working with different people, performing live etc. One that comes to mind and this is what my guitar tech told me… I was playing on one of the Yngwie tours and as soon I started playing, Yngwie ran out of his dressing room, and he was watching me playing from the side of the stage and stood right behind my tech. My tech said he had a huge smile on his face watching me. I was excited to hear that because I was a big fan when I was a kid. There are several more great memories I could share too.

How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

There are some things I do before a performance or recording. First off, I have to keep the fingers limbered up and practice before any type of performance. Also, I always like to run through the material that I will play for the show that day. I try to get a good night's rest the night before, but sometimes that does not happen. If I’m recording it is a similar process. I always make sure that I’m warmed up and I will rehearse the song or sections before I will record them. Also, I’m always thinking about the music in my head to help keep me connected, with or without the guitar. 

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?                                       (Photo: Mike Campese)

Music is a universal language that helps keep people together in all types of culture. It can be healing, and it can touch people in many different ways. It is important for me that when people hear my music, they feel it in their heart and it brings out an emotional response in them.

"I’m a very versatile musician and my music moves around a lot. I don’t think about it too much, it just comes out from being open to everything and the experience over the years. The main ideas just come to me without forcing them. Afterwards I will experiment with different techniques in some sections of the song to come up with different sounds."

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

There are several things I learned over the years. One thing is never really on anyone else to do anything for you. The show must go on, even if you have to play it by yourself and always be prepared for anything at any time. This is something I always stood by from the beginning. Always be true to yourself and be as original as you can. Music is self expression and you have to always channel your creativity.

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