Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Xander Demos

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Xander Demos

When I was first introduced to Amy Rose, I had no idea who she was. Then I interviewed her and fell in love with her voice. After working with her, I asked her management if they had any more artists for me to interview. They suggested Xander Demos. I had no idea who he was, either. I headed over to Facebook to learn more… and was blown away by his numbers. Then I went to YouTube, and saw he had a TON of views. I am not a huge fan of hard rock music, but this guy knows his way around a guitar. Not only does he have a band, he also plays guitar for bands all over the place AND is an animal lover. He’s a great guy, and I am glad I got the chance to not only hear his music, but to interview him and to share his story with all of you. If you like rock music, then you are going to love Xander Demos.

Your sound is… well, rock. There aren’t a lot of big rock bands out there right now. Who are some of your favorite rock bands?

I like bands like Symphony X, Dream Theater, Journey, Rush, Boston… a lot of the classics, but some of the newer progressive bands, too.

Some might not call it rock, but I am a big Nickelback fan. What are your thoughts on what they do as a band, and do you consider what they do rock?

I would consider them to be a rock band. Hey, listen… a lot of people might not like what they do, but on the other hand, there are a TON of people who do. They haven’t sold millions of records and sold out arenas around the world because people don’t like them. There’s a lot of stuff on their albums that are really great songs. You don’t get to hear them, because they weren’t the “radio hits.” Those were their worst songs, in my opinion. The album cuts are where they shine.

I like to think what I am doing is a little more metal than rock. It’s a little heavier. This next album, with the addition of more vocals, will definitely fall in to the metal category, without question.

There are a lot of big rock music festivals out there like the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Rock Fest, and Warped Tour. Do you see a lot of shows and do these big festivals interest you?

The big rock festivals are very cool. Eventually, I hope to get to the level where I’m playing on those tours. I am playing some pretty incredible festivals this year though including Warriors Of Metal Open Air Fest (as headliner, James Rivera’s guitarist,) Skull Fest, Rock Harvest II, Wolf Fest and a few Pittsburgh-area festivals for charity – Gigaroo and Rocktober, as well as the PA Rock Show’s  birthday bash. I try to make it out to some shows… time is tight. I try to see Trans Siberian Orchestra every year. I saw Boston last year. I got to play on some pretty great shows that came to town last year, too. The KISS/Mötley Crüe show is one that comes to mind.

Xander Demos “Guitarcadia” Live at Dead Horse Cantina, Pittsburgh, PA

What are some of your first memories of the guitar?

Watching MTV and seeing these guys just shredding on their instruments. It was what made me want to pick up the guitar.

Tell me more about your name. Is your name really Xander Demos?

My given name is Alexander Demos. So, yes, Xander Demos is my real name. Unfortunately, in the music industry, many have confused my last name as being a “demo tape.”  So, I have to explain, “No, it’s my last name!”  It’s pronounced, “d-muss.”

Do you play any other instruments?

I started out on drums.

Tell me about your relationship with ROCK N GROWL.

I got hooked up with Axel Wiesenauer at ROCK N GROWL through my manager, Michael Stover at MTS Management Group. He and Cameron Tilbury, who promoted one of my singles to Euro radio, had talked about finding me a label deal, and Cam was friends with Axel. So, between the three of those guys, it happened.

ROCK N GROWL digitally released my album, Guitarcadia using their distribution channels and promoted the release with some great reviews with metal publications and sites. I recently signed a physical distribution deal with Dynasty Records, too. They’ll get the album in some retail stores across North America. I’m hoping to have another album out on ROCK N GROWL by January 2014.  ROCK N GROWL is great, though. They really believe in their artists and work hard to promote them… same with Mike at MTS!

I hear you are an animal lover. Tell me more about that. Do you have any pets at home?

I’ve always been an animal lover. They are all just beautiful creatures. The best way to get on my bad side is to mistreat an animal. I’ll knock some sense into you. (Laughs.) I have zero tolerance for any kind of cruelty to animals. I have donated a portion of my sales to animal charities. My sister is involved with a charity in Florida, where I’m originally from, and I try to help out as much as I can. Also, I’m performing at a benefit for a local Pittsburgh animal charity this weekend. I have several dogs and cats at home. They are my furry kids!

You work with Twisted Nail Productions for booking shows. Do you play a lot of live shows?

Well, this year has been incredibly busy, so far, and it will remain that way for the rest of the year. As I mentioned, we’ve got some great festivals lined up. We did a mini-tour of the Mid Atlantic region.  I’ll be doing more shows with Sabbath Judas Sabbath, the tribute act I am a member of. Hopefully, some more shows with James’ solo band, too. I like to play at least 50 times/year, but it’s usually closer to 100.

Xander Demos “Chase The Sun” Live at Spring Stampede, House of Rock, MD

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on stage?

I don’t really have any embarrassing things… I’m sure I’ve blown a string or two while playing, back in the day. Sorry… nothing good here!

I love it when guitarists smash a guitar after a song or a set. Have you ever smashed a guitar?

I once smashed a ukulele!

What is the most you have spent on a guitar?

I’d rather not say! Several thousand, probably.  Thank God for artist endorsement pricing! (Laughs.)

Besides your solo project, you are also in a tribute band. How is a tribute band different from a cover band?

Well, a tribute band picks one or two bands and that’s all they play. So, you have to really be a fan of those bands to want to play in, or even go see that tribute act. It’s not your typical bar cover band.  Tribute acts will usually cover some more obscure or album cuts, too. For instance, you’re not going to hear a typical “cover” band in a bar play some of the same Judas Priest songs we play in SJS. We don’t even play “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” It’s too mainstream, and a lot of purists are sick of it.

How do you know Michael Stover?

I’ve known Mike for about 20 years, now. We played in a cover band together. (Laughs.) But, we also had some really great originals, too. The band was called Stormfront. Fast forward about 18 years or so, and we hooked up at a Guitar Center, where he was trying to get in touch with a mutual acquaintance of ours. He actually started managing this other guy, and I was so impressed with what he was doing for him, that I asked if he would want to come on board with me. Here we are two years later, and I can’t believe how fast and far things have come. He’s an angel in my corner, for sure.

I see you give guitar lessons. Tell me a little bit more about what you offer and what someone can expect from taking guitar lessons with you.

I offer some Skype video lessons. It’s been tough though, because time is a factor. If someone shows interest, I can make time, but I only take so many of those on anymore. If someone wants to learn some of the techniques that I use for speed and trickery… I’m willing to teach them.

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

Too many to mention. I’m sure Journey or Whitesnake would wind up in the top couple… again, Boston was awesome. Queensrÿche. Again, too many to tell.

You are currently using McNaught guitars. There are SO MANY big brands out there. How do you know what works best for you?

I also use Suhr guitars, who are another endorser. It has to feel right and play extremely comfortably. Plus, the look has to be amazing!

There is a Guitar Center in my home town. I am sure there are guitar retail stores all over the place. Do you shop at a local retailer for new gear or do you buy all your gear online?

A little of both, but without sounding conceited… I have a lot of artist endorsements, which I am so grateful for, so I get the artist price online. So, that’s where I buy most, direct from the manufacturers.

Your sound is so polished… songs like “Right Angels” sound like something I would hear on the radio. Have you ever heard your work on the radio?

Yes, and it’s an incredible feeling!

Tell me about the other guys in XDB.

Adam Heusey, keys; Jeff Anzelone, drums; Mario Brescia, vocals; Ben Chiarini, bass. Simply the best at what they do. They are incredible musicians.

I am sure it gets hot on stage. What are you drinking while you are performing?

It will sound lame, but water. In fact, I don’t want any of the guys getting trashed on stage. Save that for after the performance.

Speaking of music festivals, how do you know James Rivera?

I met him through a mutual friend. He introduced me to James as a second guitarist for SJS. We totally clicked, and James is just a helluva great guy and amazing performer. I’ve been so lucky to have been asked to play with him when he headlines the Warriors of Metal Fest this weekend. We may have a few other things coming up, too… can’t tell yet!

I am a big Stevie Ray Vaughn fan. Some folks like Jimmie Hendrix. I have people even say Eric Clapton is the best. But to YOU, who is the greatest guitarist of all time?

To pick one is very difficult for me. There are great guys for different reasons, and my tops are probably not the ones that most people know. The guys you mentioned are mainly blues-based, and I’m not really a blues player. I go for guys like Shawn Lane, Guthrie Govan, Tony MacAlpine, Adrian Vandenberg, Neal Schon (who is also a great blues player,) John Sykes… the list goes on.

You have a ton of followers on Twitter. You are also active on Facebook and YouTube. Do you manage all of your social media accounts?

When I’m not playing, I’m on social media. (Laughs.) I love communicating with people, whether using music or by chatting about music and gear. I’m a gear head.

What’s next for Xander Demos?

More live gigs and recording the new album, Dancing Thru Daggers. The title track will already appear on the Versailles Records Guitar Wizards compilation, which will have George Lynch, Jake E. Lee and some other amazing players. I will be appearing on a few other albums by other artists, too. Again, I can’t say too much on that, yet. My music is also being picked up by some TV networks for sporting-type programming. So, that’s pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to more amazing opportunities this year and next.

Thank you so much, Xander. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.

I’d just like to thank you for taking the time to interview me. It’s really an honor, and I’m so humbled each time I have this opportunity. Thanks to the fans for being so good to me and my family, and I hope to see you all on the road this year.

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