Editor’s Note: When we think of guitar virtuosos, the names Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, and Steve Vai immediately come to mind. Soon enough, people will have Steve Dadaian’s name in that conversation about guitar virtuosos. This past Friday, Steve Dadaian released his concept album entitled “Follow The Light”, which he described as it feeling like a movie soundtrack because it tells a story throughout the album. “Follow The Light” also features Bjorn Strid from Soilwork on a track. Fans can find Steve Dadaian at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Who are you endorsed by?
Steve: Currently I am endorsed by DR Strings and Lunastone pedals and as far as my other gear I currently use ESP Guitars, Mesa Boogie Amps and Neural DSP products. I supported DR Strings recently at NAMM in Anaheim, California performing tracks off the album live.
Madness To Creation: What was the most challenging part of the creative process for “Follow The Light”?
Steve: The songs on this record, while at the core have a progressive metal sound, really come to life with the additional orchestration and cinematic sounds that come with each track. I was really inspired when I started writing this album, but even still starting from scratch is a big endeavor. Coming up with all the leads, chords, and harmonies takes a lot of time but I also had to sit with each demo to make sure it was really something worthwhile. The added production in terms of the symphonic elements were typically added last to every song and it was a challenge to write parts that complemented what I was already doing. As a guitar player it’s easy to want to overplay, especially on an instrumental record. Taking a back seat when warranted and letting the song breathe was a priority for me.
Madness To Creation: What can fans expect from the release?
Steve: Fans can expect an epic, progressive metal record that will hopefully excite and inspire from start to finish. I love the resurgence in instrumental music in recent years and this album has its own very unique sound. Fans will experience guitar driven songs with memorable melodies and riffs. Those lucky enough to get a physical copy will be able to fully immerse themselves in the world this album has created with custom artwork and storytelling to follow the story.
Madness To Creation: I have never picked up a guitar before, but I want to, what’s the first thing you would teach someone to play?
Steve: The most satisfying thing in my opinion about playing guitar when first starting is being able to play along with your favorite songs. I would first teach a student how to play a power chord because you only need two fingers to play one, can move it anywhere on the neck, and can basically reduce most songs down to a power chord. While these “chords” leave out some important chord tones, they are a bare bones version of a chord that are heavily used in rock and metal. Even if not playing the full chord, you can still get used to playing in time and transitioning between different fingerings which means a lot.
Madness To Creation: First song that you learned on the guitar?
Steve: I can’t quite remember which came first but the first two I have in my memory were Smoke on the Water and Walk this Way. It was such a great feeling to play along with the recording and thinking “I did it!” For most players that feeling never leaves, we just pick harder and harder songs. That being said, even relatively simple songs like these have subtleties and nuances that can make them challenging to fully replicate!
Madness To Creation: Goal for this year as a guitarist?
Steve: This year I’d like to promote and create content for this record since there are a lot of moments that I think other players may find interesting. This could be more lessons with Guitar World, play through videos, etc. I am planning to do some local live shows and guitar clinics where I can really break down these parts. Since I am a classical guitarist as well, I have also been working on a transcription book of finger style arrangements of the music of Joe Hisaishi so I may release that towards the end of the year.
Madness To Creation: What was it like collaborating with Bjorn of Soilwork?
Steve: Absolutely great. Bjorn is a true metal legend and having him lend his talents on the record was really priceless. We met through Metal Injection in New York City when his album The Ride Majestic came out. When I had the opportunity to work with him I gladly took it and was very thankful to do so. He provided his signature powerful and iconic vocals to “Soul Connection” off this release. This song was originally written for a songwriting competition held by Serj Tankian. As such, all proceeds will be donated from this song to Creative Armenia which is an initiative to support artists worldwide.
Check out the lyric video to “Soul Connection” below:
Madness To Creation: What did you learn the most from sharing the stage with Yngwie Malmsteen, Nicko McBrain, and Steve Vai?
Steve: I learned that you have to be prepared for *anything* when playing live. I got a first hand lesson in how unpredictable the music business can be and that when it calls, you have to answer. I didn’t find out I was opening at the Guitar Gods festival until less than two weeks before the performance. I had to book a flight down there and make sure my bandmates were available for the date on such notice with work, etc. Even when we got down there, we were one of the lucky few to get a soundcheck and I was glad we did because the amp head I was supposed to use had a blown tube. I had to quickly find out what the problem was, fix it and get ready to go on stage. Thank God Thomas Nordegg (Steve Vai’s guitar tech) was there and who better to help, right? While it was chaotic at the time, looking back it was a great lesson in how to roll with the punches and be prepared for the unexpected when playing live. Nicko McBrain was a few feet away from me on the side of the stage watching my performance so the pressure was on! He was extremely gracious and kind. Vai and Malmsteen are huge childhood influences of mine so it was a very surreal experience overall to be there.
Madness To Creation: What else do you want to add about “Follow The Light” and where can fans find you?
Steve: Follow the Light, while mainly an instrumental record, is still a concept album. The music acts more or less as a soundtrack to the story in its own way. I recommend listeners to pick up a physical copy of the CD to see some of the beautiful artwork and follow along. The track titles are words or phrases found in the actual story so this gives listeners an insight into what I was thinking or feeling when I wrote these songs. I also have to give a huge thank you to Italian guitar virtuoso Claudio Pietronik for collaborating with me as well as he lended his talents on some of the more cinematic aspects of this record. To stay current with performances, content, and more head to my Instagram @stevedadaian or my Facebook page @steveDadaianGuitar.
Madness To Creation: Thank you very much for your time to interview with me for Madness To Creation.
Steve: Thank you it was a pleasure!
And there you have it! Fans can pick up “Follow The Light” via Bandcamp here.
Fans can also check out the album via Spotify below:
* Photo Credit: Mark Weiss