‘We’ll Make it Fun’ – Jeff Loomis Talks India Tour
At his solo gigs across four
Indian cities this month,
American guitarist Jeff Loomis
won’t mind slowing down and
taking a few questions from
You can buy his signature series guitar or fit his brand-name guitar pick-ups, but American guitarist Jeff Loomis says that guitarists still need something more to impress. “Your sound really comes from you and your hands. It’s all a part of you and how you move your hands and pick the strings. That’s really what it comes down to,” says Loomis over the phone from Seattle.
The guitar wizard, best known for his work on erstwhile prog metal forerunners Nevermore (who disbanded in 2011) and more recently, with Swedish melo-death band Arch Enemy (whom he joined in 2014), is coming down to India on a four city solo tour this month. Loomis sounds more than pumped, because this is the first since joining Arch Enemy that he’s had breathing space to get back to his solo material. In between clinics and workshops, he’s finally working on his third album (after 2008’s Zero Order Phase and 2012’s Plains of Oblivion), slated for release in the summer.
He says, “I’m well-known for the instrumental music and people can relate to my guitar playing in that sense, so I think that for me to get back into it and play some instrumental music is a really cool thing.” Never having been to India, Loomis says it’s given him the chance to dive back into playing material from “an assortment of my musical career” So that’s not just Nevermore hits, but also his solo material and metal super-group Conquering Dystopia, which extends to include the likes of death metal act Cannibal Corpse’s bassist Alex Webster and prog band Good Tiger’s drummer Alex Rudinger.
For his India tour, however, it’s a solo show in all literal purposes—mostly for the sake of economics and logistics. “When I initially agreed to do it, I thought it was going to be some guitar clinics, like teaching smaller classes. I didn’t really know what it was going to entail.” Of course, he’s fully prepared for when guitar geeks in their crowd raise their hand to ask a question between songs. “That’s one reason I really started to do guitar clinics, because I always noticed that people had so many questions about either the guitars or the equipment I use and the music that I write. It was a really good way to interact with fans.” He adds that these solo shows in India are unlike anything he’s done before, spilling into the space of guitar clinics as well as a full-fledged performance. He says, “If I’m playing a few songs and I see a bunch of people asking questions that they want to know about my technique or something, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem to slow down the show and take a few questions from the audience. That’s not a big deal. We’ll just make it fun, you know?”
Loomis has been in the game since 1987, which makes it nearly 30 years. He turned 45 in September, but speaks with a mingled enthusiasm of a seasoned man of the road as well as an excited newbie. Is it just good genes or clean living that he looks like he hasn’t aged one bit over the last decade? He laughs, “I think it’s a combination of both. I do not touch cigarettes or alcohol any more. I used to party all the time in my earlier days but there was a time for me when I just said ‘enough is enough’ and I really started to think about my health and being the best guitar player I can be. My mom is like 75 now or something and she’s still looks like she’s 40, so maybe I get something from her good genes. I’m not sure. I think I’m pretty fortunate to have my health and play guitar with the world. I don’t take any of that for granted, for sure.”
Once he’s done with his India tour— which stops in Guwahati, Chennai, Bengaluru and New Delhi between December 9th and 12th—he’s going on to work with Webster and co. on Conquering Dystopia material, as well as having his first go at writing material for Arch Enemy.
This article appears in the December 2016 issue of ROLLING STONE India.
Jeff Loomis India Tour 2016
December 9th – Into Glory Ride IV at Underdoggs, Guwahati w/Yesterdrive, Circlelost, Jeff and the Souls, Mihir Phukan
December 10th – Sonic Stone Fest at Vapor Lounge, Chennai w/Eccentric Pendulum, Spine Shatter, Kraven Experience
December 11th – Twisted Metal Fest at Blue Frog, Bengaluru w/Inner Sanctum
December 12th – Outrage Festival at AntiSocial, New Delhi w/Godless, Against Evil