The Sonic Heat Wave of Axeman Lou DiBello
Lou DiBello is a shredder extraordinaire from Illinois who has just unleashed the almighty Heat Wave, his fourth solo magnum opus! In addition to the supreme guitar work from Lou DiBello, the album also features appearances from Ross The Boss of Manowar and Mike LePond of Symphony X. Heatwave is scorching with imagination and intrigue, presented by a master of the axe who knows how to deliver to goods in an epic way. A graduate of the famed Musicians Institute in Hollywood, DiBello now teaches guitar and is very active, performing many shows with various projects throughout the year. Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with Lou DiBello to find out about the Heat Wave assault, working with Ross The Boss and Mike LePond, his days at MI, and a whole lot more! Read on..
Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
I am in Illinois, in the Champaign Urbana area. 2 hours south of Chicago, home of University of Illinois. Also home to bands like REO, Head East, and a long time very active music scene. There is not a lot of original hard rock and heavy metal here currently, but lots of other variety, and I play a ton of cover gigs every year, 130 or so between a couple different acts.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Heat Wave title?
A bit, yes. When I originally began working on some of the initial tunes a couple years ago, it was in the summer and very hot. It is also a bit of a play on words (or images) with my previous CD, “The Axeman Cometh” which itself was a play off of the title of a play “The Iceman Cometh”. The cover for Axeman shows my guitar covered in ice despite being surrounded by flames, and with Heat Wave the idea is reversed, with my guitar red hot amidst the icy surroundings.
What guitars did you use in the recording process Heat Wave? Any reason on the preferences for the recording process?
99% is either my 1970’s lawsuit era Diamond Les Paul or my 1994 customized American Standard Strat. A few parts I use both for rhythms to give a bit more layered or textured sound, and the Strat was better suited for some of the leads. But the LP is used on many of the solos too.
How did Ross The Boss become involved with the recording process, and what was it like working with him?
Like a lot of things it seems these days, social media was a big part. I had been Facebook friends with Ross for a while, but it was when a lady that works with Ross and his management, Loree Hunt, caught a video of me and became interested in my guitar playing. After Loree and I spoke on the phone, she encouraged me to speak with Ross about music, and she also introduced me to his agent. At this point, about April of 2016, I had no idea Ross would end up playing on the record with me. Ross was very helpful and offered some great advice and insights, as well as encouragement. As a few months went on and we developed a bit more of a friendship and rapport, I asked him if he would play on the song “Blood On The Cross” with me, and he was very gracious and great to work with. Hopefully we’ll do it again sometime!
Mike LePond from Symphony X also appears on the new album. How did Mike become involved with the recording process?
Loree Hunt also introduced me to Mike, who also began playing with Ross’s band around the time the recording of Heat Wave was coming together. Mike is such a great player, and working with him was very easy and productive. He plays on 3 songs and did nothing short of a fantastic job! Mike’s parts were recorded in New Jersey and Ross’s in NYC.
When selecting a vocalist, what made you decide to work with Carsten Schulz and how did you find out about him?
Working with Carsten was both a truly serendipitous situation, as well as incredibly rewarding musically. A guitarist/teacher I studied with at MI was Iain Hersey, and Iain had a very big impact on my playing and future development as a player and teacher. In about May of last year I tried to contact Iain on FB, only to find out, that he had, sadly, passed a few months earlier. It turns out the person answering his FB page was Carsten, as he had worked with Iain on a few projects. Carsten and I began chatting a bit, I checked out some of his other work and was super impressed. One thing led to another, and I asked him about doing a song or two together. I originally thought I might have at most two or three vocal tunes on the album, but after we began to work together I knew that Carsten had the perfect voice for what I was hearing in my head, and the results of the four tunes we did together surpassed even my high expectations. I believe we will definitely work together more in the future.
Who did the cover art for Heat Wave and how much input did you have in it?
Cover illustration by a local artist and friend, Steve Tooley. He did the image from a pretty detailed idea I had, but it totally has his own spin on it and I love it. The Lou DiBello logo design and CD layout was done by NYC graphic artist/photographer Scott Braun. I also had some ideas there, but Scott really knows what he’s doing and I yielded to his advice and couldn’t be happier with the results. I was very fortunate to work with a great team all the way around.
What was the experience like attending Musicians Institute in Hollywood and what was the overall music scene like in Hollywood at the time?
This was 1988/89, and Guns and Roses and Poison had just got famous, while bands like Warrant were huge on the club scene and just breaking. Saw many great shows and players while I lived in LA, and at MI was fortunate to see, hear and in some cases study with guys like Paul Gilbert, Vinnie Moore, Bruce Bouillet, Scott Henderson, Howard Roberts, Tommy Tedesco and more. I sat in on a couple jams with Russ Parrish (Satchel of Steel Panther), he was a beast back then at about 18 or 19 years old!
Did attending Musicians Institute give you any inspiration to teach?
It definitely gave me a better understanding of what it meant to teach, so yes, very much.
Any chance of any live performances?
Working with a lineup now and hoping to be ready for a few regional shows shortly before or after the first of the year, as we come up on Thanksgiving here soon. There is definitely some interest in getting a live band out there so that is the next step for sure. I hope we will be able to get enough traction so that it will make sense to have Carsten come over for some shows, or perhaps I go to Europe for some shows, so we will see what happens!
Are you involved with any other projects outside of your solo work?
Oh yes, as I mentioned I do about 130 or 140 gigs a year, primarily covers, in a couple different acts. One is The Live Jukebox Show, a duo where we play over 400 songs by request. I also played on and produced an album of original material last year, by David Howie, who is the other half of Live Jukebox.
What’s up in the New Year for you?
Actually probably just a bit of a break over the holiday, but really looking to get the live act out doing the material from Heat Wave, plus a few new tunes as well. New album maybe end of 2018. Lots of cool new songs to record!
Any final words of wisdom?
Always keep a litter bag in your car. Haha, no seriously I would just say that you should believe in yourself, be honest with yourself, and don’t give up! Make it happen, whatever that may be for you.
Line-Up for ‘Heat Wave’:
Lou DiBello – Lead and rhythm guitars, bass guitar
Carsten Schulz – Vocals
Bobby Whiles – Drums
Mike LePond (Symphony X) – Bass guitar (Blood On The Cross/Drop Deadly/Into The Arena)
Ross “The Boss” Friedman (Dictators, Manowar) – Lead guitar (Blood On The Cross)
Tim Rixstine – Keyboards, synthesizer
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Lou DiBello Official Home Page