Kee Marcello, Swedish guitar hero, best known as the former guitarist in the rock band Europe.
With his technique and melodic sense he inspired many players since the release of "Superstitious" back in the late '80s. Now Kee has a new band and a new solo album coming out. He told us about his current and future plans, including his autobiography, and why he is not playing with Europe anymore.
Continue reading to find out more.
Hello Kee, welcome to Live4Guitar, it's great to have you here.
Thanks - great to be here!
You've been very busy lately with tours, new album, the book... Let's start with the latest album "Redux Europe". The album hit the no 9 spot on the Swedish album chart and brings a new, modern sound to classics from bands you played with. You felt the need to bring back those tracks to new audience?
Yes, I felt a need to record them the way I hear (always heard them) in my head. Also, I play and sing these songs live all the time, so I want people to be able to hear the songs in my versions - and like you said, with a modern production.
The album is currently only available digitally (except in Sweden), but September 1st it will be released as a CD World Wide.
Redux: Europe hits the no 9 spot on the Swedish album chart!
How did you start out and who were your early influences? Did you have any formal musical training?
It all started with my parents buying me a used Hagstroem Impala as Xmas gift in 1974 – from that day me and the guitar were unseparatable!
I first got hooked on the British blues wave: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Green. Learning how to play Clapton’s ”Hideaway”, and later Beck’s ”Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”. I consider milestones for my personal understanding of the guitar. Ritchie Blackmore was a big experience for me too. The first album I bought was Deep Purple’s ”Who Do We Think We Are” – and that’s really what wanted me to become a guitarist. Since these were the 70’s, I also got into fusion: John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra made a huge impact on me. And of course: HENDRIX – ALWAYS HENDRIX!
Since the town I grew up in; Umeå, has a yearly Jazz Festival which hosted a lot of Jazz giants through the years; Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie to name a few, I guess you can say that jazz sort of came with the territory. Django Reinhardt made an impact on me, I really like Wes Montgomery too. But for some reason I’ve always prefered the sax players in Jazz. Charlie Parker and John Coltrane are my favourites.
But my biggest guitar hero and influence by far is one which is not so well known for the broader audience: OLLIE HALSALL.
He was a British lefthanded player, handling a white Gibson SG. He played in Time Box and Boxer, but he did some of his best work in Patto. He had pretty much everything: rock, blues, jazz, and a remarkable energy with a sense of humour in his playing. In the late 80’s he moved to Spain to play with Radio Futura. He died an untimely death by a heroin overdoze on May 29, 1992 at 13 Calle de la Amargura in Madrid. A big loss for the World of music.
On my previous album ”Redux: Melon Demon Divine” I wrote and recorded a song about as well as dedicated it to Ollie Halsall and Patto. It’s called ”Tattoo For Patto”. You can also listen to it on http://www.olliehalsall.co.uk.
Over the years you have developed a very unique lead style. What is your approach to guitar playing, technique?
Technically I've always wanted to master the techniques I personally like, and actually invented a few new ones. String skipping tapping and my take on 5-notes per string alternate picking pentatonics to name a few. My take on melodic thinking I can explain the best with a story:
About a couple of months prior to going to London for the recording of ”Out Of This World” in 1988, I was sitting by the pool at my house in Nassau, the Bahamas. (I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!) I’d just got the new issue of Guitar Player Magazine, and I was reading an article about the amazing jazz guitar player Pat Martino. A killer player who has the most extraordinary technique. One day Pat was taking a strawl on Manhattan when he runs into Les Paul.
”- Mr. Les Paul, what an honour! I’m a big fan!” Pat Martino goes.
Les Paul looks at him for a while, and goes:
”- Pat, you’re great, and you sure play a lot of notes – BUT …” (pause)
”Does your mother recognize you on the radio?”
WOW! This was speaking volumes to me! This is what I had been trying to achieve all those years, and Les Paul put words on it in a one-liner! With this echoing in my head, reminded me of what my real purpose is, I went into the studio and recorded OOTW.
Do you have your specific exercises for keeping you in shape? What's your advice for young guitar players?
Practise a lot! There are shortcuts.
Your REH guitar instructional video was a success, your playing inspired many guitar players. Any chances to see another instructional video from you?
Yes, that's on the agenda. I can't say exactly when it will be released, but it will definitely happen soon.
Kee Marcello playing solo from Superstitious by Europe. Video is taken from a REH instructional video.
YouTube clip by reflexreflexreflex
Is Kee Marcello a "gear junkie"? Over the years we've seen you play many different guitars, amps... Do you have your favorite equipment or you like to experiment with different gear?
It's more been a sort of experiment I suppose. But I'm now back where I started: A 50 or 100W head with EL-34's and a Cry baby, a chorus and a delay. The only "new" thing added in my rig is a VibesWare Guitar Resonator. It's an amazing device with a gooseneck that you mount on a mic stand, so you don't have to hold it (like E-bow for instance)
I love my VibesWare, I can't really remember how I managed without one! Check it out: http://www.vibesware.com/
(Check out how it sounds on "Girl From Lebanon" on the new album "Redux: Europe")
How do you see the music industry today compared to when you were starting out?
Today it's much more about playing live since the record sell have been declining so bad. But I don't complain.
You recently released your autobiography book "The Rockstar God Forgot". When did you start thinking about writing a book? Was this an easy task to do? While we're waiting for the English translation, can you tell us some details?
It was an amazing experience! I've always wanted to write a book (since I was eleven and got my first novel published in the local newspaper), and the idea to write my autobiography is something I've been thinking of since 1992. It was time consuming - but great therapy!
It's being translated as we speak, I hope to have it released this fall.
For detalis - buy the book! ;-)
What are your future plans, what should we expect from Kee Marcello? When will we see you on the road again?
- "Redux: Europe" out World Wide" September first.
- Touring in Italy, Croatia, Switzerland and Austria in August and early September.
- A double bill tour in Scandinavia and South Europe with Glen Hughes in October and November.
- A brand new album, "Judas Kiss" (with all new original songs) released this fall. It includes a duet with Akane Liv from Liv Moon - I just shot a video of the song yesterday.
Now a few questions from Live4guitar members from our Facebook page.
Dragomir Herendic - Dragianni:
Amp, guitars & effects used on "Out This World" Europe's album
I used a Marshall plexi, modified by Tommy Folkesson. L'Arriveé guitars - a strat and a tele + a sixstring acoustic.
The mid boost, which was integrated in the head, was designed by Tommy Folkesson, Mats "Drutten" Gran and myself. This created the typical OOTW guitar sound, and I gotta say, I've never heard something quite like it. Almost the timber of a flute.
Unfortunately neither Me, Tommy or Drutten recalls how we did this - I guess that secret is forever lost!
Kee Marcello and Europe reunion, is it possible and why doesn't he play with the current line-up
The reason I don't play in this line-up is that Joey and Norum decided to do so. I was open to make it a six piece band, but they were not. Another reason is that Joey Tempest owes me a lot of money since he illegally sold my shares in the company Europe was running together. I bought Norum's 20% share in 1987, so I still legally own 20%, but the've paid me nothing.
In spite of the fact that my lawyer has been giving Joey lots of changes to make a settlement with me, this has never happened.
I'm an easy going guy - I don't have a problem with a reunion (at least for a special occasion) with me in the line-up. But it would only be possible if Joey pays me the money he owns me!
Laurie Monk from truthinshredding.com:
Has Kee Marcello played with Robert Marcello and after his solo work with Joey Tafolla did Kee ever contemplate making a solo guitar record?
Of course - Robert is my brother! Lots of times - but it just never happened. I was offered a solo deal by Don Grierson of EPIC USA back in the days, but Joey and our manager back then, Thomas Erdtmann, threatened to give me the sack from the band if I did. I guess Joey didn' want to lose any attention from his ego - which was bigger than the Andromeda galaxy back then!
I was also part of a project called "Epic Guitars" - a collaboration of some of the big names on EPIC. It was Me, Jeff Beck, Neal Schon, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Vernon Reid. Not bad, ey?!
Unfortunately the project died together with Stevie in that helicopter crash. RIP Stevie.
How much of Kee's influence does Kee see in this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj3S4mMLDKs
I hear a bit - an there's not a problem about that! You have a lot of influences though I can tell - great playing Emir!
"Prisoners in Paradise" had a very clear and powerful production especially when talking about the guitar sound. "Out of This World" had more of a sweet sound with louder keyboard. What does Kee prefer of those two? Second question: Is it true that the band stopped working because "Prisoners in Paradise" wasn't as successful as the few previous ones?
I prefer the sound on "Redux: Europe" really! But of the 2 I must say PIP.
Second question: That's not true. What really made us stop was grunge. We didn't feel like a new album of Europe was something the World needed right then. PIP has sold 2 million copies, so it's impossible to call it anything but a success! :-)
Thank you for joining us, is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you too - keep in touch!
Cheers & Love
Video taken from FenderStratocaster13