Jennifer Batten Interview

July ’06

1. Tell us a little about your early musical roots and what influenced you most in choosing to pursue a career in music.  

My early roots involved hearing my fathers jazz records every night when he’d return from work until he went to bed. A combination of his influence and respect for musicians and my own radio listening lead to the career I chose.

2. How old were you when you first began playing?  8

We’ve read your first guitar was a childhood birthday present – what model was it, and do you still have it?

I sold it long ago and don’t remember what brand it was  but it was the coolest. I love that my father got me an electric guitar for my first one.

3. You are renowned not only as an exceptionally skilled player, but also as an innovator of the “two handed tapping method”.  Can you give us a little insight into how you perfected that technique?  When did you realize the impact it would have on the music world?

I don’t know that anyone ever ‘perfects’ a technique but I spent a lot of time on it. I was influenced by Steve Lynch who was in my class at guitar school. He started tapping that year due to a clinic given by Emmet Chapman on the ‘stick’ instrument. I thought it was fresh and exciting so kept in touch with him for several years and learned the technique from him and from his books “The Right Touch” . The technique was made so popular by Van Halen that it was bound to spill into other genres like Michael Hedges and Kaki Kings acoustic style. I tried to take it in other directions as well.The only feedback I get on what impact it’s had is when I get fan mail from fellow tappers. You don’t realize how far your impact goes until you get that.

4. Describe Jennifer Batten, musician, in ten words or less.

Twisted, searching, adventurous, driven, listener, multimedia. There’s a few, but it feels like a moment with a phychiatrist now 🙂

5. In 1987 you were selected from over 100 other guitarists to play in Michael Jackson’s tour, the “Bad Tour.” What was your mind-set going into that audition, and how do you look back on that tour today?

I knew I was just one player of many days  of auditions so I just did my best and didn’t get my hopes up. It was seriously life changing in many ways when I got that gig. Many doors opened but I also got to see the jealousy that Hollywood breeds when someone gets ahead. Not pretty.

 

6. You have collaborated with a long line of some of the most respected and talented people on all sides of the music industry, including Jeff Beck (with whom you also toured).  How have the different talents and personalities you’ve worked with influenced your development as an artist?

I think my time with Jackson made my music a bit more accessable and made me think more about image and presentation. The time with Jeff was like a springboard to a new way of thinking about recording as well as catching up with the times via technology and open ears for electronica.  I owe him for that!

7. In 1992 between tours with Jackson you released your first album, the critically acclaimed “Above, Below and Beyond” and followed that up with “Momentum” (credited to “Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage”).  Momentum showcases a broad diversity of influences – reviewers coined it “world rock”.  To what do you attribute the vast difference between your debut album and your sophomore effort?  What motivated you to delve so deeply into world music?

My first record was a bit of a guitar geek record. I was just leaving the world of Musicians Institute. I’d graduated and was teaching there when I got the Jackson gig. I was pretty green and pretty much was all over the map as far as direction. I’d recorded 3 demos before that gig and finished it upon return. I had some jazz, some world beat, some classical and other directions. The next record was done on my own with the other players and no outside producer so it was very organic. One of my favorite bands is Weather Report which is very world beat influenced. I guess that’s part of the attraction that lead to my own ethnic music interests and influence. I bought a lot of CD’s from Peter Gabriels’ “Real World” label as well. Those are real roots CD’s straight out of the bush of various countries.

8. You’ve played in small clubs, and you’ve played in huge stadiums.  What sort of venue do you find the most enjoyable?

I never felt connected to large audiences in stadium type situations. I prefer the sort of 2 to 4000 seater venues I played with Jeff. The sound is much better. I rarely hear the kind of clarity I want to hear in stadiums as an audience member. But honestly any venue that is enthusiastic about hearing me is fine. It’s more about vibe than size

9. You seem to be very comfortable with the digital aspects of modern recording.  What’s your vision of how computers can be best integrated into your creative process?

Computers aren’t going away and give limitless possibilities in editing and comparing, but there’s certainly a down side. I find myself staring at the screen for hours when I don’t even need to because it sucks you in like a magnet. I can only last a few hours at a time doing that before my energy is drained away. I was able to do 8 or 10 hours at a time with ADats. Computers also demand constant upgrades and bring up way more hassles and problems than any past recording method. It’s very yin and yang.  I wouldn’t give the method 5 stars.

10. Currently you’re working on a new CD. You’ve expressed that the new recording will be significantly influenced by your experiences working with Jeff Beck – can you give your fans some insight into your approach to this record?  Do you have a target release date?

I don’t want to give a target release date. I’ve already missed a few of those due to road trips etc. I’ll just say ‘soon’.The Beck influence was on direction. I’ve completely embraced new technology and the new CD will reflect that in ear candy and loops and samples.

11. As it usually seems to be the case, you have multiple ongoing projects – the new CD, a DVD and your guitar clinics.  How have you managed to keep up such a heavy pace for all these years?  What is your greatest motivation today?

Some years are way more grueling than others. I’m getting pretty burnt out on travel. Last year I went to Australia, China, 4 times to Japan, twice to Canada and to Europe . I felt so beaten at the end of it that I’ve taken a lot of time off this year. I need time to heal and regenerate and intake before heading out again. It’s hard to balance when you need to make a living, but I’ve cut way back in my living expenses so I can take it easier and enjoy life more.

12. What do you believe is the single, most important first step for a beginning guitarist?

To enjoy playing. If you end up with a teacher that doesn’t make it fun somehow–find another one .

13. When it comes to a beginner’s gear, what advice would you offer?

With the Chinese and Korean imports we’re able to enjoy these days you can get all the gear you need for cheap. I’d just say to go to a store, figure out your budget and see how an instruments feels and sounds to you. It’s not nessesary to get the top of the line until you grow into it. As far as amp gear, it’s the same. There are tons of products available with all in one fx/amp modeling that will keep a beginner entertained for eons.

14. Can you tell us about your hobby with glass art and how fans can purchase one of your pieces?

All they need to do if they see a piece they like on my site is to write to me at mondocongo@earthlink.net. The prices are marked on the site. I got into the art several years ago after leaving California and taking some time off. All of my creative juices went into it for quite a  while. Now I balance my expression between glass and music. I find a lot of inspiration in beautiful visual artistry and I want to be a part of that too. I’m always going to crafts shows and art galleries these days. It helps the music too in the end via being inspired.

15. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to share?

The Cover Zone: Celebrating Women of Rock

http://www.thecoverzone.com

http://www.myspace.com/thecoverzone

 

 

Session, touring and solo guitarist.   Jennifer speaks with us about recording, touring, new projects and more.

Jennifer Batten Interview  October 23, 2005

Guitarhoo!:   Hello Jennifer welcome to Guitarhoo!   Thanks for joining us.   Which part of the world are you from originally?
Jennifer Batten:   I was born in upstate New York and moved to California when I was 9.
instrument and was guitar your first choice?
JB:   I started playing guitar when I was 8.   My father bought me a killer red and blue electric.

G!:   Who were some of your earlier influences?
JB:   It was the Beatles early on and in my teen years I discovered blues players like BB King and Lightnin Hopkins.   When I first heard Jeff Beck as a teen, that was pretty much it for me.

G!:   You are most known for your amazing 2 handed tapping technique.   What attracted/inspired you to this style?
JB:   I learned it from a fellow classmate at Musicians Institude, Steve Lynch.   He started developing it that year – 1978.   We kept in touch after school was over because I wanted to learn it.   He eventually wrote a book and I memorized it and then started experimenting on my own.

G!:   Cool!   Your renditions of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” are unique and dangerous!   How much time is involved transcribing pieces like those?

JB:   Getting the proper fingerings for Bumble Bee was pretty time consuming.   I think I changed it 4 or 5 times before I was satisfied.   I had piano sheet music for it from my mother.   I also had Coltrane’s Giant Steps solo transcribed already, so it was just a matter of learning it.   The hard part was the tapping version

Jennifer performing her version of Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”:

G!:   Can you tell us a little about how the experience was performing and recording with artists Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck?
JB:   Jackson was really intense work but a lot of fun.   Once I joined, it was 7 days a week for 2 months of rehearsing.   The focus was on sound and groove more than anything.   I learned the value of repetition in rehearsal to enable comfort on the stage.   Jeff was very intense in a whole other way.   There was a lot more freedom in playing the parts and soloing.   He wanted to be inspired and challenged in different ways every night.   The thing that impressed me most about him live is how differently he’d play from night to night.   He’s always a strong creative force.   He’s always stretching and taking great risks.   He says when he gets off stage after a show he feels like he just cheated death.   When you hear him, you understand that statement.

G!:   How has working with these artists affected your playing?
JB:   I think Jackson helped make my own music a little more accessable overall.   Jeff’s influence goes back to my teen years.   I learned every solo from “Blow by Blow” and “Wired”.   There are things I picked up from the 3 years with him that are not possible to put into words.   I was also very inspired by his willingness to listen to anything new.   He gets bored easily and is always looking for new sources of inspiration.   He turned me onto music I never would have heard otherwise.   I think a hunger for the new and unusual may be one of the most important things I picked up from him.

G!:   Awesome!   Another talent you have is creating Stained Glass Art.   I really dig the portait of Django Reinhardt and the Stained Glass guitar string box’s look amazing!   What inspired you to get into this?
JB:   Thanks!   I needed a balance from music and last year I took a lot of time off from travel because I was getting very burnt out.   It was the best thing for my creativity to leave the guitar alone for a while and get into a visual art.   I took classes for stained glass and loved it.   I really look forward to cutting glass when I return from the road now.   Especially when I’m up in the middle of the night with jet lag, it’s good to have something like that to go to.   When I’m travelling I have a glass software called Glasseye that I work with to create designs for when I return home.   I’ll be making a lot of guitar string boxes this winter.   I love the idea of art that is useful.

A few of Jennifer’s Glass Art pieces. © Jennifer Batten

G!:   Excellent!   You use a “String Damper” to mute unwanted noise from open strings when using 4 fingers to tap on the fret board.   That’s quite a cool and useful idea.   Did you invent this?
JB:   I didn’t invent it.   I’ve modified several models over the years, and I now have 2 of my own models which are available on my site or through All Parts. One model is for 3X3 headstocks and the other is for 6-in-line tuner headstocks.

 

 

 

G!:   You’ve got a few new projects about to be released around the same time.   Your track “Whammy Damage” will be featured on the record “La Guitara”, a record featuring 14 female guitarists, November 1st, 2005.   What more can you tell us about this project?
JB:   It was the brainchild of Patti Larkin.   She says on her site that interviewers always ask her why there aren’t more female guitarists playing.   She got tired of saying THERE ARE!   So she got 14 of her favorite players together for the CD partly to raise an awareness of all of us that exist, and it’s also partly a benefit project to get guitars into the classroom.   Almost all of it is solo playing from the jazz of Mimi Fox to a killer Indian-esque slide thing from Ellen McIlwaine whom I started to listen to many years ago.   Kaki King is also another I’ve become very fond of.   She’s got a very fresh creative approach.   Several of them are touring now and will go into next year, so check out the dates at www.pattilarkin.com.   We all may be playing at the NAMM show in Anaheim this January too.

G!:   A Frank Marino tribute record to be released soon, this winter.   What can you tell us about this one?
JB:   A friend of his is behind that project.   He’s a biker comedian named Willy Parsons.   It’s the first time he’s done anything like this but managed to get all great players on the CD.   He’s going through the ugly learning curve of dealing with music industry people right now though.   I’m still not sure when the CD will be released but he’s got a contract now at least.   It’s the first tribute record I’ve played on that I was given full creative control so I’m very happy with my track.   I think Willy was skeptical when he heard it because it’s very different from the original, but he told me Frank loved it when he heard it so that makes me feel good.   The track leant itself to an Indian flare and I love delving into various other ethnic kinds of music.

G!:   And your 3rd solo album.   What can we all look forward to on this one and how is it different from your past works?
JB:   I’m taking this winter off to finish it up.   I hope it will be out next spring.   I’ve programed everything myself this time and used Logic for the first time.   It’s such a time consuming effort to do it all yourself and I won’t do that next time.   But I enjoyed what I learned using the computer possibilities.   I’m using a lot of vocal samples on this one and lots of different drum loops.   It’s extremely different from past CD’s.

G!:   Great!   Will you be touring in support of this record?
JB:   I hope so but there are a lot of variables to consider.   One is the rising price of gas.   It’s a becoming a major factor in whether bands are able to make a profit or not.   We’ll see. Dates are always on my site as they’re confirmed.

G!:   Your JB100 and JB100 midi – signature guitars with Washburn are pretty slick.   How involved were you in the making of these guitars?
JB:   They basically had the design and I liked it a lot.   It fits like a glove and is very lightweight which is important to me.   It was my idea to add the option of a Roland synth pick up, Duncan JB Jr pick up in the bridge and Duncan Duckbuckers, the original Floyd Rose tremolo and wood choice–swamp ash.

G!:   Is it true you are working on a new model?
JB:   I’m not so sure about changing now.   They’re pretty backed up at the factory and I haven’t received anything.   It will have to be a really special guitar to make me want to change.   We’ll see.

G!:   How would you say you benifit the most by having a guitar endorsement?
JB:   I really don’t think there’s any benefit at all unless you’re a million seller with your CD’s.   It’s a very expensive guitar and doubly expensive for people in other countries to buy.   Finland for example has a 25% import duty.   There is one model made in China however that is very good and much cheaper obviously.

G!:   A lot of guitar synth products out there have issues with the tracking and sensitivity settings.   Which guitar synth are you using and do you find you have to go through a lot of tweaking or adjust your playing style a little to make it work properly?
JB:   I’ve been using the Roland GR 33 recently though on the Jeff Beck tours I used a Roland GI10 midi converter with their 1080 for sounds.   It’s great for pads, but soloing is always an issue and I don’t use it much for that.   I did some gigs in the spring however where I used a steel drum sound that worked pretty well.   I also covered the trumpet solo in Dick Dale’s “Miserloo” in a sort of comedy medley interspersed with Weather Report tunes.   It sounded really good and tracking wasn’t a problem.   I was able to emulate that cheesy-assed trumpet vibrato of the 60’s without a hitch.   You really need to learn how each sound behaves.

G!:   What gives you the most satisfaction as an artist; writing, recording or performing?
JB:   Writing.   It’s where the magic can happen easiest.   Performing has too many variables to be consistent and recording is just a pain.

G!:   hahaha…  Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians out there?
JB:   Yeah–be courageous and break some new ground.   Keep an open mind to listen to everything and anything.

G!:   Thanks for taking the time out for this Jennifer – You rock! and we all look forward to your future projects!

July 2005

GES: Hello Jennifer, I hope everything’ s going well for you !

Jennifer: Yeah –lots of work this year. I will have gtimes as well
GES: I know that you have composed and recorded a new solo Album, can you tell us more on it ?  Is there already a title, a cover art ?

Jennifer: I’ve had the cover art for several years. It’s a painting of a punk mermaid by the same woman that’s done my others. www.pamelina.com . The CD is not finished yet but will be called. “Off the Deep End” I’ve programmed everything myself this time and have a lot of vocal samples and killer drum loops as well as guitar synth and regular guitar. There’s some comedy in it as well, and lots of ear candy with sounds.

GES: Will some guests make appearance ?
Jennifer: I’ve gotten vocal samples from several friends and am still waiting for a special guest to do a whistling track for one song. I also hired the bassist Andre Berry from my first CD to play on one track. On a ballad I hired a cellist and violinist too.

GES: Is it true that you have been signed by Steve Vai’ s Label Favored Nations ? They also re-edited your previous solo Albums ?
Jennifer: I haven’t actually signed yet but have been offered a contract. They’ll rerelease my first 2 CD’s when the new one is done.

GES: Your last solo Album Momentum was released in 1997, did it take you a long time to compose the new one ?
Jennifer: It takes a very long time to compose and record partly due to my travel schedule. So far this year, I’ve been to China, Australia and Japan twice as well as Canada. I haven’t been home much to work on the CD.

GES: How do you record your solos ? Do you prefer to improvise and keep what you prefer, or are they in your mind before playing them ? For example I remember Steve Vai saying that he had the solos in his head, he could sing them and the difficulty was to find how to play them on the neck…
Jennifer: For this record I recorded with computer. I jammed for 5 or 10 minutes on each solo section and took my favorite parts. It’s very tedious comping solos though. A 5  minute solo could easily take a week to put together. I think next time I’d choose full takes and if it isn’t mostly OK, keep doing a full take until you like it all.

GES: What are your favorite guitar effects ? Did you use a lot of them on the new record ?

Jennifer: My all time fav is Digitech’s whammy pedal for bending notes or chords down a whole step. I always use the whammy a lot since 1991 when they released the first one.

GES: Every person who knows you, has may be heard your “Giant Steps”, “Flight of the Bumble Bee” covers… using incredible Tapping technics ! Are you still working a lot on these technics ?  If you had to choose a new cover today, which one could it be ?
Jennifer: I don’t spend time any more working on chops kind of pieces. I spend most of my time recording and writing which I enjoy more than live playing and touring. Bringing an idea to life that you hear in your head is intoxicating.

GES: There are some Artists who give the opportunity to their fans to buy “Bootlegs” Live cds through Internet ( A good example could be Frank Gambale ) . It would be a very good idea to do the same, don’ t you think ? I’ m sure a lot of people would be interested !
Jennifer: I’ve never been satisfied enough with my live shows to allow a bootleg. Maybe in the future when I have a band together that has played a lot together I’d reconsider.

GES: Are you planning about releasing some new instructional book or video ?
Jennifer: I’d like to do a few books of transcriptions of the stuff from my records and also a book on tapping too. I’ve go one tapping book that has ben recently put out of print for a few years by Hal Leonard Publishing. But I have a lot more material to release in book form. I just need more time at home !

GES: I would like to know more about your equipments… What is your basic studio equipment at the moment ?
Jennifer:  I record with Logic 6 still and Pro Tools hardware. I run my guitar from the Digitech GNX4 into a Boogie Strategy 400 power amp and into  Randal Isolation. It’s a 1X12 celestion speaker in an enclosure stuck in my closet which is wired for a mic. I then run the mic into an Avalon tube preamp before going into the recording device.

GES: Are the computers affecting the way you compose ?
Jennifer: Yes. I like the possibilities of editing but overall I don’t like computer recording partially because I don’t like staring at a computer screen to record. I think it will evolve into a more Intuitive process because lots of people complain about it.

GES: Can you tell us what are your actual endorsments ?
Jennifer: Digitech effects, Peavey amps, Washburn guitars. Dean Markley strings.

GES: Before we finish, some short questions ok ? .. so short responses are welcome !
Touring with Michael Jackson, a really cool experience or just professionnal ?
Jennifer: It was the best. I got to tour the whole planet and get paid well to boot. He was a great boss to have and I was a fan before joining the band. It was an eye opener for me and began a career of globetrotting to follow. He treated everyone really well.

GES: Touring with Jeff Beck, the same ?
Jennifer: The Beck tours were wonderful and more intimate as a band since there were only 4 people instead of 6 and a load of dancers and singers. There were 6 people on the band bus and 6 in the crew bus. We’d always have dinner with Jeff and also party with champagne after the shows. He’s a very social creature and wants to share in the fun from playing a good show.

GES: Your favorite Albums ?
Jennifer: Jeff Beck Blow by Blow, Weather Report Heavy Weather/ Mr Gone, Professor Trance and the Energizers, Deep Forest 1, Afro Celt Sound System-(first 2 cd’s).

GES: Your favorite movie ?
Jennifer: Forest Gump

GES: Your favorite food ?
Jennifer: Sashimi

GES: Some hobbies ?
Jennifer: Stained glass projects

GES: Do you know some French Guitar players ?
Jennifer: The Gypsy Kings are French. I love their stuff. I play it on car rides.

GES: Thank you so much for your responses ! A last question, but very important for your European Fans, any European tour plans soon ?
Jennifer: There are no plans for Europe as yet but I may do a guitar festival in November. Dates will be posted on my site www.batten.com/tourdates.htm

GES: I hope we will get your new Album as soon as possible in the Shop, and I really want to thank you very much for your time. I wish you the best for the future !

 

 

 “Hi JB, welcome to 6 stringheaven.com”

Describe a typical Jennifer Batten day?

There’s nothing typical about my days. I wake up to chaos, but postpone it with a cup of coffee while staring out the window. And although coffee gets slowly into my brain, it takes going to the gym to get blood into it. I’m trying to finish my 3rd CD right now, so most of the rest of the day is in my studio on Logic, and also just trying to keep up with requests and bookings. Keeping ones life organized is hugely demanding. There are a lot of hours of communications and e mails that suck time away from my day. But that just makes music time more precious.
*So what does 2005 hold for instore for you?

I’ll finish my CD in the next few months.–hopefully before the slew of work begins. I’m slated to go to China, Australia, Japan and Canada in the 1st 1/2 of this year for Digitech clinics. I have a new band also, and we’re booking some dates around my other schedule as well.

* I just called by your website http://www.batten.com it makes for interesting reading, do you think the internet has generally helped musicians or like the labels keep saying it’s ruining the industry?

Labels might say it’s ruining the industry because we don’t need them as much any more. We’re now able to reach fans directly and let them know where we’ll be performing. We can also let them have direct access to our music, which is great because if you don’t have the high dollar push behind you, people can’t find your music in stores. The free downloads are what’s hurting both the industry and the artists. Kids don’t see it as stealing but that’s our income….stolen. It’s like working for months on a project and never seeing your paycheck because the company has gone out of business.

*Here’s one all guitarists should answer and you will be no exception, do you ever put your own cd‚s on when you are chillin at home?

Never. You listen to it so much during the process, and you’re so emotionally involved that it’s no longer like a pleasant, removed experience that you get when listening to someone else’s music.

* How long have you played guitar and what made you first pick one up?

I started playing at age 8. My father bought me an electric for my first one. I started lessons and learned to read right away.

*Any chance of a new album coming up in the near future? What should we expect, compared to your other releases?

I’d guess it might be out this summer. I’ve programmed everything myself so you’ll hear a huge variety of different sounds in every track. I’ve made use of computer technology to do things that can’t be played in real life. It was fun but exhausting and I guarantee the next one will feature more humans!!

*You have certainly impressed the guitar world with your awesome offerings especially Giant Steps.How do you get those brilliant ideas?In otherwords,who/what inspires you to compose music?

Thanks! I’ve found many sources of inspiration from the old blues cats to Jeff Beck to Van Halen and in the last few years a lot of ethnic music as well as techno coming out of London. I think Joe Diorio was the inspiration behind Giant Steps. He’s an amazing jazzer.
*You are one of those people who have proved to the world that women can also attain Guitar God status.What are your feelings towards this?
The guitar god thing always reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons. It’s nice to be recognized but I don’t take it too seriously. I’m just trying to grow and keep myself inspired with new adventures in music. The industry is so male dominated, I’m not sure how far my acceptance has penetrated. Careers are always pretty fickle in music. I’m just glad to have made a living in it for a few decades. Having circumvented planet earth so many times, and seeing how others live, you realize what a blessing it is to play for a living!

*What would you say is your biggest weakness when it comes to guitar playing? How do you approach it? Do you keep working at it, or accept it as a limitation in your abilities and move on to other things?
The biggest weakness is soloing over odd time signatures.
Jeff (Beck) is a natural with that stuff but it’s always uncomfortable for me. I’m not obsessed with practicing any more. I used to be able to sit for 10 hours and work on various techniques, but now I don’t have the attention span for it. I’d rather jam to tapes or do live band rehearsals and gigs, and write music. Writing is my #1 joy.

*Who are your influences?

Jeff Beck, Van Halen, George Lynch,Weather Report.

*Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

That would be Michael Jackson I suppose. I’ve never met anyone else who’s sold over 40 million copies of one album. Outside of music, I met Gregory Peck, Mike Tyson, Sophia Loren, Don King. In fact when Sheryl Crow was in Jackson’s band with me, we had a photo taken together with Sophia.

* How memorable was your stint with Michael Jackson?

Very! It was life changing in every way possible.

Were there any special moments?

The whole first tour was the biggest 1 1/2 year mind blowing adventure you can imagine–seeing the world for the first time and getting paid for it!

*How many guitars do you own?

About 8. I’ve given a bunch away and have sold others. I don’t like to change strings, so why have them around? I only really play one–the natural wood finish JB100 with the Masai’s painted on it.

You have a Signature Model built by Washburn.What are the special things to look out for in that guitar?

One of the 3 available models of the JB100 is the synth pick up. I can’t imagine why more guitarists don’t take advantage of access to synth sounds. It also has a real Floyd Rose trem and Seymour Duncan JB Jr, and Duckbucker pick ups. It’s a glue in neck so there’s a smooth transition to the body. I also put a string damper on all my guitars to control open string ring. There’s also a USA model without the synth pick up and a very good Korean model. Import duties outside the USA are exorbitant for foreigners to deal with so the Korean model takes some financial pressure off there.

*What is your usual live/studio rig?

I’m now using the Digitech GNX4. It’s an all in one floor pedal board that you can run direct. It’s also and 8 track digital recorder.-Very convenient. Live with my band, I run it through a Boogie Strategy 400 power amp and Boogie 2X12 speaker cab. I’m also looking at the new Tone Tubby cabs from Texas made from hemp paper.

*Your effects are by Digitech(a GNX-4).have you tried other effects apart from Digitech?

Not in a long time.
Would you recommend this effect to the guitar newbie?
Absolutely! It’s the world’s first complete guitar workstation. I’m amazed what all is packed into that thing.

*What would you say was your biggest live gig to date?

Superbowl 26 which aired to 1.5 Billion people in 80 countries

*I understand that you are going to tour China ,Japan, Australia and New Zealand in 2005. Would you be stopping over at other venues?( I think I saw you during MJ’s tour some years back here in Singapore)

I think there will be more dates added to the Chinese leg of this years’ touring but I don’t post things on my site until they’re confirmed.

*What advice would you give to someone who is stuck in a rut and can’t seem to reach the next level?

Take a break and listen to inspiring music–especially live shows. Go see a movie or read a book. The best book I can recommend is called “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. She addresses getting stuck in there, as well as a ton of other issues every artist can relate to. She’s got incredible insight.

*Do you think there should be another Hear N’ Aid for the Tsunami victims?

Sure. People forget about disasters in short order and money is still needed. You have to take into account that a certain percentage of money given will go into the hands of crooks and never reach the people that need it. I gave a good chunk of money for the 9-11 thing, and then heard constantly after that that the families were not receiving any of it. There are scammers in every facet of life! So the more money that can be shelled out, the better chance of having some of it reach where it’s supposed to reach. America is a rich nation. Everyone can afford to help.

* Do you have any other comments for your worldwide fans and guitar wielding psychos out there?

The bottom line is to have fun with music. That’s why it’s called “playing”

The ‘guitar shredder’ genre of the late ’80s was comprised almost entirely of males, but one exception was the fleet-fingered Jennifer Batten. Born in Upstate New York, Batten got her first electric guitar at the age of eight (inspired by her older sister who already owned an instrument, as well as the Beatles and the Monkees), before her family relocated to San Diego, California, a year later. In 1979, Batten began attending G.I.T. (Guitar Institute of Technology), where she befriended such fellow up-and-comers as Steve Lynch (later of Autograph).

It was through Lynch’s fascination with the then-burgeoning ‘two handed tapping’ technique that Batten took her friend’s lead and perfected the playing style — eventually writing a book on it years later (Two Hand Rock). After graduation, Batten endured an intense practice regimen, while making ends meet by teaching at G.I.T. and playing in a variety of local bands. Batten’s big career break came in 1987, when she received word from a friend that auditions were being held for a guitarist for Michael Jackson’s upcoming tour in support of his comeback album, Bad.

Instead of trying to secure a tryout right away, Batten took an uncommon approach, securing a tryout on the last possible day — that way, she would have as much time to learn and perfect the King of Pop’s repertoire. The plan worked, as she toured with Jackson for the better part of a year-and-a-half. She prominently appeared in the video for “Another Part of Me” after undergoing an image makeover, which saw her transformed into a peroxide-hairsprayed guitar goddess (she even sported a Mohawk for a spell).

With the Jackson tour behind her, interest spread about Batten in the rock guitar community, especially after a track of hers appeared on a compilation CD issued by Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine, her cover of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” on 1989’s Guitar’s Practicing Musicians. This set the stage perfectly for her full-length solo debut in the spring of 1992,

 

Above Below and Beyond, an album that mixed originals and covers (and was produced by Michael Sembello). Shortly after the release of her debut, Batten found herself out on tour once more with Jackson, in support of his Dangerous release (which included a performance at the halftime of the Super Bowl). Afterwards, Batten returned to her own recording career, forming a group called the Immigrants and issuing the European-only release, One Planet Under One Groove, before once more agreeing to tour with Jackson, this time in support of his 1997 greatest-hits collection, HIStory.

The same year also saw the release of another Batten recording, Momentum, (credited to Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage). 1998 saw Batten receive an invitation to join the backing band of one of her all time-favorite guitarists, Jeff Beck. Since signing on with Beck, Batten has appeared on such studio recordings as 1999’s Who Else! and 2001’s You Had It Coming, plus numerous tours.

Additionally, Batten has guested on recordings by Carmine Appice (Guitar Zeus, Vol. 1) and her old friend Sembello’s Lost Years LP, among others. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide

17/02/2007


First of all, thanks to give us a part of your time. Can you please tell for Metal Sickness readers what you have done since”Above, below and Beyond”

I went on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour right after that record wasreleased. After the tour I recorded My Tribal Rage record with Glen Sobeland Ricky Wolking and again, immediately went on another MJ tour. About 6months after that tour ended I joined Jeff Beck’s band for 3 years and 2 CD’s. I’m ready to release my 3rd CD but want to do my own tour this timearound.

You went on very different musical ways during your career. What is the nextone for the future ?

The new CD called “Whatever” is about ear candy andcomedy. It’s more in an electronica direction but there’s still plenty ofguitar. I have a lot of vocal samples as well. There’s some story telling, adramatic ballad and a special surprise that will endlessly entertain 13 yearold boys.

Maybe you can tell us few words about your gear, and the reasons of yourchoice ?

I’m using the Digitech GNX 3000 through a Marshall power amp. I want tohave access to all the sounds in the book without carrying a lot of geararound. It’s versatile and includes an expression pedal which I use a lot.

Have you got a touring band or do you play with backing tracks ?

This tour will be alone but with videos and backing tracks. I’ve got somegreat footage from various film makers and will also release a DVD withinterviews and videos

What are your projects for this year ?

So far I’m travelling to Japan twice in the spring and will probably go toCanada late spring. The main focus though is to get my new CD off theground.

What’s your opinion about learning methods and what is for you the best wayto learn guitar ?

There’s no best way because people are so individual. I think thetechnological progress is great. Any way music can be made easier is a goodthing. There’s no substitute for just putting in time listening though. Theon line community is something I wish I’d had when I was younger. It’s afantastic resource.

What do you think about master class sessions and clinics ? Which kind ofperformance do you prefer ?

I enjoy doing the clinics and master classes but you have travel from yourleft to your right brain when you talk and then play. In doing a real show,you can stay in the creative side all night so it’s easier to emote. Alsosome of the clinic environments are pretty stiff and uninspired unlike theaverage club vibe

Do you think that technic is still important for one part of the metalaudience ?

I think technique is important for any musician in any genre. It’s thebuilding blocks to just being able to play&emdash;basic stuff

Personally, do you consider that you still got to prove your technical valueor are you in peace with that to focus on the music and the emotions ?

I don’t give it much thought anymore. I worked a lot on technique in the 80’s and now just do excercizes to get me back to my peak just so I can pulloff whatever I feel like at any moment . It’s like having access to whatevercolor you want to paint withWhat do you think of the evolution of guitar-heroes who started in the 80ssuch as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen … ?They’re all well seasoned. I think musicians tend to get better with age

And what do you think about the new heroes (Ron Thal, Guthrie Govan,Christophe Godin etc.) ?

I honestly don’t listen to much guitar any more so I don’t know those guys.I listen more to ethnic music and electronica. Anything that sounds reallyfresh to my ears. I want to get inspiration from musicians other thanguitarists

Which artists do you consider today to be the future of guitar ?

There are a few I’ve become aware of like Kaki King and Preston Reed. I lovetheir stuff because it’s very adventurous and different from what I do.Detuned acoustic is foreign to me so it catches my ear

Are you still in contact with Steve Lynch ?If is the case, would you mindjoining his school as a teacher or for master class sessions ?

I’ve been meaning to catch up with him as he’s now only a 4 hour drivesince I left LA a few years ago. I talked to him but haven’t seen him inyears. Yeah I’ll do a master class. That would be fun.

Would you like to tour again with a famous band to play in big arenas as you’ve done with Michael Jackson?

I’d rather play my own music at this point in whatever venue I’m welcome in

Have you got something special to say to Metal Sickness Readers ?

Protect your ears!!! Loudness is exciting until you start to hear whitenoise ALL THE TIME!

Thank you so much for this interview, and good luck for all your projects.