Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Troy Stetina

Troy Stetina is a world-class guitarist and music educator with more than 35 rock and metal instructional methods to his credit, and total sales currently over 1 million units. In addition, Troy operates his recording studio, "Artist Underground," in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His current band is "Second Soul" and his side project is prog-metal band "Dimension X."
The Early Years
Troy grew up in Indiana. He was the youngest in a prominent family of Olympic cyclists, and won several national medals as a teenager. But racing was more of a family imperative than a personal choice and music was his real passion. His mother, an accomplished opera singer, supported his interest in music, and when he expressed an interest in guitar at age 12 she bought him a $60 beginner guitar and little practice amp.
"When I was 12 or 13 I started learning Kiss songs by ear. Everything off of Alive. Then I got into Aerosmith, Zeppelin and Rush -- Really all the late 70s hard rock bands. During high school I started learning lead and got into Van Halen big time. Think I wore out the record grooves on Van Halen 1! Then in 1980 I happened to record this live Ozzy concert off the air just before Randy was killed. There was something about his tone and his note-choice that just hit me. I learned everythingoff it by ear. Randy was definitely one of my biggest influences and I still love his stuff. Around that time I was getting into classical stuff, too -- Bach, Paganini and so forth -- and even took classical guitar lessons for awhile."
After bumping around in a few garage bands through high school, at 18 he wound up in a gigging club band called "Titan". College was looming ahead, when much to his parents dismay, he put off a college scholarship to study Astrophysics in Socorro, New Mexico, quit bike racing and jumped into music with both feet.
"Later on, I figured out that my interest in cosmology was really more about a personal search for truth and the existence of God. So I don't think going that route would have been right. The math probably would have burned me out."
Troy started giving private guitar lessons part time at a local music store and found he had a knack for teaching. When a chance meeting with Hal Leonard author/editor Will Schmid occurred at the store, an opportunity to write a heavy metal instructional method materialized. His first effort was never published due to copyright issues. His second attempt resulted in the highly successful Heavy Metal Rhythm Guitar Volumes 1 & 2 in 1986, and the Heavy Metal Lead Guitar method in 1987.
"I never started teaching because I thought 'hey, I'd like to teach!' It was just a way to make ends meet really. But that's where the opportunities opened up for me, so that's what I did. Still, I always felt I was a player first and a teacher second. In fact, writing instructional stuff still always feels like work to me."
The Conservatory of Music
In 1986 he moved to Milwaukee to join the faculty of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Troy also studied advanced music theory briefly at the Conservatory in order to more fully grasp the complex underpinnings of the classical music he was performing.
Troy Stetina, 1992"I did a few solo performances of Paganini's 24 Caprices and Flight of the Bumblebee at Conservatory events... you know, at high volume with full distortion, of course! I was always far more interested in playing the real classical pieces on electric guitar than in adapting classical ideas to rock -- the whole neo-classical thing. I guess I felt that the music of the classical composers was perfect as it was. Especially Beethoven, he's the shit. [Check out Troy's heavy version of Beethoven's 23rd Piano Sonata.]
He also continued working with bands, putting together 'Assent' in 1988 with vocalist Shauna (Joan) Joyce. The band didn't get too far, but the two married in 1989, and later collaborated on the 1992 CD "Set the World on Fire." Also of note in this period was the publication of his groundbreaking manual, Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, in 1990, which would come to be known as the guitar technique 'Bible' among shred enthusiasts.
Although Troy became Director of Rock Guitar Studies and developed a diploma curriculum at the Conservatory, he grew restless and tired of teaching. He left in 1993, moving first to New York City and then spending time in 1994 in Los Angeles, where he worked briefly with 80s star Don Dokken. Eventually, however, he came back to put down roots in the Milwaukee area (near his publisher), set up a studio and commit his new ideas to disc.
Exottica and Artist Underground
Troy Stetina, da produsa, 2001Troy built a recording studio, "Artist Underground," in the lower level of his new home outside Milwaukee to produce his first instrumental CD,Exottica. After that he began producing for other bands.
"For a long time, people had been asking if I had an instrumental guitar CD out. Well, I had always preferred vocal music, frankly. But in mid 90s a lot of instrumental ideas started happening to me. I didn't have a singer, so it seemed like the thing to do. I upgraded my demo studio to a hard-disk recording system and went for it. The spin-off was that I also opened up the studio commercially to produce area bands. That is something I had wanted to do for a long time. And I learned a lot about production. Too bad there's no market for instrumental guitar any more!"
Some of the albums Troy has produced can be found on the Recording Studio page of this website. He also began to produce all the audio of his CD instructionals done since 1999.
Friends and More Music!
Mark with Jer & ZackIn 2002, Troy began giving private guitar lessons to Mark Tremonti of Creed, and the two developed a mutual friendship. When Mark expressed an interest in producing a project with him, Troy formed a new band and "Oversoulss" was born.
"Mark basically lit the fire under me again. He inspired me to give it another shot. He's a good guy, with a good heart. Even though he's achieved tremendous success, he's very down to earth and he cares about people. That's not so easy to find in this business."
What about the future?
Troy layin' it down in the studio"Although our egos would like to pretend that we build our success ourselves, I don't think that's true. We all do the best we can with whatever life deals us. You just have to pick up where you are and keep moving ahead.

"I'd rather sell more CDs rather than less. But that's not the most important thing. Better to spread a little more kindness around. I feel fortunate to have had a 20 year career in music. And I've had the pleasure of teaching and inspiring thousands of guitarists all over the world. So I've had it pretty good, and I feel blessed for that. I feel successful, and any more that comes my way is icing on the cake."

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