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Hoist The Anchors (& Axes)!: An Exclusive Interview With AXES & ANCHORS Guitarists MIKE ORLANDO And RON "BUMBLEFOOT" THAL

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 @ 8:45 AM

"I’m sure it’s going to breed some new alliances and some pairings of something you wouldn’t normally get."

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Axes & Anchors, the first-ever guitar-dominated cruise, will be departing from Miami, Florida on Saturday, February 20th for four days of rock on the sea. The voyage will begin with a day in Key West on Monday, February 22nd, and then Nassau, Bahamas on Tuesday. Axes & Anchors will be an unprecedented experience, offering its passengers 30 one-hour music workshops with luminaries such as Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, and Chris Broderick, to name a few. In addition to the dozens of great guitarists on board, bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, QUIET RIOT), singer Pamela Moore (QUEENSRYCHE) and drummer Brian Tichy (WHITESNAKE, FOREIGNER) will be conducting workshops.

In addition, the cruise is decked with bands such as BREAKING BENJAMIN, MOTIONLESS IN WHITE, THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH, DEMON HUNTER, ADELITAS WAY, and others who will be performing. So, this won’t be just an instrumental noodlefest; for the guitar aficionado, this cruise is the holy grail.

Guitarist Mike Orlando (ADRENALINE MOB, SONIC STOMP) is one of the artists who will be performing as well as conducting a workshop on his method of playing. “There’s an unbelievable amount of workshops from the artists playing guitars to drummers, myself included. So that alone is just a great experience. In my playing style I do a lot of chicken picking--kind of a country technique I’ve been doing, and pretty much all the stuff I do, especially the SONIC STOMP stuff which is the band I’m performing with on the cruise.”

Orlando will be performing two full shows with SONIC STOMP as well as a couple shows with the RANDY RHOADS REMEMBERED band. SONIC STOMP is an instrumental band for the most part, but Orlando insists there will be a couple vocal tracks thrown in as well. He says fans can expect an ADRENALINE MOB song or two in the set.

Often it is during outings like this where musical projects are put together and new bands are formed. Orlando says that happens when musicians get together in general: “That happens when musicians just get together in general. But then put us all on a boat for four days. I’m sure it’s going to breed some new alliances and some pairings of something you wouldn’t normally get. That’s what’s great about it. But, then again, this is my first playing cruise. I love to always meet people and the fans and say hello. I’m very interactive with that. So I’m looking forward to just seeing everybody, saying hello, hanging, and just taking in the whole experience. I enjoy what I do. I always have a stupid grin from ear to ear (laughs). It’s just because I love what I do. I love playing guitar and I love just hanging with people—that whole interaction from band to people. It’s something I’ve always loved.”

Like Mike Orlando, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ART OF ANARCHY, GUNS N’ ROSES) is excited to be part of the Axes & Anchors lineup:

“The guitar community is a strong one, and having a cruise dedicated to our passion… fantastic! I'm very happy to be part of it!” Bumblefoot anticipates the best case scenario: “With so many of us together, it would be great if we all start hopping on stage with each other.” Bumblefoot’s dream jam session on board the ship, he says, consists of nothing less than an all-star band.

“I'm gonna go with Jeff Watson, Marty Friedman, Zakk Wylde, Alex Skolnick. I've actually jammed with half the people on the cruise… been a pleasure with all of them! Hoping to jam with the other half by the end of the cruise.”

The focus of Bumblefoot’s workshop will be dissecting some of his most challenging songs, though he remains flexible: “The workshop can go in any direction. Whatever the audience is curious about. It can be technique, performance, business, recording, songwriting, singing, playing song requests...I've done workshops that have lasted seven hours as we hit on everything. We'll see how long we go this time before I'm pulled off the stage (laughs).”


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