Andy Timmons, Mattias IA Eklundh Discuss Steve Vai's Favored Nations Label

By Don Sill, Contributor
Wednesday, June 5, 2002 @ 2:19 PM

Vai Created Favored Nations To

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"Overseas countries dig the instrumental stuff because there is no language barrier. The American based music can go over so well to other countries and because there's no lyrics the communication is all melody with energy and feel..." says guitarist virtuoso, Andy Timmons. "Some of the Japanese markets and parts of Germany and France seem to be really appreciative of great musicianship. Not that I don't think the folks here in the states don't appreciate musicianship, but it's the record companies that don't have the faith in the consumers. I don't think they have the faith that if they promote something of an instrumental nature that people are gonna get it."

Instrumental music may not be as popular in America than it is in other countries, but people do 'get it' and are thirsty for some real-deal musicianship that has been lacking in the American market for years. Well, the drought is over with the refreshing taste of Favored Nations, a new record label whose specialty is instrumental rock and roll, nothing more, nothing less.

"I know it's common nowadays for artists to start labels, but Favored Nations is a thoroughly constructed vehicle for inspired artists." says Favored Nations founder and president, (not to mention one hell of a mean axe master himself) Steve Vai. "This is a market we've been living, breathing, and eating for our entire lives -- one where a huge void currently exists."

To fill the void, artists of the highest caliber were recruited to Favored Nations with the intent of bringing real music back to the public that's energetic and emotional, with outstanding performances. Vai signed many great musicians at the very top of their game such as Frank Gambale, Dweezil Zappa, Andy Timmons and Mattias IA Eklundh to jump on board his new venture.

"[Vai] contacted me via e-mail and at first I thought it was a real bad joke," explains Eklundh. "Steve is a hero and influenced me a lot when I decided to begin practicing guitar hard core in my mid-teens. So, naturally, I was completely blown away that he liked my zany music and Swedish licks and wanted me to be on Favored Nations."

Eklundh, a Swedish guitar master, released Freak Guitar off the Favored Nations Label, and it is a true masterpiece of guitar work that truly demonstrates Eklundh's knack for creativity and originality. "I think the best way to describe Freak Guitar is like a day at an (weird) amusement park," he says. "I'd like to think I recorded it without any thought about commercial potential or even releasing some of the tracks. Nobody is more surprised than myself about its success. The fact that a lot of non-guitar playing people have bought it makes me even happier. It has a little for everyone if you have a liberal relation to music."

It was Vai's vision to give the artists the freedom to express themselves completely through their instruments and capture the true essence of their being and the emotions they're trying to convey. "We're all very complex beings with everything we have to go through in our daily lives. It gets hard and there's a lot of heavy stuff and I just try to apply that to good music. The goal really is to try and get those emotions to come out from your fingertips," says Timmons, who is known around the world as one of the most versatile and talented guitarists making records today. "It's with years of playing and experience that you eventually get that ability to communicate those feelings and pour it out into music."

All of the artists signed to Favored Nations were hand picked because they are a unique, dedicated breed that have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments. Says Vai, "If you're a music lover who is passionate about real musicianship, you will certainly want to hear these albums."

Favored Nations will also release Steve Vai's own work entitled, The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1. It's a dense and satisfying collection of Vai's recorded contributions to movies & films such as Dudes, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, The Score and PCU. ELS Vol. 1 also includes the infamous guitar duel scenes from Crossroads, with additional music deleted from the film. The CD also features tracks like the previously unreleased “Love Blood,” originally composed for Interview with the Vampire, and Vai's retake of the Kinks classic “Celluloid Heroes.” With 40 tracks in all, this album is a must have for all Vai fans and fans of guitar rock in general.

So, now with the addition of Favored Nations to the American market, maybe more American consumers will discover that there is more to rock music than the guy holding the microphone and learn to appreciate the music for music's sake.

For more info on Favored Nations log to: favorednations.com.

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