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Band – Guitarist

At 24 years old, Orianthi has already experienced what most aspiring musicians only dream of. She’s opened for her hero (Steve Vai), backed an Idol (Carrie Underwood), traded solos with a legend (Carlos Santana) and shared the stage with the King of Pop (Michael Jackson). Her story starts in Adelaide on the southern tip of Australia where, at the age of six, Orianthi began taking an interest in guitar virtuosos like Whitesnake, Van Halen and Def Leppard. Orianthi also sings, writes and leads her own band, packing modern girl-power punch into guitar shredding that takes her brand of rock to an entirely new level.

1. Who are you on tour with now and what are you doing for them?

I just finished the Michael Bolton Australian Tour, and next I’m back out with Alice Cooper, playing guitar. Basically I’m playing all the songs, I’m playing all the leads, with Ryan Roxy playing the other guitar parts.  We’re playing different lines; I’m playing the main leads, and all the chords as well, plus harmonies.

2. What’s your favorite part of the set?

Probably “Brutal Planet” and “Feed My Frankenstein”, and I like “School’s Out”. I have to avoid the balloons though, and the knives.  He comes out with swords, and he even chops off his head. I’m playing a guitar piece when he’s dying. Also I like “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” as well, the single.  I’m just like prancing around Alice and I’m covered in blood, I’ve got the bite on my arm and it’s just awesome. We’re starting off at the Bonaroo festival in Nashville, with Iron Maiden. That’s gonna be a lot of fun.

3. What do you do when you are not on tour with Alice Cooper or Michael Bolton?

Well I’m working on my own album right now. I was just in Nashville for 4 days, recorded 8 songs in one day, then did a few overdubs and mixing.  Only 3 months left on tour with Alice, while coming back on breaks to finish it off.  We have a ton of songs, we spent two weeks in Nashville just writing.  We have like 12 songs from that.  And it’s just basically picking the best of those demos, recording another five tracks and then putting them out.  Our first single will release in Japan first, and then America.

4. Can you describe the equipment you use, and why you chose that gear?

I use EVH amps, and they’re my favorites because they have a lot of gain, for when you really want to go full out, like high gain sound, it has it. If I want to play sort of bluesier, it has the 2nd channel, which has all the clarity. I use PRS guitars too. It’s a unique combination that I like, and it’s a great marriage. The sound also depends on the pickups too. I use TC electronics for effects, usually just delay and reverb, and occasionally a flange at some points. Like during the opening of the show, very dramatic. It’s almost like Dracula dying music, set in the 80s. I use everything for that, the flanger, harmonizer, delay, reverb, and more.

5. Cool, any other specific gear you like, that people wouldn’t know?

The crybaby wah, which I really like. I also use the boss phaser, which is pretty cool.  A mojo pedal, which has the oldschool overdrive, which sounds great. I also use different delay sometimes, from a rack-mounted piece, or different pedals depending what sounds best for the song.

6.You have had a chance to play with some of the best guitarists in the industry, like Steve Vai & Carlos Santana, to name a few.  What was it like when you first walked on stage with them, and what tricks did you utilize to keep your nerves under control?

Jamming out with Santana for the first time was crazy because he’s the reason why I play the guitar. He invited me up on stage in front of fifteen thousand people not knowing the songs. They were mostly covers he picked, stuff like Maggot Brain, Man’s World, and Bob Marley. We had a blast, and it was a hometown crowd so it was pretty crazy. I keep in contact since then. To keep my nerves under control…  I don’t know. I get anxious to get started if I have to wait around, I over think things and it’s like I go mental. The best thing is to have fun before I go on stage.  I do my vocal warm-ups. I don’t really warm up on the guitar, I usually just play whatever, you know. Just bending exercises I guess, if it’s cold weather then you’ve got to. O yeah, and Steve… he is just awesome, and like the most amazing guitarist. He’s like family and I visit him often.

7. We first met during a Michael Bolton Charity event, and it was very inspiring to hear you play in person for my first time.  What was the reason you decided to get involved with Michael’s charity work, and how has it improved your mind set knowing how many people you have helped in doing so?

I think what Michael does is great.  He helps so many children & families from abuse. I’m all for helping out charities that I believe in and I wanna be there to support and bring awareness too.  I think the Michael Bolton Charity is a great organization, and it’s really great to be a part of something like that.

8. Many people were first exposed to you on the Michael Jackson “This is it” pre-tour video.  Can you describe what the preproduction and rehearsal was like and what your favorite part of working with Michael was?

It was gonna be an extraordinary concert, and every day more things were added to it. That three months was like a dream, another realm I was in for sure. I mean, pretty much a dream world, because we had large spiders, costumes, and my guitar was blinding. Everything was just extravagant, the flash was there, the props, the music, the dance moves, the heart to it, the message to it, all that. It was so real and strong, and Michael’s energy was inspiring. He is an amazing entertainer! It’s just so sad that it wasn’t played out, but everyone saw what he was putting into it and saw his message through the documentary film. We had cameras on us all the time.  I didn’t know it was going to be in the film either. I’ve only seen the movie twice… I can’t watch it.  It’s a little difficult still, and emotional for me. It’s awesome to see and hear it from other people’s perspective though. It’s real life, and it really touched a lot of people.

9. What exactly did you learn from Michael?

Being there and getting to go through the processes with the band, the dancers, and Michael was very special. I feel very fortunate for being chosen for that, I mean it’s pretty crazy. It was gonna be an amazing show, and he taught me a lot, because he’s such a great performer. He taught me to just project my energy, and put on a great show. He really had a vision and he shared it with all of us.

Thank you! Orianthi, Guitarist. It has been an honor to interview you, and a pleasure to get to know you better…


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