Interview with Rough Cutt Guitarist Darren Householder By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
Posted by NinaBRR on February 01 2020 07:33:31

Open House

Interview with Rough Cutt Guitarist Darren Householder

By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Boston Rock Radio

 

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The music entertainment industry sometimes lets true talent fall by the wayside and Darren Householder is a textbook example.  An original player who possesses the musicianship on par with anybody who has ever toured with G3, Generation Axe, or any of the "hotshot" guitarist sidekicks with the high profile vocalists.  Though he was a member of Love/Hate and currently rocks out with Rough Cutt, modern guitar fans should check out his work that he recorded for the Shrapnel Label during the early to middle 1990's.  Easily Darren was a prospect for the major leagues but a slump in the industry away from technical proficiency, led to many of the best players not being able to come up to home plate for a swing.  Boston Rock Radio would like to thank Mr. Darren Householder for this exclusive interview.  

 

 

Your first national accolades came by way of the "Spotlight Column" in Guitar Player Magazine.  This must have been a joyous occasion to first open that issue and see yourself in print, being from a small town in Pennsylvania.   

I had just graduated from Berklee College of Music and was teaching the summer program there when I got a call from Mike Varney. I was very excited because I always wanted to get into that elite fraternity of the Shrapnel guitar greats. I was also in Guitar for the Practicing Musician Magazine led by John Stix.   At that time it was Richie Kotzen (ex-Poison) on Shrapnel and Blues Saraceno (ex-Mr. Big) on the Guitar for Practicing Musician Label. I was writing and recording and mailing my cassette tape demos to both of those guys trying to get signed. I was working very hard playing the guitar from 8 am until midnight most days, half of which was writing and recording on my 8 track.

 

Any favorite places in Boston you enjoyed seeing shows and concerts at that time?

My favorite places in Boston to see shows in 1988 were the Narcissist in Kenmore Square, the Channel was a great spot, Bunratty‘s, and at Club Three I remember watching Extreme play there and we would go to the bar for a drink when they played that acoustic song. You know the one that became a number one hit on the Billboard charts “More Than Words.” ha ha Ha

 

Your three solo albums were released on the Shrapnel Label.  The timing of 1992 music scene in the USA was not advantageous to your debut.  Were there other places in the world where you were getting airplay and offers to do clinics?

Yeah my first Shrapnel record in 1992 could’ve been called, Never Mind People Like Darren Housholder as Nirvana‘s Nevermind came out and really put an end to an era.  I had the goods you know, but I just didn’t have a full record of great material. You know the tracks, "Middle of the Night" from my third CD, " Malt Shop Serenade," my innovative "two hand tapping," these are on my first spotlight demo for 1988, I wasn’t ready until I moved to LA in late 1989 and played with Jeff Pilson and Vinny Appice.  After a year and a half the band fizzled out and then I got fired.  Mike Varney called me to record in 1992.  I literally got that Washburn guitar that appears on the front of my first album cover the week of the photo shoot. I had used my Frankenstein guitar which is an old Charvel body, a scalloped Warmoth neck, EMG pickups and a Floyd Rose. I just didn’t really like Washburn guitars and I guess they knew it because I would customize whatever they gave me and at the end of the day my relationship with Washburn ended.  I ended up doing about 12 guitar clinics and that was it.  I did get to play twice at the NAMM show in a huge ballroom celebration for 3000 people.

 

Image result for darren householder     

Malt Shop Serenade:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjWVuu-0rjA


I always felt that your playing was underrated and original sounding compared to some of the other players on the Shrapnel roster.  There was some really fantastic material on those recordings.  What are your thoughts when you listen back to those tracks that you created 25 plus years ago?  What are a few of your personal highlights that you were very proud of?

Thank you for saying that my playing was original! My influences since I went to a jazz school and being exposed there to some super funky rhythms and I got really into this funky heavy metal big band trip!!! Along with Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, and all the Shrapnel guys at the ripe old age of 27 years old, I was really writing music instead of just finger exercises. So my playing and especially my writing had matured a lot from 1988 to 1992.  I listen back to my first solo record and I put it up against any of the other records from any Shrapnel artists. I think mine stands up right next to those.  Every song has its own character. The two hand arpeggio technique I used on "Malt Shop Serenade" and throughout the record, these crazy diatonic triad harmonies were my own innovation back in Berklee in 1986 and 87 where I applied the William G. Leavitt method book studies to Eddie Van Halen technique.  "Generator Man," I wrote in the back of the tour bus when I was in Love/Hate and I had intended the music to be vocal music for a Love/Hate record and of course that didn’t work out.  And Symphonic Aggression was taking classical masterpieces and making them into guitar metal instrumental pieces. I think there’s some incredible writing and playing there.  Counting Love/Hate's Let’s Rumble, I recorded four records in three years. I was out on tour and went to the UK where Love/Hate was famous!  I was playing my ass off.  Then in 1995. Ray Luzier (Korn) and I, and a great singer from Seattle named Sean Dailey along with a bass player created the band Freak Power Ticket.  We wrote and recorded our own CD, played around Hollywood trying to get signed and it just didn’t happen. Then Ray joined David Lee Roth and at this point my son Dorian was three years old, my business I started in 1998 was taking off so I retired from music.

 

Many of the Shrapnel alumni went on to join some pretty big groups in the music industry such as Megadeth, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, and Poison after their tenure with the label.  You got the gig in 1993 with Love/Hate which had some mild success in Los Angeles and beyond.  What were a few of the other groups that you had the opportunity to audition for during that time period? 

You know after my first CD I auditioned for Enuff z' nuff.  I was in the band for a weekend recording demos for their third CD called Strength, which my guitar playing is all over the record. They actually used my melodies and licks but they wanted their original guitar player (Derek Frigo) back so they sent me home.  So I retired from music in 1999.  My business was taking off and my young family became priority and the actual thought of making money and any success in music seemed hopeless.  Then with two more boys I bought a much bigger house, and played guitar, drums, and piano encouraged my three boys to play music.  Ultimately football, baseball and other sports became their passion.  Later in 2007, Love/Hate asked me to play shows in England.  I was out of shape and my chops were down so I was kind of a mess on that tour. But by the time we went back and played in 2008 and 2009, I got my stuff together. This inspired me to get back on stage playing my own music again. So I started playing instrumental shows with a few Hendrix songs I would sing in LA in 2010. There are a bunch of YouTube clips that are actually pretty good. Me and my buddy, Andy Haller actually played "Middle of the Night" live with all those psycho harmonized Cacophony licks.  Also I was writing music and I thought I would record rock vocal album.  I joined W.A.S.P. and Blackie Lawless liked me for about 6 or 7 days.   But when I asked if I could do a stage solo he said, “Why don’t you just open up for the band?"  So I got fired the next day.  Then an opportunity to just go out on the road right away and play rock shows sounded like a great idea, so I joined Love/Hate and played like 300 shows in the next year.  We recorded Spinning Wheel and the record Let’s Rumble in like three days. Oh, by the way, the guitar solos got recorded in the early or late morning hours which just sucked.  There is some good stuff on there but mostly I hate it!  Love and hate it!  The problem is it was a sinking ship that I jumped off of a year and a half later and that’s when I recorded my second and third shrapnel CD’s and started Freak Power Ticket.

 

Do you still work with now Quiet Riot singer and Love/Hate founder Jizzy Pearl?

I recorded with Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate and the LP All You Need is Soul for Frontier Records.  It was released May 2018 but was recorded in 2017, after which I had played a few shows a year with Jizzy.  We played at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, and then summer celebration gig outside at the Rainbow.  They were some super Sunset Strip gigs!  Also at Vamped in Vegas, but nothing out of the country or any tours for that matter.  Currently we are playing three shows in February for the 30th reunion of Black out in the Red Room, which incidentally I did not play on.  We are also going to Australia to play 4 shows in May.

 

You recently joined Rough Cutt?

 So one day I got a referral from Joey Tafoya (Jag Panzer/Graham Bonnet Band), a Shrapnel great and good buddy, that Rough Cutt was looking for a guitar player. I listened to the music and I thought it had a lot of guitar so I went and met Chris and Rockin' Dave. They asked me to join and I was happy that I was going to be able to play some fun rock shows with those guys! Literally the very next day, I got another call that a well-established Journey tribute band called Lights, needed a guitar player because their guitar player Alex had just joined David Lee Roth.  So I learned 18 Journey songs with those incredible Neal Schon solos note for note as I was also learning 14 Rough Cutt songs, trying to figure out which solo was to be mine and which one was for Chris, and also playing the harmonies. So for six weeks I was very busy doing some fun guitar homework!

 

 

What correlation do you see between your music skills and workout routine?

My son Dorian was born in 1996 I had to supplement my musician life and teaching income so I went back to telemarketing jobs like I did while I was at Berklee. By 1998 I was able to buy my first house and then 6 months later quit my job and created my own business out of the garage!  The most important lick or song or technique I’ve ever created is my wholesale business called, Brand New Energy.  Back in 1998 I began selling supplements to convenience stores, then health food stores, and then internet supplement retail sites! Along the way I started having my own products and my own brands made.  I learned to formulate products and create different brands of supplements for fitness and bodybuilding like my musical peers make YouTube videos.  So I’ve made six well produced videos that can be seen on YouTube and my brand “Psycho Pharma“ website  www.psychopharma.com.  You know maybe it’s not a coincidence that I was this shredding guitar player with the shredded abs and now I happen to run a fitness supplement company with product names like Edge of Insanity (thank you Tony MacAlpine) and Far Beyond Driven (thank you Pantera).  Also a testosterone product called Thunderstruck (Thank you AC/DC).

 

How do you maintain your fitness at the age of 54?

I take a scoop of my pre-workout product Edge of Insanity.  I get really jacked up and I crank the metronome up to like 92 or 96 BPM and practice my alternate picking, 32nd notes standing up with guitar hung kind of low and as I sweat my ass off for an hour or so, I’ll do my sit ups, my weight lifting, my cardio and then eat healthy and drink a protein shake!!! hahah

 

Any additional musical plans for 2020 that you wish to share?

Music in 2020.  Well I have three shows with Love/Hate coming up on February 4 and more shows in Australia.  Also there are big outdoor festival shows with LIGHTS, The Premier Tribute to Journe,y booked in April and July.  Rough Cutt has a manager that is going to get us out there playing rock shows.  I do have a family to take care of which is my first priority, then I have my business and I have enough music to keep me satisfied and happy. It's a pretty good life and I’m very grateful for the life I live.  I have two new instrumental songs I have recorded that are very much like my first CD only new and relevant to me NOW!!  One of them is called Ava‘s Dance, that’s a jig my granddaughter would dance to when I played this funky riff. It turned out great!  I put myself on notice!  The unfinished business that I have to finish in order to have more peace in my life is  to record a new Darren Householder album which I have most of the material written and also my book “Everything You Need to Know About the Guitar 10 Pages."   I’ve created this musical equivalent of the multiplication table that will be used for key signatures and modes in chord building. It’s all in one tight little graph.  I take the things I’ve learned at Berklee and along the way and revised into very simple tidbits from my years of teaching thousands of guitar lessons.  It’s important for me to pass this along and to help make learning the guitar easy and fun and leave my mark.  That my life with the guitar has been a blessing! The hard work and discipline I put in to the guitar has given me the capacity to do so many other things in my life.  Also for any kid or parent that reads this paragraph,  I hope they can understand that learning a musical instrument is a great way to expand your mind and instill discipline that will help a person be successful at anything they choose to apply themselves to. Thank you very much!

 

https://www.facebook.com/RoughCuttOfficial/

https://www.facebook.com/LIGHTSTRIBUTE/

https://www.facebook.com/darren.housholder.3

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNZdadhVfhr7QsC4S6FR-lg/featured

 

Boston Rock Radio Guest Contributor Thomas Amoriello Jr. is a heavy metal guitarist, children's picture book author, educator and recording artist who resides in Lambertville, New Jersey, USA. You can learn more about Tom at:  https://thomasamoriello.com