“I own seven guitars: four are 6-string, three are 7-string. I love each guitar for various reasons but it’s the RG7420MC 7-string that I purchased in January 2001 that still sings to me to this day.“Steve Bello
There are many kinds of Guitar players. The coveted tear is the Top Tear of those who have mastered the art. That’s where Steve Bello resides.
Rig: When I hear your music, it reminds of the first band I was in. The energy is magical, and the crowds stimulate us. That brings me to YOU and the guitar. What do you experience when you are playing your own music? Tell me about that on-stage charge.
This is a great first question! Whether I am writing or performing my own music, it transports me to another zone, if you will. When I was a performer, the initial feelings of anxiety would kick in, as it would with any performer. But then after the first few notes, you know things will go great (hopefully!) These days I am happier writing and recording; performing doesn’t do much for me as it did in the past.
Rig: How did you get started as a guitar player? Who influenced you early on?
I started on guitar at age 9 but didn’t take it seriously until I was 12. That’s when I saw footage of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey; the impression that that left on me was beyond severe. I was listening to music as a kid, such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss and then moved towards Rush, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But Hendrix definitely spun my head around. He, along with seeing Ritchie Blackmore in concert on MTV in 1982, made me say “I have to play the guitar for life!” And that was pretty much it.
Rig: A guitar is more than a brand to a guitar player. What can you say about your guitar(s) of choice? What is your most important gear?
I am an international endorser with Ibanez, been with them since 2003. I played other brands early on in my awkward teenage years, such as Guild, Kramer, BC Rich. Even owned a couple of Fender Strats (thank you Jimi!) but when I saw a photo of Steve Vai on the cover of Guitar World back in May 1987, that got me into Ibanez guitars. I didn’t get my first one until 1991, was an RG340 in yellow. I was sold on Ibanez and when they approached me to sign on as an artist endorser, I was blown away. That was in 2003. I own seven guitars: four are 6-string, three are 7-string. I love each guitar for various reasons but it’s the RG7420MC 7-string that I purchased in January 2001 that still sings to me to this day.
Rig: I understand Michael Sabatini is Producing/Engineering your next album. How did this come about and how does it change things?
I have known Michael for many years. He is the drummer for the band Attacker, and has had his own recording studio called Bandmother Recording. I wanted to record there back in 2019 when I thought I had a line-up but when it fizzled, I didn’t pursue anything. Cut to September 2020 and I reached out to this bassist Scott Jackson. He jumped on board quickly and then suggested his drummer/friend Vincent Livolsi. Scott asked me “You know Sabatini?!” And then I get a Facebook message from Michael saying “You know Scott! Why don’t you record at my studio?” And there you go. It doesn’t change anything, except now I have a producer who really digs the music, is already plotting mic placement and such. He was impressed that we brought charts to our rehearsal.
Rig: How did you develop your music style? It seems to touch on a few genres without crossing over. Can you tell me about that?
Well, like any other misguided teenager, I wanted to play the music that spoke to me early on, and that was heavy metal. Yet my ears would hear jazz fusion guitarists such as John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, and I would think “I need to learn those chords and solos.” Everyone in my area were trying to be the next Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhoads; great players but I knew I wanted to find something else. I got heavily into Prince, he was such an amazing musician all around but his guitar playing knocked me out. Heard Jeff Beck, Andy Summers (The Police), Allan Holdsworth, and of course guys like Uli Roth, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Then when I heard Vernon Reid (Living Colour), I flipped out! He was mixing up all these influences that blew my mind. I knew right then and there that I had to forge my own identity but it didn’t happen overnight. Yet people would hear me play and say “You don’t sound like anyone.” At the time, that bothered me but then over time I embraced it.
Rig: What do you say is most important for a future guitarist to focus on?
Know the fretboard cold! Lots of guitarists like to isolate parts of the neck and there’s this Bermuda Triangle where notes are lost because guitarists don’t know them. They don’t realize that they do know the notes, just can’t be bothered learning them. Guitar players love patterns and shapes but they’re not making music. They’re playing by rote. Once you know the neck, you can let go and find your style.
Rig: Earlier today you told me about two different musicians. Would you like to tell me about them?
Ah yes! I mentioned two very good friends who are amazing musicians: Abby K and Melia. I met Melia on social media a few years ago, chat back and forth, and then helped her with a couple of endorsements (Spectraflex, GHS Strings, Lock-It Straps). Saw her perform a few years ago when she came to New Jersey and I was like “Wow, she’s great!” Abby is someone I found on Twitter last year, decided to check her out. And I was not expecting what I heard. She knocked me out with her bass playing! She can sing great, writes solid rock songs with a pop touch, and likes to cover Iron Maiden, Motorhead and the like. Struck up a chat with her, helped her with a Spectraflex deal too. We met at NAMM this past January and she was such a doll. Her parents are super-supportive, that always helps. And I saw Melia perform at the GHS booth too, she was great as always.
Rig: Final question. What do you want fans to know about you?
I want them to know that I am a passionate, driven, focused musician/guitarist. If they wish to hear my music, they can go on http://facebook.com/stevebellomusic as well as Spotify and the like. I am revamping my website so once I get that rolling, I will mention the link on my various social media pages. Official website: https://stevebellomusic.com/