Name: Howard Freitag
What guitarists inspire you?
Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, The Edge, George Lynch, Akira Takasaki, Jimmy Page, and Michael Bloomfield just to name a few
What song has challenged you the most?
Probably “Cliffs Of Dover” by Eric Johnson. Rather than trying to play it note-for-note I would improvise it in the same manner that EJ does which made it different every night. Playing “without a net” can definitely be scary, but rewarding.
What’s your favorite song to play in your current band’s set?
I’m currently on hiatus from music but in my last band, The Loops (thankfully still together) we played “Goin’ Crazy” by David Lee Roth which contained some pretty scary Steve Vai guitar work.
What’s the most overplayed song?
From bands: 867-5309/Jenny
From classic rock radio: Jethro Tull – Aqualung
What’s the most memorable thing that happened to you at a gig?
I used to be in an all 80s cover band called “Glen Echo Club” (which featured the amazing Mary Jo Curry on vocals). I played the role of the synthesizer/keyboard player in the band which meant I played guitar synth. We played at a now-defunct but amazing club in Chaleston, IL called “Ted’s Warehouse” which used to draw tons of college kids. We kicked into Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” which starts with me hitting a super low synth bass pad’s low “E” note while MJ sang the intro. The intense low end of the synth patch caused one of Brad Martin’s subwoofers to blow up. And I don’t mean a small puff of smoke or that sound just stopped. It actually went up in flames. It was contained quickly enough and after the fire department came and gave an all clear after about an hour, the show went on. The applause after the speaker cabinet was set on fire was insane. People loved it…and Brad Martin was very cool about the whole thing. Blown plenty of speakers but it’s not every day you get actual flame.
What was your first guitar pedal?
ProCo Rat pedal back in the 80s. Wish I still had it.
What’s your current rig?
Amplified Nation Wonderland Overdrive 50w head
Amplified Nation 1×12 cab
Voodoo Labs switcher w/ following pedals/fx
(in order) Digitech Bad Monkey, Keeley Compressor, Hermida Zendrive 2, Bogner Red, and in the FX Loop I have an Axe-FX Ultra and Line 6 Delay Modeller
Kiesel Aires guitar
How long would it take for you to learn Van Halen’s Eruption?
I’ve tackled it before and also taught it to guitar students back in the day so I have a head start. I’d say it’d take me a week to get it worked back up to speed.