The Melodic Maestro: MARIO PARGA!

Today's Elevenses Throws Eleven Quick Questions At 'The Melodic Maestro' Mario Parga!

Mario Parga has performed and recorded with Graham Bonnet, Cozy Powell, Tony Martin and Don Airey to name a few. He has a busy solo career and has appeared in numerous mainstream magazines such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces and the underground guitar fanzine G-Force. He has played live on MTV and on numerous radio shows in the UK and around the world.

So what’s your drink of choice at 11am in the morning?

That depends where I am, and whether I’m awake at that time! At home in Oxford, UK I drink regular coffee & water, but at home in Las Vegas, USA I drive down the road to my favourite Starbucks. I’m totally addicted to Starbucks coffee!

Which song/album really made you want to play guitar?

Difficult question to answer really. I started playing the guitar quite young, and during that time I listened to a lot of Beatles/60’s stuff and was exposed to a variety of violin based music. I used to play along to Beatles For Sale as a kid, but Al Di Meola’s Elegant Gypsy had a major effect on me and made me want to progress further.

Who’s the world’s greatest guitarist?

There’s no such thing. There are many great qualities in many different players. Some have great vibrato, some great phrasing, some great rhythm, some can compose better than others, etc., it would be impossible to pick a single guitarist and brand him/her as the world’s greatest. Also, it’s very much a matter of personal opinion.

Who’s the world’s most underrated guitarist?

Again, there are probably several… I always thought Steve Stevens never really got the credit he deserved from the guitar world, and flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo should be known to a much wider audience.

So what are you up to at the moment?

I’m busy preparing material for the follow-up to Entranced, and I’ve just recorded a vocal version of ‘Spirit of Night’ (Entranced, 2007) with ex-bandmate and ex-Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin.
I’ll shortly start work on an EP called Somewhere at the Midnight Café which will consist of five instrumental songs.
I’m also in the process of laying out the foundations for a special edition instrumental to be released in April, 2008 to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the death of my old friend Cozy Powell. This track will be available on my website as a permanently free download to everyone.

What was the last gig you went to (as a member of the audience)?
Who would be in your dream line-up?

Speaking of Cozy… The last gig I went to was the Brian May Band at the BIC in Bournemouth back in 94 or 95?. I was living fairly locally at the time and was invited to see them play. Cozy of course played drums for the band. I’d jammed with Brian and Hank Marvin a couple of years earlier, it was great fun :-)

This was also the last time I saw Cozy before he died, we left the post-gig party together and he gave me a lift home. Bless him.

As you can probably tell, I don’t go to see many live acts, mostly because there aren’t many interesting gigs these days. The 80’s were full of variety, the 90’s had some good bands, but I think the 2000’s have so far been pretty dire for music and film. Everything’s so monotonous…

Wow… let me think… living musicians? As an instrumental band playing my music with me as soloist? Probably:

Rhythm guitar: Rudolf Shenker

Bass: Flea

Drums: Jason Bonham

Keyboards: Vangelis

How many guitars do your own and which one is ‘your precious’?

I don’t own many guitars these days. I used to have so many, they’d just sit around getting rusty strings! I now only own 9 guitars, and my favourite by far is my Washburn X50 Pro. I used it for the vast majority of the guitar work on Entranced.

I haven’t used whammy bars for years, I prefer hardtails with through-body stringing and set necks, and the Washburn suits me perfectly. It’s loaded with my favourite Seymour Duncan pickups: Custom Custom in the bridge and ’59 in the neck. It has a mahogany body (my favourite wood) with a quilted maple top and it’s colour is transparent blue. This guitar travels with me personally, and is mostly used in the studio.

What’s the last great album that you bought (or were given)?

I haven’t bought an album in ages. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about the current state of music. The last album I can remember buying was Devin Townsend’s Accelerated Evolution. Worth every penny just for the song ‘Suicide’… Awesome…

Do you suffer from stage fright?

No, not in the same way that other’s do. I’ve seen singers puke before gigs and know of other musicians who get the shits before they go onstage! LOL

I get an adrenaline rush to begin with, but this then settles as the gig progresses.

So what’s your drink of choice at 11pm in the evening?

I usually wind down with a glass (or two…) of red wine.


(Interview - 17th December 2007)