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Tower of Babel is comprised of five musicians who have all in their own right been involved in world tours, festivals and recordings. Boasting members and ex-members of Firewind, Jorn, Glenn Hughes, The Scorpions, Vivaldi Metal Project, Metalium, Tainted Nation, Exorcism, Helloween, Holy Hell, Killing Machine and others. The music walks the line between old school hard rock and classic European power metal with healthy doses of each heard throughout. Today, I had the chance to talk with Joe Stump, guitarist extraordinaire. Joe’s style is often compared to his major influences, which are Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen. Check out my interview with him below to learn about his new band Tower Of Babel and hist take on all things rock!
XS ROCK: So Joe, Tell me about the latest news with Tower Of Babel? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Joe: Tower of Babel’s debut record Lake Of Fire is out now and it’s killer. If you like classic hard rock/metal like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Rising Force, Axel Rudi Pell and Dio then you’ll love this record.
XS ROCK: How long has Tower Of Babel been together now?
Joe: Our debut record came out in late July and this current lineup a year or so before that.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Joe: I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14 years old , it’s hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t a musician.
XS ROCK: Joe, Can you fill our readers in on your extensive music background?
Joe: I’ve released twenty something records over my career that spans 25 years 14 solo records my latest one being The Dark Lord Rises, 4 records with Joe Stump’s Reign Of Terror, 2 with symphonic power metal band HolyHell, others include Exorcism, Ravenlord and now Tower Of Babel. I’ve toured all over the world as a solo artist as well as with some of the band’s I’ve mentioned . I’ve also released seven instructional dvds as well as 2 books. I’m also an Associate Professor on the guitar faculty at the esteemed Berklee College Of Music where I’ve been the hard rock/metal/shred guitar specialist since 1993.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Joe: Most of the stuff I write is in dark /evil sounding minor tonalities so I’d imagine it conveys that type of imagery. On Lake Of Fire. Csaba wrote all of the lyrics so he’d be much more suited to answer this one.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Joe: Just to continue what I’ve been doing for the 20 something years –playing live , touring , making more records etc.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Joe: I’ve pretty much achieved my long term career goals.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Joe: I enjoy doing both , both are completely different but to me nothing beats playing live .
XS ROCK: What are your songs about?
Joe: The vocalist for Tower Of Babel Csaba Zvekan wrote all the lyrics for the Lake Of Fire record so once again more of a question for him.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Joe: Tons but most aren’t suitable for public info.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Joe: Nothing out of the ordinary comes to mind , one French woman who was massive fan did an amazing drawing of a press photo of mine I thought that was very nice . One friend of mine hired me to play at his friend’s 50th birthday party as a surprise the guy was floored and really enjoyed the show, that was a lot of fun.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Joe: Yeah both very cool and supportive , I remember the first record I released back in 1989 with metal band Trash Broadway . My Mom sent me the photograph of her holding up the album up in a record shop in London when she was on vacation there with my Dad she felt a whole lot better about me being a musician after that.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Joe: Tower Of Babel hasn’t toured yet we’re shooting for early next year in Europe.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Joe: All my heroes – Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen , Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth . Why? because I wanted to be a fucking guitar hero like the guys I idolized.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Joe: Rainbow as the headliner, The Scorpions reunited with Uli Jon Roth playing their killer early stuff from his era and Tower Of Babel opening.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Joe: Like I said before about the musical background question , but one thing I’m especially proud of is that many of my longtime fans and press contacts thought my last solo record The Dark Lord Rises was my best effort to date and the new Tower Of Babel has been getting killer reviews as well . So to be doing my best work and playing at the top of my game 20 something years into my career is very satisfying.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Joe: Have no clue I wouldn’t even be me if I didn’t play guitar .
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Joe: ESP Stratocaster style guitars ,Marshall amplification, Dimarzio pickups, Jim Dunlop picks, BSM treble booster s and Dean Markley strings.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Joe: Too busy doing my thing to pay strict attention to what the latest flavor of the month is , when I do listen to music it’s always something I like– Rainbow, Purple, Malmsteen, Gary Moore, Axel Rudi Pell, Accept, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Rata Blanca , old Scorpios with Uli, Schenker, Bach, Vivaldi , Tchaikovsky , Paganini .
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Joe: In most pictures I look fairly intimidating and menacing but as long as someone treats me with respect I couldn’t be nicer, I also love to cook and am bad ass in the kitchen.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Joe: I’m kind of a meaner, heavier , darker/ more aggressive and evil version of a combination of Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there
Joe: Just to check out the new Tower Of Babel record Lake of Fire it’s killer . If you love guitar driven metal/hard rock in the vein of Rainbow/Purple/MSG/Axel Rudi Pell /early Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force then it’ll be right up your alley.
XS ROCK: Thanks again Joe for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!