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Lo Nero

Maya Enib, le 22/01/2015

Interview of Bill Lo Nero, guitarist and founder of the band (original english version)

After touring the United States with the legendary Tony Macalpine and recording a new CD, Bill Lo Nero granted to say more about this unusual and original instrumental rock band.

 1/Can you please describe LoNero to our Album Rock readers and explain what Guitarcore is??

LoNero is a 5 piece instrumental band with three guitars, bass and drums. We are based out of San Jose, California. In terms of instrumental we are definitely unique in that we have three guitars but also because we are truly a band. We don’t have a revolving door of musicians and everyone has equal say in the band. It isn’t about one person. It’s about everyone and their contributions.  Guitarcore is about the song and not about the shredding. We have three guitar players in LoNero and a lot of harmonies but everyone has their sonic footprint. Guitarcore is about a vibe and creating songs that people that don’t normally listen to instrumental guitar can get into. Guitarcore isn’t about one guy. It’s about the whole band. 

2/LoNero is also your name, did you create the band ? How did you meet the other members ?

I did. I had released my first CD Slather with Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani/Steve Vai) on Bass, and Gigi Gonaway (Mariah Carey) and Mike Mangini (Extreme/Steve Vai/Dream Theater) on drums. If I wanted to perform any of the songs live I knew I needed to form a band. Originally I didn’t want to name the band after me because then people would think that it is all about me. From the beginning I wanted to form a band. After throwing around a few names, it was decided that since we would be performing in support of my solo CD that we call the band LoNero. However I only agreed to it if we spelled the band name with a capital "N" as opposed to how I spell my last name with a lower case "n". It’s a small change but it works.I had met Mike McKaigg (bass) from a mutual friend. Mike is a solid and dependable bassist. He’s also a great trombonist.  From there we had multiple drummers and rhythm guitar players. Our current lineup of Mike, Marco Bicca (Drums), James Manalili (Guitar) and Nasser Abdalla (Guitar) is definitely the tightest and just overall best lineup we’ve had. Marco joined the band in 2010 and he was perfect. He gave us an element that we were missing on drums and that was that combination of Dream Theater technicality and the solid rock feel. James joined in 2013. When we met James we knew he was the right guy. He’s an amazing guitarist and an awesome person! I met Nasser at NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in January 2014. He came out to the studio to jam and we hit it off. So we asked him to join the band in April. Another great guitarist and really fun to hang out with.


3/How do you define your music?

We are a cross between Metallica, Dream Theater and Joe Satriani. We bridge that gap between the metal and prog with the melodic guitar playing without all the wanking that most instrumental is and the wanking that turns most people off from instrumental. And that’s not to knock that type of guitar playing. It has its place. That place just isn’t in our music. We bring all of our influences into our music. On my solo CD Slather I put a latin song, a classical song, a blues song and rock songs. On the next CD Relentless which was the first official LoNero CD, we had metal songs and a Hawaiian slack key song I wrote called "Lahaina Nights". To me music is music. It doesn’t matter what kind of song it is, as long as it’s a good song. 

 4/The peculiarity of your group is to play rock without any vocals. It leaves more to the imagination for each listener. What emotions do you want to convey?

We want to convey whatever the listener feels. It’s our job to create the best music we can without boring the listener. Whatever feelings that conveys for them are the right feelings. We’ve had people write us and tell us that our music has made them cry. Or our music has helped them through the toughest times in their lives. That is one of the biggest compliments we could ever hope to receive. If we can touch one person with our music than we are doing something right. It’s amazing that you can create something that you can’t hold in your hand but someone else can hold in their heart. That, to me is the definition of magic.

5/You are actually doing a tour around the USA, which would be the 3 countries you would love to perform in the world ?

Well we just finished our tour. It was a month long. We went out with guitar legend Tony MacAlpine. It was absolutely amazing! We had such a great time every night! We would definitely love to perform in the UK, Japan and South America. We get a lot of requests from all those places to perform but ultimately it comes down to logistics, booking shows and finances. It’s definitely not cheap to tour. Especially oversees. But it will happen one day.

6/What goes through your mind as you are about to take the stage? Do you have any pre-show rituals that you follow?

Not really. Usually I like to hang out in the crowd and meet people. It keeps me busy. If I sit backstage and think about the show I’ll drive myself crazy. So I like to just walk around and meet new people. It relaxes me and keeps me focused.

7/ What bands would you like to share the stage with?

Metallica, Dream Theater, AC/DC and Joe Satriani. Those bands would be amazing to open for. I’ve played on stage with Cliff Williams from AC/DC. I’ve recorded with Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini and I’m good friends with Joe. So it’s close lol. Hopefully one day it will happen.

8/ Do you compose on the road ? 

Not really. Sometimes a riff or an idea will come but I usually compose at home or maybe at a rehearsal when we are jamming. I won’t force it. Nothing good ever comes out of that for me. 

9/ Can you please explain how the writing process runs ?

Well for me it starts with a riff. It could be anything that sparks an idea. I am usually always playing guitar if I’m sitting on the couch, unless I’m answering questions for an interview (laugh) and sooner or later a new riff will pop up that will inspire me. Once I have that riff, I’ll play it for a few days to see if it’s something I want to write a song around. If it is I will usually lay down a drum track on my computer and record the riff and then build it from there. If it turns into something I think I want to show to the band then I’ll try to record it as close to a finished demo as possible. If not, then it just goes in the trash. I usually never write more songs for the CD than we are going to record. I’m not one that has 50 songs written for the next CD. I write as many songs for the CD as we are going to put on it. For this new CD, James has contributed some really great stuff and I can’t wait for people to hear his contributions. He’s a great player and a great writer.

10/ Which artists influenced you the most ?

Definitely Angus Young. He is and always will be my number one guitarist. I love everything about his playing. He’s not technically perfect and that’s what’s great about him. 85% of his playing is attitude. His solos tell a story. He doesn’t wank. I will take one Angus against 100 shredders. At the end of the day you know it’s Angus playing the second you hear him. I would definitely say Joe Satriani also. He is the king of instrumental guitar. He’s melodic and he actually writes songs. Plus he’s one of the nicest human beings there is. Steve Vai is definitely another influence. He’s so unique. There are no Steve Vai clones because his playing is truly an extension of himself. 

11/ Which is the last album you’ve bought ?

Hank Williams III Straight to Hell. Hank III is the real deal. If you want to hear real country music and not this pop cuntry (spelling intentional) they play on the radio today, then listen to Hank III. He’s the spitting image of his grandfather Hank Williams, and I think more country than his dad Hank Williams Jr. I love Hank Jr. though. The cool thing about Hank III is he has a thrash band and a punk band as well as his country band and when he performs live he plays three hours and it’s all three bands performing, one after the other. 

12/ What are your goals for the future? Do you work on a new album ? When and how can people buy it ?

Yes we are working on our new CD The Defiant Machine. It will be available on our website at www.LoNero.net as well as on iTunes and the usual places people buy music. 

Our goals are to tour and gain as many fans as possible while still playing music that we are passionate about. If we aren’t passionate about it we can’t expect the fans or listeners to be passionate about it. There is no filler material on our CDs. Every song is on there because we love it. 

13/I took a ride on your website and it’s really pro ! Amazing work and your shirts are just : wow !!! who created/drew them ?

Thank you! I do all the artwork for all the shirts, CDs etc. I do all the website design as well. For me it’s an extension of my love of the music. It’s another way to get our message across. We could pay someone to do it for us but why? I know exactly what we want the band image to be and luckily I am capable of doing the work myself. So I’d rather do it exactly the way we want it than try to explain it to someone else.

14/ Do you have a funny anecdote, something exclusive to tell us about the band ?

Everyone in this band gets along amazingly. We laugh and crack jokes all the time with each other. We are friends and we respect each other. Every one of these guys is an amazing musician and I couldn’t be more proud to be in a band with them and above all, to call them friends. I don’t know if that would be considered “exclusive” but it’s definitely something that I’m happy to say about the band.

15/How do you evaluate success?

Doing what you love. That’s it. If you can do what you love than you are 100% ahead of the rest of the world. Too many people give up on their dreams too soon for whatever reason. Maybe it’s family. Maybe it’s financial. Maybe it’s health. Maybe it’s lack of drive. Whatever the reason is, there is no reason to give up on your dreams. At the end of the day dreams are all you have. I mean that literally and metaphorically. When we are kids, we are told we can be whatever we want to be. As we grow up we are told we have to work, have a family and settle down and then die. Well what happened to following your dreams? There will always be people to tell you that your dreams can’t come true. I call those people cowards. Those are the ones that are only happy when they are tearing down someone else’s hopes. Don’t listen to them. They don’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you listen to your heart. You can follow your dreams and when you’re 80 look back on your life and think "I gave it my best shot and I never gave up". If you do that you are a success.  Or you can look back on your life when you’re 80 and think "What if I would have tried? Where would I be now?". That’s not living. That’s existing. Plants exist. People should live.

16/What else did you do for a living?

Music is my full time job. The hours are long but it’s worth every minute. 

17/You have "No Regrets / No Excuses" printed on your guitars, do you have any regrets?

None whatsoever. The way I see it is if I regret something I shouldn’t have done it to begin with. And if you do something that you regret just accept it and move on. Don’t well on it because that isn’t going to change what you did. Learn from your mistakes so you don’t make them again. Life is too short to worry about regrets. Life is about acceptance and growth. And I have “No Excuses” on my guitars to remind me that excuses are nothing more than false justifications. Everyone makes excuses for something because most people don’t want to admit they’re wrong or admit they can’t do something. Their pride won’t let them when in fact it is their pride that is hurting them the most. 

18/What is your greatest weakness? 

Hmmmmm….I can’t think of anything. 

19/ What is the topicality (news) that touched you most lately?

I don’t watch the news. In America the only news that is reported is bad news. The media loves to hype the smallest thing and turn it into a disaster. They aren’t happy until the world is depressed. I have no use for the news. If it’s truly news I will hear about it somehow. Otherwise it’s usually just blown out of proportion in order to panic the public. What happened to the Malaysian airlines that vanished? Just like that the news stopped talking about it. Hundreds of innocent people disappeared and the media moved onto something else. CNN, FOX, MSNBC…it’s all crap. How they sleep at night is beyond me. They have no soul. No integrity.

20/A note to our readers?

Thank you for reading this and thank you for listening. Go out and listen to live music. Discover new bands. Without you, the listener, there is no new music. You are the catalyst that inspires us musicians to write, to record and to perform. So thank you for listening and thank you for your inspiration!


photos 1 and 5: Neil Zlozower 

photos 2,3 and 6: Paul Ferradas

photo 4: Michael Strider

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