Xander Demos has played guitar with metal legend, James Rivera (Helstar, Malice), Sabbath Judas Sabbath, and he recently fronted his own solo band at festivals like Wolf Fest, Rock Harvest II and Skull Fest. He has performed at NAMM Metal Jam in Hollywood, with 40 of the best in heavy metal musicians. He is also scheduled to appear in the upcoming movie, Hair I Go Again, which is currently filming.
Xander’s youtube videos have received 100s of thousands of views, and his album, Guitarcadia, was mixed by CJ Snare of the band, Firehouse. His newest single release (attached) was mixed by JK Northrup of King Kobra/XYZ Fame, and it will be on an upcoming Guitar Wizards compilation. He is endorsed with Suhr, Conklin and McNaught Guitars, who recently manufactured the first Xander Demos signature guitar model, XD727.
Xander Demos – Interview
Metal Empire: Would you care to introduce yourself for our audience? What is your name and what do you play?
Xander Demos: Sure! My name is Xander Demos, pronounced like DEE-muss, and not like a pre-production recording. Haha. I play guitar (pretty well, they tell me) in my band, XDB, as well as in some side projects. I’ve recorded with Ged Rylands, on his critically acclaimed “Rage Of Angels” CD, and I’ve performed with Sabbath Judas Sabbath and in James Rivera’s solo band, among others.
Metal Empire: What is the band up to at the moment? Is there something you’re working on currently?
Xander Demos: Yes! We’re working on the follow-up album to my first, Guitarcadia. That album was mixed by CJ Snare of Firehouse, and he’ll be doing some work on this one, as well. The new album is called, Dancing Through Daggers, and the title single is already out. It was mixed by JK Northrup of King Kobra/XYZ. We’re hoping to have it ready by mid-June, but it might be a bit later than that.
Metal Empire: You have an upcoming performance at Skull Fest and Rock N Skull how did those shows come about? Are you looking forward to them?
Xander Demos: Well, my manager, Michael Stover of MTS Management hooked me up with Justin Murr of Liberty N’ Justice, and we did some recording on one of LNJ’s albums. Justin has been really cool, and when he and Arttie Parker started putting together Skull Fest last year, Michael approached Justin about having XDB on the line up. We were incredibly lucky to get on the bill. It was a 3 day extravaganza of some of the best hard rock and metal acts, who were really big in the 90s, and are still putting out amazing music today. So, when this year’s lineups were being put together, we were stoked to be among the first acts asked to come back. Both events are going to be epic, but I’m really looking forward to backing John Elefante of Kansas at Skull Fest. That’s going to be amazing.
Metal Empire: Can you tell us a little bit more about your upcoming album “Dancing Through Daggers”? Does the album have any themes to it? Is there an message or idea behind the albums creation?
Xander Demos: Well, initially, it was going to be a concept album. I had just gone through some personal issues, that I’d rather not talk about, haha. We’ll leave that in the past…but anyways, it gave me the inspiration to get these ideas out and down on tape, if you will. This album will be different from the first one, in that it’s definitely got more of a band vibe to it. The first one was pretty much me, with friends and studio cats, playing the parts. Now, I’ve got a band in XDB, and we’ve been playing together for the past couple of years. So, it’s tighter, and has more vocals, whereas the last one was mostly instrumental guitar. I think fans of the first one will really dig it, but we’re moving in more of a mainstream direction, too…as far as the vocals. Priest, Maiden and Queensryche fans will definitely be into it, I think.
Metal Empire: Apart from the shows we’ve mentioned already, is there any other performances you are looking forward to over the next 12 months?
Xander Demos: We’ve got a couple coming up, in the next month, that are going to be incredible. We’re opening for Primal Fear on May 23rd and Stryper on June 12th. Both shows should be sold out. We’ve got a few other festivals in the works, and I’ll be doing some solo guest spots, and playing in some of my other projects, too. It’s going to be a busy summer and fall, for sure.
Metal Empire: Can you talk about your production process? How do you go about writing new material?
Xander Demos: Writing usually spawns from me jamming on the guitar. I try to practice several hours per day, to keep my chops up, and usually that leads to a riff coming. I’ll get that riff and then, come up with some chord progressions, followed by a melody. If it’s a vocal tune, Mario, our singer, will come up with a melody and some lyrical ideas. We’ve been collaborating a lot more on this album, as I said. We do all of the production in the Shark Nest, my home studio. Then, we bring in CJ or JK to mix at their studio. The beauty of the internet…haha.
Metal Empire: What and who are some of your major influences? Is there anyone that stands out among your musical heroes?
Xander Demos: Shawn Lane..amazing player. One of the best, for sure. Also, Guthrie Govan, purely awesomesauce. Then, there are the more mainstream guys like Vai, Malmsteen and Satriani, Vandenberg, Brad Gillis, of course, Neal Schon of Journey. I like the guys who could play melodically, but also had the technical skill to shred. That’s how I like to brand myself, you know?
Metal Empire: Who is your favourite artist that you have shared the stage with in your career as a musician?
Xander Demos: That’s a tough one! We just opened for Kevin Chalfant’s Journey Experience, so it was kind of cool to play with the guy who sang in Journey for a bit. The Buckethead show was incredible. Opening for him was amazing, because we were doing a lot of instrumental stuff then. So, our crowds were very similar. We had terrific reaction. All the bands at Skull Fest last year…my buds in Ghost of War, a band out of central PA that is tearing it up right now. We jammed with them at Rock Harvest last year. Amazing. Metal Church was a fantastic show, as well. Man, there are just so many! All of those artists are incredible. We’ve been very lucky to play with some unbelievable acts.
Metal Empire: Is there any band or artist you would give anything to play a show with? If so, who are they and why?
Xander Demos: For me, Journey. I am just such a huge fan, and I think it would be amazing to play IN Journey. Haha. Although, I hear Whitesnake is looking for another guitarist now that Aldrich has left. Dave…give me a call! I think Journey is timeless, melodic, and technical. That’s the kind of music I want to put out. Just a little heavier.
Metal Empire: What are you hopes for the future? Where do you see yourself as an artist this time next year or the year after?
Xander Demos: I see us continuing to grow with our music releases. Of course, more touring and hopefully, getting to the point where we can tour and make money, do some headlining tours. I’d love to play some of the large outdoor festivals. They are always fun. I did one called the Metal Warriors Open Air Fest with James Rivera, as the headliner, and it was about the best time, ever! I also see myself, personally, putting out some more instrumental “solo” stuff. I’ve got a lot of that music inside, as well. I think the fans can embrace that, as well as the more mainstream vocal stuff. I just want to keep the train moving on the tracks.
Metal Empire: If I was to turn up at a show, what should I expect from you in terms of music and showmanship? Is there any crazy stuff you do to pull the crowd?
Xander Demos: Crazy? Not really. We’re all about the technical aspects of the music. The guys in XDB are all virtuosos in their own right. I want our audience to watch and listen and be blown away by the sheer power of the music. Of course, we put on a great show and get the crowd involved. I know how to headbang with the best of them, haha. But, when it comes to crazy, I want the music to be the craziness people witness.
Metal Empire: What’s your favourite thing about being a musician? What got you started on the path of playing the guitar?
Xander Demos: The chicks. Haha. When I started out, I was a drummer. I did the Eddie Van Halen thing, and switched to guitar, because I saw all the “Guitar Gods” on MTV, and said, I gotta be THAT.
Metal Empire: When did you realise you had a passion for rock and metal, over other genres of music?
Xander Demos: Well, the style just lends itself to my playing, first of all. It’s all about attitude and the other genres don’t have that. I couldn’t see myself shredding over a pop song. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like all styles of music, to listen to, and I’ve even metallized some Gaga songs in the past, to get the girls dancing. I also like to listen to classical and some other stuff, too. But, for me, when it comes to playing, it’s all about metal. There’s nothing better than being on stage and seeing a room full of horns up and headbanging going on.
Metal Empire: Do you receive much fan mail, and if so what’s the craziest, creepiest or coolest thing you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
Xander Demos: We don’t really get “fan mail.” It’s more social media stuff, now. Although, I’m a huge shark fan, and I’ve gotten shark teeth thrown at me on stage. I think they meant it in a cool way…at least I hope. They must have, to know that I am a fan of sharks, right? Hmmm…
Metal Empire: What’s your favourite TV Show?
Xander Demos: Friends.
Metal Empire: You’re trapped on a desert Island, what do you take with you?
Xander Demos: A laptop, Journey’s Greatest Hits and a phone (to call for help)
Metal Empire: Thank you for taking the time to speak to Metal Empire about what you do. Do you have any final words, or anything you would like to add?
Xander Demos: Hey, thanks for having me. It’s been a great interview. I really enjoyed the diversity of the questions. Hope you can stop out and see us sometime, live. Thanks to the fans for always supporting us. Get ready for a crazy summer and fall 2014!
Xander Demos – Links
Xander Demos (XDB) – “Dancing Through Daggers”
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