The Inspiration Diaries: An Interview with Jazz Guitarist Andy Rothstein

Ideas are more than what you create. It’s a connection to something that inspires you… how you separate yourself from the crowd. This isn’t just a series of interviews with artists, musicians, influencers and taste makers. With “The Inspiration Diaries,” I am trying to capture the drive and passion of these people, find out what inspires them, and in turn, why they inspire us.

The first interview in this series is jazz Guitarist Andy Rothstein.

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Andy Rothstein leads an original band which has best been described as “pure instrumental magic” (Keith “Muzikman” Hannaleck – Muzikreviews.com). Andy has released two independent CD’s of his original progressive jazz/rock fusion: Voodoo Tone (2006) and Wit of the Staircase (2009).  He is currently working his 3rd CD to be titled Truth Against the World. Andy also owns and operates Rothstein Guitars, which is a company that specializes in guitar and bass wiring. Andy graduated from Rutgers University where he majored in both Music and Computer Science. It is at Rutgers that Andy had the privilege of studying under the tutelage of both Kevin Eubanks and the late great Ted Dunbar.

Who or what inspires you?
I often find myself getting inspired either to write music, or to develop guitar gadgets. Usually what inspires me to write music is other music.  As an active listener, the groove, vibe, feeling, melody, harmony, and style of the tune will inspire me.  When listening to a piece of music that inspires me to write, I will intentionally NOT try to learn how to play that piece, but rather try to emulate some aspect of it, weather it be the feeling or groove or attitude.  The cool thing is end result is always something far different than the original piece(s) that inspired me to begin with. As far as developing guitar gadgets, what usually inspires me is some shortcoming in currently available gear, or some sound in my head that I can’t get from gear on the market.

What’s your favorite record?
I think I have too many favorites to list. From a rock standpoint, my favorite records are any of the 1st five Led Zeppelin records, threee police records namely “Outlandos Damour”, “Regatta de Blanc” and “Zenyatta Mandatta”,   Queen “A Night at the Opera” and U2 “Joshua Tree.”  On the Jazz side, my favorites records are Wes Montgomery “Boss Guitar”, Pat Martino “East” and Mike Stern “Play”.

What do you love about playing guitar?
I think what I enjoy the most is the fact that I’m to the point where I don’t have to think much when playing, and consequently feel very free and liberated when playing.

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What do you dislike about playing guitar?
It hurts my fingers!

What musician do you most identify with?
I think Tom Shulz, the guitarist for Boston who also was a pioneer in guitar electronics.

Name three people that you’d like to be compared to. Why?
Definitely Tom Shultz as mentioned above due to his innovation in the world of guitar electronics. Maybe Andy Summers, just in the sense that he brought jazz styling’s and chord voicings into rock. which has always been something I have always wanted to do.  Perhaps Brian May as well as he has my absolute favorite guitar tone.

What is your dream project?
My dream project will be to develop something that will completely revolutionize the electric guitar on a large scale, in the same way the Seth Lover revolutionized the electric guitar by developing the humbucker pickup.

What superpower would you have and why?
Time travel would be useful!

Name something you love, and why.
I love the simple things in life all of which don’t involve much money.  Getting lost in playing a guitar solo, going to a nice dinner with my wife, watching my son play baseball, achieving a sense of satisfaction of completing a goal, and enjoying a good movie after a hectic week (ok, that’s 5 things).

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t make any decision while you’re angry.

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2 thoughts on “The Inspiration Diaries: An Interview with Jazz Guitarist Andy Rothstein

  1. Great Interview Alissa. Andy is not only a great friend but great musician as well. Would love to hear how he writes/builds his songs idea’s into a finished product. Also some audio samples of his songs in the interview would be nice.

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