Al Slavik
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Al Slavik

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Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Call Me Al"

Article (Australian Guitar Magazine ,Feb 06)
Melbourne-based Austrian, Al Slavik, has mastered not only the bass guitar, but also the curious 10-string two-hand-tapping device known as the Chapman Stick. Here he riffs with J.Adam Ovis about his latest CD, The Secret One.
It takes an exceptional musician to hold his own against classical maestro Slava Grigoryan,but bassist and Chapman Stick player Al Slavik has no trouble. Having thumped alongside everyone from modern jazz master Alegre Correa, to synth-pop band Alphaville the Austrian-born Slavik can dispatch anything the nylon-string wunderkind sends his way.
So far, their partnership has produced two critically acclaimed albums, Another Night in London and Continental Shift, both showcases of virtuosity, fusion and progressive songwriting.
Slaviks solo release,The Secret One, takes a different path. The musical chameleon, who also
sings, has written 12 songs highlighting influences from The Police to Peter Gabriel and guest starring some of pop guitars biggest names.
Now based in Australia as the third partner in record label Which Way Music, with Grigoryan
and Reuben Zylberszpic, Slavik found some time to chat with Australian Guitar.
A.G:
This album is very different to previous work with Slava and features a line-up of ace pop guitarists.
Al:
Yeah,it´s a songbased album and this is my main thing-I just love to write music. All the songs were mainly written in England, in London, when I had some time off touring. It was just a very fortunate thing that all those amazing guitar players had the time (to play on it) and that I had met them.
It was a really close circle. For example, Bobby Tench, who played with Jeff Beck and Van Morisson, he played around the corner in a blues club, and we hung out and partied together. Same with Gus Isidore (Seal,Peter Gabriel).
So I made lots of friends over there and was fortunate enough to have them on this album. It`s still a dream come true,with Dominic Miller (Sting,Phil Collins) too.
A.G:
Do you write all your songs on the guitar?
Al:
No,I also play the Chapman Stick (two handed fretboard instrument).The Stick is an incredible instrument that puts you out of your comfort zone. The tuning is pretty funny, the bass strings are the other way round and tuned in fifths, and the guitar strings are in fourths. When I start playing it, its really nice to surprise yourself by playing…or maybe detuning something, and all of a sudden you create those voicings that you never had before.This could be the start of a new idea that would later become a song.
With the writing, I think I´m pretty intuitive. Mainly its about setting a mood for the song, and then I´m thinking of melodies,hook lines for vocals.
A.G:
How did you meet Slava?
Al:
In 95, I moved to London, because I felt that in Austria I had hit the ceiling, and still wanted to develop.
Basically, I decided from one day to the other to move,without any contacts.I hung around in music clubs in London, in live venues, and this is where I also met Slava, in a wine bar in South Kensington. It was a live jam night. Slava played classical stuff in this bar, where people were loud and you had to shut them up by playing incredibly loud. I was incredibly impressed by his determination to play his thing. And bit by bit, people stopped talking and listened, which was quite unusual for that sort of place. Later we hung out together and we just clicked instantly.
A.G:
Though you have different backrounds, your partnership has produced two great albums, Another Night in London and Continental Shift.
Al:
Slav has this incredible classical backround, and I come from anything but classical- eventhough I was born in Vienna. I was stuffed with that (classical music).
In school you´re force-fed that stuff, and somehow I didn’t take it on because it was forced upon me:
You come from Vienna, you have to have this heritage;you have to know all those things. I was really pissed off when teachers asked you :
When was this composer born?
When was this piece written?
It wasn’t really about music,it was more about the knowledge and numbers.One keyfactor why Slava and I really hit it off was this two worlds colliding. He introduced classical music to me, and I listened because he was a friend, and I brought him closer to rock and pop music. We would play each other CD´s , like DJ´s , for hours.
A.G:
Your playing with Slava is certainly tight.
Al:
That came over time, over the nine years we´ve been working together.At the beginning, we actually didn’t know what we were doing. We just sort of started playing and experimenting.
And now,with Continental Shift, it all makes sense because it really sounds like something worth listening to.
Coming from that pop-rock thing and playing with loudness and having a drummer behind who kicks arse, and then starting to play those duo gigs with Slava…I was a bit scared because the loudness level was set by the classical guitar, and i´ve never played a concert with my amp volume on not even `1`.
A.G:
You´ve been playing a Peavey bass for some years now.
Al:
Yes,my main bass is a five-string Peavey Cirrus that I got when I played some shows for Peavey at the Frankfurt Music Fair (Musikmesse) quite a few years ago. I just picked up this bass and fell in love with it, and the guys said: `hey,you really like the instrument, so we got to give it to you`.
It’s a prototype, but I really believe that when you play an instrument over years and years it sounds better and better and the wood somehow takes on all that playing. It really sounds incredibly warm.
As for bass amplification, I have this Markbass,this little rig,which is powerful and very light,easy to travel with.But often in the studio I just go into the desk and it sounds great too.
For the Chapman Stick , I have a different set-up-a transistor preamp and the guitar strings.
That’s the great thing about the Stick: the guitar strings can be amplified through a different source. So the bass strings are dry and compressed ,maybe some chorus or phaser, but the guitar strings have a separate pick up ,which in my case goes into a multieffects unit and another preamp,it really gives the impression that two instruments are playing…
- Australian Guitar Magazine


"Slava Grigoryan and Al Slavik Interview"

SLAVA GRIGORYAN AND AL SLAVIK
Interview by Jesse Shrock

The best music in the world – the kind that touches places in us we didn’t even know we had – is genreless. Ask anyone.
The only problem is, most of this timeless and truly unique music usually comes from artists that have already honed their skills in a very specific genre, and thus is often only appreciated by established fans of the artist. That’s why I want to use this space to stress that Continental Shift, the latest work of Slava Grigoryan with collaborator Al Slavik, is a triumph of unrestricted musical inspiration, potentially a lot wider in appeal than Slava’s distinguished classical back catalogue.
And that’s a catalogue that has been expanding very rapidly of late –within a few short months prior to Continental Shift’s release, Slava was a part of Saffire’s album Nostalgica and the subsequent tour, and released his own rendition of Shaun Rigney’s music in Afterimage. “In the last couple of years, there’s been a lot happening, as far as recording.” he says. “I was with Sony for a long time, and the philosophy was very different back then. I was recording an album about every 2 years. When I went to ABC, things were a bit more flexible. I knew I had so many projects that I wanted to get on with… the collaborative things were very important to me. There’s actually a few other albums in the can at the moment that will come out later this year some time… after that I think I’ll take a break for a while.” A well-deserved one I’m sure.
While Slava’s reputation in Australia (and in some parts of Europe) as a classical virtuoso is well-established, Vienna-born Al Slavik has earned some amount of notoriety around Europe (mainly in Britain) as a hired gun bassist. “My background is very different to Slava’s,” Al says. “I’m coming from the band and rock pop scene… Back in England I was working with many different musicians… also touring with a couple of guys, like this sync-pop band called Alphaville, a German band that had some hits in the 80’s.”
Slava’s first vision of Al was in a club in London, where “he was predominately playing the Chapman stick. (An instrument comprising five bass strings and five guitar strings) There was this Austrian drummer that is really big now called Thomas Lang there as well… And the two of them would have this duel, with these full-on drums and the Chapman stick, at a huge volume. They would just fight out this issue they had that they didn’t talk about. And to be quite honest,” Slava admits, “I was a little bit intimidated at the time.”
Judging by these first impressions, it might seem hard to see how these two established common musical ground… But when Al starts talking about his biggest inspirations (Peter Gabriel is mentioned several times in our conversation) and his other collaborations (working with one of Seal’s co-writers Gus Isidore) the pieces start falling into place… as they did for Slava and Al when they became housemates for awhile in London.
“With the two of us meeting – it’s just like day and night.” Al says. “Back nine years ago when we lived together and worked together, it was just incredible… I remember spending (up to) seventeen hours playing each other CDs that we grew up with. When I came over to Australia, and we started playing as a duo, I think we both weren’t really sure… Somehow we knew we had to do it, it just felt quite strange… With the success of Another Night in London, the picture is much more clear. Now it makes absolute sense to do this.”
To ensure the full realisation their vision, Slava and Al have chosen to release Continental Shift independently. Al explains why this was a necessary move: “Music has to be divided, which is a shame – you have classical music, rock music, world music, whatever… But we’re actually not thinking in those terms.” Indeed, something like Continental Shift can only be conceived in a state of mind that is uninhibited, unassuming… genreless.
Jesse Shrock - Beat
- Beat-Jesse Shrock


"Songs in the Key of Mateship"


It seems fitting that Slava Grigoryan and Al Slavik met in a London live-musicvenue at a Jam run by a guitarist called Sagat Guirey.
That was about 10 years ago.Guirey had worked with violinist Nigel Kennedy-the Menuhinprotege whose street cred helped poularise the classics-as well as with rock´nroll bands.
Grigoryan,the Australian guitar virtuoso who has made classical recordings and Slavik,an Austrian-born bassguitarist/singer/songwriter whose backround is in pop,became close friends.
Their subsequent musical collaborations have culminated in a new CD,Continental Shift.
the album is released in april 05 and follows the phenomenal success of their 1999 CD collaboration,Another Night in London.
Their music is neither pop nor classical.Slavik calls it songbased instrumental music with a pop sensibility`.
Grigoryan baulks at the label`crossover-music`.
`Where are we crossing from and where are we going?`he asks.
`This is just music we write and play,in a way that`s influenced by so many different things`.
Elizabeth Fortescue - The Daily Telegraph-Sydney
- The Daily Telegraph


Discography

Al has written and produced three full-length LP's, all of which can be seen at www.alslavik.com

"Secret One" and "Continental Shift" can be purchased at CDBaby and iTunes.

Al Slavik: Bass By Al "On The Air"
Al Slavik: "Secret One"
Al Slavik and Slava Grigoryan: "Continental Shift"

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Al Slavik, a well-known European Adult Contemporary Solo Artist, has been hailed as one of Europe’s finest electric bass and Chapman Stick players. Perhaps he is best known for his extensive background of collaborative works with a broad range of highly respected musicians.

“Al Slavik…the bassist is from Vienna, Austria, but now lives in Melbourne. Big Al is a virtuoso and came with a surprise. He plays Chapman Stick like Tony Levin and could sing Tony’s parts perfectly! That made the Crimson material sound even more authentic!” Adrian Belew Interview (16 May, 2006)

Following the impressive sales of his last three full-length cd’s, Al has begun writing and arranging new material for his fourth release. As a result of American College Radio airplay (including the world famous KCRW in Los Angeles) and sales through CDBaby and iTunes, Al is planning his relocation to the U.S., to take America by storm via Internet and Satellite Radio blitz.

Al’s musical career began in Vienna, Austria as a bass player for various local bands, which lead to widely touring Europe and session playing for other well-known artists. In 1992 Al formed “Bass By Al”, a three-piece band that created a platform for his talents as a singer/songwriter, as well as adding to his growing reputation as a bass virtuoso. The band’s first album “On the Air” was released in 1994, and the title track received massive airplay on Austria’s biggest radio station. The track was also featured on BMG’s sampler “Hit Breaker”, which was released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Soon thereafter, Al relocated to London to take his career to an International level. He joined Electro-Pop band “Alphaville” with whom he recorded and toured extensively for the next two years. Al’s talents were soon widely recognized among London’s prestigious music community. The following years, he recorded and toured with Gus Isadore (Seal, Peter Gabriel), Dave Clayton (U2, Depeche Mode, David Bowie, George Michael), Kevin Armstrong (Thomas Dolby, Tin Machine), just to name a few.

In 1998, Al met and began his longtime collaboration with internationally acclaimed classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan. The two toured extensively in Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States. The partnership would continue with Al producing Slava’s album “Another Night in London,” which was released worldwide on Sony Classical, and climbed to number one on Australia’s Classical Music Charts.

In 2002, Al began working with the original members of Level 42, and continued touring, recording, and writing/producing music for television and other media. Notable performances include “Angelplace” in Sydney and the Sydney Opera House with electronic artist “Endorphine.”

2004 marked the release of Al’s first solo effort titled “The Secret One”, which featured Depeche Mode drummer Christian Eigner, along with a wealth of other notable artists including Gus Isadore (Seal, Peter Gabriel), Dominic Miller (Sting, Phil Collins), Bobby Tench (Jeff Beck, Van Morrison), Slava Grigoryan, and many others (please see inlet). The following year would bring yet another reunion/collaboration with longtime friend Slava Grigoryan, resulting in what could be termed as Al’s best work to date, the widely acclaimed crossover/classical masterpiece “Continental Shift.” The album drew a windfall of press, which placed it at the top of the heap in its genre.

Soon after the release of “Continental Shift,” Al got a call from the world-famous “stunt guitarist” Adrian Belew, from King Crimson, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel fame. Adrian invited Al to tour Australia as his bass and Chapman Stick player, which Al was happy to oblige. The two formed a lasting friendship, and Adrian has said “The best part of touring Australia was meeting Al Slavik!”

Al Slavik continues to write, record and tour as a respected solo artist. A consummate, seasoned, professional musician, he looks forward to the next step in his ever-expanding career. He anticipates gaining a strong foothold on American soil with the debut of his upcoming fourth solo release, and plans to follow up with his first American tour. He is very selective about finding the right relationship and fit with a new record label and/or management company in America. Please see the next page for a complete list of his musical collaborations. For further information, music samples/ downloads, press, and photos, please visit alslavik.com.