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The best kept secret in music


"Working Out The Kinks"

"Working Out the Kinks"

Ten or so years ago I ran into the guys from local band Saville Row. The members included Jamie Verbeten and the enigmatic lead singer, David Rangel. The band split, Verbeten found success with the Sandcarvers and Rangel nearly found a label deal in Minneapolis with the band Mersey Side. A combination of tenacity and providence has found Rangel on the verge again.

In 2002 Troy Stetina, a world-class guitarist and music educator with more than 30 rock and metal instructional methods to his credit, met a guitarist named Mark Tremonti who began taking lessons from Stetina. The funny thing is that Tremonti had spent the better part of the previous decade playing with one of the biggest bands on the planet -- Creed. As a friendship developed, Stetina was inspired to again put together a band. Thus was born the Oversoulss. The first to join Stetina's new group was prog-metal drummer Eddie Shapanske. After working with various singers for more than a year, the two found Rangel. Bassist T.J. Brehmer, formerly of Los Angeles band Nitro, completed the package.

Tremonti, now of Alter Bridge, has lent his support calling on Oversoulss to tour with his new band (Creed, sans problem poser-child singer Scott Stapp) this summer. Oversoulss has been together as a band for about four months and is working out the "new band kinks," as its web site says. To listen to the six-song demo Rangel sent me it sounds like they have a full-time massage therapist, as the kinks seem to be gone. This is already a big-time band by the sound here. Rangel is a true world-class singer. Stetina proves he's still a gifted player, not just an instructional writer; and the rhythm section is smoking. With shows under their belt and the tightness that brings, be prepared to see Oversoulss hit the big time and local boy make good. This is a band that should make it. - Racine Journal Times - Out & About section, 3/17/05, by Patrick Fineran:

"Astonishingly Skilled Guitarist"

5:21 a.m. April 7, 2005
By Bobby Tanzilo

We've got talent in our back yard, and sometimes we don't even realize it. Take Troy Stetina, for example.

For nearly 20 years, Stetina, an astonishingly skilled hard rock/metal guitarist, has been working in Milwaukee: teaching at the Conservatory, writing influential technique books for Milwaukee-based Hal Leonard, running a studio, performing in bands and teaching guitar to the likes of Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge. But, he's hardly a household name here.

When we heard that Stetina put together a new band, Oversoulss, which is recording its debut disc and prepping for a tour with Alter Bridge, we decided it was time to talk to him about the past, present and future. If you don't know who Stetina is yet, you will soon enough.

OMC: Can you tell us a bit about your background in music; how you got started?

TS: Jeez, ancient history! My mom was an opera singer. She tried giving me piano lessons when I was little, but I wasn't into it. Then I asked for a guitar as a young teenager. Guitar was cool. So I went through a few beginner books until I got tired of playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Then I started learning Kiss and Aerosmith songs by ear. Got into a few cover bands in Indy, where I grew up, and started teaching guitar at a music store on the side. At 18, I had a nice scholarship to go study astrophysics, but was just too into music at that point and decided to put off college "for a year." Well, that turned out to be indefinite!

OMC: How did you land the gig at Hal Leonard?

TS: The Hal Leonard guitar author and editor Will Schmid (a UWM music professor and now President of National Association of Music Education) came to the music store I was teaching in, to show us their line of books and all. I said that's all fine and good, but most kids I teach want to learn how to rock! Why don't you have anything that teaches rock and metal? He said, "Good idea, why don't you write that book?" So I did. It became the original "Heavy Metal Rhythm Guitar" and "Heavy Metal Lead Guitar" series that has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and spawned a ton of imitator methods. Will later told me that he had heard the exact same thing from at least 20 people before me, but none of them actually delivered a manuscript. I was just the first person that actually followed through!

OMC: Were you surprised at the influence the books had?

TS: Well, I know the methods work. They are honest and direct. There's a lot of inauthentic stuff out there; I mean authors who aren't really into a style trying to cross over to sell more. If it's not authentic, that comes across in the material. Also, a big advantage for my books was that I am a musician first and an author second, so it was easy for me to create an approach that fit this subject matter best, without being burdened by any particular pedagogical viewpoint. You know, "You have to do it this way, or that way, because that's how music is taught." My books did a lot of controversial stuff at the time they first came out, like dumping standard notation among other things. So yes, I am thankful that the opportunity came my way, but I'm really not surprised at the success. The bottom line is that if something is really good, it grows "legs" and keeps on going. These books have done that. In fact, they are selling more copies now than when they first came out, which IS pretty astonishing!

OMC: Did that get in the way of your work playing in bands?

TS: For years I divided my time between authoring books, teaching guitar and playing in a band. But things changed in the mid '90s. Sales of music instruction books really took a dive with the advent of grunge. I mean, who needs to learn technique from a book when you're just strumming a few barre chords? The irony of it is that I actually liked that whole shake-up in popular music. But it wasn't too good for my income. So I started doing other things. I edited a bunch of books for Hal Leonard. I opened a recording studio and started producing local bands. I guess my own band thing sort of fell onto the back burner.
OMC: Tell us about your relationship with Creed's (now Alter Bridge's) Mark Tremonti.

TS: Mark's a great human being. Even with the tremendous success and all the self-ingratiating sycophants that inevitably come with it, he's stayed remarkably stable and down-to-earth. All the guys in Alter Bridge are, actually. When I first met him a few years ago, Mark wanted to develop his lead playing. It was a personal challenge; he had always wanted to master that part of guitar, but had never really nailed it. He had totally honed his songwriting and arrangement craft; something that had done pretty well for him!

I was in the exact opposite boat, having largely mastered soloing but never fully getting the song and band thing happening. So I started teaching him and coaching his lead work. And he started helping me with songwriting and arrange - OnMilwaukee.com


Currently at work on debut CD.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Those who can, do. Those who can't, they say, teach. Those who teach the best, form a kick ass band. Oversoulss features guitarist Troy Stetina, a world-class player and music educator with more than 30 rock and metal instructional methods to his credit, with total sales of nearly 1 million copies.

Among the many guitarists that were inspired by Stetina's instructional work over the years was a young Mark Tremonti who later became part of one the biggest bands of the last 10 years--Creed. After the two met in 2002, Mark began taking lead guitar lessons with Troy and the two developed a mutual friendship. Shortly thereafter, Troy revisited the idea of putting together a band again and started working on material. When Tremonti later heard the project demos he became involved, helping with arrangements and more. Stetina hooked up with other top talent as the project progressed.

The first to join the new group was prog-metal drummer EDDIE SHAPANSKE, who had recorded an album with BENT the previous year at Troy's Milwaukee area studio, Artist Underground. The two auditioned and worked with various vocalists for more than a year before they hooked up with DAVID RANGEL, formerly the singer of Mersey Side, a Minneapolis-based band that had just missed a major label deal. To complete the group's lineup, bassist DAN EVANS was selected.

OVERSOULSS is currently working out the "new band kinks" with several local Milwaukee area shows. The band is officially set to tour with Alter Bridge this summer.