"Stephanie Pickard is a fan of Metallica's 'St. Anger.'"

By Bob Zerull

Here’s part two of my interview with Stephanie Pickard of Cockpit. In this section we talk about her song “The Vicious Circle (Wasting Away),” which is just a great song, her career highlights which include studying with Paul Gilbert and her defense of Metallica’s “St. Anger.” I like “St. Anger” too Stephanie, so you’re not alone.

Q - I really liked your song “The Vicious Circle (Wasting Away).” Is this or any more music of yours available for purchase anywhere?

A - Not yet but soon! I will actually be releasing a heavier version of “The Vicious Circle” as well as some more new songs. I’ve also been working on a few instrumental songs that will have some very special guests so that’s gonna be a lot of fun! Before I joined Cockpit I was working with my vocal teacher, Kalen Chase (KC), who is the lead singer of The Changing and has toured the world singing backup vocals in Korn. KC actually produced “The Vicious Circle.” Our goal was to get five songs ready to record and release an EP. Now that I’m in a band, I don’t have as much time to work on my own stuff but I still study with KC and am very excited to get back in the studio with him soon.

Q - How does you song writing process work? Do you need to be inspired or can you just hammer out a riff until it works?

A - Having myself now as the vocalist for my music has made it very different. I have a lot of songs and riffs I put together before I decided to sing in my project that I have a lot of trouble thinking of vocal melodies for because I have never listened to them as the singer. Then I’ll write lyrics and vocal melodies and have to make up cool guitar riffs around them. Usually one half of the process I was inspired and it just came out and the other half I hammer away at it. I also work a lot with my vocal teacher, Kalen Chase. It can help a lot to have someone from the outside take a look and bring new ideas. He actually produced “The Vicious Circle” and is the male harmony vocal in the chorus.

Q - Thus far what would you say is your career highlight?

A - I have a few really special moments to me. When I was younger my first endorsement, Minarik Guitars, was a huge moment. It meant a lot to have a company I thought was awesome believe in me and invest in me. Marc Minarik actually told me he didn’t care if all I ended up doing was playing guitar in my bedroom he just wanted me to play his guitars. That kind of support is just mind-blowing. Studying with Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet of Racer X was huge too. I only studied with Paul a few times but was lucky enough to study with Bruce for at least 6 months. Bruce made a huge impact on me and definitely brought my playing to another level. Plus just watching him play is insane. He is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen, it’s ridiculous. Also getting to study vocals with KC and writing, recording, and releasing my first song singing and playing, The Vicious Circle.” Most recently getting to hop on the Supersuckers tour with Cockpit. For the majority of (the tour) it was Cockpit, The Last Vegas, and the Supersuckers and those guys were all so cool and encouraging. I got tons of great advice and getting to play out every night was a dream come true.

Q - Any guilty pleasures?

A - I don’t really like calling things guilty pleasures because I feel like that’s kind of a backwards compliment to those artists. It’s like saying I think you’re cool but I’m really embarrassed I do (laughs). Some bands you might be surprised I like are some of the pop punk bands like Taking Back Sunday and Paramore. I love Christina Aguilera’s voice, I like Prince, and Michael Jackson, and you know what, “St. Anger” isn’t as bad as you all act. I like the Black Album too so sue me. (Laughs)

Q - Why rock n roll/heavy metal? Why not go the KT Tunstall or Alanis Morissette route?

A - (Laughs) Well thank you very much, I’m hoping the combination of my voice and guitar will be something different. Usually in metal, girls either sing operatic or growl - both are cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not me. So hopefully the mixture will create something new and moody. It took me a long time to not worry about how metal something was, which is why it took me so long to sing on my stuff but why metal and rock? I love heavy guitar riffs and I can’t deny that I love soloing.

Q - What are you listening to right now?

A - Well my iPod just died a few days ago so when I drive I’ve been listening to all the radio stations that play lots of older stuff. It has actually been cool because they’ve been playing lots of Van Halen, Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones. Also been listening to The Stones’ “Exile on Mainstreet” a lot because Marty from the Supersuckers told me I had to own it and Paul Gilbert’s newest instrumental CD “Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar.”

Q - What does 2010 have in store for Stephanie Pickard?

A - Hopefully a lot of touring! I’ve started writing with Cockpit too so I’m excited to get in the studio and play the new stuff live, also very excited for my own new songs and for my instrumental songs. Having the special guests on there is going to be really special to me. No matter what I’ll be out there a lot, this is just the beginning. I spent a lot of time in the years prior practicing and trying to better my playing, figuring out what direction to take, and building a teaching career. This year it’s time to get out there, release lots of music, and play anywhere and everywhere. It’s gonna be a good year!

If you missed part one, click here: "Stephanie Pickard paid $20 to study under Paul Gilbert." - Part One.


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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