Greg Howe: Hammer-ons from nowhere
Greg discusses his innovative approach to hammer-on technique, using open strings and chord shapes.
Greg Howe Bio
Gregory "Greg" Howe (born December 8, 1963) is an American guitarist and composer. As an active musician for nearly thirty years, he has released nine studio albums in addition to collaborating with a wide variety of artists.
After leaving high school and playing the club circuit around the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania areas with his singer brother Albert Howe for most of the 1980s, Greg Howe officially began his solo career after sending a demo tape to Shrapnel Records in 1987, upon which he was immediately signed by founder Mike Varney. His self-titled debut album was released in 1988, during the popular shred era, and went on to become his highest-selling album;
The following year, he joined up with Albert to form a Van Halen-inspired hard rock group named Howe II. Through Shrapnel, they released two studio albums: High Gear (1989) and Now Hear This (1991). His second solo album, Introspection, was released in 1993. At this point his style had changed radically from the straightforward instrumental rock of both his debut and the Howe II albums, to a more jazz fusion-laden approach which remains unique and identifiable to this day; some of his signature traits being fast left-hand legato passages (having been influenced greatly by renowed jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth), and the frequent use of tapping and odd time signatures.
A trio of albums spanning the middle part of the decade—Uncertain Terms (1994), Parallax (1995) and Five (1996)—were all a consistent evolution of the sound he had adopted on Introspection. During this time he collaborated twice with guitarist Richie Kotzen for the albums Tilt and Project in 1995 and 1997, respectively. He briefly dabbled with a heavier, neo-classical metal approach for his 1999 release, Ascend, which featured keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij. However, he has since spoken of his dissatisfaction for that project, as well as an earlier collaboration on Kuprij's album, High Definition (1997).
After switching labels to Shrapnel's jazz-oriented counterpart, Tone Center Records, he returned to his familiar style with Hyperacuity (2000), which still stands as some of his most prominent experimentation with jazz fusion. After a highly troubled recording process for Extraction (2003), he took an extended hiatus from recording solo material until the release of his ninth studio album, Sound Proof, in June 2008.
Currently residing in Long Beach, California (having previously lived in Easton, Pennsylvania until around 2006), Howe continues to work as a session musician and producer, as well as providing guitar lessons through his official website. RecentlyTemplate:When, he has toured Europe for the first time, having long stated a desire to tour the continent as a solo artist. In a 2010 interview, he announced an upcoming new studio album, which he hopes will see an early 2011 release.Template:Update after Whilst retaining his usual guitar work, it will also feature vocals for the first time since the Howe II albums.
Session and Touring career
Amidst his solo career, Howe has continuously made himself available as a session musician for many of the world's biggest pop stars. In 1996, he replaced Jennifer Batten as primary guitarist during the Asian and European legs of singer Michael Jackson's HIStory World Tour. He would later provide guitar duties for singer Enrique Iglesias in 2000, which culminated in a series of high-profile televised performances and a European tour.
The following two years saw Howe recruited as lead guitarist for boy band *NSYNC during two tours of the United States. After singer Justin Timberlake left *NSYNC, Howe continued to tour with him in 2003. Eight years later, in February 2009, Howe teamed up again with Timberlake, as well as rapper T.I., for a performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards. In the same year, Howe played as part of keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson's Ultimate Zero Project, in a line-up which included bassists Tony Levin and John Wetton, and drummers Marco Minnemann and Simon Phillips. In 2011, Howe put together a Super Fusion Group with drummer Dennis Chambers and Stu Hamm to tour throughout the world.
Howe has also performed and played with many other artists, such as Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Lady Antebellum, P Diddy, T-Pain, and Salt-N-Pepa.
- 1988: Greg Howe
- 1993: Introspection
- 1994: Uncertain Terms
- 1995: Parallax
- 1996: Five
- 1999: Ascend
- 2000: Hyperacuity
- 2003: Extraction
- 2006: Collection: The Shrapnel Years (compilation)
- 2008: Sound Proof
- 1989: High Gear – with Howe II
- 1991: Now Hear This – with Howe II
- 1995: Tilt – with Richie Kotzen
- 1997: Project – with Richie Kotzen
Other album appearances
- 1996: Convergence – James Murphy
- 1997: High Definition – Vitalij Kuprij
- 2001: Gentle Hearts – Tetsuo Sakurai
- 2004: Rhythm of Time – Jordan Rudess
- 2004: A Guitar Supreme – various guitarists compilation
- 2004: The Spirit Lives On – Jimi Hendrix tribute
- 2004: Gentle Hearts Tour 2004 – Tetsuo Sakurai
- 2005: Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse: A Fusion Guitar Tribute – various guitarists compilation
- 2006: Io Canto – Laura Pausini
- 2008: Collection – Jason Becker
- 2010: Vital World – Tetsuo Sakurai
- Official website
- Official MySpace profile
- Official Twitter profile
- Online guitar lessons
- Audio interview with Ricky Garcia at Jemfest Radio
- Greg Howe: A Profile by Eric Vandenberg at iBreathMusic