Arch Enemy‘s guitarist Jeff Loomis had a long conversation with Ola Englund where he talked about his musical background, Arch Enemy, playing with seven-string guitars, among other things. Read as transcribed by Ultimate Guitar.
Loomis was asked about his practicing:
“I don’t know if I’d call it practicing, I think I just enjoyed playing. I think there’s a difference because when you’re practicing something, you’re trying to figure out a certain technique or a picking method.
“Like, you’re focusing really hard, which I did a lot of that as well. But I enjoyed the instruments so much, and I think that it’s well-written, I came from a family with a lot of musical influence as well.
“My dad had a huge record collection so I was always exposed to many different styles of music – classical, jazz, the ’70s, ’80s. I remember when my dad played me, like, Queen albums and Eddie Van Halen records, that’s where I started to hear the guitar and I really wanted to get better.
“So I would just listen and listen and try to replicate the player. I’d look at the clock and my mom would be knocking on the door, you know, and eight-nine hours would’ve just flown by.”
Who was your first hero? Was it Eddie Van Halen?
“No, my first real hero was Brian May because of all those insane harmonies that he was doing. I just could never figure out what was going on.
“And of course, back in those days, in the ancient days, there was not many YouTube videos and stuff for us to look at like there is now, but just the overall sound was something that really attracted me.
“Then I became more influenced with Eddie and Randy Rhoads, and then, of course, the whole ’80s shrapnel era with all those killer guitar players like Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, and Jason Becker. Those were players where, like, my jaw dropped.
“I had to be like that, and I wouldn’t necessarily say I was ripping off licks, but I was kind of feeding all this information from what I was hearing. I was blessed with a pretty good ear. I could easily pick up things.
“I remember when I first started playing, I’d have a classical guitar in the living room and there would be a commercial on the TV with a jingle or something like that. I would just quickly play the jingle, and my dad would be like, ‘How did you do that?’. I guess that some people have it, some people don’t.”
Sanctuary was a band before you joined?
“Basically, to make the long story short, I grew up in Wisconsin in a small town called Menasha and there wasn’t a whole lot going on there. The closest city we’d have to go to see cool record shops or to see bands and stuff like that was Milwaukee, and that was about a two-hour trip south from where I was from.
“Not a whole lot going on, bands would come in and out, and that was back in ’89 and ’90, right after I finished high-school. And I found out from a friend that Sanctuary was looking for a guitar player.
“Somehow I got a tape together and learned a couple of their songs and sent it to them and they really loved it. I literally flew out and got into that band, which lasted like two months and then it broke up, simply because I think Lenny [Rutledge, guitar] and the other guitar player in the band wanted to go for a different sound.
“That was right when the whole grunge movement was starting in Seattle and me and Jim [Sheppard, bass], we were kind of like, ‘We want to stick to the heaviness and kind of go with our roots,’ so to speak.
“Jim and I stuck together and formed Nevermore, and we were an unsigned band for almost three years playing small bars and stuff like that. And it’s funny because at that time with the whole grunge movement, people were still coming to our shows, people still loved metal at that time.