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Sevenstring.org Interview: Stéphan Forté of Adagio
Sevenstring.org's Jerich interviews guitarist Stéphan Forté of the band Adagio.
Published by Chris
07-03-2006
Arrow Sevenstring.org Interview: Stéphan Forté of Adagio

<div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/adagio_xlogo.gif" alt="Adagio" />
<b>Interview: Stéphan Forté of Adagio</b>
<font size="1"><i>By: Jerich</i></font>
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<div align="center">
In 1997, one year after he had been graduated from the famous music school CMCN, Stéphan Forté composed his first instrumental demo Visions, which is considered to be the starting point of the Adagio adventure. This demo, being very clearly Neoclassical-oriented, quickly helped Stephans name to be noticed among the guitaristic community and allowed him to sign his first endorsement deals with Godin guitars and Rocktron effects. - <a href="http://www.adagio-online.com" target="_BLANK"><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none"><i>Adagio Official Website</i></span></a>
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<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/1.jpg" alt="Stephan Forte of Adagio" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">Jerich</span>: For everyone who is not familiar with your accomplishments, could you fill us on everything you're involved with.
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">Stéphan Forté</span>: My main focus is Adagio. I spend almost all my day working for the band, musically or buisness-wise. Apart from that, I write columns in 3 Guitar magazines in France. I also do masterclasses, clinics, and I give few guitar lessons to some very motivated students.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What are your current endorsements?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Lag Guitars, DiMarzio, Hughes & Kettner Amplification, Elixir Strings, and Emagic:Logic audio Platinum. Also New Rock shoes - not very guitaristically interesting, but so ....ing metal.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Tell us about your signature guitar, the LAG Stephan Forte' (The Beast!).
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: This guitar is simply the ultimate weapon of shred. I wanted a seven string of course, with 27 frets. The pickup selector is positioned right under the middle finger of my right hand, and in circular shape to follow the move of the mike switching in an easier way. I change very often from bridge to neck, depending the kind of lick I'm actually playing. The volume knob is just next to the selector, under my little finger. n fact we've designed this guitar in function of my playing. Concerning the shape, I always loved thin guitars, so we did it as a Saber from another brand. We just needed to find the right balance between thinness and sound, so it took a bit of time. The neck is also custom - very thin with two titanium truss rods, and pretty flat. Touch is ebony, and the wood is flame maple.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What initially got you into sevens?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: The fact that everything you could play with six strings you could do with seven, but not the other way around. For the last eight years ago, I've decided to work on seven strings only.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/2.jpg" alt="Stephan Forte of Adagio" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What type of string gauges and picks do you use?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Strings are Elixir nanoweb 009-046 and 56 for the 7th.My picks are Dunlop jazz III black.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What do you have to offer the seven string community as a player?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: It's pretty difficult for me to say. [laughs] I don't know if I really bring something - I use my seveth string of course to have lower, and fatter guitar riffs and in lead, it's just allows me to extend my licks a bit more.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What are some of your methods for composing?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Generally, the first thing I'm doing before even doing the first note is deciding on the tempo to decide if it's goning to be a fast tune or something mid-tempo. Then I start on the intro of the song, do all the arrangements for all the instruments, and then when it's done I move to the verse and do the same for each part of the song. When the whole song is done, I take it from the beginning and arrange/correct the the things with a more general listening of the ensemble.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Iin addition to being a technically versatile guitarist, you also have a very distinctive look. How important is image in becoming "successful"?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: I think that the image you give to your band is as much important as the music itself. People have to understand your universe, which in the case of Adagio is dark.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What made you want to play guitar in the first place?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: My brother. He was really into hard rock, and he always played some great stuff home when I was a kid. I was already listening to Maiden, ACDC, Ozzy, etc. when I was only 5 years old. So he offered me my first guitar when I was five, showed me the basic chords, and taught me how to play the riffs that I liked. Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" was the first one.

<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/3.jpg" alt="Stephan Forte of Adagio" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Do you have any special playing techniques, where you combine metal and neo-classical styles?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: I use my whammy bar a LOT for expressivity. My playing is definitely based 80% on it. I use a Floyd Rose original 7. My main influence nowadays guitari-wise, is the tzigane or eastern europe traditional violin. The best way to compensate for the fact that I'm not playing a fretless instrument is to work the approach of notes with the whammy bar. I'm also interested in developing my technique a lot - not for the sake of it, but to be able to play what I have in mind technically.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Which amps and effects do you use live?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: My Hughes and Kettner Triamp Heads, with a Rocktron Prophesy preamp. For effects, not a lot - just some delay for the themes and melodic stuff, and rarely for the shred.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: When someone says asks who your primary influenecs are, who comes to mind? And have you heard any new guitarists that have really caught your ear in the past couple of years?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Shawn Lane and Malmsteen for influences. As far as new guitarists are concerned, Guthrie Govan is an incredible guitar player. He has awesome technique, great phrasing and great sound. He's definitely my favorite actual guitar player.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Do you make a living strictly with your own music and Teaching guitar?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>:Yes, not with Adagio only, but with the side stuff like masterclasses, magazine columns, guitar teching and clinics.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: In your off Guitar time what hobbies interest you?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Sex, Horror Movies, Dark literature and art.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: A key element of your style is your guitar tone. How do you get different sounds out of it?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: First I think it's my pickups. I have a Tone Zone 7 bridge and a Blaze neck, which have a very different sound.T he ToneZone is very medium, and the blaze is more scooped in the mids. I'm also trying to play a lot with nuances - sometimes I play some notes with the fingers to have a kind of more "bluesy" and organic type of sound. I also play a lot with my volume knob to changeup the tone.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>:Is playing technique important for you, or do you prefer a "whatever works is OK for me" approach?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>:I think that technique is the tool to express what you have to say, just like vocabulary and grammar.
If all you have to say is ".... you, blah blah." Well you don't need a lot of words.But Baudelaire for exemple, when he talks about love, death or anything else, he masters the tongue so well, that he emphasize the meaning of what he has to say, mords take another dimension.I think it's the same for music.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>:Your technique seems to be very tight and fluid at the same time. How do you keep your playing consistant? Do you practice a lot?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Yes, less than when I was 18, but still at least 3 hours a day. It's pretty difficult to organize the whole amount of work to do during the day, but it's necessary to practice everyday. When I'm practicing or warming up, I attack the strings very strongly to have the precision when I play faster in alternate picking. I think that's what give the effect of fluidity and alternate picking at the same time. I mix alternate picking with legato a lot, like Paul Gilbert, so that you have both sounds in one.

<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/4.jpg" alt="Stephan Forte of Adagio" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>:How important is ear training for you?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>:Very important. You have to be able to play in any circumstances, and sometimes,you don't have time to know exactly what key you're in. In those cases, believe me, you're happy to have good ears! I think sight reading and ear training are complementary.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: How do you feel doing this interview for a website dedicated to sevenstrings, and the sevenstring community as a whole?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: First, I'm really flattered, it's a pity that not a lot of people understood the concept. All they see is a big neck, and "wow, it's gonna be difficult to learn, let's first be ok with a six, then we'll see". It's awesomely wrong, you can start playing the guitar with a seven, there's no reason not to.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>:What song or riff are you most proud of ??
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: Proud, I would say the album "Underworld", as it has been really painful to compose, to build, to compose for real choirs, to pay for for real choirs without knowing how I would eat the next year.. All of this to realize the music that I had in mind 100%, with almost no compromises. The songs I really like are: The Stringless Violin (Sanctus Ignis), Next Profundis, From My Sleep.To Someone Else (Underworld), Children Of The Dead Lake, Dominate (Dominate). My Favorite solos are: The Inner Road (sanctus Ignis) Solvet Saeclum In Favilla, From My Sleep (Underworld), Dominate, and Terror Jungle (Dominate).

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I know you are currently in the studio. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest musical projects?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: I'm focusing right now on the next Adagio album. Adagio is very demanding, and I know now for sure, that I cannot work on other side projects.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I know you were here in Philadelphia a few years ago to record with Vitalij Kuprij. Will that recording ever surface or be completed?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: No, we just recorded 4 songs - Two of mine, two of his. It was a demo, but we will never release that.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Gus, Adagio's new singer, is amazing. Where did you find him?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: We just made an announcement on internet that we were looking for a singer, and we received lots of demos. Gus' version of Chosen from Underworld blew us away, and few weeks later he came to France for the audition and rehearsals before the show in Atlanta's ProgPower.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: (Adagio bassist) Franck Hermanny uses a 7 string Bass. How does that help in composing songs?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: He has a 7 string, but he doesn't use it a lot with Adagio. He plays six strings. That helps a lot because the riffs with the B string sounds much fatter, of course.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: A lot of the band memebers in Adagio live rather far from each other. How often do you all practice?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: We rehearse in general each time we have a succession of big shows. Instead of rehearsing each week like a lot of bands, we just take one full month everyday, from 10 Am to 8.00 pm before the gigs.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Will you ever re-release "Visions" your solo guitar shred CD?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>: No. I was 18 at that time, and my playing has evloved since. I prefer to create instead of using past works.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Stephan I would like to thank you for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">SF</span>:It was a real pleasure, your questions were truly interesting. Thanks for keeping on spreading the flame of our beautiful instrument!

<div align="center">
<img style="padding:20px;" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/adagio/6.jpg" alt="Adagio" />
<a href="http://www.adagio-online.com" target="_BLANK"><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none">www.adagio-online.com</span></a> - <a href="http://www.myspace.com/adagioofficial" target="_BLANK"><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none">Adagio on Myspace</span></a>
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  #1  
By zimbloth on 07-04-2006, 04:37 AM
Awesome. I'll have to check this guy out.
  #2  
By Jerich on 07-04-2006, 08:59 AM
F--N...Yes.........A guitar Player and a band worth Checking out...Stephan Is on the verge of doing greater things too a SOLO cd is being completed now....If you all Like Michael Romeo Imagine the 7 string and More Yngwie and Bela Bartok Influenced.....with the most Insane yet suttle and glissful...whammy ever....Stephan thanks alot for the interview and I hope I did you justice....he is absolutley a GUITAR HERO of mine!!!...enjoy everyone......
  #3  
By distressed_romeo on 07-05-2006, 12:50 PM
Man, I've been looking forward to this interview for a while. I got Dominate as an import, having played the first two albums to death, and it hasn't left my stereo since. Stephan's one of the few neo-classical players to have really developed his own style.

Plus I want his guitar...
  #4  
By Michael on 08-22-2006, 04:54 AM
Awesome interveiw! I ....in' love Adagio.
  #5  
By olsonuf on 03-22-2007, 02:14 PM
Well done Jerich!
I finally got around to checking out this interview.
  #6  
By Jerich on 05-25-2007, 06:55 PM
This is a great video of stephan demo-ing the new Switchblade Hughes & kettner amp...of which i cannot say enough good things about this amp.

YouTube - Stephan Forte presenting Hughes&Kettner Switchblade
  #7  
By guitarplayerone on 07-09-2007, 03:57 PM
adagio kicks so much ass... listening to them for the first time right now... myspace does not do anywhere near justice for this band they are so diverse and good...

this guy shreds like rusty cooley... if not better... (coming from a fanboy of his)

i wish his guitar was like $2000 us i would buy it in a second (of course its nowhere near)
  #8  
By Jerich on 09-10-2007, 09:28 AM
New ADAGIO new is Gus Gone and Kelly in?

According to his MySpace page, former OUTWORLD vocalist Kelly Sundown Carpenter will be singing for French progressive metallers ADAGIO on their upcoming three-date tour of Japan as the support act for Finland's KORPIKLAANI. The details are as follows:

Sep. 12 - Tokyo, Japan - Club Quattro
Sep. 13 - Nagoya, Japan - Club Quattro
Sep. 14 - Osaka, Japan - Club Quattro

It is not presently clear how this affects the status of ADAGIO's Brazilian singer Gus Monsanto, who joined the band in 2004 as the replacement for David Readman (PINK CREAM 69),

ADAGIO recently entered the studio to record its fourth album, entitled "Archangels in Black". According to a posting on the group's official web site, the overall vibe of the tracks like "Archangels in Black", "Undead", "The Fear Circus" and "Twilight At Dawn" is "very dark and massive. The band came back to a more orchestral style of composition but kept the heaviness of songs like 'Dominate' or 'Children of the Dead Lake' from the previous album released in 2005 in Japan."

Commented guitarist Stephan Forté: "This album is a sort of tribute to dark arts, including horror movies and gothic literature. It's our own musical representation of what darkness is. I think the song 'Archangels in Black' would be a cool hymn for all those of us who enjoy sinister arts."

ADAGIO issued its latest album, "Dominate", in North America and Europe (outside France) in July 2006 via Locomotive Music. The CD — which was issued in Japan in December 2005 via Avalon/Marquee and in France in March through Double Vision (via Sony/BMG distribution) — was produced by Stephan Forté and Kevin Codfert, and was mixed at House of Audio Studios in Germany by Dennis Ward.

Watch ADAGIO's video for the track "Dominate":
  #9  
By distressed_romeo on 09-26-2007, 11:09 PM
I was on their website this evening, and there's an update regarding the vocalist situation. Apparently Gus is still a member of the band, but was denied entry to Japan at the last minute, and so Kelly is deputising for him on the current tour. It'll still be Gus on the new album.
  #10  
By Jerich on 07-16-2008, 05:44 PM

It is always killer to see him play.....
  #11  
By Jerich on 11-11-2008, 12:44 PM
new cd soon ....keep your ears open and also a Official LAG stephan Model due in 2009...i will keep you all posted....
  #12  
By aurelien1686 on 01-31-2009, 06:19 PM
someone know the title of the song ( at the begining ) of the video :<object class="playerpreview" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="/images/mpeg/player_flv.swf" wmode="transparent" width="542" height="446">HUGHES & KETTNER - AMPLI GUITARE A LAMPES SWITCHBLADE 50 : Achetez moins cher ! Woodbrass.com : Achat / Vente ??
thanks






</object>
  #13  
By Voodoo Turkey on 04-14-2009, 03:02 PM
He's a fantastic guitarist, one of the best. I own all four Adagio albums and i'd say they are in my top 3 favourite bands.
Archangels In Black is just everything I hoped it would be after such a long wait, it was well worth it!!!
  #14  
By civilized_worm on 05-19-2009, 11:51 PM
My first time hearing about this guy and Adagio, but I'm taking a listen to the band at the moment and I'm pretty damned impressed. Great musicianship, I'd say.
  #15  
By Faded Grey on 06-22-2010, 02:02 AM
Awesome interview! Stephan and Adagio are great.
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