Gina Gleason (Misstallica, Queen Diamond, Teddi and the Northern Lights) interview

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How old were you when you first started listening to music and what were the first bands/artists that you listened to?

I was about 13 when I really started getting into music. The first two CDs that I ever bought were Judas Priest’s British Steel and AC/DC’s Back In Black.

What exactly was it that you initially liked about music?

Initially, I loved the power and energy of music (rock music specifically). I also love a lot of the artwork and imagery that goes along with rock music, which is probably what drew me to it initially. As I got into playing, I started listening for different techniques and styles that I liked from different players. I tried to take all the things that I admired and integrate them into my own playing. I still feel that power and great energy when I’m playing and performing. I always try to convey it to the audience and make sure that everyone is having a great time.

Who are some of your favorite bands/artists and why?

I absolutely love David Bowie. Mick Ronson is one of my favorite guitarists. I love his dirty style of playing over the almost delicateness of Bowie. It makes for an amazing pairing! I also love old school metal like Mercyful Fate and Angel Witch. I’m just a huge metal fan and there’s nothing like old school shit!
Finally, I have to say that one of my favorite guitarists of all time is Les Paul. I love listening to his stuff with Mary Ford. I love the harmonies and his fast clean playing style. I am so appreciative of his innovation and techniques.

How old were you when you started playing a musical instrument and what was the first instrument that you played?

I was somewhere around 14 or 15 years old and I started playing electric guitar.

As a musician (and, specifically, a guitarist), who are some of your influences and why?

As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Mick Ronson and Les Paul. Along the same lines as Les Paul, I also really love Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West. I love the clean fast picking styles. These guys are just amazing. My favorite metal guitarist has to be Andy Larocque. His solos are some of my favorites in metal. They are so melodic and thoughtful while maintaining the rapid fire intensity of the music.

How did you come to be the vocalist and guitarist for Misstallica, your all female tribute to Metallica?

Funny story – I started in the band as just lead guitarist and let’s just say a series of events allowed me to become the lead singer as well. I am totally grateful to have had the opportunity to front the band. I never thought I’d be a front person but I have really taken a liking to it! Fronting Misstallica is a lot of fun and has helped me hone the craft of being a metal front person, which I have been doing in my original metal project.
What are some of your favorite Metallica songs to play and why?
I love playing “Ride The Lightning”. It’s my favorite solo and I love playing the double harmonized solo section with our other guitarist, Leanne Martz. I love singing “Creeping Death”. I really like to belt it out and get the crowd chanting the “die die die” part. It’s a lot of fun.

What are some of your favorite Metallica albums and/or songs and why?

My favorite albums are the first 3 for different reasons. Kill Em All is old school and thrashy. It’s a great album from start to finish. I love the tones and solos on Ride The Lightning. You can really hear the way their songwriting has evolved. I love Master Of Puppets because I think that it is a production masterpiece and has some of the most epic songs ever written.

Discuss Queen Diamond, your King Diamond/Mercyful Fate tribute band.

I love King Diamond and Mercyful Fate! I love playing with Queen Diamond. I think Teddi Tarnoff does an incredible job at being King! Shows are always a lot of fun. King fans are the best!

What are some of your favorite King Diamond and Mercyful Fate songs to play and why?

I love “Family Ghost”. It has a great solo that was pretty challenging to learn. I also love “The Black Horsemen”. It’s epic!

What are some of your favorite King Diamond and Mercyful Fate albums and/or songs and why?

King Diamond’s Abigail is a great story and has some of the best solos. Don’t Break the Oath is my favorite Mercyful Fate album. It’s evil, sexy and awesome!

I couldn’t help but notice on your official website that you’ve played with quite a few alumni of Frank Zappa, my favorite artist/composer of all time. Discuss your work with them.

I performed at Zappanale in Germany with Denny Walley. He is an incredible player. Getting to watch him play slide was such a great experience. We did a lot of Captain Beefheart material. Along with being a great player, he was a really nice guy. I learned a lot from his playing. I also got to play with Napoleon Murphy Brock at that same festival. He was a great band leader and such a talented musician. I am a huge Zappa fan, so playing with those guys was an honor. I always love playing that material.

Who are some of the bands/artists/musicians that you’re most proud to have shared the stage with and why?

I have had the opportunity to share the stage with many artists but I think that I’m most proud to have played with Perry Farrell several times. I love Jane’s Addiction and it was awesome to have been able to meet him, let alone play with him.

Feel free to discuss any of your other endeavors (musical or otherwise) here.
Along with Misstallica and Queen Diamond, I play guitar and write music with Teddi Tarnoff. She’s an amazing vocalist. The music is bluesy with traces of country. I really dig it. We are hoping to record this spring, so we hope to have the album out this year.
I play drums in a punk band with Leanne from Misstallica. It’s called Emily Pukis and the Vagrants.
I also have an original metal band with Zack Smith of Queen Diamond. He’s one of my favorite guitarists to play with. He is truly talented. We are also recording this spring. The band consists of Zack and I, Teddi and Kaleen. I am always stepping in on different projects. I like playing all genres of music, so I’m open to anything!

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