First Published In The Music & Sound Retailer’s July 2007 Issue.

When they sang “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” the riffs were burning from his fingertips. In fact, he played on 11 Twisted Sister albums, toured the world, and even appeared in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” Now, Eddie Ojeda, former lead guitarist for Twisted Sister, is on his own. He released “Axes 2 Axes” in Jan. 2006, with Ronnie James Dio singing lead on the first track, and featuring a rearrangement of the Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby” with a cool metal tint. Ojeda is a resident of Rockland County, N.Y., where everybody knows his name. He has spent loads of time in music instrument stores. Maybe even yours. The Retailer first met Ojeda during a Fender party at Winter NAMM, thanks to his friendship with Jill Nicolini, the face behind our VNewsletter and ConventionTV. Connections always help and Ojeda was glad to offer all of his insight in this interview. Enjoy our Summer NAMM edition of Curtain Call.

M&SR: When did you start playing guitar? Who were your influences? Why did you choose guitar? Did you consider playing any other instruments?

Eddie Ojeda: Actually, I did consider drums because my cousin had this fake set of drums set up in his house. He had a chain on one of those TV trays. It’s was one of those tin TV trays. That was his cymbal. And then he took these tin cookie trays and put towels all over them. [Laughs] Considering it was homemade, he actually made a pretty interesting drum set. I was impressed by that. I used to go to his house and play along with the records. And then the whole Beatle craze came about and I reverted to guitar. I started when I was about 15. I started hanging out with other guys who could play. Eventually I bought a cheap guitar and was getting kind of serious. I got a job and saved up for my first Gibson guitar. That’s when I got more serious and got into Hendrix, Cream, Jeff Beck, and Led Zeppelin. Those guys were my main influences. Jimi Hendrix was the biggest influence, followed by Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page.

M&SR: We all remember you for your guitar work. But please tell about your new band. How has the reception been on your solo album? And we’ve heard you collaborated with Dee Snider on a version of “Eleanor Rigby.” Is that correct?

Ojeda: Yes, that’s correct. We did a video too. It played on VH-1 Classic a couple of times. Originally, we did the video more as a promotional thing for myself. But I went to VH-1 and they really liked it. I also collaborated with Ronnie James Dio on the first song of the album, called “Tonight.” He did an amazing job. He probably has one of the best voices in rock and roll. I also got Joe Lynn Turner to sing a song. I sang five songs myself. Sebastian Bach was supposed to sing a song too. But because of his busy schedule, we couldn’t get together and I had to get the album done. The one thing I didn’t realize was by getting Ronnie James Dio, Dee Snider, and Joe Lynn Turner to sing on the album, I was raising the bar for myself. [Laughs] That sure brought me up to a different level in my performance. The reception to the album has been great. A lot of people are really digging it. And I got my own solo band together. We have Chris McCarvill on bass. He played bass on nine songs out of 11. Also, Rudy Sarzo plays bass on two songs. He was in Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, and Ozzy Osbourne’s [band]. Joe Franco plays on drums. He’s in Van Helsing’s Curse with Dee [Snider]. He’s done sessions with everybody from Celine Dion to Twisted Sister. [Laughs]

M&SR: Speaking of Twisted Sister, you were on top of the world for quite a while in the ‘80s. What do you miss most about those days?

Ojeda: Actually, not too much. The only thing I miss is being younger. [Laughs] But I feel great. It’s weird. I don’t feel older. I’ve been holding up physically also. My father was always one of those people who looked 20 years younger than he was. So I have the genetics. The whole thing back then was about the thrill of the chase. We were at that point in our careers that we had the records out and were signed to a major label. We were “real” recording artists. That was an exciting time. Getting to that level. That’s one thing that happens once in your life. It was pretty cool doing a reunion and we came back as strong as we did. Especially in Europe. It seems we‘re bigger now than we were in the ‘80s in Europe. We’re headlining all of these festivals. We weren’t third or fourth on the bill. We were the headliners. And some of these festivals have 30,000 or 40,000 people. We also did a show in Quebec and it was just us and The Scorpions. And we got 80,000 people to attend. That’s the biggest crowd they’ve ever had at that festival, and they throw it every year. It was plastered all over the newspapers the next day. Here in the States, people have so much to choose from that things get a little bit lost.

M&SR: Tell us about your current gear. What guitars, amps, strings, and picks do you own?

Ojeda: Right now I have a signature guitar made by Wayne Charvel in California. He calls them Wayne Guitars. I use one guitar primarily that has a pink-and-black bull’s-eye. I have an EMG pickup on that. I also have a Sustainiac pickup, which is a very cool tool. You have a switch that turns on this magnet and it vibrates the string. It’s a little tricky to play with, but if you learn how to use it, you can hold any note forever. It’s like Nigel in “Spinal Tap” when he says [in a British accent] “it’s cool when you want to get sustain.” I also have a guitar we call “Edzilla.” It’s another signature guitar. And I’ve been using the 1984 Kramer reissues. Eddie Van Halen loved playing those guitars back then. The one I’m using is almost exactly the same as the one Eddie was using when he toured with Van Halen in ’84 and ’85. The colors are different. Mine are bull’s-eye designs. I have a red and white one I used on the Christmas tour and I have a black and red one. Those are very cool. They’re made in the USA and have the exact same specs and come with a hot-sounding pickup. I also have assorted Fender Strats I like to use in the studio for recording. Strats have a unique, cool sound to them. I’m an admirer of Strats of course because of Jimi Hendrix. Most of the guitars I have are Strat-style; hot-rod Strats. I have some pretty cool Epiphones for acoustic recording too. There’s an Epiphone that just came out with Masterbuilt acoustics. For the money, you can’t get anything better.

As for amps, I use mostly Marshalls. On occasion, I use Randalls. I have one in my home studio. But I really like the Marshall 800s. I also have a Vox AC30 I like to record with.

As for effects, I use Digitech pedals. I use the GNX3000. I also use a Line 6 pedal board or the PODXT. Live, I use the PODXT a lot. It’s extremely reliable for me. In studio, I use Digitech, which makes really cool pedals. The Jimi Hendrix pedal is really cool and you get some really nice effects from it.

Everything has its own sound. I like to experiment with sound and see what works; especially when recording.

M&SR: Is there anything you’d like to see manufacturers do better?

Ojeda: Well, everyone has their little things they like. I have custom stuff I use like the Wayne guitar with the EMG pickup and Sustainiac. But I only have that on one guitar. It would be really cool if Sustainiac were available on more models. Most guitar players can find a use for it. The Sustainiac is usually in the neck pickup. So it’s something that could be out of the way if you don’t want to use it, but is there if you do. It’s like having that extra boost. I’ve been using it for a year and a-half and I love it.

M&SR: You certainly have a lot of gear. Where do you shop for the gear and what do you like or dislike about the stores you visit?

Ojeda: I think the stores are cool, like Sam Ash and Guitar Center. I always have a great time when I go into any music store. I’m a bit of a gearhead. I think a lot of guitar players are. It’s fun. To me, it’s like a kid in the candy store. It’s never changed. Even though I have a lot of gear, it’s still exciting to go into a store and find another guitar you like and you say, “If I had that guitar, I’d be the man.” [Laughs] And if you buy the guitar, for three weeks, that’s the guitar. And then after that, you go back to whatever you used to play. I still like going into music stores. I enjoy seeing all of the guitars hanging on the wall.

M&SR: So you mostly go to Sam Ash and Guitar Center?

Ojeda: Yes, because when I’m out traveling a lot, those are the stores I’m familiar with and I usually know someone there. When I was a kid, I used to go to 48th Street [in New York City] and there was Manny’s Music and others. I loved Manny’s. It was a classic store. But it’s only one store. As a kid I remember going there all of the time. In fact, that’s where I got Jimi Hendrix’s autograph. And I got “Mitch” Mitchell’s autograph there too, although I don’t know where I put it. When I was a kid, everyone went to Manny’s. Forty-eighth Street was the place to buy instruments. There wasn’t the chain store thing you have now. I also went to Jimmy’s, which used to be across the street from Manny’s. I think Dale Armstrong and Larry DiMarzio had a place on 48th Street too. It was cool to see that whole evolution. Manny’s is still there and it’s kind of a landmark. It’s funny we’re talking about it, because I was tempted to go to 48th Street today and buy an A/B box. A friend of mine works at Sam Ash and I haven’t been in that area in so long. And whenever I’m in the Boston area, I love to go to Daddy’s Junky Music. Fred Bramante, the owner, is a great guy. He’s come out to a bunch of our shows. We’ve gone out to dinner with him and his daughter Candi, who helps him run the business.

M&SR: So what’s the next thing you plan to buy?

Ojeda: I’m not buying anything. I’m done buying stuff. I have enough guitars. I’m pretty much set with what I have, even though I get the urge sometimes to get something. I usually get the urge to get something vintage, or a collector’s piece. Like the John Lennon [1965] Casino Epiphone. I like those collector’s items because they come with certificates of authenticity and a picture.

No more articles