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Interview with Emir Hot

New Guitar God EMIR HOT, New Kick Ass CD

Emir Hot

Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: April 2008

Brian Rademacher: Hello Emir and welcome to

Emir Hot: Hello and thank you for this interview, it's an honor to be given space on your web site.

Brian Rademacher: Tell me what it was like growing up in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a child?

Emir Hot: When speaking about my time in Bosnia, there are many good and bad things that happened in the past. Before the war, my country was one of the six republics of former Yugoslavia. Some people think that the system we had wasn't good but I can tell you that no country in the world enjoyed such respect and almost everybody enjoyed life in Yugoslavia. In 1992, it all changed. One of the worst life experiences one can have is definitely being through a war. I have seen it all and I can tell you that the war is something I wouldn't even wish on my worst enemy. Anyway, from bad things you always get something that works out good in the future. I got a lot of inspiration for my songs just by understanding the hard life in my young age and that definitely affects my music in both lyrics and the melody. You cannot really live as a rock/metal musician in Bosnia but many talented people are still trying hard to make it. I have tried all options with different bands and in the end; I gave up and decided to move abroad. The law about copyrights doesn’t exist in Bosnia. You can legally buy pirate CDs everywhere and nobody cares. You can even register a company for selling illegal products and pay tax to the country, definitely not a nice atmosphere for an artist. There are no proper CD shops that I can say - no market at all. In 2003, I passed an audition for Berklee College of Music in USA but I couldn't find enough money for it. It was very expensive. After searching for different solutions I decided to come to the UK and enroll in the Guitar Institute in London which, according to many musicians, doesn’t differ from Berklee that much. I graduated last year and decided to stay and play music here. I am also happily married now, but not sure, if I am going to stay more than 5-6 years in London, it’s too busy and crazy :)

Brian Rademacher: What was the first song you learned to play on guitar?

Emir Hot: When I was 6 years old, my older brother had a guitar and I just fell in love with it. He showed me the first chords. I remember learning some BEATLES and ROLLING STONES riffs as well as many popular rock tracks that we had in ex. Yugoslavia. Those old Yugoslav rock bands were equally comparable to any otherworld famous stars. At the age of 10 I started taking classical lessons.

Brian Rademacher: : In 1989 at the age of twelve, you joined a Thrash band named HATRED. Was that the direction you wanted to go with, Thrash?

Emir Hot: At that time and that age, I would have accepted anything. It was just an incredible feeling to be in a band when you're 11-12 years old. I showed a great talent and almost all the musicians from the city soon heard about some young guy who can accurately play all the IRON MAIDEN albums. I received a call from a thrash metal band HATRED that needed a second guitarist. They were all about 10 years older than I was and that was funny. The guitar was almost taller than I was and I wasn't able to jump around much with that heavy thing. We lasted for about a year and a half until the founder of the band decided to move abroad, which resulted in the end of an interesting line up.

Brian Rademacher: What was it like learning and playing guitar while a war was going on in your country?

Emir Hot: Playing guitar was my psychological therapy during the war. If I didn't do that, I would have probably gone crazy from all those serious bombings of my city. All I was doing was playing guitar and at that time, I learned most of what I play now.

Brian Rademacher: You left HATRED and joined RETARD another thrash band. At that time thrash was at a high point in America with bands like TESTAMENT, EXODUS and even early METALLICA. Were they influences and if so why?

Emir Hot: Yes, I was listening to all those bands. After classical guitar school, I had that crazy "post-classical" period where many guitarists start to discover music in a strange way and they start to love it. I am talking about heavy metal. Switching from fingers to a pick is nothing close to what I have learned at the classical guitar school. I used to love brutal metal bands like NAPALM DEATH, OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL, SLAYER … Today it's totally different. When I first got IRON MAIDEN’s album "Somewhere in Time ", It all changed. I recognized the term "melody". That felt so tasty for me that I learned the whole album on an old acoustic guitar. I remember I was able to accurately execute every solo-- note by note. That big change in my musical taste made me realize the importance of the roots such as: LED ZEPPELIN, WHITESNAKE, DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, URIAH HEEP and many other similar bands.

Brian Rademacher: RETARD changed their name to NEON KNIGHTS a song from BLACK SABBATH‘s Heaven & Hell Album. You started playing shows and were pretty successful; you were signed to an Italian label and in 1998 released your first CD “Deserted Land”. Is that record hard to find now?

Emir Hot: NEON KNIGHTS is a completely different line up which I put together in 1996 – after the war. The first big thing happened in 1997 when we got the chance to get signed. After the war, we had so many humanitarian organizations in Bosnia working on reconstruction of the country. One guy who worked for Italian one saw our show in my town and offered to take us to Italy for a 10 shows tour. We were so happy we could play our music outside of Bosnia. After the tour he offered us a contract and we recorded a full album called "Deserted Land“for an Italian label "Estragon Records". Later many shows followed. Emir HotWe got a chance to meet IRON MAIDEN, DREAM THEATHER, DEEP PURPLE, RAGE and many other bands that we used to like, that was incredible for us. I am not sure whether the CD is still available in shops but the same manager is working for me now. He is probably the only one who might have many unsold copies. His contact can be found in contact section on my web site

Brian Rademacher: You left NEON KNIGHTS why?

Emir Hot: Shortly after we released the album, every European country started to require visa for Bosnian citizens and we couldn't travel easily anymore which resulted in the end of a very promising band. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for us and deal with all crazy paperwork that we had to hand in to every embassy when we apply for visa was also too expensive. Sad but true.

Brian Rademacher: In 1999 you joined SOUTHERN STORM; how different was this band compared to NEON KNIGHTS?

Emir Hot: The only thing the band had in common was me on the guitar and the bass player who moved from NEON KNIGHTS to SOUTHERN STORM. Musically it was similar but more progressive. NEON KNIGHTS was a raw type of melodic hard/heavy rock while SOUTHER STORM can almost be considered as a power metal band. In both bands, I used our traditional musical elements, which gave them a special flavor that is unheard of before in metal bands.

Brian Rademacher: In 2002 SOUTHERN STORM released its debut CD “1999”. It is mentioned that it was one of the best metal releases that year and the band took off playing many shows, TV shows everything you wished for. Yet you thought the band would not get recognized because of political forces in your country. Can you tell us about this situation?

Emir Hot: Yes we released a CD called "1999 ". We played countless shows and according to many critics became the best ex. Yugoslavian metal band ever. We were also the overall winners of the "Heineken BH Rock Festival" in my country among 42 different bands. Every magazine wrote about us, from lifestyle magazines, daily newspapers to all these metal ones. People from former Yugoslavia are still amazed with that band. I often read rock/metal forums and still you can find that topic absolutely everywhere in ex. Yugoslav metal websites with the most visits and posts. Because of the reasons in the country I mentioned before I decided to stop believing in a major success and I moved to the UK.

Brian Rademacher: You left your country in 2002 and enrolled at Berklee College of Music, Boston. What was that like leaving your country, friends and family?

Emir Hot: I actually never went there. I passed audition in Freiburg – Germany and received a scholarship for one semester. Berklee degree program lasts 8 semesters and one costs $16.000 at that time. It took me another year and a half to realize that I will never find that money so I was searching for different solutions. Later I found "Guitar Institute" in London and moved here. I was very sad I had to leave my family and friends but the future in my country didn't look promising at all from an artist's point of view. It would be a lot better for me to do all this from my country but unfortunately, it's not possible at this time. Now I am use to living in the UK and it's not that bad. It takes only 3 hours to fly back home and visit family anytime I want.

Brian Rademacher: So tell us what was going on from 2003 until your solo release “SEVDAH METAL” in 2008?

Emir Hot: In 2003, I wasn't in any band. I was playing some local pub shows in Bosnia with a friend as an acoustic duo. Some other cool things happened. I did a soundtrack for one Bosnian movie and I did some guitar clinics. In 2004, I moved to the UK and started studying at the "Guitar Institute.” In the middle of 2005 I started writing songs for my album “Sevdah Metal” which was my long time dream. At the time of songwriting, I didn't have a band. It was just me, my guitar and a simple home studio, setup for recording demos. It took me about a year to have the whole thing recorded as a good demo. After I had my songs completed, I started looking for musicians. In the meanwhile, I got a record deal from "Lion Music" and started to plan a proper studio recording. Last year, just after I graduated, we entered the studio and started recoding “Sevdah Metal”.

Brian Rademacher: Let me congratulate you on a killer new CD being rated by our site a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. What is the feeling like after all that hard work you have a masterful CD with “ SEVDAH METAL”?

Emir Hot: Thank you for all those nice words and 5/5 stars. It's a great feeling to hear something like that. After I sent the master CD to Lion Music it felt like I got rid of a 10 tons heavy stone from my back. I was all alone managing the whole process from beginning to the end and it was very hard and stressful for me. Now I feel relaxed and carefully planning our first shows.

Brian Rademacher: You hooked up with John West from BADLANDS, ROYAL HUNT, ARTENSION and Mike Terrana of MASTERPLAN, ex-Yngwie and ARTENSION. How did that all come about?

Emir Hot: I've known Mike since 2003. He played with a friend of mine Damir Simic – Shime. Damir is a Croatian shredder who lives in L.A. I organized their show in my town in Bosnia and since then we have been in contact. When I had my songs ready for the studio I asked Mike to play on the album and he accepted. He is an amazing drummer and I have no words to explain how cool it is to work with him. I had a couple of guys who tried to sing on this record but I was not happy with what I heard. Both Mike and my Label "Lion Music" helped to get John West who was the real deal. John had just left ROYAL HUNT so he was available to fly in to London and do a great job as always. John really felt a strong energy on this record and he delivered something that has both feelings and amazing power. Sometimes I read people's comments on his "MySpace" saying that this record is his 100%. I am happy if I was the one to give him something where he can show his 100%. He is also an incredible vocalist and a great person.

Brian Rademacher: How did you ever think about incorporating Accordion in a shredding CD?

Emir Hot: Accordion, saz (sounds like Bosnian type of sitar) and many other instruments are mainly used in "Sevdah" which is the name of Bosnian traditional music. I wanted to include them to make the music as original as possible. I would have never got recognized if I sounded like hundreds of other similar prog/metal bands. I didn't know what people would think of that but I just decided to continue and see what happens. I have read many different opinions and reviews but generally, it's all very positive. I don't know where my music will go in the future but this was the formula to get signed and start something fresh and serious in my musical career. emir-hot dIVIDE

Brian Rademacher: There are so many tracks that go in different directions going from, STEELER and ALCATRAZZ to ZEPPELIN, QUEEN, STYX & SAVATAGE. That is a huge difference in musical styles. Was it your intentions to mold your debut release in different musical genres?

Emir Hot: I love all these bands you mentioned. Of course, when you're too influenced by a band it must somehow be recognized in your music. Everyone says that my music sounds most similar to Yngwie Malmsteen but I actually take that as a compliment. My idea was not to copy him but he was the first one to introduce neoclassical shred style in such a tasty way so every time you hear scales like Phrygian dominant or harmonic minor it will always remind people of him – no matter which guitarist plays it. I wanted to show everything I know as well as my composing and arranging skills. This was a challenge because the idea was not to make a strictly guitar orientated album. To be honest, when I listen to my record I hardly think of my guitar playing. I almost don't hear that. It just doesn't catch my attention as much as a song in general. I always listen to a song not just to hear one instrument. If someone wants to analyze my guitar parts on purpose, that's something different. My idea was not to stand out extremely with my guitar. I gave space to everybody to be equally heard on the record. That's my way of arranging music.

Brian Rademacher: I have so many favorites on the CD, but what is your favorite track to perform?

Emir Hot: We haven't played any show yet. As I am practicing, I can hear that “World Set on Fire”, “Endless Pain” and “Stand and Fight” could work the best when played live.

Brian Rademacher: Do you write lyrics from self-experience?

Emir Hot: Mostly. Lyrics on this album talk about state of the today’s world from my point of view. Not a very bright future is in front of us but there is still hope. I am not against modern technology but it is sad that nothing natural is being respected anymore. That would be the main topic covered in my lyrics.

Brian Rademacher: Can you tell some of guitarist out there some of the special guitar techniques you use?

Emir Hot: I use standard rock techniques which you can hear everywhere. Apart from those, I have something that I brought from my country and that is the 4th mode of harmonic minor scale "Dorian #4". Someone calls it the Balkan scale. The way that mode sounds is very "Eastern". You can hear it in almost all of my solos when I am improvising over a minor chord. I also use trills a lot which is another unique technique that comes from Balkan. Greek and Turkish musicians use them a lot. Other than that I just play normal rock and metal style

Brian Rademacher: If you would compare your guitar style to another guitar, whom would that be?

Emir Hot: I have many influences. I really like Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore. Those who know about their earlier records can recognize my approach when phrasing my melody lines. There are also some very bluesy moments on this CD. I love the sound of Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Robben Ford, Gary Moore … Someone might recognize some of those.

Brian Rademacher: What guitar you own now is your favorite?

Emir Hot: My main guitar is an old 80's Hamer completely customized. I bought it because it felt like a perfect neck for my left hand. You can see it on almost every picture on my website. I have 2 Seymour humbuckers and 1 single-coil with a Schaller floating bridge. I can get any sound on that guitar. That guitar rocks!

Brian Rademacher: Were there tracks you recorded that did not appear on the CD?

Emir Hot: No. All I wrote is on the CD.

Brian Rademacher: How did you go about signing to Lion Music?

Emir Hot: It started with something different. I had an instrumental album recorded with my friend from Croatia in 2004. We wanted that one to be released. I sent some tracks to Lasse Eric Mattson – Lion Music president. He liked it, but answered that he is not releasing instrumental albums as much as before and asked if I had something similar but with vocals. Fortunately I had my first demo track from "Sevdah Metal " done and I sent it back to him. I didn't expect any answer after his last e mail but he got back to me sounding really happy with the request for a couple of more demos. After he heard 3 other songs, my contract was in front of my door.

Brian Rademacher: Tell us your plans for the rest of the year?

Emir Hot: At the moment, we are working on the tour dates. Some Italian and Croatian shows we should play in July. The full European tour should follow in September. It will be announced on my website as soon as we have it confirmed.

Brian Rademacher: If you could make a donation to any cause, what would that be?If you could donate a large sum of money to any cause what would that be?

Emir Hot: Probably to children that lost family. It could be caused by anything such as war, weather disaster or similar accident. I know how hard it is to be without family.

Brian Rademacher: : Emir, I really hope everyone goes out and picks up the new CD Emir Hot SEVDAH METAL on Lion Music. It's been fun. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?

Emir Hot: Just to thank you again for this interview and wish you all the best with your web site and all your readers. Your site rocks! I hope we'll come to play in the States as well.

Rock on!


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