An Inteview with TÝR Guitarist Terji Skibenæs

Folk metal icons TÝR have been slamming down riffs in the metal scene for over a decade now, but for the first time, guitarist Terji Skibenæs  has laid down a solo instrumental album, Terji. We checked in with Terji to talk about how the album came together, his tone choices, and his love for classic over-the-top melodic shred guitarists.

How did you first get into playing guitar? From what I understand, you’re basically self-taught.

Yes mainly self taught. My brother showed me a few chords and the solo to “Knocking on Heavens Door” by Guns N’ Roses. From there on I rented tablature books by Metallica, Pantera and so on at the library and learned from that while listening to the songs. And after getting a VHS of Yngwie Malmsteen where he shows tricks and lessons, I was hooked.

This record sounds pretty different from what you do with Tyr. For one thing, the folk influences seem to have taken a back seat to more traditional riffing and playing. What drove you to put this particular album out right now?

Well I have always wanted to release a guitar based solo album, and I had time off from TÝR, so it was the perfect timing to record and release a solo album. There are no Folk/viking influences on this record because I don’t even listen to Folk/viking metal. I have always been more into 80’s rock/metal albums.

One of the first things I noticed about the album is that it really focuses more on songwriting than on endless shredding. It reminds me more of early Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, where the emphasis is on making guitar-based-music, rather than music-based-guitar solos. Were guitarists like that a big influence on you?

Yeah Steve Vai and Marty Friedman were probably the biggest influences. I like it more when it’s structured like a song and has some melody instead of just shredding.

It sounds as though you worked on some of these songs for many years. How was the album recorded?

Yes some songs are as old as 10 years maybe. Others are quite new. But mostly it’s been ideas that I have recorded over the years and have put together with newer ideas. I recorded it at home in my small home studio. Drums are programmed with Superior Drummer. I mixed it also, but mastering was done at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden.

Was there a particular kind of sound that you wanted to achieve, and were there any albums in particular that were a big influence on the tone and production?

Not really, but the guitar tone I was quite careful about. I just wanted it to sound full and good. Hopefully I managed that!

How is the production different from the way that TÝR works?

In TÝR it’s different since there are more people involved in the music. For example, on the next album I have written a few songs, Heri has a few and then we record a demo or write them down in Guitar Pro and then we start arranging the songs and changing things. The songs are pretty much arranged via e-mail.

What was your main guitar signal chain for the album?

Pretty simple: Guitar into Radial JDI box, then THRU from Radial to Kemper and in to Apogee duet-Logic Pro X. I recorded one DI channel and one Wet channel so that I could re-amp later on.

Is this more classic metal vibe something you plan on incorporating into Tyr’s music in the future?

Yes, on the next TÝR album there will be quite more of this style. It’s what I like and want to play.

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.