The fantastic news is that even younger metallers have not forgotten traditional metal music and what we know as old school. Recently, a 13 year old guitar player gained the attention of the media and fans on social networks, especially after the legendary Jason Becker shared a video of him and defended him against ‘trolls’ comments.
Thayer Aletheia-Zomlefer is a 13 year old boy who proved the point once again that “passion and hard work can make the impossible possible.” He plays guitar like many of us cannot, he enjoys playing metal like he is walking through his dreams.
Thayer had a chance to play guitar in front of one of the best guitar players in the whole of human history, the amazing Jason Becker. The video of that event was shared and re-shared many times on Facebook. A point about Thayer that makes me excited and happy is that he told me that he will be loyal to old school metal and this is fantastic, especially when I see younger people mostly attending to a modern version of music. I, Mohsen Fayyazi, am so glad to have had a chance to interview a 13 year old magician, Thayer Aletheia-Zomlefer from the USA.
Hello Thayer, I am very pleased you accepted to be our guest and welcome to Metal Shock Finland. How are you rocking today?
Hi, Thanks I am fine.
To begin with, would you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about your life?
I am a 13 year old guitarist from Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S, I am with the School of Rock and perform in their elite house band, the Sugar Skulls. I was recently invited by Robert M. Knight to join the Brotherhood of the Guitar, which is a real honor. I play all types of music but prefer shred. I also play drums, piano and bass.
Thayer, you jammed for the legendary Jason Becker at his home. Playing guitar in front of one of the best guitarists on Earth must be a little bit difficult and stressful. Can you tell us more about those moments and if you have any memories you would like to share here?
It was definitely overwhelming at first! The videos that were posted on Facebook were shot in the first portion of the day when I was still very nervous. As the night progressed and I got to know Jason better, I became much more comfortable and played much better and more naturally. Jason and his family were so welcoming and encouraging! I was upset because I couldn’t bring my guitar on the plane and when I met Jason, he immediately said “My first rule is…you get to play any guitar you want!” Jason kept suggesting different guitars for me to try. It was a dream come true!
I had a lot of very specific technical questions about Jason’s songs and he was really great about answering all of them. It was pretty amazing how he could remember all of the little details of his songs from the ’80’s. It was an incredible experience. I felt like I knew Jason through his music and in person he surpassed even my highest expectations.
I’d like to know how this meeting happened, would you tell us about how you managed to arrange visiting Jason?
Jason Becker has been my hero and a great inspiration to me. My mother bid on an online auction to get a limited edition framed signed poster from the Not Dead Yet Festival 3, a tribute concert for Jason. The Becker family offers cool items on eBay for auction http://www.ebay.com/usr/beckteam. We were really lucky to win the auction and I got to meet Jason when I went to pick it up! We became friends through that meeting. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was Jason’s parents telling me that I remind them of Jason when he was my age.
OK, now let’s talk about Thayer Aletheia-Zomlefer, when and how did you start playing guitar? I believe you had good support from your family?
I started by taking piano lessons when I was five. I really wanted to play the guitar but my parents thought that piano would be a good foundation for me and the piano training did help to develop my musical ear at a young age. I used to play Guitar Hero a lot and I loved playing the faster, more intricate songs. This is what first introduced me to the world of shredding. When I was 8, my parents finally let me take guitar lessons and perform in a kids’ rock band program. The first song I learned was “Crazy Train.” I had played “Crazy Train” so many times on Guitar Hero that it came naturally to me on the real guitar.
Except for Jason Becker, which other guitarists do you like and learn from?
Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Bumblefoot, Marty Friedman, Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, Michael Angelo Batio, Eddie Van Halen, John Petrucci, Greg Howe, , George Lynch, Tony MacAlpine
Can you tell us about your future plans, for example how you see yourself ten years from now?
In the immediate future, I am really excited about a shred band that I’m forming with some friends. I’d also really love to go to the NAMM show in California next year and maybe get to perform there. In ten years, I hope to be a professional musician. I really hope to be in a band and to be playing the kind of music that I love. I want to help to keep shred alive!
Regarding becoming a professional musician, could you tell me more about the type of music you would like to play?
I would like to play 80’s style neoclassical metal. I’d like for it to sound somewhat like Cacophony and Yngwie Malmsteen combined with the riffage of Eddie Van Halen and George Lynch.
When you form a band, do you envisage your music to be more modern style or leaning towards old school?
When I envision my ideal band, it is definitely Old School. I would love to get a sound similar to the one Jason has on “It’s Showtime.” I have always loved that sound! I would also like to incorporate my own personal nuances into my songs. 80’s metal and classical music are two of my favorite musical forms, so 80’s neoclassical shred is the perfect style of music for me. I also really like ragtime music, and I’ve been trying to find a way to incorporate it into my guitar playing. My brother has been working on playing “The Great Crush Collision” by Scott Joplin on the piano and I’ve been trying to transpose it to guitar to create ragtime shred.
Thank you Thayer for giving me your time. Do you have a message for our readers?
If your readers want to check out more of my music I have a YouTube channel: tazshredder. My advice to guitarists is to always strive to improve your technique because when you apply it to songwriting the emotional aspect will come naturally. Thanks so much to Metal Shock Finland for your previous article about Jason Becker defending me against internet trolls and for your continued support!