Greg Howe Interview with Jason Saulnier.
Associated acts: Michael Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, ‘N Sync, Justin Timberlake, Richie Kotzen, Vitalij Kuprij, Tetsuo Sakurai
Greg Howe (born December 8, 1963) is an American guitarist and composer. An active musician for more than three decades, he has released nine studio albums in addition to collaborating with a wide variety of artists.
After leaving high school and playing the club circuit around the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania areas with his brother Albert (a singer) for most of the 1980s, Greg Howe officially began his solo career after sending a demo tape to Shrapnel Records in 1987, upon which he was immediately signed by founder Mike Varney. His self-titled debut album was released in 1988, during the popular shred era, and went on to become his highest-selling album; 2009 article in Guitar World magazine ranked it tenth in the all-time top ten list of shred albums.
The following year, he joined with Albert to form a Van Halen-inspired hard rock group named Howe II. Through Shrapnel, they released two studio albums: High Gear (1989) and Now Hear This (1991). His second solo album, Introspection, was released in 1993. At this point his style had changed radically from the straightforward instrumental rock of both his debut and the Howe II albums, to a more jazz fusion-laden approach which remains unique and identifiable to this day; some of his signature traits being fast left-hand legato passages (having been influenced greatly by jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth), and the frequent use of tapping and odd time signatures. One particularly noteworthy aspect of Howe’s legato technique is the “hammer-on from nowhere”, in which a note is hammered-on to a different string without first being picked.
A trio of albums spanning the middle part of the decade—Uncertain Terms (1994), Parallax (1995) and Five (1996)—were all a consistent evolution of the sound he had adopted on Introspection. During this time he collaborated twice with guitarist Richie Kotzen for the albums Tilt and Project in 1995 and 1997, respectively. He then briefly dabbled with a heavier, neo-classical metal style for his 1999 release, Ascend, which featured keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij. Howe has since spoken of his dissatisfaction for that project, as well as an earlier collaboration on Kuprij’s own album, High Definition (1997).
After switching labels to Shrapnel’s jazz-oriented counterpart, Tone Center Records, he returned to his familiar style with Hyperacuity (2000), which still stands as some of his most prominent experimentation with jazz fusion. After a highly troubled recording process for Extraction (2003)—a collaboration with drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Victor Wooten—he took an extended hiatus from recording solo material until the release of his eighth studio album, Sound Proof, in 2008. It would be another nine years until Howe’s next solo release, Wheelhouse, in 2017, which has been described as his “most personal work to date” and marks his return to solo instrumental work. For one track of the album, “Shady Lane”, Richie Kotzen provided vocals.
In a 2015 article by Guitar World, Howe was ranked tenth in the “Top 10 Pick Squealers of All Time”.