Artist Interviews

Interview – Bryce VanHoosen

Bryan VanHoosen is a Portland, OR based guitarist who plays in the heavy metal band Silver Talon.
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#1 – Who were the players that motivated you to pickup the guitar for the first time and continued to motivate you even as you grew as a player?

I think Yngwie was the first player that really inspired me to work on my chops and up my playing ability. George Lynch was also a fairly large early influence (even though I hated listening to his band DOKKEN, I would make CDs of just George’s solos). After that, guys like Jason Becker have kept me going technique wise, as well as Marty Friedman and Andy LaRocque in-so-far as phrasing and composition go. 

#2 – A few members of Silver Talon were in a Prosthetic Records band called Spellcaster for a while. How did things morph from one band to the other?

SPELLCASTER broke up sometime in 2017, and me and the rest of the guys (Gabe Franco, Colin Vranizan and Sebastian SIlva) decided to recruit a new singer and keep going as a new band. We put out a search for a new singer and recruited SILVER TALON singer Wyatt Howell. In the meantime, Gabe started writing material that would later become IDLE HANDS. To make a long story short, the material he brought to the table wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, so we sort of parted ways soon after that. Oh well, you get two killer bands now instead of just one, hahaha

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Silver Talon!

#3 – Has the writing process changed a lot from the last band as well or does having the same core make for a similar process?

It was similar, but different. I think I sort of spread my songwriting wings a bit more. For SPELLCASTER, Gabe and I, or Gabe and former guitarist Cory Boyd would work as teams. For the SILVER TALON EP, I was the primary songwriter for all of the original songs, and even did 2 without Gabe at all. This changed even more after he left, and I’ve become the defacto songwriter for SILVER TALON (at least for our upcoming debut full length). It’s a lot of fun actually. I have primary control over the riffs and the arrangements and Wyatt comes up with the vocal melodies and lyrics. 

#4 – Becoming a Jackson artist is a dream of many and something you achieved. How did that come about and additionally, how did it feel to lock it down?

I’ve played Jackson Guitars for a number of years, and have always repped my love for the brand on my Instagram and social media accounts. My good friend Conan from the band EXMORTUS introduced me to the team over there at NAMM 2018, and I was able to get on their radar and stay on their radar via social media. By the time 2019 came around, I was fully able to secure a deal with Jackson. It’s great, and it’s kind of a testament to how powerful social media and networking online can be to one’s overall music career!

#5- Silver Talon has a couple of demos and more recently a seriously meaty near-full length EP “Becoming a demon” that features a guest solo by Jeff Loomis. When will the band record next and will it be a full length?

Yes, it will be a full length and we start on it this October. I’m really excited to get this album out. I think the song writing is stronger, and the guitar playing is totally over the top. 

#6 – What’s all in your live and recording setups these days?

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I basically just record my own stuff direct into my Focusrite using Reaper DAW. I usually use a VST like the Fortin NTS Suite, which is my current favorite right now. For albums and EPs, I’ll usually re-amp the guitar signal in a studio. That lets me spend more studio time dialing in a guitar tone that I like, rather than bumbling over the same riff for hours – better to do that at home in my underwear and for free. Thinking about upping my interface to a UAE Apollo for the full length. (CLICK HERE for a video rundown)

#7 – You have been using the Peavey 6534+ for some time now, what was the go-to amp before your current gear and what motivated the switch?

I’ve only used 5150 series amps before. Before the 6534+ I used the standard 6505. I wanted to get something a little more classic and crunchy sounding, so I got a Marshall JVM that I absolutely hated. So, in keeping with the classic and crunchy idea, I got the Peavey 6534+ and have stuck with it ever since. I’m actually really happy with the sound of that amp, and don’t see myself switching anytime soon – except to maybe something made by Fortin (those Cali amps sound amazing). 

#8 – Let’s talk about amp sims, which products in the software realm have you tried and really enjoyed?

I’ve used BIAS FX, the Fortin Nameless Suite, Fortin NTS Suite, and the Neural DSP Plini Archetype sim. My current favorite by far is the NTS Suite. I love that one for rhythm and leads, and think it’s voiced perfectly for what I do. BIAS FX is cool, because it’s the most versatile, but the Plini one has a lot of options too. I do wish I could put some of the Neural DSP stuff together, and get the compression and Delay from the Plini sim into the NTS Suite. Maybe they’ll do that in the future. 

#9 – EMG Pickups has taken huge steps to improve their product line in the last decade. As an EMG artist, which pickups in the line are your trusted favorites and what new stuff are you excited for?

I’ve been using the 57/66 set for a number of years at this point. Those are kind of my go-to pickups for everything. I think the 66 neck pickup is quite possibly the best neck humbucking sound I’ve ever gotten. I’ve also recently experimented with the JH Hetfield bridge, and love how that one has more of a classic 81 vibe. It’s super tight and articulate. I also really enjoy the Retro-Active Fat 55 set. It’s a different beast from the 57 and JH, but it’s got this mid range crunch that’s absolutely nasty. I’m actually interested in trying their newer line of passive pickups. The Marty set is calling me at the moment. Really cool to see EMG kick it up to 11 recently. 

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#10 – More and more talk about shredder guitarists is starting to involve your name, is that stuff tough to live up to or is it just kind of part of the territory?

I mean, I just get out there and do my best and try not to think too hard about what other people are doing or how I live up to expectations. If I can impress myself, or do something that resonates with me as a listener, then I’m super happy with that. I think my style is a little more old school than a lot of younger guys, so I realize it might not be everyone’s cup of tea these days. And the kind of thing that really interests me is good phrasing and vibrato. That kind of thing is not something that’s going to get you 100k views on an Instagram video. 

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Bryce might like a V or four..

#11 – You can have any 5 amps from throughout history delivered to you by next week. Which amps is the Fedex man dropping off while you sprint from the porch to greet him?

Oh man, oh man – definitely a Fortin Cali. Those things are the perfect blend of vintage and modern, and actually sound like they have way more headroom than a normal 50w amp. I’d also get a ENGL Powerball – as a huge fan of SYMPHONY X, I’d love to have that amp in my arsenal. I’d also get a Mesa JP-2C. That little thing looks amazing, and has all of the best modern features in a vintage-ish amp you could ask for. Plus, METALLICA, Master of Puppets. Need I say more? Next up, I’d probably get a EVH 5150iii EL34 edition to match my 6534+. Those are really cool, and we actually recorded the Becoming A Demon EP with one of those. Finally, I think I’d get an old Marshall 100w JMP. That’s kind of the perfect blend between a JCM800 and a Plexi. 

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#12 – Are you doing session work at all or does your demo career and Silver Talon allow for a lot of other activities?

No session work at the moment. Between my full time job and SILVER TALON, there’s not a lot of time for me to do anything else. That should be solved once we start touring more and I’m forced to quit my dayjob, hahaha. But as of right now, I need the most solid paycheck I can get to fund this band. It really is like starting a business. 

#13 – What does the next year or so have in store for you, Silver Talon and all of your various loyal supporters?

For sure doing a new album, music videos, and currently in talks to make it over to Europe for real this time. Hopefully we’ll also be able to do some stuff in South America and Japan. If that stuff falls through, then we’ll be throwing more at getting the marketing machine running at full power until we’re able to generate enough interest to get on some solid tours. I think that time is coming though, and I’m really hopeful for what’s coming down the pipeline here. 

Bryce has been melting faces for some time now but his game has continued to elevate at almost what I would call some sort of mutant level. Nothing is too challenging, nothing is too fast, he lays into it like a hot knife through butter. His speed has always been from another planet but with the added motivation of Silver Talon, the real accuracy of a shred hero really started to take shape. If you follow his Instagram, Youtube etc, you’ll have your mind blown literally daily but you’ll also find a shredder that actually puts feeling and emotion into his playing. I’ve also seen more than a few very reputable players put some strong words of support behind him. The future is bright for shred and this is a player everyone needs to watch!!


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