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20 Questions with Doug Marks, 11/5/02



Metal Method Instructor Doug Marks!

A lot of you are probably familiar with Doug Marks and his Metal Method tapes. Doug had ads in all the magazines back in the day promoting his instructional guitar tapes. He even released Jim Gillette’s Metal Power vocal tape! So what is he up to now? Well, he’s still doing it. You can still pick up a Guitar World and find a Metal Method ad. For those of you not up on all this, here’s a brief summary from his website: We’ve been teaching what you want to learn since 1982. These lessons aren’t complicated and never boring. Sure, theory is explained, but just enough to help you achieve your musical dreams. Guitar playing is meant to be fun, we never lose sight of that. No previous experience is required to get started. An acoustic or electric guitar is all that’s needed. Intermediate and advanced guitarists quickly move to the next level and beyond. Way beyond! Our most popular lessons are included in the The Complete Basic Course. We at Metal Sludge are always looking for somebody interesting to interview and we thought we’d hit up Doug, who just so happens to be a fan of the page.Plus he had a shit load of hair. Enjoy!

Hey Sludge,

I love your site and check it out every week or so. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to evade twenty invasive questions that could make so many people angry. I believe this will actually enhance my political career and give my campaign for governor a big boost. Don?t forget to vote kids!

1. What are you currently up to? This is the only chance to get your plugs out of the way.

Usually I like to ?kick back? a bit during the summer. Summer is my favorite time of year. I figure you only have a limited amount of summers to experience. I no longer enjoy spending the summer sitting in my basement playing guitar while life passes me by. I live in Southern California and like to enjoy the climate this time of year. That means swimming, SCUBA diving, golf and if I find the time, a little more golf.

The guitar lesson business is normally slow this time of year and I try to make it slower by pulling my ads from the guitar magazines. This year it hasn?t worked out as planned. I just released a few of my lessons on DVD and they?ve been incredibly popular. I?m busier now than I was last Christmas, which is usually my busiest time of year. I?m not one to bitch about making money but I could use a little more pool time.

Classic Metal Method ad

2. For the ‘new school’ musicians and our Sludgeaholics, give us a brief history as to how you got started with teaching and selling Metal Method guitar lessons, when, where, why, etc…

A brief history. I was giving guitar lessons for five bucks an hour in my basement in Denver, Colorado. My ex-wife and I decided to load up the truck and move to Beverly. Hills that is. So, we ended up in Van Nuys, California in a single apartment. I moved here to become a rock star, of course. There were hundreds of bands in Hollywood looking for guitarists and from my experience they all sucked. By this time I had about five years of professional experience and it was difficult for me to audition for garage bands that were either clueless or lacked the necessary motivation to create something special. I wasn?t able to make a single contact that led to any worthwhile auditions. So, I put together a lesson to sell to my students back in Denver. My Denver students liked the lessons so much that I sold a couple of guitars and an amplifier to purchase an ad in Cream magazine. Within a year I was living in a new three-story house in Woodland Hills.


3. What ever happened to your band Hawk and the other band members?

Hawk actually broke up at the end of 1985. The Hawk album was a solo project that I recorded the following year with an excellent vocalist, David Fefolt. I was also fortunate enough to have Matt Sorum (who later joined Guns N Roses) play drums.

The original drummer of Hawk, Scott Travis joined Racer X after the group broke up. He then played with Judas Priest, then with Rob Halford, and I believe he?s currently with Judas Priest. Lonnie Miller, our bass player went on to become Lonnie Vincent. He played in King Kobra and The Bullet Boys. The original vocalist, Charles Morrill is currently fronting a band in the Nashville area, The Charlie Wayne Band.


4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?

Please, I?m way too cynical for this question. I also believe that I?m not necessarily the greatest judge of what?s art and what?s not. For many years I managed to find something to like about most new bands. I really despised some of the older musicians that couldn?t find anything good to say about any group. I felt they were basically jaded old farts. Now, I?m a jaded old fart.

5. Rate the following guitarists on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being somebody that needs to purchased Metal Method and 10 being a virtuoso.

Yngwie Malmsteen = 10

Eddie Van Halen = 10

C.C. DeVille = Many years ago C.C. and I hung out at the Rainbow together. He?s a very funny guy.

Erik Turner = Sorry, I?m sure I?m familiar with the group. His name isn?t familiar.

Steve Vai = 10

Michael Angelo = 10

Kristy "Krash" Majors = Sorry, I?m sure I?m familiar with the group. His name isn?t familiar.

Dimebag Darrell = No opinion

Zakk Wylde = 9

Mick Mars = 8

Slash = 8

Kirk Hammett = 9

Warren DeMartini = 8

Ted Nugent = 7

6. You sell a voice lesson called Vocal Power which is taught by former Nitro singer Jim Gillette. How did you come to sell his lessons, which at one time was done by himself as a take-off of your mail order lessons?

Before Jim was in Nitro and before he did Vocal Power he auditioned for Hawk. This was in 1986. Jim and I became friends and when he started Vocal Power he asked me about who to call for advertising or whatever and I would help him out. Jim wasn?t able to manage his Vocal Power business when he hit the road with Nitro. A few orders weren?t fulfilled properly. Basically his Vocal Power business didn?t have anybody watching the store. I told Jim I would sell the lessons and fulfill any orders (at his expense) that hadn?t been handled properly. We?ve continued to be friends and do business together ever since then.

Classic Jim Gillette Metal Power ad

7. Butch Walker recently parodied Vocal Power by having the first track on his CD be ?Rock Vocal Power.? Have you heard this yet and what are your thoughts?

Sounds pretty funny. No, I haven?t heard it yet but would be very interested (I?m chuckling right now.)


8. Have you ever processed an order for a ‘celebrity’ player and who has contacted you for tips?

I would guess that I?ve processed many orders for celebrities before they were celebrities. I?ve been doing this for twenty years and sold hundreds of thousands of lessons. I?m sure many famous guitarists spent some time studying my course but few have contacted me. The only one that comes to mind is Metal Mike Chlasciak currently playing with Halford.

Face it, it?s not cool to say, ?I learned to play guitar from a guitar course that was advertised in the back of Guitar World magazine.? It?s much cooler to say, ?I spent my entire youth copying old Hendrix records.?


9. How many individual lessons have you sold and is it safe to say that you?re better off than most of the rock worlds (past) platinum artists?

I?m not sure how many individual lessons I?ve sold. It?s a bunch though. My guess would be well over a million.

I would say that over the past twenty years I?ve consistently had a more affluent lifestyle than 95% of successful guitarists. At the same time, there are plenty that had way more than me for a brief period of time. The Metal Method hasn?t made me rich. I have a nice house, a nice truck, a wonderful girlfriend and a great life, and I don?t have to work too hard. I have a enough free time that I can spend Friday afternoon answering twenty stupid questions about myself. How many people are that lucky?


10. If you had the chance to play guitar in the following bands. Who would be at the top of the list and who would be at the bottom. (Motley Crue, Warrant, Skid Row, Trixter, Dio, Kix)

I?m burned out on that late 80?s type of metal. I don?t really feel that I could make the type of contribution that any of these groups deserve.


11. Your Ozzy style guitar lessons features the playing style of Ozzy guitarists: Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, and Zakk Wylde. How come you left out Joe Holmes & Brad Gillis?

Dave Bates did that lesson for me. He chose the guitarists and the riffs. He made some very cool choices.


12. Your alternative lessons teach music in the style of Nirvana, Alice In Chains, & Smashing Pumpkins. Considering there has been at least one death from a member of each of these bands, have these lesson sales dropped or increased since?

We have four videos in the Styles Series ? Ozzy guitarists, Metal guitarists, Alternative, and SRV. The alternative video has always been the least popular. Guitarists that are truly into that style don?t need a great deal of technical advice. I think that Level One, Beginner, which teaches how to tune the guitar and some other basics, would be a better choice.


13. What guitar players from the Nu-Metal bands are worth a shit in your eyes?

Once again, I?m a jaded old fart. By definition, jaded old farts don?t know the name of any guitarist from the early 90?s on. They are also not quite sure of what type of metal is Nu-Metal and what type of metal isn?t. Having said that, I prefer listening to today?s type of metal more than 80?s metal. I turn my radio to KROQ, which plays a lot of music that sounds like metal to me. They rarely give me a clue as to whom I?m listening to. Once in awhile I?ll catch the name if I?m really interested. System of a Down is a good example of that. I like them.


14. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?

I give up. Who? I?m way too mellow for that. I?ve been in one fight with a guy in my life. That was in the fourth grade. That was pretty much enough of that. It?s been awhile since I?ve even been in a fight with a girl and that?s normally just a lot of self-defense moves.


15. The last of Doug Marks

Last gig you played = Does a pool party count? If not, 1985.

Last time you recorded an original song = a couple of years ago

Last rock star you shook hands with = Metal Mike Chlasciak

Last drive thru you hit was = Burger King, the chicken Whopper is not recommended

Last lesson you recorded = Classic Metal Licks (finished it in April)

Last time you had a day job = 1972

Last concert you attended = Kings X

Last item you bought at Guitar Center was = Gigasampler

Last time you had a haircut = 5 weeks ago Wednesday

Last endorsement you ditched = you buy with it? …..Sorry, I don?t understand this one.


16. Since you?ve done metal and alternative lessons, any chance of doing rap/metal lessons or ?Mad at your dad? rock lessons?

The rap stuff is okay, but I?m certainly not the one to tell people how to do it. I?m really good at explaining the Classic Rock / Metal stuff. Going beyond that would feel pretty phony. The ?Mad at your dad? rock music is a genre I?m not familiar with. Even so, I think I could do pretty good job teaching that type of lesson.

17. If you?re so good, why don?t you have a solo career like a Steve Vai or Joe Satriani?

Who said I was good? Out of desperation I recorded some guitar lessons and they became very popular for whatever reason. I also find the type of solo guitar music Steve and Joe do a little boring. They?re great guitarists and I appreciate their talent but I prefer music with vocals and lyrics.


18. If you could give anonymous guitar advice to any guitarist, who would it be and what would you say?

That wouldn?t be very anonymous would it? I don?t think of playing guitar as some type of technical ?Gee Whiz? deal. So, I don?t really have advice for anyone. If they think they?re playing music, who am I to say otherwise? One of my favorite guitarists is Neil Young. Do I need to say anything else? Sometimes one note played poorly touches me deeper than a blazing arpeggio ever could.


19. You sell a ‘song writing’ course. Don’t you think for someone who sells lessons to teach the guitar styling of Megadeth and Ozzy that you shouldn’t be selling this? What exactly do you know about songwriting?

A better question might be: What gives you the right to teach guitar? Do you have a degree? Have you ever played in a successful band? Do you read musical notation very well? Answers: I don?t know, no, no, no.


But to answer your question – I don?t think I?m technically the greatest guitarist around. With a little practice I can normally come up with a professional sound. Guitar playing was always difficult for me. I don?t think that I was a natural guitarist. This struggle has helped make me a really good teacher. I?m able to communicate how to technically do something because I?ve had to struggle to learn it myself.

On the other hand, I think I?m a very good songwriter. I?m just not motivated to do it often enough. Part of the reason for this is, I?m too busy making a living with the Metal Method to spend an adequate amount of time composing. Songwriting is so easy for me and comes from such a different place (than playing guitar) that I find it difficult to teach. My Songwriting Course is probably my least favorite series of my lessons.


20. Time for Metal Sludge?s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.

Jim Gillette = A character. Love the guy.

Kid Rock = Is he still dating Pam?

Yngwie Malmsteen = He was my neighbor for a couple of years in Woodland Hills

Dave Mustaine = There was a song on the last Megadeth album I liked

Lonnie Vincent = The Lonster. I love the guy.

Nikki Sixx = 1982 at The Whiskey

Matt Sorum = I picture him in the studio recording my album

Rick Fox = The Rainbow

Poison = The Rainbow

Eddie Van Halen = The real deal

So if you want to become the next Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, or even the next Erik Turner, check out out www.metalmethod.com.

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