Just as the Blue Note label suggested jazz of certain quality in the ’50s, Shrapnel Records connoted to the discerning guitarist the most supersonic shred on the planet in the ’80s. (Yeah, I just compared Shrapnel to Blue Note … it was either that or Stax …) TeamRock.com recently ran a profile of the legendary guitar oriented label and its impresario of arpeggios, Mike Varney. The man himself weighs in on the thought behind starting the fabled label:
I figured, ‘I play guitar pretty well. I’m going to find ten guys that can wipe the floor with me and see what happens.’ I got a loan from my father and started Shrapnel.
Though the guitarists releasing music under Varney were known for bombastic playing—think Vinnie Moore, Joey Tafolla, and Jason Becker to name a few of the most terrifying—they weren’t without a deeper musicality, at least to their producer. Here’s Varney on the eventual flood of demos he received:
It got ridiculous. I’d have guys calling me up saying: ‘I can play Flight Of The Bumble Bee at two hundred and forty bpm,’ or, ‘I think I’m the fastest guitar player in the world right now.’ I’d say: ‘Yeah, but can you play with the tastefulness and musicality of Richie Kotzen or Paul Gilbert?’
Read much more, including quotes from many of the above at TeamRock.