The Alice Cooper Band
Contact: Karen Webb, [email protected]
Guitar phenomenon Orianthi Panagaris’ impressive career includes having shared the stage with Carlos Santana, Steve Vai and Michael Jackson. She’s the guitarist in Alice Cooper’s band and a pop star in her own right with her debut single, “According To You.” This Aussie of Greek heritage just completed Heaven In This Hell, a feisty blues-rock tour de force full of ballsy guitar, Nashville vibe and radio-friendly accessibility.
What have you done in the past year to become a better musician?
I’ve been on tour with Alice Cooper. That definitely makes you a better musician. There are so many songs to learn and so many parts to learn. I also get to play with two other guitar players. That has definitely helped to make me a better player.
What do you notice when you hear a recording of yourself from five or 10 years ago?
Every year I’m picking up different things and playing with different people. I notice that 10 years ago I was listening to more ‘80s guitar players and instrumental music. That was when I made my first demo at home. Now I’m into more rock music with singing and blues. My vibrato has gotten better.
Have you added any gear that has changed your sound or style?
I’m using a Digitech Whammy Pedal, a Boss Octave pedal and a Fuzz Face. I really like that combination where it sounds like the bass is playing with you. It’s a monstrous sound. I used it a lot on my new record for the songs “Frozen,” “Heaven In This Hell” and “Filthy Blues.”
Tell us about your guitar roadie.
When I’m on tour with Alice Cooper I have Brian. He takes care of my babies on the road. Traveling really wears on guitars, with temperature changes and whatnot. If it doesn’t feel right, it really affects your playing. They work hard and I really appreciate having a tech.
Do you have a mentor?
Steve Vai. I recorded with him when I was 15. He stayed in contact with me via email until I came to the States. I would send him demos and he would write back to me and tell me which parts were good and which parts could be better. He really paid attention. He’s an incredible guitar player, but also a great person.
What is your most underappreciated quality?
When my first single came out, people got the impression that I was this product or something. I’ve been playing the blues since I was 11. I spend a lot of time creating music and being real, so I think the blues and the rock elements are more upfront with this album. I see myself more as an artist than a guitar player.
Tell us about your gear endorsements.
I’m here [in the US] because of Paul Reed Smith. He invited me to play the NAMM show. I played a show one night with Santana. An A&R guy was in the audience and that’s how I got signed. Not only is Paul an incredible guitar player and guitar maker, he’s been such a big supporter. I’m really happy with their guitars.
What’s your worst onstage mishap?
My bass player got the tuning pegs in his headstock caught in my hair. There were 10,000 people in the audience. The guitar tech had to come to our rescue. This went on for half the song. Everybody was laughing in the front row. It was very Spinal Tap and ridiculous. I was like, “It’s all entertainment!”