Interview with Label Owner, Guitarist and Producer Michael McDowell

Greetings Mike, We’ve know each for so long, and been friends for a while now, I would like to take this opportunity to interview you during this Covid-19 pandemic, to let everyone know about the things you have done and how you have supported great guitarists globally; How are you today my friend?

Doing well Keith, just enjoying the summer months as much as I can. Things are slowly opening here in the U.S., so trying to get out more. No concerts here yet, but some clubs and bars are having live music.

When did you start your record label Shredguy Records, any vision you had in your mind when you started it?

I started Shredguy Records in 2008. I wanted to give virtuoso guitar players a platform to share their creativity and virtuosity to the world. We started small…reissuing a local Columbus Ohio band’s music from the 1990’s, but the label really took off in 2009 when guitarist Tracy G (ex Dio) along with drummer Ray Luzier (Korn) contributed a track for one of our compilation cds. Fast forward to now we are going on forty releases and having been covered by about every major music publication (including yours!), having a signature guitar, and having our cds being sold throughout the world. And let me emphasize Cds!!…Physical product…not just digital or streaming. We still believe in pressing cds…and soon we will be pressing vinyl. Physical product is always better for everyone. For the fans…you get a better product…soundwise…artwork…something to collect. For the artist its better monetarily by far. For example…a recent monthly report for a streaming service reported to me 428 plays for one of my songs….what did I net?…75 cents!! Not even a dollar…! Artists cannot keep putting out music at that rate. Please buy cds, vinyl, merch…support the artist.

You have worked with multiple musicians over the years, how did you identify them, and what makes you want to promote them through your record label?

How did I find all the great talent that has been on Shredguy Records?…Some I have been fans of from way back like Toby Knapp. Huge fan of Toby, going back to the 90’s. Some I have witnessed live and said I have to work with them…others from recommendations, and a lot through YouTube and people sending me their demos and resumes. When I see someone who I feel is saying something with their music, and is willing to playout live, do videos, and actually collaborate with me, I am interested. People like that I will promote….work with and collaborate with. I won’t work or promote those who are haters, who put down other players, or who lie about their identity, or resume. I don’t have time for people like that….life is too short.

You have gone through lots of ups and downs in life, recently with your vision issues, It’s really sad to hear about this, how are you now, what did the doctors say about your vision?

Ahhhh…the eye….a freak accident..led to a completely detached retina in my right eye last year….after surgeries(yes plural) I never got my vision back in the eye. It was 50/50 whether I would..unfortunately I didn’t. I have adapted life wise and things are going well, but it really cost me a lot of momentum as far as my guitar playing. My friend and teacher Phoenix Van Der Weyden had really helped my playing, and a song I recorded had been picked to be on a summer cd sampler that was passed out at major festivals in Europe. But once my eye was injured and surgery upon surgery, not being able to play or travel just sapped a lot of creativity out me. I have been in a rut for a while, and Adrian English’s death really got me down as far as guitar playing.
I am glad me and Phoenix recorded some more music before all this, and I had recorded a Europe tribute, and a project called March of Kings with some rather big names. Have some legal issues to sort out with March of Kings, but should be able to cross that bridge soon and get it out there.

Who are some of the Iconic guitarists that you promote through Shredguy Records?

Look at the Shredguy Records catalog and see….so many great players, Toby Knapp (Onward), Mike Abdow(Fates Warning), Tore Moren (Jorn), Tom Kopyto, Chris Bickley(Eynomia). Now the players I am working with now…Mike Risko of the progressive metal band EGO. Great player…great dude…great band. Check out Nosferatu, the epic concept album released in 2018. They were scheduled to get back out there with some live shows, but then the Covid-19 shutdown happened. David Mercado of Shadow Eden is another great player I enjoy working with. Great band, been a staple at NAMM shows for the last few years. And have played a ton of shows in the northeastern part of the U.S., and is continually creating new songs. Again Shadow Eden had a ton of shows scheduled…but then the shutdown. Sean Baker of The Sean Baker Orchestra is done writing the follow up to the critically acclaimed cd GAME ON!! So look for that album in late 2020…as well as Lars Lind’s follow up to Soul Kicker will be coming out soon with John Macaluso on drums. And of course my shred partner in crime Phoenix Van Der Weyden.

You have been working on the next album with Phoenix Wan Der Weyden, how do you feel to work with her?

 Phoenix is amazing. And as I mentioned she is my shred partner in crime…lol….great player…great teacher…has helped me out in my playing…..and helped others worldwide. The new album is called EYES ON THE PRIZE. Fantastic cover art by Harley Velasquez. I know a lot people really liked her first album, but this new one is going to blow them away.

The passing of Adrian English has made a big impact on your life, tell me a bit about Adrian.

Adrian English was a force of nature. Simply put….a force of nature. So damn creative…a true artist.
He was a phenom. Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records actually discovered him in the 90’s and put him in his column in Guitar World. And years later in 2011 Adrian was on the front page Guitar World’s website. He had one of the coolest signature guitars ever…the A7 made by Rick Hanes Guitars. He accomplished a lot and influenced so many guitarists around the world. We went to war together in the world of guitar. It was an honor to work with him. Even though our last album together was released in 2014, there was always the possibility that we would work together again. But with his untimely death now that can’t happen. And honestly Keith, I am still crushed that he is gone. Not sure if the label or my enthusiasm will ever be the same. He was a great guy, a guy who was so energetic, and wasn’t a hater in the least bit. He always encouraged me and my playing and others on the Shredguy label.

What are some of your next plans?

I do have some good news about one of my songs. It’s actually one of the songs me and Phoenix recorded back in September 2018. The song is Libra’s March Pt 1….and it has been picked up for commercial use by a company here in Ohio (USA). The company is called Logan A/C and Heat Services. It’s the finest AC and Heat service company in the state, with a stellar reputation. So its cool they are using my music, and cool I can have some music being played here closer to home, rather than always having music big in Japan or Indonesia(though I love both of those countries and their people).

Also Phoenix’ new album that I mentioned before, will be out this year, and we will be hitting the promotion hard. And Lars Lind’s cd we are hoping to get out. It overdue…it’s called The River Flame…
And once the lockdown is lifted in a more significant way….look for clinics and live shows from Phoenix, EGO, and Shadow Eden.

Do you have a message for fans and upcoming musicians, who would want to work with you?

For the fans, I just want to say thank you for all the support through the years. And we will try our very best to get more music out to you….music that I hope inspires and encourages you during these tough times.

For musicians, work on songs….not just guitar licks…but songs. And support the whole shred community, not just a certain label….or players from a certain country…but worldwide.