An Interview With Frank Sidoris of Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators/ Slash/ Mammoth WVH

Frank Sidoris Interview

Photo by Horian Stangle courtesy of Frank Sidoris

Given that his style is effortless, filled with classic cool, big riffs, and gargantuan power chords, it’s a shock to think that Las Vegas native Frank Sidoris hasn’t yet released a solo record. Then again, considering he’s been holding court with Slash, Myles Kennedy, and, lately, Wolfgang Van Halen, maybe it’s not so shocking. Early on, Sidoris was a member of The Cab from 2011 to 2012 before the chance of a lifetime found him in Slash’s midst. But that wasn’t all, as he’s been playing alongside Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators as a permanent rhythm guitarist since 2012, too.

Lately, he’s been a member of Wolfgang Van Halen’s touring band, adding another layer of guitar mastery to a career that’s been a slow build toward something more significant. It can’t be easy backing up such prominent personalities, but Sidoris has done a masterful job as such. He plans to continue doing just that while taking the “500-600 recordings” stored away and turning them into what he hopes will be his first official solo outing.

In the meantime, Sidoris is digging in with ClassicRockHistory.com for an interview covering his origins, working with Slash, Myles Kennedy, Wolfgang Van Halen, gear, and more.

What inspired you to pick up the guitar?

My family and I were always very into music, but nobody really played instruments seriously. I felt like the only way to get into the music further was to pick up the guitar and learn all my favorite songs. A lot of my friends that I skateboarded with had already played, so I had a bit of support while I dove in.

Who were your greatest influences? How do they remain within your sound, and how have you diverged?

I’d have to start with Alice Cooper and both his bands, the original band and the guys who played with him from Welcome to My Nightmare and the next few albums. Then comes Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rush, and Queen. They all remain within my sound in a melting pot kind of way, and as I’ve gotten older, my love for funk and R&B has really found its way into my playing and on the Conspirators albums with Slash.

Do you remember your first guitar and amp? What did that rig teach you that stuck?

Of course! My first guitar was a Squier Strat, and my amp was the Fender amp that came along with it. You learn the hard way when you stick it out, playing a guitar through an amp like that for years, and it makes you really appreciate the nice stuff when you can get around to it. I didn’t get a Gibson or anything of real note for the first seven years of my guitar journey, I think. When I did, it was beyond motivating!

What was your first professional gig? What did you learn?

I was slated to play for the Viva Elvis Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas after I didn’t make the cut for Blue Man Group’s band. My first professional gig ended up with a touring band called The Cab shortly before I was about to get hired for Cirque.

I drove the van/trailer through all the lower 48 States with those guys, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. We did a bit of international touring as well, so before joining Slash’s band, I learned a lot about the touring dynamic and how to hang in a very short time.

How did you end up playing alongside Slash and Myles Kennedy?

The drummer Brent Fitz had contacted me about auditioning as we had been friends who would grab coffee between tours. I was in Toronto playing with The Cab and luckily had the following Sunday off to make the audition in L.A. on Super Bowl Sunday, 2012, if I flew out and flew back to the next stop in Buffalo, NY, at 3 am the following day.

It was super hectic, but once I got in the room with those guys, we had a really great time, and the pressure melted away. I remember thinking how if I didn’t get the gig, the opportunity to jam on some Guns N’ Roses with those guys would be cool enough to walk away and cherish the experience forever.

What are the greatest challenges inherent in the gig?

Traveling and being away from your family for extended periods is the answer for me personally. It’s easily the hardest part for me as I’m very close to my wife, family, and the city of Las Vegas. Being away is hard, but I genuinely love what I do with the two bands I play with, and it’s always easier once the tour starts; the hard part is leaving.

What riffs and solos are your favorites to tackle with Slash or your latest gig with Wolfgang Van Halen?

I love a challenge of any kind that forces me to really sit down with it. Wolfgang has all sorts of fun ones that he’s written for Mammoth that aren’t necessarily the most obviously difficult until you try to play them; same with Slash, of course. More recently, we learned “Don’t Damn Me” from Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion album, and it was a blast. I used to love trying to play it when I couldn’t quite get it; it felt good to go back and knock it out—just a great riff.

What’s a piece of advice that Myles Kennedy has given you that’s helped you most?

Myles and I have had wonderful discussions about many things. He’s one of the few people I can really talk with about the difficulties of being away and as busy as we are. Myles has multiple bands to tend to as I do, and he’s helped me stay motivated in life in general and, more recently, to get my own music in gear. I love that man.

Same question regarding Slash.

Slash has been and still is one of the most important teachers I’ve had in my life. The funny part is he’s done most of the teaching silently. I’ve learned more than I could explain just by being in his proximity over the last 12 years.

How do you view the way you play today versus the past? What has changed most?

I’d say my confidence in songwriting and overall musical approach. Like anybody in any creative field, it’s not the easiest to share your art without feeling like it’s going to get shot down, but as time has gone on, I feel much looser about it and feel much more comfortable in most songwriting/creative situations.

Tell me about your riff and solo writing process.

I have between 500 and 600 voice memos of ideas/riffs/melodies, and it’s as simple as grabbing my guitar and unthinkingly noodling until something shows up. Sometimes, it takes a long time, and occasionally, a riff/rhythm I like comes out. The magic of playing a guitar you don’t play often, grabbing a guitar off the wall at a store, and finding a riff with it is something special.

I love collaborating and plan on sitting down over the Summer/Fall to finalize a bunch of songs with some fellow musicians/producers if possible. Solos are different animals; I like to just go for it, and eventually, I slowly piece it together until I agree with the flow of it.

How do you view guitar solos in the modern era? Do they need to be deconstructed and changed from being overblown, or is self-indulgence okay?

I think self-indulgence is okay, but it has to serve the song in some way. Soloing for solos-sake can be great; who doesn’t like to rip a solo? But if it doesn’t go anywhere or improve upon the flow of the song, then it needs to be reassessed.

Tell me about your gear: guitars, amps, pedals. What goes into those choices?

I’d say trial and error has led me to where I am with my gear. I’m indecisive. I played Marshall and Wizard amps for years, which I still love, but now I’m playing an Orange CS50 with Slash and an EVH Is amp with Mammoth. Both amps do exactly what I need for the bands I play in.

The EVH stuff obviously comes along with being with the Mammoth camp, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about those amps at first. Once I rehearsed and played with them on tour, I was truly impressed. They are very classic amps that have the option to go crazy if you want them to.

I’m currently in love with my Orange heads; there’s something so full about their sound paired with my Gibsons. SGs and Les Paul’s are where I live lately, but I love Flying V’s and Firebird’s, too. The look and tone of all of them jive with me. I keep it simple with pedals, just the essentials. MXR Carbon Copy delay, MXR Phase 90, a Klon Overdrive copy as of lately, and usually a Wah. The EVH Wah rules.

What are your goals, and how will you achieve them?

I’m going to make it a point to finally get in the studio and create my own music. I’ve been very busy with other projects and need to schedule some time in the near future to make it a reality. Other than that, I’m going to enjoy these upcoming tours and bounce back and forth between Slash, Myles Kennedy, and Mammoth WVH for the foreseeable future!

An Interview With Frank Sidoris of Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators/ Slash/ Mammoth WVH article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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