A celebration of guitar, self-expression, and intense emotional music…
As an artist it is essential to remember that the most important thing we have is "our voice", or style as they say. Each day our "voices" search for sources of inspiration to help us discover our own identity and creatively translate that identity into the sound of music. With that said, I hope you will be able to find a source of inspiration here.
I traveled a long road before I reached the point where I stand today. I started playing guitar in 1979 after hearing The Song Remains the Same by Led Zeppelin. That album had a profound effect on my life and quickly propelled me into a "hyperspace practice mode". Thirsty for more inspiration, I tracked down more '70's style rock albums and continued my determination to learn new licks and songs. By 1985, I put my first band of significance together. Twin Wire exploded within the mold of the heavy live album rock sound dominated by groups such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Foghat and Pat Travers. Back then we weren't concerned with the latest trends in music. Instead, we were more soulful and "old school" than the popular 80's bands. I still have fond memories of the gigs that Twin Wire played.
In 1987 I formed a group named 1770. We had a technically refined and progressive sound which was heavy, fast and intense. This project came close to landing a deal with MCA records.
My teaching career began around the time I formed Twin Wire. I was fresh out of high school when my guitar teacher gave me the opportunity to take his place at Albert's Music City in San Diego. There I took on an overwhelming amount of students and had a great time teaching them to play. I had natural talent as a teacher, but ultimately felt that I was more of a student myself. Longing to learn more I headed north to the Guitar Institute of Technology ( G.I.T.) In Hollywood, California. It is important to mention that at that time, tablature & CD's were just starting to happen and before that were non-existent. My contemporaries and I destroyed many tape heads and scratched our precious vinyl learning everything by ear. It was not like it is now, where you have CD players that slow down, tab books, instructional DVD's, CD-roms, the Internet, and jam along CD's. What we would have given to have all that back then! But then our ears would probably be less tuned. I learned many things at G.I.T. and got a lot out of the school's curriculum, but being young and rock star thirsty had its distractions. One of those distractions was landing an audition for Ozzy Osbourne after Jake E. Lee left, but some guy with a Les Paul ran off with my gig. That's whatcha get for playin' a Strat! Ultimately I graduated from G.I.T. on March 19th, 1988.
After an infinite amount of discouraging events I stopped playing for a while in 1990. In late 1991 I started working on my first instrumental record, "Ellis in Wonderland". Eventually this project morphed its way into an album entitled "In for the Kill", which was initially released with the band Icri's Witch, and was well received by Metal Edge Magazine. Later it was re-released under the name Ellis. The band Ellis wrote five album's, recorded four, and released three: "In for the Kill", "Barstool Perspective" and "E-III". My favorite was the 4th, "Hangar Sessions". The third release featured guest vocals by Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and was licensed by Favored Nations, Steve Vai's label. "E-III" was released in Japan and sold at Ellis shows. Even with complete artistic freedom the album did not fly as far as it could have.
Around this time I wrote and recorded a song with Glenn Hughes called "Big Sky". You can hear it on his album, "Building the Machine". I also performed with him at the Tommy Bolin Tribute Festival. Ellis played at Sammy Hagar's birthday bash at Cabo Wabo for two years in a row. I remember Sammy and Michael Anthony giving me the V.H. sign as I ripped through Eruption! We played countless shows and opened for tons of national acts. My favorite was the Eric Johnson show at 4th&B in San Diego, 2002.
In 1998 I discovered the beautiful music of Fernando Sor (1778-1839). He is without question my favorite classical guitar composer. I credit his work for providing me with the inspiration that my "voice" was seeking at the time. After studying his music for a year I recorded my first classical guitar record entitled "Classical Guitar Compositions by Fernando Sor: Volume 1". I was so inspired by Sor's work that I recorded a second volume the following year. These are very musical records that took huge amounts of time and dedication. When I had half of the third volume memorized I decided to completely change gears. I then began conceptualizing, composing, recording and producing my first (mostly instrumental) solo record.
My new album "PAIN~ Expressive Electrical Guitars Dedicated & Composed for the Broken Hearted~ by Brett Ellis" is an epic display of the emotional capabilities of the Fender Stratocaster. Affectionately referred to as "PAIN", this album also includes an assortment of other guitars, a few vocal selections and serious drum grooves.
I found yet another source of intense inspiration that fueled the fastest project on earth! "The Musical Diary of a Hopeless Romantic by Brett Ellis" ("The Diary") came flying out of the furies and depths of my soul. In one blurry week I composed, recorded and produced the original EP version of this "song". The whole album is one big song broken into smaller parts, akin to classical composing. Later I went back to add a few tracks, completing the full-length album. My vocal chords found their voice on this one. Some say that this is the most brilliant work I have done to date. Others are not quite sure what to make of it. Look for this to be out in the near future.
As if I didn't have enough to do, I decided to build a recording studio. In the midst of real life on hold for the obsession of creating what I hear in my head, I needed to create the perfect space in which to capture the perfect tone for my music. I had some pointers from an excellent engineer and labored for a year creating Foolish Art Studios and Foolish Art Records. Now I have to book time in my own studio as "The Chef" is booked full time with other projects.
Currently I am living on a few hours of sleep each morning while tirelessly excavating each possibility for grooves, riffs, leads, lyrics, bass and melody lines. My next album, "Guiltlessly Free", is kicking my ass! In the midst of the creative process I'm also working hard on motifs, which are like little musical phrases… for example, playing through the changes, and using chromatic and melodic minor scales to create perfect outside to inside cadences. Then by 4 AM I finally find that bass line that sits right in between the guitars and drums, and perfectly compliments both. The beautiful thing about music and its infinite possibilities is that the more you learn the more you realize you don't know. Fighting for the command of your instrument, choosing the notes you mean, and achieving the perfect tone, is extremely difficult and frustrating. It is also the source of my deepest joy.
In the meantime, take care and let your story be your finest reward.