Neil “Spyder” Giraldo is one of the most well-known guitar players of his time. His signature steel-bending guitar playing has provided the soundtrack to many people's lives, especially those who grew up in the 1980s.
Having spent most of career playing along side his wife, Pat Benatar, and arranging and playing on iconic songs like Rick Springfield's “Jessie's Girl” and “I've Done Everything For You,” along with his work with Rick Derringer, Spyder has cemented himself as one of rock's great guitar players.
Though he was recently diagnosed with the painful Ulner nerve entrapment (in other words, a pinched nerve in his arm), Spyder has taken time to sift through his archives and has found more almost 40 years worth of unheard material that he's in the process of digitizing and eventually re-recording. He's also in the process of completing two books–one an autobiographical novel, one a coffee table book–as well performing in a new band project with Scott Kempner from the Del Lords/Dictators and Ron Young from Little Caesar.
For those of you attending NAMM, Spyder will be signing on both Friday and Saturday and we caught up with him right before musicians take over Anaheim.
How would you describe the insanity that is NAMM?
It's a mess! If you have any kind of OCD issues or neurosis, you'll
go out of your mind. People bump into you, they're everywhere and it's
loud. It drives me absolutely nuts. That's cool because there's so much
new stuff there and all the vendors are really nice, and trying to sell
their new products.
I know you're doing some signings on Friday and Saturday, what products are you going to be there to promote?
I'm doing BC Rich on Saturday afternoon from 2-3 p.m. and D'Addario,
which is picks and strings from 1-2 p.m. on Friday. I got tons and tons
of vendors that I sponsor and even like going to the drum workshop as
well. I love the drum community; they are good people and have a great
attitude towards each other, where sometimes guitar players can isolate
themselves from other players. Also, I like seeing the new gear and
products that people are making, it's usually pretty cool stuff.
Are you doing the signings as a promo or is there a new product line being released with your name on it?
Actually it's two-fold. One is, just because they've been so good to
me over the years, I want to do it for D'Addario. They are doing a new
pick in an old vintage style, and redesigning it for me. I don't use
conventional picks nor conventional picking, so what they're designing
is similar to an old pick that I used years and years ago. BC Rich is
having a Neil Giraldo signature series guitar that they're releasing as
well, which is a replica of the guitar I used in the '70s.
Are the new ones going to have the tone and richness that old ones have? Or at least replicate it to some extent?
I think they will. They're a really good company with good leadership. They have a great guitar-building squad, so I think they're gonna be great.
Having recently been diagnosed with a Ulner nerve entrapment, the past few months has given you time to go back and check some of your archived material from over years. So in that regard, would you say the injury was almost a blessing in disguise?
A major blessing. I never would have done if it didn't happen. Having the injury enabled me to go back into storage, which I hadn't done in years, and go through all the cassettes and DATs and find all the old songs that I never finished. I probably have over 300 from all the various years going back to 1975. The other thing I did because I'm a maniac is, instead of taking pictures; I documented my life through audio. No matter what I was doing, I always had a cassette player running. In other words, as soon as I put a guitar in my hand, I put the cassette machine on and started to record. I have all these snippets and pieces of songs and its funny to hear them played back again. I can't believe I never finished some of this stuff.
Are you surprised to have unearthed this material and was there anything on the cassettes that made you laugh?
Nothing too surprising, though it was funny to hear my wife yelling at me again telling me that I'm stupid and why do I have a cassette player running all the time. When listen to the tapes, it puts back in the time and place where you were when the song or conversation first happened and that's been really cool to relive some of those moments.
How far are you along in digitizing the cassettes and DATs?
Probably 20 percent. I recorded every show I ever did, whether it was one cassette, DAT, F1 or two inch. I even recorded rehearsals; it goes on and on and on.
So in other words, can fans expect, once you're finished digitizing, some re-releases and a potential boxed set of live material?
I think what I want to try doing is to find the songs that I started and didn't finish at a particular period of the record I was writing for and maybe re-releasing them with the songs that should have been on the record if I had finished them. I could do that or split it up into various records and re-release them as one big boxed set.
What's it like to look back at the past while having the future in mind?
It scares the shit out of you! Some things in the past were great, but other times it puts you back in the weird place you were at and live through it again. But you look at yourself now and think "Holy shit I can't believe I made it through that.”