Interview with Milan Polak

Milan Polak

Guitarist Milan Polak recently released the album entitled Guitar Odyssey (see our review here), which is a re-release of his Guitar 2001 album from 1995. Metal Express Radio was fortunate enough to catch up with Milan after he returned from New York City where he was busy recording his latest project.

You just released Guitar Odyssey, which is a new version of your sold out debut Guitar 2001, which was originally released in 1995. Were there any reservations about re-releasing material that is essentially 10 years old?

No, not at all. The label that had originally released it didn’t really do a good job and the CD never got the exposure it should have received in the first place. I never received any of the payments that were agreed upon in the contract and the label went bankrupt. There were a lot of people writing me and asking me about the CD and where to buy it. So I offered it to Lion Music when they signed Dreamscapes and they agreed to re-release it.

When you listen to Guitar Odyssey today, is there anything you hear and feel you would have done differently if originally recorded in the present?

Well, obviously I play differently today. It would be sad if I still played the same way a decade later without any progress …! Songwriting-wise, I think the songs are similar to the ones on Dreamscapes in terms of being able to play and write different styles of music. And then the technical quality of today is just so much better.

In your biography on your Web site, you mention Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, and Randy Rhoads as early influences. Any other musicians worth mentioning that may have influenced you?

One of my biggest influences is definitely Steve Lukather. And then there are also guys like Shawn Lane, Brian May, David Gilmour, Dan Huff, Allan Holdsworth, and Larry Carlton who have had an impact on my playing at a certain time of my life. Band-wise it would be bands like King’s X, Toto, Beatles, Queen, Mr. Big, AC/DC, and Pantera.

Anyone in your life who has been a major influence on your musical career?

Not a certain person in particular. It’s more like feedback or reactions from persons, teaching and experiences in life in general have some kind of influence.

If you could jam with one musician in history (dead or alive) who would that be and why?

J.S. Bach, Randy Rhoads, or Steve Lukather because they are great musicians. But I was lucky to jam with some great musicians already such as Marty Friedman and Billy Sheehan.

How is the new “vocal album” project coming along? What type of music can fans look forward to from it and has any release date been set?

It’s coming along great. I just returned from NY where I recorded with some of the hottest musicians of the scene … John Macaluso on drums and both Randy Coven & Fabrizio Grossi on bass, who have played and worked with the likes of Steve Vai, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, George Lynch, ARK, James La Brie of Dream Theater, Richie Kotzen, Steve Lukather of Toto, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, TNT, Starbreaker, Alex Masi, and many others.

The CD will be called Straight and it will be Guitar Rock, sometimes more Bluesy, sometimes more heavy. The main focus lies on the songwriting, so it’s not going to be some Progressive stuff or any kind of music written with your head instead of your heart.

I have been financing the whole project myself so far. That way I can do what I want and I don’t have any pressure regarding the date of release whatsoever.

What possessed you to do a vocal album at this point in time?

Well, I just felt that I needed to move on. I wanted to write “real” songs and reach a larger amount of people. With the instrumental guitar hero-thing, you limit yourself to a very specialized audience. It is just not satisfying to me anymore. I want people to come to my concerts and enjoy the music and not have the hall full of “Jazz Police” who just stand and stare thinking, “I can play better,” or waiting for you to make a mistake or wondering if you are playing a 32nd-note run picked alternate in Cryptolydian mode … Music is about emotions, not technique.

How did you end up getting hooked up with John Macaluso, Randy Coven, and Fabrizio Grossi, who play on your vocal album, and why was D-City Studios in Long Island chosen?

John and I got in contact through a mutual friend about 10 years ago. I was playing in a band called New World, and he was planning on moving to Europe. He got the gig with Yngwie then, so it never happened, but we stayed friends. Randy and Fab are his two favorite bassists, and since all of my songs are based on groove, I wanted to have the best rhythm section possible, so I let him choose.

When I came to NY, John was just recording the drums for his solo album at D-City Studios – so that came in handy – the drums were already set up and the sound was just sick! So we basically just kept all that and used it for the recordings of Straight.

What’s next for Milan Polak after the vocal album project? Any plans? Will you continue to create solo releases?

Well, I don’t think that I will record any more instrumental albums in the future. The only exception is a project I am working on called MP2. It is a collaboration with English super guitarist Mario Parga. We are working on an instrumental tune called “Alter Ego” for The Alchemists II, a release by the English label Liquid Note Records, as well as planning on recording a whole album with purely acoustic guitars. Other than that, I will just continue to write songs with vocals and sing.

Thank you for this interview and your interest in my music.

All the best,


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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