‘East of Heaven’ – Jeff Kollman’s most cinematic and expressive album
One of the premier American rock guitarists around, Jeff Kollman’s extensive CV includes records and tours with everyone from classic rock legends Alan Parsons (his current main gig), ‘The Voice of Rock’, Glenn Hughes, and Phil Mogg, to ASIA FJP and his own highly regarded instrumental bands, Cosmosquad and the Bombastic Meatbats (feat. Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot). Now he presents brand-new music from the latest „East Of Heaven” album.
Over the years, Kollman has also fledged his considerable muscle as a solo artist and written and recorded a half dozen instrumental albums, starting in 1989 with the release of ‘Schizoid’ as a young shredder with something to prove. The in-demand Kollman has come a long way since those Toledo OH basement days and matured into a seasoned player and writer with an astonishing guitar vocabulary that easily crosses and intertwines various genres.
Jeff Kollman first made his international mark with a trifecta of instrumental solo albums and his popular Midwest based metal band, Edwin Dare, who released 3 studio albums in the 1990s. He co-founded long running prog metal fusioneers Cosmosquad in 1996 and after a move to Los Angeles CA co-wrote and recorded with singer John West (‘Permanent Mark’), Mogg/Way (‘Chocolate Box’), and Phil Mogg’s Sign Of 4 (‘Dancing with St. Peter’) before starting a continuing on-and-off working relationship with Deep Purple Hall of Famer, Glenn Hughes, in 2003. Together with Hughes alumni, Ed Roth and Chad Smith, Kollman formed 70’s funk rock/fusion quartet Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatmats in 2007 before being recruited by ASIA feat. John Payne. More recently, Kollman has toured with Japanese superstar Eikichi Yazawa, former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach, and Foreigner legend Lou Gramm. He joined the Alan Parsons Live Project in 2017 and is featured as guitarist and co-writer on Parsons’ 2019 release, ‘The Secret’.
“I do love the challenge of instrumental music. There are no words to explain the human emotion and that’s the beauty of it when the song is executed properly and deep mood is captured.”
Kollman has also worked extensively as a session musician and clinician, portraited guitarist Barry Galbraith in the Steve Vai co-produced 2007 Hank Garland bio pic, ‘Crazy’, and has written for movies and TV, including a 2007 Super Bowl commercial for Garmin GSP navigation systems which featured Steve Grimmett (ex-Grim Reaper) on vocals. Partnering with Tim Jauernig of T Jauernig Electronics, Kollman has developed a series of hand made signature guitar effects pedals, including The Kollmanation and The Bombastortion, which are available commercially and have been praised by the likes of TOTO’s Steve Lukather.
Perhaps Kollman’s most cinematic and expressive album of his career, ‘East of Heaven’ was borne out of the Covid-19 induced lockdown that hit the music industry and touring musicians especially hard. The guitarist began to collect and shape musical ideas for his unplanned solo venture last March.
“2020 was gonna be a busy year on the road for me. I was scheduled to go on a world tour with Alan Parsons as well as go out with ASIA FJP, Lou Gramm, and the Rock Pack all-star thing. Of course, all that went out the window once the pandemic hit. So all of a sudden I had a lot more down time than anticipated.
Luckily, I’ve always been able to make records withou having to rely on outside engineers and studios so I hunkered down and got a few of my closest friends involved to play on various tracks.”
‘East of Heaven’ features Kollman on guitars and bass, aided by long-time collaborators Shane Gaalaas (Cosmosquad, MSG, Yngwie Malmsteen, B’z) and Jono Brown on drums, Cirque du Soleil music director, Paul Shihadeh, on bass, and Guy Allison (Doobie Brothers, Unruly Child, World Trade) on keyboards. Allison, whom Kollman first met when they both toured Japan with national icon, Eikichi Yazawa, also provided the ‘East of Heaven’ cover artwork.
The album’s most infectious track just might be the hard driving advance single/video, ‘Superstring Theory’, which sees Kollman get back to basics and revel in the power of simplicity.
“There’s certainly an underlying early AC/DC influence in there”,
he readily admits.
“Between my solo work and Cosmosquad, it’s easy to get complex and self-indulgent. This one is straight to the point embracing the 4/4 rock!”
Elsewhere the album turns more somber and introspective reflecting the stark reality of the past year. Much of ‘East of Heaven’ is a musical diary of Kollman’s personal 2020 depicting isolation and loss (including ‘Homage To King Edward’, an improvised hat tip to one of his biggest guitar idols, Eddie Van Halen) and the psychological challenges people face with being locked down (‘Isolation 2020’) while the stirring ‘The Mass Exodus’ was written with California in mind as Kollman moved his own family out of the not-so Golden State like so many thousands of others.
“I still have a home there”, as the guitarist points out. “Ya gotta keep a foot in the game so to speak but I didn’t feel it to be a safe place for my family anymore.”