This summer a competition was held on BangerTV (opens in new tab) to find the ultimate shredder. Over six episodes of fret-tickling, string-strangling mayhem, the inaugural champion was crowned – and that man is Frankie Caracci!
But what does it take to be the ultimate shredder? There must be more to it than practicing in your bedroom and annoying your neighbours, right? We caught up with Frankie to find out the secret to his success and what his future as a guitar hero holds.
How did you get in to playing guitar?
Frankie: "I’ve always had an infatuation with music from as far back as I can remember. A co-worker of my father was a drummer in a metal band, which I thought was pretty cool, and gave me my first set of drumsticks at age four. A little later on, my father brought me home a small classical guitar to bang around on and I was hooked! But unfortunately the guitar’s neck broke in half while we were moving homes. I begged for another guitar until I finally got my first electric and practice amp at age 12. A friend of mine at school was a drummer and at the time I really just wanted to be able some songs together.
"When I was about 14 or 15 I started buying guitar videos from many of my favourite players. At that point I started to really buckle down and work on my technique and knowledge of scales. I’ve spent countless hours practicing. During my high school years I’d practice up to 12 hours in one day, especially during summer when I wasn’t working or hanging out with friends."
How did it feel having your playing judged by Alex Skolnick?
Frankie: "Being Judged by Alex was surreal. I’ve been listening to Testament for almost as long as I’ve been playing, and I’m a big fan. Receiving such positive feedback from one of your heroes is extremely humbling and I’m really grateful I was able to meet him. I’ve taught Testament songs to countless students over the years so hearing Alex give me such positive feedback is mind-blowing."
Did you ever think you’d win Shredders Of Metal?
Frankie: "Coming into Shredders Of Metal, I had no idea I’d win. I didn’t know who I was up against and had no idea who the judges were going to be or what they’d be looking for. After seeing everyone play in the first round, I knew I had some tough competition and I think I speak for everyone when I say how tough it is to play in front of someone like Alex Skolnick!"
What is the secret to powerful shredding?
Frankie: "To me, powerful shredding comes with time and experience but the harder and more often you work at it, the quicker you’ll reach your goals. I think it’s extremely important to build a foundation on the guitar; you want to learn your scales. Learn how to play with a metronome, it’s a great way to keep track of your progress when you’re working on your chops. Make sure you are giving yourself a variety of things to work on, not only blasting through exercises with your metronome but learning how to play slowly and melodically."
Are you in a band?
Frankie: "For the first time, I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been writing an instrumental metal guitar album that I will be releasing later in 2019. I am also the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and main songwriter of 2015 International Wacken Metal Battle Champions, Vesperia. I also post videos on Instagram fairly regularly, and once my album is ready, expect to see some professional quality play through videos on YouTube!"
Sam Dunn – the man behind BangerTV and a bunch of your favourite metal documentaries including Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and Iron Maiden: Flight 666 was on the judging panel for Shredders Of Metal. What does he think makes a world-class shredder? And surely this isn't the end of his quest to find the greatest shredder on the planet?
Where did the idea for Shredders Of Metal come from?
Sam: "We were baffled that there wasn’t a competition show for metal given how much talent and passion exists in the metal community. There’s been competition shows for everything else from singing to dancing to cooking – so we figured it was high-time there was a metal guitar competition show created by metalheads, for metalheads. The time-honoured tradition of guitar shredding is finally getting its due."
What do you think makes a master shredder?
Sam: "Talent, taste, creativity. Being the fastest or the most technical is not what it’s all about. It’s about using the tools of metal lead guitar and creating something that hasn’t been heard before."
Who is your favourite shredder in metal?
Sam: "Eddie Van Halen. I know there have been dozens of incredible metal guitarists making their mark over the past 30 years, but no one matches what Eddie brought to shredding. His power, grace and inventiveness on the instrument is unmatched in my opinion. A true original."
Why did you choose Frankie as the winner?
Sam: "While all of the competitors brought their best, Frankie was a cut above From the very first time I heard him play on the first episode, I was blown away his virtuosity, tone, and endless supply of ideas. I’m proud that we crowned a champion that can compete with the best guitarists across the metal genre."
What is next for Banger TV?
Sam: "Our vision remains building the world’s biggest and best all-metal digital channel. So everything we do feeds this goal. We’re developing Shredders Of Metal 2, expanding Overkill Reviews, and developing some totally new show concepts for the channel. We feel we’ve got some strong ideas and hope to bring them to metal masses soon!"