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ARZ Bio:

ARZ prog rock web site:

ARZ is a Portland-based prog rock duo that blends elements of metal, classical, and world music into sonic tales embodying literary and spiritual themes. They sound like a cross between Yes, Rush, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, and weave guitar textures of hard-edged distortion, classical fingerstyle technique, crystalline acoustic, powerful rock vocals, layered against classic percussion sounds and thumping double bass beats. They're fusing the great music from the past: 70s prog rock, jazz, classical, and world music using the technology of today. The grandness of the sound created by two people is made possible by the use of technology to allow the drummer to play orchestral percussion and keyboards along with drums, and allowing the guitarist to play other instruments through the use of a MIDI controller.

Steve picked up guitar at an early age learning by ear and imitating licks by his favorite guitar heroes. Disillusioned by rock band experiences, a strong interest in Classical technique and Jazz enticed him to begin the study of solo guitar. "I soon became seriously interested in music as a career having discovered the versatility of solo guitar technique, its intricate nature and subtleties of timbre."
After earning his Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from Lewis & Clark College studying classical technique with Scott Kritzer and Jazz with Dan Balmer, Steve furthered his teaching and performing career. Steve played in concert, casual gigs, coffee shops, benefits, even at a nudist colony!

As Steve continued the classical tradition frustration set in his musical life. "After all of the study and training I began to feel a growing need for something, something new, fresh, invigorating. "Then it hit me...I needed to go back to my roots...I needed to ROCK again!

ARZ was born. ARZ is an amalgam of everything I experienced: Rock, Jazz, Classical, basically what I would call Progressive boundaries, limitless. "


When watching ARZ play live, it is always surprising how full and lush the soundscape is. Part of that comes from the midi guitar which Steve Adams uses, enabling him to play bass, guitar and keyboards through splitting his strings and sending them to different virtual instruments. The second part of their full sound comes from the drummer Merrill Hale. He plays both a drum kit, as well as triggering keyboard and bass sounds through the use of a drum pad, a Roland SPD-20.

With the SPD-20, he triggers MIDI notes that get sent to his laptop, which then get sent through a MIDI mapper and end up triggering VST samples. The VSTs that Merrill uses includes Spectrasonics’ Atmosphere, Vir2 Instrument’s Elite Orchestral Percussion, and Cakewalk’s Rapture. The sequence of notes is programmed through the software package MyKits, made by L & L's Software Delicatessen. This MIDI mapper for electronic percussionists allows Merrill to play melodies live during performances, without needing to use pre-recorded backing tracks.

Depending on the venue, Merrill will either play his acoustic drum set, or his electronic one. His electronic drum set is a Roland TD-12, and the drum sounds that he uses with it are from XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums.

His acoustic drum set is a Premier Signia, and his setup consists of:

8x8 – rack tom
10x8 – rack tom
14x12 – floor tom
16x13 – floor tom
22x16 – bass drum
Pearl Steve Ferrone Signature snare drum – 14 x 6 ½
14” Zildjian A Custom hi-hats
20” Zildjian A Custom ping ride cymbal
18” Zildjian A Custom crash
18” Sabian Evolution crash
16” Sabian Evolution crash
18” Zildjian A Custom china
8” Zildjian A Custom splash
DW 9000 double pedal
DW 5000 hi-hat stand

Merrill, a native Portlander, has played drums for over 24 years, and has studied with Don Worth Jr. and Sr., Guy Maxwell, and Dave Averre. Since 1991, he has worked with many bands, including Voodoo Dolls, Nietzsche's Dead, The Vultures, Gravity Frog, Spot 79, Stabitha, Steve Adams Trio, Atari Tuesday, Super American, King Trout, and All Good People. He first met his bandmate Steve in All Good People, a Yes tribute band. After discovering their mutual love of progressive rock, they have been musical partners since. Merrill has also toured with Scotland Barr and the Slow Drags. He plays various styles of music including funk, R&B, rock, metal, contemporary, and jazz.

Merrill has been teaching drums for the past three years, and enjoys working both with total beginners to advanced students. He is an extremely patient drum teacher, and knows how to help students improve their techniques.

Here's some links to our site. We'd love it if you came to one of our sites and said hi.

ARZ on Flickr:
ARZ on Twitter:
ARZ on Facebook:
ARZ on Myspace:
ARZ on Friendster:
ARZ on Youtube

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