Nili Brosh

A Matter Of Perception
Nili Brosh: Alex Soica.
Nili Brosh: Alex Soica.

If you saw Tony MacAlpine on his early-2015 tour, you probably noticed a young woman accompanying him on a seven-string guitar. Berklee grad Nili Brosh effortlessly harmonized with MacAlpine, and when asked, played some wicked solos. She recently finished her second solo album, A Matter Of Perception, an inspiring work full of volcanic soloing, brutal time signatures, and a top-tier rhythm section. When Brosh takes the spotlight, the results are impressive.

A Matter Of Perception has some of the best progressive metal to come along in years. But, you filmed your documentary while making it wherein you mention undergoing a psychological catharsis.
It was. That’s why I did the documentary. I never get the chance to tell people what it’s all about and what inspired the title. I realized that it would be important for me to have my moment to tell people. I created a platform for myself to do that if people were interested in watching it. I went through all of that. I know I took it too seriously, and it drove me crazy.

What happened?
Once it started being a problem, I had to ask myself, “Do I not like this because I really don’t like it? Or do I not like this because another section in another song I didn’t like colored everything?” That’s when it got difficult. I would find one thing I didn’t like, and it was coloring the way I was feeling about every other thing I wrote. Getting out of that was really tough.

That’s what took time – to get the mental space from it for awhile, or get out of the haze long enough to be objective. That was tough. It had to be over a long period of time. Once you get into that head space, it colors everything else. I think I did a good job of picking out what needed work. I’m happy with it now, but it took a long time.

When you perform, you seem to always be at the top of your game.
I can never let myself go below a certain standard. There’s an idea of me out there, and if I tank at a show, that’s going to be really bad (laughs)! I’m not really a practice-regimen kind of person, but, after playing with Tony for two years, I figured out how to get cleaner on the stuff I wasn’t nailing. It was a lot of using a metronome in a specific way. Once I figured out how to do it, it became a strong thing to fall back on. I relied on it working for every show. You can’t be sloppy in Tony MacAlpine’s band, because he never is.

There aren’t many women playing progressive metal. How did you come to it?
It first came through my brother, Ethan, both for early influences, being around someone who was doing that, and seeing what it takes to practice that kind of thing. That’s how I learned it early on. I always took to learning things by ear. Once I was able to do that, I tried to learn everything I could get my hands on.

That’s where that obsessive component of my personality comes in. If I’m working on something that I really like, I will not be able to stop playing it. I will overplay it, so when the next week comes around, I will not want to play it any more (laughs). That’s where the practice never becomes an issue, because I get excited about something and want to get it right.

You’re a fan of the Peavey JSX Joe Satriani head.
The JSX is my rig for this project. With Tony, it made more sense to use a Hughes & Kettner head. I’m working on getting a tour together for A Matter Of Perception, and I’m most likely going to use the JSX. Live, it behaves differently than it has in the studio. It’s a great head, I just haven’t had enough opportunities yet to dial it in, live.

Now that this psychological catharsis has come to a close, can you take a deep breath?
Yeah, but there are other things to obsess about (laughs). It never ends, but you just have to let it go, which I’ve been working on. The writing stuff has come to an end for now. I’ve been cool with that for a while. When I started recording it, I was done writing. I knew this was it. I’m going to be pushing the record as much as I can, doing some shows, and seeing where it takes me.


This article originally appeared in VG‘s April 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.