My Mini Bio

My Miniature Biography - (from 1999 ish)


My musical journey begins when I was 9 years old. It
was 1986 and Poison had just debuted with Look What
the Cat Dragged In. That was really the first time I
fell in love with any music. Shortly after, I got into
pretty much all of the 80s mainstream glam metal
bands, but Poison was always, and to this day is, my
favorite glam band. I didn’t get into heavier stuff
until I heard Metallica in 1992.

“Wherever I May Roam” off the black album struck a
particular interest in me with that eerie
Egyptian-like sound (which I later learned is the
infamous harmonic minor scale). After listening to
that tune a million times over, I decided to look into
the rest of that album and eventually purchased the
black album after buying all the singles. Over the
next year, I collected the other four Metallica
albums: Kill ‘em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of
Puppets and And Justice For All. Believe it or not,
the older stuff had to grow on me. The first time I
heard those albums I didn’t care for them. Soon, I
would love them to the extent that Metallica became my
favorite band.

Around October of 1993, I decided that I couldn’t just
listen to Metallica all day long and not react to it
in some way. I couldn’t sit still listening to them
because they charged me up so much. I started beating
on my chair, my bed, my dresser, whatever I could find
to make a cool percussion sound. I originally wanted
to play drums because I was so infatuated with Lars
Ulrich’s unique style of playing. My parents would not
let drums happen because a kit would have driven them
crazy to have to listen to in the house. So, my next
choice was guitar! I had an old guitar in my closet,
since I was about seven, that I never learned to play.
I begged my parents for it, though I only tried it
maybe once or twice. It was to hard to get the notes
to sound without my fingers hurting, so I gave up.

In late August, 1993, two days after high school
started for me, I broke my foot jumping into a house
foundation because I felt I was invincible that day. I
found out the hard way that I was really being stupid!
I had to wear a cast on my leg for the next six weeks
and couldn’t really do anything. Being unable to go
anywhere or do anything, I decided to pick up that old
guitar and start learning to play. The first song I
learned was “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” I worked my ass
off trying to learn it by ear. An old friend helped me
out a lot by showing me how to read tabs, and by
showing me power chords and the palm-muting technique.
That was enough help to get me going. I practiced 10
to 16 hours a day for the first couple of years; I
played nothing but Metallica. I had all their songs
learned and memorized in a year and a half. I also had
gotten heavily into Queensryche by this time. So much,
in fact, that Metallica and Queensryche were now my
two favorite bands.

In 1996, Metallica came out with Load. I had waited
years for that album! I was so excited about it and I
felt they could do no wrong. As it turns out, Load sucked
so badly I actually wanted to cry! I went to a release
party at a local record store and I remember the store
was packed with eager Metallica fans. Not a single one
had a trace of excitement as the new album was being
played. We all bought the album anyway because we had
waited so long for it. Shortly after the release of
Load, Queensryche released Hear in the Now Frontier.
To me, this album was probably worse than Load. My two
favorite bands had completely gone sour and, in my
opinion, had sold out one hundred percent to the current 

Around this time, I bought a compilation album called
Twisted Metal. Through this wonderful compilation, I
discovered King Diamond, W.A.S.P, Metal Church and
Yngwie Malmsteen. I especially loved Yngwie and King!
With the first check I ever wrote, I decided to go
purchase everything King had ever done. It was a $127
check, if I remember right. King had just released
the graveyard had just come out at that time. I also bought 
everything Yngwie released and eventually collected all the 
Metal Church albums, too. But with Wasp, the only song I was 
ever crazy about was The Headless Children. Now that I felt 
Metallica and Queensryche both completely sucked and sold out, 
King Diamond naturally took over as favorite. Yngwie was right 
after the King. I also got into Mercyful Fate very heavily.

I started to listen to more classical music, mostly
Bach. Both Yngwie and King combine classical music and
metal to create neo-classical metal, the most powerful
style in history! After a few years of teaching myself
to play mostly the same stuff, I went out and signed
up for lessons at The Music Center in Kenosha,
Wisconsin. My guitar teacher was Terry Peterson, one
of the most talented guitar players I have ever heard!
My first lesson with him was the very same day I went
to sign up. He taught me endlessly on technique,
theory, applied theory, etc. It wasn’t until I started
taking lessons from Terry that I got into any lead
playing at all.

What prompted me to start taking lessons in the first
place was a local guitarist that played for me. I was
advertising for a band, and, at the time all I played
was rhythm: absolutely no lead whatsoever! I believed
to play the kind of lead that I like, you just had to
be born with that kind of talent and I certainly was
not born with that! One guy that responded to my ad
wanted me to come over and see him play and, if I
liked it, possibly form a band. I went over and he
played me the most amazing lead guitar I had ever
heard. This wasn’t Yngwie, or Andy LaRoque, or early
Kirk Hammet: this was just an ordinary guy that was
standing two feet in front of me alternate picking,
sweep picking and improvising the most amazing lead
work. Most of his stuff was based around harmonic
minor, melodic minor and full diminished ideas; this
was definitely the style that appealed to me more than
anything. I went home that night and realized that it
is possible for me to learn to play like that. No
longer would I place limitations on my playing
ability. Music lessons here we come!

In 1996, I wrote enough songs to make my first
demonstration cassette, about 45 minutes worth of
music. The material is as good as it is due to Terry’s
teaching. You can find out more about my demo “Eyes of
Fire” at It’s my only
recording as of now, but soon there will be much more.
Stay posted at my website at

After a couple years of lessons with Terry, I took on
a second teacher, Rex Carroll. Rex used to play in a
well-known Christian metal band called Whitecross. Rex
was the Eddie Van Halen of Christian guitar players.
He was probably even better than Eddie: very
technical, precise, an amazing improviser, songwriter
etc. Rex wasn’t as well-versed in theory as Terry, but
he had the ability to teach me practice techniques and
soulfullness. Both players are equally good, but each
with their own qualities. I am very lucky to have had
them teach me. After about nine months of lessons with
Rex, he had to embark on a European tour with his band
and had to take a break from teaching. Upon his
return, I decided not to continue my study with him,
simply because I didn’t want to pay for two teachers
again. I continued to take lessons from Terry for
another year or so but in August/September of 1998 I 
cancelled my studies with Terry for personal reasons.
Since then I have taken no lessons. I have enough books, 
notebooks and tapes of my lessons to last more than a lifetime.

Now, for the first time ever, I am in a band. I
started my search to join or form a band in 1994/95.
In January of 2002, A Touch of Evil invited me to join
after I jammed with them at their practices for a few
weeks. Doug, A Touch of Evil guitarist, found an ad that
I had placed in the classifieds at
and contacted me via e-mail from there. From the first
time I heard these guys play, I knew this band was
definitely different than any other band you ever see
or hear, especially on the local level. Doug, Mike,
Jeremy and Megan are great musicians with some very
innovative ideas and songwriting abilities. I am proud
to be a member of this “rising force” which will sweep
through Milwaukee like a bat out of hell and
eventually conquer the world.

My Vision:

There are a lot of bands I enjoy listening to from all 
generations including a lot from today, however as far as 
mainstream go’s, the only generation I ever fell in love with 
is the 1980’s.  The 80’s by far had the most technically 
advanced and modern musicians ever to this day whether you want 
to believe it or not!  Now remember, I’m speaking STRICKLY 
mainstream!  Going into the very early 90’s, mainstream rock and 
metal got far to intricate, complicated, advanced, modern etc 
etc etc for the mainstream crowd to handle.  Even when 
mainstream peeked, the feeble mainstream industry could’nt 
handle the best of the best.  Examples are King Diamond, 
Yngwie Malmsteen, Great Kat, Savatage, Manowar etc etc etc, 
but the bands that did make it commercially with popularity were 
the best that mainstream could ever do, never was mainstream more 
advanced and modernized in a timeless fashion than that of the 
1980’s.  When that scene did peek in the very early 90’s, 
naturally mainstream couldn’t handle it any longer and the idea 
of mastering your instrument to put no limitations on your self 
expression and moving forward in time completely blew up and 
fell back to rock bottom and alterna-grunge was born in 
mainstream music.  Hence, we stepped backward in a musical 
timelime to about the year 0004 ??? In Mainstream music since 
the fall of glam metel and the rise of alterna-grunge the masses 
have been time warped and completely and most utterly decieved 
into thinking that they ARE in the now and not stuck in time 
simply because the mainstream is now “different” than it was 
before.   In my opinion, change is a wonderful thing but only 
if it’s a progression!!!  Unfortunately history has shown as 
that for the masses, change is embraced simply for The sake of 
change and lack of quality even if the change is a step back 
instead of a step forward.  I personally Do not want to step 
backward, but instead always forward!  If change means 
degressing by about 2,000 years, I would press to find a better 
form of change, a MUCH better form!!  Most mainstream people 
seem to have the utmost pride for being up to date in the 
timeline of pop culture and are blinded to the fact they have 
been utterly decieved. A Touch of Evil and Eyes of Fire are the 
most perfect bands to pick up where mainstream left off in the 
very early 90’s and move forward into the 21st century 
intensifying mainstream more so than it ever has been!  But most 
importantly, create a diverse enough mainstream so that there 
ultimately is no mainstream left to waste away what is left of 
the masses comformative lethargic brains.  There are many new 
bands actually that are perfect right along side with us. For 
example, Hollow, Stratovarious, Death, Control Denied, 
Nightwish, Rhapsody, Primal Fear etc etc etc...  Listen to 
these bands, feel there energy and get into the 21st century!  
Will the world ever embrace this?  Or just continue to be morons?  
As for me, I believe music is timeless and should NOT be 
cheapened, blasphemied and  used to represent a time line of pop 
culture and even worse, pride your self on being updated with the 
times while your clueless on the deception that has surpassed you 
while your in total denial as you are reading this thinking to 
yourself that I don’t know what I’m writing about. 
My Message to all:     

Bottom line,  I believe in individuality!  Listen to whatever 
brings you joy regardless of where it fits on a time line of pop 
culture or how popular it is or what style of music it may be!  
Stimulate your brain!  Think for yourself no matter what anyone 
else says!  This has to happen in the world amoung the masses if 
we can ever expect to move on and out of our archaic way’s of 
thinking and join the 21st century!!!

My friend Ylayna Writes from 1999…

“Rising Force with A touch of Evil: The saga of a young


Today the world of Heavy metal begins to tremble anticipating the great invasion of a higher force bound to unleash. Hold on to your swords and raise hail, mighty warriors of rock n’ roll, I’m speaking of no other than the knight of the “Rising Force-with A Touch of Evil”, the only and only guitar maestro Tom Birkenmeyer.

Every fairy tale unfolds with “Once upon a time” and has its ending. This intriquing saga of a young guitarist’s dreams and musical journey will focus and obey rather by the laws of a beautiful beginning who’s fate is eternal.

Once upon my time I came across a 24 year old rising guitar warrior from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Immediately struck by his great talent, skill, and ambition, I knew that I was gazing at the future star predestined to claim his “Rising Force”. Tom’s music cast its powerful spell from the very first note. Highly influenced by guitar gods such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Andy Laroque, and many other great classical virtuosos, his music spilled from the strings in the dazzling cascades combining both drama and light. Tom’s solos simply intoxicating, intricately weaving patterns of striking arpeggios and baroque motifs escaping his keyboards.

This warrior went through the endless hours of practice, recording, composing, never stopping and always believing in his dream along the path. His band was only a one man’s party but Tom’s greatest dream was to create original music with professional musicians who shared in that same ambition, passion, and tastes. being a musician myself I completely shared in Tom’s urge and passion to come through, embracing much of frustration and hopes as we spoke discussing our musical futures.

Fairy tales and dreams do come true and I’m a firm believer in this. However, fairy tales and dreams have a greater chance to come true for those who strive and work hard to achieve their goals, never giving up their hopes. Today i’m honored and proud to write this column for Tom, a rising guitar star who’s now a lead guitarist of a marvelous band “A touch of Evil”. Expressing my excitement and extending my good wishes in my latest conversation with Tom our tongues touched on the subject of “Confidence vs. Ego”. The issue of Ego that strikes so many stars swallowing their talent and true inner goals, as well as the word by crowns name stars by the audience.

The maestro stated some very strong opinions regarding this matter. he believes that every individual should strive to grant something unique to this world while developing and shining with each’s talent. A person that possesses a great skill or a talent and works hard at his dreams endeed has a right to be proud of himself. Some people claim this to be a snobbery, confusing confidence and pride over a great achievement with an ignorant individual who merely likes to bost and show off his talents or the lack of such. Often such statements come from the individuals flooded with jealousy or not lacking any ambition and strength for a higher achievement, becoming a failure and therefore feeling the need of calling others a failure or a snob. As the great maestro Yngwie Malmsteen wrote in one of his ballads ” Only the strong will survive, stand tall and reach for the sky, don’t wait for no one”. Tom’s feels very optimistic and happy about his music and has much to be proud of. I also know that this warrior will achieve much more to be proud of in the future. Hail to you mighty knight of arpeggios!!!”.

Ylayna, “Eye of the Fire”

My Guitar playing and song writing is influenced by metal gods like Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, Jason Becker, C.C. Deville, John Sykes, Marty Friedman, Dave Mustaine, Kirk Hammet (Pre-load days of course), Rex Carroll, Oz Fox and Paul Gilbert. My song writing inspirations don’t just stop at the mighty axe men I have just listed. I’m also very much inspired by virtuoso’s in other styles of music as well such as blues legend Jeff Healy. Classical music also plays a great role in my inspiration for writing my more euphoric blend of melodic metal guitar engaged in intricate but passionate dialogues between shredding and slow moving guitar lines, keyboards and medieval/baroque like organ solos. Johann Sebastian Bach is mainly responsible for this, along with scattered pieces by Ludwig Van Beethoven, Pachelbell, Antonio Vivaldi and Paganini. I’m also inspired by great singers such as Sebastian Bach (X-skid row), Geoff Tate (Pre-here in the now frontier), Rob Halford, Steven Pearcy, David Wayne, Mike Howe, Michael Sweet and Blackie Lawless. My own personal sources of inspiration doesn’t just stop with musicians. I have my favorite musicians of all instruments and many styles of music, however, inspiration comes from everywhere. It can come from a beautiful sunset over the ocean or a violent thunder and lightning storm in the night. Sometimes the way I may feel about someone or something could inspire me to come up with expressive ideas that will enlighten my life.

King Diamond & Andy LaRoque
When talking about my inspirations, what more could be said than King Diamond and Andy LaRoque? King and Andy have inspired me more than ANY other source of inspiration I have ever had before. These two masterminds in my opinion have always been the MOST underestimated individuals in the ENTIRE music industry. Pioneer’s of metal and all music. Genius composers, producers, live entertainers, performers, musicians etc etc… Though Andy isn’t quite the “live” entertainer that King is, he has a certain humble quality about himself that perfectly suits his personality to a T! It’s amazing how he can be so unbelievably talented and yet so humble about it. I have NEVER seen such a humble musician put on such an EXCITING show before. I don’t believe anyone can pull it off quite like Andy can. A humble “live” performance is usually a boring “live” performance. That is the very magic of the one and only Andy LaRoque. King and Andy are both magical, impressive, humble, eccentric, inspirational, mysterious and amazingly talented as individuals and as a team!

My Vision.
I like to combine both drama and light and deliver the two extremes in a message that’s both powerful and positive. I write all of the compositional parts by myself, today my project still remains a one man band, however, my greatest dream is to turn this project into a band with musicians who share the musical vision as well as a vision for a Live show which will consist of Alice Cooper, Wasp, King Diamond and Mercyful Fate like theatrics and masquerading to bring out the music even more. A live show that is not only audio stimulating, but VERY visually stimulating as well to create a more than complete and overwhelming experience for seeing a live band. I am from the Kenosha Wisconsin area, about half way between Milwaukee WI and Chicago IL. If you or someone you may know might be interested in this please write to me at [email protected]. I also have a flier at . You have my permission to send it, print it, distribute it etc. etc. to however many people and places you want to. The more exposure the more likely it is for the world to see my vision come to life!


© Eyes of Fire 1995. laws #1 , laws #2