Lenny Kravitz: Revolution of the Mind
Originally printed in Guitar World, April 2008The ever-evolving Lenny Kravitz delivers a radical lesson in writing, playing and recording rhythm guitar, and talks about his latest funk-driven rock album, It Is Time for a Love Revolution.
"I’m a person who is always trying to experience new things and constantly change my perspective. I really try to keep things ‘alive’ and expose myself to different people and different influences.”
Lenny Kravitz, making himself comfortable in Guitar World’s video studio, is in New York City for a dual purpose: in addition to giving GW readers this in-depth video lesson on his approach to writing, playing and recording effective rhythm guitar parts, he’s here to shoot an independent film in which he appears as an actor.
Kravitz’s latest recording, It Is Time for a Love Revolution (Virgin), is his eighth studio album and first new release in three years. Various tracks were recorded at different times over the past year, in New York, Miami, Paris, the Bahamas and Brazil, and the album features a blend of all of Kravitz’s favorite sounds and styles, from deep-in-the-pocket funk and soul to hard-hitting, power-driven rock. He plays all or most of the instruments on every track, as he has done on every recording since his 1992 mega-smash debut, Let Love Rule.
In this Guitar World exclusive, Kravitz offers insight into his creative process while he details useful ways for guitar players to learn how to lock into the groove.
GUITAR WORLD Starting with your very first release, Let Love Rule, you’ve often played all of the instruments on your albums. Is that the case with the new record?
LENNY KRAVITZ I'm playing all the instruments on some songs, and on others I’m playing mostly everything. On several tracks, guitarist Craig Ross plays the solos. The only other guests on the record are Anoushka Shankar, who plays sitar on “Bring It On,” and Lenny Pickett, who plays saxophone on “Dancin’ Till Dawn.”
GW How did you develop the ability to play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums with equal proficiency?
KRAVITZ There was a piano in the house when I was a kid, and I started banging on it when I was about five or six. My dad had an acoustic guitar that my mom had bought him; I think she was hoping he would learn to play it and serenade her, but it just ended up sitting in the corner, getting dusty. So I used to bang on that too. When I was around 10, I got my first guitar from Manny’s music store here in New York City. It was a Yamaha acoustic that you could plug in. I wasn’t as happy as I could have been
because what I really wanted was an electric guitar.
Later, my family moved to L.A., and I started playing the drums when I was in junior high school. Back in New York, we lived in a little apartment, so I couldn’t have a drum set, but I had always wanted to play the drums. When I got to high school, I bought a bass and began to play that. I never dreamed I would end up making music this way—playing all of the instruments— I just liked switching around from instrument to instrument.
GW What led to you playing all the instruments on your debut, Let Love Rule?