Living Colour's Vernon Reid Shows How to Play "Cult of Personality" and More
In this exclusive Guitar World lesson, watch Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid talk about the band's The Chair in the Doorway album and teach you how to play their classic 1988 hit "Cult of Personality."
Speaking of 1988, here's a piece of Guitar World's interview with Reid from 1988, where he discusses "Cult of Personality" and more.
GUITAR WORLD: How were your solos recorded, and is there a personal favorite?
"Cult Of Personality" was a first take, as was "Funny Vibe." "Desperate People" wasn't a first take, but none of the solos were stitched together. I purposely had our producer turn off my rhythm tracks and just send bass and drums when I recorded my solos. I wanted to keep a raw edge.
I like the "Cult" solo because I felt I was able to connect with the lyrics and feel of the song. I like "Funny Vibe," "Memories Can't Wait" and "Which Way To America" because there's something out of control about them. I'm not an every-hair-in-place kind of player.
How have non-guitar influences like Eric Dolphy affected your style?
Well, I don't play like Eric Dolphy, but technically, his incredible use of interval skips is something I try to apply, specifically in the "Cult Of Personality" solo. I have a book by Joe Diorio called Intervallic Design which addresses how to use interval skips smoothly.
When I studied with Rodney Jones, Bruce Johnson and Ted Dunbar, they had me play with a metronome on 2 and 4, which exposed me to the concept of swinging. I still practice with a metronome. Right now, a lot of people are playing very diatonically and modally. Even the arpeggios sound diatonic. I incorporate that, as well as pentatonic, chromatic and whole-tone ideas, and I like to experiment with moving tonal centers which I learned about while working with the Decoding Society.
How do you approach soloing?
My best solos come when I get into a stream of consciousness and there are no stylistic considerations like, "Now I'm going to use some two-handed tapping technique or play a hip bebop phrase."
There are times when you can feel yourself thinking things out, but for the most part, if you're in touch with your capabilities, ideas will begin to flow. What musicians don't realize is that as you play over a long period of time, you pick up a lot of things. If you could unlock what you've learned from the time you started playing, you would be amazed.
To read the rest of this 1988 Guitar World interview, head here.