Bass is more than just a guitar with two fewer strings. It has a different tone, scale length, feel and musical role, and in many cases it requires a different conceptual and technical approach. Guitarists who are new to playing bass will often double the guitar part one octave lower. There is certainly a place octave doubling — just listen to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion," Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" and Pantera's "I'm Broken." But there is so much more that can be done with the bass guitar.
A fan of classical music, Randy Rhoads was one of the first American guitarists to successfully incorporate classical music elements into heavy metal. (“Euro-metal” guitarists, including Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker, had also experimented with melding the two genres.)
I’ve always used the Les Paul and Gretsch White Falcon, and they’re both heavily featured on the new album. Regarding the second part, that’s a very pragmatic question. One thing I’ve done with the White Falcon is put things in the body — little bits of T-shirts or whatever — to help stop some of the feedback.
For me, some of the best metal songs, like many of the classic tracks on Metallica’s Master of Puppets or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, have these qualities. The majority of the riff is played in even eighth notes, and I stick with alternate (down-up) picking throughout.
“Bad Asteroid” is a song that’s been bubbling away in my collection of unused tunes for about 18 or 19 years, and this new album gave me a good excuse to finally record it properly. In addition to requiring wacky and unusual tapping procedures, it features some nice harmonic interest in the chord progression over which the riff is played—what I like to describe as the “budget Steely Dan” chords.
The origin of guitar distortion goes back to the earliest electrified blues guitarists. They didn’t care that their primitive tube amps were breaking up and distorting, as long as they were loud. Soon, blues guitarists grew quite fond of those nasty, gnarly distorted tones, and they sought to replicate them by any means necessary.
I maintain it’s my absolute prerogative to wear whatever hairstyle goes with my guitar at any point in my life. It amazes me when people make a big deal about people changing their hair. Surely that’s one of the bonuses of being in a band. When I was a kid, David Bowie was big, so that’s where it started for me.