Spinal Tap: It Might Get Louder
GW “Rock and Roll Nightmare” is another song with a fascinating solo. Do you know what scale you were using?
TUFNEL There are many different kinds of scales. There are Aeolian scales and scales that you learn when you study music that are based on fifths, and whatever. If you’re playing in C you’ve got a major triad, which is C, E and G. If you flat the third then you’ve got a minor. Big deal, right? Yeah. That’s not that interesting. But there are these places in between, which I call “caves.” You know what a cave is, right? Have you been in a cave ever?
GW I have once, as a child.
TUFNEL Okay, well, that’s not what I really want to know, specifically, about your being in a cave. I just meant if you knew that I call in-between notes “caves.” You’ve got C and D, sharps and flats. In between those are little hidden places that I call “caves,” where you hear an overtone. It’s not so much naming what scale but what caves you’re using. You’ve got B and you’ve got Bb. A ha! But in between the B and Bb is something else, and it’s subliminal. You can hear the echo of the B and the Bb, but it’s not quite the same, and it creates an illusion that you’re somewhere else—namely in a cave—sometimes. In that particular solo I went caver. I call it “I’m goin’ caver on ya.” That’s what I say. It doesn’t apply to every solo.
GW Now “Jazz Odyssey”…
TUFNEL My favorite. I love that.
GW It’s fascinating how you broke it up into three parts and interspersed them throughout the album. It’s like you’re listening to a band, then you walk away for a while, and when you come back to the room the band is still playing the same song.
TUFNEL I’m happy you’ve figured that one out. That is exactly what we were going for. That’s exactly the impression we were trying to do, where you play for, let’s say, an hour and a half, and someone goes to a party and they say, “Oh, this sucks,” as you say in the States. “I’m going down the road to another one or to a pub for a while.” And you come back and the band is still playing.
GW And the tune hasn’t changed. But it has, I guess.
TUFNEL That’s exactly the other point. It has and it hasn’t.
GW Guitarists are going to love “Short and Sweet.”
TUFNEL Oh! That’s a good one. It’s not short or sweet, obviously. When we first did that live, we played for 47 minutes. Then it kept getting longer and longer. Originally, it was short and sweet: it was two minutes, so it was short and sweet, and then it ended. Then it expanded. On the record we got some guests playing with us.
GW They’re quite impressive: Phil Collen, John Mayer and Steve Vai. But you got all these amazing guitarists to join you, and yet the first guy to play a solo is the organist.
TUFNEL That’s because your thinking is in a box, you see. It’s because you’re a guitar player, correct?
TUFNEL Exactly. So you’re prejudiced, basically. You can’t wait…the guitar is coming…boom! Organ. If you’re expecting guitar, you’re disappointed. There should be a warning on the label, maybe, is what you’re saying—a sticker that says, “Warning! Organ first.” For some people it might be overwhelming to wait eight bars for three guitar solos in a row.
GW I guess that putting the organ solo first makes the guitar solos that much better.
TUFNEL Exactly. You’ve got a climax. If it had been in the reverse, that would have been really stupid. If you say, “Okay, guitars, guitars, guitars”—I think it ends with Steve Vai—“and then an organ,” you commit suicide. You jump out the bloody window.
GW And you wouldn’t want that, because we would end up in court. Or maybe I wouldn’t, but you would.