News en Singer Joe Cocker Dead at 70 After Long Battle with Lung Cancer <!--paging_filter--><p>Singer Joe Cocker, who might be best known for his 1969 cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," has died at age 70 after a long battle with lung cancer.</p> <p>The singer, who was born in England, died at his home in Colorado.</p> <p>"John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away December 22, 2014, after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer," Sony Music wrote in a statement via iTV.</p> <p>“It will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts,” his agent, Barrie Marshall, told the BBC.</p> <p>Cocker rose to fame in 1964 and recorded 40 albums during his lengthy career. His powerful, down-tempo cover of the Beatles' 1967 track, "With a Little Help from My Friends," sent him to Number 1 on the singles charts and made him a star. </p> <p>His performance of the song (which you can watch below) is one of several highlights of the 1970 <em>Woodstock</em> film. His recording of the song also was used as the theme for the popular U.S. TV series <em>The Wonder Years.</em></p> <p>Known for his gritty voice and odd movements while singing (as parodied on <em>Saturday Night Live</em>by John Belushi in the Seventies), Cocker began his singing career in the pubs and clubs of Sheffield, England, in the 1960s before hitting the big time. His 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes, "Up Where We Belong," hit Number 1 and went on to win a Grammy and an Academy Award.</p> <p>Besides "With a Little Help From My Friends," Cocker also found success with his cover of the Beatles' "She Came in Through the Kitchen Window." (One bit of Beatles trivia: Henry McCollough, Cocker's guitarist at Woostock, would go on to be the first lead guitarist in Paul McCartney's Seventies band, Wings.)</p> <p>Cocker was honored with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2007. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Joe Cocker News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:24:18 +0000 Guitar World Staff Guitarist Gretchen Menn to Lead House Band for She Rocks Awards <!--paging_filter--><p>The Women’s International Music Network announced that the house band for the 2015 She Rocks Awards will be led by acclaimed guitarist Gretchen Menn, and include Zepparella members Angeline Saris on bass, Clementine on drums, and guest keyboardist Jenna Paone. </p> <p>The House band will back some of the guest performers and provide interstitial music for the award ceremony, held on Jan. 23, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel during the NAMM Show. <a href="">Get tickets here>></a></p> <p>“I am beyond thrilled to have this amazing group of performers as our house band for the 2015 She Rocks Awards,” said WiMN founder and awards co-host Laura B. Whitmore. “These powerhouse players will bring incredible energy to the event and serve our other guest performers well.” </p> <p>Guitarist Gretchen Menn is a fabulously flexible and talented guitar force. She heads her own Gretchen Menn Trio, handles lead guitar duties for the all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella, and is currently working on a new solo album. Her prior release, Hale Souls, features bassist Stu Hamm. Menn also recently graced the cover of Guitar Player magazine’s Buyers Guide.</p> <p>Bass player Angeline Saris’ résumé includes work in an amazing array of styles, including jazz, rock, fusion, funk, R&amp;B, pop, hip hop, and even flamenco/speed metal. She recently toured with Narada Michael Walden, and has joined forces with reggae and ska legend Ernest Ranglin. She’s played on numerous albums and recorded a series of instructional DVDs for Hal Leonard.</p> <p>In addition to handling drumming duties for Zepparella, Clementine has laid the groove for a variety of projects including the bands Bottom, AC/DShe and Stars Turn Me On. In 2014, Clementine released The Collection, a compilation disc of various songwriting endeavors with guitarists Gretchen Menn, Jude Gold and Justin Caucutt.</p> <p>Hailing from Boston, guest keyboardist Jenna Paone just released her debut solo album Hammers and Strings in October 2014. Paone boasts 25 years of training and education in classical and contemporary piano, voice, ballet, and theater. Paone recently was selected to perform in Nashville, Tenn., as part of the She Rocks Showcase at Summer NAMM.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Gretchen-menn-house-band-revised%20620.jpg" width="620" height="318" alt="Gretchen-menn-house-band-revised 620.jpg" /></p> <p>The WiMN recently announced the 2015 She Rocks Awards honorees. Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum artist Colbie Caillat; Grammy award-nominated saxophone player and singer/songwriter Mindi Abair; iconic, platinum-selling all-female pop band The Bangles; as well as industry leaders Gayle Beacock, Debbie Cavalier, Amani Duncan, Katie Kailus, Paula Salvatore and Craigie Zildjian will be recognized at this year’s event. Americana band SHEL will open the show.</p> <p>The 2015 She Rocks Awards will be co-hosted by platinum-selling guitarist and solo artist Orianthi and the Women’s International Music Network founder and writer/editor Laura B. Whitmore. Now in its third year, the event pays tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry, and has become a standard at the NAMM Show.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/Ori-1%20by%20Robert%20Knight%20crop.jpg" width="620" height="412" alt="Ori-1 by Robert Knight crop.jpg" /></p> <p>With featured performances, food and beverages, giveaways, a silent auction, networking opportunities and more, the She Rocks Awards brings together industry professionals, music icons, artists, fans, and media to celebrate women in music. A portion of the proceeds of the event will go to benefit the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.</p> <p>This event has sold out for the past two years and does not require a NAMM badge to attend. The She Rocks Awards will take place on Jan. 23, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Pacific Ballroom at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel.</p> <p>The She Rocks Awards is sponsored by The Gretsch Company, Guitar Center, Seymour Duncan, The Avedis Zildjian Company, C.F. Martin &amp; Co, Weber Mandolins, Fishman, 108 Rock Star Guitars, Casio, PRS Guitars, Yamaha, Berklee Online, Roland, Kind, LAWIM, International Musician, Making Music Magazine, 95.5 KLOS, OC Weekly, as well as NewBay Media, and their publications Guitar World, Guitar Player, Acoustic Nation, Bass Player, Electronic Musician and Keyboard Magazine.</p> <p>Purchase tickets and find out more about the She Rocks Awards at <a href=""></a></p> Acoustic Nation Angeline Saris Clementine Colbie Caillat Gretchen Menn Jenna Paone News Orianthi She Rocks Awards SHEL The Bangles News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:16:08 +0000 Acoustic Nation Seymour Duncan Introduces Lemmy Custom Shop Signature Pickup Set <!--paging_filter--><p>The sound of Motörhead is defined by the high-output fat tone and midrange grind Lemmy Kilmister has delivered for decades with songs like "Ace of Spades” and "Iron Fist,” combined with a fast pick attack on his Rickenbacker bass. </p> <p>Seymour Duncan started with carefully analyzing the pickups in his bass and then made them even ruder—that's right, even more attack and punch—while also making sure they had plenty of clarity under heavy distortion. </p> <p>The results are three unique pickups, each hand-built in the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop and available in individual neck, middle or bridge models, or as a complete set. The pickups are available in either a direct mount for Lemmy Signature Basses or pickguard mount for traditional Rickenbacker basses. </p> <p>You can also get your choice of nickel or gold. (Jack Daniels sold separately.)</p> <p>The pickups are available directly from the <a href="">Seymour Duncan Custom Shop.</a></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/motorhead">Motorhead</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Lemmy Kilmister Motorhead Seymour Duncan Bass Guitars News Gear Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:48:56 +0000 Guitar World Staff Marty Friedman Premieres "Undertow" Music Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Earlier today, guitarist Marty Friedman released his a new music video for “Undertow,” a track off his 2014 solo album, <em>Inferno.</em></p> <p>You can check it out below.</p> <p>“The video features an unsullied look at Japanese culture," Friedman said. "'Undertow’ gives you a look at the Japan not usually seen by the typical Japanese exports like crazy TV shows, ultra-cute singers and anime. It shows a day in the life of Japan as the Japanese see it, not the stereotypical Western ‘Japanophile’ view of it.”</p> <p>As always, tell us what you think of the video in the comments below or on Facebook!</p> <p><strong><a href="">We also should mention that 'Inferno' was one of Guitar World's '50 Best Albums of 2014.' Check out the entire list here!</a></strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/marty-friedman">Marty Friedman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Marty Friedman Videos News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:28:09 +0000 Guitar World Staff Paul Stanley's Folgers Commercial Resurfaces Online — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>In 2000, Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley appeared in a commercial for Folgers coffee.</p> <p>Although the commercial never aired, audio from the ad has circulated in recent years. But now—thanks to the wonders of YouTube—you can watch the entire ad.</p> <p>As Ultimate Classic Rock points out, the long-lost commercial was finally uploaded onto YouTube recently. In the clip, which you can watch below, Stanley walks around a circus where a trapeze artist is practicing her craft. </p> <p>"This is your wake up call / Time to reach and go for it all / Folgers stirs inside of me and I know what I can be," Stanley sings, mug in hand. "Limit is the sky / Hey world, watch me fly / The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup."</p> <p>Thoughts?</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-stanley">Paul Stanley</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kiss">Kiss</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Kiss Paul Stanley Videos News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:10:38 +0000 Guitar World Staff The Great Kat Previews New Shred/Classical DVD — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Longtime shredder (on both violin and guitar) the Great Kat has released a brief preview of her upcoming shred/classical DVD—and you can check it out below. The DVD is expected to be released in 2015.</p> <p>Mind you, the video is only 16 seconds long (Note: There's not a whole lot of Great Kat footage available on YouTube).</p> <p>The DVD will feature the Great Kat's shred take on Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” and more. </p> <p>In the preview clip below, Kat plays Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons." We've also thrown in a bit of Paganini's Caprice #24. Enjoy! And remember the clips end abruptly.</p> <p>For more about the Great Kat, follow her on <a href="">Facebook.</a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Great Kat Videos News Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:21:22 +0000 Guitar World Staff Practice Made Perfect: Guitar World Rounds Up 17 Amazing Practice Amps <!--paging_filter--><p>Playing live might be the best way to hone your performance skills, but when it comes to technique, you need practice, practice, practice. </p> <p>If you play an electric guitar, your woodshedding sessions demand an amp that not only reveals the details and nuance of your playing but also sounds great—so great that it makes you want to practice more and become the best guitarist you can. </p> <p>Of course, it’s even better if it has built-in effects, a tuner, a metronome, and connectivity to the world of digital apps, downloads and MP3 players. </p> <p>With that in mind, we set out to find the best-sounding and best-outfitted practice amps currently on the market. Over the next pages, you’ll find practice combos and heads that pull double-duty as studio and rehearsal powerhouses and others that offer computer, USB, Bluetooth, iOS and Android connectivity. </p> <p>Whether you love an all-tube rig, solid-state power, or feature-laden digital/modeling amps, you’re sure to find that one of these tone machines makes practice perfect.</p> Carr Amplifiers Epiphone Fender Ibanez Peavey Roland September 2014 Amps News Features Gear Magazine Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:40:41 +0000 Paul Riario Celebrate the Holidays with 'The Ultimate Christmas Guitar Songbook' <!--paging_filter--><p><em>The Ultimate Christmas Guitar Songbook</em> is <a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=UltimateXmasSongbook">available now a the Guitar World Online Store for $19.95.</a></p> <p>The book features 100 songs in a variety of notation styles, from easy guitar and classical guitar arrangements to note-for-note guitar tab transcriptions. </p> <p>Includes: All Through the Night • Auld Lang Syne • Away in a Manger • Blue Christmas • The Chipmunk Song • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) • The Gift • (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays • I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm • Jingle Bells • My Favorite Things • One Bright Star • Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree • Santa Baby • Silver Bells • Wonderful Christmastime • and more.</p> <p><strong><a href=";utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=UltimateXmasSongbook">Head to the Guitar World Online Store now!</a></strong></p> News Features Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:39:52 +0000 Guitar World Staff Foo Fighters Perform "I Am a River" on 'The Tonight Show' — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Before the weekend hit, Foo Fighters hit <em>The Tonight Show</em> stage to perform "I Am a River," the emotional closer to their new album, <em>Sonic Highways</em>. </p> <p>Thanks to the wonders of video, you can watch the performance below.</p> <p>Note that the band is joined by a sizable orchestra during the performance; all the better to bring the song to its cinematic conclusion.</p> <p>In 2015, Foos Fighters will kick off a North American tour, which will start with a Fourth of July bash in Washington, D.C. That show, which will celebrate the Foos' 20th anniversary, will feature performances by musicians that represent some of the cities the band chronicled in <em>Sonic Highways,</em> their HBO series. These artists include Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., Heart and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.</p> <p>We should point out that <em>Sonic Highways</em> made <em>Guitar World's</em> <a href="">list of the 50 Best Albums of 2014.</a></p> <div itemprop="video" itemscope itemtype=""><iframe src="" width="620" height="365" frameBorder="0" seamless="seamless" allowFullScreen></iframe></div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/foo-fighters">Foo Fighters</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Foo Fighters Videos News Sun, 21 Dec 2014 19:22:55 +0000 Damian Fanelli Sturgill Simpson Performs "Long White Line" and "Life of Sin" at RCA Studio A — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Today we bring you two recent videos of Sturgill Simpson, whose latest album, <em>Metamodern Sounds in Country Music</em>, made <em>Guitar World's</em> <a href="">list of the 50 best albums of 2014.</a> </p> <p>Truth be told, it made our top 20.</p> <p>It should be noted that both videos were posted by <a href="">LR Baggs</a>; for the session, Simpson's acoustic guitars were recorded direct with LR Baggs' Lyric Classical internal microphone. </p> <p>This live-in-the-studio session was recorded at RCA Studio A in Nashville and produced by Dave Cobb.</p> <p>As I mentioned in my own <a href="">15 Best Albums of 2014 list,</a> Simpson's band features Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets, who can be seen in both videos below (playing a Telecaster). Keep an eye out for this guy! We're also fond of Simpson's acoustic fretwork, which can be sampled in the top video.</p> <p>The top video features "Long White Line" (written by Buford Abner). The bottom video features "Life of Sin" (written by Simpson). Studio versions of both songs can be heard on <em>Metamodern Sounds in Country Music</em>. Enjoy!</p> <p>For more about LR Baggs, visit <a href=""></a>. For more about Simpson, visit <a href=""></a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Acoustic Nation LR Baggs News Sturgill Simpson Videos Blogs Videos News Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:53:30 +0000 Damian Fanelli Cracker Premiere "King of Bakersfield" Music Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Cracker have premiered a new music video for "King of Bakersfield," and you can check it out below.</p> <p>The song is from the band's new album, <em>Berkeley to Bakersfield,</em> which, by the way, was one of my top 15 albums of 2014. </p> <p>You can check out my <a href="">complete Top 15 list right here.</a> You know you want to!</p> <p><em>Berkeley to Bakersfield,</em> which was released in December via 429 Records, is a double album dedicated to California; well, bits of it, anyway. </p> <p>Although the entire album is fun, spirited and engaging, I admit I prefer the Bakersfield portion, which features pedal steel guitar courtesy of Matt “Pistol” Stoessel. </p> <p>As its name implies, "King of Bakersfield" is from the "Bakersfield" half of the album. The music video features a photo essay by Bradford Jones. </p> <p>I have to say, it kinda makes me want to visit Bakersfield. Is this a normal reaction? I'm going to the NAMM Show in Anaheim in January; maybe I'll make a pit stop.</p> <p>To keep up with all things Cracker (and maybe even a few things related to Camper Van Beethoven), visit <a href=""></a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Cracker Matt “Pistol” Stoessel Videos News Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:33:11 +0000 Damian Fanelli Whitesnake Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Demos EVH Striped Series Guitar — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>Here's a brief demo video that was created and posted earlier this year by guitarist Joel Hoekstra.</p> <p>In the humorous clip, which you can watch below, Hoekstra demos EVH Gear's Striped Series Guitar, which also was reviewed in 2014 by <em>Guitar World</em>'s Paul Riario and Chris Gill. <a href="">You can watch Riario's video and read Gill's review right here.</a></p> <p>Hoekstra is known for his work with Whitesnake (where he recently replaced Doug Aldrich), Night Ranger (as mentioned in the video, which was shot before he joined Whitesnake), Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the Broadway musical <em>Rock of Ages.</em> </p> <p>Check out our full <a href="">2014 interview with Hoekstra right here.</a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> EVH EVH Gear FMIC Specialty Brands Joel Hoekstra Whitesnake Videos Electric Guitars News Gear Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:59:31 +0000 Damian Fanelli Mario Torrado's Formula 1 Guitar — Video <!--paging_filter--><p>As we've seen, especially here on (and other far less interesting guitar-centric websites), guitars can be used for many, many odd things. </p> <p>For instance, guitarist Mario Torrado uses his Gibson Explorer to make annoying mosquito noises as his poor friend tries to sleep (Check out the video at the very bottom of this story).</p> <p>He also uses it to mimic the gear-changing sound of Formula 1 race cars, particularly <a href="">Rubens Barrichello's</a> (apparently) famous 2004 pole lap record at Italy's <a href="">Autodromo Nazionale Monza</a> raceway.</p> <p>In Torrado's own words:</p> <p>"Experience the sound of a finely tuned Gibson hitting the frequencies of the 2004 V10 Ferrari engine. For maximum enjoyment, play [the top video] simultaneously with the [second] video and turn off its sound. Start [the second video] slightly before the 3-second mark of my video.</p> <p>"You have the two videos together in <a href="">my blog."</a></p> <p>We've also included them below. Note that the big green numbers in the top video represent the driver's gears. Um, good luck with all this!</p> <p>For more about Torrado and Formula 1 Guitar, follow him on <a href="">YouTube</a> and/or <a href="">Twitter.</a> Also, please note that Torrado's top video is from 2013, not 2004.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>As mentioned above, we've thrown in Torrado's "Mosquito Guitar" video. We hope it doesn't want to make you slap your iPhone or computer monitor. Or us!</strong></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Mario Torrado Rubens Barrichello WTF Videos News Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:27:43 +0000 Damian Fanelli Falling In Reverse Premiere New Song, "God, If You Are Above..." <!--paging_filter--><p>Falling In Reverse have premiered a new digital single, "God, If You Are Above... ."</p> <p>You can check it out above. I mean below!</p> <p>As always, tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook. </p> <p>"God, If You Are Above..." is available now via <a href+"">iTunes.</a></p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> Falling In Reverse News Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:41:44 +0000 Damian Fanelli The Enigmatic St. Vincent Talks Technique, Out-of-the-Ordinary Gear Choices and Dimebag Darrell <!--paging_filter--><p>The first truly 21st century guitar hero? A post-modern chops monster? </p> <p>Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, is an enigmatic artist on many levels. As a player, her influences are all over the map. The niece of new agey jazz guitarist Tuck Andress, Clark had some of her earliest professional experiences as a roadie and, later, opening act for his duet Tuck and Patti. </p> <p>But Clark, born in 1982, is also a fully fledged child of the alt Nineties. One of the biggest honors of her career to date was being chosen to perform the Nirvana song “Lithium” at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. </p> <p>Sporting a funky, thrift-shop Harmony solidbody, she joined surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for a gig that implicitly positioned her as some kind of new, female incarnation of Kurt Cobain. </p> <p>“I can’t possibly put into words how much that meant to me,” she says, “and how grateful I feel to even be part of that history in the smallest of ways. Nirvana changed the world. You can’t say that about many bands. They changed my life. They changed millions and millions of people’s lives.” </p> <p>But Clark also has a serious metal side. Growing up in Texas, she delved deeply into the music of bands like Slayer, Metallica and Pantera. Dimebag Darrell is one of her all-time guitar heroes. Then again, she also spent three years at the Berklee School of Music mastering harmonic theory and other learned topics. Despite these antecedents, however, her music is devoid of wanky jazz chords or lengthy bouts of virtuoso shredding. She can do all that in her sleep but prefers to employ her considerable talent to create arty, minimalist pop music, as heard on her fourth and most recent album, St. Vincent.</p> <p>“It’s funny that you would categorize it as minimalist,” she says. “In the context of guitar rock, I could see what I do as being minimal. But in the context of pop music, it’s pushing the level of muso—pushing the limits of what people are hearing in pop music.”</p> <p>Fair enough. St. Vincent’s robotic, yet oddly vulnerable, post-modern pop songs are packed with subtle complexities, spiky discordant horn charts, polyrhythmic dance grooves and moments of Bowie-esque alien grandeur. In an overtly electronic landscape, she deploys her guitar as a stealth device, a heat-seeking missile. It sneaks up on you, and startles you at times. What seems like a synth line might turn out to be a guitar. What seems like a guitar might just be the sound of your own imagination. Like a ghost in some Orwellian machine, her guitar is very much an extension of her disarmingly dispassionate, yet somehow highly expressive vocal style. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p> With impeccable underground and alternative cred, Clark is eminently qualified to do this kind of stuff. Before debuting as a solo artist with her 2007 album, <em>Marry Me</em>, she was a member of the Polyphonic Spree and toured with hipster icon singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens. She’s also performed with one of New York avant-garde composer Glenn Branca’s guitar armies. </p> <p>One of her most visible projects to date has been her 2012 album, <em>Love This Giant</em>, with former Talking Head David Byrne. And there’s a clear connection between that band’s subversive Eighties pop and St. Vincent tracks like “Digital Witness,” although Annie insists she was thinking more of Tupac on that one. </p> <p> She is, as stated initially, an enigmatic artist. Even her chosen stage name introduces an element of gender confusion—a young woman with the name of a male saint. Officially, the pseudonym St. Vincent is an oblique reference to a song by post-punk songwriter and novelist Nick Cave, not to mention the middle name of Clark’s great-grandmother. </p> <p>But while her nom d’artiste may not arise from any sense of Catholic piety on Clark’s part, St. Vincent’s lyrics are indeed laced with Christian imagery, which coexists uneasily alongside images of brute violence, quiet tenderness and digitized dystopian ambivalence. </p> <p> You’ll never figure out St. Vincent on a first listen, or over the space of one interview. But it sure is fun to try. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: To my knowledge, you’re one of the few guitarists employing techniques like two-handed tapping in a context other than shred, metal or any of the other genres where you’d expect to hear that kind of thing. </strong></p> <p>[laughs] Yeah, that’s just a little bit of a party trick. </p> <p><strong>Isn’t that all it ever is? </strong></p> <p>It’s a little more like showmanship for me than pure sound. I mean, I like it; I’m into it. It’s not like I’m doing it for laughs. But it does make me smile, because it reminds me of being 13, being in the guitar store and picking up the Dimebag signature guitar and trying to figure out how he gets that crazy sound from “Cowboys from Hell.” </p> <p>What is that? I’d watch tutorials on YouTube. So tapping makes me smile a bit because it is that super-athletic zone of guitar playing that I totally love. But sometimes you have to do a delicate dance to put everything together in a way that doesn’t just feel like too many notes just for notes’ sake. That’s a big thing that I’ve learned in life. In order to serve the song, maybe it’s best to strip it back as opposed to adding more. </p> <p><strong>Do you always play fingerstyle? Do you never use a pick? </strong></p> <p>No, I’m using a pick more and more. In certain songs like “Cruel” [from 2011’s <em>Strange Mercy</em>], there’s a riff that’s kind of “Ali Farka Toure lite” and it needs that sort of African-style double picking. And there are a lot of other songs, like “Bring Me Your Loves” and “Huey Newton” on my new album, that I definitely use a pick for. I mean, I could play these things with fingers, but sonically it doesn’t read as well. </p> <p><strong>How concerned are you with getting away from any kind of obvious or clichéd guitar tones?</strong></p> <p>Well, I’m not precious about what I write on. I’ve written some of my favorite guitar passages on a computer. Or sung them first as a vocal line and then decided, “Oh, maybe that would be better as a guitar part.” The more you can get out of lizard-brain muscle memory—like the fast-blues idiom we all know as guitar players—the better it is. Because we all learned the same pantheon of rock music, so we all know the same pentatonic scales and riffs. And that’s amazing stuff, but it’s important to get away from it as much as you can. Get away from muscle memory and just let your ear be your guide. </p> <p><strong>What were some of your main guitars for your most recent album, <em>St. Vincent</em>?</strong></p> <p>I was playing this guitar that [producer] John Congleton had, the Thurston Moore edition of the Fender Jazzmaster. It’s super chopped—just a volume knob. You either like the way it sounds when you play it, or you don’t. I really like that on/off kind of thing. You don’t mess around with a million permutations. So I was using that a lot on the record, but I don’t play it live. For live work, I play the Music Man Albert Lee model a lot. I’m not a very large person, so even though I love the sound of a Seventies Les Paul, there’s no way in hell I could ever play one live unless I wanted to have a chiropractor on tour.</p> <p>There’s a lot of functionality in my choice of instruments, especially for playing live. I’m using a Kemper modeling amplifier for live work. Originally I was bringing out vintage ’66 Kalamazoo kind of small amps—the kind of little guy that you could ram a lot of signal through and get a nice breakup and saturation and all of that. But I just stopped. </p> <p>Those weirdo custom and vintage amps need a lot of attention on the road, and I didn’t want to make my guitar tech’s life a living hell. So I decided to go with straight-up Kemper. Which really works well, because my entire show is programmed, in terms of effects. I program my pedal board, and my keyboard player uses Ableton to send cues to switch programs, so I don’t have to look down at my pedal board. So both [co-guitarist/keyboardist] Toko [Yasuda] and I use Kemper modeling amplifiers, because they’re consistent. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>How did you discover the Kempers? </strong></p> <p>I got turned on to them by my guitar tech, who was on the Nine Inch Nails tour, and that’s what they were using. So I gave them a shot and really liked them. I don’t know if they’d be my go-to amp in the studio, but they’re definitely my go-to live. Hey, if they’re good enough for Trent…</p> <p><strong>Okay, so what are some of the army of small vintage amps you use in the studio but could never bring on the road?</strong></p> <p>Oh, things like a little Sixties Dan Electro. I use a lot of effects, but there are some amps where I just really love the sound of their distortion. I have a couple of little Kalamazoo amps with the built-in tremolo. I never use the tremolo, but the amp is nice. I have a few custom TRVR amps as well. It’s sort of like a boutique silverface Champ, and another one is kind of like a Sixties Deluxe. </p> <p><strong>A lot of effects, you said. Any must-haves? </strong></p> <p>The people at Eventide have been really rad to me over the years, and I’ve been using their H9. I have a couple of those going. I have all the Eventide effects at my disposal with those. So I just program those for synth sounds, tremolos, delays, reverbs…</p> <p><strong>In your song “Regret,” there’s a nice harmonized solo guitar section. Is that some kind of harmonizer, or are you playing the lines?</strong></p> <p>I play them. You couldn’t get a harmonizer to do that particular harmony. </p> <p><strong>I guess it’s too interesting to be a preset, you’re right.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, it would take too much time to program what that harmony is. It’s easier just to play it.</p> <p><strong>There’s a lovely distortion tone on that song as well. </strong></p> <p>I believe that’s a [Bixonic] Expandora that John [Congleton] had in the studio. I liked it so much I bought one of my own. It’s a Japanese distortion pedal. John said that’s what Billy Gibbons used.</p> <p><strong>You get this amazing sustain on some tracks. Is that the amp? Are you using any kind of sustain device?</strong></p> <p>I think I was using an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth. The new generation of Micro Synth has a lot of sustain. I used sustain on the record for things like the solo in “Rattlesnake,” which is all on one string. Just a big slidey thing. I was trying to cop the style of a Turkish instrument called the saz. I was listening to a lot of Turkish music, and you know, they just overshoot the note and slide into it. It’s a really sexy approach. I spent a lot of time trying to play different melodies on just one string. And I have a slice in my finger to prove it! I remember, in the studio I cut my finger on my left hand really bad trying to do the “Rattlesnake” solo. </p> <p><strong>Just from sliding up and down on one string. </strong></p> <p>Yeah. My uncle Tuck Andress talks a lot about this kind of thing. You always have to have a contingency plan. If you blow a generator or something, you have to have a backup. So I just used my other finger to do it. But it was a painful process, that’s for sure. </p> <p><strong>You mentioned that Thurston Moore Jazzmaster. Are you very influenced by the New York avant-noise kind of thing—Sonic Youth, Marc Ribot, Arto Lindsay…</strong></p> <p>Yeah, absolutely. Marc Ribot is definitely one of my favorite guitar players. Nels Cline is incredible too. </p> <p><strong>So it’s Marc Ribot and Dimebag, eh? </strong></p> <p>Yeah, there’s a riff on my song “Bring Me Your Loves” that’s so “Cowboys from Hell” that I feel like I’m going to be sued…just in my mind. </p> <p><strong>If I didn’t know that, I never, ever would have guessed that you listen to that kind of music.</strong></p> <p>Really?</p> <p><strong>But that’s what’s really cool. You utterly transform your influences. </strong></p> <p>That’s the goal, right? The goal is to have your own voice as much as possible. For instance, there are plenty of people who can and should play the blues. But I’m not one of them. I had this period where I was super into Albert King and really trying to cop some of those licks. </p> <p>There’s a section in the live show where we stretch out and jam a bit, and I was trying to throw some of those licks into the song. I listened back to a recording of the show and I apologized to my band. It was like the worst white-blues hell! It was really bad. Not because it was poorly played—it was played well enough—but it felt so corny. It felt like I was trying on somebody else’s clothes. And that’s not a great way to go. I mean, it’s one thing to stretch and pull things from different influences. I try to do that everywhere, and with everything. But this was just like, “Ooh, maybe not.” That suit didn’t fit me quite right. And that’s fine.</p> <p><strong>If you want to play like Albert, you have to play upside down and tuned to some kind of open, dropped minor tuning anyway.</strong></p> <p>Exactly. </p> <p><strong>Which brings up the question, do you always play in standard? Do you use alternate tunings or anything like that?</strong></p> <p>Yeah, I use a lot of alternate tunings. I never play in standard E. I drop everything down a whole step, so it’s D G C F A D. That just ends up being better for my voice. And for songs like “Regret” and “Birth in Reverse” I was playing around with some tunings—and I honestly can’t remember exactly what they were now—that had multiple strings tuned to the same note. </p> <p>When I played with Glenn Branca a million years ago, what made it so interesting was that he has a lot of guitars and they’re all tuned to the same note. And there’s a whole other section of 10 more guitars tuned to another note. So I was really liking the sound of that natural chorus and I tried to approximate it with one guitar. Alternate tunings are also a great way to get out of your lizard brain. It’s a great tool for me if I’m feeling stuck, like my fingers are wanting to travel down the same old roads. It’s like, “Okay, you can travel down the same roads, but I’m gonna mess with the map a little.”</p> <p><strong>What are some of the important things you learned from working with David Byrne? </strong></p> <p>Oh, um, gosh. I just saw him last night. I think the collaboration worked well because he brings so much buoyancy and fun to his music, and I brought a little more of the melancholy side. We met somewhere in the middle. That’s what I think was fruitful. </p> <p>And also, he’s just such a wonderful showman and so good at constructing shows that are both entertaining and touching, but also strange. So I just sort of watched how he worked—the nuts and bolts of how he put the show together. And what I was able to bring to the show was a sonic palette. </p> <p><strong>Sonically, there’s kind of analogy between your work with him and the time when he was working with someone like Adrian Belew, who really brought an interesting guitar palette to the expanded version of the Talking Heads.</strong></p> <p>Yes, I love Adrian Below! And Robert Fripp is another one of my absolute favorite guitar players. </p> <p><strong>A lot of your own music employs a very contemporary digitized palette to critique digital culture in a way. </strong></p> <p>Well, I think it’s any artist’s job to take in the world, filter it through their lens and comment on the times that we’re living in now. But I don’t mean comment in some big, sad, moralistic kind of way. I’m a person just like everybody else, trying to sift through the big question of where are we now? And so I was finding myself being very Pavlovian about technology. I was salivating at the sound of a text message. And I wanted to ask, “Okay, what is this? Where are we now?” </p> <p>We’re living our lives so performatively. We take a picture of our food. We have to tell everybody about every experience we have and post a picture to show for it. And that drew me to the issue of, “Okay, it’s all performance, but very little of it is art.” But also, are we living for ourselves? Are we able to self-choose? Or are we living in order to project an image of life on the wall? Are we becoming a digital version of ourselves?</p> <p><em>Photo: Chris Casella</em></p> Annie Clark Holiday 2014 St. Vincent Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:24:07 +0000 Alan di Perna