Features http://www.guitarworld.com/taxonomy/term/5/all en The Enigmatic St. Vincent Talks Technique, Out-of-the-Ordinary Gear Choices and Dimebag Darrell http://www.guitarworld.com/enigmatic-st-vincent-talks-technique-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="//www.youtube.com/embed/NsUKQWCzGEc" 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="//www.youtube.com/embed/TAdARF4rGcQ" 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> http://www.guitarworld.com/enigmatic-st-vincent-talks-technique-gear-choices-and-dimebag-darrell#comments Annie Clark Holiday 2014 St. Vincent Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:24:07 +0000 Alan di Perna http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22956 At the Gates Discuss New Album, 'At War with Reality' http://www.guitarworld.com/at-the-gates-discuss-new-album-at-war-with-reality <!--paging_filter--><p>It’s been pouring rain for 48 hours straight when <em>Guitar World</em> wakes up in Gothenburg, Sweden, on the day of our photo shoot with At the Gates. </p> <p>We’d planned to take the melodic death-metal legends to a few outdoor locations around their home city before sitting down to get the story behind their first studio album in 19 years, the critically acclaimed <em>At War with Reality</em>.</p> <p>We’ve flown nearly 4,000 miles to complete this task, and we’re cringing at the possibility of being rained out. But as we throw back the curtains in our hotel room overlooking the Göta älv river, we see that the ancient Norse gods have granted us a respite. </p> <p>The season’s copious rainfall has momentarily subsided, allowing brilliant sunlight to illuminate the river and myriad autumnal colors of the tree leaves throughout the coastal city.</p> <p>It’s in the crucible of Gothenburg’s brutal climate and breathtaking old-world beauty that a community of young musicians in the early Nineties banded together and forged a new subgenre of extreme metal. </p> <p>At the Gates—along with contemporaries like Dark Tranquility, In Flames and Dissection—merged the melodic dual-guitar elements of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with the violent sonic assault of Florida death metal to create a new hybrid of melodic death metal, known now as the Gothenburg Sound.</p> <p>“Nineteen ninety-five was an important year for all of us,” says Anders Björler, At the Gates’ founding guitarist, when we meet later that day. “We released <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>, Dissection had <em>Storm of the Light’s Bane</em>, Dark Tranquility released <em>The Gallery</em>, and In Flames recorded <em>The Jester Race</em>. Everyone signed to bigger labels, and we got on U.S. and European tours. It was a groundbreaking year for all of us, and it helped distribute that sound throughout the world. Things really took off.”</p> <p>But At the Gates were hardly an overnight success. The band—Anders and his twin brother, bassist Jonas Björler, guitarist Alf Svensson, drummer Adrian Erlandsson and vocalist Tomas Lindberg—had formed five year’s prior and released two ambitious death metal records: 1992’s <em>The Red Sky Is Ours</em> and 1993’s <em>With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness</em>. </p> <p>The following year’s exceptional <em>Terminal Spirit Disease</em> further established them in the underground scene and featured Martin Larsson replacing Svensson on second guitar.</p> <p>But it was with their fourth album, <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>, that At the Gates found international success and influenced a generation of musicians.</p> <p>“Coming off of <em>Terminal Spirit Disease</em>, we actually had a sit down where we were focused on creating something special,” Lindberg says. “We were at a bit of a musical make-it-or-break-it point. Either we put all our effort into this and make a great album, or we might as well break up.”</p> <p>Their hard work paid off. <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>’s tight thrashing songs were filled with precise dual-guitar work, catchy melodies, furious tones and shredded, howling vocals. The inspired 34-minute album isn’t just one of the best examples of Gothenburg death metal—it also ranks among the most influential metal albums of the Nineties. With <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>, At the Gates effectively inspired the birth of the entire metalcore genre, which would dominate the extreme metal landscape throughout the new millennium in the hands of such bands as Arch Enemy, Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall.</p> <p>But while the guys managed to create the best album of their career, in an ironic twist, At the Gates broke up before they could enjoy any of the spoils from its success.</p> <p>“I had just had enough,” Anders Björler says of his decision to leave the band in 1996 after touring behind <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>. “Eight months of touring and we got paid only in alcohol and beer!”</p> <p>“We were also so young, inexperienced and unused to coping with outside, or internal, pressure,” Lindberg adds. “There’s no real communication when you’re 20. If we were the persons we are today, that would have never happened. But, also, we probably wouldn’t be the persons we are today if that didn’t happen!”</p> <p>After At the Gates disbanded, the musicians stayed active with other groups: the Björler brothers and Adrian Erlandsson with the Haunted, and Lindberg with Disfear, Lock Up, the Great Deceiver and others. They also pursued vocations and passions outside the music industry. Anders went back to school for filmmaking, and Lindberg became a high-school teacher.</p> <p>“During the period we weren’t active as a band, everyone did other projects that allowed us to express ourselves without pressure,” Lindberg says. “I tried a lot of things, and we got rid of a lot of stuff from our systems.</p> <p>”With their internal conflicts laid to rest, the band members were able to entertain the possibility of a reunion. Which is exactly what happened in 2007 when they announced that they were embarking on a run of European festivals and Japanese dates. These shows revealed a reinvigorated group firing on all cylinders, but At the Gates were adamant that no new material was on the horizon. </p> <p>The band wanted <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>’s legacy—which by that time had become a landmark in the genre—to remain their final album. But the success of the tours, as well as the band’s revitalized chemistry, eventually softened their position, and the musicians started working on a new album.</p> <p>“The music just sounded so much better than back in the day,” Anders Björler says of the motivation to write new material. “We had all been playing in different bands, and we all sounded better.”</p> <p>Now, nearly two decades since their last studio outing, At the Gates are back with <em>At War with Reality</em>, a powerhouse album that reaffirms their musical prowess and genre dominance, and contains the band’s most emotionally heavy performance yet.</p> <p>“We wanted to have a really honest and emotional touch on this record, not just mechanical and aggressive,” Lindberg says. “We wanted to color it up with a bit with frustration, desperation and melancholy. That was our intention, and I think we succeeded.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/at-the-gates-discuss-new-album-at-war-with-reality?page=0,1">Go to Page 2 to read the full Q&amp;A with At the Gates</a>.</strong></p> <hr /> <p><strong>At the Gates is synonymous with the term Gothenburg Sound. But I’m curious to know, what does that term mean to you personally?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER To me it just describes a small musical scene in the beginning of the Nineties. It means friendship and helping each other out. We were part of this new scene. But later it was a post-construct by journalists to describe this musical scene from Gothenburg, even though all the bands were very different, sound-wise.</p> <p>LINDBERG We’re friends with all the bands in the [Gothenburg] scene. We hung out and inspired each other to make music and have an open mind about how you can do death metal. But we were all different entities at the same time. I think the Gothenburg sound was actually cemented by other bands afterward. You had stuff in Massachusetts, with Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage and all these other bands, and also in Sweden with the second generation, like Soilwork and Arch Enemy. These bands emulated all the different aspects of all the Gothenburg bands into one sound.</p> <p><strong>One distinct aspect of that sound is a heavy melodic sensibility incorporated into death metal. Where do the roots of this melodicism lie for you?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG We started out as kids listening to early hard rock and heavy metal. I think our generation was lucky. Our tastes evolved as the music scene evolved. From heavy metal to New Wave of British Heavy Metal, to hardcore punk of the early Eighties, to thrash. Then the death metal thing happened, as we were teenagers and just starting to play ourselves. It was all very natural. When we were eight we were listening to Iron Maiden; 10 it was Metallica and 14 was Morbid Angel.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER And when At the Gates eventually formed, the way that things progressed in a more melodic direction had a lot to do with the other guitar player, Alf [Svensson]. He had some very original and weird ideas. He brought in a lot of classical, folk and even opera influences.</p> <p><strong>You and Jonas also have a connection with classical music, right?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Yeah, our granddad was a music teacher and a violinist in a symphonic orchestra.</p> <p><strong>When you first started learning music, did you study classical instrumentation or just pick up a guitar and learn Morbid Angel riffs?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I first started practicing the piano back at home. It wasn’t on a professional level. My mother just had a piano and I played around on it. I also started out on a recorder flute, which is a common thing in Swedish schools.</p> <p>LINDBERG Even I played that! [laughs]</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Because it’s a categorically easy instrument to get into. It’s what everyone starts with. [laughs] But for me it turned into playing clarinet for five years and learning a little bit more about music theory. Then I met Tomas and got interested in guitar. I actually found some Metallica and Slayer tablature and learned by playing along with those records. I’m totally self-taught. You are as well, right, Martin?</p> <p>LARSSON I had classes as well, but I never did the homework. [laughs] My school was also figuring out Metallica riffs in my room.</p> <p><strong>Jonas, did your journey to playing bass follow a similar path as your brother?</strong></p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER Yes, I also played recorder flute. [laughs] Then nothing really happened until I was around 16. I heard some cool stuff like Metallica and Slayer and I wanted to be in a band. There was this crappy band that needed a bass player. They had a bass, so I didn’t need to buy one to join. I think they were called Demolition. They were a really crappy hybrid between AC/DC and Pestilence. It was the worst band you can imagine. [laughs]</p> <p><strong>Can you talk about how At the Gates’ style progressed from the more experimental early albums to the concise assault of <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG In terms of songwriting, Alf was an influence on the weird stuff that was part of our early career. Me and Alf were both in Grotesque, and we left to form At the Gates with Anders and Jonas. He was the one that had experience of writing songs in a proper band, so we leaned against him.</p> <p><strong>Did your gear change as your sound evolved?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER All our records are examples of the situations in the studio and our finances. It was what we could afford to buy and what was available at the time. Equipment-wise, we got started because of something called Study Circles. It’s state-sponsored financial aid for artists. All the bands got this back in the day. It was a big help to buy equipment, because we were 16 when we started and really poor. They gave us money to buy amps, guitars and drums. That service is still available for people in Sweden to use.</p> <p><strong>Sweden better get ready for a bunch of American guitarists trying to move there!</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER [laughs] And it’s not even just music. It’s art in general. If you’re interested in having a book circle, you can get money for that as well.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER We also have free musical school for kids up until they’re 14 years old. So that’s really good. That’s a huge help.</p> <p><strong>Let’s step back to <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em> for a minute. That record went on to become a huge hit that influenced a lot of metalcore bands that would achieve success in the 2000s. Did you know you were onto something special when you were cutting those tracks?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG We put a lot of effort into making that record, and it was a big step up for us. We were definitely doing things we hadn’t done before. But the scene was going nowhere, we were broke, and it wasn’t like a big career success at the time.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER It wasn’t an instant success in any way. Signing to Earache Records was a big step, because it was the first album that had major distribution. It also allowed us to film a high-budget video and got us on U.S. tours.</p> <p>LARSSON Yeah, the support tours in the U.S playing with Morbid Angel and Napalm Death helped us reach a lot of people.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER But the real hype came after we split up.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER The album’s success didn’t come until much later, like 1999. I mean the term Gothenburg Sound wasn’t even coined until the 2000s.</p> <p><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/at-the-gates-discuss-new-album-at-war-with-reality?page=0,2"><strong>Go to page 3 to read the conclusion of the Q&amp;A.</strong></a></p> <hr /> <strong>At the Gates broke up in 1996 after the support tours for <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>. Were you all just burnt out at the time?</strong> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I was the one who left. And I guess the other guys felt it was impossible to continue without me. Like I mentioned, we weren’t super successful at the time. And it was a pretty early stage in our lives, and I wanted to go back to school.</p> <p><strong>What did you study?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I went to film school for three years. Also, about two months after I left At the Gates, I joined the Haunted. It was the right time and right place for something fresh. Going into the rehearsal room with no pressure was great.</p> <p><strong>When At the Gates reformed in 2007, you were all insistent that no new records were on the horizon. What made you change your minds?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG After hearing those songs played live again, we understood how good that style could sound with all of us playing it again, and also how broad our spectrum is with At the Gates. There are probably limits as to how far we can progress within the frame of the band. But we have a very wide-open field compared to other death metal bands. We can do pretty creative stuff within this band. And that’s very inspiring.</p> <p><strong>Did you feel pressured by your own legacy?</strong></p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER No, actually for me it was just important to make it stand out from the Haunted stuff, because I was writing for both bands at the same time.</p> <p><strong>Did you have to scrap a lot of riffs because they were too similar to the Haunted’s sound?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG Jonas didn’t have to scrap them. Anders did it for him! [laughs]</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER [laughs] I did maybe 12 or 13 songs ideas, and we maybe used four or five.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER [laughs] I also presented some ideas that Jonas wasn’t into. But our communication was on a much more mature level than it was as kids. Back then we would scream at each other and punch each other, for real.</p> <p>LINDBERG I remember a cobblestone being thrown once.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER Now it also helps that we live three hours away from each other. [laughs] But back to the question, in terms of tuning, the Haunted is D and At the Gates is B. So when we tune down three semi-tones [from D] to At the Gates tuning, you get into the feeling of the band. That makes a huge difference when you sit down and start writing riffs. At the Gates is going to be heavier because of those tunings. And the Haunted melodies are different than the ones in At the Gates, which are more melancholic and atmospheric.</p> <p>LINDBERG I think our viewpoint for this record was different, too. <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em> was a very reactionary, aggressive and angry album based on our experience at the time. It was an angry-young-man record. Even when we were touring on that one, I know Jonas said he was disappointed because that record was too one-dimensional and missing more of the emotional aspects of the earlier albums. So that was something we had in mind this time: we wanted not only dynamics in arrangements but emotional dynamics on different songs.</p> <p><strong><em>Slaughter of the Soul</em> was recorded 19 years ago, at a time when Pro Tools wasn’t on everyone’s laptop. How was the recording process different this time around?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Back then we had to learn the song, rehearse it and then record it to a tape recorder and listen back. But it was still sounding terrible, because it was recorded in a rehearsal room. Now you can have a sketch in the computer in 15 minutes, and it sounds awesome.</p> <p>LARSSON It’s been much more transparent this time. It’s all home demos being bounced back and forth, and you can comment on anything right away.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER I like that format, but you shouldn’t forget you’re a band. You still need to play together. When we had all the demos together, we met and played through everything.</p> <p>LARSSON We wanted to make sure the whole album was playable live.</p> <p>LINDBERG When we’re in the studio, we want to use the new technology, but we had to remember to get good basic organic analog sounds as well. Because we’ll never be the band that sequences everything. So we embrace the new technology, but we had to make sure we don’t rely on it too much.</p> <p><strong>You recorded in Gothenburg at Studio Fredman with Fredrik Nordstrom, who also worked on <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>. Did that fact alone make him the obvious choice?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Well, we wanted something in Gothenburg, and there aren’t many studios left. And Fredman was a good choice because Fredrik was very influential on the sound of <em>Slaughter of the Soul</em>. He had many ideas, especially about guitar sounds.</p> <p><strong>Anders, I read a quote that for <em>Slaughter</em>, you played through a homemade cab that you and your dad built. Did you bring that into the studio this time?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Back then I didn’t have money to buy a cabinet, so I built one. It was basically two 10-inch and two 12-inch Celestions in a big wooden cabinet. It sounded very good and compact. But I sold it a year after we recorded Slaughter of the Soul. Actually, Jesper of In Flames really liked the sound and he wanted to buy it. But I said no. [laughs] But they still got a similar sound on The Jester Race.</p> <p>LINDBERG Yeah they really tried hard on that one, no? [laughs]</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER [laughs] My guitar amp was a solid-state Peavey Supreme, and we did Boss Heavy Metal and Metal Zone pedals in serial. I played an Ibanez Maxxus, which I think is the predecessor to the Joe Satriani model. It was a hollowbody and very resonant, with lots of sustain.</p> <p><strong>You’re back with Peavey again this time, right?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER We switched to Line 6 HD500 for live use. It’s the most rewarding. But we usually play Peavey 6505s or 5150s. I play a custom version of the Ibanez Prestige R6 with one Lundgren bridge pickup. They’re a Swedish company that makes pickups for Meshuggah and Scott Ian from Anthrax. It’s the most powerful and aggressive passive pickup I’ve ever heard.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER It’s a very passive-aggressive pickup. [laughs]</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER Good one. [laughs] I like active pickups, too. We used EMG-81s in the studio because they were on my new baritone guitar from Ibanez, their new Iron-Label series. It sounds fantastic, and it’s pretty affordable, too, maybe $500. We actually played baritone on the whole album. I even did most of the solos on the baritone as well.</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER It’s just guitarists trying to be bassists. [laughs]</p> <p><strong>Martin, what are you playing these days?</strong></p> <p>LINDBERG Copy and paste Anders’ setup. [laughs]</p> <p>LARSSON [laughs] I’m not so picky. I’ll play whatever I can get my hands on. It’s an Ibanez RG Prestige and the Line 6 as well.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I think he’s got the Seymour Duncan pickups, which are the factory default.</p> <p><strong>If you’re playing a similar setup, is it just your individual technique that helps distinguish the parts?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER The pickups separate the sounds. My pickups are really hot.</p> <p>LARSSON But our playing styles are very different as well. He has a really unorthodox way of playing.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I start from low, like an upstroke, when I play. I have this alternate triplet picking technique, which I actually wasn’t aware of until Jeff Loomis from Nevermore noticed and said, “You have a weird style!” [laughs] I had no idea. I do up-down-up; down-up-down. I alternate on every pair of triplets so it gets really fast.</p> <p><strong>Jonas, what’s your setup this time around?</strong></p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER I play EBS TD660 amps now. I used to use the 650, but the 660 has a better EQ in bass in mid. I have a new cabinet with 8x10 neodymium speakers, which is really lightweight and great for touring. I also have a Pro-Co Rat distortion pedal, which I set at three or four distortion level at maximum volume. I play a Warwick Corvette for touring, which is really lightweight and not too expensive. I also have a Warwick Streamer Stage I and Stage II. But for the At the Gates record, I actually used the Corvette in the studio.</p> <p><strong>Anders, you are known for deploying succinct solos that are lyrical, heavy and very well constructed. Can you speak to your process of composing them?</strong></p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER The purpose for solos for me is to basically make a melody that fits with the chord structure beneath it. I like simple notes. A great solo could be just one note. I like finding those powerful melodies that stick in your head. That’s my starting point. Almost like a classical theme in many ways. But there’s no real logic or thought behind it.</p> <p><strong>Tomas, let’s finish by putting you on the spot. What is your favorite guitar moment on the record?</strong></p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER The silence between songs. [everyone laughs]</p> <p>LINDBERG There’s a lot of great guitar moments on this record. A lot of classic thrashing stuff, a lot of different harmonics from the Russian neoclassicists I guess. I really enjoy our Slayer moment in “Heroes and Tombs.” That intro is very eerie, like “Seasons in the Abyss.”</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER I bought that riff online at ClassicRiffs.com. [laughs] It was only $19.95!</p> <p>LINDBERG [laughs] Actually, didn’t that come from the Bolt Thrower riff that I ordered from you, Jonas?</p> <p>JONAS BJÖRLER It started as my song, but it ended up with zero of my riffs. [laughs]</p> <p>LINDBERG I asked Jonas for one Bolt Thrower riff, and he wrote one for me and it was perfect! But Anders didn’t like it, of course.</p> <p>ANDERS BJÖRLER It started as a Bolt Thrower song and ended up as a Slayer song with an Autopsy outro. So anything can happen!</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/at-the-gates-discuss-new-album-at-war-with-reality#comments At the Gates January 2015 Galleries Interviews News Features Magazine Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:19:37 +0000 Brad Angle http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23145 Springfield Rock City: Top 10 Rock Star Cameos on "The Simpsons" http://www.guitarworld.com/springfield-rock-city-top-10-rock-star-cameos-simpsons <!--paging_filter--><p>Outside of <em>Saturday Night Live</em>, no other current TV show can boast as many impressive musical guests as <em>The Simpsons.</em></p> <p>And <em>The Simpsons</em> has the edge because its many musical appearances are actually meant to be funny.</p> <p>Scores of rock icons—including three Beatles, two Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica—have appeared on the show as eight-fingered, yellow-tinted versions of themselves, and often in bizarre situations: the Ramones performing for Mr. Burns' birthday party (Who the hell booked that gig?) ... former Beatle George Harrison pointing Homer toward a platter full of brownies ... <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3549DajSl4E">Ted Nugent running for president</a> ... Aerosmith agreeing to perform at Moe's Tavern when free pickled eggs are offered. Even the Moody Blues have been on the show!</p> <p>And so, in honor of the show's 25 seasons and 500-plus episodes, here are 10 of our favorite rock-star cameo appearances on <em>The Simpsons</em>.</p> <p>We apologize for the poor quality of some of the videos below; we think they're good enough to get the point across.</p> <p>10. <strong>The Ramones</strong><br /> <strong>"Rosebud," Episode 85</strong></p> <p>New York City's original punk rockers perform at a special event in honor of Mr. Burns' umpteenth birthday. They start the set by screaming "I'd just like to say this gig sucks!" and end it with a warm and tender "Happy birthday, ya old bastard!"</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Y6C7QgSUW7g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>09. <strong>The White Stripes</strong><br /> <strong>"Jazzy and the Pussycats," Episode 380</strong></p> <p>In an episode called "Jazzy &amp; The Pussycats," Bart is moved—literally—by the beat of the White Stripes' "The Hardest Button to Button" from the <em>Elephant</em> album.</p> <p>When Bart and his drum kit ram into Jack and Meg White on a Springfield street corner, we expect the garage-rocking duo to be kind, friendly and forgiving toward the well-intentioned, pointy-haired youngster. </p> <p>Instead, Meg screams, "Let's kick his ass!"</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dzkRy5kW6Qg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>08. <strong>The Who</strong><br /> <strong>"A Tale of Two Springfields," Episode 250</strong></p> <p>Alas, there is no available video from this often-shown-as-a-rerun-around-7 p.m. episode. </p> <p>It features the Who—Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and a rarely seen (and never heard) drummer who looks like a young Keith Moon. Come to think of it, they all look like the mid-Seventies versions of themselves in this episode from 2000.</p> <p>The episode, "A Tale of Two Springfields," finds Homer trying to sabotage a Who concert in Olde Springfield. It features most of "Won't Get Fooled Again"; in fact, an A chord from the song destroys the wall between the two Springfields. </p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/thewho.jpg" width="620" height="485" alt="thewho.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p>07. <strong>Spinal Tap</strong><br /> <strong>"The Otto Show," Episode 57</strong></p> <p>From a third-season episode called “The Otto Show." After Otto kills Spinal Tap in a bus crash, we find out he doesn't even have a driver's license. He winds up losing his beloved job and reevaluating his life.</p> <p>How does Spinal Tap fit in? Well, they don't, really—except that, before Otto kills them, they perform in Springfield, mispronouncing the town's name during the show and watching their gigantic Satan balloon deflate. </p> <p>“We salute you, our half-inflated Dark Lord,” chant the Tap, trying to make it look intentional. </p> <p>The role of Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls is, of course, played by <em>Simpsons</em> regular Harry Shearer, who voices Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers and a million other people, regulars and transients alike.</p> <p>If you really need to see some poor-quality video from this episode, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=hXE6z29jYiM">you can do that right here</a>.</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/spinal%20tap.jpg" width="620" height="620" alt="spinal tap.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p>06. <strong>R.E.M.</strong><br /> <strong>"Homer the Moe," Episode 272</strong></p> <p>After Moe's Tavern is turned into a swanky, upscale nightclub by the Formico, the self-proclaimed "Dean of Design," Homer turns his basement into a bar with the help of Lenny, Carl and Barney.</p> <p>When Moe finally ventures over to see what all the fuss is about, he finds R.E.M. playing in Homer's basement.</p> <p>The highlight of the episode is Homer trying and failing to sing along to "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)":</p> <p>"Leonardo What's-His-Name, Herman Munster, motorcade /<br /> birthday parties, Cheetos, pogo sticks and lemonade /<br /> You symbiotic, stupid jerk /<br /> That's right, Flanders, I am talking about you."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1WqM307OWXI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>05. <strong>Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr</strong><br /> <strong>"Lisa the Vegetarian," Episode 133 (McCartney)</strong><br /> <strong>"Homer's Barbershop Quartet," Episode 82 (Harrison)</strong><br /> <strong>"Brush with Greatness," Episode 31</strong></p> <p>We're going to cheat and count separate appearances by three Beatles as one entry. </p> <p>First there's Paul McCartney (and his wife Linda), who, of course, met Apu in India when The Beatles were hanging out with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in '68. "I read about you in history class," Lisa tells him. Then Lisa, Paul and Linda bond over the decision to go vegetarian.</p> <p>Then there's George Harrison. Homer is ecstatic to meet the former Beatle—but only because George is holding a brownie and is able to tell Homer where he can find many more brownies. This also happens to be the episode about The B-Sharps, Homer's vocal group, which features a parody of the Beatles' 1969 rooftop performance from <em>Let It Be</em>.</p> <p>And then there's Ringo Starr, the first Beatle to appear on <em>The Simpsons.</em> Unfortunately, there is no video available of his appearance. It turns out he's catching up on responding to his Beatles-era fan mail, including a portrait sent to him in 1966 by a young Marge. "We have French fries in England," Ringo writes to Marge. "But we call them chips." He goes on to tell her that her portrait of him is "gear." </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ea0uql8zjSE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/ringo.jpg" width="620" height="415" alt="ringo.jpg" /></p> <hr /> <p>04. <strong>Metallica</strong><br /> <strong>"The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer," Episode 379</strong></p> <p>Poor Otto.</p> <p>When Springfield's hapless bus driver happened upon his favorite band's broken-down tour bus, all he wanted to do was help out and give them a ride to their show. But when he gets out to lend a hand, Bart takes advantage of the driverless school bus, stealing it while yelling, "Look at me, I'm Otto! I'm a hundred years old and I'm driving a school bus!"</p> <p>If that wasn't embarrassing enough, the band get a ride from a "real" fan, the elderly Hans Moleman, who we find out slept with Lars' grandmother. Bassist Robert Trujillo tells Otto, "Never listen to our music again!" before the band drive away in Hans' pickup truck playing "Master of Puppets."</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ke9q6hYz5yg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>03. <strong>Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth</strong><br /> <strong>"Homerpalooza," Episode 152</strong></p> <p>After the kids' school bus is destroyed, Homer is stuck driving Bart, Lisa and their friends to school in the morning. When Grand Funk Railroad's "Shinin' On" comes on the radio and the kids react in disgust, Homer takes it upon himself to take his children to Hullabalooza, Springfield's answer to Lollapalooza.</p> <p>Hoping to convince Bart and Lisa that he's hip, Homer gets mistaken for an undercover cop when trying to hang out with a group of Generation Xers and is tossed out of the show.</p> <p>Like any frustrated person would do, Homer takes his anger out on a nearby cannon, which in turn destroys one of Peter Frampton's inflatable pigs. The stunt lands him a spot taking cannon shots to the gut as as part of the festival's freak show, and Homer goes on tour with a group of guest stars that include the Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2BtK86rFq-I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>02. <strong>Aerosmith</strong><br /> <strong>Flaming Moe's," Episode 45</strong></p> <p>"Hello, St. Louis!" screams Steven Tyler to the Springfield audience. "Are you ready to rock?" </p> <p>The Moe's Tavern crowd is indeed ready to rock, and the band kicks into "Walk This Way" (as Joe Perry plays what looks like a five-string guitar, perhaps to go with the four fingers on his fretting hand). </p> <p>Due to the success of a hot new drink invented by Homer (and allegedly stolen by Moe), Moe's Tavern has become such a happening place that the guys from Aerosmith are regulars.</p> <p>Should the drink be called the Flaming Moe or the Flaming Homer? That battle is still raging.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2KyHY6sLgxk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>01. <strong>Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Brian Setzer, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Lenny Kravitz</strong><br /> <strong>"How I Spent My Strummer Vacation," Episode 293</strong></p> <p>In a 2002 episode called "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation,” Homer—and several other Springfield regulars including Chief Wiggum, Otto and Apu—attend a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp hosted by the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (who plays the opening riff to "Start Me Up" on a Telecaster that's not plugged in). </p> <p>When the one-week-long camp is over, Homer—understandably—doesn't want to leave. So Jagger offers him a chance to perform at a benefit gig, the Concert for Planet Hollywood. </p> <p>Among the camp instructors are Brian Setzer, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Lenny Kravitz, who deliver some great lessons and one-liners and add to the already-impressive star power of this episode. </p> <p>Classic: Keith Richards announcing that he has to put up the storm windows. "Winter's coming," he adds. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UUKKenvoH1U" 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="/metallica">Metallica</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-mccartney">Paul McCartney</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/who">The Who</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/spinal-tap">Spinal Tap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/aerosmith">Aerosmith</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/keith-richards">Keith Richards</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/george-harrison">George Harrison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ted-nugent">Ted Nugent</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/springfield-rock-city-top-10-rock-star-cameos-simpsons#comments Aerosmith Damian Fanelli George Harrison Metallica Paul McCartney Red Hot Chili Peppers Rolling Stones The Who White Stripes News Features Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:12:25 +0000 Damian Fanelli, Josh Hart http://www.guitarworld.com/article/14699 Gear Talk with Former Ten Years After Guitarist Alvin Lee, Who's 'Still On the Road to Freedom' http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-gear-talk-former-ten-years-after-guitarist-alvin-lee-whos-still-road-freedom <!--paging_filter--><p>From a guitarist's perspective, the 1970 <em>Woodstock</em> film, which documents the highs and lows of the August 1969 Woodstock Festival, has several highlights. </p> <p>There's Jimi Hendrix's immortal take on "The Star-Spangled Banner"; a mesmerizing performance by newcomers Santana; and Pete Townshend's high-flying Gibson SG acrobatics with the Who. </p> <p>But for a full-on blues-rocking experience, there's no beating Ten Years After's adrenaline-fueled reading of "I'm Going Home." The performance, an intense nod to vintage blues and '50s rock and roll, featured the lightning-fast fretwork of Ten Years After frontman Alvin Lee.</p> <p>"The solo on the movie sounds pretty rough to me these days," Lee told <em>Guitar World</em> late last week. "But it had the energy, and that was what Ten Years After were all about at the time."</p> <p>The performance made instant stars out of the British band, which led to more big-name festivals, a label change and their biggest hit, 1971's "I'd Love to Change the World." Although a version of Ten Years After tours today, they do it without Lee, who has found happiness as a solo artist, carefully choosing a handful of festival performances each year. </p> <p>Lee is releasing a new studio album, <em>Still On the Road to Freedom,</em> August 28 via Rainman Records. The album's 13 new tracks revisit various points in Lee's career, with nods to Fifties rock, psychedelic music and blues. Along the way, of course, is a healthy serving of Lee's trademark riffs and sounds. The album title is a reference to his 1973 LP with Mylon LeFevre, <em>On the Road to Freedom</em>, which featured contributions from George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Mick Fleetwood and Ron Wood.</p> <p>Lee recently sat down to discuss his new album and his gear over the years, including his famous "Big Red" Gibson ES-335. </p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How often do you pick up a guitar these days?</strong></p> <p>Pretty much every day. I write and record all the time; it’s my hobby and my passion. I have a Spanish gut-strung guitar, a Dobro resonator and a Line 6 Variax hanging on the wall, and they all get played regularly. The new Variax is very impressive.</p> <p><strong>Your new album covers a lot of musical ground, revisiting your past, looking to the future and offering a myriad of different guitar sounds. Did you intend to look back?</strong></p> <p>It kind of evolved from luck and circumstance, as if it were trying to get out on its own. I originally had 33 songs to choose from. As they developed and evolved, I picked out the ones that showed the most promise. As I continued to work on them, I realized they pretty much went through most of my musical influences and styles over the years, so from then on it became a time-warp concept.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bW5M5xljdCI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>What gear did you use on the new album?</strong> </p> <p>Mainly a Gibbo [Gibson] ES-335 and a Martin acoustic. I used a Wal bass and a Gretch baritone guitar for bass, as well as Pete Pritchard’s Music Man and a doghouse double bass called Charlie Boy. Amp-wise, I used a Wem 15 Dominator and a very old Yamaha I bought from Mick Abrahams. I also used the original Pod, which is better than the new ones, as a pre-amp into a Fender Champ and Mustang. Plus Guitar Rig and Amplitude and too many others to mention.</p> <p>On “Listen to Your Radio Station," I used the Metalizer pedal Leslie West gave me. It’s quite radical and has to be tamed, as the slightest finger twitch comes blasting through the amp. Leslie came up to me at the Night of the Guitars sound check and said, “Alvin, you’re a damn fine guitarist, but you’re not loud enough." He then proceeded to give me loudness lessons. I like Leslie’s playing. He has excellent rock and roll phrasing.</p> <p><strong>What are some of your more prized pieces of gear, the things you'd rush to save from a fire, for instance?</strong></p> <p>My Martin acoustic. I bought it in New York in 1970, and the guy gave me a receipt for $150 for the customs. I walked into the “something to declare” channel and showed the guy the receipt. He opened the case and said, “A Martin guitar with Grover machine heads for $150?” I had found the only customs man who was a musical-instrument expert. Four hours later, I walked out with my Martin having paid a fine, a penalty and having had to buy it back. Ever since then, I’ve used the "nothing to declare" channel.</p> <p><strong>On the album's opener, the title track, you can immediately tell it's Alvin Lee on guitar—not just because of your note choices but also your sound. How would you say your sound has evolved over the years? Are you still using your Woodstock-era Gibson ES-335?</strong> </p> <p>I've still got the original Woodstock 335, but, sadly, I don’t use it these days as it has become too valuable. She’s now in a vault since some loony offered me half a million dollars for her.</p> <p>Sound-wise, I never use pedal effects on stage and seldom in the studio. I prefer to get my overload sustain from having the Marshall cranked up high, then by turning the guitar down to 5 or 6, you get a nice clean jazz sound. The crunch comes in around 7 or 8. What else do you need?</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/J7-8sCLWwLk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>How involved were you in the creation of <a href="http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guitars/gibson-custom-alvin-lee-big-red-es-335-electric-guitar">Gibson's Custom "Big Red" Alvin Lee ES-335</a>?</strong></p> <p>That all came about because of Pat Foley at Gibson. He asked me if I'd be interested, and I said of course, it’s a great compliment. So he came over to England to photograph and measure Big Red, and Gibson pretty much took it from there. I had no involvement until I got the first prototype. Then I made a few changes, which resulted in my getting several more prototypes. Now I’ve got a whole bunch of them—a gaggle of Gibsons.</p> <p><strong>Who were your favorite guitarists when you were growing up?</strong></p> <p>My favorite country blues player was Big Bill Broonzy. City blues was Freddie King, but I liked them all—Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Ralph Willis, Lonnie Johnson, Brownie McGhee and the three Kings, B.B., Albert and Freddie. Jazz-wise, I listened to Django, Barney Kessel and Wes Montgomery. Charlie Christian, Benny Goodman’s guitarist, was a great influence on my swing phrasing.</p> <p>My all-time favorite rock and roll players were Scotty Moore, Chuck Berry and Franny Beecher, and I listened to the country playing of Merle Travis.</p> <p><strong>Did you admire the other great fast bluesman of the time, Johnny Winter?</strong></p> <p>Strangely enough, I wasn't into fast guitarists. I preferred Peter Green’s subtle touch. I saw him with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at the Marquee Club in London and was very impressed. He was the only guitarist I've ever seen to turn the volume control on his guitar down during a solo.</p> <p><strong>What kind of delay/reverb, amp and overdrive did you use on the solo on "I'd Love to Change the World"?</strong></p> <p>As far as I remember, it was a Wem Dominator used as a pre-amp into the old Marshalls. I had the Wem 15-Watt power amp padded down to guitar input level. The echo was an EMT plate.</p> <p><strong>The first time I saw the <em>Woodstock</em> film, I was completely knocked out by Ten Years After's performance of "I'm Going Home." It is, without a doubt, one of the movie's highlights. I remember thinking I'd never seen a blues/rock guitarist play that fast before, at least in the context of 1969. And then there was the intensity of the band. Where the hell did that come from?</strong> </p> <p>You’re obviously a man of very good taste! Seriously, though, I never really tried to play fast. It kind of developed from the adrenalin rush of the hundreds of gigs I did long before Woodstock. They called me "Captain Speedfingers" and such, but I didn't take it seriously. There were many guitarists faster than me—Django Reinhardt, Barney Kessel, John McLaughlin and Joe Pass to name a few.</p> <p>The solo in the movie sounds pretty rough to me these days, but it had the energy, and that was what Ten Years After were all about at the time. However, I often wonder what would have happened if they had used “I Can't Keep From Crying, Sometimes” in the movie instead of "I’m Going Home."</p> <p><strong>Anything else you'd like to add?</strong></p> <p>Rush out and buy <em>Still On the Road to Freedom</em>!</p> <p><em>Keep up with Lee at his official website, <a href="http://www.alvinlee.com/">alvinlee.com</a>. You can pre-order </em>Still On the Road to Freedom<em> at <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Still-Road-Freedom-Alvin-Lee/dp/B0086460BU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1345807399&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=still+on+the+road+to+freedom">Amazon.com.</a></em> </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_m7Q_rGLS_Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-gear-talk-former-ten-years-after-guitarist-alvin-lee-whos-still-road-freedom#comments Alvin Lee Damian Fanelli Ten Years After Interviews News Features Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:08:58 +0000 Damian Fanelli http://www.guitarworld.com/article/16567 Guitar World's 50 Best Albums of 2014 http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-worlds-50-best-albums-2014 <!--paging_filter--><p>Despite a few nasty rumors to the contrary, the guitar is alive and well in 2014. </p> <p>It survived the rise of the keyboard in the Eighties and the overwhelming bass-barrage of electronic dance music of the early 21st century and, as evidenced by the 50 selections below, shows no signs of waning in relevancy.</p> <p>This year, for instance, we experienced new riffs and glorious runs by guys named Marty Friedman, Alex Skolnick, Joe Bonamassa and Eric Johnson. We also were treated to a healthy dose of Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter (RIP) and a slice of Satchel, Slash and Brian Setzer—not to mention Machine Head, Mastodon and Of Mice and Men and yes, even Sturgill Simpson.</p> <p>Whether you're plugging into a vintage Vox AC30 with a medium-aged Nash Guitars TC63 or you just got your hands on an Axe FX and a new Ibanez eight-string, the guitar isn't going away any time soon.</p> <p>Below, check out <em>Guitar World's</em> picks for the 50 best albums of 2014, as chosen by the editorial staff. The list features staff-consensus picks plus several personal choices from individual editors. Of course, we can't get or listen to every new release, so if you feel something is seriously missing, let us know in the comments below or on Facebook. And, in keeping with GW tradition, this top 50 list actually contains 51 albums. It's what we do. Enjoy!</p> <p><em>As always, click on each photo to take a closer look. See you next year!</em></p> <p><strong>Check out the rest of <em>Guitar World's</em> 2014 year-end content (Note: More is coming soon!) <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/tags/year-end-2014">right here.</a> And be sure to take <em>Guitar World</em>'s <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/pick-best-shredder-best-album-and-more-take-guitar-worlds-2014-readers-poll">2014 year-end readers poll</a> to vote on the best album, best GW cover, best shredder, best blues guitarist, <em>Guitar World</em> MVP and much more!</strong></p> <p>See you next year!</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="/slipknot">Slipknot</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-worlds-50-best-albums-2014#comments Jack White Reverend Horton Heat Slipknot Sturgill Simpson Year End 2014 Guitar World Lists News Features Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:32:44 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/21750 January 2015 Guitar World: AC/DC Bust Out 'Rock or Bust,' Smashing Pumpkins, At The Gates, Allmans and More http://www.guitarworld.com/january-2015-guitar-world-acdc-bust-out-rock-or-bust-smashing-pumpkins-gates-allmans-and-more <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/products/guitar-world-january-15-ac-dc/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=GWJAN14">The all-new January 2015 issue of Guitar World is available now!</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Malcolm Young</strong> was the heart and soul of <strong>AC/DC</strong> until he was sidelined by devastating illness. <strong>Angus Young</strong> speaks of his brother and the band's triumphant new album, <em>Rock or Bust.</em></p> <p>As album sales are in decline across the industry, <strong>Billy Corgan</strong> continues to fight the good fight with <em>Monuments to an Elegy,</em> the latest entry in Smashing Pumpkins' <em>Teargarden by Kaleidyscope</em> project.</p> <p>Then, nearly two decades after making their last and most influential record, Gothenburg’s melodic death metal pioneers <strong>At The Gates</strong> sit down and talk about the critically acclaimed new album, <em>At War with Reality.</em></p> <p>After 45 years, the long-running southern jam <strong>Allman Brothers Band</strong> called it a day in a spectacular six-night run at the Beacon Theatre, and <strong>Duane Allman’s</strong> three beloved Gibson Les Pauls are reunited onstage for a final stand.</p> <p>Finally, whether you play classic rock or modern metal or something in between, <em>Guitar World's</em> new-pickup roundup is sure to make your tune unforgettable!</p> <p>PLUS: Tuneups on Volbeat’s Michael Poulsen, Johnny Marr returns with <em>Playland</em> and Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. Our Soundcheck reviews include new gear from Fender, Charvel, TC Electronic and more!</p> <p><strong>Six Songs with Tabs for Guitar and Bass:</strong></p> <p> Jimmy Brown - "Deck the Halls"<br /> The Allman Brothers Band - "One Way Out”<br /> AC/DC - "Play Ball"<br /> Sam &amp; Dave - "Soul Man"<br /> Motionless in White - "Reincarnate”<br /> Arctic Monkeys – “R U MINE?”</p> <p><strong><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/products/guitar-world-january-15-ac-dc/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=GWJAN15">Head to the Guitar World Online Store now.</a></strong></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/january-2015-guitar-world-acdc-bust-out-rock-or-bust-smashing-pumpkins-gates-allmans-and-more#comments January 2015 News Features Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:31:13 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23150 Why Guitarists Should "Tear Up the Rulebook" by Godflesh's Justin Broadrick http://www.guitarworld.com/why-guitarists-should-tear-rulebook-godfleshs-justin-broadrick <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Godflesh’s seventh studio album, </em>A World Lit Only by Fire<em>, is out now.</em></p> <p><strong>What inspired you to first pick up a guitar?</strong></p> <p>My stepfather. He was a guitarist very influenced by David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. As a young kid, seeing him play always inspired me to want to pick up a guitar. After that it was when I was listening to punk. I got into the Stranglers and then into more hardcore punk, like Discharge. I quite simply just wanted to play extremely basic and primitive punk guitar styles.</p> <p><strong>What was your first guitar?</strong></p> <p>I was about 11 when my mum and stepfather bought me this cheap Gibson ES copy. It was like a copy of a copy of a copy. An absolute piece of crap! But what I liked about it was that it looked just like [Kevin] Geordie [Walker]’s guitar from Killing Joke.</p> <p><strong>What was the first song you ever learned?</strong></p> <p>I first learned how to play a barre chord, and from what I can recall I was playing Discharge’s “Fight Back,” which was the first seven-inch by them that I bought.</p> <p><strong>Do you remember your first gig? What was it like?</strong></p> <p>My first gig was with my ambient noise project, Final, in front of maybe 15 people. At that stage, it sounded just like power electronic noise. I actually never even used a guitar; it was all microphone feedback, shortwave-radio noise and synth.</p> <p><strong>Godflesh are known for their massive low sound and aggressive tone. In terms of gear, what is the “secret weapon” to your sound?</strong></p> <p>Strangely, I don’t feel that there really is a secret weapon to my guitar sound. I used to exclusively use Boss Heavy Metal pedals and Boss delays, but I feel now I can recreate the tone almost instinctively. It’s all about texture. It may take some time to get there, but I can pretty much use any distortion and get the sound. I use an eight-string guitar now, which is extremely important in terms of being able to play lower and have more strings to explore discords!</p> <p><strong><em>A World Lit Only by Fire</em> is Godflesh’s first album in 13 years. What inspired you to resurrect the band?</strong></p> <p>Many things inspired me to resurrect Godflesh. As much as anything, I really felt the need to compose like Godflesh again and indulge in riffs that are both heavy and somewhat surreal, abstract and essentially nasty. Riffs that are driven by a sense of dissonance and discordance are very exciting for me. </p> <p><strong>You used drum machines on this record, like you did when you first started the band. How did that help ignite your creativity?</strong></p> <p>The machines and drum sample banks are something I have been working with throughout my career. I always find machines very inspiring creatively, because I have a very clear picture of what rhythms I wish to hear and how to produce them. It was very, very important for us to go back to that original sound and concept.</p> <p><strong>You’ve always had a unique approach to guitar and songwriting. What advice would you give to young players just getting started?</strong> </p> <p>I feel if I do have a unique approach to guitar and songwriting, it’s accidental, just a sum of its parts and my influences. I was never traditionally taught. I learned the basic chords and after that paid no attention whatsoever. I go completely on feel, and most of the time I have no idea what chord forms I am playing. My only bottom line is that it sounds good. My advice for young players is to tear up the rulebook and explore a guitar as if it is something completely fresh and new to them, so new ideas and concepts can emerge.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/why-guitarists-should-tear-rulebook-godfleshs-justin-broadrick#comments godflesh Inquirer January 2015 justin broadrick Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:33:37 +0000 Brad Angle http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23143 Keith Richards Discusses the Making of The Rolling Stones' 'Exile on Main St.' http://www.guitarworld.com/rolling-stones-keith-richards-making-exile-main-st <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>Critics snubbed it upon its release in 1972, but <em>Exile on Main St.</em> has become one of rock’s greatest landmarks. Keith Richards recalls the making of the Rolling Stones' masterpiece and how the album’s new reissue project became a walk down memory lane.</strong></p> <p>"To me, <em>Exile on Main St.</em> was probably the best Rolling Stones album as far as the connection between the band members,” Keith Richards says. “We were coming up with song ideas like crazy. And the ideas were catching on. Everybody was going flat-out.” </p> <p>The anniversary reissue of the Rolling Stones’ landmark double album this May will provide a heavy blast of nostalgia to those who were around when <em>Exile</em> was first released, in 1972. The newly remastered tracks, as well as the session outtakes, will also be a revelation even to those who know the album inside and out. </p> <p>But perhaps no one feels the nostalgia, or the revelations, as profoundly as Keith Richards. There’s no denying that the album is quintessentially Keef in its swagger and the cocky sprawling grandeur of its musical scope. Hedged all about by rough edges, <em>Exile</em>’s elegantly wasted, slightly messy nonchalance is what imparts a frisson of raw truth to the overall beauty of the thing. Perhaps it’s not coincidence that <em>Exile</em> was recorded, amid scenes of legendary rock star decadence, in the vast, dank cellars beneath Richards’ home at the time, a palatial villa called Nellcôte, on the sunny French Riviera.</p> <p>“I’m listening to these tracks, and suddenly I’m back in that old basement in the south of France,” marvels Richards, phoning in from another tropical paradise, a small island in the West Indies. “It’s amazing, especially for me, that ability to transport myself back in time.”</p> <div style="float:right; padding:5px 0 10px 10px;width:300px"><img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/The_Rolling_Stones_1972_by_Dan_Volonnino.jpg/800px-The_Rolling_Stones_1972_by_Dan_Volonnino.jpg" width="300" style="padding-bottom:5px" /><strong>The Stones in 1972 (Photo Credit: Dan Volonnino)</strong></div> <p>The Stones guitarist played a key role in preparing the <em>Exile</em> reissue, which will be released in three formats. The basic package is a CD containing newly remastered versions of the 18 tracks from the original album. The Deluxe version includes a bonus disc with 10 previously unreleased tracks from the album’s era, while the Super Deluxe release adds on two 30-gram vinyl albums containing the original album and bonus tracks, a DVD on the making of <em>Exile</em> and a 50-page collector’s book with photos.</p> <p>The <em>Exile</em> reissue project reunited Richards and his lifelong Glimmer Twin Mick Jagger with Jimmy Miller, the Rolling Stones’ late-Sixties/early Seventies producer who recorded and mixed the original album and many other great Stones records. A rock-solid drummer in his own right, Miller has always had some kind of primordial connection with the Stones’ profoundly rhythmic essence. Richards says, “I look back on it all, and I’ve got to say Jimmy Miller was the perfect producer for the Rolling Stones.” </p> <p>Also onboard for the reissue project was the band’s present-day producer, Don Was, who sorted through hours of tapes to resurrect the bonus tracks. These include alternate takes of “Loving Cup” and “Soul Survivor,” plus an early version of “Tumbling Dice” titled “Good Time Women.” There’s also a cache of previously unreleased tracks, including “Dancing in the Light,” “Plundered My Soul,” “Following the River,” “Aladdin’s Story” and “Pass the Wine,” which has appeared on bootlegs under the working title “Sophia Loren.” For the <em>Exile</em> reissue, every effort was made to unearth fresh material from the vaults. In some cases, Jagger wrote and recorded brand-new vocals for what had previously been instrumental tracks. Richards overdubbed some guitar on a few tracks, but he stresses that he did as little as possible to the original recordings. </p> <hr /> “I brushed a little acoustic guitar,” he says. “I can’t even remember on which song now. The original guitar track sort of stuttered and fell apart halfway through, so Don said, ‘Well, we better replace that.’ But that’s all I did really. As I said to Don, these tracks already are <em>Exile</em>, because they come out of that dusty basement. You can’t really screw around with them that much. Just tack them on. They are what they are, right from the same place.” <p>For Richards, the project triggered fond memories of those who have since departed the Stones, including original bassist Bill Wyman, and those who have since departed this life, such as session piano great Nicky Hopkins. “To hear Nicky Hopkins’ piano on ‘Sophia Loren’ was a treasure,” he says quietly. “And Bill’s solid as a rock, man. What a bass player! I’m actually more and more impressed with him, listening to this. You can get used to a guy, but listening back, going over this stuff to make this record, I’d say, ‘Jesus Christ, he’s better than I thought!’ ”</p> <p>Richards also speaks fondly of his former Stones co-guitarist Mick Taylor, who joined in 1969 as a replacement for founding member Brian Jones. But Richards denies murmurings that Taylor, who left the band in late 1974, contributed overdubs to the reissue package. “That’s a rumor, babe,” he says. “If he was on there, I would know. We’ve had no contact with Mick for a long time.”</p> <div style="padding:5px 0 10px 10px;float:right;width:200px;"><img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/Keith-Richards_and_guitar.jpg" width="200" style="padding-bottom:5px;" /><strong>Keith Richards, circa 1972 (Photo Credit: Dina Regine)</strong></div> <p>Hearsay seems to be dogging Richards’ footsteps these days. There’s another story going around that he has completely forsworn alcohol and all other intoxicants. “That’ll be the day, honey,” he says. The remark is punctuated by one of those long, slow Keef laughs, a groundswell that starts as a faint rumble in the nicotine-coated larynx and terminates in a rheumy expulsion of breath. “Let me put it this way: the rumors of my sobriety are greatly exaggerated. Hey, I cut down a little.” </p> <p>Perhaps these suspicions of temperance are fueled by the disciplined rigor of the guitarist’s schedule these days. Along with preparations for the <em>Exile</em> reissue and DVD, Richards has been the subject of a new film biography directed by his longtime friend—and most dead-on impersonator—Johnny Depp. Keef is also completing a book-length autobiography, due out in October, with co-writer James Fox. “It’s the story so far, so to speak,” he says. “James has really put me down memory lane. It’s weird, man, trying to remember everything, and then reliving it as the memory comes back. Like, ‘Oh God, I gotta go through this thing twice!’ ”</p> <p>But one life experience that Richards doesn’t seem to mind reliving is the making of <em>Exile on Main St.</em> It would be difficult to overstate the album’s importance in the great scheme of rock music. It is the climax of the Stones’ four-album winning streak that began with 1968’s <em>Beggars Banquet</em> and continued to gain momentum through the superb <em>Let It Bleed</em> and <em>Sticky Fingers</em>, as the Sixties gave way to the Seventies. On <em>Exile</em>, the Stones attained a perfect balance between the American roots genres that had inspired them all along: blues, country, R&amp;B, early rock and roll, and gospel. In this regard, <em>Exile</em> is almost like an Olympian athletic feat, one of those rare moments when nature, human effort and sheer random happenstance all come into graceful cosmic alignment. </p> <p>“All those musical styles were part of what we’d been picking up while touring America,” Richards explains. “To us English boys, hanging out watching guys in America play music was like a dream come true, man. We were soaking stuff up like sponges wherever we could find it—south side of Chicago, those downtown juke joints…anywhere. New Orleans… Shit, man.” </p> <hr /> <em>Exile on Main St.</em> is also one of rock and roll’s archetypal double albums. Although it was released a few years after the Beatles’ <em>White Album</em>, the Who’s <em>Tommy</em> and Hendrix’s <em>Electric Ladyland</em>, <em>Exile</em> nonetheless had an immense role in establishing the double-vinyl album as a distinctive and unique art form. It’s an eloquent lesson in how open-ended jams like “I Just Wanna See His Face,” can slot in amid well-wrought rockers like “Rocks Off” and calypso-tinged acoustic ballads like “Black Angel.” Like all of rock’s great double albums, <em>Exile</em> takes the listener on an epic journey, one that commences with a sheer blast of energy on side one, moves into acoustic mode on side two and glides languidly to a stirring gospel conclusion over the course of sides three and four. In this regard, <em>Exile</em> represents the apotheosis of album rock—the move away from hit singles and into longer formats that had begun circa 1966. <p>“I think this is the first album where we didn’t have a 45 [rpm single] hit on it,” says Richards. “We picked some singles off it, but it was made for what it was. It was an album album. Of course, when it first came out, sales were not up to par to start with. But after six or nine months, they started to pick up as people got into it.”</p> <p>Created with sublime indifference to the pop market, <em>Exile on Main St.</em> is one of the first DIY rock albums, recorded at the guitar player’s house at a time when that sort of thing simply wasn’t done. While <em>Exile</em> is not exactly lo-fi, there’s a delicious murkiness to the sound, a sense of mystery shrouded in messiness. It’s a sure bet that the New York Dolls were listening to <em>Exile</em> when they were getting started in the early Seventies. The roots of punk are right there in the snarling, brittle mesh of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor’s guitars. You can’t quite tell who’s doing what. It’s not too far a leap from that to the intertwined double-guitar approach of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, which in turn gave rise to thousands of latter-day punk bands. And, of course, <em>Exile</em> also set the pattern for the dual-guitar dynamic that Richards and Ronnie Wood have pursued ever since Mick Taylor’s departure, a guitar style that Richards often describes as “an ancient form of weaving.” </p> <p>So, many roads lead back to <em>Exile on Main St.</em> “The thing about recording <em>Exile</em> was it was the first time we weren’t in a studio to make a record,” Richards says. “It all sort of happened by circumstance, really. We all decided we were going to move out of England, due to great pressure from H.M. Government. So we said, ‘Let’s keep going. We’ll do it somewhere else.’ And we figured, Oh, the south of France sounds good. I mean what’s wrong with that?”</p> <p>The “great pressure” he refers to came from Britain’s graduated tax laws, which required big earners like the Stones to pay some 90 percent of their income. That, combined with the band’s frequent drug busts and harassment from the police, forced them out of England. But the early Seventies were a time of heavy change for the Stones in many regards. They’d moved away from their manager, the notoriously belligerent Allen Klein, and launched their own label, Rolling Stones Records. Mick Jagger married Nicaraguan beauty Bianca Pérez Morena de Macias and settled down to a life of quiet domesticity in France, with the other Stones living nearby. </p> <p>Richards had been together with Anita Pallenberg since 1969, after he’d won the striking blonde German/Italian fashion model away from Brian Jones. But, unlike Mick and Bianca, Keith and Anita had never felt the need to sanctify their union via anything as bourgeois as marriage. Their son, Marlon, was about a year and a half when they settled into Villa Nellcôte, a grand maison with stately neoclassical columns, capacious salons and a killer view of the Bay of Villefranche. Built in 1899, Nellcôte had been inhabited by a succession of financiers and diplomats before it became the domicile of Keith Richards and his bizarre ménage. “Anita and I went looking at a couple of places, but Nellcôte kind of chose us immediately,” he says. “It was just an incredible joint. It was like a mini Versailles, and it didn’t cost a lot.”</p> <hr /> While the other Stones lived fairly quiet lives at home, Nellcôte quickly became Party Central, with an endless stream of friends, friends of friends, drug dealers, celebrities and gangsters passing through the villa’s grand portals. Guitars, amps, records, stereo gear, empty bottles, books, discarded foodstuffs and assorted pets were soon all over the floor and furnishings beneath Nellcôte’s magnificent crystal chandeliers. Richards says that Marlon, now in his early Forties, has no memories of the place. “He was too young, probably around two years old,” the guitarist says. “He was running around bare-assed. Although he probably remembers the smell.” <p>Nellcôte’s basement became the Stones’ recording studio by default. The original plan was to find a commercial facility nearby. “We figured there’s gotta be some decent studios in Cannes or Nice or somewhere around there, even if it was Marseilles,” Richards says. “But we checked them all out, and it was pathetic. This was 1971. No doubt they’ve got great joints there now, but then, no. It was, like, forget about it. So then it became, ‘Let’s rent a house and see if we can do it there.’ Which is where the idea of bringing our mobile truck came in.” </p> <div style="padding:5px 10px 10px 0;float:left;width:220px;"><img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Interior_pix_3.gif" style="padding-bottom:5px" /><strong>The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio</strong></div> <p>That would be the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Though mobile recording facilities are now commonplace, they were in their infancy in the early Seventies. The innovative Stones had put their own recording truck together, income source than for their own use. The unit had been loaned out to Led Zeppelin for their third and fourth albums, and the Stones had used it when recording tracks for <em>Sticky Fingers</em> at Jagger’s home, Stargroves. It had also been used for “location recordings for TV and the BBC, and stuff like that,” Richards explains. “But suddenly we realized, We got a truck, man—a mobile control room. But then we couldn’t find a house to record in. So we ended up using my basement.”</p> <p>Below Nellcôte’s ground floor lay three levels of basement, subdivided into chambers of various sizes and shapes. Together with pianist/road manager/de facto sixth Stone Ian Stewart, Richards set about hanging microphones and carpets to control acoustic reflections. Home recording was virtually unheard of in 1971. The equipment was bulky and expensive and, thus, strictly the province of rock royalty like the Beatles and Stones. People didn’t really know much about recording in spaces that weren’t acoustically designed for that purpose. The Stones were moving into uncharted territory when they ventured below stairs at Nellcôte. </p> <p>“There were all these little subdivisions in the basement, almost like booths,” Richards recalls. “So what would happen was that, for a certain sound, we’d schlep an amp from one space to another until we found one that had the right sound. Sometimes the guitar cord wasn’t long enough! That was in the beginning, anyway. But once we started to work there, my little cubicle became my cubicle, and we didn’t change places much. </p> <p>“But at first, it was just a matter of exploring this enormous basement, saying, ‘What other sound is hiding ’round the corner?’ ’Cause you’d have weird echoes going on. Sometimes we wouldn’t be able to see each other even, which is very rare for us. We usually like to eyeball one another when we’re recording.” </p> <hr /> Summer came to the French Riviera as sessions got underway. The basement was very hot and humid, and keeping guitars in tune was sometimes a challenge. The environment no doubt inspired the album’s working title: “Tropical Disease.” But it’s the dust that Keef recalls most vividly. <p>“It was a dirt floor,” he says. “You could see somebody had walked by, even after they disappeared ’round the corner, because there’d be a residue of dust in the air. It was a pretty thick atmosphere. But maybe that had something to do with the sound—a thick layer of dust over the microphones.” </p> <p>Despite the challenging environment, the songs came fairly quickly. Before leaving England, the Stones had started some tracks at Olympic Studios in London and at Stargroves. Down in France, they picked up these threads. Keith remembers the acoustic-driven country number “Sweet Virginia” as one of the first they worked on. “I can’t remember if that was the actual first,” he says. “That would be beyond even my phenomenal memory. But I recall that Mick had ‘Sweet Virginia’ prepared and ready to go. I have a feeling that we’d been playing around with that one on the last sessions. Maybe on Sticky Fingers, or whatever. So it was a work in progress.” </p> <p>Another work in progress was the aforementioned “Good Time Women” which soon became <em>Exile</em>’s one big single, “Tumbling Dice.” “I know we did that one fairly early on in France because I remember the weather,” Richards says. “The basic idea, as you can hear from ‘Good Time Women,’ was already there. But it took a while for it to turn into ‘Tumbling Dice.’ We were stuck for a good lyrical hook to go with this really great riff, so we left it in abeyance for a bit. And then I think Mick came up with the title ‘Tumbling Dice,’ although he may have got it from someone else. Ha!”</p> <p>The evolution from “Good Time Women” to “Tumbling Dice” is a classic example of the Jagger-Richards songwriting partnership at work. It also exemplifies the way the Stones will often allow a track to develop over time, re-recording it repeatedly and often in many different locales. “If you chase a song far enough, you’re gonna corner it—like a rat!” Richards says with a laugh. </p> <p>But the pace was generally brisk. “Sometimes we’d get two tracks in a night down there,” he says. “And then there’d be other times when we’d be three days on one song.”<br /> The work schedule was fairly regular, the guitarist recalls. “Charlie Watts was living a long way away, a six- or seven-hour drive, for some reason. But then drummers are quirky, you know. So we’d generally work for four days a week, five at a push. But the weekends would be off.”</p> <p>Various Stones would sleep over at Nellcôte from time to time, but occasionally inspiration struck when some of the members were away. Such was the case when Richards’ signature track, “Happy,” came into being. </p> <p>“It was pretty early in the afternoon,” he recalls. “Jimmy Miller was there checking on the previous night’s session tapes. I said, ‘Oh shit, I’ve got an idea, Jimmy.’ He said, ‘Well, just lay it down with the guitar.’ So I start laying it down, and suddenly Jimmy’s behind me playing the drums. He’d come down from the truck, and I hadn’t even noticed. I’m just hammering away, figuring this thing out. Suddenly I hear these great drums behind me, and now it’s starting to rock. It’s one of these ‘three feet off the ground’ feelings. And then, suddenly, I hear this baritone sax, and there’s Bobby Keys honking away. Suddenly it’s becoming very happy.” </p> <p>Even the song’s lyrics sprang from that initial inspiration. “Most of ’em anyway, in some garbled form,” Richards says. “The whole idea was there. ‘I never kept a dollar past sunset…’ That was all there.” </p> <hr /> The preeminence of “Happy,” at the top of the album’s third side, coupled with the preponderance of great Keef guitar hooks on <em>Exile</em>, has led some observers to describe the disc as “Keith’s album.” But the guitarist is having none of that. “I don’t really get that,” he says. “Mick was incredibly involved. Look how many songs there are. And he wrote the bulk of the lyrics. He was very involved. I don’t think I was putting in more than anybody else. Charlie was amazing. Everybody was in great form.” <p><em>Exile</em> does contain some of the most sympathetic guitar teamwork that Richards and Mick Taylor ever committed to disc. They mesh seamlessly, almost telepathically, on track after track. With the exception of “Happy” and possibly “Ventilator Blues,” Richards left the bulk of the slide guitar work to Taylor. But where Taylor’s leads can stand out a little too assertively on some earlier Stones recordings—particularly the live <em>Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out</em> album—here he’s dug in deep, roiling along with Keef and fully integrated into the guitar juggernaut. Perhaps this is in part due to the album’s ad hoc recording circumstances, combined with the fact that Taylor had been a Stone for about two years at this point and was well settled in. And maybe by living close by and actually sleeping over at Nellcôte on many occasions Taylor had fallen into sync with Richards on some elemental level.<br /> “I also think it was because we were writing songs on the spot,” Richards says. “So I automatically fell into doing the chording and figuring out the whole thing, which gave Mick Taylor a freedom. He just came up with line after beautiful line. What a player, man.”</p> <p><em>Exile</em> is also awash in great guitar hooks based around Richards’ signature five-string open G tuning (omitting the low E string and tuned, low to high, G D G B D). He’d first used this tuning on “Honky Tonk Women” in 1969 and had integrated it into his approach more and more thoroughly on <em>Let It Bleed</em> and <em>Sticky Fingers</em>. But it really explodes on <em>Exile</em> and is the secret behind riff-mad classics like “Rocks Off,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Happy.”</p> <p>“I was really bathing in that stuff at the time, finding out more and more about the tuning as I was going along,” Richards acknowledges. “In a way, with a lot of the five-string stuff on <em>Exile</em>, I’d just found that space. You’re listening to me in school!” </p> <p>For a few magic months at Nellcôte, everything seemed to fall into place. With sax player Bobby Keys and trumpeter Jim Price right on the premises, the horn charts on <em>Exile</em> are a deeply organic part of the music, rather than an overdubbed afterthought, as horn parts all too often tend to be. </p> <p>“I think that’s another one of the beauties of the album,” Richards says. “The fact that the horns are actually playing with the band. There is something to be said for having it all in one room. Bobby and Jim were amazing, ’cause they had to make up their parts virtually on the spot. The songs were coming out two or three a night. Sometimes I’d lay an idea for a song on them at the end of a session, early in the morning, so they’d have it in their heads by the time they got back the next day. There were only two of them, a sax and a trumpet, but Jimmy played great trombone as well, so we’d double them up until they became a section.” </p> <p>Many extraordinary musicians passed through Nellcôte during the <em>Exile</em> sessions. The list of those who were there but didn’t play on the album is as impressive as the roster of gifted players who did. John Lennon stopped by at one point, drank a bottle of red wine and vomited. Country rock pioneer Gram Parsons and his girlfriend Gretchen were long-term houseguests. The American musician and tunesmith was a major factor behind the Stones’ pronounced country influence in the early Seventies; he was also a close friend and drug buddy of Keith’s. There has been much speculation about Parsons’ uncredited, behind-the-scenes role in writing many of the Stones’ country-tinged classics. But if he was hanging around Nellcôte for so long, how come he didn’t end up playing on <em>Exile</em>? Or did he?</p> <hr /> “No, he didn’t,” Richards replies. “But why he didn’t play is a good question. Gram and I would play around a lot upstairs in the living area, and he would play with Mick [Taylor] a lot up there. So I don’t know… Gram was a little shy, and we were too busy to say, ‘Hey, Gram, come down here. We need another guitar.’ He would distance himself from us when we were working. He’d come and listen a bit, but that was it. But you know, if I have a friend—and Gram was my friend—Mick sometimes gives off a vibe like, ‘You can’t be my friend if you’re his.’ It could be a bit to do with why Gram’s not playing on the record.” <p>The basement sessions were a separate world from the ’round-the-clock party taking place upstairs and in a small adjacent guesthouse, where the roadies were residing. “Upstairs was a continual ball, if you know what I mean,” Richards says. “Unfortunately the Stones were rarely involved, ’cause we were busy working.”</p> <p>But every party has its price and painful morning-after hangover. And on October 1, 1971, burglars got into Nellcôte and made off with somewhere between 11 and 17 guitars (accounts vary), purportedly in retribution for money not paid to dope dealers who had been supplying guests at the villa. For Richards, the memory is especially unpleasant.<br /> “When they put the documentary ogether for <em>Exile</em>, they showed me some footage, and there I am, holding my favorite stolen guitar, a 1964 Telecaster. It was like, ‘Oh baby, don’t rub it in.’ There she was. Had a lovely sound. I just got used to that one, you know? I can play almost any Telecaster, but the more you play just the one, the more it becomes attached to you. I almost went into a blank after the guitars were stolen. I didn’t want to think about it. But I slowly started to build up a new collection since then. I haven’t lost one since. I learned my lesson: don’t leave them hanging around on a Saturday night!” </p> <p>Just about every notable rock and roll junkie has a tale of guitars going missing, and Richards is no exception. It’s well known that he and Pallenberg were heavily into heroin during their tenure at Nellcôte. In one famous incident, the couple were so out of it that they accidentally set fire to their bed. Observers have marveled at Richards’ ability to be as creative and prolific as he was during the making of <em>Exile</em> while seriously strung out on dope. </p> <p>“Well, I’m not going to get into those questions.” He laughs and then assumes a thick Northern English accent. “ ‘Did Charlie Parker play better because he was on the stuff?’ I found that [heroin] didn’t inhibit whatever it was I wanted to do. If I thought it was diminishing me or that I wasn’t putting my fair share into the music, then I’d have been off the stuff right away. And that’s a fact. I’m a funny kind of guy. I’ve got a metabolism you wouldn’t believe.” </p> <p>Still, as the glorious Mediterranean summer gave way to winter’s chill, the idyll at Nellcôte was clearly drawing to a close. The local police were starting to get ugly, and the Stones’ phenomenal creative streak was wending toward a natural conclusion. Richards remembers “Casino Boogie,” as one of the last <em>Exile</em> songs to fall into place.</p> <p>“I think when we got to ‘Casino Boogie,’ Mick and I looked at each other and just couldn’t think of another lyrical concept or idea for the song.” At that point Richards recalled another great junkie artist, the novelist William Burroughs. “I said to Mick, ‘You know how Bill Burroughs did that cut-up thing—where he would randomly chop words out of a book or newspaper and then try to sort them up?’ That’s how we did the lyrics for ‘Casino Boogie,’ and that was Bill Burroughs’ biggest influence on the Rolling Stones.” </p> <p>At the end of November, barely one step ahead of the police, the Stones decamped for Los Angeles. Working at the historic Sunset Sound studio, they began laying overdubs onto the tracks they’d cut at Nellcôte. Billy Preston, who just a couple of years before had worked with the Beatles on <em>Let It Be</em>, lent his formidable piano and organ talents to “Shine a Light.” Pedal steel ace Al Perkins imparted a tearful country lilt to “Torn and Frayed,” and upright bass player Bill Plummer left his mark on no fewer than four tracks: “Rip This Joint,” “Turd on the Run,” “I Just Wanna See His Face” and “All Down the Line.” A phalanx of backing vocalists added loads of soul and gospel grandeur. Among their ranks, on “Let It Loose,” was none other than Mac Rebennack, better know as the celebrated New Orleans pianist and singer Dr. John. “He just walked in,” Richards recalls. “Mac Rebennack’s like that. If there’s music going on, in one way or another, he’s gonna get his ass in there. I love the guy.” </p> <hr /> By the time overdubs were completed, there were too many tracks in the can to do a single album. And so the Rolling Stones joined the Beatles, the Who, Jimi Hendrix and other classic rockers who have left the world with a monumental double-album statement. <p>“The fact that the Beatles had done it probably gave us a sense of, ‘Oh, there is a precedent,’ ” Richards says. “But our point was that we’d put down this body of work and when it came to chopping it down to one album, nobody could agree on which songs to cut. After a while, Mick and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is impossible. How about a double? This is all one piece. It’s gonna be unique just because of where it was recorded and the way it was recorded.’ We sort of nodded at one another and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ Which gave us hell from the record company: ‘Aw, the public hates double albums,’ and all of that. But we insisted.” </p> <p>Richards adds that mixing the album was daunting, “only from the point of view that there was so much of it. Mixing a double album was different than mixing a single album. So we were going into uncharted territory. Mick and I would look at one another and say, ‘How many more songs to go?’ mopping our brow, so to speak. But I can’t remember it being that difficult. I think we were so intimate with the tracks by then that, listening to the overdubs and mixing, it just put the icing on the cake. I remember it as being a very joyous couple of weeks. We were all on top of it. Jimmy Miller, all of us—we all knew what we were doing. It was just a matter of watching it fall into place. It was one of those rare things: a perfect mixing session.” </p> <p>Sequencing the album, however, was more of a chore. As mentioned previously, much of <em>Exile</em>’s magic lies in the way the songs flow from one to the next. But that magic didn’t just happen spontaneously. </p> <p>“Trying to get the track order down was murder, actually,” Richards says, laughing. “I’d be sending cassettes to Mick in the middle of the night—putting my version of what the order should be under his door. I’d come back to my room and there’d already be a cassette under my door with his version of what it should be. ‘Hey, Mick, that’s pretty good, but you’ve got four songs in a row in the same key. We can’t do that!’ You’d come across all these weird little problems that you never thought of. It was like making a jigsaw puzzle. By the time I got the final version, I didn’t give a shit anymore!” </p> <p>While the music on <em>Exile</em> is a product of that summer in the south of France, the album’s packaging and conceptual framework were largely inspired by L.A.’s late-Seventies aura of faded Hollywood decadence. The “Main Street” referenced in the title was a seedy thoroughfare in downtown Los Angeles, which harbored a Chinese restaurant that the Stones liked to frequent at the time. The black-and-white cover images—a bizarre and vaguely disquieting assortment of showbiz freaks and geeks from days gone by—were snapped from the walls of an L.A. tattoo parlor by photographer Robert Frank. All these elements contributed to a wistful fin-de-siècle mood that permeates the album packaging and perfectly reflects the mood at the time of the album’s creation. It was indeed the end of an era. The Sixties were dead and long gone by the time <em>Exile</em> was released on May 12, 1972; so were Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, as well as the Beatles, a band with which the Rolling Stones had long been associated. The hippie dream had failed to materialize. </p> <p>And so on <em>Exile</em>, the Stones seemed to be enshrining themselves among the yellowing photos of yesteryear’s forgotten entertainers. A series of 12 postcards included with the original album—and faithfully reproduced in the Deluxe reissue—offered a comedic depiction, also in blurry black and white, like an old movie, of the Stones arrival “in exile.” The caption for the final card reads:</p> <p>“Taylor realizes the fall is complete, ‘they’ll be Forever Exiles on Main Street.’ He suggests early retirement. ‘No better not, it’s getting quite late and we’ll be fogged in forever quite soon.’ ”</p> <p> The reference to “early retirement” is especially rich 40 years on. But what was it that enabled the Stones to not only endure but also triumph when so many of their Sixties contemporaries had either dropped dead, split up or become woefully irrelevant? </p> <p>“I’m probably the worst person in the world to answer that question,” Richards replies. “I suppose at that particular period, the early Seventies, everything else had run out of steam—the Beatles and whatever. And I think maybe it’s just the fact that we kept going that did it. At the same time, what was picking up then was stuff like Zeppelin. A whole new energy came in from another generation. There was a lot going on. As I think about it, we didn’t see any reason to stop, and we were on a roll. So we just followed it. And suddenly, you find you’re 66 years old.” </p> <p>As for the possibility of the Rolling Stones or some younger band making a modern-day equivalent of <em>Exile on Main St.</em> today, Richards demurs. “I’m not saying it’s impossible,” he says. “But, hey, it’s probably highly unlikely.”</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="/keith-richards">Keith Richards</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/rolling-stones-keith-richards-making-exile-main-st#comments GW Archive Keith Richards Mick Jagger Rolling Stones Interviews News Features Magazine Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:53:28 +0000 Alan Di Perna http://www.guitarworld.com/article/11884 Celebrate the Holidays with 'The Ultimate Christmas Guitar Songbook' http://www.guitarworld.com/celebrate-ultimate-christmas-guitar-songbook <!--paging_filter--><p><em>The Ultimate Christmas Guitar Songbook</em> is <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/products/copy-of-fingerpicking-christmas/?&amp;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="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/products/copy-of-fingerpicking-christmas/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=UltimateXmasSongbook">Head to the Guitar World Online Store now!</a></strong></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/celebrate-ultimate-christmas-guitar-songbook#comments News Features Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:10:09 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22933 Final Day of Massive Savings at Guitar World Store: DVDs, Books, T-Shirts and More http://www.guitarworld.com/final-day-massive-savings-guitar-world-store-dvds-books-t-shirts-and-more <!--paging_filter--><p>Yes, <em>Guitar World</em>'s 12 Days of Holiday Days sale is over, but we're giving you <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/12-days-of-deals/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=14XmasDeals13">one more day to enjoy the holiday savings!</a></p> <p><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/12-days-of-deals/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=14XmasDeals13">Head to the the Guitar World Online Store</a> right now to save on instructional DVDs, T-shirts, books and more!</p> <p>Honestly, there's too much to list here, so <a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/12-days-of-deals/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=14XmasDeals13"><br /> visit the "One Last Day" sale page now!</a></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/final-day-massive-savings-guitar-world-store-dvds-books-t-shirts-and-more#comments 12 Days of Holiday Deals News Features Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:01:15 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23129 ‘Only to Rise’: George Lynch Talks New Album with Michael Sweet, Plus Lynch Mob and Dokken http://www.guitarworld.com/only-rise-george-lynch-talks-new-album-michael-sweet-lynch-mob-and-dokken <!--paging_filter--><p>When most people discuss potential supergroups, the last combination of artists they toss around are Michael Sweet of Stryper and George Lynch of Lynch Mob, Shadow Train and Dokken. </p> <p>Yet these two masters of shred have joined forces for <em>Only to Rise,</em> the debut album from their new project, Sweet &amp; Lynch, that will be released January 27.</p> <p>Joining the Sweet &amp; Lynch adventure are bassist James Lomenzo [Megadeth, White Lion] and drummer Brian Tichy [Whitesnake, Foreigner, Ozzy Osbourne]. </p> <p>From the opening notes of the “The Wish” to songs like “Dying Rose,” “Love Stays” and “September," it’s evident the blend of Sweet’s unmistakable voice and Lynch’s signature guitar tone has yielded exceptional results.</p> <p>I recently caught up with Lynch to find out more about <em>Only to Rise</em> and get an update on the new Lynch Mob record, <em>Sun Red Sun,</em> and his <em>Shadow Nation</em> documentary and Shadow Train band projects. Lynch also puts to rest any rumors of a Dokken reunion.</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD: How did the collaboration with Michael Sweet begin?</strong></p> <p>Lynch Mob and Stryper share an agent, and we’ve done a few tours together. During a few of those dates here and there, Michael and I would hang out and casually start talking about the idea of working together. We enjoyed each other’s company and had mutual respect for each other musically and as people. It was a good fit. So when the opportunity from Frontiers Records came along to do this record, it was an easy decision. Just a handshake and off to the races!</p> <p><strong>How would you describe the sound of <em>Only to Rise</em>?</strong></p> <p>There are so many elements to it. Even though we're both legacy players who have influences that go so far back, the album doesn’t sound dated. At the same time, we've also matured as writers, and that really comes out in our music. If you can construct really great songs, it doesn't matter what era or what genre it's from. In the end, a good song is a good song. </p> <p>One of the examples on this album is “Dying Rose,” which has a country-esque, Nashville element to it. I could hear a modern country outfit do it as well as a rock band. It's a beautiful melody and chorus with a nice hook. There's also some showing off and old-school metal kind of stuff on this album as well. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jmmolV-B7xE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><strong>Did you approach the songwriting process for Sweet &amp; Lynch differently than some of your other projects?</strong></p> <p>Michael and I talked a little about it. His idea was to take the Eighties thing and make it sound more modern. When I write, I'm always aware of who I'm writing for and in what context. But as far as direction, I tried not to think too hard about it and just went in and had fun. I'm very happy with the sound of this record.</p> <p><strong>Do you have plans to tour as Sweet &amp; Lynch?</strong></p> <p>We're kicking around a few ideas right now. Since we share the same agent, there's even been talk about possibly doing a Lynch Mob/Michael Sweet thing. If that happens, one of our bands would play and then I would come out with Michael's band or vice versa. But we'll be playing in some context next year.</p> <p><strong>What can you tell me about the new Lynch Mob record, <em>Sun Red Sun</em>?</strong></p> <p><em>Sun Red Sun</em> is a record we started more than two years ago. It was from the last incarnation of the band, which is a great version. There are also four bonus tracks on there as well. We're also just finishing up the music for another new Lynch Mob record that will be coming out next spring. Jeff Pilson is playing bass, Brian Tichy is playing drums along with Oni Logan (vocals) and me. It's a very trippy record. </p> <p><strong>Can you give me an update on the <em>Shadow Nation</em> documentary and Shadow Train band project?</strong></p> <p>We're looking to release the film later in 2015. It's going to be a double CD soundtrack that's very eclectic. We did the first record with Vinnie Nicastro on drums. It was a different style, which was something a little cooler and mellower. The second record has Jimmy D'Anda on drums and is a little more focused and heavier. The second record is more of what the band is about. </p> <p><strong>The last time we spoke, you mentioned the long-shot possibility of a Dokken reunion and record. Do you have an update on that?</strong></p> <p>We tried for the umpteenth time to get that together as best we could because it made sense on so many levels. We thought we had triangulated all of the issues and finally agreed on things. But everything just blew up with the last few communications from Don. We gave it the old college try, but at the end of the day, it's just not going to happen.</p> <p><em>For more about Sweet &amp; Lynch, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SweetLynch">follow them on Facebook.</a></em></p> <p><em>James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, <a href="http://gojimmygo.net/">GoJimmyGo.net</a>. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/JimEWood">Twitter @JimEWood.</a></em></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="/george-lynch">George Lynch</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/only-rise-george-lynch-talks-new-album-michael-sweet-lynch-mob-and-dokken#comments George Lynch James Wood Michael Sweet Sweet & Lynch Interviews News Features Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:11:44 +0000 James Wood http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23127 Guitar World's 10 Best Box Sets of 2014 http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-worlds-10-best-box-sets-2014 <!--paging_filter--><p>While this was a somewhat uneventful year for new rock releases, it was bananas for interesting box sets. </p> <p>Record companies reached deep inside their vaults and discovered some really cool and weird things. </p> <p>The following are 10 ways to completely blow your holiday money, and it runs the gamut from classic the Beatles and Zep to bizarre prog oddities like Captain Beefheart and Jethro Tull. As is customary at GW, this top 10 list is actually a top 11 list. Enjoy!</p> <p><strong>Check out the rest of <em>Guitar World's</em> 2014 year-end content (Note: More is coming soon!) <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/tags/year-end-2014">right here.</a> And be sure to take <em>Guitar World</em>'s <a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/pick-best-shredder-best-album-and-more-take-guitar-worlds-2014-readers-poll">2014 year-end readers poll</a> to vote on the best album, best GW cover, best shredder, best blues guitarist, <em>Guitar World</em> MVP and much more!</strong></p> <p>See you next year!</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/guitar-worlds-10-best-box-sets-2014#comments Year End 2014 News Features Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:27:07 +0000 Brad Tolinski http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23114 12 Days of Holiday Deals from Guitar World: Day 12 — Get Any Guitar World DVD for Only $5 http://www.guitarworld.com/12-days-holiday-deals-guitar-world-day-12-get-any-guitar-world-dvd-only-5 <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/12-days-of-deals/dvd/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=14XmasDeals12">Today is Day 12 of our third annual 12 Days of Holiday Deals Sale at the Guitar World Online Store!</a></p> <p>You can expect a great new deal every day, including today's deal:</p> <p>Get any <em>Guitar World</em> DVD for only $5!</p> <p>These things make perfect stocking stuffers! And again, they're only $5 each.</p> <p>Titles include:</p> <p>• <em>20 Essential Acoustic Rock Licks</em><br /> • <em>20 Essential Beginner Blues Licks</em><br /> • <em>20 Essential Bluegrass Licks</em><br /> • <em>20 Essential Classical Licks</em><br /> • <em>20 Essential Jazz Licks</em><br /> • <em>20 Essential Metal Licks</em><br /> • <em>30 Hot Country Licks</em></p> <p>... and many more!</p> <p><strong><a href="http://guitarworld.myshopify.com/collections/12-days-of-deals/dvd/?&amp;utm_source=gw_homepage&amp;utm_medium=daily_scroller&amp;utm_campaign=14XmasDeals12">Head to the Guitar World Online Store now!</a></strong></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/12-days-holiday-deals-guitar-world-day-12-get-any-guitar-world-dvd-only-5#comments 12 Days of Holiday Deals News Features Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:26:26 +0000 Guitar World Staff http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23117 Great Musical Moments and Mistakes Made Magnificent in Headphones http://www.guitarworld.com/five-musical-moments-made-magnificent-headphones <!--paging_filter--><p>OK, so you have your headphones out. </p> <p>What do you want to listen to? Something beautiful? Something cool? Something you’ve never heard before? How about all three? </p> <p>The following are five tracks by some of your favorite bands worth putting under the microscope for reasons listed below. Enjoy!</p> <p><strong>Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love"</strong></p> <p>Someone laughs briefly at the very beginning, must be Robert Plant. </p> <p>It’s nearly impossible to detect except on headphones, but the laugh exudes a “get a load of this” confidence and sets the stage for one of the most crushing songs ever recorded. But most importantly it provides part of the human element that helped make Led Zeppelin one of the most revered and heralded bands of all time. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Mln0RciE2o0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Steve Howe, "Sketches in the Sun"</strong></p> <p>Most folks know Steve Howe’s fabulous “Mood for a Day” instrumental, but some folks may not be as familiar with his “Sketches in the Sun” track. </p> <p>On headphones, listen to the tender articulation of this performance and the interaction between the guitar and the lush reverb; the song takes on an amazing orchestral quality.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/guSzFIv3N_A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>David Lee Roth, "Drop in the Bucket"</strong></p> <p>There is so much going on in this song it is ridiculous, from a spunky acoustic guitar intro, to Jason Becker’s subtle finger-picked clean lines, to a signature sweep picking solo break. </p> <p>But starting around 3:37 the guitar and vocals begin a magnificent interplay where at one second you think you are listening to David Lee Roth singing in falsetto, but it is actually Jason Becker’s guitar, and the next second it is the other way around. This passage is just beautiful and gives me the chills every time I listen to it.</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OksMf5ALal8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" from <em>Live Alive</em></strong></p> <p>This song is a pure treat on headphones as the guitar slathered in a slow panning effect just struts around the stereo field destroying all in its path. </p> <p>Stevie had a masterful way of making his guitar scream that was utterly unique. You can just feel the volume and the amount of air being pushed out of his amps. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/FR_EAeFAyn8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nirvana, "In Bloom"</strong></p> <p>This song jumps right out of the speakers and with incredible power. </p> <p>If you listen on headphones, you will notice that instead of simply double tracking the same exact guitar rig/EQ setup and panning hard left and right, the left side guitar was recorded with a different rig/EQ setup. These two different guitar sounds combine to make this track sound absolutely huge, and accentuates the quiet/loud verse/chorus structure of the song. </p> <p><iframe width="620" height="365" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/6vqfuAczm7g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Brad Tolinski is the editor-in-chief at </em>Guitar World.</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="/stevie-ray-vaughan">Stevie Ray Vaughan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/led-zeppelin">Led Zeppelin</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/steve-howe">Steve Howe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nirvana">Nirvana</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-lee-roth">David Lee Roth</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/five-musical-moments-made-magnificent-headphones#comments Blue Microphones David Lee Roth Led Zeppelin Nirvana Steve Howe Stevie Ray Vaughan News Features Mon, 15 Dec 2014 21:50:47 +0000 Brad Tolinski http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23112 From the Archive: The Definitive Kurt Cobain Gear Guide http://www.guitarworld.com/archive-definitive-kurt-cobain-gear-guide <!--paging_filter--><p><em>This classic article from the August 1997 issue of </em>Guitar World<em> serves as the definitive guide to Kurt Cobain's grungy assortment of pawn shop prizes, turbo-charged stomp boxes and blown woofers.</em></p> <p>Kurt Cobain must have been amused when magazines like <em>Guitar World</em> and <em>Guitar Player</em> requested interviews and when Fender approached him to design a guitar. But here's where another irony exists — although Cobain often said he didn't care very much about equipment, he certainly possessed more than a passing interest in the tools of his trade. </p> <p>Cobain may not have collected vintage <strong>Gibsons, Martins, D'Angelicos</strong> and what-not, but he owned an eccentric cache of budget models, low-end imports and pawn shop prizes — most pursued with the same passion as a Gibson collector seeking a mint '59 Les Paul. Even when he could afford the best, Cobain's taste in instruments never changed. "Junk is always best," Cobain stated matter-of-factly to Jeff Gilbert in a February 1992 <em>Guitar World</em> interview. "I use whatever I can find at junk shops."</p> <p>Over the years, rumors about Cobain using special processors and studio trickery to obtain his sound have proliferated, so we figured the time had come to get to the real bottom of the truth about Cobain's equipment to be revealed. To do so, we contacted the most reliable sources available — the dealers who sold him his equipment, the engineers and producers who worked with him in the studio and the technicians who looked after his gear on the road. </p> <p>A couple of well-researched websites, Chris Lawrence's site and Brian Haberman's site [<em>2013 Editor's Note: These websites no longer exist. Remember this story is from 1997!</em>], also supplied many useful details. Michael Azerrad's <em>Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana</em> (Main Street/Doubleday) provided excellent background information and photographs, and we also pored over the few interviews on the subject granted by Cobain himself.</p> <p>Cobain almost certainly would have laughed at the idea of a magazine scrutinizing the minute details of his gear. "I've never considered musical equipment very sacred," he once said. But for the thousands of guitarists who consider Cobain's music sacred, it's important to understand what he played and why he played it.</p> <p><strong>SCENTLESS APPRENTICE: COBAIN'S VIRGIN MUSICAL YEARS</strong></p> <p>Kurt Donald Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington, on February 20, 1967. His first guitar, a used electric, was a 14th birthday present from his uncle Chuck. "As soon as I got my guitar, I just became so obsessed with it," Cobain told Michael Azerrad. "I don't think it was even a Harmony. I think it was a Sears." </p> <p>Cobain took guitar lessons for less than a month — just long enough to learn how to play AC/DC's "Back in Black." Those three chords served him well when he began writing his own songs shortly thereafter.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/kurt-cobain-talks-gear-and-more-his-final-guitar-world-interview-1992">[[ Read Guitar World's Final Interview with Kurt Cobain from the February 1992 Issue ]]</a></strong></p> <p>Cobain soon set his sights on forming a band. One day, a couple of friends invited him to jam in an abandoned meat locker they used as a practice space. Afterwards, Cobain foolishly left his guitar in the locker and was subsequently unable to return and get it back. </p> <p>When he finally made it back to the rehearsal space a few months later, he found his guitar in pieces. He salvaged the neck, hardware and electronics and made a new body for the guitar in wood shop, but Cobain lacked the skills to make the restored instrument intonate properly.</p> <p>When Cobain was 17, his mother married Pat O'Connor, whose ensuing infidelity led to a situation that greatly facilitated Cobain's acquisition of musical gear. After Cobain's mother learned that Pat was cheating on her, she dumped his gun collection in the river. Cobain observed his mother's antics and later encouraged some of the neighborhood kids to fish his stepdad's weapons out. Cobain sold the guns and bought a used <strong>Peavey Vintage</strong> amplifier with two 12-inch speakers with the proceeds.</p> <p>In early 1985, Cobain moved in with his natural father who discouraged his son's musical pursuits and convinced him to pawn his guitar. After about a week, Cobain got his guitar out of hock and moved out. He almost lost the guitar again when he loaned it to a drug dealer, but managed to repossess it a few months later. With this unknown guitar and the Peavey amp in hand, Cobain formed his first band, Fecal Matter, in late 1985.</p> <p>The Peavey amp disappeared sometime between early 1986 and late 1987. Krist Novoselic remembers that Cobain gave the amp to him for about a week, in what apparently was a friendly attempt to get him to join Fecal Matter. Novoselic declined on both offers. </p> <p>The amp disappeared sometime after that. By late 1987 Novoselic finally agreed to form a band with Cobain and drummer Aaron Burckhard, which they called Skid Row. Photos from this era show Cobain playing a right-hand model sunburst <strong>Univox Hi-Flyer</strong> flipped over and strung for left-handed playing. According to Azerrad, Cobain's amp during this period was a tiny <strong>Fender Champ</strong>. Also around this time, Cobain acquired a <strong>Univox Superfuzz</strong>, but it was stolen from his rehearsal space.</p> <p>The band's name changed frequently, from Fecal Matter to such similarly choice monikers as Ted Ed Fred, Pen Cap Chew, Throat Oyster, Windowpane and Bliss. Eventually they settled on Nirvana. When Burckhard proved too unreliable, Cobain and Novoselic kicked him out of the band and enlisted drummer Dale Crover, who they temporarily stole from the Melvins. Three weeks later, on January 23, 1988, Nirvana recorded its first studio demo at Reciprocal Studio with Jack Endino-whose early production/engineering/mixing credits include Soundgarden, Green River, Tad and Mudhoney-behind the board.</p> <p><strong>BLOND AMBITION: THE <em>BLEACH</em> YEARS</strong></p> <p>A few months after working with Nirvana for the first time, Endino played the band's demo tape for Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records, who signed the band to the label. Three of the songs that Nirvana recorded during that session ended up on <em>Bleach</em>, the band's first album.</p> <p>The band liked working with Endino, and they returned to Reciprocal Studios several times during the year to record more songs, although Chad Channing replaced Crover on drums. Nirvana signed a contract with Sub Pop, and in late December 1988, they entered Reciprocal Studios to record <em>Bleach</em>. The album was recorded in three days for $606.16, although five tracks from earlier sessions were included on the final album. Most of the remaining songs from the various Reciprocal sessions were released several years later on <em>Incesticide</em>.</p> <p>"When they recorded <em>Bleach</em>, Kurt's <strong>Randall</strong> was in the shop so they borrowed my amp, which was a Sixties <strong>Fender Twin</strong>," Endino recalls. "I'm a tube nut, so everything was tweaked and up to spec on that amp, but it didn't have speakers because I had fried them. Kurt brought in a little closed-back 2x12 cabinet with two <strong>Celestions</strong>, most likely 70-watt models. He was using a little orange <strong>Boss DS-1</strong> distortion pedal and these Univox guitars [Hi-Flyers] that looked like <strong>Mosrites</strong>. The pickups were stock. I ended up getting one of those pickups from him once, because he was smashing those guitars all the time. I said, `You must have some extra pickups,' and he said, `Oh yeah. Here's one.' It was in two pieces. I was able to stick the wires together and use it. It's not the greatest sounding pickup in the world, but it seemed to work for him."</p> <hr /> <p>In 1989, Nirvana went on its first American tour. According to Earnie Bailey, a Seattle guitar repairman who was friends with Novoselic and who often worked as a technician for the band, Cobain's live rig during this period was a red <strong>Epiphone ET270</strong>, a solid-state <strong>Randall</strong> amp head, a <strong>BFI Bullfrog</strong> 4x12 cabinet and a <strong>Boss DS-1</strong> distortion. When his guitar was destroyed beyond repair, Cobain would look for cheap replacements in pawn shops or have Sub Pop ship him guitars via Federal Express.</p> <p>"I heard stories about Kurt's guitar destruction from the Sub Pop people early on," says Endino. "When he was out on the road he'd call them up and say, `I don't know what got into me, but I just smashed up my guitar.' I don't think he was planning on smashing guitars from day one. It was just something he did. The poor Sub Pop people would call all the pawn shops up and down the coast, looking for Univox guitars."</p> <p>Between tours, Cobain often bought equipment from Guitar Maniacs in Tacoma, Washington, and Danny's Music in Everett, Washington. According to Rick King, owner of Guitar Maniacs, Cobain "bought a whole bunch of <strong>Univox Hi-Flyers</strong> — both the P-90 version and ones with humbuckers. Those pickups have huge output and are completely over the top. He broke a lot of those guitars. We sold him several of them for an average of $100 each over the course of five years."</p> <p>Although humbucker-equipped Univox Hi-Flyers apparently were Cobain's favorite guitars in the pre-<em>Nevermind</em> days, he often appeared on stage with other models, including a blue Gibson SG and a sunburst left-handed Greco Mustang copy he bought from Guitar Maniacs.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.guitarworld.com/kurt-cobain-talks-gear-and-more-his-final-guitar-world-interview-1992">[[ Read Guitar World's Final Interview with Kurt Cobain from the February 1992 Issue ]]</a></strong></p> <p>Cobain purchased what probably was his first acoustic guitar, a <strong>Stella</strong> 12-string, for $31.21 on October 12, 1989. He brought the Stella to Smart Studios in Wisconsin to record some demos with Butch Vig in April 1990. The guitar wasn't exactly a studio musician's dream. </p> <p>"It barely stays in tune," Cobain told Jeff Gilbert in a February 1992 <em>Guitar World</em> interview. "I have to use duct tape to hold the tuning keys in place." At some point in the Stella's history, the steel strings had been replaced with six nylon strings, only five of which were intact during the session. However, the guitar sounded good enough to Vig, who recorded Cobain playing a solo acoustic version of "Polly" on that guitar. That track can be heard on <em>Nevermind</em>.</p> <p>Cobain didn't seem to be exceptionally particular about what equipment he was playing through, with the notable exception of his effects pedals. Sometime in 1990, he bought an <em>Electro-Harmonix Small Clone</em> from Guitar Maniacs, and it remained a favorite and essential part of his setup to the end of his life. On January 1, 1991, Cobain used the Small Clone to record "Aneurysm," which later was issued as the b-side to the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" single. </p> <p><strong>BREEDING GROUND: THE RECORDING OF <em>NEVERMIND</em></strong></p> <p>Prior to formally signing with Geffen Records on April 30, 1991, Nirvana received a $287,000 advance for the recording of <em>Nevermind</em>. The advance was somewhat meager, but it gave the band some freedom in choosing equipment. However, Cobain didn't exactly go wild with his spending.</p> <p>"I sold Kurt a bunch of guitars and effects for the <em>Nevermind</em> album," says Rick King. "When they got signed to Geffen and started getting money, Kurt was still very frugal. He bought some Japanese left-handed Strats and had humbuckers installed in the Strats' lead position. He didn't spend very much money on guitars."</p> <p>Apparently Cobain developed a taste for Fender guitars just prior to recording <em>Nevermind</em>. "I like guitars in the Fender style because they have skinny necks," said Cobain in a late 1991 interview. "I've resorted to Japanese-made Fender Stratocasters because they're the most available left-handed guitars." During this period, he also acquired a left-handed <strong>'65 Jaguar</strong> that had a <strong>DiMarzio Super Distortion</strong> humbucker in the bridge position and a <strong>DiMarzio PAF</strong> in the neck position in place of the guitar's stock single-coil pickups. These modifications were made before Cobain purchased the guitar. Cobain also bought a left-handed, Lake Placid Blue <strong>'69 Fender Competition Mustang</strong> around then.</p> <p>"Out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite," Cobain told GW. "They're cheap and totally inefficient, and they sound like crap and are very small. They also don't stay in tune, and when you want to raise the string action on the fretboard, you have to loosen all the strings and completely remove the bridge. You have to turn these little screws with your fingers and hope that you've estimated it right. If you screw up, you have to repeat the process over and over until you get it right. Whoever invented that guitar was a dork. I guess I'm calling Leo Fender, the dead guy, a dork." To overcome these tuning problems, Cobain had his '69 Mustang fitted with a <strong>Gotoh Tune-O-Matic</strong> bridge, a modification that was routinely performed on the Mustangs he subsequently acquired.</p> <p>Some claim that Cobain's preference for low-end guitars was a punk statement, but he insisted that it was a matter of necessity. "I don't favor them," Cobain told <em>Guitar World</em> in 1992. "I can afford them. I'm left-handed and it's not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars." Before entering the studio, Cobain purchased a rack rig consisting of a Mesa/Boogie Studio preamp, a Crown power amp and a variety of Marshall 4x12 cabinets. "I can never find an amp that's powerful enough," Cobain told GW. "And I don't want to deal with hauling 10 Marshall heads. I'm lazy-I like to have it all in one package. For a preamp I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I turn all the midrange up." Cobain brought this rig along with his Mustang, Jaguar, a Japanese Strat and his Boss DS-1 and Electro-Harmonix Small Clone pedals to Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, where the band recorded Nevermind with Butch Vig.</p> <p>"Kurt had a Mesa/Boogie, but we also used a Fender Bassman a lot and a Vox AC30 on Nevermind," Vig recalls. "I prefer getting the amp to sound distorted instead of using special effects or pedals, which lose body and the fullness of the bottom end."</p> <p>Still, Vig allowed Cobain to use a few pedals on the album, especially since the guitarist felt that the DS-1 was the main factor in his tone. Cobain also used the Small Clone liberally. "That's making the watery guitar sound you hear on the pre-chorus build-up of `Smells Like Teen Spirit' and also `Come As You Are,'" says Vig. "We used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff fuzz box through a Fender Bassman on `Lithium' to get that thumpier, darker sound."</p> <p>Cobain's pawn shop Stella was used again for "Something in the Way." Vig recorded the performance while Cobain sat on a couch in the control room. Against Vig's wishes, Cobain plugged his guitar direct into the board for "Territorial Pissings." During the recording of "Lithium," Cobain instigated the noise jam that became the "hidden" track "Endless, Nameless." (This track does not appear on the first 50,000 copies of the CD.) Towards the end of the track, Cobain can be heard smashing his Japanese Stratocaster.</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="/nirvana">Nirvana</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kurt-cobain">Kurt Cobain</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.guitarworld.com/archive-definitive-kurt-cobain-gear-guide#comments August 1997 GW Archive Kurt Cobain Nirvana News Features Gear Magazine Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:23:16 +0000 Chris Gill http://www.guitarworld.com/article/11150