Spotlight: Rhys Hope of Highline

Highline
(Image credit: Vasili Pappas)

RHYS HOPE

HAILS FROM: Sydney, NSW
PLAYS IN: Highline
SOUNDS LIKE: Bright and buoyant indie-rock with an avalanche of emotion
LATEST DROP: "Chasing Heaven" (single out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
When I play live for Highline, I always use a Fender American Strat from 1981 – the classic sunburst colour with a black pickguard. I am very lucky to have it at all, it’s Sam's [Rigney, vocals] father's guitar and I’m sure there is some sort of agreement that if I ever part ways playing with Sam, I’ll be parting ways with that guitar too. 

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I started playing guitar when I was 13 and fell in love when I was around 15. When I realised I could start to play some of the music I adored listening to, it turned into a bit of an obsession. 

The first guitar I ever bought was a Squier Stratocaster, I was very much in love with guitar by that point but could not quite say I loved that guitar. Me and a friend used to jam in my garage back then, and we named every piece of gear we could – that white Squire Stratocaster was called Squazco.

The first guitar I bought and loved, I still use every day at home. It’s a Schecter Diamond Series C-1 E/A. It was a much more beautiful, less twangy, smoother sounding guitar that did the trick for me all throughout school exams and jazz band rehearsals. 

What inspires you as a player?
I am a huge Britpop and garage rock fan. Trying to slide in lead guitar in an indie rock band can be challenging, as huge rock ’n’ roll style solos don’t always work. Bands like The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Oasis and The Stone Roses have really influenced me to be particular about what melodic ideas can fit into pop-rock songs; sometimes you have to prioritise quality over quantity. In saying that, there are a lot of chorus, delayed and distorted arpeggios in Britpop, and I really use them when trying to beef up the texture of songs. 

Are you much of a gear nerd?
Whatever works will make it onto my pedalboard, so I guess I’m not too much of a gear nerd. I am incapable of saying ‘no’ to pedals, though, and I find that I keep buying more and more pedals that won’t fit on my board.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
One day I would love to own an American-made Fender Professional Jazzmaster. Or really just any Fender guitar that I knew I’d have to protect with my life. 

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
It would have to be David Gilmour. He's one of the best in the world, but his solos aren’t too hard to learn or play yourself. And I think that's why he is so special. We’d be playing all of the Animals album for sure, and then maybe "Echoes" to end.

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Ellie Robinson

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Their bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (on which they also serve as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Their go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, they only picked up after they’d joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped them see the light…