George Lynch has offered fans a rare opportunity to go behind the curtain and see what really goes on when he’s making a record, with Rat Pack Records posting a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Lynch’s instrumental solo album, Guitars at the End of the World, on YouTube.
Lynch is hardly an unknown quantity. He needs little introduction around these parts. This is one of the O.G. electric guitar pioneers to come out of the ‘80s rock scene, the first player to get an ESP signature guitar, and a guy whose tone is 100 percent premium, and technique watertight.
And yet there’s still an air of mystery about Mr. Scary. It’s not often that we get to see him at work in the studio. Heck, in this age when the DVD is out, social media is in, we tend only to see snippets of studio footage from anyone. And okay, the music documentary of this week has to go to Alex Gibney’s epic Paul Simon biopic, In Restless Dreams…, but this is a real treat, and it follows Lynch as he arrives at Henson Studios in Hollywood, California, to check in with producer Big Chris Flores and get to work.
“This place has got some history, heavy history,” says Lynch as we follow him down the corridor, past the room where John Shanks worked, past the fish tank in the breakout room.
He’s right. This is a historic location, with A&M’s Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss buying Charlie Chaplin’s studio facility and turning two of the soundstages into a recording studio. Which is where we join Lynch. “Yeeesss, just the smell of this room, right? Smells like home,” says Lynch. “‘Smells like tone!’ That’s a good name for the record.”
It’s soon evident why Lynch is here. There’s everything you need – especially space. Henson, says Lynch, has the best drum room in L.A. Flores agrees.
“This is the room if you want to do live drums,” he says. “Once you’ve got your drums down you can’t do anything bad to the song, and this drum room is one of the best in the world, man.”
This being a Lynch record, you know there’s going to be some tubes cooking in the back of a Marshall amp. He does not disappoint. The guitars are pretty sweet, too, with a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom joining Lynch’s ESP Kamikaze – a Superstrat that wears a six-in-line banana headstock like few others can.
Of course, the record is not Smells Like Tone, even if we would legit endorse any future Lynch solo album with such a title. It’s Guitars at the End of the World, only Lynch’s second instrumental solo album in his career, following 2021’s Seamless.
It finds Lynch joined on drums by the legendary Curt “Kirkee B.” Bisquera (Tom Petty/Elton John), Tony Franklin on bass guitar, with Lynch’s regular sticksman Jimmy D’Anda sitting in for The Crucible. Ahead of the release, Lynch described himself as a “semi-redeemed ‘80s hair shredder”, and promised his audience that he would try to challenge them without taking the arrangements to extreme. In other words, he wasn’t going to overplay.
“I want my instrumental records to be challenging, but not exhausting,” he explained. “Personal, without being belligerently self-indulgent, include a fair amount of guitar histrionics, and pay tribute to the masters without making it sound like I’m competing to be the end-all summation of all guitar legacies that preceded me. I also wanted the underlying music to be more than vehicles for solos, I want the compositions to stand on their own.”
For all Lynch’s position as one of the bona-fide shred pioneers, there is a case to be made that is he, if not underrated, perhaps misunderstood. The Mr. Scary tag might be doing him an injustice.
His chops are scary. He’s anything but. As this BTS doc shows, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. “I tried really hard to make it weird – don’t tell me it’s 4/4!” he protests to Flores when debating a time signature. “It shows that you’re really smart when you do stuff that’s not 4/4. It’s very European.”
Guitars at the End of the World is out now on Rat Pack Records. You can also find out what is on George Lynch’s pedalboard – because he revealed all to GW back in May.