WR: Who is the guitarist who first made you think "I need to do that" ?
Matt Scott: Easy. Jimmy Page. From a pretty early age I'd taken great pleasure in singing - writing songs on the fly, little melodies and ideas in passing based on whatever my parents, cousins, friends were listening to. Christmas 1994 or so, I bought my Dad a 4CD Zeppelin box set that I had largely written off in leu of green day, RHCP, STP..the stuff that I saw on MTV everyday. I don't even remember the moment when I first started listening more closely....though I'm guessing it was in 8th grade and in direct correlation to an ever-expanding appreciation for pre-teen boobs and rebellion - Zeppelin felt dangerous, exhilarating and unique by comparison to anything I knew at that time. Prior to Jimmy there had been other guitarists and tones that stuck with me - tom morello from rage against the machine, jay yuenger from white zombie, kenny withrow from Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians (I blame his use of filters on the solo for "What I am" as the song that catalyst for a fascination with synths, talk boxes, heaving q'ing and throaty wah pedals that continues to this day.)
But to get back to it, what really separated Jimmy from other guitarists I knew of at that time...it was the first musician to take solos that to my ear, sounded an awful lot like a melody you might sing. I could imagine Jimmy speaking every note that came out of the guitar - sure it was sloppy on occasion, but you could tell he'd played every slurred note exactly how he had intended. To this day, I still can't listen to the guitar intro and solo of "Since I've Been Loving You" without the hair on the back of my neck pulling towards the ceiling. I guess in short - Jimmy Page was the first guitarist to make me listen less as a fan and more as a guitar player. The last thing I'll say about Pagey is that his tone is virtually unmatched, and wonderfully consistent across the breadth of his recorded work. Aside from being a man of 1000 riffs and formidable choppage, he knew the worth of finding a tone to call his own- and I think that's an art that too many guitar players have thrown by the wayside in leu of studio magic and/or laziness and apathy.
WR: Who is the guitarist who completely changed your mind about what the instrument could do?
Matt Scott: Thankfully, I have the good fortune of being able to say that for me, that guitarist changes every few months. Youtube never ceases to amazes me with its ability to introduce me to new guitarists I can't believe aren't better known, while simultaneously reminding me how infected and "dick in hand" bravado ridden the culture of guitar playing can be. That said, here are 4 guitarists who have been a guiding light for me over the years and really helped reshape the way I thought about fretboard approach, playing with space and most importantly: Tone.
Ichirou Agata (Melt Banana): There are a lot of reasons to appreciate Melt Banana. It's brazen, loud as fuck and it couldn't be more clear that the band a whole is as tight as it gets while simultaneously playing so jagged and with such immediacy that it makes you wonder if they've ever, ever practiced (the answer, btw. Is yes. And probably a lot more than you do.) Ichirou does things with a whammy wah that I can only assume are probably illegal in some areas of the far east. Proof? Check out this intro:
This guitar playing Baffles me. It stretches the conventions of the instrument to a paper thin sheet...and is so raw and unyielding it took me a dozen listens to accept the fact that someone could even produce those sounds in real time with strings, pickups and effects.
Bill Frisell: Bill has a way of playing that marries the best of a jazz musicians technical, chordal and melodic efficiencies blended with someone who exists in the realm of pure sound scape and tonal ambiguity. He is Jagged and noise making, swelling, airy, lilting, wildly original and consistently brilliant in any ensemble or solo effort. I've barely scratched the surface of his technical prowess because ever time I feel like I've gotten a grip on what makes Bill, Bill- I remember he operates at a level few can, and is truly a chameleon of the instrument paying homage to everyone and no one at once.
Djelimady Sissoko (Super Rail Band): I was introduced to the Super Rail Band my freshman year in college by a roommate that entered college at a level musically which most students would be lucky to have attained upon graduating. His taste and breadth of musical know-how was light years ahead of my own, and I still owe him a great debt of graditude for giving me free reign of his extensive cd collection which boasted more jazz and "world music" then I had even known existed at the time. Super Rail Band's album, "Mansa" for me was an incredible crash course in poly-rhythms, clean articulate picking and attention to detail. Accessible primers to a world of music you probably don't know shit about- you simply cannot go wrong starting with Mali, Djelimady and the super rail band. The title track to their 1996 album of the same name, "Mansa" is below.
Dave Fiuczynski- Screaming Headless Torsos/ KIF/ Meshell Nedecello/ Hiromi's Sonic Bloom: Eastern microtonal fretless guitar? Yeah- not too more guitarists out there doing that 18 years ago, let alone today for that matter. To the best of my knowledge, Dave is what happened when Steve Vai, John Mchlaughlin and Dimebag Darrell found themselves in a locked closet with a knife, needle and thread and instructions not to come out till they've "married the best of themselves". Spooky good. As a side note, I also have great respect for Dave's taste in band members and ensembles.....the Screaming Headless Torsos circa 1996 remains as one of the most freakish ensembles I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
Finding this on Youtube kinda blew my fucking mind, because this footage right here is exactly how I got introduced by Kottke. The sound and picture here are so gloriously muddy and dark I honestly wonder if it wasn't rendered from the very same VHS tape that my Pops had...John Fahey and Steely Dan were on it, too, I remember, just a primitive, deck-dubbed video mixtape of old live footage that was getting re-run on the oddball Canadian stations we picked up in Vermont. And, of course, good old public television: Austin City Limits and Sessions at West 54th were a staple of my early music education. I loved my father's massive library of vinyl, to be sure, but nothing grabs the young imagination like them moving pictures.
When I was first sitting down trying to emulate what I saw here, I was playing a Silvertone with a badly replaced neck and I didn't even know how to tune the thing. I reckon all I manged to do was cultivate some early carpal tunnel and annoy the living fuck out of my poor Dad.
If you'd like to attempt the monster, here's some dubious tabulature -- a lot of accurate notes, though, so a good foundation to build on.