One of the best and most interesting guitarists on the New York scene (which means anywhere), Brandon Seabrook combines elements of metal, jazz, punk, noise, and free improv into a guitar style uniquely his own. He also plays banjo in a way that might put all those jokes to rest. He has an amazing new record out with Mike Watt and percussionist, Mike Pride, Stove Top [Rare Noise], under the band name Three Layer Cake. Recorded remotely, it nevertheless sounds interactive and cohesive enough to be mistaken for live, save for the terrific textures and additional instruments they overdubbed. We talk about all of the above, the joys of the ZT amps, and more.
Here is the maestro as a youngster at the beginning of his tenure with the greatest musical aggregation I have ever seen. A year before this concert, he came into Rudy’s Music in New York, where I worked. He had a Gibson SG Junior and wasn’t happy with the noise from its single-coil P-90. For my sins, I convinced him to replace it with a Seymour Duncan JB and arranged for the installation. He must have also had this regular SG or purchased it later.
Cut to 1991—Bill was celebrating his 40th birthday playing with Robin Holcomb at the Great American Musical Hall in SF. I had lobbied hard for the opening slot with my band because I knew Bill would be in Robin’s band. Bill had a cold that night and wasn’t having the best birthday, nevertheless he was kind enough to help me carry my gear to my car. He is not only one of the all-time guitar greats, he is a helluva guy. Happy Birthday Bill.
If you are like me, you could stare covetously at the beautiful Island Instruments 12-string he is playing for the whole 20 minutes. But while doing so, Phelps gives great insight into his process when making loops with his desktop system.
Stian Westerhus and Eivind Aarset were two of the main guitarists that led me to found Guitar Moderne. With their obvious technical skills, command of analog and digital effects, and rock star charisma, they made it easy to get excited about new forms of guitar playing. Stian has just released a recording of a live set from DOKK-huset in Trondheim Norway, available on Bandcamp. Even though half the performance is Westerhus processing his vocals, there is plenty of astounding guitar. If you purchase the audio recording, you get access to a beautifully shot video of the live performance. We talked about the record and many, many other things.
I first interviewed Knox in 2014. He is a session guitarist who worked with the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M, and others.. He toured with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cyndi Lauper, and toured and recorded with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. In 2012, Knox moved from New York City to Berlin, where he plays and teaches. We talk about the move, his evolution from rock guitarist to a roots-meets-iPad artist and his new project with Eric Mingus, Bursting Blue Bone Bark. We also discuss the brilliance of Chris Whitley, his unlikely dragooning into becoming a cellist, and more. Check out the performance videos either before or after watching the interview.