My Guitar Genome

If you know me at all, you probably realize I spend between 50 and 99% of my time thinking about guitars. Sometimes I play them (but probably not enough). So I decided (cause I’m boring) to figure out why I play guitar the way (read: as badly as) I do, and here’s what I came up with- in semi chronological order of influence, of course.

-Jimmy Page: because I am, and have been obsessed with Led Zeppelin since I was about 11 or twelve. I think I got most of my “sloppiness is cool” ethos from that occult-lovin’ sonofabitch, and it’s come in handy a time or two. Also helped me realize, at a early age luckily, what guitars (and records in general) should sound like, and how to make them sound like that. My desire for a Les Paul and an Orage is still based around watching The Song Remains The Same during my formative years.
-George Harrison, Lennon & McCartney: Songs, songs, songs. Open chords, composition, creativity, barre chords (after I got over my fear of them). More than I can understand.
-John Frusciante: Though I find most of it unlistenable now, in 7th and 8th grade I listened to Blood Sugar Sex Magik night and day. Admittedly, it’s a pretty sleazy record for a young kid to listen to, which I thankfully realized early enough to keep it on the down low in regards to parental ears. But Frusciante has always been unbelievably talented. He tends to be kind of sloppy too, flowing in front of and behind the beat, which I latched on to. And his, dare I say, “funkiness” subconsciously interested me too. Also, his clean guitar tone is unfathomably perfect, as far as I’m concerned. Also probably the first time I laid eyes on a Fender Jaguar, too. Much later, after he rejoined RHCP and putting out tons of awesome solo records, he got even more influential to me. His acoustic playing and use of vocal harmonies are also very big chapters in my book.
-Kurt Cobain: You knew it was coming. Not only did Nirvana teach me (and everyone else, according to the lionizing press) that I could be in a band, but they instilled in my psyche- I think most importantly- that your guitar playing is only as good as your songwriting and vice versa. Oh, and POWERCHORDS. Growing up in a shitty, white trash, small-ass town severely limited my ability to get turned on to stuff like real punk records- but without Nirvana I wouldn’t have know about them anyway. Thanks to following Nirvana’s exploits I learned about a lot of my favorite bands: The Wipers, The Vaselines, Black Flag, Black Sabbath and Steve Albini. And guitars too: Jaguars, Mustangs (and Jag-Stangs), Mosrites/Univoxes, and Pat Smear’s awesome Hagstroms.
[Here’s the abridged version of the rest.]
-Lyle Preslar/Minor Threat: Hardcore.
-Sonic Youth: The greatness of noise.
-Operation Ivy: Shitty tone is cool. 
-Black Flag: Hardcore jazz noise.
-The Beastie Boys: Jamming is the world’s worst term, but the most fun activity.
-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The importance of studying the classics.
– Descendents: The greatness of real pop punk.
-Weezer: Is heavy. And Pinkerton is awesome.
-Refused: Add up all of the above and throw in more awesome, and some communism too.
-Foo Fighters
-Jimmy Eat World
-At The Drive In
-Drive Like Jehu
-Smashing Pumpkins
-The Hives
-Sunny Day Real Estate
-Nine Inch Nails
-The Get Up Kids
-Queens of the Stone Age
-The Stooges
-Joy Division
-The Darkness
-Frank Zappa


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3 responses to “My Guitar Genome

  1. onefinemess

    That’s a lot to digest.
    I still suck at guitar, so I don’t think it’s worth trying to track down why I suck.

    I will say that I never got what the big deal with Black Flag was. I went through and listened to all their stuff and one point and was like meh about it.

  2. brian

    Yeah, I tend to get a little carried away. Apologies to the 4 people that read this blog.
    And as such, I could go on for pages about Black Flag- but I won’t. I will say, however, it really depends on which Black Flag record(s) you listen to. There’s a lot of different ground covered, for better or worse.Young me likes the early, angry hardcore Black Flag, and old non-punk me likes the later, angry, stoner jazz punk improvisational Black Flag. That said, there’s no way I’d ever expect most people to enjoy any of it.

  3. brian

    And I still suck too, btw.

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