's playing on Thornography, the new Cradle Of Filth
album, is both a nod at tomorrow and a bow towards yesterday. He exalts the work of his predecessors, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and yet he never sat down to learn their licks. He is an unschooled player but trying to define his style as something new, something adventurous. The guitars on the new album are edgy and yet somehow emotionally-fueled; the parts come across as full of fire and finesse.
has a big guitar sound and big sense of humor. He doesn't take himself seriously and this so allows everyone else to.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: How do you describe the way you use your guitar as a tool in the band?
Basically the way I use it is really quite hard to explain. It's obviously all to create what I need to create musically, what I'm sort of picturing in my head and stuff. I've spoken to loads of guitarists, especially when I went to NAMM. I saw these guitar players and they were all like shredding all over the place and stuff. One thing I've noticed actually is, myself, I'm not into that whole shredding thing.
To be honest, I grew up my whole teenage years in the 80's. Vai and all that were massive. All my friends all around me were all, What about this lick and this ultra-fast stuff?
I've never been into it. So I've always concentrated, not on rhythm stuff, but mixing lead-orientated riffs, but in like a rhythmic sense. That's the way I've always been because I've never really been interested in doing ultra-fast lead work. I've always mixed the two up. Just concentrating on the 16th notes and stuff on the right hand, making sure it all sinks in. It's the guitar and it's the way we dress onstage, it's all part of this troupe, this uniformed-like togetherness. Do you know what I mean?
You explained it perfectly. I think that's why I'm attracted to what you're doing in the band.
It's not the norm. When I was at NAMM at the PRS party, I sat down and they said, Oh, You've Got An Interview.
I didn't know about it, so I said, Okay, Cool. Let's Go Do It.
And they said, Oh, you need your guitar.
I said, Okay.
This is the first-ever - not guitar interview - but I've sat down with somebody filming me playing. I was like, This is fucking really strange.
And they're like, Do you want to jam?
I said, To tell you the truth, it's not like the normal everyday guitar player stuff that I do. I don't jam.
I write songs, but I don't sit down and jam and play lead work and all that sort of like rock stuff. I've never done that. I've always played what actually I see in my head. Therefore, when I play, I don't use any specific scales or anything in order or that's musically correct or anything.
What I hear in my head is what I play, and most of the stuff is chromatic-based. I don't know where I get it from, but I've got this knack to stick some serious fucking groove behind it. I don't know. I've just managed to tap into thisI've actually managed to form my own style, that I can pick up and groove with drum beats, whether it's like really fast, slow, whatever. It just comes out dark as fuck. I've not really practiced at that sort of stuff, I've just managed to find my own style. When I was growing up as a kid, I'd never, ever, ever play covers. I can't work stuff out from record. My ear training is absolutely shit. It really is.
So you weren't listening to 80's bands and maybe Led Zeppelin?
No, I was listening to them, but I've never had the patience to sit down and try and work them out. I started playing guitar when I was 14, and well, I'm 36 now. I spent like all the beginning years just writing my own stuff because I couldn't play anybody else's stuff. I had everybody else around me playing the new hot lick. Oh, look at this look and Vai this and Malmsteen this and Warren this
It was fucking Warrant this and fucking Poison and Whitesnake riffs and all this stuff. It was like, Yeah, it's cool, but I can't stand that sort of shit.
I was into like Maiden, Priest, and Slayer, and all like the 80's thrash bands. That was just me amongst like trendy kids, who were just into that style of music. So I was pushed to the wayside. They were like, Oh, all that music is shit.
So I was basically set on my own and just developed my own style and just wrote my own stuff in the vein of the bands I actually liked.
You have an incredible right hand rhythmically. How do you develop something like that?
To be perfectly honest, it's not until about 2 or 3 years ago that I actually started playing with a metronome. There was one guitarist I was listening to - I can't remember who the fuck it was. But I was watching his right hand play and I'm thinking, That's absolutely seamless. I want a piece of that!
So I practiced every day with a click, every fucking day with a click. Most of it is like sort of scale-based, but a lot of it is like that 16 notes that are just really slow. Then every 2 hits I would change a finger pattern or something, eventually getting up to like 160 bpm.
Are those all down strokes?
No, it's alternate. Everything I play, like the whole fretboard is all down-up alternate picking. Absolutely everything. And this is just general. Like on some of the tracks we play, like it's general chugging, yeah, then it is up-down strokes. Or if I'm actually finding myself grooving on one of the tracks, then I may sort of like just throw in a couple of up strokes to bring me back round again. But no, I use .88 Tortex picks because they've made their own picks for us.
Once I start warming up my right-hand technique, actually the position of it changes. It's quite strange. When I start playing live and I start actually playing guitar, within like the first 10 minutes, I feel like - even though I practice shitloads - I still feel the right hand and the right arm starting to burn. Then eventually, after like 5 or 10 minutes, it's gone and it's just all natural fucking instinct that kicks in.
Are you playing to a click on the new record?
|"What I hear in my head is what I play, and most of the stuff is chromatic-based."|
Yeah. On the last 3 albums we've played to a click. We've play to some clicks live as well.
How did your dark sound develop?
To be honest, I don't know how it developed. I just know that all of a sudden I played and these sounds just come out. What I use, obviously, I've got a lot of Paul Reid Smith guitars. I just plugged straight into like a Mesa Boogie cabinet and that's it. Just plug straight in. That's it, no effects, no nothing. The sound of it must be the style that I play. I really don't know. It must be the style.
When I write stuff, I don't sit and go, I want this to be like this
or This has got to be dark with this bit.
Whatever comes out and we like it, we keep it. There's been a couple of times I've come up with the fucking gayest riff ever. I played and I go, Oh no, that's really bad.
I recorded it for just something. Hopefully it might trigger the creative juices into something else. Yeah, but they heard and go, That's fucking brilliant!
But no, that whole dark sound stuff, I don't know where it comes from. Honestly, perhaps it's just for a certain style and I'm English. I don't know. A lot of people said that we sound particularly like an English band.
How do you create a solo like the one in Tonight In Flames?
What we've done is we sat down with like producers and engineers and stuff. In the studio we actually wrote it, just pretty much there and then. I'd come up with a few lick ideas. To be honest, half of them sounded like shit! But then you take a section of it and go, Oh, that's pretty cool. That's a good idea.
Then I'll record that section and I'll be messing around with some more ideas that don't really work. We could use this, I suppose.
Then afterward, we'll record that section. Then what I tend to is I tend to record solos in like little runs and stuff, like in little increments, then put it all together to see what it sounds like when I've cut and pasted it together. Then if I like it, then I'll re-learn the whole thing. Personally, that's the best way I can write a lot of solo stuff. Then I can sit back and listen to it, Oh, that's pretty cool. That's pretty cool.
Then if there is a whole passage I like, then I'll stick all those increments together, figuring that works really well. Then I'll basically learn the whole thing from start to finish and record it. Like the harmonies and stuff, the melody lines or the melody solos, fast or slow, whatever, it's all put together like that. Then harmonies and stuff go on top of it and then all sorts of stuff.
Are you playing the harmonies in your solos?
You mentioned listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Did you get anything from the way they orchestrated their guitar parts?
Absolutely. Almost all of my ideas come from them! The harmonies that we do, it's like the whole idea behind it and the way we play is totally influenced by Maiden and Priest. Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. It really is. It's because we like it, you know? We've been cast as fucking Iron Maiden on crack, for God's sake! All the harmonies, ideas and stuff we've got, there are a couple of songs I can sit down and pretty much come out with like a Maiden or Priest-style harmony style straightaway without even thinking about it. But obviously, we can't keep it like that because it has to sound like Cradle.
Your producer and engineer are guitar players. Did they bring an extra dimension to your sound?
Definitely, without a shadow of doubt. I would sit down in the studio and those two pushed and said, I know that bit can be played better. That bit can be played better. That one's really cool. We'll be changing this bit.
We would all sit down and just talk amongst ourselves, you know? To be honest, it was Rob who actually said, Start with a click.
The sound that Rob got us, which carved the sounds for this last album Thornography, and it was Andy Smith's mixing. He's totally such a fucking brilliant metal engineer. So what we had done is we recorded, he mixed it, and it just came out a fucking really cool metal album. We sat down and went through different gear ideas and different sort of shit like that. It was good.
How do you usually record your guitars?
We've never really sat down and jammed as a band before when we're in the studio, but this time around we went into the studio and went over songs that we were actually going to record. Then basically what happens is someone will either play with the drums or the drummer. See, the drummer will have locked all the demos because we demo absolutely everything before we go into the studio. It's all written before we go in there.
So pretty much everything is completely written in your demos?
Every single song we do is demoed, the vocals, keys. It's all mixed. It sounds better than most people's fucking albums. We have it all demoed, the whole thing. We've got studios in our houses and we record everything ourselves, the demos and stuff. We know exactly what it's going to sound like, what's going to happen when we go in the studio. Well sometimes what we've done is we've given the demos to the drummer, but just taken the drums off for everyone else. So the drummer will basically play to the whole band, but in his headphones. Then we'll lock the demo with no drums. He'll just play along to that and record it all and stuff. Then basically we'll put guitars down on top. A couple of songs we sat down and recorded them live as a band because we wanted that type of feel.
What songs did you record live?
The Foetus Of A New Day Kicking was live. Yeah, that was live. There was one more. I think it was Tonight In Flames.
Those were done live because the band thought it would suit the songs best?
Not particularly. We play Tonight In Flames live actually, like gigging. We played it actually as a band and recorded in studio. When we bring it to stage, kids go nuts.
Would you ever become inspired to write a song or a riff after hearing a specific lyric? Does it ever work that way?
No, it doesn't. It's hard, though. The vocals aren't finalized until the studio is pretty much finished. So what you hear on the albums, all the music comes first. Then the lyrics get put on after. Everything else, the little bits, are added to it, which is good. This last album, it was done pretty much the same way. I wrote most of the last one, and it was all done like that. We've tried doing it the other way, doing ideas from vocals and stuff, but it doesn't seem to work. It takes too long.
The sound of your guitar on The Foetus Of A New Day Kicking is very organic. Is there anything you do differently on that track?
I used VHT Pittbull Ultra-Lead for that. It's important to have one of those stacks to have around. It's an amazing amp. We used an old Marshall head as well. We layered a little bit here and there to actually bring the sound out a little bit, and that's pretty much how we had done it. I think that's what the rest is like, especially when the main riff kicks in. It has like that Motorhead feel to it. They're one of my favorite bands. I love Motorhead! So most of the guitar sounds was the VHT basically. The rhythm tracks, anyhow.
With all of the equipment available, is it a risk that it might suck the identity out of a sound? All that sort of noisy, analog element?
Sometimes. When we go into the studio, we'll get all these heads, these cabs and everything, and we'll try them all out. Nine times out of ten it will be, What's the point of brining all this in? We'll just use this one head.
For guitar sounds and stuff, I try to get it as close as possible to hopefully replicate it live, which is why we don't really tend to use much effects and stuff. The melody lines and the harmonies and the lead work obviously need pedals on top of that, but the rhythm sections, we try and keep them as dry as possible.
The last thing I want to do is have this amazing guitar sound, but I can't actually replicate it live. When it comes to songwriting and stuff, I think when I'm playing, what I've always got in the back of my mind is, Can we pull this off live?
I think it's the same for everybody else as well. So when I'm writing I'm always thinking, That riff sounds cool. What's it going to be like live?
And I picture it live. If I can picture kids jumping up and down to it, we'll keep it.
Are you always looking for new ways to write a song?
|"That whole dark sound stuff, I don't know where it comes from."|
Well, yeah. Some of the chord progressions, especially on the instrumentals on this album, there are a lot of jazz chord progressions in that. I'm really into that sort of stuff. I love listening to it. I can sort of play it, but I prefer just listening to it to relax. With that instrumental track, I sat down and listened to thinking, I'm just going to blow into the theory and see what happens.
Because I had never done it before, and so I did. I used all that particular jazz chord progressions in there. On some of the keys and the guitars, I've got the guitars and the keys and the bass and everything building 9th chords and stuff like that. I tried it and it worked.
Can you elaborate more on what chord progressions you used?
There's a couple of sections in there, which are basically like a II-V-I progression. There's a couple of sections in there. I can't remember for the life of me what key it is - I think it's like Dminor or something like that. Yeah, there's a lot of II-V-I's in there. With some of the really bizarre chords, I've taken some of the scales, but in that key or the particular key it's in.
What I've done, I've added some other like semi-tones and stuff in between the notes to make it darker. I didn't want to go, Right. Okay, I'm not allowed to do this. I'm not allowed to do that.
That's bollocks as far as I'm concerned. So what I've done is thought, Right. Here's a particular key. This is the key I'm going to use and I'm just going to completely fuck around with it and build houses all around the outside of it.
That completely bastardized the whole theory side of it! I started it and then I thought, No, that sounds too dull. I'm going to add this note and that note.
Do the instrumental songs feed your soul the way that the vocal songs do?
Yeah, it does. We played the instrumental live and it fucking rocks.
Were the piano and the strings your ideas as well?
Pretty much, yeah. We all had our ideas and stuff, and I had ideas of what I wanted the strings and the keys to do. We basically brought somebody in that could actually play them. I started off programming in MIDI notes, and then eventually got someone in who could actually play them. I said, Basically play this.
They played it. Because you've actually got physically someone playing it, it gives it soul. Then they might play something and you're thinking, That sounds really fucking cool
- even though it's exactly the same. Then it will fuel you to think, Oh no, actually change that note there.
It just evolves like that.
It seems like the keyboards within the band are more of an embroidery over what you and Charles are doing. Would you agree with that?
Totally. It's not the glue that sticks us together. Sometimes when we come up with riffs, we make our riffs with the keyboard ideas and keep it as is. But then again, we might come up with a keyboard idea and think, That's really cool.
We'll come up with a riff and think, Hey, hang on a second. That sounds really cool on keys instead of guitars.
So we put it on keys instead of guitar, and then we'll write a rhythm section or a harmony section for the keys on top of that by the guitar, with the guitar. There's been a few times where I've come up with some guitar riffs and think, Oh no, that would be better on keys. Put it on keys.
Then gone, Actually, no. That melody on guitar is really good. It does it really good. It doesn't need the keyboards.
So it's all in and out, whizzing in and out. That's personally the way I do stuff.
Talk about the work on I Am The Thorn. How did that solo come together?
We have the same process all the time. It's the way it's all done. It's always increments put together. Nine times out of ten, I do it at home in my own studio. So when I do actually go into the proper recording session, I've already got it done. But then again, if you've already got it done, you go and play it, and the producer goes, Oh, I don't really like that.
You go, Oh, you bastard! I've got to start at the beginning again!
What about Cemetery And Sundown? The rhythm is just perfect on that one. Does it require run-throughs to get it perfect?
It takes about 5 or 10 minutes to warm up into it. Once I'm warmed up into it, it's pretty much all muscle memory. I can pretty much play it without thinking about what the right hand's doing. It's just locked. It's the same with anything. If you practice enough, eventually your body will take over. You don't need to think about it. That song was just practicing the rhythm sections and just chuggings and whatever. Live, the band is fucking so tight. It's brilliant.
It's a little bit of changing the subject. When we play live, all I have in my wedge is my guitar and kicks and that's it. Nothing else, absolutely nothing else. The reason for the kicks in there, I use for a metronome, especially when the double kick passes. Because I can hear the snare and everything else in the ambience, but the kicks - I always have the kicks in my wedge, just so I can lock in with them when I'm doing my 16 notes and stuff. Then Martin, he takes that core of the song when we're all locked in and it's fucking incredible. Our sound guy says you can hear a pin drop between the fucking drums.
Describe what it is that you and Charles are doing on a song like Cemetery and Sundown.
On the rhythm sections, we basically play exactly the same as each other on the rhythm side of stuff. We actually sit down and like practice together on rhythm stuff. You have to. I found out this: If you're sloppy, you'll get screwed. You can't afford to be sloppy in a band like this. It's all about the kicks and the fucking right hand, you know? But when it comes to like melody lines and stuff like that, we'll sit down together, especially for the harmony stuff. We'll sit down and we'll say, Okay, we'll be playing this and we'll be playing that.
I'll come up with something and I'll get Charles to put harmony to it. I'm not going to do the harmony for it because I want the riff to sound like 2 guitar players.
So that's the whole aspect of like the whole writing we do together. I want everything we do to sound like a band and not one person. And myself and Charles, I want 2 guitar players to put their identity into one riff. That way, it gives it soul and it gives it feel. Personally, with the experiences I've had, if you've got one guitar player that does everything, once you've listened to that whole record, it sounds boring. It has to sound like fucking 2 people or a band for me to be into it.
Are you using an acoustic 12-string on Lovesick For Mina?
Is that you?
Does the acoustic play much of a part in Cradle Of Filth?
Not at the moment! It might eventually. Not really. That's why it appears so briefly there.
Will all the harmonies be played live?
Yeah. Everything you hear on the record is done all live. The keyboard player, she'll put on the top melody line. Whereas Martin, the drummer, he's playing to a click and he's got the hard drive for the backing track on it. So all the keys you hear on the album we play all live. The whole thing's live.
We had people come up after last night's gig. This whole tour has been amazing for us. We've had people come up and say, All the music that you're playing live, especially off the new album, it sounds just like the record. It doesn't sound like a live band.
Which is brilliant! At least we know we've got it tight and we've got it sounding like the album. The rawness of it live is in there. It's amazing.
The Heaven 17 cover sounds incredible. Is there ever a thought that Cradle Of Filth wouldn't be able to do a cover like that?
|"If you're sloppy, you'll get screwed."|
Totally. I've done that. When we first decided to it, it was like, Oh shit. We're either going to do this really well or it's going to be a career killer.
That whole thing, it was a joke to start off. It was a bit of a laugh. It was, Oh, should we do a cover? Fuck it. Let's do it
Because of what Heaven 17 was like and also that whole gay icon thing they had going for them, it was like, Fuck it. Let's do it for a laugh.
So Charles actually went away and since I was writing some stuff, I said to him, Could you please, if you don't mind, go and demo it? I just want to see what it sounds like. If it sounds cool, then we'll come back and we'll start working on it.
He demoed it, came back, and it sounded fucking incredible, what he had done to it. So I was like, Yeah. Let's go and fucking record it.
We play it live and it goes down really well. It's a bit weird for a band like us to be doing something like that, and it took me like loads of listens to actually get into it, but now that we're playing it live and we've gotten into it. It works really, really well.
There's some kind of strange effect on the solo you play on the cover.
To be honest, I can't remember. I really can't remember what effects are on there. I really don't know. I know that when that was recorded, we had done it like 2 or 3 times. I know we sort of layered it to try and get different effects and stuff. That could possibly be it. I really can't remember.
There have been different guitar players who have come into the group over the years. So this is Charles' first album?
How is it different playing with Charles than the others?
To be perfectly honest, Charles is basically straightaway a professional. He's totally into the guitar side of it. He doesn't give a flying fuck about the partying and all that sort of shit that's meant to go hand in hand with playing in a band. He's totally professional. I've known him for years. He used to come to my house sort of like when he used to come back from school and stuff and ask for pointers on guitar playing and stuff.
He was a neighbor of yours?
Yeah, just down the road from me. I've known him since he was like fucking knee-high to a grasshopper. We obviously went off and had done our thing, and he ended up going to the Guitar Institute in London. He went there. Basically what happened was we decided we needed a guitar player - this is after James left. They said, Do you know anyone?
I said, Yes, I know someone. He had him come in, the two of us played together, and we locked so well together.
I've said this before with James because I thought he was really good. We locked. We had always sort of locked, but I thought there was something we could work on. With Charles, we locked straightaway. There's no effort there. I don't need to sit down and break riffs down for him. Basically the stuff that we play, we can just pick it up straightaway and then we jam. It's the relationship we've got as players, as like the 2 guitar players in this band. It's just fucking phenomenal. It's effortless. It's brilliant.
Did playing with James reshape the way you play guitar at all?
Not really. It didn't really reshape my playing. He'd come along with jams and stuff. But with James, it took a lot of sitting down and actually going through it. James is a good player for some of the stuff live. But when it came to studio work, he just froze and he just didn't know what he was doing really because he was new to it and he had never actually been in a proper studio before. So I found myself having to play pretty much all of it myself in the studio. I'm thinking, Shit, I've been thrown in the deep end here. I've been thrown into having to pretty much record everything myself. I'm thinking, Well, no, this isn't good.
When we got Charles in, I sort of approached it with a bit of caution thinking, Is it going to go weird like it did last time?
Charles is brilliant. I can't fucking praise him enough. He's really, really good. We work so well together.
Was The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh your first record?
When you listen back to that record, how were you?
When I listen back to it now I think, Fuck me! That was sloppy!
As your first record and playing with Paul, did that work musically for you?
Oh, yeah, it did. It definitely worked musically for me. When I first joined the band, I was like 19, 20. I was a bit green when it came to like guitar playing. From like 14 to about 20, I was playing sort of off and on. But ever since doing like the whole Cradle thing, obviously the whole thing took a completely different scope. So I basically had to practice my tits off. Paul was a fucking huge influence for me.
At the time, it was really, really good. He was a good player. It's not so much the lead stuff or anything, but the rhythm stuff he had done was fucking excellent. That's what pretty much kicked me up the ass. Whoever we'd played with, we always sat down and made sure it's been like a whole guitar duo type thing. When you think of Maiden, it's always fucking Murray and Smith. Like some of the Priest guys, Tipton and Downing.
It's just what we're after in the whole Cradle thing. When people think of Cradle, I want them to think straightaway guitar players. I don't want to be in a band position where you think of guitar players, and you should think of one guitar player - whoever me or the other guy, Charles or whatever. I want people to think, "Cradle Of Filth? Oh, Paul and Charles. That's the type of thing we're after, is to be recognized as a duo, not individuals.
Are other metal bands like Children Of Bodom and Trivium a constant kick in the ass for you to keep up your chops?
To be absolutely blatantly honest, I don't listen to them at all. The only sort of duo guitar people I listen to is Priest and Maiden. I'm still stuck in the fucking 80's! There's pretty much one band I actually like - 2 bands, which I heard recently that I really like. It's Three Inches Of Blood, and they're the guys who are supporting us at the moment. And there's an industrial band called Blessed Be Thy Name from the Arizona area. They're the 2 bands I've sort of really gotten into of this era.
The other stuff I listen to, it's all 80's based, like Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, and thrash bands like Destruction, Agents Of Steel, Sodom, and all that stuff. That's where I get my influences from. I get my influences from there, and then basically turn it into like more of a modern style type of music, what we do today. But no, I don't listen to Trivium or Children Of Bodom or anyone. I don't get influenced by other guitar players of today because, to be honest, I find it boring. It's not disrespect to them. They're brilliant, but all that widdly stuff bores me to tears. I would rather actually listen to a band that grooves like fuck and has got so much soul and feel to their rhythm sections and their melody lines. That's the sort of stuff that does it for me.
For practicing, I don't practice thinking, I've got to practice because this guitar player is better than me.
If you go through life doing that, you're going to be constantly chasing something you're never going to get hold of. I practice for myself and think, Okay, I want to play this riff.
I'll write a really bizarre - not so bizarre riff that we wouldn't use it - but I'll be writing stuff and think, Shit, I can't actually play that properly.
I'll sit and practice it. That's how my practice sessions go.
When I'm at home, I don't really get time to practice, just doing some of the other stuff in the band as well. The way I practice when I'm at home, I write stuff I can't play basically. Then all the 16's or 32's on the right hand or whatever it is, I'll sit there and practice it. I've got a couple of riffs that I practice, but I'll break the left hand down. It's not all widdly and fast, it's just more rhythmic. I'll use it as a right hand exercise and I'll be putting like triplet 16's and 32's on different notes, practicing like that. It works wonders for me.
I love what you're doing with your playing.
|"I don't get influenced by other guitar players of today because, to be honest, I find it boring."|
I don't know if you know, but I've got like a signature series coming out. The reason I went to NAMM in January at the beginning of this year is because Paul Reid Smith has actually released the guitar I play onstage, my private stock. They've released that as a signature series for shops. It's basically an SE Model they've released. It's got all the backs on neck. It's got the purple and black sunburst. It's pretty much the same as my private stock, but it's an SE version. I think, so I've been told, they're looking between March and June is when it's going to be released. They're not too sure yet. There's like a poster campaign for it coming up for it pretty much in the next month. So I've got my own signature series coming out, which is really the same as the guitar I play onstage.
What is it about the Paul Reed Smith that you like?
When I was growing up, I tried other guitars. I think I had Washburns when I was a kid. I started out with a bloody Encore. I tried ESP. It's all stuff like that. Fernandez guitars, I tried them as well. One day I was walking along and I saw this Jackson I was going to buy. I was in another band at the time. I saw this Jackson I was going to get and thought, Oh, that's pretty cool.
It went from like a dark red to a light red. But the band members I was with at the time, they told me, Oh, no.
I said, Why not? It's fucking red!
They swore it was pink. It wasn't fucking pink, but they point-blank refused and wouldn't play with me onstage. I said, Fair enough.
The next day, we had gotten the advance from the label and I come along and saw this tortoise shell Paul Reed Smith. It was a CE one, but it was one of the first ones ever made. I thought, Wow, this is pretty cool.
I played it and I bought it secondhand. It was pretty fucking expensive secondhand. I played it and that was it. I was hooked, absolutely fucking hooked. I can't play anything else. Everything else feels like shit to me. It really does.
What is it about the neck you like?
I really like they do the fat-fat neck or a fat-thin neck or wide-thin neck. You can have any style of neck you want. This is what I really like about them. The necks just feel like fucking butter in my fingers. I really can't explain it, you know? It just fucking melts in my fingers. It's incredible. And the body, they're really light and the way they look. The headstock just turns me on something rotten.
What about the pickups?
Here's what I really like about the pickups: They wind they're pickups to the resonance of the body. In my one, I've got like the dragon pickups in there. To me, it just fucking gives the best sound ever. It really does. In my private stock, I've got the neck and the bridge pickup, but what I've done is I've got 2 volume knobs on there. The 2 volume knobs, a tone knob and a 3-way position switch on there as well. For live, it's got to be all really tight with the starts and stops and everything, with no feedback or anything like that. What I tend to do is I'll turn the volume off on the neck pickup, and the bridge pickup I'll leave on. I use the 3-way position switch as a killswitch. They've made guitars that are specifically wound up wiring just for like my guitar, which is really, really cool indeed.
At NAMM, I played the SE and it sounds fucking incredible. I was really, really surprised. It looks beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I played it and the neck is so fast on it. They did actually say, We're not saying this because you're here, but it's the best SE we've ever done. It's the most aggressive-sounding guitar we've ever made in an SE version.
There's a few kids who have actually emailed me now and said, We've actually got your guitar. I'm actually holding one and it sounds fucking incredible.
It's brilliant for an SE because kids can afford it.
That must feel great, to have your own model of guitar.
It is. To tell the truth, it still hasn't sunk in properly yet. I think it will sink in more when I actually go out to a music shop. I just wander in and I see it hanging there. That's when I'll be, Holy shit!
I don't know. I've always classified players who go all widdly and the classical stuff as having signature series guitars. I'm thinking, Yeah, cool. Brilliant. That's understandable.
Now I've got one and I'm thinking, This is weird.
2007 Steven Rosen