Jumping Darkness Parade




How many of you actually listen to guitar solos? How many of you actually pay attention to the musicianship involved in a project? How important is that for you? I’m curious to hear about this from musicians’ and non-musicians’ perspectives.  I know that for me, as a listener, amazing technicality alone is only interesting for about two minutes, and then my mind wanders.

Actually, it’s more like ten seconds now. When I was a teenager learning to play guitar (still learning, by the way), I could stomach shred records in doses. Usually, there would be that one cool track where it was obvious that some feeling and time went into the composition. The rest of the album would be wank filler. There’s some exceptions, like the first Yngwie record or Jason Becker’s Perpetual Burn, but by and large that is a boring-ass genre. I can’t geek out to that stuff. I don’t care about the Olympics, let alone the Guitar Olympics. Boring!

Do any of you get off on technical prowess alone? And if you’re not a musician, what makes you say, “Holy fuck that dude fucking wails!” I know that, for me, it’s a mastery of intent coming through in the music. Like when you FEEL a motherfucker dig into his guitar and make it sing like his bitch. That’s what does it for me. To quote the honorable and great Mike Tyson, “I’ll fuck you till you love me, faggot.”

One of my favorite guitar records of all time is Rust In Peace. When Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine rip those solos, you can feel the aggression and passion in their playing, not to mention the amazing compositions. They’re crucial parts of those songs, because they were written to fit the song, not just to show off, and they masterfully take the songs to higher places. The combination of inner fire and composition is key to me.

And it can be in any genre. In my opinion, Matt Belamy from Muse is just as effective when he solos as any of the metal greats, because the fire and intent are there. I know some of you will completely disagree, and that’s cool, but I want to know what it is that does it for you. Like I said, for me it’s not the genre, it’s the fire and the passion behind the playing. Without that, it’s meaningless to me.

And that answers a question I get from some friends of mine. I get asked why I’m a guitar snob. They send me videos of shredders and I just don’t really care. Me not caring = snob, in their opinion. They just don’t hear where I’m coming from. If someone can play technically well on their instrument, then yay. Congrats. You get a prize of… I dunno… some prize. The prize of having someone send your video to someone else on the internet? That’s not what inspires me in music. I want the depths of someone’s soul poured out in an intense musical fashion. That’s what I seek. That’s what get’s me off. Whether it’s a vocal, a guitar solo, a whole song, a bass line, that’s what gets me off.

So, to conclude… I don’t give a FUCK about guitar solos unless they are an integral part of the music and are played with utmost intent and conviction. What about you guys?


Levi/Werstler’s debut album, Avalanche of Worms, comes out April 20 on Magna Carta. You can listen to a track and pre-order the release here. You can also follow the project on MySpace and Facebook.

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