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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Hammer For Demolition: Guitar as Friend


I have called myself an actor and a writer but to this day I still have a hard time calling myself a musician. When I began my rock band career in 1986 with Ben Foster, I could barely play. My influences were heavy metal guitarists, Randy Rhoads and Brian May, but I could not for the life of me pick or strum guitar like them. When Screeching Weasel started playing out, I would break at least 2 to 3 strings a night. I battered the shit out of them with a tense hand. I have learned to relax, to use thicker strings and thinner picks, but that feeling is still there. Guitars have always felt like a foreign object in my hands. Now 30 years later while analyzing myself as a guitarist I realize that I had always treated the guitar more like a tool than an instrument, like a hammer. I had to pound sound out of this device, that was the only way I could make it work. It wasn’t a precision crafting tool of a seasoned carpenter, it was the rough edged hammer of a demolition crew. And causing such pain to my guitar made it special to me, so I never became a connoisseur or collector of expensive guitars. I did not collect the best crafted instruments, I did not know a good guitar wood from bad. I did not hear the difference when I replaced my guitar bridge with a Flair Pen cap. I am not a materialist, I am a man who humanizes objects till they become special to him. My 3 electric guitars over 30 years were friends, but friends that I could destroy, and I felt they were OK with that. I started Even In Blackouts to try to become a musician, and all I can say is this Actor/Performer/Writer/Wizard will never achieve musicianship in this lifetime. I have come to terms that this is a self imposed endless battle, and that is OK, it won't stop me from trying. It’s been an amazing road, and I would never give up my days on stage. On my death bed (hopefully many many years from now), I can only hope these memories of being on stage, of pounding the shit out of my instrument, remain intact.