Guitars: cool? A recent New York Times has suggested that the rise of guitar sales since the coronavirus lockdown heralded the ‘return of the guitar.’ But was the guitar and the music that relies on it ever truly in peril, or is this just the latest thing for a mainstream publication to consider ‘back?’
On the latest episode of our heavy-metal talk show Last Words, frontman of Denver-based black metallers Wayfarer Shane McCarthy join hosts Jordan Olds (Two Minutes To Late Night), Katy Irizarry (Season Of Mist), and Doc Coyle (Bad Wolves/Ex Man Podcast) to discuss whether or not guitar music actually has died and returned, or if that’s just a bunch of media horseshit.
“I think that’s cool — it’s cool that people are buying guitars right now,” says Jordan, “but I don’t really ever subscribe to the idea of, ‘____ is dead! Rock and roll is dead!’ In that same regard, I’ve never heard anyone be like, ‘The piano is dead!'”
“If you look at the phases — and I would call it the Black Keys-ification or the Imagine Dragons-ification of popular rock music — it’s not just guitar as the lead instrument, but it’s more the tonality of it,” says Doc Coyle. “So if you listen to, like, the last Foo Fighters record, the last Queens of the Stone Age record, the tonality, that really mid-range-y, punchy guitar tone went more in the background. It’s more of a sub-sound.”
As the conversation turned more towards the pop-culture use of guitars and how rock and metal now exist in the mainstream ear, Shane weighed in that perhaps metalheads have a unique understanding of the role guitars play in the pop culture mindset.
“I have no idea what’s going on in the Top 40 situations,” he says, “but even in the ’80s, there was a whole synth sensation then, too. Tastes will always kind fo wax and wane, but it’s never going to go away. Guitar can do a lot, it’s a really intuitive instrument for music theory idiots like myself, you can pick it up and learn to play a Pantera song and feel really good about it…I think Lars Ulrich did his best to kill guitar solos with St. Anger, and everyone was pretty pissed about it.”
Check out the full episode below:
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