60 Seconds with...
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. This month: Guitarist with The Aristocrats and Steven Wilson, and musician extraordinaire, the genuinely inimitable Guthrie Govan
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
GG: My dad, I suppose. He may not have been the most accomplished player, but his enthusiasm and passion for music were big influences in my formative years!
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
GG: I remember having a Gibson catalogue when I was a little kid in the very late 70s, and there was something I desperately wanted to own on almost every page. (I say ‘almost’ because I vividly remember being appalled by the RD range).
GT: What was the single best gig you ever did…
GG: Hard to say, but there was definitely something uniquely memorable about Dizzee Rascal’s Electric Proms gig.
GT: …and your worst playing nightmare?
GG: Any gig where I can’t properly hear what’s happening on the stage…
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
GG: That there can be a big difference between simply playing something ‘correctly’ and playing it like you really mean it. I remember my dad saying something like this to me way back when I only knew about three chords: it made a lot of sense to me then, and it still does to this day.
There’s a big difference between playing something ‘correctly’ and playing it like you mean it.
GT: Do you still practise?
GG: Not really. If I have to learn a bunch of new material, I’ll play it for as long as it takes to sink in (which varies wildly depending on the nature of the material!) but other than that, most of my ‘practice’ time happens onstage these days.
GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine, and if so what is it?
GG: Not at all - maybe I should, but I like the feeling of walking onto the stage, picking up the guitar and being pleased to see it. Rightly or wrongly, I fear that I might sacrifice a little of that energy and raw enthusiasm if I were to adopt any kind of pre-gig scale/ arpeggio routine…
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?
GG: I’m tempted to pick one of the 80s Frank Zappa line-ups. Having said that… I guess being involved with such a thing would generate a disturbing quantity of homework!
GT: Present company excepted (and notwithstanding the stupidity of the question!), who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
GG: I never know how to answer questions like that. Call me a killjoy if you will, but the question strikes me as something akin to asking, “what’s the best fruit?” I could happily pick the greatest Jimi/Django/Chet/Wes etc etc, but each of those guys had a unique personal statement to communicate and I don’t think stuff like that can (or should) be categorised in any kind of league table!
GT: Has there ever been a solo by someone else that you really wish you had played instead of them?
GG: Not really… but there are plenty of my own solos which I wish I’d played better!
GT: What’s the solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?
GG: Quite possibly Eric, from my Erotic Cakes album. In terms of more recent stuff, I’m particularly happy with title track from The Aristocrats’ Culture Clash album, for some reason…
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
GG: Deflecting difficult interview questions… ;-)
Guthrie Govan: with Charvel guitar and Victory amp