Per­fect 10

He’s the gui­tarist with the for­mi­da­ble prog en­tity that is Mar­il­lion – but how will he han­dle the 10 ques­tions we ask every­one?

Guitarist - - Contents - Mar­il­lion’s UK tour kicks off in Gateshead on 11 April www.mar­il­

1 What was your first gui­tar and when did you get it? “My first real gui­tar was a Sun­bro S-type that I got when I was 15. I’d been on hol­i­day to Italy with my un­cle and aunt and been given lots of money to spend, didn’t spend a penny and came back and bought it sec­ond-hand in Don­caster for about £50. I got a real Strat when I was 17.”

2 If the build­ing was burn­ing down, what one gui­tar from your col­lec­tion would you save? “There are two, I’d have to grab one in each hand and that would be my orig­i­nal Blade RH-4 and my Jack Dent Raven SR, which was a cus­tom-made gui­tar I used on my solo al­bum. He’s a gui­tar builder in North Carolina and it’s kinda sim­i­lar to an SG in shape, but with two sin­gles and a hum­bucker and a mid-boost.”

3 What’s the old­est gui­tar that you own? “Prob­a­bly my orig­i­nal Squier Strat that I got in 82. I picked up a few JV Squiers on eBay a cou­ple of years ago, they seem to be go­ing up in price quite dra­mat­i­cally. I would say my Yamaha SG2000 but that was lent to some­one and stolen, but that would have been from 77 or 78.”

4 When was the last time you prac­tised, what did you play? “I’m tour­ing so much both with Mar­il­lion and my solo band that prac­tice is nor­mally just run­ning through songs we’re go­ing to play in the up­com­ing sets or just a few scales and bend­ing, re­ally. Then, the times when I don’t have a gui­tar to hand I’ve got one of those hand ex­er­cis­ers which I find very use­ful for keep­ing up the mus­cle strength for the bend­ing and vi­brato.”

5 When was the last time you changed your own strings? “About a week ago. One of my gui­tars that I keep in the house, the top E had bro­ken and so I took the op­por­tu­nity to re­string it. Some­times, on older Strats, it’s fid­dly to get it in and lock it round and it’s usu­ally the top E string where you think you’ve got it and it pings off half­way through tight­en­ing it. That’s the only thing that drives me crazy; it’s time-con­sum­ing,

but I don’t mind it. Hav­ing said that, it’s very rare that I do it!”

6 If you could change one thing about a record­ing you’ve been on, what would it be and why? “Just the gui­tar sounds on the very first Mar­il­lion al­bum, Script For A Jester’s Tear be­fore I’d found my sound, re­ally. Ev­ery al­bum from the sec­ond al­bum on­wards I tended to use a JC-120 a lot for the clean stuff and even for the solo stuff with a DS-1. On the first al­bum I was still us­ing my old Mar­shall and try­ing to do ev­ery­thing on the one amp and when I lis­ten to it I get frus­trated. Mar­shalls are great for the

grunty stuff and if you have a souped-up Mar­shall it can be a thing of beauty, but the one I had at the time just wasn’t.”

7 What are you do­ing five min­utes be­fore you go on stage and five min­utes af­ter­wards? “It used to be that I’d be read­ing a book un­til about a minute be­fore we walked on stage, but I don’t tend to do that any more. As you get older you have to give more con­cern to hav­ing an empty blad­der than any­thing else! In terms of com­ing off stage it used to be pour­ing a large te­quila and or­ange juice, but not ev­ery night. The only time I’d drink is if I was on a tour bus be­cause it’s the only way I can get to sleep be­fore 3am.”

8 What’s the worst thing that’s hap­pened to you on stage? “It was a gig in Ger­many in the mid- to late 80s. We were play­ing quite big venues, Fish had his own se­cu­rity guy who would come on stage with a torch and lead him off in the pitch black­ness while the rest of the band found their way off stage. I was wear­ing a dou­ble-neck gui­tar, the lights all went down, com­pletely dark, I go to walk across the stage and fall off. For­tu­nately I wasn’t hurt and the gui­tar wasn’t dam­aged.”

9 What song would you play on an acous­tic around a camp­fire? “Well it has to be Wish You Were Here doesn’t it? That al­bum was very in­flu­en­tial in me be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian. I re­mem­ber lis­ten­ing to it on a por­ta­ble cas­sette player on the beach at night where I grew up in Whitby and think­ing, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do with my life’.”

10 What ad­vice would you give your younger self about play­ing gui­tar? “Noth­ing that I can think of about the gui­tar, just about the mu­sic busi­ness. Un­der­stand­ing the mech­a­nism of the in­dus­try and where all the money’s gone: how can you be sell­ing out sta­di­ums and the man­ager’s got half a mil­lion in the bank and owns his own house and you’re skint!”

“The only thing that drives me crazy is when you think you’ve got the top E string right but it pings off half­way through tight­en­ing”

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