The Playlist: Zach Blair

Rise Against’s mod­ern punk hero Zach Blair on singable riffs, un­sung he­roes and an ad­dic­tion to barre chords

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

The first song I re­mem­ber hear­ing… My­gen­er­a­tion – The Who

“When I was young my dad was a clas­sic rock ra­dio DJ. As a kid I just loved The Who. The mu­sic was loud and ag­gres­sive. I didn’t re­alise I was get­ting ad­dicted to barre chords, even at that age. My dad was watch­ing Wood­stock one day and I saw Pete Town­shend do­ing what he did and I’ve been a fan ever since. The first song that grabbed me was My Gen­er­a­tion.”

The track that made me want to play gui­tar… Iron­man – Black Sab­bath

“It was The Who and Black Sab­bath. There was some­thing with both of those bands that I iden­ti­fied with at an early age and I have been a life­long fan. With Sab­bath, I think the first thing that grabbed me was prob­a­bly Iron Man. Ev­ery kid wants to learn that, that riff is so singable.”

A song I cov­ered in my first band… Black­ened – Me­tal­lica

“When I was first start­ing in bands we’d try to do Me­tal­lica and An­thrax cov­ers. My brother and I joined ‘the good metal band’ in our town. Those guys could do (at least to my 15-year-old ears) per­fect Me­tal­lica cov­ers. This was around when …And Jus­tice

For All came out and I was try­ing to nail the solo to

Black­ened or some­thing. I say nail it, I was most def­i­nitely not nail­ing it, it was my ver­sion of it. It was such a tri­umph to get close to any­thing like that.”

The song I’d love to cover with Rise Against… Night­time – Killing Joke

“I’ve been on a real Killing Joke kick lately. They had a record come out in 2003 and there’s a riff in The Death And Res­ur­rec­tion Show that I think is one of the best riffs ever writ­ten. I’d also love to cover Night Time in Rise Against, per­son­ally. I think Ge­ordie [Walker] is a ge­nius. I’d love to have a go at any­thing from Black Flag or Fugazi as well.”

The most chal­leng­ing song to nail live is… Torches - Rise Against

“There’s a track called Mid­night Hands from a few records ago. It’s in Drop D and it’s a lit­tle tricky. It’s fun to play but it’s real easy to mess up. Torches is also tricky. That one switches back and forth. There’s real riffy metal there.”

The riff I wish I’d writ­ten… Rock­bot­tom – UFO

“I love Rock Bot­tom by UFO. That is a ’70s rock ’n’ roll gui­tar riff by the great Michael Schenker and I love it. I al­ways play that riff when I’m try­ing out new gear as well. I will play it un­til

some­body tells me to stop... I can’t stop.”

The track I would play to some­one who had never heard our band… Sur­vive – Rise Against

“This is be­fore my ten­ure with Rise Against but I feel like it en­cap­su­lates the band. It’s fast, there’s a good riff, a hummable riff, the song’s lyrics are em­pow­er­ing as well. The lyrics show the ethos and ethic of the band. It moves quickly and is en­er­getic.”

What I love play­ing right now… Wel­come­tothe­break­down – Rise Against

“There’s a song from our last al­bum called Wel­come To The Break­down that I’m en­joy­ing play­ing. That one is clas­sic Rise Against and is re­ally fun to play. The Vi­o­lence, a sin­gle from it that we re­leased, is fun as well. It has this chug­ging riff all the way along that scratches the metal itch for me.”

Rise Against’s new al­bum Theghost­notesym­phonies, Vol1 is out now on Vir­gin

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