So over the weekend I finally got around to checking out the Foo Fighters latest, Wasting Light. I’ve never been a huge fan, but I have nothing but respect for Dave Grohl and the boys for consistently delivering high quality rock records. And since Wasting Light has sold about a billion copies so far and has received nothing but high praise, I decided to give it a spin. Sure enough, it is a damn fine rock album. BUT-one thing I was really looking forward to that slowly drove me nuts while I was listening to it, is their brand new three guitar attack-specifically, the lack of it.
Despite reading an interview with the Foo Fighters in Guitar World a few months back stating that they have all these crazy, interwoven guitar lines throughout Wasting Light and Grohl saying something to the effect of “with three guitarists, you have to be really careful or everything turns into a big fucking mess…”, I found myself desperately searching each track for a part, ANY part, where I could even tell there were three different guitars playing. Much less playing three separate parts….
Which brings me to my point, and I think all bands with three guitarists (Periphery, Whitechapel, Chelsea Grin, Iron Maiden) suffer from this. I’ll call it “trying so hard to not overplay that everybody underplays” syndrome. Or to reference Grohl’s statement above, they try so hard not to make a mess with their three guitar attack, that they end up sounding like they don’t have three guitars at all.
For God’s sakes man, if you are going to have an extra dude taking up space in your tour bus, sharing your food and your money, at least have a little FUN with it. Make it a crazy fucking guitar “mess” once in awhile, ya know? I understand the concept of “keeping things tight” on your recording, and I believe the triple guitars probably pays off the most in a live setting. But goddamn-I would be hard pressed to pick out a single part on an album of any of the bands I listed above as something that can’t be performed live with two guitars or less. If you know of a good example, please share it with me…
It just frustrates me to see bands take on this approach and completely fail at making it interesting. Danza’s Josh Travis and Veil of Maya’s Marc Okubo, for example, are the only guitarists in their respective bands. But that doesn’t limit their creativity in the studio or their nut-crushing live performances in any way. So a band with three presumably competent guitarists? That should open things up BIG TIME, the sky is literally the limit. What’s stopping Whitechapel from playing certain riffs or sections in three part harmony? What’s stopping Periphery from writing a few crazy proggy sections where all three guitars are doing something completely different but complementary to each other? What’s stopping Chelsea Grin from doing, well, anything interesting with their three guitarists?
You tell me. Feel free to weigh in on the subject in the comments below and share some examples of the ‘triple axe attack’ done right. Stick around, because in an hour, our US editor Alkahest is going to argue the other side.