Gary Clark Jr. says he finds playing guitar solos “a little gross”

Gary Clark Jr. says he finds playing guitar solos “a little gross”

While rock music of the ’70s and ’80s were somewhat typified by the guitar solo, these days, fretboard fireworks are a dividing matter. In December, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett said that the average listener of today does not care about solos, to which virtuoso Angel Vivaldi strongly disagreed. And Gary Clark Jr. shares a similar stance to Hammett, even going as far as to call guitar solos “gross”.
The musician speaks in the latest issue of Guitar Player, where he discusses his new album JPEG RAW and his (surprising) lack of love for solos – or at least those he plays.

READ MORE: Gary Clark Jr. on why being dubbed “the new Hendrix” was “devastating” for him — “you’re not even giving me a chance”

When the interviewer points out how JPEG RAW noticeably features fewer guitar solos than his previous album This Land, Clark says: “I just wanted to present music, and I think people have gotten used to hearing my songs and just waiting for a guitar solo.”
“I’ll tell you, I kind of get bored with myself playing guitar solos. It just seems… I don’t know… a little gross.”
The guitarist adds that for him, it’s all about whether or not the solo ‘serves the song’, saying: “I think if a certain song calls for a longer solo, that’s fine. But I don’t think putting a minute-and-a-half guitar solo into a song is going to do it any justice.”
“To me, it’s not going to serve the song. I mean, it might. Now, the thing is, the record is the record, but the fun thing about being with a band and playing live is those things can change and we can play that guitar solo for 10 minutes if we want. You know what I mean? But when I’m presenting a song on a record, it’s like, boom, there it is – a little taste. You can’t give everybody everything all the time.”
Clark goes on to clarify, “I didn’t say, and I didn’t intend to say, that all guitar solos are gross. I’m saying that the guitar solos I play feel gross to me. The kind of guitar playing that I love, love, love is really tasteful and intentional, and I found that the kind of guitar playing people love me to play is kind of raw and unhinged and off the rails.”
“That’s cool. It’s fun to step on a fuzz pedal and play loud and wild, but I would never go back and listen to my guitar solos. I don’t enjoy that,” he says. “Whereas guys like Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and Satriani, as wild as their playing is, it’s still a beautifully composed and disciplined presentation that evokes the same emotion as me. I think it hits people the same way.
“Me playing wild and fast like that isn’t the same thing at all.”

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