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Author Topic: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
joe
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Post How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: July 29, 2012, 11:22
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How about that Andy Gill?

Gill and Johnny Marr are so far and away my favorite Brit players to emerge during the ’80s. But they're such opposites! Johnny is the pop magpie, stealing ideas from so many great ’60s and ’70s players. Whereas Andy was on a mission to create a style completely devoid of any historic references.

Damn, he's good.

Jim-
Williamson

Posts: 23
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 3, 2012, 17:20
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Treasured memory from the early '80s: seeing Gof4 play, and Andy Gill launching his strat from one side of the stage to the other during a searing version of Anthrax.

dasein

Posts: 17
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 4, 2012, 09:51
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There's a terrific interview with Gill that provides some insight into his mindset:

Q: Before you were describing Gang of Four as not really being part of the punk movement but being 'post-punk.' How did you see the band as being different from the rest of the music scene at the time?

If you at the Sex Pistols as a kind of archetypal punk band, it's not that different from Black Sabbath. It's rhythmically unsophisticated. It's really on-the-beat rock drumming. Same with the guitar- plug it in and turn it up to full distortion. The main difference is that you don't really have so much in the way of guitar solos, the singing tends to be more of a shouty-screamy kind of nature, rather than tune-orientated. But there again, it's not a whole lot different from a lot of your heavy metal acts.

Gang of Four was radically different from that. The guitar was very staccato, very stripped down, very repetitive, loop-based. The drumming was basically funky but not through copying various icons of black music. (It was) more through simply deconstructing the nature of drumming and where you place the beats. It was like starting from ground zero with the drumming. Hugo and I would argue endlessly about what the drum parts would be like. Anything that sounded like rock drumming, I would change. In conventional rock drumming, you just play the snares on the 2 and the 4 and the high-hats are either doing fours or eights and then a big fill or rollaround on the toms. In what we were doing, the tom parts were being incorporated into the drum pattern. Some tom beat would be thrown in somewhere in the bar. It would end up inevitably with some kind of syncopated, funky vibe that didn't sound like any of black music or Little Feat (laughs). It sounded like something else basically.

The same thing happened with the melodies. The tunes had vocals to it but it was very rhythm and phrase related. You could tell by listening to Gang of Four music that punk had happened. But it definitely wasn't punk music.

Q: Your playing was also unique. Usually a guitarist goes through the chord changes then does a solo after a chorus.

I think it was avoiding those cliched things- strumming chords, going through all these different bits of the song. The songs obviously had different sections but it wasn't, particularly early on, this bridge-chorus thing as you said. It was really trying to find new approaches to that and finding guitar parts that really worked with the bass, the vocals and the drums and was part of that, rather than something that floated above it. In the traditional rock hierarchy, you got the bass and drums providing some kind of bedrock and then the guitar does some stuff on top of that. We saw all the elements, the four voices of the band as working together to create this rhythmic groove.

Q: A lot of times, you wouldn't even play- you'd just drop out and let the bass and drums go on.

I've always loved music which has space in it and has room. All the stuff I really love is like that. Like old blues, there's a hell of a lot of space. Nobody's trying to be flash. It's simple and effective. It's something I always thought was very important. I used to call it an 'anti-solo' as opposed to a solo so you stop playing. It's exciting and it's thrilling when you hear that. Suddenly, you're very conscious of the guitar because it's not there. Suddenly, the drums and bass are right in your face. When it does come back in, it's thrilling because suddenly it IS there. (laughs) Just that simple kind of presence and absence are incredibly exciting. Also with dub reggae, which was something we were listening to a lot of at the time. You had that dead simple stuff and then the bass would drop out and you'd just hear the drums and the echoes and then the bass would come back in. That stuff me and Jon found pretty exciting.

joe
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 5, 2012, 10:57
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If you at the Sex Pistols as a kind of archetypal punk band, it's not that different from Black Sabbath. It's rhythmically unsophisticated. It's really on-the-beat rock drumming. Same with the guitar- plug it in and turn it up to full distortion. The main difference is that you don't really have so much in the way of guitar solos, the singing tends to be more of a shouty-screamy kind of nature, rather than tune-orientated. But there again, it's not a whole lot different from a lot of your heavy metal acts.

I like to piss of punks and nouveau-punks by arguing that P.I.L. was way better than the Pistols. Guitarist Keith Levene certainly anticipated a lot of what we now think of as the U2 sound! And if I REALLY want to get into a fight, I suggest that Malcolm McLaren's best band was Bow Wow Wow.

The drumming was basically funky but not through copying various icons of black music. (It was) more through simply deconstructing the nature of drumming and where you place the beats. It was like starting from ground zero with the drumming. Hugo and I would argue endlessly about what the drum parts would be like. Anything that sounded like rock drumming, I would change.

Andy's description of Hugo's drumming is a perfect description of his own guitar playing. I focus a lot these days on how Gill's vocabulary had been stripped clean of ANY sentimental/referential guitar gestures. That's really hard to do! No muscle-memory pentatonic riffs. No auto-pilot vibrato. So very, very pure.

I think about that a lot, especially since I've gone down such a very different path as a player. I think my process is about warping historical references, whereas he is committed to exterminating them. I always think of Gill when I hear the title of that Thelonius Monk song: "Ugly Beauty." πŸ™‚

dasein

Posts: 17
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 5, 2012, 13:27
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Quote from joe on August 5, 2012, 10:57

Andy's description of Hugo's drumming is a perfect description of his own guitar playing. I focus a lot these days on how Gill's vocabulary had been stripped clean of ANY sentimental/referential guitar gestures. That's really hard to do! No muscle-memory pentatonic riffs. No auto-pilot vibrato. So very, very pure.

I think about that a lot, especially since I've gone down such a very different path as a player. I think my process is about warping historical references, whereas he is committed to exterminating them. I always think of Gill when I hear the title of that Thelonius Monk song: "Ugly Beauty." πŸ™‚

Yeah, I think the important thing to draw from Gill and other's playing is mindfulness... being aware of what you're playing, and avoiding certain devices which you tend to play simply because you're not thinking about them.

Derek Bailey was another guy who tried to create guitar music without references. Whether he and Gill succeeded is something one could argue about for hours... personally, I think it's impossible to ever entirely escape your influences and references. Music is a social, learned art, and even guys like Gill and Bailey, as unique as they were, certainly had their own pet gestures and figures (words like "lick" doesn't do justice to what they're doing) which cropped up again and again in their music.

Either way, they were great examples of what you can do when you just step back and avoid a near-sighted view of guitar playing.

guitarify

Posts: 7
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 19, 2012, 17:36
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I didn't realize Andy was one of my favorite guitarists till I saw Gang of Four again last year. Being in a whole different place with my own playing, had me appreciating how original his style really is, and just how good he is at it.

joe
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Posts: 224
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: August 20, 2012, 13:16
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Quote from guitarify on August 19, 2012, 17:36
I didn't realize Andy was one of my favorite guitarists till I saw Gang of Four again last year. Being in a whole different place with my own playing, had me appreciating how original his style really is, and just how good he is at it.

Yeah, I didn't get to see any of those shows, but man, the videos were cool, and he's playing GREAT. If a rock guitarist can have gravitas, he's the one! πŸ™‚

BlackMenSE-
O

Posts: 320
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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: December 3, 2018, 08:54
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BlackMenSE-
O

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Post Re: How do I love Andy Gill? Let me count the ways.
on: December 9, 2018, 06:05
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