guitarguitar INTERVIEWS of the YEAR 2021
Published on 24 December 2021
As another year waves goodbye whilst swiftly flying out the door, let us take a second to catch our breath and reflect on some of the fantastic conversations we’ve had during 2021. As with last year, Zoom has been the common denominator in our interviews, and also like last year, the variety of artists has been pleasantly diverse. 2021 saw us talk to Country stars, Metalheads, Shred legends, Prog rockers and Blues greats in roughly equal measure.
Everybody we interviewed this year was a pleasure to speak with, and this end-of-year roundup isn’t a popularity contest by any means: this is simply a gathering for those who missed them the first time round! Click the bold blue link within the text of each artist's entry to go straight to their interview.
In no particular order, here is a selection of the best interviews of 2021…
Steven Wilson - Solo Artist, Porcupine Tree, Producer
Prog Titan and restless creative spirit Steven Wilson was on fine fettle when we chatted back in April. He’d not long released his latest record, The Future Bites, and was already involved in multiple new projects. One of those - held secret at the time but revealed not so long ago - was the reformation of his influential and much loved prog/hard rock band Porcupine Tree, which we’ll hopefully hear more about soon! In the meantime, enjoy this interview where Steven discusses his relationship with his fanbase, our mutual love of WIlliam Gibson novels and the current state of rock guitar in today’s music.
Robin Finck - Nine Inch Nails, Guns n Roses
A few months back, we enjoyed another in-depth conversation with Robin Finck, one of the very few musicians who has been inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame twice: once for playing lead guitar in Guns N Roses (replacing You Know Who for a decade) and once again this year for being a long-time member of Nine Inch Nails.
Robin spoke candidly about a range of amazing topics we don’t normally get to hear about, such as his time with the Cirque du Soleil, his new software company and also his collaboration with Hollywood composer Danny Elfman. It’s an amazing story, and one we were honoured to pass over into the world.
Todd Rundgren - Solo Artist, Producer
Our first interview of 2021, way back in January, was with the legendary Todd Rundgren. Classic rockstar, dad to Liv Tyler and producer of Bat Out of Hell, Todd has quite a few stories to tell! We chatted about an ambitious run of gigs he was planning on: a world-first ‘virtual tour’, where he band would stay put but project images and vibes of each ‘local city’ on their tour. He’s always full of cool ideas, and was a lovely person to talk with.
Bill Kelliher - Mastodon
Mastodon have long been favourites at guitarguitar, and it felt great to finally have an opportunity to sit down with Bill (remotely at least) and chat guitars! A total gearhead, Bill didn’t disappoint, and was happy to remark on pickups, amps, riffs, writing and all that good stuff. Mastodon were hot on the heels of their latest album - an epic double record called Hushed and Grim - so there was plenty to talk about!
Ian Thornley - Big Wreck
Another artist we’d long harboured ambitions to interview was Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley. Routinely known as Canada’s best-kept secret, Big Wreck blend power rock and startlingly good musicianship with beautifully-written songs that belie a love of pop and melody.
We caught up with Ian whilst he was in the midst of renovating his basement studio, and found a kindred spirit who loves talking about guitars almost more than us! In the end, our conversation spanned a wealth of subjects and there’s plenty for all guitar fans to get their teeth into here!
Nili Brosh - solo artist, Danny Elfman, Cirque du Soleil
Batman & Edward Scissorhands composer Danny Elfman has good taste in guitarists, it would seem. In addition to enlisting NIN’s Robin Finck to play on his Big Mess record (see a few spaces above on this list), the Hollywood legend also brought in Nili Brosh. Brosh, like Finck an ex-Cirque du Soleil member, is a rare blend of super shredder with a real taste for melodies. Her playing is incredible and she was a blast to talk to about everything from her days at Berklee to her collaborations and solo albums.
Duane Denison - Tomahawk, The Jesus Lizard
Duane Denison is easily one of alternative rock’s true guitar heroes, and we learned a thing or two whilst chatting to him from his home in Nashville. Super-friendly and quick-witted, Denison is one of those guys who can express himself eloquently without sounding rehearsed. He’s just a great guy to speak with, and our conversation brought up some great insights. One that sticks in our mind is his point about paying attention to how your notes end, not just how they begin or sustain. Click through to read more from Duane: we talk Jesus Lizard, Mike Patton, Tomahawk, the whole bit!
Gurujas Khalsa - White Sun
LA-based trio White Sun make some of the most beautiful music around, from some of the oldest sources. Indeed, the lyrical content of their songs is ancient mantras, and their music is designed specifically to have a positive physical effect on the listener. We had to know more, so shared a most enlightening - not to mention funny - conversation with singer/songwriter Gurujas Khalsa. This turned out to be one of the most unique interviews of the year. These Grammy award winners are definitely worth a closer look for anyone interested in what music actually does to us. There’s also some great tips for vocalists and a whole lot more!
Morgan Wade - Solo Artist
Up and coming country/americana artist Morgan Wade chatted to us early on in the year, just before the release of her debut record, Reckless. Overcoming significant personal problems at a young age in order to chase her career, Wade has a story that will be familiar to many musicians. She proved to be a very personable, down to earth conversational partner, with lots of friendly personality and an open attitude towards subject matter. Her voice is incredible, but it’s her songs that make her a talent to watch out for. Click through to read all about Morgan.
Ben Schneider - Lord Huron
Not many bands can boast of having over 760 million views of a single song, but Lord Huron can, and have probably gone far past that number since we spoke in April! Lord Huron inhabit their own semi-mythological twilit world, and new record Long Lost deepens the mystery with a host of characters and sounds that feel both familiar and unusual at once.
Lord Huron frontman Ben Schneider joined us from his LA home to discuss all of this and more, in one of our most interesting interviews of the year.
A Good Year for Talks
2021 was many things, but at least in terms of conversations with inspiring artists, it was a vintage one. We wholeheartedly thank both the artists for giving us their time, and you for giving us yours! Please keep an eye on our guitarguitar interviews page over the coming year, where there will be more exclusive interviews, including a very big name in January!
Until then, enjoy the remainder of 2021, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!