2023 Round Up: Interviews of the Year

Published on 27 December 2023

 

It’s been another interesting and varied year for artist interviews here at guitarguitar! We’ve had more variety than ever. I’ve said hello to a lot of artists for the first time, checked in with a few friends, spoken to musicians who don’t play guitar at all and even found time to chat to a Hollywood star!

Every interview is a privilege, and a chance to learn from somebody’s success. Calling this blog anything like a ‘best of’ is kind of inappropriate (there’s no best because they are all totally different); what this is really is a snapshot of the diversity of experience I’ve enjoyed this year, arranged in one place (and in no order) for your browsing pleasure.
So, here we are at the end of 2023. Sit back, have a read through this list today, and click through to any of the interviews you may have missed the first time round. If you’ve read them all, read ‘em again! There’s always something new to catch on to!

Contents

David Rhodes

Jennifer Batten

Guthrie Govan

Tommy Emmanuel

Sophie Lloyd

Drab Majesty

David Duchovny

Jo Quail

Devin Townsend

Sammy Urwin

Steve Harris

 

David Rhodes

Judging by the clicks and likes, this one was one of your favourite interviews this year! David Rhodes has been Peter Gabriel’s guitarist for decades, both recording and touring with the enigmatic star on nearly all of his music projects. Not only that, he has also performed live with Kate Bush, an experience that we just had to know about during our interview.

Lucky for us, David was up for chatting on Zoom and also showing us around his live rig for the Peter Gabriel I/O tour back in the summer.

Hit the link for the full interview and check out the rig rundown below.

 

Click for the Full David Rhodes Interview

 

Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten is another pro player who knows a thing or two about touring with iconic singers. She of course spent ten years as Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist, and in doing so sent a message to the world that girls could rock as hard, and shred as hard, as the boys.

A trailblazer and an incredibly unique player, Batten has the mix of melody and madness that separates greatness from merely excellent. She’s also a really good laugh.

Check out our exclusive conversation below.

 

Click for our Jennifer Batten Interview

 

Guthrie Govan

Regularly referred to as one of the greatest guitarists in the world - by his peers, not just his fans - Guthrie Govan is also a polite, humble person who simply happens to be absurdly gifted.

Mixing a ‘regular gig’ as composer Hans Zimmer’s go-to guitar man with stints as one third of The Aristocrats, Govan gets to scratch several musical itches. In this, our second email-based interview, Govan told me all about a most unusual soundtrack request: to mimic, as best he could, a Highland bagpipe sound on his guitar for Zimmer’s Dune score! The fact that he not only managed it, but that his efforts made it rather prominently into the final cut of the film, speaks volumes about his wide-ranging abilities. It’s not all gloriously perfect shredding with Guthrie, although there’s that too!

Read our Second Interview with Guthrie Govan

 

Tommy Emmanuel

2023 got off to a great start with a lovely, in-depth conversation with Tommy Emmanuel on the subject of inspiration. He gets asked about techniques a lot, so I felt like his fans could probably find plenty to read and watch online about that stuff already. Instead, I wanted to see how much I could learn about Tommy’s process from moment of inspiration to fully-formed song. As ever, he was on excellent form and quite happy to engage with the subject, peppering the conversation with snatches of guitar playing and even singing from his own extensive catalogue.

Take a look at the video below if you’re ready to be inspired yourself, and worry not: when Tommy removes his earbuds, the sound of his guitar improves massively!

 

Sophie Lloyd

Sophie Lloyd’s profile has jumped massively this year, thanks to a lead guitar gig with pop-rocker Machine Gun Kelly. Using this fame as a springboard, Sophie spent this year creating her own debut record of original songs. Far from being an album of shred, her songs are instead all collaborations with top singers like Lzzy Hale. Indeed, each tune was written with its singer in mind, and the result is a solid block of quality hard rock, replete with supersonic guitar parts.

I joined Sophie on a Zoom call to discuss it all, and to also chat about her gear and her attitude to online trolls. She was great to talk to and went deep with advice of sweep-picking too, in case you needed even more reasons to click through below!

 

Drab Majesty

Drab Majesty have excellent songs and an amazing, hypnotic sound. I’ve been a fan for years now, and enthusiastically chased after an opportunity to speak with vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Deb Demure. 

We caught up, chatted about coastal retreats, Ovation guitars, strange tunings, UFO cults and much more! Did I get the secret to that lush chorus sound? Well, you’ll just have to read the article and see, won’t you?

 

Click to Read the Entire Drab Majesty Interview

 

David Duchovny

It’s not every day you find yourself at your computer, chatting to Agent Fox Mulder from the X-Files about Lou Reed. 

I can recommend it as an activity though: David Duchovny is a very pleasant, laid back and friendly person to converse with, giving great answers but also asking questions, being actively interested in the conversation and just basically making the whole activity a real pleasure.

Whilst the then-ongoing actors/writers strike was still in effect - meaning that X-Files/Twin Peaks/Californication questions were sadly off the menu - but we found plenty to chat about, and that probably made the whole endeavour more worthwhile for us both. David’s a published author and a songwriter with several albums available, not to mention adding ‘film director’ to his resume on top of his acting success. Overachiever? Maybe, but a lovely, charming one.

Not once did I shriek ‘I Want to Believe’ or ‘The Truth is Out There’, a fact that surprises even me.

 

Read our Exclusive David Duchovny Interview

 

Jo Quail

Cellist Jo Quail makes sounds on her electric cello that are simultaneously more graceful and more violent than any distorted guitar could manage. Plugging into a BOSS GT effects unit and RC looper, she weaves tapestries of sound that are as informed by metal as they are classical music. The results are spellbinding, to say the least.

In short, there’s nobody like Jo Quail, and it was my distinct pleasure to feature her in guitarguitar. Every guitarist can learn from her approach to composition, phrasing, silence, layering and drama.

 

Read the guitarguitar Jo Quail Interview

 

Devin Townsend

Frequent readers of guitarguitar Interviews will know that Canadian metal maestro Devin Townsend is one of our favourite artists. His expansive, uncompromising music blends beauty with fury, and seems always to be searching for truth and meaning in a world that scarcely offers either.

Over the years, I’ve had the real privilege of meeting Devin for interviews numerous times (documented more comprehensively in the blog 5 Things We’ve Learned from Devin Townsend), with the most recent being back in April as he finished up a tour in support of his Lightwork album. As ever, he was candid, forthright, self-deprecating, warm and friendly. 

His status as ‘Prime Prog Metal King’ remains!

 

Click for the Latest Devin Townsend Interview

 

Sammy Urwin - Employed to Serve

On the subject of impressive metal, one band who’ve been tearing it up this year has been Employed to Serve. Ferocious but also interesting and accessible, their music rocks super hard in a way that inspires and ‘activates’ you as you listen.

I first caught up with guitarist and co-vocalist Sammy Urwin when Employed to Serve came through to Glasgow supporting Gojira. We hit it off and arranged to have both an interview and a rig rundown when the band were next in town.

Long story short, we did both! You can see the rig video below, and you can read the interview by clicking the link. Sammy and I discuss a range of subjects, including how they built up a following and how they approach international touring. Even if you’re not into heavy music, I’d say there’s a wealth of first-hand advice from Sammy here that’ll be more than useful to many of you!

 

 

Click to Read the Employed to Serve Interview

 

Steve Harris

I recently had the most wonderful time speaking to Steve Harris, guitarist for Gary Numan. Working with Numan since 1997, Harris is one of those players who sculpts his sonics with reckless precision: stacked fuzzes, gnarly octaves and synth-like tones that redefine the role of the electric guitar within a rock band context.

He’s a really interesting person with a unique take on many subjects. In particular, I admired his allegiance to the underdog, going as far as to use a £70 pawn shop Hohner as one of his guitars for his performance with Gary at the Royal Albert Hall!

We also covered subjects like life on the road and much more during an hour-plus deep dive conversation. As they say, read all about it!

 

Click for the Entire Steve Harris Interview

 

A Great Year

These are just a selection of the conversations I’d had this year for guitarguitar. You’ll find them all in the guitarguitar interviews section, and there are now around seven years’ worth of interview material there, so make sure you get a good look! 

I’ll be back soon with more, but in the meantime, thank you for reading.

 

Ray's photo

About the author

Ray

Features Editor, Warehouse

I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

View Profile

Here are some similar articles you might like