It all started in the late 1970s when Eddie Van Halen changed the way we think of electric guitar. Although some pretty incredible guitar players emerged earlier in the decades, he was the one who truly tapped into its potential. The next one to push it even further was Yngwie Malmsteen, ultimately inspiring a whole new generation of “shredders.” On the other hand, a different movement of “not-so-shreddy” guitar players emerged, especially within the grunge movement.
In his recent interview with Guitar World, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy discussed both of these groups of players. Regarding the band’s new song “You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween” and its solo, Matt was reminded that there are some Yngwie-like parts in there. Asked whether he listens to the Swedish neo-classical legend, he replied:
“Oh, brilliant! I haven’t listened to him in a while, but Yngwie was one of those people I got into in the early ’90s when I first started playing. Clearly back then, I thought there was a chance! After a while, I realized I simply couldn’t get to where he was and sort of veered off towards more classical and flamenco guitar styles.”
“Then I started listening to players like Hendrix and Cobain and felt, ‘You know what? I can do chaos. I can’t do this unbelievable technical precision but what I can do is create a mess!’ So I went down the road of noise, chaos, and carnage… and little elements of the other things stayed with me. And I think you’re probably right, some of the fast-moving harmonic minor ideas will have come from players like that.”
Elsewhere in the chat, Matt also discussed his extensive use of Manson guitars and the fact that he’s a majority shareholder in the company. Asked how he started playing them, he replied:
“I grew up with the Manson shop nearby, which is where they made guitars too. It was the same place back then. There were a few guitar shops on that high street but this one always felt more authentic. You’d go in there and people would be actually building things in front of you, making or fixing bits.“
“The instruments themselves felt like they had a certain sense of precision and durability which led me towards wanting to playing heavier music. The primary attraction was that whenever I pick up a Stratocaster, I tend to play bluesy. At its best, it’ll be along the lines of Clapton or Hendrix.”
“They never really felt right for trying to create something new. With Muse, we knew we were coming in at the tail end of rock music’s innovation and longevity in the zeitgeist, if you like. We had to do something to try and stand out, to be new in some way or another.”