SE Machine Rock Magazine 5.13
Wielding paired-stringed inventions, dubbed 'GuitarCross' and 'ASIA,' Blair intends to organize live clinics, area shows and festival slots--given sufficient downtime between his W.A.S.P. sawblade guitar duties(the group is already booked for two Swedish summer fest appearances at Kirunafestivalen and Sommarock, as well as in Germany and Belgium).
Coming off a highly-successful fall tour with the LA-based quartet celebrating its 30-year anniversary, Blair filled us in, discussing these unique instruments and a unique 'power duo' performance concept, making obvious his desire to share it all with metalheads and guitar-lovers:
“I, like many others, love the classic ‘power trio’... one guitarist, bassist, and drummer with various vocals: Hendrix, Cream, Rush, King’s X... Led Zeppelin! So many iconic rock groups that cultivated a holy silent space that exists between guitar and bass, intertwined with human vowels and consonants, and shredded by the mechanical muse of a ... drummer!
“Well, after a while everyone just wants to fill it up! Bollocks! Sure, you can hire and deal with another guitarist or keyboard player. But, back in the day before iPod-fed backing tracks that replaced everyone, the only alternatives were ancient MIDI sequencers or foot-operated MIDI synth pedals. These worked well, and they didn’t need hotel beds, food or babysitters--just a little DC power and programming time. Now, of course, power trios could invariably sound like orchestras(witness Rush...).
“So, fast-forward umpteen years and extended-range guitars are all the rage, letting these monster players shred from the bowels of audible frequency to the heavens! Well, over the last decade or so, I’ve taken a slightly different path with a severely-extended-range hybrid I call the ‘GuitarCross’, which allows me to play bass as well as guitar parts simultaneously. By using paired strings, tuned an octave apart and fretted together--yet amplified separately--I’m able to achieve an insane duality, and thus create the foundation for an innovative power duo!
“Yeah, a ‘power duo’! There’ve been countless duos, but they’re usually skipping bass and/or counterpoint, unless keyboards are involved(hell, they can play anything!). Yet, by using various altered and standard tunings, I’m able to ‘separate’ the guitar and bass parts, and combine them with chords and unison lines when I’d like to. Electronics let me mute each of the ‘formats’, or use effects on each or both, as would normally occur with two players! It’s a total mindf**k at first, but then it becomes challenging and gratifying!
“The GX has 3 bass strings--enough to groove heavily, and 5 guitar strings--again enough to do considerable damage. Three pairs and two singles, stretching over a 5 1/2-octave range: real strings played through to real amps. Not quite such an easy task, and that’s why I made my bassist learn to play it first--to fill in our old trio’s ‘holy silence’ a bit--before I decided to try my hand at it.
“Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, Tom Morello and Tim Cummerford, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, Dug Pinnick and Ty Tybor... the list goes on. Their unison, counterpoint, chordal work, and ‘flair’ is what I aspire to, as I get better at playing this 8-string BEAST. Then, just add a guy like any one of their drummers to the mix, and you have magic. The goal is to rip like these trios with just two brains, two hearts, and two voices--but most importantly, only two OPINIONS! And I’ll find and work with a Scandinavian percussive opinion at that...
“The instrument I call ‘ASIA’ is similar in concept the GX, but instead combines steel and nylon strings on an acoustic/electric 12-string guitar. These two ‘formats’ are again captured and amplified separately, yet played together, for another unprecedented guitar sound coming from one player. I’m really psyched to get both of these creations plugged into both small and massive PA’s in the coming year!
“My vision for the ‘power duo’ performance, which will use the long-time US moniker ‘signal2noise’, is for the drummer to be set up IN FRONT of a riser that I’d stand and perform upon, effectively reversing the usual live ‘drummer in the back’ set-up. This will emphasize the concept that the drummer will be taking an equal ‘lead role’ in the power duo--I’ll hang back and groove on a guitar/bass rythym and drummers can just TAKE IT OUT... and with only one other player to interact with, the directions are ENDLESS.
“For more info, you can check out www.s2nusa.com. Watch for upcoming news and events and... see you onstage! Special thanks to Model T at MRM!” dbl