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HOW I WROTE A CLASSIC METAL RIFF!
Corrosion of Conformity "Albatross"
COC guitarists Pepper Keenan and Woody Weatherman reveal how they wrote and recorded their 1994 hit, "Albatross", and show how to play the songs intro riff.
PEPPER KEENAN: I was !@#$ around trying to figure out that bad-assed guitar riff in "No Quarter" by Led Zepplin (from Houses of the Holy). I always liked the timing of that hook and how it flows, and that's how I came to write the intro riff to "Albatross". "Albatross" was one of the first songs COC did that was very atypical for the times. We knew it was a pretty big risk to take such a big right turn. When people first heard it, alot of them said we sounded like The Eagles if they were pissed-off. We were like, "Thats perfect! Let's do it!"
WOODY WEATHERMAN: Yeah, it was a crazy, monster riff for us to attempt, because it was very different from what we'd done previously. We were taking a big chance, but sometimes you've just gotta break out and try something new.
KEENAN: We were like a thrash punk band at the time, and "Albatross" was a pretty pivotal point in our career. As far as I'm concerned, punk rock means doing your own thing, and everybody else around us seemed to be repeating themselves. We just wanted to be musicians, and we weren't going to be pigeonholed or stuck living in "a scene" with poeple telling us what to do;
that just wasn't punk rock at all to me. That's what the lyrics are about - the idea of leaving that stale scene behind, flying away and saying, "See you later - we're outta here".
KEENAN: I did the rhythm tracks on the song. In COC, whoever's got the better vibe for the song plays the whole thing. We never play rhythms together in the studio.
WEATHERMAN: We tried sharing rhythms on the previous album, Blind, and we were literally tearing our hair out trying to double each others stuff. You can double yourself better than anyone else can, thats for damned sure!
KEENAN: There are basically two rhythm tracks, and I doubled each of them, too. We wanted the guitar to sound like a tugboat - just dirty, gnarly !@#$. So I used a P90-loaded Goldtop Les Paul Standard I got from a pawn shop, turned on the front(neck) pickup and plugged straight into a Mesa/Boogie 50 Calibre Plus. For the other track, I used a Gibson SG on the bridge pickup and plugged straight into the Boogie as well.
HOW TO PLAY THE RIFF
KEENAN: It's a simple riff. When it goes up to the 10th fret, I bend the whole chord up pretty much half a step. I do that a lot - it's kind of our trademark. Our producer John Custer, calls it "white knuckling". I finger the chord with my first, third and forth fingers and then pull the shape in toward my palm. I bend all the strings pretty much equally.
WEATHERMAN: It's a flick of the wrist kind of a deal, and its usually pretty quick. If you do it slowly, it can actually sound kinda stupid! It's never gonna be exactly perfect, but that's what gives it that little gnarl.
-From Guitarworld, October 2005.
Last edited by rhe cat, 3/16/2007, 7:52 am
3/15/2007, 7:55 pm
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