David Todd

Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock

Published by Chicago Review Press

Sep 05, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


In his new book, David Todd compiles interviews with 25 "alternative" guitarists, discussing their approach to music, their technique, and the vision they have for their instrument. It's not as boring as it sounds; in fact, it's not boring at all.

The term "alternative" here is a bit of misnomer, especially for those who grew up in the '90s. When Todd refers to "alternative," he is talking about guitarists who presented a true redefinition of their instrument, at odds with preceding trends and the instrument's more traditional history. While he speaks with guitarist such as Bob Mould, J Mascis, and Kim and Kelley Deal, all who could loosely be described as "alternative" in the '90s sense, the bulk of Feeding Back features in-depth discussions with musicians such as Richard Thompson, Zoot Horn Rollo, Lydia Lunch, Fred Frith, Glenn Branca, and John Frusciante, the last of whose guitar work is defined much more broadly than anything he accomplished with Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Background is established in brief histories that precede each interview, which is helpful to set the stage, and the interviews allow their subjects to, pardon the pun, riff on their approach. Feeding Back can be easily absorbed by the casual fan, picking and choosing which chapters to peruse, or in full, as a statement of purpose. And the case of the latter is where the book really makes its point. Feeding Back is a wonderful examination of groundbreakers, musicians who looked at their instrument differently and innovated. It is an insight into the mindset and artistic worldview of said musicians that, when taken as a whole, illuminates the wonderfully expansive potential of the guitar. (www.ipgbook.com)

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