Bloc Party's Guitar Man Russell Lissak Thu, 20/12/2007 - by Jamie Ellis Talking telecasters (not literally) Russell

Lissack of Bloc Party is one of the best young guitarists in the country . He is innovative and very creative with his ever-growing effects board. You on ly need to hear the crazy drooping sounds on 'Like Eating Glass' (from first alb um 'Silent Alarm') or the intro to 'Hunting for Witches' or the solo to 'The Pra yer' (both from their follow-up album 'A Weekend in the City') for Russell to in stantly stand out a mile. He can make his trusted telecaster sound like a plane taking off, a video game s oundtrack or even an alien's holiday trip to a waterpark. No one else plays guit ar quite like him. Yet he can also be very melodic, and writes gorgeous soundscapes, heard on 'So H ere We Are' and 'Tulips' for example. And equally visceral and garagey where req uired, like on 'Uniform' or 'She's Hearing Voices'. He is a very shy person init ially, but when you get to know him he shows himself to be both serious and have a great sense of humour. All these personalities come out in his playing. He is quite a quiet person, preferring his music to do the talking. As such, he leave s a lot of space in his playing so that he's not always in-your-face, and on sta ge spends more time than most lead guitarists do actually not playing, waiting f or his bit to come round. Russell doesn't like face-to-face interviews, so I asked him if I could do one v ia email. As he is a friend of mine, it was quite difficult to think of objectiv e questions that a regular interviewer would ask as we've spent so much time tal king guitars over the years it's easy to forget what the sort of things people w ould like to know are. I plan to interview him again next year, so if anyone rea ding this would like to put questions to him, please get in touch. I purposefull y didn't ask him about 'A Weekend in the City's follow-up, as they have barely s tarted writing it having toured all year long. When the next record is being mad e, I'll ask all those questions then. So for now, here's my attempt at trying to ask some probing questions that he'd actually answer, as he's pretty cagey abou t certain topics, like his effects board. Fair enough really! Why do you use Telecasters and when did you get your first one? I've played a lot of different types of guitar, mostly when I didn't really know what I was doing, so I tended to pick guitars just based on what I liked the lo ok of. Anyway, when I was a student my housemate had a party and my guitar got s tolen. Fortunately I had insurance so I went to a shop with the money, and spied a white telecaster which I liked the look of. It was just after that I got into them, as I really liked the feel and the sound of that one, and have done ever since. What other guitars have you used on record and why? Any favourites? Of my personal guitars I've only ever used Teles, but sometimes I used producers ' guitars for heavy things, mostly a variety of Gibsons. I've got a Strat and a Jaguar now so they might get used next time round. What are your most-used effects pedals? Overall I'd say my [Boss] DD5 Delay, which has served me well for nearly 10 year s now. I've seen you play a Fender Jaguar live once. Why only once? I'd just got it and wanted to try it out really. But it doesn't feel as nice or sound as nice as my Tele, so there's no point really. I always think its really sad when people wanna keep changing guitars for songs, like "ooh, look at all my

but I thought it sounded amazing. it wasn't flawless due to lack of rehearsals and monitors for the choir. Obviously if the song is in different tuning or whatever then it can be necessary but otherwise it's just really cheesy.. I don't know if that's a Bloc Party avenue. so I'm not sure if I'm still on the same lead or not. Rivers Cuomo. maybe someday in another form. Who are your favourite guitarists? Not including Jamie Ellis? [aw. I remember at one gig. it's just a fast dela y and then a pitch shift down. so we did and then the guitar sounded awful so we had to change it back. Now that the 'Silent Alarm' official secrets act has expired. Do you have any modified guitars? Care to tell me about them? I have one modified Tele. I think repeating it would probably spoil the moment though. I still sing some of their parts to mys elf when we play live now.. suggestion duly noted! Do you write many of your parts with just Kele. a melodic part. go on then. Johnny Marr. can you tell me an d everyone else what that cool sound is on the solo to 'Positive Tension'? Ha ha. our guitar tech wanted to chan ge my lead because he thought it was far too long..might I suggest using a keytar for the next record? Heh heh. I've recently picked up a few few dist ortion pedals which I'm sure I'll use for recording. it's easier to sit together in a quiet room and do i t. so we added the shift on afterwards. Its nothing out of the ordinary. shucks!] Still the same as when I was younger re ally. Why was it left . say. Did you enjoy the Electric Proms? Is it something you'd like to do again? I loved it. ah. Do you think your guitar style has changed much in recent years or is it somethi ng you try not to think about? I don't really think about. but overall I attribute the sound more to the amp than anything else. How do you get such a crunchy sound from your Tele (like on 'Uniform' for exampl e)? What distortion pedals do you use? I just use the Boss overdrive distortion.. Will the next Bloc Party album have lots of guitars on it? 'Flux' is very synth heavy . though I do like watching Foals play. Bernard Butler. That was a while ago now. and severa l techs later... which a friend made for me by putting an effects switc h inside the guitar. 'This Modern Love' and 'SRXT' is down to dirty. With the pedal set up I had then I couldn't actua lly do the footwork and pedal adjusting at the same time as playing. they've a lot of really nice [guitar] interplay. but sometimes if it's. Generally we're writing on stage in soundchecks. Can you confirm or deny such reports? I'm not sure to be honest.... I love the guitar playing on 'England' (b-side to 'The Prayer').. or with you all in a rehearsal r oom together? A bit of both. there's really not anyone th at's interested me in the last few years. long cables. Will we hear any more of your Kevin Shields side heard on Everytime is the Last Time (the hidden track on 'Silent Alarm')? I think we should! Hmmm.guitars". Someone told me the secret to your clean-yet-with-bite chiming sound heard on 'S o Here We Are'. Its probably more an overall shift in the band's sou nd than just a change in guitar style.

What are your favourite Bloc Party songs to play and/or listen to? I always like playing 'She's Hearing Voices'.. Is there anything specific you still want to achieve guitar-wise? Have you ever thought about a Kaoss Pad guitar like Muse's Matt Bellamy? I don't like the idea of just imitating someone else... Any tips on hot new bands? Nope! Why do you never play 'On'? Err. it gives me a chance to fluff up b ig solos! Do you think you'll ever give up touring and become a studio band who take years to make albums with a 42-piece orchestra? Or at least just become a studio band ? It's hard to say. I'm sure it'd be fun to play. I don't know. What was the most fun-to-shoot music video you've made? The 'Flux' video. But then after almost three years solid of bein g on tour.off 'A Weekend In The City'? Hey. you do need a break.. as I got to show off my dance moves.. . Would you like to tell the kids what pedals are getting stomped on for 'The Pray er' solo or the intro to 'Hunting for Witches'? I would not. I just don't think we ever came up with a satisfactory liv e rendition.. but then everything would just sound like Muse. you can't put every song on the album.. certainly at the moment there's more emphasis on being a liv e band than being a studio band..

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