Abuse Your Delusion: The 1992 Guitar World Interview with the Almost-Legendary Spinal Tap
This interview with Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap appeared in the April 1992 issue of Guitar World magazine.
So "Rainy Day Sun" was pre-Sgt. Pepper's?
ST. HUBBINS: They both came out in 1967.It's one of those great-minds-think-alike sort of things -- the single came out within weeks of Sgt. Peppers. On this album we used one track that's an album remix of "Rainy Day Sun," which was the flipside of "(Listen To The) Flower People." It was just truncated, chopped off willy nilly by the record company, and we finally had a chance to put it on in its entirety, with the sound collage at the end.
Another group might have had an ego problem here because the bass player on that track isn't Derek; it's Ronnie Pudding. He was an excellent musician but got too big for his hat size, if you know what I mean. Went off on his own, failed miserably, but at least had the backbone not to come crawling back.
TUFNEL: He did ring up, though.
ST. HUBBINS: Oh, he called a few times and we wouldn't take the calls. But he didn't literally crawl --which we admire him for. But to get back to my point, a lot of bass players not like Derek would say, "As long as you're remixing, let's yank that duff bass part --
SMALLS: Well, I did say that.
ST. HUBBINS: But you didn't mean it. So we kept Ronnie's bass. But you know what he did? Derek went in, this man, this Christian martyr, and said, "Let me just tweak it a bit." And he re-eq'ed the bass part, made it sound a bit more up to date.
A rumor circulated for years that Nigel was up for the lead guitar seat in the Yardbirds on three different occasions.
TUFNEL: That's one of those rumors that you hear. I think it 's just based on jealousy, really. I was never contacted by any of those people, ever.
ST. HUBBINS: But didn't Keith Relf call you when he was forming Renaissance?
TUFNEL: That 's different. First of all , I don't like auditions. Let those boys like Beck and Clapton fight it out with each other. Let me watch and laugh.
ST. HUBBINS: I would also like to say -- because he's too modest to say it himself -- that Nigel belongs in that company because he is one of the premier lead guitarists and stylists. No one plays quite like him. No one even tries.
TUFNEL: When you get older you realize that what's important is not the amount of notes that you play. It's if you're thinking about them after you've played them.
ST. HUBBINS: A mental resonance.
TUFNEL: Exactly. A mental depository. Can you remember what you played? If you can't, why did you play it? It becomes a thinking man's game. You want each note to be a score or a movie or a novel --
SMALLS: A novella.
ST. HUBBINS: Or a novelization. I'd say the same thing about rhythm guitar, though the terminology has changed over the years. They used to talk about the "chunk"; now it's about the "crunch." Basically, it's what feels right, rather than what sounds right. You are communicating with your instrument through your hands, and the instrument is communicating back through your hands to you. It's rather like a ferret -- like a hungry ferret running around in a wheel.
TUFNEL: If you put a hungry ferret in your trousers, he'll run around. You'd be surprised at the energy. The key, of course, is to always bathe -- even on the road or on a bus.
As you were saying, Nigel really deserves to be in the company of the Claptons and Becks and Pages --
SMALLS: He should be in the bloody Rock & Roll Hall of Fame right now.
Right. But he hasn't gotten the recognition due him. For example, in a recent article [in another guitar magazine] entitled "The 25 Players Who Shook The World," Nigel isn't even mentioned.
TUFNEL: Don't make me laugh. I read that. It's not even me so much; there are a lot of people who should have been in that.
ST. HUBBINS: Is Scotty Moore in it? No? Well, there you go. Chuck Berry? Well, there you go again.
TUFNEL: And Big Daddy Boozer? Pfft. Great Delta player. I mean, Robert Johnson learned from Big Daddy Boozer. All that stuff, all those tricks. Blind Lemon Jefferson? They can't hold a candle to Big Daddy Boozer. And where's he? He's not in the 25, is he? I just discount that stuff; I throw it off.
So it doesn't bother you or eat at you?
TUFNEL: It does, yeah, but I throw it off after it 's eaten me up.
Spinal Tap is such a musical melting pot -- there are so many different styles on the new album.
ST. HUBBINS: Do you mean that in a positive way? Well , we're growing. Petty inconsistency being the hobgoblin of small minds.
TUFNEL: What you see as "different styles," is musical growth to us. Derek has a background in ska and various other things, and there's always something in his music that rings of that. My background is more in the Celtic area.
ST. HUBBINS: As far as guitar playing goes, I'd say I'm midway between W.S. Gilbert and --
SMALLS: Melissa Gilbert.
ST. HUBBINS: That's where I'd like to be -- just midway between Melissa Gilbert. But there's the influence of the old musical halls and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. That great sort of rhythm-lead is what I aspire to. I also play some solos -- some of the leads on "Stonehenge," for example.
TUFNEL: What lead? That's a part. I do like switching off, though, because I love playing rhythm. So when I'm singing, that's what we usually do
SMALLS: What you're seeing in the band is maturity. [Nigel makes farting noises.] It's not desperation, or thrashing about for a commercial style; it 's maturity, in which we can be all of our different selves. •
TUFNEL: That's the other thing: People say we're playing heavy rock, metal, whatever you want to call it, so this is what it 's got to be. We say there are no boundaries of any sort.
SMALLS: We' re not about heavy rock or metal or hard rock or leather trousers. We're doing what we stand for. And one of the reasons we got back together was to make a stand for generic rock and roll. Good old generic rock and roll.
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