A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel recently outlined the reason as to why he found David Gilmour’s guitar playing so appealing. He then compared Pink Floyd’s lasting popularity to the “dinosaur culture” of hair metal.
Billy Howerdel opens up on Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour has a unique approach towards playing the guitar and it plays a major role. Gilmour’s solos from the likes of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, “Time”, and “Comfortably Numb” showed that you don’t need to play at a breakneck pace to create outstanding pieces of music at a time when highly technical displays of expertise began overtaking rock guitar tradition. Speaking to Everyone Loves Guitar in a recent interview, Billy Howerdel says this is exactly why the Pink Floyd ax-man made such a huge impression on him.
As the APC mastermind explains, he got into playing guitar thanks to a friend who was a devout acolyte of Randy Rhoads’s playing philosophy, but discovering Pink Floyd & David Gilmour spoke to him on a personal level. He said (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):
“David Gilmour was always the one that gave almost an unspoken permission to be like, ‘You didn’t need so many notes.’ It was the space between the notes, it was the way that you play.
“The quantity versus quality kind of argument – and there’s no right answer. It’s just whatever you’re wired for, whatever touched you. And for me… I mean, I played ‘The Wall’ mostly. ‘The Wall’ was the record that i really liked singing. That was one of the first records that I had liked to sing. Roger Waters even more so. It was kind of weird, and I don’t even know how you describe his vocals, but somewhat unhinged, sort of in-tune but a little bit more insane asylum singing. But David Gilmour’s playing was the steady foundation, admirable. Nobody could talk shit on David Gilmour. I’ve never heard anyone do it. He’s amazing.”
Later on, Howerdel argued that one of the reasons for Pink Floyd’s enduring popularity is that it stands in contrast to contemporary music designed to bank on “dopamine hits”:
“I guess there’s still enough people that do want music that commands their attention, instead of, ‘Yeah, I can’t wait to skip to the next thing.’ The dopamine hit of whatever algorithm is. A lot of music now is written by algorithm, whether it’s intentional, or not, you’re in there with a corporate mentality. And some of it is great… and some of it that gets more attention is crafted to the algorithm. And that’s not a good thing in the long run.”
Howerdel goes on to argue that hair metal followed similar trends back in the day, and names this as the reason why Pink Floyd’s popularity outlasted the “dinosaur culture” of the ’80s mainstream metal tradition:
“Everyone likes what they like, but there is something to be said about having some kind of heart within your music. Again, we grew up in an era that kind of valued that. There was also hair metal that was vapid and just about getting laid and getting fucked up. And that was fun, too. But there’s only so long that that lasts. That was a dinosaur kind of culture that went away. But there’s things like Pink Floyd that stuck around.”