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On a String and a Prayer
Guitar heroes Rodrigo Y Gabriela have gone from busking on Grafton Street to jamming with Metallica. The acoustic duo talk about their long, strange journey, their fantastic new album – and their debt to the metal world
Peter Murphy, 17 Nov 2009
Most artists who are compelled to pay tribute to the musicians that inspired them simply record a covers album. With 11:11 Rod y Gab took it one step further, composing pieces in homage to Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Paco de Lucia and Pink Floyd, plus an elegy for the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, featuring ex-Testament maestro Alex Skolnick. So where did they draw the line between tipping the hat and slipping into pastiche?
“That’s a good question. We’ve been influenced by all of these guys somehow, and we didn’t want to disrespect this inspiration in any way. We were trying to portray the respect we feel for them without trying to sound like them. For example, on the track we did for Dimebag Darrell we used a little bit of the Oud. I was in Egypt three years ago and bought one and liked the music and decided to use those Middle Eastern sounds on the album. I don’t pretend to tell people I play the Oud or the ukulele, which I do as well on the album, but it’s just to put some different dynamics and colours to the actual sound. Funnily enough, the album’s just been out a month, but we’ve been offered work on two films already in America, which didn’t happen before.”
What was the atmosphere in the studio like when Alex Skolnick showed up?
“It was awesome. We had this whole thing going on with Alex before, because we met him a few times in New York. He came for two days because he was in the middle of some recordings he was doing in Miami. The day we recorded the track, he was totally into the idea of doing it for Dimebag Darrell, who he’d met a few times and thought was a super sweet guy. So I told him what we wanted for the solo, we wanted to have a little bit of Dimebag’s signature, but we wanted as well to have the Alex Skolnick influence clear, so we reminded him of some of the solos we loved from the Testament days. And he couldn’t remember them, so we were playing old Testament albums and going, ‘You know that fuckin’ lick you got? Just take some of it, and some of this.’ We have a video of it, sometime we’re gonna release it on YouTube or something cos it was a great experience.”