Guest Column - The death of the guitar band... By Will Daunt from 'guitar' band Zulu Winter
Zulu Winter, one of Q's New Faces for 2012, released their debut album Language this week (14 May), so what does the future hold for the Londoners? Well, as a band who play guitars (among other instruments), frontman Will Daunt (far left) is a little bit confused by all this "death of the guitar band" talk that seems to be everywhere right now...
As a member of a recently signed band I've spent a fair amount of time in the past few months meeting the great and the good in the music industry. While this has been both flattering (it's nice that people are interested in Zulu Winter) and a little frightening (you can't help yourself wondering how interested they really are), it's also revealed a dominating obsession with the phrase "the death of the guitar band". Not a meeting or interview goes by without someone asking: "Aren't you worried that it's a terrible time to be in a guitar band?" The answer is usually a slightly nonplussed round of smiles.
Like most people outside of the music industry, and some within it, it's never crossed my mind that the phrase represents a plausible concern. The fact that we've been here twice before in the mid 80s and early 90s illustrates that the guitar's popularity may wax and wane, but its 4000 year history isn't likely to be cut short any time soon.
Indeed, the 80s obsession with the phrase is far more understandable given that the excitement of the advent of the synthesizer had yet to wear off. Even more puzzlingly, some of the most successful artists of the past two years have been guitar-based: Adele's 21 is littered with wiry Telecaster, just as Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More owes its lush yet paired down orchestration to the joys of an open tuned Martin acoustic. That's not to say there hasn't been a huge increase in the success of electronic music that doesn't use guitars, merely that there are still plenty of musicians choosing to pick up a guitar - many with great success.
So where does the phrase come from? The advent of computers and synthesizers makes room for the sentimentalisation of guitar-based music, as if it were in some way antiquated and in need of defence. And economy comes into it as well: for £200 you can buy a laptop from CEX and a cracked version of Ableton, on which you can make a whole record. Buying a decent guitar and amp costs more and takes longer to get to the point where it's satisfying to play.
But, to me, as I suspect to many others, the two need not conflict: a computer is an instrument, as is a synth, as is a guitar. It's only natural that musicians adopt new technology, but that adoption doesn't mean they abandon old technology. When Dylan went electric he didn't cease to pick up his acoustic. So please, let's put the phrase "the death of the guitar band" to bed.
Will Daunt @zuluwinter
For more on Zulu Winter and what they do with a selection of instruments head to Zuluwinter.com.
11:08 AM | 18/05/2012
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