He may have earned the TG title of ‘Nicest Guitarist In Punk’, but Rise Against’s Zach Blair anonymously cut his teeth while wearing the ‘Flattus Maximus’ costume in the ridiculous shock- rock outfit GWAR.
GWAR: what is it good for? Providing an apprenticeship to one of the best punk guitarists around today, apparently.
Strange to think of it now, but back in the early 1990s, TG’s Guitarist Of The Decade was a ham-fisted Devon schoolboy caked in goth make-up.
“We formed Rocket Baby Dolls just for one week, to get women,” he says now.
Two years before The Smiths, Marr was watching his precocious talent go up in smoke. “The scene was that we used to just get stoned out of our brains,” he recalls of White Dice, “and smoke draw till it came out of our ears.”
John Lennon and George Harrison
Fabs fans will of course read precocious genius into Lennon, Harrison and McCartney’s early outfit. But does evidence from hissy surviving recordings betray a bunch of rinky-dink teenage skifflers with harmonies to set your teeth on edge?
“I was terrible to start with,” says the ghoul-faced journeyman of his early years. “I had this horrible cover band in Detroit called Pepperland – from The Beatles – and we would do all these Joe Satriani covers. I did my best, y’know?”
In the mid 90s, Mark Potter and the Elbow boys performed the mother of all U-turns, morphing from an obnoxious Manchester-based funk outfit who played “high-powered crap” and “ sh**e Santana covers”, to the slow-burning, Mercury- winning melancholia-merchants of today.
The theory that everything Mr Nice touches turns to gold is refuted somewhat by Freak Baby – the Washington hardcore band that Grohl joined as second guitarist in 1984, and apparently enjoyed a rabid following of “about six skinheads”.
The stadium league was some way off in 1981, as Slash found himself playing for horrified pensioners at Hollywood bar mitzvahs and struggling to gauge his pre-gig intake. “I learned a valuable lesson,” he recalls. “I do not like to combine cocaine and guitar.”
In 1976, a gaggle of Dublin teenagers answered an ad for band members. The proto-U2’s first school gig was blagged on the strength of stolen material. “We played the teacher two Ramones songs,” recalls The Edge, “and he said, ‘They’re great, did you write them?’, and we said, ‘Yeah’.”
Astonishingly, working as a male stripper isn’t the most clanking skeleton in Morello’s closet: that dubious honour falls to his so-bad-it’s-funny formative shred-funk outfit, who named their (thankfully) sole album Something Bitchin’ This Way Comes with no apparent irony, and sounded like the Chilis’ stunted brothers.