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“I had the riff, which was an exercise I did with chords, kind of like Chord Theory 101. It’s just an inversion of an E triad, but I never heard it as music before. It was just a way to learn an E chord. But when I did it, I thought, This is beautiful, and the whole thing came into view for me – the way I would evolve the triad, how it would resolve.
“It’s played differently every time. The guitar is such a receptive instrument: You can apply a pick to the strings and get one kind of sound; you can strum it with your thumb and get another sound; you can pluck it with your fingers and it’ll sound different – the combinations are endless.
“For people who don’t know what a Creamsicle is, it’s an orange sherbet with an ice cream center. It’s funny: You can remember exactly what it’s like to eat a Creamsicle as a kid on a hot summer day, and if you taste one as an adult, suddenly you’re right back to being a kid again.
“Now, one time I was watching a sunset in Hawaii, which is unlike any kind of sunset I’ve ever seen in any other part of the world. The sky has these orange and creamy white streaks. I thought, If I could taste that sunset, it would probably taste like a Creamsicle. And then I thought, If I could hear that sunset, what would it sound like?
“There’s a bit of a Hawaiian vibe to it, very dreamy. Approaching the guitar part, I wanted to touch the instrument in different ways. I wanted every note in every chord to have its own identity, its own zip code.
“Guitar-wise, for about 60 percent of the record, I used Evo, and on 30 percent I used Flo. Some of the background stuff is other guitars – a Les Paul here and there, various hollowbodies. For this song, I really wanted a Strat sound, so I used an Eric Johnson Strat and put it directly into an old Bandmaster head. That’s it. Everything else is fooling around with finger placements.”