Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien was asked by Music Radar in a new interview for his thoughts on “guitar’s place in music today,” to which he responded:
“I was thinking about this yesterday – it’s weird, because if you want to make a cultural impact as a kid, it’s probably not through a guitar; it’s on decks, isn’t it? Jimi Hendrix nowadays would probably be a DJ, and doing extraordinary things.
“But I think the guitar will always be there because it’s such an expressive instrument, and it’s very old. The guitar goes back thousands of years; it goes back to the lyre, you’re plucking strings. It’s something very, very fundamental.
“I’ve got an ngoni, from Mali, and it’s four strings and it’s a shell of a body with a piece of round wood, and there’s something just very primal about it. People are always saying it’s the death of the guitar, but it’s obviously flourishing. There’s more metal around, there’s more rock, and there are people doing great things with it.
“For me, band-wise, I love Savages. I think what Gemma [Thompson] does as a guitarist is brilliant, and the sound of it, and I love that band. And I love Warpaint. I love what they do.
“Again, it’s not about guitar heroes; it’s about beautiful guitar lines, textures, sounds. But then also I really like what Michael Kiwunuka is doing, and what Jimmy [Smith] and Yannis [Philippakis] do in Foals – I think they’ve got a great thing going on; I love their style.
“I think guitar is as relevant as ever, really; it might just be that there are more options, musically, to express yourself these days. You think about 50 years ago, it was organ and pianos and keyboards; synths hadn’t really come in, so in another way, synths come in, and there’s more on your palette. And now all the DJ stuff.
“More people are probably playing guitar and playing instruments because instruments are cheaper than they were and more accessible than 50, 60 years ago. You’ve just got more people making music, which has got to be a good thing. I think you’ve got the opportunity now to make some extraordinary noises and sounds, if you can be arsed.”