--- Fredrik Pihl Interview--- 21/Sep/10
Hi Fredrik - let's start at the start - how long have you been playing guitar?
- I have been playing for about 12 years. I got my first guitar when I was 12 or 13. The first 5 years didn't consist of any serious practicing at all. I was just having fun, playing with my friends in various "bands". We played everything from punk music to death metal and we really sucked. But we had a good time. Those were great days.
A lot of people worry that because they didn't start to play at a young age they may not ever be as good as they'd like to be. You did not practice seriously until the age of 18, so what would you say to anyone with this concern?
- It never bothered me, because the years before I started practicing I just had fun. If I would have to begin with heavy, disciplined practising from day one, maybe I wouldn't play today.
I wasn't really into this guitar hero music at all, so I didn't bother putting too much effort in learning to play solos. It was when I got my first Yngwie Malmsteen album I started to think about developing my technique in order to learn his stuff. I wish I never bought that album!!
It's never too late to start playing guitar, so don't worry about it! Otherwise you have to build a time machine to travel back in time and start playing earlier.
So how many hours per week do you actually practice?
- That differs a lot. There was a time in my life where I spent almost every minute of my free time to practice. But it almost killed my passion for music. I was just thinking about becoming faster etc. It was all about technique. The turning point was when I wrote and recorded some songs. And after I recorded them I realised that they weren't really songs - just a demonstration of technique, without any musical content at all.
Now I play maybe 1 - 2 hours a day. But some days I might play 6 or 8 hours. But it's important to go out and enjoy your life too. It is life that gives us inspiration to make music, not how fast you can alternate pick.
That is very true! Now, considering motivation is crucial to develop as a guitarist, what motivates you to sit down and practice?
- What usually motivates me is when I have distinct goal with my practice.
It could be to practice a hard part for a song that I'm writing. Of course I also get motivated to play when I hear a good musician. When I have lack of inspiration I might put on some music that I like. If I still don't get any inspiration I put the guitar aside and do something completely different.
What does your average practice routine consist of?
- If I would have 2 hours of practice time, I would probably practice my technique for the first hour, and then spend the rest of the time to come up with new musical ideas. It's no use practising technique if you can't use it in a musical and creative way.
Sure I would be able to sweep or pick faster, but I hear many players that are really good from a technical point of view, but when it comes to write a good song, they suck.
So my practicing routines are not only to develop technique, but also to figure out what to do with the technique.
Right now, I'm trying to learn how to play my fretless guitar. Now, that's a challenge!!
I'm sure it is! Now, moving on to some of the questions that young guitarists often ask themselves - How important is it to listen to a wide range of music styles?
- I think it's a good thing to be as open minded as possible. Listening to different kinds of music might give you inspiration to do something you never thought of before. You can't force yourself to like everything, but try not to judge music before you actually hear it.
I can find inspiration from everything from death metal to jazz, from country music to hip hop.
Also, how important is it to learn music theory in order to aid your development as a guitarist?
- I think it's a good thing to know music theory, in order to know what you are doing. It will help you with things such as harmony, chord progressions, what scale works over what chord etc.
It will also help you to communicate with other musicians, if you play in a band for example. So don't sleep during the music theory classes' children!!
But most of all use your judgement. If you like what you hear then go for it. It doesn't have to be theoretically correct. Rules are made to be broken. But it's a good thing to know about them.
When you write guitar parts for a song, do you find your advanced technical ability helps you to create more interesting licks?
- Well, it surely helps, if you have a decent technique. But I try not to make my technique write the song. I come up with some musical ideas in my head, and then hopefully my fingers will play the ideas. Making a lick sounding interesting is not created by the technique itself; it's how you use your technique. I hope that makes sense.
Thank you very much for time, but lastly, when is the new CD expected to be finished?
- First I should point out that it is only a demo cd, which I may sell through my website if everything works out good. Right now I'm writing songs and trying to find a good way to record them.
But since my band takes a lot of time, the progress of my own music is not as fast as it should be. There is just not enough time.
But I have written 3 songs for the moment, and I'm slowly working on some more.
I also have found a good bass player named Linus Abrahamson who is going to play on the cd. He is a good friend of mine and I look forward to working with him.
So at the moment I don't know when it will be done. Hopefully sometime soon