George Lynch is one of the most respected guitarists in the world who has forged an outstanding 40-year career with his unique playing style in Dokken, Lynch Mob, and his solo projects. On August 20th George will be releasing his first-ever guitar instrumental record, “Seamless,” via Rat Pak Records.
“Seamless” is a fiercely powerful new record where George cranks up the energy level to take listeners on a journey, expressing himself and bending sound as well as listeners’ minds throughout. Songs like “Death by a Thousand Licks” and “Supersonic Hypnotic Groove Thing” are fast, furious, and dripping with attitude and showcases George’s playing in a ways never heard before. Songs like “Falling Apart” and “Quiver” continue to cement his legacy as a master guitarist, writer, and performer. Pre-orders for “Seamless” can be found here.
Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke with George about the creation of “Seamless,” how the songs were initially intended as a Lynch Mob record, and what made him change his course to complete his first ever instrumental record.
Check out their conversation transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
Was it challenging to write instrumental songs like “Falling Part,” which evokes an emotion, or do you leave it up to the listener to find their own emotional perspective in your songs?
Everything I write and play is emotionally based. I pretty much do it unconsciously. I’m sure people have their own take on what and how they listen to it. When they listen to it, they can think it is great; it sucks, they love it or hate it. It can make them feel happy or sad. I can’t affect people’s opinion of the songs; all I can do is play from the heart and hope it translates to people in some way.
I have to wonder if any of these songs were written as songs for possible lyrics, as many of them have a lofty melody throughout similar to a vocal line?
It’s a different animal to write an instrumental guitar record. It’s not like a Vai or Satriani album, and it has its moments. There are a lot of records like that, and the point was to do something different. It was an interesting experience and a lot of writing. I’m used to writing and building band records, and it was really hard for me to get away from that. The songs on this album were originally to be Lynch Mob songs, with the exception of “Death by a Thousand Licks.” They were written to accommodate vocals. I ran the record by four different vocalists, Robert Mason, Oni Logan, Andrew Freeman, and Joe Retta all at different times. The first singer I sent it to had it for a while and when he got back to me; told me he didn’t know what to do with it. He said it’s just not working [laughing]. I then sent it to the second, third, and fourth singers, and they all came to that same conclusion. There were some moments where things came back which were pretty cool, but I decided I was ready to chalk it up to “I wrote the wrong record.” The label stepped in and said the songs would make a nice instrumental record, but it wasn’t written for that. They kept asking me to give it a shot and to see what happens! So, I started messing with it from that perspective, and it started to be pretty cool. I realized I was playing the stuff that I wrote, but now I’m the singer using my guitar.
There seems to be a lot of guitar layering. Was that the case?
Yeah, I got pretty busy with that because it is a guitar record! If it were a band record, I would have minimized that. I have another project called The Banishment. That record is layered differently as it is a heavier record but in an industrial way. It’s very processed, produced, and layered, which is very cool as I love that stuff. My other bands and projects are more organic than that. When I write songs for projects like The Electric Freedom Band, a three-piece straight-up power trio, the guitar is going to be stripped down. Let the riff do the talking and the singer be dynamic. I leave a lot of holes vs. cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag. In the case of “Seamless”, I crammed 10 pounds of shit into the bag [laughing]. I tried to fill every freaking hole with something.
It sounds like an instrumental record is far more challenging to write than one with lyrics?
Yes, it is! It’s far more work, and it all has to work. It’s relatively easy for me to compose a song that is wide open for the verses. I have to create the bed for all the vocal melodies and hooks to inspire the singer to do what he needs to do. That’s not to say that I don’t have melody and hook ideas because I sometimes get involved in that. The burden of doing that and performing it is not my job, as I don’t have that added responsibility. For “Seamless,” it was all good work and fun to be playing guitar. More guitar is better right?
That’s what we, as your fans love to hear you do! I feel a good instrumental song has to have melody above all, and it’s what makes “Mr. Scary” so great as you can sing the guitar parts. Was that something that you consciously did for that song as well as incorporated onto this record?
I have always thought along those lines of having hooks, not just chorus and vocal hooks, but hooks everywhere. All parts can be memorable, like solos, bass lines, and even drum beats, just like on Phil Collins‘ song “In the Air Tonight.” It’s the biggest air drum song out there. In a perfect song, every single element would be memorable. So, I look for every opportunity to do that. With this being an instrumental album, it doesn’t always need to be there, but technique, speed, buoyance, and showing off should be there in some capacity.
You definitely accomplished all of that and more. Speaking of technique, there were some effects and techniques that I don’t recall you ever using before, like at the beginning “Supersonic Hypnotic Groove Thing.”
I used a Whammy pedal in the beginning of that song. Tom Morello made it famous. Other bands like Korn use it, but it’s pretty much is Tom‘s thing. I’m just emulating what he does. When Paul Gilbert came out with the drill, and Eddie Van Halen picked it up, he was emulating Paul who originated it. I’m not trying to pretend that I came up with that Whammy pedal technique; it’s all Tom. That song was one of the songs I pushed myself on. Funny note to that question; I was scheduled for an interview with a Japanese magazine to do a breakdown of all the songs or at least a couple of the songs in a real-time video, playing all the complicated parts. I had to tell them that I can’t do that! I don’t remember what I played! Some of these songs were written before the pandemic, which feels like a lifetime ago when I instrumentalized the songs with all the lead guitar. Some of it was written two years ago, and I’ve worked on three records since then [laughing]. I have no idea what I played. It’s sad, and I feel bad about that as I should be able to explain what I’m doing, but I can’t.
I have to believe that you are caught up in a moment of creative inspiration?
That’s all it is 95% of the time. That’s all I’m doing when writing. It’s all off the seat of my pants and the top of my head. It’s not like I have a stockpile of riffs that I practice. I’m closing my eye and going where ever it takes me. I don’t know where it is on the neck or how I did it. I don’t know any scales or any modes or stock techniques to pull from [laughing]. It’s like trying to replicate a foreign language or something. I can airball it if I had to, but I couldn’t do it accurately.
Do you think Van Halen’s “Eruption” opened the doors for bands to add instrumental songs on their records? As soon as he did it, it seemed like all rock, and metal bands started adding them.
He definitely raised the bar! If you wanted to be part of the club and prove you were metal enough, you needed it. I’m not sure it had to be an instrumental song, but you did have to do some crazy solo within the context of the song. Night Ranger did the tapping over the next, which was pretty crazy, and it caught your attention and ear on “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” You have to be careful not to copy that, like so many people did [laughing]. It’s cheesy and discounted once you do that. You lose points for not being original. Trying to do something like “Eruption” in your own way was important to do after Eddie came out with it in order to make your own mark.
I was impressed by the record’s sequencing; how do you determine which songs will create the perfect flow from the beginning to the middle to the end?
Yeah, sequencing is always a challenge to get the record to flow. Also, the interval between songs are very brief, so it is all interconnected. That’s the whole point behind being “Seamless.” Sequencing can be tricky with that many songs. The mathematical options are pretty huge, with hundreds of thousand ways that you can sequence them. You have to experiment with the possibilities. What we did was this thing called “tips and tails.” We would make an edit of all the beginnings and endings of all the songs, put them on a playlist, and like a jigsaw puzzle, try different options until something works. Invariable, I found that you can find a pretty good flow using that technique. It’s usually pretty obvious what you want to be the first song because you wrote a particular song to start the record off with. I still think of CDs in terms of vinyl when I write. You also typically have an ending song, but you have a variety of songs in the middle which can be fast, dirty, slow, heavy, or middle-of-the-road tempos. You have to find a way to fill in the blanks. The label, producer, engineer, and musicians in the band can also give their input as well.
You’ve led a fascinating life. Any chance of writing a book as so many of your peers have written them?
I was involved with this film called “Shadow Nation,” which was a straight documentary. It took years to finish and made no money; actually, it lost money, which was okay. I learned it was really hard getting the thing out. At the end of that day, what I was told by everyone that helped me try and get it released was because it was a political native American story. The problem was that nobody wanted to hear about it! It’s the same thing with a book. I don’t want to talk about 80s Hair Metal history, though there may be some of it in there. I really have no interest in having anything to do with something like that. I can do it as a money grab, but I don’t want to be associated with that. If I wrote something, I would want it to matter to me, be philosophical, and adventurous while telling stories. To tell stories that have a point, not like we hung at the Rainbow, or about strippers, or any other silly shit. Quite honestly, I don’t know what it would be. The book that I would want to write, no one would want to read [laughing]. That’s the problem.
Several years ago, I saw you at a guitar clinic where you told some off-the-wall road stories. I still recall the story about you traveling in a car, and a truck full of chickens went on fire.
Oh yeah! Maybe if every chapter was a vignette about some experience like that, it could be interesting and entertaining. That would be the sort of stories you would want to write about; Chapter 1: Hillbillies and Burning Chickens. That’s an interesting and very entertaining approach. That would be the book I need to write; Don Dokken and I have a fistfight and those sort of road stories. I have a million of them. That’s the book that would sell, and people would want to read. I just don’t know if I would want to write it [laughing]. That’s a personal problem with myself that I need to get over [laughing].
Do you still speak with Wild Mick Brown? I know he has retired and didn’t appear on the last End Machine record.
We still talk, and Mick sounds good. Just like all of us, we are getting older, and things come with age. We are still out there and sound better than ever and making a living at it. We are fortunate that we can continue to pursue our life’s work. He is in a good place mentally; I think he needed to let go of the drums and everything that came with that. The drums were the thing that dragged a lot of bad things into his life. He needed to worry about his health and his mental state. He made that hard choice, and I applaud him for that. It was a brave thing to do.