As we close the door on 2017, we’re taking a look back at our String Theory episodes and pulling our favorites for the most intriguing and compelling things we’ve learned from each artist. 

#1: Steve Vai

Get in touch with your musical instincts. (6:40)

Steve Vai explains that there are two basic levels in creating your craft. One is the technical side with a particular technique to get your message across. At some point you go deeper than the technique to get in touch with you musical instincts.

#2: Mac DeMarco

Be you and enjoy yourself. (10:25)

“Do you, let it fly, keep it real, and enjoy yourself. If you ain’t trying to be something then just be yourself, and that’s you, that’s who you are and God bless it!” -Mac Demarco

#3: Avenged Sevenfold

Approaching music by writing energy, which essentially is what a riff is. (3:47)

“You can come together with an interesting chord or chord progression and say, well that sounds cool what the f**k are you going to do with it? That takes writing energy and a vibe.” – Synyster Gates

#4: Kurt Vile from The War on Drugs

Don’t let musician writer’s block slow you down. (4:19)

During rough patches on tour, Kurt Vile would become overwhelmed by the feeling that he was “washed up” and unable to create new material. Being forced to play guitar every night as a professional musician resulted in him becoming a better musician, which was the inspiration he needed to continue writing.

#5: Josh Carter from Phantogram

Value being an artist and a songwriter over being a guitar player. (3:27)

“Anybody can play the guitar, and you can go to an open mic night and watch some turkey shred for a half hour, but does that make him an artist? Does that make him a good songwriter? Does that make him clever? And I’m not trying to say that I’m clever, I’m just saying that my approach to playing the guitar is that I’m just trying to do new things and interesting things, it’s a tool for me.” – Josh Carter

#6: Mike Herrera from MxPx

You can successfully write chord structures and vocal melodies first. (2:56)

Herrera’s approach to bass lines is reminiscent of how many players look at the guitar. He can use it to add depth, texture, harmonies, etc. “And then sometimes you just hit the root note and call it a day!” – Mike Herrera

#7: Steve Stevens

Always have the right intentions when you play guitar. (0:26)

“Guitar is a way to convey emotion, and not a way to impress other guitar players.” – Steve Stevens

#8: Mike Dirnt of Green Day

Passing the campfire test. (4:13)

“I think my favorite part about being a musician is the satisfaction when we’ve written a song or an album that you know is going to stand the test of time. It’s going to pass the campfire test.” – Mike Dirnt

#9: Jade Puget from AFI

Channeling your music capabilities can make the best out of any situation. (1:15)

Jade contracted mononucleosis while in high school, leading to his being quarantined at home for a month and a half. He used the time to practice his guitar skills, resulting in marked improvement.

#10: Paul Stanley from KISS

Go heavy, or go home. (3:01)

“To me to play great rhythm you need stiff strings. Whatever your fingers can handle is the way to go. When you have those wobbly strings I’ve seen how people play [effete hand motion] y’know? and to me that’s not rock n roll. Rock n roll is about the glory of the arm swing. The down push. I want the glory of those big chords.” – Paul Stanley

String Theory has taught all of us some amazing new things to take into the new year. Everything from artist performance how-to’s, writing and producing music, to having the right mindset as a growing musician. Always continuing to be yourself through your music, and that the best way to play is to simply enjoy yourself. 

Watch the entire String Theory here:

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