Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer Kurt Vile has been playing guitar since the age of fourteen. He first made a mark on the music scene with his band The War on Drugs, then went on to make a name for himself as a solo artist along with his backing band, The Violators.

Vile recently joined us for an episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory. Here are the top six things we learned during the episode, along with a timestamp for each segment so you can follow along.

#1 – He feels euphoric when listening to music, and approaches playing guitar as an extension of that feeling. (0:29)

Vile says that picking up the guitar came as a result of listening to records with all his friends, and the subsequent feeling of euphoria that followed.

#2 – His earliest influences came from listening to his father’s records. (1:01)

“I was just into listening to my dad’s records, and I got stoked by that at an early age. It made me feel like the good kind of crazy.”

#3 – He asked for a guitar for Christmas, but he was “particularly bad that year” and his parents refused. (1:11)

The following holiday, his bluegrass musician father gave him a banjo. Kurt immediately began trying to play it like a guitar, until his neighbors eventually gave him an actual acoustic guitar.

#4 – He feels that children are able to harness an unbridled level of creativity. (2:33)

“As a kid it’s amazing the things that come out of your head, because you have so much wonder. You’re not jaded by life, or have as many obligations or responsibilities. I think things just come to you in a different way when you’re older.

#5 – He doesn’t perform in-progress songs live. (2:57)

Vile makes sure that songs are completely written, arranged and recorded before performing them live, so that nobody hears a sub-par version of the song.

#6 – He used to get worried by writer’s block. (4:19)

During rough patches on tour, he 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.

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai, Don Felder and more. You can also enjoy some of Vile’s most popular songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Kurt Vile plays Ernie Ball Power Slinky guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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