Total Guitar 200

Total Guitar

Chris Shiflett touches base with Total Guitar for our birthday celebrations.

Since we spoke in 2005, you've headlined Wembley, gone on hiatus and released your Greatest Hits. What are your highlights from the past four years?
"Wembley would certainly be a highlight - that was just surreal and crazy. Playing Hyde Park was another. I've been in the band a little over 10 years now and to think of where things where when i first joined and where they are now it really feels like it's come a long way. It feels like a lifetime."

How has your playing changed over the last 10 years?
"When I was in NUFAN it was faster, punk rock stuff - it had been a long time since I'd played slower tempo rock music. Initially there were a lot of Foo songs that had drop tunings and that took a little getting used to. There isn't much lead stuff in foo Fighters, so I've sort of neglected that side of my playing for a long time. It's only in the last couple of years that i've gotten into that again and played more lead guitar outside of Foo Fighters."

When the Foos did acoustic touring, how did you translate the songs from big radio rock tunes to their acoustic forms?
"We had to strip our parts back for some of it, but we picked a lot of the mellower songs to begin with - we didn't try to do an acoustic version of 'All My Life' or anything! we just rehearsed our asses off. Usually, we rehearse for a few days before a tour, but for that we rehearsed for a whole month. We'd never done it before and eveybody wanted to make it special, instead of just going and playing the same versions of the songs but with acoustic guitar."

Are there any other aspects of your playing that you'd like to improve on?
"I was never much of a fingerpicker, so I've been trying to improve that over the last couple of years. i've also been trying some stuff where I just sit there doing alternate picking and scales to a metronome. I'll set up my metronome, then bump it up five clicks and try to do it a little faster. I don't know how that shows up in my playing because I don't do a lot of picky plucky scale runs, but I feel stronger as a guitar player right now than I've probably ever been."

In our original interview, you said you were a complete Gibson nerd. Is that still the case with your guitars now?
"I've done a complete about-face. When it comes to foo Fighters stuff I'll probably always use my Les Paul because that's that sound, but lately I've really got in to Fenders. I was never a Fender guy before; I always wanted to play a Telecaster but it was never quite thick enough. My solo record is a lot mellower and I've been playing Teles, Strats and Gretsch guitars almost exclusively."

What about your amps - do you still play into a Mesa/Boogie?
"With Foo Fighters, I still use my Mesa/Boogie Road King, which is my go-to amp for touring. In the studio, we mix it up a lot more. For my solo record I have a nice Boogie Lone Star that sounds great, then I've got a Fender Super Reverb, which is a beautiful amp. I've even got this little Fender '57 champ re-issue that sounds amazing when you crank it up, as well as an old AC30 that we have here at our studio, it sounds unreal."

What's next for Foo Fighters? Do you have any writing or recording plans?
"Not that I know of, no. Everyone's off doing their own thing right now. Next year I'm sure we'll be back at it. 'Don't call us, we'll call you' is our motto at the moment!"

Finally, as we're celebrating our 200th issue, what would you buy us for a birthday present?
"I'd get you one of those string winders that has the wire sutters on it, like the double deal. That's the handiest piece of guitar paraphernalia ever invented. Coming from me, though, it'd be gold plated and diamond encrusted, so it'd be very special."

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