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Dustin Kensrue

Thrice

"The way the guitar wants to be played is dynamically. You're physically and viscerally transferring energy into the strings." Dustin Kensrue from Thrice talks about "playing outside of the box" in this episode of String Theory.

Transcript

Dustin Kensrue:
I don't fancy myself a very technically skilled guitar player, but I like the rhythmic and dynamic aspects of it. Especially like playing acoustic or something where I have complete control over the dynamic, whether it comes down really smaller or gets loud.

Dustin Kensrue:
I think when we, when Thrice was first starting, everything was just kind of always in all the time. And later on kind of learning like, oh there's this thing called dynamic. Things can get loud and soft, and I don't have to play all the time. And so I didn't care about tone for a long time.

Dustin Kensrue:
And then I got really into it, and I've been half neurotic about you know what gear I'm using since then. Finding gear that like lets you play expressively is really important. For me that was finding like, okay I don't need the most high output pickup. I don't need a super powerful amp. I need an amp that like lets me back off and then let's me dig in. And the joy of of being able to play dynamically and have it translate through your gear is great.

Dustin Kensrue:
I really dig trying to find what's the thing that's going to feel great in this spot, even if it's super simple or super quiet.

Dustin Kensrue:
Yeah, I think learning to play with feel is ... I mean if you're in a rock band at least, it's more important than playing with technical proficiency. I mean it's great if you can do both. But guitar specifically as an instrument, I think if you're playing rock roll music like ... It's just the way the guitar wants to be played is dynamically, and you're physically, viscerally, transferring energy into these strings, you know? And that's really at the core of I think what we love about rock music.

Dustin Kensrue:
I feel like I've been playing Ernie Balls for as long as I've been playing guitar. I would go into the local music shop, by where I grew up in, pick out whatever Eagle pack was there. And so I think I probably started on the regular Slinkys.

Dustin Kensrue:
I remember at some point kind of trying out some different company's sets and kind of always having a problem here or there. And I ended up being like, man, I'm going back to Ernie Balls. And I've never looked back.

Dustin Kensrue:
I don't know if it's because for so long I didn't like fancy myself like a guitar player. I'm a singer and I play guitar. And more and more I've come to be like, I really like playing guitar, I think I'm pretty good at like what I do at least with it. And so I didn't have like these shredders that I like looked up to or tried to play the riff, that was just never me. But I mean I think I've come to appreciate certain people over time. I really like Peter Green's guitar playing, early Fleetwood Mac, before it was like the Fleetwood Mac everyone knows.

Dustin Kensrue:
I grew up with a ton of Beatles, so I love George Harrison's playing. And just kind of always like the right thing. He just, yup, that's what you should play there. That was perfect. I think the funny thing about the Beatles too is you kind of know these songs well and you're like, yeah, it's a fairly simple song. It's really catchy. And then you sit down and try to play it and you're like, what chords are these? Like they're much more subtle and nuanced than you would imagine.

Dustin Kensrue:
The players that are exciting to me are players that are doing things that are kind of outside the box as far as like, it's not the guy who has like the super technical chops, but the guy that's playing with a certain intensity, or puts a bit more out of control. It's more about the feeling of it than the technicality.

Dustin Kensrue:
I think it's helpful for theory in being able to see how different chords work together. I feel like as a band, none of us have any kind of like real musical training. But we kind of learned theory as we went, and didn't have the right names for it. And we'd just be like, oh, when these things happen together, it does this thing. And then if you do this, you can go to a different key. And slowly we'd learn like, oh yeah, that's called this thing. But I think there's something very cool about discovering that stuff and having a very visceral grasp of it, as opposed to just a kind of a mental one.

Dustin Kensrue:
I mean, I think growing up, playing punk rock music has always influenced the way that we are doing whatever we're doing and will continue to, even if it doesn't sound anything like what we were playing 15 years ago.

Dustin Kensrue:
I think there's an element of the urgency, and I think rock qualities that we still really want to keep in out music.

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