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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:40 am
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Does anyone have any interview that she speaks about her guitar style? or her guitar moves?the way she write songs?I'm making an essay about her and I'm kinda needing material. I would love to know what are her most blusy songs and if it's just me she likes any thing with heavy. Like a guitar sounding like a bass..........

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:31 pm 
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Location: England ... frame.html

will this do?

Working for the Woman: PJ Harvey's 6-String Surrogates
Written by: Joe Gore
Source: Guitar Player, October 1995

When I'd tell people that Polly Jean Harvey had asked me to play guitar with her, one frequent response wasn't "How exciting!" but "Why? I love the way she plays!" I know what they meant - I too admired the instrumental ferocity that helped Polly attract a rabid global following and blizzards of critical acclaim for her first three albums. She's no hyper-technician, but the 90-pound native of Britain's rural Dorsetshire renders her tough and ingenious riffs with enough violent emotion to make Tarantino flinch. Yet by the time Polly completed the demos for her latest Island release, To Bring You My Love, she had decided to disband the original PJ Harvey trio, recruit new musicians, and abdicate most instrumental duties in order to focus on her singing.

But it didn't work out exactly that way. When we started rehearsing for the album last summer in London, Polly found herself compelled to replicate her demos more closely than she had initially planned. She eventually arrived at the same conclusion as the aforementioned fans of her idiosyncratic guitar work: that no one could play quite like her. Polly ultimately emerged as the album's principal guitarist, going so far as to transfer some of her original cassette demo performances to 24-track tape. Multi-instrumentalist John Parish, who co-produced the record with Polly and Flood, wound up doing more drumming than strumming, and my role was to splash texture and color around Polly's big riffs.

In concert, however, Harvey has made good on her threat of delegating all guitar duties to John and me, despite the almost-nightly cries of "play your guitar, Polly Jean!" It's a tough call - I too miss her playing, but in focusing on her body and voice, Polly has grown immensely as a performer. It's intoxicating to stand onstage beside someone that potent every night - and I'm not just saying that because I know she'll be reading this.

I met Polly a couple of years ago while interviewing her for this magazine. We hit it off, and she'd liked some of my work with Tom Waits, but we never actually played together until those London rehearsals. John, on the other hand, had an enormous influence on Polly's musical development. He hired Polly, then 17, for her first gig as guitarist on his band Automatic Dlamini and coached her extensively on the instrument. While it's true that no one plays like Polly, John probably comes closer than anyone else.

Polly, John, and our bandmates - drummer Jean-Marc Butty, keyboardist/bassist/accordionist Nick Bagnell - are fine musicians and sweet souls, the perfect companions for a yearlong world tour. John, Polly, and I chatted in the lounge of our bus en route from a particularly explosive gig in Philadelphia to the huge WHFS Festival at Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium.

JOE: Polly, the question on everyone's mind is how you managed to find two such damn fine guitarists.

POLLY: Money, bribery, and blackmail.

JOE: There's a special relationship between the way you and John play guitar.

JOHN: It's a bit of role reversal. The oft-heard rumor that I taught Polly how to play isn't strictly true, but I did make her play my songs for three years and in the process forced her into a style not dissimilar to my own.

POLLY: When I started playing with John I'd only been playing about a year, and all I could do was strum chords. John taught me to play intricate melodies using one string at a time, and I started playing very rhythmically.

JOHN: My rhythmic playing came from the fact I was really a drummer. It's funny how it's been turned around: In Automatic Dlamini I'd been writing the songs but not playing guitar, so I needed somebody to play my parts like me. And now I find myself trying to play like Polly now that she isn't playing guitar.

POLLY: I still play guitar and write songs on it. I only stopped playing live because of my singing. My build isn't huge, so holding a guitar and singing is physically draining, and I can't physically interpret the songs the way I want with a guitar.

JOE: But you ended up playing much more guitar on To Bring You My Love than you had originally planned.

POLLY: Yeah, I'd had no idea that I'd end up wanting to replicate my demos as much as I did. I'd wanted to put a band together and let the songs develop different interpretations that way, but I found that I just couldn't live with that. I wanted things to be much more precise, and the only way was for me to do a lot of it myself. But now, after three months of touring, it feels like everyone is speaking with their own voices. You and John have completely different styles, but your characters come through.

JOE: As committed as you were to replicating the demos, you sometimes allowed sudden conceptual shifts. "The Dancer" evolved from a rhythmic, flamenco-flavored track onto a more atmospheric one where John strums the guitars with a paintbrush. And you were adamant about not wanting any guitar on "Working for the Man, ' but you ended up liking the little quasi-Latin line I concocted during one of the many afternoons when I was banished from the studio.

POLLY: Oh, poor Joe, what did I do to you? I think I learned a lot from those experiences. I can very easily close myself off to ideas, but luckily I seem to be able to listen to people a bit more in my "old age." This was my fourth album, and I've loosened up a bit with each one.

JOE: All those parts weren't just parts - they were about very specific moods and atmospheres. The tones and attitudes were inseparable from the notes.

POLLY: That was the most important thing when I was writing the songs. For the first time, I'd start out thinking of the mood I wanted to create. In the past I'd feel my way around the songs and put some sort of mood on them afterwards. But 90% of these songs started from wanting to build an atmospheric base.

JOE: It's funny how you allow us a lot of creative latitude on the older material, but you're downright dictatorial about reproducing the record on the new songs.

POLLY: Whenever I make something new I'm precious about it for a long time. The new songs are still embryonic, but I've played the older songs for years like they are on the record, and now it's like a breath of fresh air to throw them open. And since I have such "damn fine" players in my band, it's good to let them make the songs their own. But I'm curious - does it feel limiting to play such precise parts every night?

JOHN: I don't find it limiting, Polly, because you and I share the same approach. I'm not a noodling soloist. I like to play with a different energy on different nights, but you can put different energies into the same part without destabilizing the song. The different audience and different ambiance every night make the songs feel different each time.

JOE: I find it more tightly defined than most of the music I've played, but it's a good exercise in understatement and humility. It was a challenge to figure out how I could exist inside your songs. After trying at first to imitate your style or superimpose my ideas over yours, I finally found a way to have a voice in your music without ruining the careful minimalism of the songs: I started crafting parts that echo, develop, or foreshadow ideas that appear elsewhere in the song. A lot of my parts are spun off from melodic and rhythmic ideas in the vocal line. It was a stretch for a "noodling artist" like me.

POLLY: "Joe, could you turn down, please? Could you be quiet for just a second?"

JOE: Polly, why is it that I play through a 35-watt amp on 3, and you're always asking me to turn down, while anyone who ever attended a PJ Harvey gig with you on guitar knows that your 100-watt Marshall never dipped below 11?

POLLY: There were reasons. Rob Ellis is the loudest drummer in the world, and in order to hear ourselves Steve Vaughan and I had to be on 11. I'm fed up with shouting my head off. I'm 25, I'm not getting any younger, and if I want to sing in a whispering tone, I'll sing in a whispering tone - and that means the band has to be bloody quiet, damn it!

JOE: You're always very precise about what you want - not just the part, but the tone, the articulation, the signal processing, the attitude, everything.

POLLY: That comes from John Parish too. He used to tell me how to play things on that level - exactly how much emphasis I should put on a note, how I should move from one note to another.

JOHN: I'm sorry, Joe! It's my fault.

POLLY: But I feel lucky to have had a teacher like John, because I think that's the right way to be. And now it's so easy for John and me to describe to each other how we want a part to be played. We hardly have to say anything - we use a single word like "sweatier."

JOE: The three of us seem to share an affection for slightly off-center, beat-up instruments. None of us are playing total top-of-the-line stuff.

POLLY: That's an interesting point, because you come from the opposite end of the guitar playing scale from John and me. We don't have much knowledge about or interest in the technical side of things, whereas you do. We have offbeat guitars because we don't know any better.

JOHN: Yeah - I asked for the best one in the shop!

POLLY: I couldn't believe the amount of gear you brought - all I ever had was one orange pedal. I find all that quite boring, and it seemed very alien to me.

JOHN: And to me. I've always just plugged my Telecaster into a Marshall and played. But now I've got five pedals - outrageous! I think it's because I heard you coming up with interesting sounds from the other side of the stage.

JOE: I think you're both being a bit disingenuous. A lot of British musicians like to appear as if they have a great deal of scorn for some of the traits you're associating with me: being a technically adept player, or knowing too much about theory or gear. You act as if your guitars were chosen out of naivete, but I know for a fact that you're very discriminating about your tones.

JOHN: The Telecaster is the only electric guitar I've owned. I've always had it, so I just associate myself with that sound.

JOE: Come on, Polly - I know your Gretsch Broadkaster is close to your heart.

POLLY: John's Telecaster is closer to my heart. It's on all my records - I used to nick it all the time. And don't forget my Eros Mark II (a funky Gibson SG copy). It was my first guitar. My dad bought it for 50 pounds from a guy who worked for him in the quarry because he though I might want to play it one day. He still calls it "his guitar." I tune all the strings to A. On my last tour my guitar roadie was talking about Gary Glitter, who he'd worked with. He said the Gary Glitter Band tuning was all strings to A, so I tried it out.

JOE: And I adopted that tuning for "Down By The Water," "C'mon Billy," and most of the really heavy songs. It's a brilliant song.

POLLY: Yeah, so fat and revolting. I just love the way the bottom string is tuned so low it flops like a washing line. I wrote "Long Time Coming" and "He's Just My Type" on it, but I don't want to go too much into the way I write because it spoils it for me. I don't want to sound too much like a hippie, but writing is a very spiritual thing, and talking about it can be disrespectful - not to me, but to the "writing muse," or whatever you want to call it. I can't see it as a technical process, a song either touches you or it doesn't. Everything we've talked about - guitar tones, putting it through little boxes - is just superfluous, and I don't like dwelling on it. At the end of the day, it means nothing.

JOHN: I understand what you're saying, but to use one of Joe's lines, I think it's disingenuous of you to say that. There is a huge mechanical process involved in transferring an idea from your mind to a record. It has to be negotiated with an awful lot of mental decisions, so it's not possible for it to be a completely spiritual process. You have to have a compromise between the spiritual and the mechanical - not something that I've worked through successfully by any means!

JOE: Oh man - are we at the stadium already?

JOHN: We must be - I just saw a huge inflatable gorilla.

POLLY: So what do you think of the tour so far, guys?

JOHN: I'm having a great time.

JOE: I'm having the time of my life - it beats working at a magazine. How about you, Miss Polly?

POLLY: I'm having a fab-o time. I've got the most handsome band in the world, especially the guitar players. The only reason I picked them is so I could look at their behinds.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:30 am
Posts: 44
Many thanks for that -what a wonderful interview! Just a shame we can't hear it (except in our heads, of course).

PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:40 am
Posts: 7
thank you so much, I guess this link will be very helpful for my essay!

PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:18 pm
Posts: 350
A couple of weeks ago Youtube helpfully pointed me towards this video, which was reported here ( a few years back:

It's just PJ and Howe Gelb tinkering, but if you're a musician (which I'm not) you might be able to glean some insight into how she works from it.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:51 pm
Posts: 4
such a shame the site went off these days :(

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:40 pm
Posts: 124
thazi wrote:
Does anyone have any interview that she speaks about her guitar style? or her guitar moves?the way she write songs?

Don't know if you're still working on this, but there are some potentially useful things from the White Chalk EPK video where she discusses how she creates songs; how those things have changed over time and also how the methods can vary from song to song. It's mostly about lyrics and the general topic of building songs. Not anything about guitar technique or style.

15:02 and then on to the 17:10 mark are good spots to start.
18:54 for more, then jump to 20:10 for the continuation of that discussion.


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