Hey Shredder

7 questions for guitarists

Jeremy Korpas

Big Light

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Things came into sharp focus for San Francisco’s Big Light when lead guitarist Jeremy Korpas entered the picture. “Swordfish,” a nickname gleaned from Nathan Moore mishearing his last name, is the kind of six-string jaw-dropper that other bands keep on their short list in case they lose their lead guy. The notes emerge from his whole body, which jerks and sways compulsively as he plays, rock’s “thin, wild, mercury sound” given fresh form and lip-smacking immediacy by this young, rapidly evolving guitarist. His dexterous, flash-of-inspiration style is on full display on Big Light’s fab debut, Animals In Bloom (see review here), and continues to evolve in real time at every gig. Rock ‘n’ roll feels exciting and shoehorned with promise in Korpas’ hands, and that alone makes him one of today’s finest ponies to follow.


Things came into sharp focus for San Francisco’s Big Light when lead guitarist Jeremy Korpas entered the picture. “Swordfish,” a nickname gleaned from Nathan Moore mishearing his last name, is the kind of six-string jaw-dropper that other bands keep on their short list in case they lose their lead guy. The notes emerge from his whole body, which jerks and sways compulsively as he plays, rock’s “thin, wild, mercury sound” given fresh form and lip-smacking immediacy by this young, rapidly evolving guitarist. His dexterous, flash-of-inspiration style is on full display on Big Light’s fab debut, Animals In Bloom (see review here), and continues to evolve in real time at every gig. Rock ‘n’ roll feels exciting and shoehorned with promise in Korpas’ hands, and that alone makes him one of today’s finest ponies to follow.

Favorite effects pedal? Why?
Digitech XP100 Whammy-Wah Pedal! Digitech has made a couple of versions of the Whammy-Wah but this series was superior to the rest. It has a ton of harmony effects plus some great envelope filters, a great chorus sound, and the ability to raise your notes up two octaves. Since they don’t make these anymore I bought as many as I could find. I wound up running three of these in succession in my rig. I would just keep raising the octave so high that nobody in the crowd could even hear what I was playing. Nobody thought it was cool except for dogs and me.
Tastiest guitarist — i.e. not just soloing but also overall playing — currently working six-strings?
About five years ago I was convinced that there wouldn’t be another player that would have an impact on my playing. Then I was gifted Kicking Television by Wilco and I soon discovered Mr. Nels Cline! From his tone to his chops all the way to his effects, he is the ultimate package in my opinion. Listen to Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky if you need proof [Editor’s Note: Also wrap your ears around The Nels Cline Singers’ latest release, Initiate, to hear some next-level magic from Cline].
A guitar solo I never get tired of listening to is…
“Till There Was You” by The Beatles. A very young George at his best!
Preferred brand of axe? Why?
I owned a Paul Reed Smith for years before it was stolen from me at a Katrina Benefit at The Stone Pony (you know who you are fucker!). It was guitar craftsmanship at its finest, but now I play a very cheap Fender Telecaster and couldn’t be happier. It’s noisy and barely stays in tune through a whole song but there is something about earning your notes throughout a show that is satisfying.
AC/DC, The Beatles, Radiohead or The Byrds – which one gives you the biggest guitar boner? What makes them SO sweet?
Most people who know me would think I would say The Beatles – I’m hard just typing their name – but I have to go with Radiohead. Whether sonically or harmonically, Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood just seem to be leading the charge in modern music.
One lesser known guitarist folks should check out is…
The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitar Player, DANNY GATTON! I highly suggest you pick up his album The Redneck Jazz Explosion, a live show from 1978 that is an all-out assault of country, jazz and rock and roll guitar playing.
What aspect of being a guitarist always makes you happy?
Melting faces and getting paid!