Avatar’s Jonas Jarlsby + Tim Ohrstrom Play Their Favorite Riffs
In this edition of Loudwire's Gear Factor, the dynamic guitar duo of Avatar's Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Ohrstrom step in to chat about some of the guitar riffs that have helped shape their playing over the years.
Jarlsby recalls, "I guess I was 14 and I was at my friend’s place and walked by his older brother’s room and I heard something that I’d never heard before. Immediately I was like, ‘Oh fuck, I need to learn to how to play this.’ That was the lead for ‘Afraid to Shoot Strangers’ from Iron Maiden."
For Ohrstrom, it was Van Halen who first caught his ear. "My dad played a lot of music in the house. I remember hearing ‘You Really Got Me’ from the first Van Halen album. That guitar sound, I really liked it a lot," says Ohrstrom. "It’s a cover, I heard, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still a really cool riff.”
As for first riffs, Ohrstrom bowed at the riff from KISS' "God of Thunder," recalling, "It was actually my dad who showed it to me and in the beginning I could only play with one finger. Then when I learned to play with two fingers, it was like, ‘OK, now we’re getting somewhere.'”
Jarlsby, like many, picked up Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." "Like everyone else who learns to play guitar, [I used] one finger, and since I picked it up by ear, I was playing it like this, but then I realized you actually play it on these strings."
According to Jonas, much of his early guitar playing found him digging into Iron Maiden's catalog. "I did a lot of tremolo practice, so that was one of the first techniques I got really good at. But I realized I needed to practice using my right hand as well. But eventually as you keep playing, you keep developing." He also recalls the Beatles' "Day Tripper" giving him a challenge. "I found it really difficult to get it right with open strings and all that. It was good practice."
Ohrstrom remembers also being drawn to Iron Maiden, but AC/DC being part of his musical education. "The ‘Riff Raff’ riff from the Powerage album. I didn’t play it as good back then, but it was good practice to play the riff a lot."
Digging into the band's own works, both guitarists share their appreciation for the riffs in "Hail the Apocalypse," one of their first global hits. Ohrstom pulls out an older favorite, "All Which Is Black," from the band's Schlacht album, and even though neither musician has played it for a while, it remains one of Tim's favorite riffs.
The pair finish out their Gear Factor episode sharing something new from the Hunter Gatherer album, a track called "When All But Force Has Failed." "It’s kind of tricky, but I really like it," says Jarlsby. "It’s one of those riffs you’ve got to keep practicing to be able to play, as you can see."
You can hear "When All But Force Has Failed" as part of the band's latest album, Hunter Gatherer, which is available here along with some Avatar merch items as well. Watch the full Avatar Gear Factor episode below.
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