Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs
Crowbar's Kirk Windstein set his dream into motion years ago, picking up the guitar and testing out a familiar riff for rock fans, opening the door for a career that now includes his first solo album, Dream in Motion. Windstein recently dropped by the Loudwire studio to run through some of the riffs that helped shape his career for this edition of Gear Factor.
When asked about the riff that turned him on to rock, Windstein sheepishly responds, “I hate to say it. ‘Smoke on the Water,’ of course. That was the first riff I got into where it was like, ‘Oh my god, this is heavy,’ and all that shit." The singer-guitarist talks about picking it up initially, then displays how his ear got better over time to play the Deep Purple classic how it should be played.
Another early favorite was KISS for Windstein. “The first [riff] that I really tried to tackle at the time that was a real challenge for me was ‘Black Diamond’ by KISS. I picked that out on my acoustic. I had an old Epiphone acoustic and my parents were like, ‘If you take this guitar thing seriously for a year, we’ll buy you an electric guitar,’ so I did my best.”
Windstein runs the gamut of classic heavy rock influences, citing Black Sabbath, UFO, Accept as influences, sharing riffs from each, then also giving a nod to Trouble whom he calls "a big heavy influence on me."
Reflecting on his own music, Windstein takes us back to the beginnings as a musician. “I was a teenager, but I was writing stupidly simple stuff. I think there was a song called ‘Tonight’ which was probably my base around KISS or something. Digging into his own career, Windstein starts by displaying two of his favorite Crowbar riffs, pulling out "Planets Collide" and "Waiting in Silence."
He adds, "I started to develop my own style where I’m bending that G note and trying to work on the vibrato, doing things like ghost bends. A lot of the single notes too, trying to be like Iommi. A lot of times I’ll do a riff that people might do in a pattern [near the top of the fretboard], but I’m going like this. It sounds better."
He also speaks to the difficulties with down picking, but admits he had the perfect setup with Pepper Keenan in Down. "When I was playing in Down, [Pepper] Keenan’s got the James Hetfield right hand ... Pepper and I would sit next to each other and if it was a song with a lot of riffage, like on the left hand, I would do that part. And when it came time for the [faster down picking] part, I’d just turn and hand the guitar to Pep and he’d do all the right hand shit, and then hand it back to me for all the left hand shit. We really were a good guitar team like that. We always joked that if we had each other’s left and right guitar hands, we’d be really good guitar players."
Windstein concludes this edition of Gear Factor taking us up to modern day with a pair of selections from his Dream in Motion solo record. Of the latter song, "Hollow Dying Man," he admits it has some Crowbar flavor as it was once intended for a Crowbar record.
Be sure to check out Kirk Windstein's Dream in Motion album. It's out now and you can place your order for the set here.
Crowbar's Kirk Windstein Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs
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