Punk-Jazz Scientists Many Arms Tell Us Their Guitar Shredding Secrets

Categories: Mick Barr, Shred

Many Arms
Many Arms, Masters of Shred
The members in Illadelphia/Astoria punk-jazz trio Many Arms are quite the busy dudes. Ace guitatorrist Nick Millevoi counts two intrepid solo records under his belt, bassist Johnny DiBlase leads his own skronk-heavy Quartet and provides the low end for jazzmongers Zevious while drummer extraordinaire Ricardo Lagomasino has toured with Fugazi's Joe Lally and plays in local Philly avant-rock monster unit, Split Red.

See also: Q&A: Joe Lally On Moving To Rome, Wanting To Be In The Melvins And How Being In Fugazi Destroyed His Hearing

But Many Arms remain their main gig and it's when the three converge in that dynamic that the massive shred-fest commences, so much so that the cataclysm of riffage prompted downtown icon John Zorn to release the trio's critically acclaimed eponymous third record via his revolutionary Tzadik label.

Fiercely frenetic, blaring and precise as hell, Many Arms mathy-cum-berserk cacophony journeys into a Brainiac universe of face-melting prog-guitar lickage supported by a ridiculous rhythm section whose time signature chug-chug fries minds. As a vital part of a fledgling avant-gardist pool of shred overlords that includes Mick Barr, Brandon Seabrook, Mary Halvorson and Andrew Hock, Many Arms come clean, divulging their innermost secrets of shreddage and thereby giving us posers some hope.

Many Arms play The Stone (corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street) tonight at 8pm

See also: The Ten Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month

Before you let us in on your shred secrets, let's get some Many Arms background info. Last year, your self-titled record came out on John Zorn's Tzadik label. How did your getting on Tzadik come about?
Millevoi: When we decided to record our last album, I just sent John a letter with our previous two releases and he sent me the most gracious response I could have ever imagined. Even though I sent it, I was not expecting we'd ever end up on Tzadik! Once the record was mixed, I sent it to him and I think it took 30 minutes before I got a response that John was down to release it.

Had you crossed paths or known John Zorn before getting on Tzadik?
Millevoi: Never, but I've just been a fan since I was a teenager.

There are shit tons of Tzadik releases. How many Tzadik releases do you actually own own?

Millevoi: I'm not sure how many I own, but it's pretty likely that I own more records on Tzadik than any other label. It's my favorite label and I have a ton of respect for Tzadik.

Can you name a fave Tzadik release?
Millevoi: I can't name one particular favorite, but here are three favorites:
John Zorn's Classic Guide to Strategy; John Zorn's Book of Angels Asmodeus album, which is played by Marc Ribot, Trevor Dunn, and Calvin Weston; the new Bill Frisell album, Silent Comedy. But it's so hard, every release by Naked City and Masada is amazing, so those are all favorites.

You recently had a gig with a sax player (Colin Fisher). Is that the direction Many Arms is going into or was that a one-off thing?
Millevoi: That was sort of one off as a project, but we did record an album. We may play together again with Colin once the record is released, but he lives in Toronto, which could make it hard. We've known Colin as long as our band has existed (we shared a bill at our third show) and have wanted to do something with a sax player for a while. Colin is the right kind of hard blowing shredder to fit in with us too.

It's definitely the direction that we're going for a little while as far as collaborating with others though. In April, we're doing four concerts and recording with Toshimaru Nakamura, who plays no-input mixing board and is coming from Tokyo to work with us. His music is really different from ours, so I think we're going to have some exciting results.

Now, on to shredding. Nick, where and what age did you learn to shred?
Millevoi: I think for the most part I learned to shred when we started Many Arms! I used to play pretty slowly for the most part and envy people who could play fast shred stuff. I had a guitar teacher in college who was a heavy duty shredder and tried to show me some things, but I couldn't get my right hand together. When I was 23, I was in a car accident that resulted in 6 months of physical therapy, which helped me work out a lot of tendonitis issues I had. I figured out how to hold the guitar and a pick in a way that I could pick a lot faster and that was right when we started our band.

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