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Editor's note: This interview was scheduled to appear
in the second, never-published issue of Painful Procedure, the
official Spinal Tap Fan Club newsletter. It was supplied to the
Spinal Tap Fan Site by former fan club president Bonnie
"More's always better, isn't it? I'm like a vampire.
They need blood, and I need volume, don't I?" Nigel
In 1990, Marshall debuted their line of amplifiers that go
to 20. Who else could they have on hand for the premier party
but Nigel Tufnel? After listening to what 20 sounds like and
seeming rather impressed, he signed autographs and posed for
pictures with such lesser rock legends such as Dweezil Zappa
and Peter Frampton and assorted other flash-in-the-pans. Then
he sat down for some stimulating dialogue with some guy in a
hat whose name I never bothered to find out.
Are you currently affiliated with any label, or are you
guys shopping, or..
I go shopping, yeah.
No, I mean for a record label.
I was talking to Windham Hill for a while, but they seemed to
say something about not being right for the label, and I didn't
really know quite what they meant...
They're mostly acoustic music.
Oh, is that why?
And of course volume has always been one of your fortes.
That's probably why they sort of nixed it. See, my idea was to
do very loud acoustic music. What was happening with all the
guitar stuff, with what they call the new age, but to make it
loud and exciting rather than ... quiet.
How would you make acoustic guitars any louder?
Play on electric.
Do you envision any music that you will be creating that
necessitates even more volume, louder than 20?
Perhaps as loud as 30. And I'll describe to you why. The music
that I'm now doing on my own, solo, is purely decibel related.
No more "chord patterns," so to speak. All just bursts
of noise, which for me, makes it necessary to have 20 or more,
you see. I would experiment at home with my amplifier, and not
get the results I needed. It was time to go to professionals,
being the Marshall company, and they were nice enough to put
their scientists to work on it. A lot of people who worked on
the bomb actually work for Marshall. It's the same sort of engineering.
Experts on loud... things.
Exactly. Bomb; rock and roll. But there's no mushroom cloud
with rock and roll, that's the great thing! No skin things happening
years later, I hope. Now that I'm working with the Marshall company,
and they've done this great new amp which of course goes up to
20, I've come up with another idea for them, which I hope they
can use which is a capo for an amplifier.
How would that work?
It would have to be quite large. Instead of this big [demonstrates
with one hand] to wrap around the neck, it would have to be this
big [demonstrates with both arms]. Big piece of rubber, big piece
of, what would they call it, elastic, holes about this big [indicates
about the size of a softball]. Then let's say you're doing a
blues shuffle in A. Let's say the singer feels real good, he
says "let's do it in B." Time for the capo for the
amp. Wrap it round, go up a step.
You'd stay in the same position on the guitar?
Yes. My theory is although it's not been fully explored
is that the compression created by the pressure on the
speaker cones would squeeze it up and up and up. So we're talking
about some sort of patent. One chap said it might be ahead of
its time. And I said, "Well, what about next week?"
Did you pal around with any of the guitar gods, the Claptons
and the Becks and Pages?
Not really, no, no, of course I was familiar, but no, no
"palling around" so to speak... [pause] ..."palling
around," would indicate actual meeting of these people,
The show that's coming up in London will have all the original
members of Spinal Tap. Is that right?
It will be all the original group. We're trying to go through
customs with the big devil head, and we're having some problems
with that. There's some Satanistic law on the travel books where
you can't import a devil's head if it's more than 10 feet high.
Rather than cut it down and lose the horns, or the chin, we're
trying to get a solicitor. It's considered starting a revolution
or something if you bring a devil head in. Look in your passport,
it's on the back, "No large devil heads."