U.K. guitarist and composer Thom Pankhurst has released his first EP Lighthouse, and in accompaniment, we are premiering the video for his song “Lunar Wave”. While Pankhurst lays down some really chilled out chord progressions, his playing, however, is pretty ferocious. Coupling precisely tapped chord progressions with fluid leads, Pankhurst’s style is the logical culmination of the great instrumental rock and metal introduced by bands such as Animals As Leaders in the early 2000’s. It’s a style of music that, although instrumental, holds memorable phrasing and patterns that stick in your mind as much as a vocal melody would. I particularly like how the bass follows along with the lead guitar more than the rhythm guitar in some sections, I don’t think I’ve heard something like that before.
Pankhurst also has guitarist Sam Bell of Mask of Judas on this track for a guest solo. This is also my first time hearing Sam Bell’s work, and it’s a sound that compliments Pankhurst’s composition wonderfully. Sam Bell’s makes a shredded scale run sound relaxed, calm, and soothing, which is definitely the mark of masterful instrumentation.
Being a solo act delivers Pankhurst some key advantages. His ability to compose on his own will be one of his most vital assets, merely because he won’t have to rely on anyone else to know or memorize or come up with parts or material. Pankhurst’s only limitation is himself, and he already seems to have gotten through whatever could possibly limit him. Besides guitars, he lays down tasteful touches of piano and strings throughout his songs, again adding just a bit of difference that I think will set him apart if he continues with this style. I’m excited and hopeful for Pankhurst to continue on, progressing and evolving his already skilled musical style.
Check out this Q&A Thom did below, courtesy of Moshpit Promotions:
Tell me about “Lunar Wave” from the technical perspective. What went into writing this piece?
“‘Lunar Wave’ started with the tapping parts, I’d had a similar idea to the intro knocking around for a while which I rewrote and the rest of the track sort of evolved from that. The tapping parts are fairly relentless as they’re present throughout most of the track, and they constantly pull off to a number of different extended chord shapes what can be a bit tricky (and time consuming!) to record. The main lead part is loosely based on a Jeff Beck style lead for which I’m using a compressor and a mid boost to get the sustain needed to carry the notes without having to resort to more gain. It really helps the part breathe a little more without sounding really thin in comparison to the other parts, which are less sustained and have a little bit more gain. I really wanted to write something which properly complimented the intricacies of the chilled out tapping part, so really focused on more of a melodic vibe for the majority of the tracks leads.”
How did the collaboration with Sam Bell, who plays a guitar solo, come about?
“I actually own one of Sam’s instructional DVDs from when I was properly getting into practicing guitar! I’ve also been to a bunch of gigs and masterclass events over the years and Sam has been there, but I never said hello even though I was stood next to him. In early 2017 I went on tour with a band called Signals to the Alps and had the opportunity to go skiing, and Sam’s EPs were what I was listening to whilst I was repeatedly falling on my arse. I sent him a message to say hi when I came back and asked him about doing a guest solo and it arrived in my inbox about a week later! Sam is a fantastic player – effortlessly elegant playing and an even nicer guy in person and I’m so glad to have him on board.”
What was your vision for the Lighthouse EP, and how satisfied are you with its outcome?
“Lighthouse was always going to be three tracks, and when I originally demoed it I had the idea that I wanted to tie all three tracks together with a few repeated motifs that are repurposed in different contexts to help them span the full length of the EP. I really wanted to focus more on following my ear in regards to the composition and parts rather than trying to showcase my technical ability, and whilst there are tech-y parts none of them feel forced to me, something which is very important to me. The three tracks are the first things I’ve ever written to completion, and I’m really happy with how they came out! I think you can always be picky about things that you would change but the key is that I’ve learned so much from the whole experience of recording and co-producing that I can bring to the new music I plan to release.”
Tell me about the gear you used to track guitars on the song/album.
“The whole Lighthouse EP was tracked on a bunch of different guitars. For the majority of cleans and clean tapping parts I used a Mexican Standard Strat – this thing is the most beaten up guitar I own by far! It doesn’t stay in tune, the neck is wonky and it’s a nightmare to track with but it’s a musical home for me. All the rhythm parts were tracked on an Ibanez 1570 and the leads were tracked on an Ibanez 1527 (even though I don’t even use the 7th string) and a Musicman JP6. All the acoustic parts were played on a Faith Venus.”
What was the signal chain?
“It’s all Kemper. Lighthouse was demoed using the emulated output of a Blackstar HT Studio 20 but when it came to tracking I wanted something of higher quality output and more flexibility. I’m using different profiles for certain parts, but in general for cleans I’ve been using a profile of a 1966 Fender Twin, for the distorted rhythm guitars I’m using a Blackstar HT Studio 20 profile (as it felt right to use!) and for leads I used a bit of a curve-ball, it’s a profile of one of the Seymour Duncan Convertible amps. I guess most people doing the instrumental progressive-y thing would be going for a Mesa Boogie/Friedman style amp but I really got on with this one when I cranked the gain a little higher and it felt really natural to me. They’re pretty old now and forgotten about – look them up!”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’m currently in the midst of getting a track ready to mix that should be released in a couple of months! After that, potentially a stripped back version of a track, and then EP number 2! And then a possibility of live shows… ;)”
Check out Thom’s EP Lighthouse on Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play. And follow him on Facebook here, and Instagram here. We’re excited too have a hand in the start of Thom Pankhurst’s career here on GearGods!