Chimaira/Daath Guitarist Emil Werstler’s Shocking Confession: “I’ll Throw 5ths into Anything”

I hate to be a stickler for semantics, but the “Sweetwater Minute” is a bit of a misnomer, huh? More like the Sweetwater half hour. Well, unless Sweetwater HQ is located on Mercury where the days are much longer (and even still, Mercury’s diurnal cycle is actually 60 times longer than ours, so that overshoots in the other direction).

Temporal misinformation aside, Sweetwater has some quality interviewing chops for an online retailer. They sat down, literally in this case because usually when I say that about my interviews I’m more accurately on the phone so my interviewee could be standing or jogging or mid-coitus for all I know, with Daath/Chimaira/6-stringer for hire Emil Werstler. And damn did they nerd out about theory, in a way that I’d personally love to if my knowledge was more sure. Unfortunately I don’t know my harmonic minor from my mixolydian.

Part of what makes Werstler one of the bestler guitarists in the scene is his vast musical experience and vocabulary. He’s not just a metal guitarist. In fact, you get the impression that he wound up slamming heavy palm mutes by happenstance, and stayed (mostly) in that hemisphere due to the accumulated connections that he’s networked over the years. What’s cool though is that we’re used to schooled guitarists bringing the fruits of their influences home to the aggressive music world, but Werstler also exports his rock and metal theory into his non-metallic gigs. It’s easy to forget that other genres don’t have the overabundance of 5ths that we’re accustomed to hearing. Emil states that he likes to throw some of that more pentatonic rock voicing in when jamming on some gypsy jazz for example (what’s with all these players rocking the gypsy jazz recently).

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.