I interviewed Kryz Reid, guitarist for Third Eye Blind. We discussed:
- How being in the band has influenced his guitar playing
- The impact Prince continues to have on him
- Making the album "Screamer" and how they worked to "keep it weird"
- And more
Here is a partial transcript of the interview. For the full transcript, download the free ebook.
Cris Cohen: You've been part of this band for almost a decade now. I'm curious, how has being part of this band influenced your guitar playing?
Kryz Reid: It's an interesting question. I don't think I've ever been asked that before. Let me think.
I think that Stephan has a producer's ear. So, as soon as we started to record together, the way Stephan talks about tone and talks about the style of guitar players…
Like when Tom Morello hits a chord. We were rehearsing next door to the Chris Cornell tribute thing that was on a while ago. So, Tom Morello and all the Audioslave guys, they were all right next door. We could hear (guitar sounds). And it's just completely on. There's no way you could be like, "Who's that?" Even his tech checking his shit doesn't sound like Tom.
So, Stephan kind of emboldened me with that idea. He was like, "When you play the guitar, I want people to know that it's you."
So, the thing is, all of that is in your fingers. It's all very expressive. So, unbeknownst to me, I'm doing that. You know what I mean? But he definitely got me to think more about tone. Because I was always very kind of punk rock. I get a fucking Marshall 800 and... Am I allowed to curse on this?
Cris Cohen: Yeah.
Kryz Reid: I would just crank it and would be like, "Yeah, it sounds good."
But we used to shoot out different amps, different guitars, different combinations of vintage amplifiers. We have all these photos of nine vintage amplifiers lined up with different microphones on them all. Playing the Strat and playing a '68 Strat and playing a fucking Jazzmaster. And then just going through all these different combinations.
Because anything less than what we think is ideal compromises the tonality of the entire product. So, yeah, he's definitely made me a more disciplined guitar player.
Cris Cohen: And as a result, do you notice minor changes now, more?
Kryz Reid: Oh, yeah. I'll listen and I'll go, "We can hear the Stratocaster." You can hear the tonality difference between all those instruments, and the different tones that you'll get off like an AC30 versus a Marshall sound and stuff like that. So, I've learned on the gig, in that respect. Because before that, I was just always plugging in a fucking rocket.
Cris Cohen: Right. And speaking of your setup, just because I was watching just now in soundcheck, that guitar is slung really low on you. I mean, it's like at knee level.
Kryz Reid: Yeah, I've been hearing that more and more recently now than before. I've always slung my guitar pretty low. I'm from the Jimmy Page school of guitar playing. Greasy, as we say.
It just looked cool to me. I mean, Tom Morello is the only guitar player I can think of who does what our bass player, Cavy, calls a studio set up, where you wear your guitar really high, because you're in the studio. You don't want to look cool. You want to play well.
And I've just always slung it low. So one of my guitars is a Fano JM6. It's kind of like a Jazzmaster sort of thing, that Dennis Fano made. And I noticed that is particularly low-slung because of where the hoist points are on the body of the guitar. So, when I play it out, I'm going like, "Fucking hell, man. This is way low."
Cris Cohen: But not enough so you'd want to just bring it up a notch on the strap?
Kryz Reid: No, it's not uncomfortable. That's the way I've always played the guitar.
Cris Cohen: I think Dave Matthews, he's another one where the guitar is really up here. And supposedly that's ergonomically better in terms of how your arm is positioned, how your wrist is positioned, and things like that. But…
Kryz Reid: Man, if you go down that rabbit hole, you'll find, this is the optimum pose for playing the guitar. (Mimes having the guitar almost at his neck with his legs crossed.) No one's getting laid sitting like that. At all.
So, it's not an issue. I play Les Pauls mostly as well. It's kind of Jimmy Page's kind of thing. When I see a picture of me on stage, I go, "Yeah. Fuck, yeah." I don't go, "Goddamn, that thing is low." It just looks cool.
Cris Cohen: So for you, it's got to look right, not just sound right.
Kryz Reid: Well, it's just how it feels. I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? I started playing guitar when I was like 15. I would just sit on the edge of my bed and just strum chords and just be going, "My God… it works… like they said it would."
When I started playing in bands, that's just where I put it. I was like, "How low can we put the thing?" And yeah, it's not -- I could talk about it for hours, but -- it's not uncomfortable. It feels natural to me. And all the most natural guitar players are, for me, the best guitar players. People like John Frusciante. He just doesn't look weird with a guitar.
I'm not going to name any names, but there's some people that, when you see them play a guitar, you're going like, "No." Those guys who are always looking at their right hand. They're doing that shit. It's the telltale. It's the giveaway. Because your right hand is all natural, your left hand as well. Technique is mainly the thing.
Cris Cohen: And then, speaking of influences, you've talked a lot about how the top of the heap for you was Prince.
Kryz Reid: Is Prince.
Cris Cohen: Is Prince still. What drew you to his guitar playing?
Kryz Reid: Well, I came across Prince when I was like nine years old. So, I didn't go, "Oh, he's such a good guitar player." I just thought he was sexy and cool and androgynous and all the stuff that I love. I was just in, immediately. The whole package, I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world. As soon as I had money to buy myself any of my own clothes that my parents weren't buying for me, when I was like 15, I went into town. I bought a pair of fucking Docs (Dr. Martens) -- I'm wearing a pair of Docs right now -- and a black trench coat.
I was back in Dublin recently and I was wearing a nice trench coat. My mom was like, "You've been wearing a trench coat your whole life."
I was like, "Yeah, and a pair of Docs." And Prince famously… the purple trench coat. That's when I came across…
Cris Cohen: Right. But his was all paisleyed out and everything.
Kryz Reid: Well, it was more kind of like he had studs and stuff.
Cris Cohen: You're right. Yeah.
Kryz Reid: So, I was always just drawn to his entire package. And everything about Prince I thought was fucking cool. I still try to style my hair like the cover of “Controversy.” I just think that he's just the coolest motherfucker. He just really is. Was. Whatever.
It wasn't until I got into playing the guitar that I really realized what a phenomenal talent he was. But I thought, to be able to play the guitar, to be able to get an electric guitar, you need to be somebody as rich as Prince. We weren't rich growing up. So I just assumed that that was just something that would never happen. And then a mate of mine called Ian Smith... We went over to his house once and he pulled out this fucking electric guitar. And I was like, "What did... How... Where did... How did that happen?"
So, straight away after that, I was like, "You can buy these things. You can go to a shop and get them?"
I was just blown away. Then I was on to my ma, "Can we get one? Can we get one?"
She said, "There's an old piece of shit acoustic up in the attic that your father bought years ago. If you learn to play that, we'll get you an electric guitar."
So, we got that acoustic… there were two strings on it. And me and my brother used to just play. He had drumsticks but he didn't have a drum kit. I bought strings for the fucking acoustic and I got a book out of the school library. School library, kids.
And I just learned the chords. I didn't even know how to tune the fucking thing. I went down to the local music shop to get a package of guitar strings. That's a 15-minute walk, right? I came back home and put them on. I just assumed that you would just twist it until it didn't (turn anymore). I got to the high E string. And of course, as I went up, it just flew off.
Cris Cohen: Oh, God.
Kryz Reid: Hit me in the face. I was going, "Fuck." And I was trying to work out if I had enough pocket money to get…
Cris Cohen: More strings, yeah.
Kryz Reid: And then of course, I didn't know if I could go down and ask, "Can I just get that one?" It was like six pounds or something for the packet. I went down with 50 pence or something. It was before Ireland was on the Euro system. (I'm showing my age.) I went in and the bird was really nice. I would go down there and talk to her about music. She was like, " Yeah, I can get that for you, Kryztopher." She gave me the one string. I came home and, stupid as fuck, did the same thing.
Cris Cohen: Oh, my God.
Kryz Reid: Because I had no idea.
You had to tune the guitar from each string. The first month that I started learning to play the guitar, I had no high E string. So my G chord sounded funny. But I took to it like a fish to water or whatever. I was completely and utterly obsessed with the guitar, from then on.
Cris Cohen: And it's fascinating actually, because Keith Richards, in addition to writing his autobiography, he wrote a children's book about how he learned to play the guitar. I read it to my son. It's funny, because it's kind of a similar story. His grandfather had this old, unused acoustic thing sitting on top of the piano and he just had to try it. Then he sat with that constantly, even though he didn't exactly know what he was doing.
Kryz Reid: Yeah. He'd just play with it.
Cris Cohen: Did you ever have actual lessons or was it all...
Kryz Reid: No. All self-taught. No, it was just watching Jimi Hendrix on (video tape), rewinding the fucking thing, and going, "How is he doing it?" That kind of stuff. But the thing is, when I started learning to play the guitar, I had already had a few girlfriends. I had been deeply in love. I had my heart completely smashed and all of that. And I'm an arty little fucker. I was always drawing and sketching and stuff like that as a kid. So, for me, (music was) the perfect conduit for all of that.
Brad, our drummer, has a little wee boy. He's just turned four, and he's fucking obsessed with the band. He has a little acoustic guitar that he walks around (with) and he (watches) the guys playing on TV. He's playing it left-handed because he doesn't understand that he's watching it…
Cris Cohen: Oh. It's backwards.
Kryz Reid: As he goes around, he throws all of these poses and all the rest of it. And then Brad was like, "What am I going to get him for Christmas?" I'm like, "Get him a baby electric." He's like, "I don't want to get him a baby Strat. I want to get him a baby Les Paul."
And I was going like, "Dude, he's just going to break it."
Now, four years old isn't when kids migrate towards something like that. I think you need to be 13 to 17, something like that. Because around that bracket is where you've got all of that puberty, crazy mad shit where you're playing with Lego and Star Wars one day and then suddenly there are girls everywhere. And you're going, "What?" So, yeah, it's the perfect time to have that conduit for all that crazy shit that's going on. Some kids do sports and all that kind of stuff. I was never that guy. I was always the little punk in the corner, writing songs about how he hated everybody.
Cris Cohen: Well, one thing I’m always curious about with musicians who did not have formal training is, what advantages do you think there were to not going down that route?
Kryz Reid: It never becomes a job then. Do you know what I mean? It's never a job.
If you start to teach a kid -- like you send them to piano lessons when they're fucking six or whatever -- that's a pain in the arse for a kid. All that shit. Right? And then it's like, every Tuesday after school, fucking piano.
So, I think (with) a lot of kids who do that, the dropout rate is very high. There are some who become virtuosos. But by and large, in my experience of what I've come across, that becomes a job then.
Whereas, when you just go, "That fucking guy is cool. I want to do that." That to me is all the training you need. Then you go meet other fuckers. You know what I mean? I met my best mate in school going to the school locker. I was singing a Prince song and he started to fill in the bits with me.
We became best mates, and we made a band a week later. You learn from your mates and then you learn who's in the hierarchy. I'm sure you know Damien Rice, the musician from Dublin as well.
Cris Cohen: Name sounds familiar.
Kryz Reid: We played in a band together and we worked out very quickly that I was going to be the lead guitar player, and he would be the rhythm guitar player.
It's so funny. Kids fall into their brackets. We did a festival with The School of Rock. And we were shooting a video for our song, “The Kids Are Coming (To Take You Down).” We had this stream of little punk kids, little rock kids, walking past the tour bus. I said, "Get the cameras! Everything we need is right here!”
So, we had all the kids do all the stuff for the video. After, we're just hanging out and talking to them and I was going, "That's me. I can see the little lead guitar player right there. There's the singer and he's a little bit of a fucking piece of shit. There was a little wee bird who was like “I'm going to be the manager.” That kind of thing. And they got the cute, little groupie kind of thing going on. The nerdy photography kid is there. He's got his fucking camera that his dad gave him and it is way too big.
Kids just sort themselves out into all those brackets. I think the same thing kind of applies when you get into a band. We're all such typical embodiments of the lead guitar player, the singer, the bass player. It's hilarious. And we go on tour and you meet other bands, and you start to see everybody segregate off into their own groups.
Cris Cohen: It's interesting because a friend of mine, Rich Redmond, who plays drums for Jason Aldean, talks about, when they go on tour, the drummers are always the most gregarious. It's the drummers that are always the first ones to introduce themselves to the other bands on the bill.
He said, "If you get five drummers in a room, we will close down the bar talking about music, philosophy, life, everything. If you get five guitarists in a room, they will beat the shit out of each other."
Kryz Reid: Oh, really? Wow. I don't know. In our band, our bass player, Cavy, is usually the first to meet the support band and be like, "Hey, guys." We were out last night for pints, and the support band was in the same bar. We didn't even know. We were in the front section of the bar and they were in the back section. Towards the end of the night, they came out and we're like, "Whoa!"
But it's funny. I hadn't met them at that point. But I was (looking at them) just going like, "That's the fucking singer. I'll bet you any money. That one there, he plays bass.”
For the full transcript, download the free ebook.