Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson talks about shredding culture: “That’s not music. That’s sport”

Wilson also reiterated his dislike for “the whole guitar shredder phenomenon”.

Steven Wilson

Credit: Guy Prives/Getty

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Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson has opined once again on “shredder culture”, this time labelling it as “sport” as opposed to music.

Wilson was speaking to YouTube channel Hack Music Theory when he reiterated his dislike for “the whole guitar shredder phenomenon”, explaining, “I love that people can play like that, but the fact is they feel the need to remind everyone they can play like that constantly – to me, that’s not music. That’s sport.”

Wilson elaborated on his analogy, continuing, “That’s like an Olympic sport. And it’s like – the best analogy I can give is, if we’re talking now, if we’re trying to communicate through language, and I would say everything to you at 100 miles an hour, I would just gavel the words out without putting any emphasis, or emotion, or feeling, or enunciation as I’m doing now.”

“That’s not communication, and I feel the same with guitar shredders. It’s very impressive, but it doesn’t communicate anything to me that I would really feel.”

Wilson divulged last year that he was “never a fan” of the late guitar great nor of the “so-called shredder mentality” that he considered Eddie Van Halen to have instigated. This led to Wilson publicly apologising to Wolfgang Van Halen for the comments he made about EVH, calling the shred legend “an incredible innovator.”

In his original comments, Wilson said that Eddie Van Halen’s legacy was “in creating the shredder phenomenon, which is something so vile to me. That kind of idea that you play music almost like you’re playing an Olympic sport is kind of anathema to my kind of ideas on creativity and music.”

Wilson also drew the ire of classic rock fans in 2020 when he doubled down on his criticism of Greta Van Fleet, who he initially called “a joke… they play this really piss-poor, third-rate impersonation of Led Zeppelin.” He followed up the statement with another scathing comment, saying, “I stand by everything I said. What are kids gonna listen to? Tyler, The Creator doing this radical urban music that speaks to them about modern life, or this embarrassing sort of Take That-meets-Led Zeppelin parody?”

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