Steven Wilson says he was “never a fan” of Eddie Van Halen or the “so-called shredder mentality”

He credited Van Halen with creating the “shredder phenomenon” that he finds “vile.”

Steven Wilson and Eddie Van Halen

Image: Angel Manzano
/ Tim Mosenfelder / Getty

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Guitarist Steven Wilson, known for his work in Porcupine Tree and his own solo records has spoken about his thoughts on the late Eddie Van Halen, and “shred” guitarists at large.

When asked by FaceCulture if Van Halen’s death last October had impacted him at all, Wilson responded: “Honestly, it didn’t, because I was never a fan. I know he’s an extraordinary musician, and it’s always sad when an extraordinary artist dies, [but] I was never a fan of the so-called shredder mentality. And I think in many ways, he was the father of that whole kind of movement.”

“I never understood that ‘playing as fast as you can’ thing,” Wilson added, before clarifying: “And I know that wasn’t all he did, I know he was a more flexible musician than that.”

Wilson then 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.”

Responding to Wilson’s comments on Twitter, Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang said: Damn this bums me out hard. Been a huge fan of his for years. [Porcupine Tree’s] Deadwing is one of my favourite albums of all time.

Wolfgang then clarified that his issue was less with Wilson’s opinions on his father, but more with pinning the emergence of shred guitar on his influence. “It’s absolutely ok that he’s not a fan,” he wrote. “Not everyone is going to be a fan of everything. It just sucks that he ‘blames’ Pop for shredding being a thing(?)”

He added: “To make things CRYSTAL CLEAR, I’d like to add that this in NO way changes how I feel about Steven Wilson or his music. I guess it’s just a bummer that a stellar musician I hold in such high regard doesn’t see what I see when it comes to my father and his playing. End of rant.”

The creation of shred in itself is perhaps difficult to ascribe to any single player. Often-cited influences on the style, alongside Van Halen, include the lightning-fast playing of Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Alvin Lee and Jimmy Page.

You can see Wilson’s full interview with FaceCulture below.

Wilson also drew the ire of classic rock fans last year 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.” Last October he then said “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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