Polyphia’s Tim Henson “fucking hated” learning the violin thanks to “fairly abusive” teachers

Henson learned the violin until he discovered the guitar at age 10.

Tim Henson of Polyphia has opened up about the trials of his early musical upbringing, reflecting on his time learning the violin as growing up.

In a new interview with Guitar.com discussing Polyphia’s new album Remember That You Will Die, Henson shared that he hated the violin with a passion growing up. “I fucking hated the violin growing up,” Henson said, adding, “I had fairly abusive teachers. If I fucked up, I got my hand slapped with the fucking bow. And I can’t say that my mum was super-chill about forcing me to practise either.”

It wasn’t all for nought in the end, however, as Henson explains, “But it taught me discipline and I’m very grateful for the experience, because it made me fall in love with guitar.”

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It was an unexpected incident at the age of 10 that changed Henson’s trajectory, when he saw his father playing one of his old guitars for the very first time. “I had no idea that he played for the first 10 years of my life,” Henson shared, going on to completely discard the violin for the guitar by 15.

Elsewhere in the interview, Henson also shared the story behind their mind-bending collaboration with Steve Vai on the album’s final track Ego Death, which was at first discussed between the band and Vai in 2020 when Vai asked Polyphia to open for him at his NAMM show. “Afterwards we went to the DiMarzio party and got drunk and asked him, ‘Okay, would you be down to feature on one of our songs?’”, Henson recalled. “And he was like, ‘Of course!’ A couple of years later, we had the song and sent him an email. And here it is.”

Vai has shared that he had thought the band weren’t fans of his contributions to the song at one point, saying, “At first, I felt uncomfortable saying ‘Featuring Steve Vai’, because I thought ‘Well, I didn’t do anything’,” he said, though a re-listen of the track convinced him that it was just “a stupid humility thing”.

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