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“I look for musicians who play live and aren’t just farming followers on Instagram”: Tracii Guns wants “no part” in the bedroom guitarist community

“I relate to the ones who go out and tour; I love the lifestyle.”

Tracii Guns performing live

Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Spending hours woodshedding and posting online to build a social media presence is the only viable way for many guitarists to get their name out there in 2024. But for players who grew up in the “record a demo, get signed to a label” era, the current guitar landscape can be difficult to understand.

In a new interview with Guitarist, founding Guns N’ Roses and L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns says when he’s looking to discover new artists, he’s interested in those playing live, rather than just playing at home and posting on social media.

Naming Grace Bowers and Sam Bam Koltun as burgeoning players who have captured his attention, Guns explains: “I look for players with personality and who really understand the emotion of playing heavy rock guitar as opposed to just, ‘Oh, look how fuciing fast I can play.’ I look for musicians who play live a lot and aren’t just farming followers on Instagram.”

Guns acknowledges that in this day and age, social media presence is all-important for young players, but says the “personality of the songwriting and performing in front of people” is becoming “lost in translation”.

“Art is about the identity of the creator,” he says. “I relate to the ones who go out and tour; I love the lifestyle, you know?”

He goes on: “The lifestyle of someone sitting at an Ikea computer desk, shredding guitar, day after day, like, I don’t want any part of that lifestyle. I want to be part of a lifestyle where it’s like, ‘Hey, I didn’t sleep, and I missed these three notes because I couldn’t get in the shower at the truck stop, and some toothless woman was trying to pickpocket me.’ That creates character.

“Sitting in your safe zone, going over scales and modes repeatedly to get attention, man, what does it lead to? Where does it get you? I’d rather look at a player and say, ‘They’re a bad motherfucker, they’re gonna be around forever.’”

Tracii Guns’ new collaborative album with Jack Russell of Great White arrived earlier this year. L.A. Guns have a series of tour dates coming up later this year. For tickets, head to their official website.

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