RRI: Sci-Fi nerd makes shred guitar cool again
By Todd Houston
In a world full of Bebe Rexhas and Lil Waynes, Shawn Williams has chosen to take the road less traveled in his new musical endeavors. Of course back in the late 1990s when Williams was first learning his guitar chops there were plenty of guitar virtuosos to draw inspiration from i.e. John Petrucci, Buckethead, etc.
Today, Williams latest project is simply entitled The Core. Opting for a one man band approach and plenty of lightning-fast shred guitar. This isn’t your typical Thursday night show at the VFW. If you go to one of The Core’s gigs you will see plenty of lasers, lights, and lightning-fast guitar licks all backed up by pre-programmed drum samples and other exciting beeps, blips and goodies. Sadly for some of you, you will not be hearing mediocre versions of “Enter Sandman” or “The Trooper” and yelling “ye-ha!”
Anyway, We caught up with shawn at the Rockford Rocked Interviews Studio last week for a chat and a soda pop.
Rocked Rocked Interview: Hey Shawn and welcome to the studio. It looks a bit like a living room eh? In your bio it says – Shawn Williams is not The Core. He is merely the overseer. The Core is the combination of man and machine, audio and visual. What does this even mean?
Shawn Williams: Hey Todd! Thanks for having me. Every room is a living room if you’re alive in it! The Core is simply an entity. I am just the creator. The lights, the sounds, the atmosphere is what The Core consists of. Yes, I am at the heart of it but I am not The Core. It’s like the human body – the brain oversees all functions but the body acts it out. Kinda like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
RRI: Why not just get a 4-5 piece band and take the load off? It must be difficult to do all that stuff by yourself. I see you even have buttons on the floor that control robots or something. Thoughts?
SW: I have thought about it many times. BUT. I am in full control of The Core. Less moving parts with just me. Also, controlling all of it is part of the novelty aspect. I am fully aware of how a one-man band can be objectified but my goal is to be louder, better and more innovative than a full band. I will stand tall against the biggest bands and provide a show unlike any other. I have a pedalboard that has all of my guitar effects, a button that triggers strobe lights, a button for the fog machine and a homemade switch bay that controls the four sets of colored lights. Off stage I have someone controlling the lasers. It’s a handful…or footful…but I love it.
RRI: Who were some of the guitar cats you looked up to when you were just a little shredder?
SW: Ace Frehley. Simple as that. KISS was all that mattered. They are the reason I do this show. Gene Simmons once said “If KISS can’t put on the full show we don’t play.” That blew my mind. Now I love Buckethead, Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen and Michael Romeo.
RRI: Some of your guitars look more like weapons than instruments. Did you build them yourself?
SW: Ha! I love that. Actually, my main axe was built by my great uncle Steve Murphy. I designed it and he built it. It’s called The Spoiler because it makes every other guitar play like garbage. I’m only 33 but I’m very, very much influenced by the pointy guitars of the ‘80s.
RRI: You are really into science fiction movies. How much of an effect if any did they have on your playing?
SW: That’s where the idea of The Core comes into play. I can’t go up as Shawn Williams and be all sci-fi. I had to create a platform. That’s The Core. I incorporate movie samples in my songs and the show, the lasers are obviously sci-fi, my appearance – all of it. That’s The Core. Science fiction didn’t influence my playing but it adds a really cool aesthetic and vibe to the show. I’m very much influenced by the Alien and Blade Runner series. It shows when you see and hear The Core.
RRI: Your stage presence is very cool. Great costume, glasses, guitar looks spacey, etc. What’s your take on guitarist that only wear a KFC bucket on their head or a scary mask? Cool or epic fail?
SW: Look at that. Full circle. Buckethead is a huge influence for so many reasons. He doesn’t say anything onstage, he’s weird, he makes you uncomfortable and he doesn’t seem human. That is what I want The Core to be. The Core is less weird but I still want it be something that you see and say “What did I just watch…?”
RRI: Ever have one of those lasers hit you in the eye and have one of those out of body experiences like the dude in the Stoned Age movie?
SW: Oh, man. Not while playing but while I’ve tested and practiced the lasers at home. I’ve seen things, Todd…
RRI: Favorite movie about asteroids blowing up the earth? Deep Impact or Armageddon?
SW: Here we go! Deep Impact for sure. Much more realistic, more painful to watch and less “Rah, Rah! Go humans!”
RRI: Who would win in a fretboard race to the ending highest note on a 24 fret guitar? Michael Angelo Batio, Marty Friedman, Danny Gatton or Shawn Williams?
SW: I wouldn’t even try. I hate the sound of the 24th fret. Michael Angelo would because everything he does is annoying. Sorry, Mr. Batio.
RRI: When and where can we catch The next Core show?
SW: Great question! The Core is playing September 8 at Stockyard Rock Burger Bar at North Towne Mall, September 29 at Hopper’s Haunted House in Byron, and October 6 at Angelic Organics Farm in Caledonia for a sci-fi-themed art show. Find The Core on Facebook at The Core- Shawn Williams and on Instagram at laserguitar. R.