About This Blog

I started this blog because the tabs on the Lucero message board kept getting lost when they switched sites. A blog isn't a perfect forum for guitar tabs and chords, but it now has posts for all but a handful of their songs. And, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only source for Lucero tabs that has been endorsed by an actual Lucero guitarist. Accept no substitutes.

Holy shit! That's how that goes... www.lucerotabs.blogspot.com
-Brian Venable

Thank you to the folks who have sent me submissions, suggestions, and corrections. Thanks also to anyone who posted a tab on the luceromusic.com boards. You can find me there posting as Boston Twang. You can also email me at lucerotabs@gmail. Submissions and/or corrections are greatly appreciated.

General Thoughts on Lucero Chords

Ben seems to favor chord variations that fret the B string at the third fret. If a C, Em, G, or A doesn't seem quite right, try:
Cadd9 (x32030), Em7 (022030), G (320033), Asus (x02230)

Also, I think he leaves the E string open on a lot of his D chords (xx0230).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interview with Brian Venable

Today I've got special treat for Lucero Tabs visitors: Lucero lead guitarist and all around good guy, Brian Venable sharing his thoughts on learning and playing guitar. Brian couldn't have been nicer about the whole thing, and I'd like to thank him again for his time. Hopefully it'll be as enjoyable for other folks as is was for me.

Lucero Tabs: If I remember correctly, a while back somebody on the message board was posting about learning to play guitar and you encouraged them to forget about learning to play other people's music from tabs and instead play whatever sounded good to them. I think that’s different from the approach most people take when they’re starting out, but it struck me as a very “rock and roll” thing to say, and it made me curious about your own learning process.

When did you learn to play guitar, and how long did it take before you started to feel like you were good at it?

Brian Venable: I'm not against tabs at all. When I started to try and learn the guitar, I would go to the library every day and xerox tabs outta books of songs I liked, but in my head I was more interested in the chord progressions than actually learning the song. I have never really wanted to sing and play guitar, so learning a "song" has always seemed redundant to me.

I started teaching myself guitar about 6 months before I started Lucero and I still try to learn something everyday. When I was a kid my dad tried to force it on me, in a sweet fatherly way, but I really didn't pick it up ‘til I was 25 or 26. Really, I was still learning when Lucero was formed.

About the tabs though, most people starting out worry so much about the mechanics of playing a song all the way through, I think the art of creating gets overlooked. I’ve seen so many people sit around for hours playing covers and it never occurs to them to write their own stuff.

I still say if you wanna learn the guitar, start a band and book a show 3 months later. Force yerself to learn even if the only guitar you can play is yer parts on those few songs!
Really, that's how I did it.

I look up scales on websites, learn different chords you may never actually play, try to learn a different instrument to get perspective. One of the best things I’ve noticed is if you see someone who's playing something you like, ask them how they do it, it's that easy. Generally they'll be happy you noticed and would love to share.

I really didn't start to feel like I was any good at guitar until after I came back from that year off and the funny thing was that I didn't touch the guitar the whole time I was off. Sometimes stopping for a while lets yer brain rest and absorb what you have learned. Hell, I still try to pick some at least an hour a day. It used to be more ‘til I got a family.

LT: I can't think of anything more terrifying than playing live after three months of learning.

BV: Yeah it was pretty damn scary. Eight songs in something like 17mins and I don't even remember being on stage, and I was sober!

LT: On the Dreaming in America DVD, there’s one scene where you say that what Jim Dickinson likes about what you do is that it’s untrained and raw, and that you might as well be outsider art to him. To me, that’s the most interesting part of the film because it really hits on what makes Lucero what it is.

BV: Jim Dickinson loves raw emotion and first takes and spontaneity. He's one of maybe 6 people who thought the Sex Pistols show years ago was amazing because it was so bad. He likes to tell me that it keeps him up at night trying to figure out how I decide to pick my first note when I start to play. So, needless to say, I like him a lot!

LT: At that point in your career how much traditional education in music theory did you have?

BV: I have absolutely no formal music education at all. I have no idea how to read music or what a circle of 5ths really means or nothing. Everything I learned, I learned from books, or asking people, or trial and error. My dad knows a lot of that stuff and I was surrounded by it my entire life but never really paid any attention to it and I sure wish I had now.

I’m always looking for people that had no formal music training, but even people like Doc Watson and them had some kinda choir or piano church training. I met this one guy who had only played bass for a month or so and I was so excited ‘til I found out he was some kinda piano prodigy since birth. I’m getting by on hard work and luck so far.

LT: You said earlier that you started out learning chord progressions. Would you advise new players to learn more by trial and error, or do you think it's important to learn about stuff like the I, IV, and V chords in major keys?

BV: What I was looking for when I copied those songs for the chord progressions was really just to have an idea where to go next. I didn't really have any idea what the 1-4-5 stuff was at the time. I feel like that if I was forced to learn that before it made sense I may have not wanted to keep playing, but to go out and find neat things by accident for awhile and then try and pick up the basics is a good plan for me. I still have no idea how all that works. It's kinda like those kids that learn violin from the Suzuki method, they can play whatever you put in front of them but it strips them of the ability to improvise.

Of course I don't get called on to play on other people’s records ever for about that same reason. There's not a lot of call for wind-ee off-kilter guitar lines in questionable keys in most studio situations!

LT: Do you think there is a trade-off between knowing more about the mechanics of music and being more professional versus knowing less but being more spontaneous? Do you still feel raw and untrained?

BV: There’s never a day I don't wish I could play like Eddie Van Halen, but I also enjoy playing like Greg Ginn of Black Flag or trying to butcher jazz songs for fun. It's definitely a balance. There's something to be said about being able to play everything perfectly but also being willing to say fuck it and see what happens if I try this. It drives Ben crazy!

I don't think you can ever learn enough about yer guitar. I get around certain people and my jaw just drops and it makes me go home and try to figure it out. I’m always listening to my records and playing along in my on way. Sometimes a part pops out from some song that I’ve been playing along with that has nothing to do with that song. I’m more of a fan of live shows because of that, where anything can happen instead of the studio where you take a million runs at it ‘til you piece together something maybe safe but a little stale.

So, yes, I still feel raw and untrained!

LT: You guys have spent a lot of time playing with guys like Rick Steff and Todd Beene who might be a little more traditional in their approaches, how do you think that has effected the band’s development?

BV: I think the addition of Rick and Todd has given us a solid foundation on which to do what we do best. Rick’s really good at following my fucked up leads and padding them so they don't sound so "rough." It's the same with Todd. I'll let him take more pretty parts now ‘cause it sounds so good and then I come in like some banshee hammer and I think it makes for some crazy dynamics!

I think Ben likes to be able to give them an idea and they can just pull it up outta nowhere and I’m still more of a “this is how I play” and “this is what you can have” player. It has definitely strengthened our sound.

LT: It’s obvious that you still have fun playing, but now that you play guitar as a career, do you still play in your spare time just for fun? What sort of stuff do you play for yourself?

BV: Hell yeah, I love to play guitar.

I get up every morning at 7am, get the girls breakfast and make their lunches and then take them to school, and I still got about an hour and a half before Sam and Henry wake up that I get to listen to music and play guitar! I get yelled at a lot ‘cause I’ve constantly got a guitar in my hand if I’m at home, picking over yer wife’s TV shows will get you in trouble!

I’ve always loved getting drunk and trying to play along with my metal records. You know, faking the solo's and being all heavy with the chords, but recently I’ve been trying to work up a Minutemen-type of punk band with Roy and John C. in the off time, so I’ve been goofing on bebop scales and James Brown funk chords! It sounds pretty awful at the moment but it might come together at some point.

LT: Of all the songs you guys have recorded, can you pick one that you are the most proud of your part?

BV: I don't really know what my favorite Lucero part would be. Darby’s Song was one take and Ben wanted me to redo it and I refused cause it was so painful for me to listen through that song. Building the solo for Sing Me No Hymns was a very real learning experience and the first time I didn't just plug in and hit a bunch of notes to see what happens. So hell, I’m proud I get to play at all really!

LT: I’m not much of a “gear” guy, but what is your favorite guitar that you’ve ever owned, and why?

BV: My most favorite guitar was my Japanese, built in the 90's, Thinline Tele that I bolted a bottle opener to that I had stolen from First Ave in Minneapolis. I ended up trading it for a custom-built track bike, which got stolen 3 months later, go figure!

Right now, besides Henry, my new baby is my Perkins flying v that my friend Travis in Ohio built for me. You can see the entire process on his myspace page:


He's amazing. It's the most perfect guitar ever!

LT: Have you played guitar for Henry? If so, what was the first thing you played for him?

BV: Sometimes when Henry’s asleep I’ll pick the acoustic some, nothing but chords really, mostly d,g,c stuff just to be playing in the same room with him. We did listen to Black Flag Live ‘84 the other day in its entirety!


Richard Hall said...

Thanks Noah! And Brian!

L and G said...

cool, this great, thanks.