Over the last few days I’ve been down a rabbit hole of reading interviews with various post-punk guitarists. A Keith Levine interview would lead me to one on Rowland S. Howard, which in turn would take me to Gang of Four, and on and on…
Then this morning I woke to the news that Andy Gill had passed away. I didn’t find Gang of Four until years after Entertainment! had been released, but his choppy, brittle, chaos-bubbling-beneath-the-surface guitar playing and his resolute vision of what the band was, and just as importantly, what they were not going to be, had a big impact on me.
This quote from one of the articles I’d read only a few days ago summed up very well his view that the guitar was just one piece of the song, equal and no more important than any other instrument.
“The band becomes like a single instrument, really. It’s not that more traditional approach, where you’ve got layers of things on top of each other. Gang of Four was not in that hierarchical pyramidal structure. On those rare occasions when someone makes the mistake of saying to me, “Oh Andy, play us a bit of a Gang of Four song on the guitar.” I go, “I could do, but it wouldn’t make any sense.” It doesn’t really stand up on its own. It functions within the structure of the other instruments being there.”
Apparently he was creating right to the end, reviewing mixes for the new album from his hospital bed.