In a new interview, progressive rock artist Steven Wilson was asked about the recent passing of guitar legend Eddie Van Halen. The former Porcupine Tree frontman bluntly replied that he was unaffected by Van Halen’s death before offering a negative opinion of the guitar “shredder” style that Eddie inspired.
“Honestly, it didn’t [affect me], because I was never a fan,” Wilson told FaceCulture. “I know he’s an extraordinary musician, and it’s always sad when an extraordinary artist dies, [but] I was never a fan of the so-called shredder mentality. And I think in many ways, he was the father of that whole kind of movement.”
He added: “I never understood that ‘playing as fast as you can’ thing. And I know that wasn’t all he did — I know he was a more flexible musician than that — but I think that the legacy that he has, Eddie Van Halen, is in creating the shredder phenomenon, which is something so vile to me. That kind of idea that you play music almost like you’re playing an Olympic sport is kind of anathema to my kind of ideas on creativity and music.”
When Eddie’s son Wolfgang — a fan of Wilson’s music — caught wind of the interview, he expressed his disappointment on Twitter, but said Wilson’s words weren’t necessarily as cold as represented in the headline he shared. “Damn this bums me out hard,” wrote Wolfgang. “Been a huge fan of his for years. [Porcupine Tree’s] Deadwing is one of my favorite albums of all time. Although… the title is a little too clickbait-y, because what he said really wasn’t that rude.”
The comments aren’t entirely unexpected from Wilson, who just released his new album, The Future Bites, last week. He had previously made negative comments about shredding in a 2014 interview with Music Radar, saying, “Music is not sport! It never should be. Being able to play fast has got nothing to do with my music at all.” More recently, he dismissed rising rock band Greta Van Fleet, calling them a “boy band version of Led Zeppelin.”
Shortly after Eddie Van Halen’s death in October, legendary musician David Crosby took a lot of heat for responding “meh” when asked what he thought of the guitar icon. He later apologized, claiming he had forgotten that Van Halen had just passed away.
Watch the video interview with Wilson and check out Wolfgang’s response below.
Damn this bums me out hard 😞 Been a huge fan of his for years. Deadwing is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Although… the title is a little too clickbait-y, because what he said really wasn’t that rude.
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) February 1, 2021