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Brad Paisley Talks Guitar Riffs

Brad Paisley
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

After pushing the boundaries of country music with his previous album, ‘Wheelhouse,’ Brad Paisley returned to his roots for ‘Moonshine in the Trunk,’ making an album that had his fans foremost in his mind.

“Last time, we said, ‘Push it as far as you can, and if you burst the bubble, you burst it,’” he explains to Rolling Stone Country. “And then we did burst it. I have the bruises! But this time, I wanted this to be easy to love. I know what [my fans] want. I know when they’re gonna like something. It’s not that hard to write 12 things that they’ll love, as long as you’re a little picky about it. I love everything on here, too.”

Paisley wrote or co-wrote 13 of the 15 songs on the record. But while he is known as much for his musicianship and guitar prowess as his songs, he admits he isn’t thinking about any instrument when he’s writing for a new project.

“I write songs first, coming at them from a lyric perspective,” Paisley reveals. “To me, that’s what sets my music apart. I think there’s so much room for creativity right now in our format, because everyone’s singing the same song to some degree. We get the lyric right and the melody right, and then the guitar parts come. Guitars are the last part of the puzzle.”

Still, ‘Moonshine in the Trunk’ is filled with difficult guitar riffs that are as melodic as the tunes.

“I sometimes default to the complicated stuff, because I’d rather be accused of being too complicated than being too typical,” the 41-year-old singer-songwriter notes. “I always try to be unpredictable. I also realize that people have to warm up to [the complicated parts]. The first time you heard ‘Layla,’ I bet you weren’t humming that yet, and to me, it’s the greatest rock riff of all time. On first listen, though… well, it’s not ‘Smoke on the Water,’ that’s for damn sure.”

“You get into trouble when you start talking your eye off of the song,” the ‘River Bank’ singer adds. “You can have this riff that you think sounds so cool, but to whom? Are you speaking the language your fans want you to speak? You’ve got to picture that person as they’re hearing the song for the first time. You don’t get many tries in country music to hook ‘em for the first time.”

Paisley will continue his Country World Nation Tour next week with a series of shows in Texas. See all of his upcoming concerts here.

Download ‘Moonshine in the Trunk’ here.

NEXT: Top 10 Brad Paisley Songs

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