Heel to toe to hair and hoof and it's head over heels and it's all but an ark-lark...

Interview with Robin Guthrie

  • By Matt Parker
  • Guitar World
  • 22-Dec 2021

“I’m not playing a guitar—I’m playing the sound, I’m playing the pedals, I’m playing the reverb.”

With a few stolen pedals and a drum machine, the former Cocteau Twins man helped reinvent guitar music. Now he’s back with a flurry of new releases…

Robin Guthrie’s tonal wizardry has had a revolutionary impact on guitar music, but it’s his ears—not the gear – that have always led his approach to playing.

For over 40 years—from his days as the guitarist, songwriter and sonic architect behind UK indie icons Cocteau Twins to his collaborations with composer Harold Budd and myriad solo albums—Guthrie has consistently chased the sound in his head.

An early adopter and self-described “nerd,” he fed a youthful love of tinkering with circuits and the anarchic experimentalism of punk into his guitar playing. Among the drum machines, synths and towering reverbs of his customized rigs, he built a new kind of world.

It’s a legacy that has continued to play out in the cycles of shoegaze and dream-pop bands that have perpetuated since Cocteau Twins’ early-’80s debut. Guthrie’s wider legacy, however, can be found in his forward-thinking approach to incorporating playing alongside programming, computers and self-production. Things that he was doing decades before the rest of us.

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