As I type this, our YouTube Channel (youtube.com/premierguitar) is approaching 30 million views (wuhoo!), and as you can imagine, it’s no stranger to weird-ass comments of all sorts. Everything from giddy requests for the “free gear” viewers think we get (we don’t) to levelheaded, thoughtful observations about the video subject matter to heated battles over which piece of gear or player in the video rules (or blows) to expressions of … er, “admiration” for the kick-ass women on our staff. Expressions that range from tasteful and restrained to so creepy you A) hope the commenter one day moves out of his/her parents’ basement and learns to develop a social filter, B) hope you never cross paths with the person in real life, or C) hope they are soon rounded up by their local police department.
We get similar stuff on our Facebook page, too, only it’s not nearly as bad because, well, people can see who you are there. But whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube, we can always count on certain hot-button players or bands to roil the waters—and trust us, we usually know well in advance which will be a thorn in our collective buttocks. We knew our Rig Rundown with Creed’s Mark Tremonti would brew up fresh battles about how he’s the best/most-derivative player alive. We knew our RR with John Mayer’s tech would revive debate about how he’s either the most sexist and misogynistic guitarist on the planet or the heir to Clapton. And we sure as hell knew a Rig Rundown on Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake would prompt some of the sharpest barbs of all time.
So, naturally, when managing editor Tessa Jeffers went off to shoot a Rig Rundown with Ted Nugent, we expected to get all sorts of craziness from across the sociopolitical spectrum. But … damn, we were still pretty blown away at how unhinged and uncivil some people can get.
The “Motor City Madman” is obviously infamous for his outspoken views on a number of politicized subjects. And we’ve spoken to players on the opposite end of the spectrum, too—players like Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco. And we’ve no doubt interviewed players who some people might find offensively apathetic toward issues of the day.
Trust us—we totally get the visceral gut reactions that various outspoken artists can elicit as individuals. Heck, we’re human, too. The funny thing is, you can tell from a lot of the out-there comments on our Rig Rundowns that the person didn’t actually watch the clip. Even though the players’ polarizing beliefs aren’t expressed in our vids (as was the case with the Nuge), it doesn’t seem to make a difference: Under the cover of YouTube’s anonymity (and, to a certain extent, even on the more transparent Facebook), a handful of viewers always attempts to hijack a comment thread and take it away from where it belongs.
Let us be clear: It’s about the guitar, stupid.
Of course, we mean “stupid” as a term of endearment … unless you’re one of those people trying to ruin it for the 99 percent of players who prefer wailing on our axes rather than each other. Sorry—call it “tough love” if it helps it go down and get digested more easily.
But seriously, even though we here on the PG staff sometimes find ourselves agreeing with various personal feelings expressed by our readers toward interview subjects because of their politics, we keep them to ourselves.
Because our number-one goal is to cover a wide range of guitarists and bassists and to get them to talk about their craft in an engaging, informative, and entertaining manner. Our strict MO is to avoid discussion of polarizing non-musical topics and to make it all about everything from playing and practicing to songwriting, performing, recording, and getting great tones.
That said, we will tip our hand a little to let you know that all this vitriol has made us think seriously about starting a new Premier Guitar video franchise that brings the cathartic Claymation of MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch to guitardom: The pilot episode will feature Vinnie Vincent and Ace Frehley attempting to javelin-throw axes through Tommy Thayer’s torso, and it will culminate with YouTube trolls battling to the death over who had the best/worst technique, tone, and gear.