King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor is not into chops for chops’ sake

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 20, 2002

By Steve Newton

When I reach King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor by phone in Cleveland, he’s just gotten back from doing several weeks of guitar clinics in Southeast Asia, helping to promote his signature series of Yamaha guitars in countries like Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Most often, in the rock-guitar world anyway, clinicians are fleet-fingered, technically boggling players along the lines of Jennifer Batten or Mike Keneally. Not Tabor, though. There’ll be no flashy weedlee-eedle-eedl-ing for him.

“I don’t really even care about listening to lead players much these days,” he relates. “I’ve always been more into good songs and good bands—even if the members don’t play well—than I am into chops just for chops’ sake.”

You could get that impression from hearing Tabor’s new solo disc, Safety, a fairly poppy, Beatles-esque affair that forgoes six-string freak-outs in favour of simple melodies and harmonies. “It’s not a guitar album; it’s just a song album,” he points out. As far as King’s X goes, its latest CD, 2001’s Manic Moonlight, shows a bit of a musical departure for the group by incorporating drum loops and samples. At least that’s what a dumb-ass critic might venture to point out.

“It’s not just the loops and samples,” argues Tabor. “The whole style of the music altogether was just a different take on things for us, more funk, and industrial in some places. We were just experimentin’ as we usually do. I mean, each album that we do, to me, is different than the one before.”

King’s X has issued 10 albums since its 1988 debut, Out of the Silent Planet, the most popular being Dogman, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, Faith Hope Love, and its self-titled fourth release. While none of those CDs has gone platinum yet, cumulatively the group has sold millions of units. So while it isn’t that well known, one needn’t shed a tear about King’s X having to struggle to get by.

“We’re actually making a very decent living in what we do,” notes Tabor, who, coincidentally, has just gotten off the phone with an accountant. “I mean, I have my own recording studio, and we have other things going on too. But we have such a widespread fan base all over the world that it turned into a good living for us.”

King’s X/Ty Tabor fans can check the band out on Sunday (June 23) at Richard’s on Richards, where the opening act will be Vertical After, the local metal quartet whose 1999 disc, Pop Goes Death, was coproduced and mixed by King’s X lead vocalist and bassist Doug Pinnick.

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