Wayne Rogers has repeatedly proven that it’s possible to stretch out on six strings without falling into sea of indulgence.
To put it mildly, Wayne Rogers knows how to create a psychedelic guitar solo.
From his days in Crystalized Movements and Magic Hour, up to his current work in Major Stars, he has repeatedly proven that it’s possible to stretch out on six strings without falling into sea of indulgence. In the hands of Major Stars, feedback creates not pain but intense, ringing chords.
While talking about his methods, Rogers compares his approach to music not typically associated with freak-outs. “I kind of think of it kind of like bebop,” he says, on the phone from Boston. “You play the head and try to tear it apart and put it back together in a way that makes sense.”
MAJOR STARS with TERRY AND THE COPS, ANCIENT SKYLLS. 8 p.m., Sun. Oct. 7. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Avenue, Bloomfield. $8. www.brilloboxpgh.com
The point of the music isn’t simply to play as long as possible either. “You take each song as an individual entity,” Rogers says, “and whatever the chord combination and the melody is, just wring every possibility out of it, as far as getting variations on it and find new ways to approach it within the instrumental sections.” In a band like Major Stars, which has three strong guitarists, balancing each of them takes some work.
Major Stars came together in the late 1990s after Rogers and guitarist Kate Village played in Magic Hour, which included Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, late of Galaxie 500. While their previous band thought nothing of stretching songs out for 20 minutes, Major Stars pared things down a bit. “My general way of working was I’d bring in two-minute songs and we’d jam on it from every angle until we figured it out. But things have to be a lot more finished now. It’s too many people,” he says.
The group grew to a sextet when original bassist Tom Leonard joined Rogers and Village on third guitar. In addition to adding weight and volume to the sound, the extra axe adds dynamics to the songs. “Kate has a certain amount of carte blanche to do whatever she wants,” Rogers says. “Tom and I definitely have to [think], ‘My section/ your section/ my section/your section.’ There’s a couple things that we play twin leads on. Everything’s got to be mapped out or it’s a mess. On the plus side, it’s very powerful when it’s working right.”
Rogers handled vocals on their first releases, but after a while he decided he preferred to focus solely on playing. Beginning with 2005’s 4 album, three different women have fronted the band, each with voice that can cut through the sea of chords. Noell Dorsey has been with them since 2016. The choice of female vocalist wasn’t a specific goal, initially, but something that happened naturally. “Once I started getting new material for that edition of the band, I realized I can write out of my range. I can write up an octave. One of the things is with the old Major Stars records, the vocals just kind of sat in the middle as just kind of a bumble. Now, it’s not just a bunch of guitars and some guy going, ‘Blah blah blah,’” he says with a laugh. “It really works. So it wasn’t ‘let’s have a female singer” per se, but once a female voice was in the mix, I thought, ‘This is great.’”