YouTuber Anthony Fantano, host of The Needle Drop, was recently chatting with Dragonforce's Herman Li—no stranger to the six-string—about what made a guitarist one of "the best." And while Li's answer may seem like a head-scratcher at first, at closer look, it's the mark of a nuanced musician.
"A lot of people ask me all the time who do I think is the best guitar player in the world," Li told Fantano, "And I come up with different answers all the time. I say, 'Well, Kurt Cobain is one of the best guitar players in the world.' And they just go, 'Oh, my god. What are you talking about? I thought you knew something, Herman'.
"I say, 'Well, he inspired millions of people to play the guitar — he connected with them.' So, obviously, the feeling and expression is way more important than how fast and how much notes you can play in key. If you're a jazz master or whatever, if you can't connect with somebody, it's a different thing. Sometimes the simplest thing is probably the most important thing."
Li noted that growing up, he and his peers would look to outdo each other by regularly practicing complicated riffs and parts, like a skateboarder regularly develops new tricks and works at them continuously in order to top their peers.
"[W]e learned to do complicated stuff because when you're young, you impress your friends. It's kind of cool. You're flexing a little bit."
I totally dig the balance Li brings to the question of what makes someone great, which otherwise, is really just a matter of opinion, save for the few artists who enjoy universal acclaim. Li has a wide-range of rock related ideas, including the notion that rock isn't as popular anymore because it's "too serious." You can watch the entire interview with Li and Fantano below.