Living Colour's Vernon Reid Shows How to Play "Cult of Personality" and More

by Guitar World Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2014 at 1:20pm

In this exclusive Guitar World lesson, watch Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid talk about the band's The Chair in the Doorway album and teach you how to play their classic 1988 hit "Cult of Personality."

Speaking of 1988, here's a piece of Guitar World's interview with Reid from 1988, where he discusses "Cult of Personality" and more.

GUITAR WORLD: How were your solos recorded, and is there a personal favorite?

"Cult Of Personality" was a first take, as was "Funny Vibe." "Desperate People" wasn't a first take, but none of the solos were stitched together. I purposely had our producer turn off my rhythm tracks and just send bass and drums when I recorded my solos. I wanted to keep a raw edge.

I like the "Cult" solo because I felt I was able to connect with the lyrics and feel of the song. I like "Funny Vibe," "Memories Can't Wait" and "Which Way To America" because there's something out of control about them. I'm not an every-hair-in-place kind of player.

How have non-guitar influences like Eric Dolphy affected your style?

Well, I don't play like Eric Dolphy, but technically, his incredible use of interval skips is something I try to apply, specifically in the "Cult Of Personality" solo. I have a book by Joe Diorio called Intervallic Design which addresses how to use interval skips smoothly.

When I studied with Rodney Jones, Bruce Johnson and Ted Dunbar, they had me play with a metronome on 2 and 4, which exposed me to the concept of swinging. I still practice with a metronome. Right now, a lot of people are playing very diatonically and modally. Even the arpeggios sound diatonic. I incorporate that, as well as pentatonic, chromatic and whole-tone ideas, and I like to experiment with moving tonal centers which I learned about while working with the Decoding Society.

How do you approach soloing?

My best solos come when I get into a stream of consciousness and there are no stylistic considerations like, "Now I'm going to use some two-handed tapping technique or play a hip bebop phrase."

There are times when you can feel yourself thinking things out, but for the most part, if you're in touch with your capabilities, ideas will begin to flow. What musicians don't realize is that as you play over a long period of time, you pick up a lot of things. If you could unlock what you've learned from the time you started playing, you would be amazed.

To read the rest of this 1988 Guitar World interview, head here.


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Living Colour Announce New Album, 'Shade,' and Fall Tour (7/1/2014)
Living Colour have announced a fall tour, which will celebrate their 30th anniversary. You can check out all the dates below. The band also has announced a new album, Shade. The group (vocalist Corey Glover, guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Doug...
Vernon Reid: Upcoming Living Colour Album Inspired by the Blues (6/25/2014)
Five years have passed since funk-metal icons Living Colour released a studio album. Apparently, the band has decided that’s long enough. The New York rockers are currently hard at work at a New Jersey studio, where they’re writing and recording...
Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 3 — Dimebag Darrell Vs. Vernon Reid (8/23/2012)
Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host ...
Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 2 — Vernon Reid Vs. Jerry Cantrell (7/13/2012)
Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host ...
Exclusive: The Young Presidents Premiere "Unacceptable You" Featuring Living Colour's Corey Glover (6/26/2012)
Late last year, the band, made up of guitarist Jake Hertzog and bassist Mitch Kaneff, locked themselves in Kaneff's apartment for "nearly four straight months" writing an eclectic batch of tunes they intended to record with a selection of guest ...
Interview: Vernon Reid on his new band, Spectrum Road (6/5/2012)
Out today (5 June) is Spectrum Road, the self-titled debut album by a new supergroup of sorts, one which features Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, former Cream bassist-singer Jack Bruce, Medeski Martin and Wood keyboardist John Medeski and o...
Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 1 — Dave Navarro Vs. Vernon Reid (5/31/2012)
Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host ...
Spectrum Road with Vernon Reid, Jack Bruce due 5 June (5/9/2012)
A few months ago, we told you about Spectrum Road, the new jazz-rock/fusion supergroup formed by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Cream bassist-singer Jack Bruce. The band, which also features drummer Cindy Blackman Santana (wife of guita...
Debut Album by Spectrum Road, Featuring Vernon Reid and Jack Bruce, Expected June 5 (5/9/2012)
As we reported in February, Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Cream bassist Jack Bruce have started a new jazz-rock project called Spectrum Road. The band, which also features keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin and Wood and drumme...
Vernon Reid and Jack Bruce Form New Jazz-Rock Band, Spectrum Road (5/9/2012)
Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Cream bassist have formed a new band, Spectrum Road, and their self-titled debut album will be released June 5. The band also features keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin and Wood (and Lee Ranaldo's...
From the Archive: Living Colour Guitarist Vernon Reid Talks 'Vivid' in 1988 Interview (5/3/2012)
Vivid is an excellent representation of Vernon Reid's distinct, versatile style. He unleashes "power rhythm" and a blues·drenched solo on "Middle Man," the band's first single, while the "Funny Vibe" showcases his clean rhythm playing and scream...
Living Colour Reunite (3/27/2001)
New album may follow Living Colour tour