Greg Interviews Cynosure (2019)
The third of five guitars created by Oliver Andrew aka Cynosure for 2019's RAM gallery has been inspired by Bloodstock's Saturday headliners Parkway Drive.
Q. You weren't really familiar with Parkway Drive before commencing work on this guitar. Did you find this 'blank slate' approach liberating or intimidating or perhaps a bit of both?
“I had only heard the name but almost didn't realise that the band existed. I'd never heard their music, didn't know what they looked like, didn't know their imagery, or anything. To be honest, it was such an effort. I have to say, in terms of the design process, it was the most arduous, lengthy time I ever spent designing a guitar. It wasn't just that I had no prior knowledge, it seemed like all my research just fell into a void because of the fact that there was no consistent theme. For example, they have no specific logo as such. It seemed like every album had a different font, a different artistry within it. For me there was no consistency, so it was very difficult. I submitted a few different designs. I tried to create a play on words with the band's name, trying to feature it within a Monopoly game as with 'Park Lane'. That was one concept that didn't work. It was, as you say, a complete blank slate.”
Q. How did you eventually find a way around this creative impasse?
“I researched a few of their interviews to see what their personal comments on their albums and imagery were, but it didn't really amount to much. There was a lot of focus on darkness and a lot of repetition of the word 'darkness', so I ended up designing a guitar which was very simplistic in nature but which was completely black. However, it was to feature several pinholes through which internal lights shine, like light shining through abyssal darkness. That wasn't quite the right result either, so I ended up looking up their latest album 'Reverence' which essentially features an image of hell, and I took most of the inspiration from that. So, I wanted to create a vision of hell within a guitar ha ha! I took the obvious example of something from within the earth - lava, volcanoes – this fitted what I was going for. It ties in with the medieval idea of the centre of the earth as the dominion of hell and up where the clouds are is the elevation of heaven. These ideas have fuelled a lot of history and beliefs.”
Q. The finish on the completed guitar certainly looks hellish. You could almost say that in a way it looks destroyed.
“One of the ideas I had was to put a blow torch to it but what I noticed was that because it's a multi-laminate, several pieces of wood together, if you blow torch it the woods tend to separate as the glue melts. The idea to get over that was to use black paint but something very tangible with texture you could feel, the bumps and undulations in the landscape of the guitar itself. The way I achieved that was to essentially use a sort of resin composite, pour it all over the guitar, and then turn it on its edge so it would create a sort of drip and sagging effect. From that point the lava idea definitely took hold and confirmed the intention of the guitar itself. From that point I carved into the wood creating channels and valleys consistent with a lava flow. I used an airbrush gun to spray oranges and yellows and reds, as you would expect, followed by more black to highlight very prominent areas. The oranges, yellows and reds define what is lit from underneath.”
Q. Does the guitar sounds as hellish as it looks?
“It's a two humbucker, one volume control creation, with a three-way pick-up switch, so there's no crazy electrics aspect aside from the internal lights. Like all my guitars this year it's a 25.5 inch scale, and it features Seymour Duncan 'Invader' pick-ups, so it absolutely screams! It sounds like it looks – the infernal screaming of the dark abyss! The pick-ups themselves are black, so it's a very black guitar ha ha!”
Q. You brought none of your own pre-conceived ideas about Parkway Drive to this design, but do you think it would work if one of them just walked out on stage with it?
“Yeah, absolutely, I think so. Judging by the way the guitar sounds, I think it would work with their overall sound for sure. Not just aesthetically, but musically of course. It's my take on the band and I what I think are their concepts, their overall package. Maybe it wouldn't 100 per cent fill their criteria or what they think they're about. However, it might. It's just my creative perspective.”