I played drums in marching band and I liked trying to play the rudiments on ukulele, but it was really difficult to get the same kind of speed as I could on the drums. Traditionally, when you’re strumming, you tend to bend at the elbow and you’re using too much muscle. It’s not efficient. The way I would play the drums was all in the wrist, with one hand over and one hand playing under, with the palm facing upward. That’s the posture I tried out for my right hand on the ukulele so it was more of a twisting motion—like twisting a doorknob. By doing that I didn’t have to use my elbow or my biceps and triceps muscles to strum. I got a lot more speed and endurance with a lot less energy.
I was playing a lot of acoustic guitar before we started the record. I went to see Tommy Emmanuel when he played here, and that was really inspiring. The way he caresses the notes is fantastic to watch. I went to see Stephen Bennett and he gave me a capo—a half capo for banjo. That was really inspiring, too. I ended up using that partial capo on “Bravest Face.” I had a meeting with David Gilmour when he was here. It was the first time I’d seen him play. I went back to say “hello,” and he was a very engaging, charming guy. We talked a lot about acoustic guitar and the power of the acoustic in terms of writing because it doesn’t lie. It tells you straight up whether an idea has merit.
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