Saves the Day’s Chris Conley Plays Black Sabbath, Deep Purple + More Riffs
Saves the Day have crafted their own sound over the years, but guitarist Chris Conley reveals that like many artists of his age, he was first inspired by some of classic rock's greatest artists. In this edition of Loudwire's Gear Factor, powered by Sweetwater, the musician details some of the songs that first inspired him and which of his own riffs still stand out.
While Conley says he was initially drawn to Led Zeppelin, it wasn't just the cool factor of the group, but rather a specific reason. “The first time I picked up a guitar it was because of Led Zeppelin. I was playing cello in the orchestra at school and then I was watching that Led Zeppelin movie The Song Remains the Same a ton. Their music is kind of classical, so it made sense to me. It kind of worked out like that and I taught myself ‘Stairway to Heaven.’”
Conley says it was the "single note riffs" that caught his attention, leading him down a path of Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. He also gravitated to another guitar classic standard -- Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." “It’s one of those classic riffs. It’s a cool riff too that sounds like power chords. It’s a typical guitar trick, but it’s not. It’s fourths. A power chord is the root note of your fifth,” says the singer-guitarist.
Looking at his own music, Conley picked out a trio of songs that have stuck with him for their cool riff nature. He chose "Z" from 2011's Daybreak album, "Anywhere With You" from 2003's In Reverie and "You Vandal" from 1999's Through Being Cool. Of "Anywhere With You," Conley reveals, "It’s all power chords until you get to the beat up here. That’s a B down in a 7. I was learning jazz chords at the time, so I was throwing in little weird tricks.”
He also revealed of "You Vandal," "I like it because it has melody in it and it’s slightly irregular. The melody is just all around this half-step thing. And then the root notes change so it feels like a metal riff or something, but it’s got a cool melody to it and I like that it does this E with an E flat that sounds really cool to me.”
Stepping outside his own music, Conley says that he's enjoyed playing in a '90s cover band on the side, especially learning some of grunge's biggest hits.
Those songs are so fun to learn and play. "I really like the song ‘In Bloom’ [from] Nirvana," says Conley. "It’s really strange and a really weird riff and I might be able to remember it I think. That’s just so strange. It sounds like Gregorian music or something, like chamber music that’s haunted.”
The singer-guitarist then finishes the segment with a current riff he's been working on for a little while. So give that a look and you might be getting a preview of a future Saves the Day song.
Saves the Day are currently supporting their 2018 album, 9, but do have a pair of 20th anniversary shows for Through Being Cool coming up later this fall. And if you're interested in broadening your musical horizons to include some of Conley's picks, make sure to get your gear needs fulfilled at Sweetwater.com.
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