THE RISE OF TANYA DONELLY & TOM GORMAN
Introduction | Tanya Donelly | Tom Gorman
PHOTO: STEVE DOUBLE
|Her voice clear and hesitant, Tanya Donelly scatters surrealistic snapshots over jangly and jagged guitars. Folk-rock anxiety, '60's pop sparkle, and garage band raucousness reign supreme on King, her sophomore effort with Belly. Co-guitarist Tom Gorman conjures the Beatles, early Pretenders, and Ennio Marricone in his swirling, savvy approach, while brother Chris Gorman pounds drums and Gail Greenwood pumps bass.
Donelly first came to fame via Throwing Muses, formed with her stepsister Kristin Hersh. After five Muses albums and side projects with
|the Breeders and This Mortal Coil, Tanya declared her independence in 1991, later confessing, "I have become a change addict."
The Gormans, her childhood pals from Newport, Rhode Island, contacted her about forming a new band, which was named after Tanya's favorite word.
Among a galaxy of early-'90s alternative releases, few shone brighter than Star [Sire/Reprise]. Haunting avant folk-rock, Belly's debut set longetivity records on college charts and established Donelly as a briliant, albeit quirky, songwriter. Her new album is likewise awash with topsy-turvy lullabies, midnight confessions, strange, sweet harmonies, and exhilerating guitar tones.
Who's had the most impact on your guitar playing?
How has Kristin influenced you?
What's your favorite environment for songwriting?
Do you practice outside of songwriting?
How do you come up with different chord progressions?
Are you aware of the names of the chords you're playing?
Do sounds inspire songs?
Do you use different tunings for composing?
What do you look for when you're deciding on which acoustic guitar to buy?
Are you an advocate of light strings?
What's the appeal of the Gibson SG?
Is the Les Paul heavy?
What's your philosophy of solos?
What would you most like to change about your playing?
Do you work with a metronome?
What's your favorite amplification?
When you go onstage, what's between your guitar and amp?
Are you looking for other effects?
Which current songwriters do you admire?
What are Tom's strengths in the studio?
What would you have musicians learn from your playing?
Before Belly, Tom Gorman had made the transition from bicycling fanatic to East Coast surfer to punk guitarist with Verbal Assault. He co-wrote King's "Judas My Heart," "Red," "Now They'll Sleep," and "Silverfish."
Your King playing reminds me of James Honeyman-Scott with the early Pretenders.
How did the King sessions compare with Star?
What are Tanya's strengths as a guitarist?
The beginning riff of "Silverfish" has a kind of Beatles "Octopus' Garden" sound.
What's that pulsating distortion in "Now They'll Sleep" and "Seal My Fate"?
What's your best source for distortion?
Are you a gear junkie?
What's your favorite guitar?
What's your stage setup?
What's been the most challenging aspect of the gig?
Do players get lost in technique?
|The preceding article was originally published in the March 1995 issue of Guitar Player magazine. Reprinted here at Seal my Fate (currently) without permission.