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Ilan Rubin

Nine Inch Nails, Angels & Airwaves, The New Regime

"Music and the guitar are synonymous to me. They are what I do for fun, for therapeutic purposes, for's all that I do." See Ilan Rubin of The New Regime, Nine Inch Nails, and Angels & Airwaves talk about his passion for playing in this episode of String Theory.

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Ilan Rubin:
When I first became interested in the guitar, I was probably about 11 years old, let's say, and I didn't start getting very serious about it until I was 12 or 13. With two older brothers who played guitar and bass before me, it was something that was around the house. I'd see them play, I'd go, "Yeah, I think I could do that. [inaudible 00:00:56] teach me something," and then I remember one of the first things I learned how to play was a Day Tripper riff. Once I was able to play something on it, "Teach me something else. Teach me something else," I got the itch to really learn how to play it.

Ilan Rubin:
I had first started playing Ernie Ball strings when I was very young. More recently, I kind of started dabbling in the whole world of ordering strings in singles and kind of making my own gauge sets because I do a lot of bending even on the lower strings as well, and I use it as part of the way I write riffs in parts. So I thought it was cool to have stuff that was heavy but not too heavy, but it could also take a beating.

Ilan Rubin:
You won't hear me playing a lot of leads on an album. I love to do it and I do it all the time at home, that I'm bluesy stuff, rock stuff. I love to do it, but it's not the music I write and I'm not there to just shred on top of everything because who wants to hear that. There're already plenty of people doing that anyway. When I'm writing songs, especially for myself, I try to approach everything as tastefully as possible and what is required for the music and what makes the music the best it can be. But having those tricks, the same thing as a drummer, if you're playing live and you kind of have these little flashes of skill that you throw out for either entertainment or just you're being tasteful in that sense, it's the same thing with the guitar. I have a lot of that in my arsenal, if you will, but it's a matter of when you let it see the light of day that makes it interesting.

Ilan Rubin:
Music and the guitar are synonymous to me, and they are what I do for fun, for therapeutic purposes, for work. It's all that I do, so the guitar is what I have with me at home all day long. I always have an acoustic on the couch. I always have a bunch of guitars plugged in ready to go with different amps, and it's fun for me. It's creative for me. It's also work and it's what I love to do. So, whether it's writing or just zoning out and playing, whether it's learning, I feel like the guitar exercises different parts of my brain.

Ilan Rubin:
As a musician, I've always been very conscious of learning things that I found interesting, whether they'd be beats on drums, riffs on guitar, leads on guitar, stuff on piano, whatever it may be, but I think the trick is to make that useful to what you're doing. It's not about learning a lick or a riff, and then playing it exactly. It's a matter of learning what that piece of music is all about, what it's constructed of melodically or feel-wise, and then figuring out how to implement that into what you're doing. It's a matter of, in my experience, just doing it and just learning from other people. I think as long as you're aware of it, that's how you make it your own.