Blame Hoffman
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Blame Hoffman

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Punk


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"Valentim Bolivar Interviews Patrick Newcombe"

V: Which type of guitar(s) do you play (acoustic, solid body, steel, resonator, archtop, etc)? What is your favorite and why?

P: Of the guitars mentioned here, I do not have much (or any) experience with lapsteel or resonators. This is due to my playing style. While I am always looking to broaden my horizons with my playing, trying different kinds of guitars can often get quite expensive. I do use acoustic guitars occasionally, I have two. While I greatly enjoy the sound, I absolutely detest the feel of acoustic guitars. I find it extremely uncomfortable and the extra bulk annoys me. Which is why I prefer electric guitars outfitted with (a) piezo pickup(s) (it's a dealimobob that you put in the bridge of the guitar which picks up the actual vibrations of the strings, emulating a truly acoustic sound, rather than the signature sound of a magnetic pickup) of sorts to emulate acoustic guitar when needed. While I have used and modified quite a few archtops, be it a friend's or whatever, they do not fit my general playing style. I absolutely love the sound and I find they're great for low gain settings of sorts. I find that in a lot of the music I play, there is a large amount of clean passages that these guitars would be useful for, but the hollowbody design doesn't work as well as a solid-body when venturing into the high-gain realm of guitar.

This leads into my personal favourite type of guitar, the solid-body electric. Solid body electric guitars are a time-tested instrument that are versatile beyond belief. While they can sometimes be heavy due to wood type or size, etc. they are generally quite compact and are a pleasure to play. Providing that the guitar is a good one, and not some cheap knock-off. I find solid-body guitars very easy to modify (changing pickups, hardware, etc.) and because of this, possibilities are absolutely endless.

V: How did you choose your guitar?

P: Choosing a guitar is not an easy task. I have five... and I'm only 16. I'll be sure to be adding them to my collection as the years pass. Currently I have two acoustics which I unfortunately rarely use for reasons mentioned above. I also have 3 solid-body electrics. A Fender Strat (which I've modified in quite a few aspects), a Jackson WRMG Warrior, and a custom 7-string guitar.

When choosing a guitar, one must look for several characteristics of the guitar. Different woods all have different characteristics and this also leads to every guitar, regardless of model sounding slightly different. You must also look at the hardware and find what is best for you. If you love acoustic rock, an Ibanez with a Floyd Rose shouldn't be your first choice. Which is why I have the guitars I have. I personally specialize in the virtuoso persuasion of the instrument and this is why I own a Jackson. A Floyd Rose, EMG active pickups, 24 frets, etc. are all really great aspects to a 'shred' guitar. The thin neck allows for quick and agile movement around the fretboard, and in general, it's a very nice guitar to play. I have my Strat for just about everything else. Don't let the cheap knockoffs and Squire's throw you off, the Stratocaster is easily in the top 3 most versatile guitars made in the history of ever... You name a sound, you have the proper amp? You can get it. They're comforatble, they're versatile, reasonably priced and highly customizeable. I *highly* recommend that any serious guitarist have one in their fleet.

Another key aspect to which guitar to choose is the amp you own. I have a few amps myself, being a small Vox, a Marshall and a Mesa/Boogie. Each amp has their advantages and downfalls, (except for the Mesa, which only has the disadvantage of price and weight...) and you should probably ignore my short advertisement there. Regardless, they all have different tonal characteristics and react to different guitars in a unique fashion. Why? I won't bother explaining, since I could go on for PAGES about this topic alone. Nevertheless, it's important that someone takes caution in purchasing another guitar, because there are way too many factors that you should take into account.

V: In your opinion, what was the most difficult guitar technique that you had to master/become proficient in ? and why?

P: Now, I've been playing for 8 (almost 9) years on the guitar, and I've learned a LOT of different techniques. While I can't exactly pinpoint ONE hardest technique, I can definately discuss a few.

-Barre chords:

This is a technique that most guitarists will encounter early on in their guitar playing and will want to kill themselves over. The trouble is building up the finger strength to do such chords and this can take ages. Many choose to simply not learn them, but it is very important to know them, because they tie into much more advanced techniques later on.

-Sweep picking:

Possibly the nerdiest guitar technique, and one of the hardest to truly master. Sweep picking requires EXTREME coordination and patience. It took me well over a year to REALLY get the hang of sweeping. These arpeggios also are based off of barre chords often, which is why I strongly suggest learning these early on to know your chords and how they work. This won't make learning sweep picking any easy, but it will make APPLYING it much more tolerable.

-Advancing past the pentatonic and blues scales:

Not a physical techinique per se, but definately a hurdle that many never get past. If one is to only use pentatonic/blues scales, they are doomed to bore people for the rest of their lives, enough said. The tones in these scales are important, but lack true colour sometimes, and it is important that you learn how to apply the full major and minor scales and all the 'western world' modes (dorian, phrygian, lydian, etc.). There are countless scales and arpeggios out there and learning them can take decades, but they are important and can make your playing so much better.

-Various others:

There are several other techniques that are hard to learn that I will mention, but not go into depth on, such as: Chicken Picking, Tapping (REAL tapping, not this DragonForce/Buckethead Rigmarole [not to offend anyone]), Slapping, Popping, String Skipping, Economy Picking, etc.

- Valentim Bolivar - Dublin, Ireland


Various single demos.

"The Harbour" - 2011

1. Empty - 4:01
2. View From the Fence - 4:07
3. For Lack of a Better Theme - 2:34
4. Mundane - 3:02
5. The Harbour - 5:07



A devoted fan base and a commitment to musicianship have been Blame Hoffman's focus over the three years since the band's inception. They have a strong sense of independence, financing and releasing their own debut EP, "The Harbour", using local artists for the cover art, and writing about their hometown.

It was 5 years ago when the seeds of Blame Hoffman were planted, creating the roots of what is now the band. Cole, Zach, Patrick and another friend (who was promptly removed within a few weeks of starting) formed the band. Practicing in the school's music room at lunch, the now trio (Patrick was moved to drums due to previous experience he had) began to write their repetoire. Some of which is still played by the band today. The band kept going, relying on a pretty much 50/50 mix of covers and originals to get by. The band seemed to be going great, but the sound lacked something. Though the trio had excellent communication, it lacked depth, due to the limited songwriting experience the band had at the time. When highschool came around, the band members all went to different schools, but they didn't let this get in their way. Instead, they seized the opportunity and found themselves a new drummer. The quartet practiced as much as possible and they finally got their first gig worth mentioning. The four were extremely pleased with the progress and promised themselves to practice like mad over that summer. They didn't, and tragedy struck as musical differences tore them apart. Patrick and the drummer went their seperate ways and Cole and Zach went to carry the "Blame Hoffman" project on elsewhere. After almost a year, nothing they tried worked. No one seemed to fit. As an experiment, the two invited Patrick to come jam with them for a while. The original band chemistry that formed the roots had strengthened over time, reigniting the drive that the three have with their music. Patrick brought in his friend Ori Mesterman on drums from another project that he had and the two abandoned the other group because of the success Blame Hoffman seemed to be having.

Now a quartet, the band sees no signs of changing their lineup anytime soon. Drawing on influences such as Rush, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Dixie Dregs, Tool, etc., the band undoubtedly has been influenced by some very talented and worthy musicians indeed, though their original compositions remain firmly rooted in a 90's punk/indie aesthetic. They realize that the technical aspect is important to the band, but what truly matters in the music is the structure, melody and emotion within the song.