The World’s Ten Slowest Shredders

Originally published in 'Guitar? Why Not?' magazine (March 2004)
© 2004 Product on Paper, Inc. Used by permission.

Bofatron Sofasaurus

Last month, in the pages of Guitar? Why Not?, we profiled the ten fastest shredders in the world. To say that we created an avalanche of controversy would be an understatement of titanic proportions – but isn’t that what Guitar? Why Not? has always been about? Pushing the envelope, charting new territory, and exploding boundaries? If you don’t believe me just check out this month’s Gear Gaze, Equipment Extravaganza, and Product Profiles sections for more of what you’ve come to expect! And this month we’re going, again, where no other magazine dares to go! Who will walk away with this month’s title of “World’s Slowest Shredder”?

We scoured the globe searching for the masters of dawdling doom, assembled a world class panel of judges, and brought them together at the Hoolindandy Convention and Civic Center for a weekend of six string shenanigans. Here’s how the judges were directed to arrive at their conclusions:

First rule: all criteria were quantifiable and objective. All considerations of taste, melody, style, etc. were left on the cutting room floor; these sluggish purveyors of parsimony were ranked only how many notes per minute (NPM) they produced.

Second rule: all candidates were required to play identical musical passages, namely, the A harmonic minor scale.

Third rule: all contestants were permitted to use a guitar of their choice but no effects were permitted and they all played through the same amp (a Rowdy 212/100 generously on loan to us by our excellent friends at Rowdy Rocker). Additionally, all participants were videotaped so that judges could review each performance (as needed) and, each contestant was recorded using a full- blown Pro Tules recording solution (check out this month’s fabulous giveaway, sponsored by Ardent, in conjunction with Guitar Galaxies, Spunky Guitars, Flat Plastic Picks, and Rowdy Rocker Amplification, in which three lucky individuals will each win a Pro Tules Digi-0h professional recording solution and a complete guitar rig just like the kind that Dorlis Havenbrook will use on the Mud Pie Honey Buns world tour this summer – see entry form for rules)! Now, onto the results!

10. Mike “Glacier” Carson. A few years ago we started hearing rumors about Glacier and his molasses-like mayhem. Mike came prepared and, to say the least, all in attendance were duly impressed. Mr. Carson’s stinginess on the strings garnered him the tenth-place slot and solidifies his reputation as one of the world’s slowest shredders. 44 NPM. Said one judge, “that guy is really fuckin’ slow.” Already a frequent contributor to the popular online destination shredasaurus.com, Mike hopes to parlay his new-found exposure into a recording contract. And, was that none other than Mr. Gavin McShufflestein, founder and president of Sugar Snail Records, giving Glacier the wink and nod? Good luck Mike!

9. Geoff Stilly Hansen. Geoff took time off from his hectic touring schedule, which finds his band, “Stalagmites on Wheels”, tearing up Idaho and the Dakotas. Ever since being signed to Wrangler Bros. in 1999, SOW has found itself catapulted into the metal limelight and Hansen’s incomparable style is definitely one reason why. We were dumbfounded not only by Geoff’s impish good looks but also by the sheer conviction he puts into each note. But, in the end, it was his score of 42.5 NPM that won Mr. Hansen the honor of being called “one of the world’s slowest shredders.” We think one of our judges put it best: “Hansen doesn’t just play a note, he gives birth to it.” Amen, Brutha! For more information visit www.he-moveth-not.com

8. Harold “Old Growth” Parmello. Mr. Parmello has been an underground legend for years (his first professional gig was backing up none other than Tissy Hey Hey Bermuda back in 1984) and he is a well known teacher in the Runkskin, PA area. From the moment Old Growth plugged in we knew we were in for something special. And, buddy, we were not disappointed! Eschewing flash and histrionics, Harold Parmello gave it to us straight and slow. One of our judges picked up on one of Harold’s tricks: “I knew this dude was going to break the top ten when he dropped his pick no less than 5 times.” The cat’s out of the bag OG, you sly dog! And just how slow is Harold, you ask? Try a solid 41 NPM! Nice job, dude. Harold is currently shopping his latest, independent release, “Reefs and Reefs of Coral.”

7. Yng ÷ 40, a.k.a., Bubby “Slo Mo” Ronson. In the past Ronson has been accused of being nothing more than a “creaky Yngclone parody”, as one callous writer charged, who derived his deft but deliberate fretboard moves from a cocktail of anti- depressants, alcohol, marijuana, and a non-existent practice schedule. Man, we’re here to set the record straight on Yng ÷ 40: the guy smolders without ever catching fire. He’s got a skill set to die for and the technological savvy to go with it – imagine our surprise and grudging admiration (“you got to hand it to him” was heard more than once) when he whipped out a nine pound, solid lead plectrum (it looked like a Stubby fused to a dumbbell) he called “The Equalizer.” Bubby and his “Equalizer” clocked in at a stuttering 39.5 NPM. Righteous!

6. “Gooze.” Only after the competition was over and the awards were presented did we learn that the man behind the moniker “Gooze” (sporting sun glasses, moustache, and, as it turned out, a wig) was none other than last year’s Runner Up Hillel Stropkjtszlick – who, a you may recall, notoriously “shredded” his second place certificate and threw it at the panel of judges. This year Stropkjtszlick was in rare form and set the audience abuzz by publicly hurling insults at Geoff Hansen immediately before the latter was set to perform. Judges contemplated disqualifying “Gooze” from the competition but Hansen just brushed it off and asked the judges to ignore Stropkjtszlick’s “juvenile” behavior. Still, one wonders if Geoff might have placed higher had he not been rattled, by the provocations of “Gooze.” Anyway, Stropkjtszlick attributes his rock-steady surplus of slothfulness to a daily dose of metronome drills. He claims to have worked his way down during practice sessions to whole notes at 30 bpm. Maybe he was having an off day because Stropkjtszlick, eh, “Gooze,” delivered 38 NPM which, while more than respectable, is a far cry from 30 (just ask anybody who has broken the 30 NPM barrier!). The most frequent comment directed at “Gooze” by our panel of judges? “I hate that fucker!”

5. Harley “Sledder” Purvis. Sledder (get it, “Slow Shredder”) returned this year and delighted everyone in attendance with a virtuoso demonstration in more ways than one. Harley’s performance was punctuated by a moment of carefree tenderness when a kitten (how did a cat get into the civic center?!) climbed the riser and rubbed up against Sledder’s leg in mid-sled. It was a Hallmark moment for sure when 250 guitar fanatics emitted a collective “Awwww” and Mr. Purvis, a master showman, worked the crowd by picking up the fuzzy critter and gently strummed his guitar with its little ear. All stage antics aside Sledder dished out a gravy-like 33.5 NPM. Whew!

4. Kris Karo. Our only female contestant, Kris Karo, best known for her supporting role on NBC’s situation comedy It’s My Dog, It’s My Life (Wednesdays at 8:30 pm) and, you guessed it, heiress to the Karo Syrup fortune, revealed her hitherto hidden talents as a guitarist, dumbfounding the audience and judges when she poured out a gelatinous 31 NPM! Interviewed after her performance she said “Yeah, I thought it would be cool to come down and let the whole world know that I can really play the guitar…slowly. It’s been bottled up inside me for so long and I just had to let it out. My brother taught me how to play one day when I was 12 and ever since then I’ve been practicing for like 10 minutes a night a couple of nights a week. It really feels great to finally get it out into the open.” Undoubtedly!

3. Mike “The Mannequin” Marsantelleano. If Kris Karo was all sugar and smiles then MMM (a.k.a. 3M) was here to kick ass and take names. All business, and characteristically edgy, this one-time member of Kickstandz (back then he was known as “Michael Manfred Marson” a.k.a., 3M) and, most recently, founder of the online instructional site www.ShredHooey.com, was flexing his prowess on a new custom axe built for him by the Phoenix-based luthier and all-around nice guy Nicky “Birdseye” Barstoolinsky. Mike got off to a bumpy start when two spectators taunted him with jeers of “Mick Mars, Mick Mars, Mick Mars...” dredging up, I’m sure, painful memories of the now infamous duel between “The Mannequin” and Mr. Mars at The Whisky back in 1987. Best to leave sleeping dogs lie I always say! Luckily, Mr. Marsantelleano has long since put the past behind him and dazzled us with a devastating exhibition that, with all due respect, even the afore-mentioned Motley Martian would find next to impossible to beat: 28 NPM. In the words of our head judge: “Holy shit, how slow can a man go?!”

2. Heinskits Velvet. Frequent readers of this publication need no introduction to Herr Velvet. Our resident tech head, Assistant Editor, and author of the seminal 'Tao of Shred' (published by Marvin Bey [isbn: A448767320]) did what he’s always done best: languorously and imperceptively slow scale runs. Last year’s Grand Champion, HV demonstrated yet again what one can accomplish through hard work and unyielding dedication. His score? How does 27 NPM make you feel? I’m scared! Great job, V – see you at the office on Monday! Hey! How about a raise, boss?

And, finally, (drum roll, please)!

1. The Slowest Shredder on Earth is: Torbin Knudscar. Known by his friends back in Skrutskaiplad Greenland as “The Torpid Torpedo”, TK became the subject of internet rumor a few years ago when it was widely circulated that he had pulled off the improbable feat of “4 notes per minute” (come on, kids, that’s just freakin’ nuts). Well, falling short of “4 notes per minute”, Mr. Knudscar nonetheless beat the hell out of every other contestant by bending (but not breaking) the rules of the contest. Allow me to explain: Torbin got off to what appeared to be a fairly all-too-human start when he peeled off 13 notes in less than 15 seconds. However, just as it looked like Velvet was going to take top honors, Knudscar broke both his B and G strings and, much to the surprise of everybody, I’m sure, the K-man dropped his guitar onto the ground and hovered over it in a state of what appeared to be total disgust mixed with indecision. What looked like capitulation at first turned out to be just the beginning because, upon striking the floor, Torbin’s guitar was driven into feedback and, despite an agonizing review of the rules and two appeals, the resulting feedback (lasting approximately 45 seconds) was ruled to have been “one long note” by a simple majority of judges and, as such, Torbin Knudscar was credited with having played 14 notes per minute! Had the Torpedo walked off the riser he would have been disqualified, but, since he never actually left his guitar unattended, his actions were interpreted as still falling within the parameters of “an eligible and legitimate performance.” One judge, who shall remain anonymous, was overheard saying “you gotta be shittin’ me!” Well, I shit you not!

Anyway, that’s it folks. What a weekend we had. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people. I can’t wait until next year. See you next time and keep your picks sharpened! Special thanks go out to Spider Ribowsky (not *that* Spider Ribowsky) for showing us a great time on Saturday night and to the staff of the Hoolindandy Convention and Civic Center for their professionalism and graciousness.

Bofatron Sofasaurus is contributing editor to 'Guitar? Why Not?' magazine, holder of four world record titles certified by the Helsinki Federation for the Proliferation of Dubious Musical
Distinctions, and may be contacted via email: whymewhynotme@kronosonic.com

© 2004 by Guitar? Why Not? and Product on Paper, Inc. Used by permission.

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