Without a doubt, few guitarists have left a greater mark on the noisy underground than
Bill Orcutt. Casual fans might not recognize the Harry Pussy guitarist by name, but his
unhinged hardcore twang surely provided inspiration for many of the current acts handling
their guitars like weedwackers. As the life of Harry Pussy ran its course, Orcutt moved on
with his, taking a years-long break from his instrument, surely a necessity after the intensity
of his former group. Now he’s back, and he’s channelling his musical fury into a new and unique
form of the blues, hinting at the violence of Harry Pussy but clearly stepping ahead to
something less painful and more refined. Orcutt strums like a madman, his neurons firing directly
from his brain to his fingers in a spritz of melodic phrasing, truly the sort of one-of-a-kind
guitar personality who has earned a place alongside names like Richard Bishop and Derek Bailey.
He’s a busy guy, gigging around the world, and releasing records on his label, Palilalia, so it was
much appreciated that he found the time to answer a few of my questions here.

After Harry Pussy stopped playing, did you continue playing music, or did you take a break?
I’d stopped performing, though I’d occasionally play the guitar (six string) now and then.

When did you switch to the four-string?
I started playing four-string again right after putting together the Harry Pussy compilation for Load.

What was it like going through all that stuff? How long had it been since you listened to
Harry Pussy?

It was kind of amazing – it had been over ten years since I had heard any of it, so I had mostly
forgotten what it really sounded like.

What’s it like performing solo, after playing in a band for so long? I’d imagine there is more
at stake, in a way, since you’re 100% in control.

Yeah, it’s true, playing solo you can’t slack off, you’ve gotta carry the whole thing. I’m really
enjoying it though – it was scary at first, but I felt a weird compulsion to do it…

What makes you want to play music on any given day? Are there records you’ll listen to
that will inspire you to pick up your guitar, or is it just a great way to blown off steam? I
guess what I’m wondering is – what’s in it for you?

It’s actually kind of hard to find time to play because of work and other stuff – I’ll pick it up
whenever I have a spare fifteen minutes. Usually just being able to play is inspiration enough,
and I can get in the mood right away.

Do you usually improvise, or do you prefer to work on actual compositions?
If I only have fifteen minutes I’ll just improvise; if I can put together a longer stretch, then I’ll
try to work on something or record.

What is your recording setup like?
I usually just record into the computer using Logic.

I’d imagine that Harry Pussy received a lot of unfavorable audience reactions, just by the
confrontational and aggressive nature of the music. I’d also assume that when you perform
solo, most of the audience is a fan of what you’re doing, or at the very least aren’t shocked or
offended by it. Does that make a difference, just knowing you are playing to crowds that are
most likely big fans of you and your music?

It can be really energizing to play for a hostile audience, and there were some Harry Pussy shows
where we fed off the vibe from the crowd, but it’s probably better to play for people who like
what you do. That’s particularly true when you’re playing solo acoustic and can’t just drown out the

Is it somewhat of a relief to know that when you’re performing for a crowd nowadays,
they are generally quite eager to hear it?

Sure, though I’m usually zoned out while I’m playing. Nice to get some applause at the end.

Are there any current guitar players you find inspiring today?
I love a ton of guitar players – most of these folks are still alive, so I guess they count as
contemporary – Richard Thompson, Moris Tepper and Gary Lucas in their Magic Band stint, Jimmy
Page, Hendrix & Nolen, Jerry Reed, Robert Quine, Tom Verlaine, Raymond Boni, Pete Cosey, Billy
Gibbons, Mary Halverson, Fred Gerlach, Duane Allman, Lindsey Buckingham and a bunch of others.

What role does blues music play in your sound? I hear echoes of blues guitar in your sound,
especially on Way Down South, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was just some happy

Blues, Muddy Waters especially, was the first music I really got into as a teenager and what I was
listening to when I started playing the guitar, and I’d imagine there some trace of it in everything
I play.

When did you first get into more aggressive, underground music?
If you mean hardcore punk, it was the Let Them Eat Jellybeans comp in ’81.

Were there any local punk bands in your town where you were growing up, anyone that
you first looked up to? How did you realize that it was possible to just go ahead and do your
own band, regardless of talent or financial backing?

Dunno about local punk bands, but Rat Bastard was the key person for us in Miami, loads of
encouragement, advice, studio time, etc. Amazing and generous, just an incredible guy.