What attracted you to the guitar?
Andy Gill: One of the things I liked was the physicality of the guitar itself. It’s this bit of wood with metal strips that go one way and metal strings that go the other way. You press the metal against the thing, but while you’re doing that, it makes incidental sounds. The scraping, the sound of the finger moving along the string, the sound of the pick against the string. All those scrapes and zips, all those things mixed in with a little bit of a tune made something quite magical. Right from the word “go,” I was interested in the rhythmic side of it. You could play a single note and make a kind of Morse code out of it in a very simple way. When I’m coming up with an idea for a song, say, my starting point is often a drum idea—a beat idea—that feels cool and exciting. You want that excitement and it might come from a drum idea and it might be a pulse on the guitar.
Those ideas are something you hear or something you would play percussively on the guitar?
Gill: When I was working with early Gang of Four, I might say to Hugo [Burnham], he was the drummer at the beginning, “I think the beat should go like this.” He’d play that and then we’d move things around. He’d get a little bit annoyed because I was telling him how to play drums, but those Gang of Four songs were making this sort of tapestry: “The high-hat goes over here, the kick drum goes there, the guitar does this in between.” It all fit together like that.