When one thinks of the lap steel guitar, one typically thinks of country music, whiskey-soaked honky-tonks, and dudes like Speedy West and Buddy Emmons. When Milwaukee musician/producer Sean Williamson thinks of the instrument, he thinks of something entirely different. He thinks of metal.
Earlier this year, Williamson, under the delightful moniker Velocihamster, released a full-length lap steel metal album called Wheel Of Steel. It’s all sorts of awesome. Math-y, progressive, and heavy-shredding, it makes a surprisingly convincing case for a lap steel guitar (in this case, a custom signature model from Morrell Lap Steels complete with pickups from EMG) replacing your standard Flying V’s and Joe Satriani Ibanez’s. Want chugging djent stompers? Try “Prey” and “1.O.T.D..” Want licks galore? Try “Claw” and “Bath.”
Want to learn how to play it all? You’re in luck. In a just-released instructional “playthru” video, Williamson demonstrates how to shred your way through a standout Wheel Of Steel track, “Roar.” Along the way, he uses a Lakefront IPA bottle as a slide, visits that awesome dinosaur exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, wears a puffy shirt, rides the bucket of a front loader, and goes sailing. In your face, Paul Gilbert.
“Lap steel is an incredibly expressive instrument with a sonic reach that sometimes escapes traditional electric guitar, and I’ve always felt it has a place in all genres of music,” Williamson says. Watch Exhibit A below: