Mike McCready on Foo Fighters Chris Shiflett’s ‘Shred With Shifty’

In each episode of Shred With Shifty, Chris Shiflett sits down with a legendary guitarist and aims to answer a singular question: “How did you do that?” Each guitarist will give rare insight into the art of the guitar solo and what makes a great one so memorable.

Host Chris Shiflett starts things off with a discussion on the musical context Mike McCready emerged from. “If you didn’t have this punk rock background, then you were looked down upon,” remembers McCready. As he explains, his upbringing was less punk rock and more Cub Scouts until he picked up the guitar. He and PJ rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard preferred the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and after Gossard caught McCready shredding Stevie Ray Vaughan licks at a party, he phoned him up to start a two-guitar band. “I could only do what I knew how to do, which was play leads,” says McCready.

A major turning point came for McCready when he witnessed Muddy Waters’ performance in The Last Waltz. “It seemed like he could do more in one note than I was doing with all these thousands of notes,” he says. The observation led him to give up shredding and move in an emotion-driven, blues-rooted direction.

That spirit drives the soaring solo on Alive, which McCready cut with a 1962 Japanese Reissue Stratocaster, a Tubescreamer, and a Marshall JCM800. McCready reveals how Jimi Hendrix’s sounds on Machine Gun influenced his own performance. After the lesson, McCready answers questions about how Alive has changed over the years, Eddie Vedder’s punk-ish rhythm playing, and why he smashed a Strat onstage last year.

Best of all? Shifty finally gets a proper “guitar store lick” from his guest. Below you can watch the full video of the new Shred With Shifty episode.