ROB OORTHUIS (Centurian) – It’s in the fingers
Rob Oorthuis is the guitarist and vocalist in the Dutch death metal bands Centurian and Nox. He started playing at age 16, he is a big fan of Mr Buckethead and the American guitarist Shawn Lane in addition to guitar god Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel. Rob is quite open in this interview and he is sharing moments like when "Hell at Last," one of the most well known songs from Centurian was completed while he was taking a shit. Here is Rob Oorthuis from Centurian and his contribution to The G–String Series.
When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?
I was 16. It wasn’t a band that made me want to play guitar, it was a friend of mine. He was older than me and handed me the latest deathmetal releases every now and then. I looked up to him because he was a real metalhead, the only one in my town. One time I visited him and I caught him playing his metallic red B.C.Rich Warlock, grunt-singing to his riffing. Something snapped inside me. Why didn’t I have a guitar?
As if I realized I was missing a limb or something.
What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani…who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!
I’d say feeling makes any musician more unique. Feeling cannot be copied, but technique can. The best of both worlds is Mr Buckethead. He has a great technique which he uses in service of his imagination and creativity. And speaking of which, I’m totally blown away by Mr Shawn Lane too. Another guitarist who puts his soul into his music is Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel. Not only his riffing and leads are great, but his compositions are unique and fuelled with feeling. Guitarists like Satriani never caught my attention.
What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?
It was a sunburst Kimaxe strat and I still have it. It was the only lefthanded guitar available in the shop.
Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?
The guitarist creates and/or destroys the quality. It’s in the fingers.
What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars…pick ups…amps…? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?
I started out with an old JCM800 in combination with an old Tube Screamer. After some time I was stupid enough to sell it. The sound was great, but I wanted the sound to be more tight, more crisp. So I bought a Line6 Flextone head somewhere in 2000. I still use it, both live and in the studio. No other amp sounds more clear. The only negative aspect of it is that it lacks the warmth of tubes. I tried a lot of other amps, but I keep coming back to the Line6.
Over the years, I had all kinds of guitars ranging from Dean to Gibson and B.C.Rich, mostly made in U.S.A. However, I stick with my black Mockingbird made by a dutch luthier called Zwier. It’s made out of a Warmoth body and an NJ series neck. It has a Dimarzio X2N. For years I used a Dimarzio Airzone, but an X2N has more output.
Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!
Actually, I recently just did that. I have my own signature guitar called the ZAZAZ333. It was made by a young dutch luthier called Vinaxe Guitars. I came up with the design and it is totally unique. It is a neck-through and has a black alder body because I want a clear, edgy guitarsound. It has a red flamed top, ebony fingerboard with enochian ZAZAZAZAZ inlay, a black Schaller bridge with fine-tuners, red Sperzel machine heads, one black volume knob and one Dimarzio X2N pick up. It plays like a dream. There’s all access to the high positions, the guitar has great balance. Contrary to what people expect, I can actually sit with the guitar.
Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?
I already have the band of my dreams! I really do. But there is one wish unfulfilled, which is making music with Buckethead. I literally dreamed about that.
Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you’re just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else’s musical themes…would you handle it not participating…not being able to express yourself?
Good question. To me, the greatest thing about playing an instrument is that you can express yourself through your own music! To me there is no bigger high than writing a great riff. I have always written all music for Centurian and Nox. For a blue monday, I helped Prostitute Disfigurement out as a second guitarist, just to know what it is like to sit at the other side of the table. It wasn’t satisfactory for me, I have to play my own music. I’d say there are 2 kinds of guitarists: those that want to express themselves and those that simply enjoy playing (any) music. I don’t necessarily need to stand on stage.As long as I can write and record, I’m fine.
Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?
I always have plenty of ideas which is a luxury. I need to remove ideas in order to complete an album. Less is more. Of course I walk into walls too. Sometimes half of a song is ready, but it is unclear to which direction the song needs to go. What I do is put it on the shelve. Some days, months or even years later the solution comes out of the blue. Actually, one of our classic songs "Hell at Last" was completed when I was taking a shit.
Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?
In a way, I am endorsed by Vinaxe Guitars, though not officially. Both parties are not into money, only into creating great art. I don’t think endorsements are important. People who want to make music will be making their music on whatever instruments they can get their hands on. An endorsement would not change that. Personally, I’m too much of an individualist to play instruments billions of other guitarists are using too. What use is it, being compelled to play on instruments you wouldn’t have bought in the first place?
In all the years that you’ve been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it. Please go ahead!
One time during a show my strap got loose from my guitarbody so I had to kneel with one leg on the ground to be able to continue playing. I thought it was really embarrassing, but the audience loved it because I didn’t stop playing. I fixed the problem with duct tape.
Ok then…thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him answering these same questions?