Lars Frederiksen has a CV about a mile long. Not only is he a member of nearly a half dozen punk bands — including Rancid, the Old Firm Casuals and Oxley's Midnight Runners — he's also produced records for the likes of Agnostic Front, Dropkick Murphys and the Business. But before all the studio hours and live gigs, playing guitar came first. A steady diet of Seventies hard rock eventually gave way to the Ramones and the wide world of punk, but some of Frederiksen's earliest influences came with him when he joined Rancid in 1993.
Inspired by Ace Frehley of Kiss, he rocked a Les Paul for years before having back surgery in 2000. "When you're doing hour-and-a-half sets, jumping around like a moron, there's a lot of stress that you accumulate over the years," he points out. "Hence, why I had to have back surgery at the age of 29 — because I was jumping around with a 50-pound Les Paul on my shoulder every night for ten years."
These days, Frederiksen uses his own signature ESP LTD Volsung DCS with EMG DMF pickups. It's lightweight and — true to his Scandinavian roots — it's got an exclusive Danish camouflage finish. "My cousin is in the army over in Denmark, and they have the best camo I've ever seen," he says. "For me, having Danish heritage is something my mom was very proud of, and she instilled that in me and my brother. But I also thought it was a cool camo that no one would ever do on a guitar."
Revolver is giving away one of these unique ESPs, signed by Frederiksen himself. And it just might be the last of its kind. "I think they're all gone now," he ventures. "I'm pretty sure the one that's being given away is the very last one."
For the latest installment of our 5 Riffs That Made Me series, we spoke with Frederiksen about his earliest guitar influences.
"Probably one of the first riffs that I ever heard that had a huge impact on me was 'Parasite' by Kiss. I was born in '71, and I probably heard Kiss for the first time in '75. I just remember how powerful that riff and that song was. It was jarring in a way. It's probably why I got into harder music when I got older. That opening riff is kinda what opened my ears to music, really. It's my first memory of something that was guitar-driven.
"That's a song that Ace Frehley wrote, and I was always an Ace guy. His solos, his songs — I always liked his voice. I just liked the way he played guitar, and that's probably one of the reasons why I played a Les Paul for so long. Subliminally, that stuck with me. And of course, when you're young and impressionable and you see these guys coming out with explosions and makeup and gnarliness, it's just mind-boggling."
"Another riff that had a huge impact on me and is still a favorite to this day is 'Gone Shootin'' by AC/DC. That riff, or lead or whatever you wanna call it—it's almost like a rhythm progression. I've always thought of myself as a rhythm guitar player, and if I ever try to do a lead, I try to do something tasteful like that. That's my go-to song on Powerage, which is pretty much a perfect record. And there are very few perfect records. The Ramones made a few, KISS made a perfect record, and AC/DC has made many perfect records. But Powerage is my favorite. I devoured that record when I was a kid. But it's kind of unfair to choose because AC/DC is the riffiest band ever."
"Even though it's just a simple, three-chord progression, that song made a super big impact on me as a guitar player. Jock [Blyth]'s whole style—the tone, the distortion—everything that's delivered on that song made an impact on me. I would've been about 10 or 11 when that came out, and just hearing it come out of the speakers was crazy to me. He's just hitting these open chords while the drums and bass are coming in — I don't know if it's exactly a riff, but it's guitar-driven music that was definitely an eye-opening experience for me."
"By the time I heard the Last Resort, I'd already heard Black Sabbath, which really wasn't my thing at the time because I was already onto punk and oi. But 'Freedom' starts off very melancholy and moody and it's kinda like a Sabbath song. It's minor key and spooky. The chord progression and the leads he's doing are all kind of in the same position, and what he's doing to fill up the space is pretty cool for the kind of music that it is. They were like skinhead Black Sabbath — that's the only way I can describe it. The style of it has definitely influenced my playing."
"I gotta hand it over to Fast Eddie Clarke — and Phil Campbell. I give them both equal credit. To me, Motörhead is the ultimate riff band. Most people would say Sabbath, but for me it's Motörhead. 'I'll Be Your Sister' was always one of my favorite all-time riffs because it's so out of the fucking box. It's this open string and then he's hitting those crazy bars [hums riff] ... almost everything you can do as a guitar player, he's doing in that riff — and it's so tasteful. To this day, I try to do that with my guitar playing. Fast Eddie is always someone I've wanted to emulate. I feel like you can hear his personality through his playing. It was the best of rock & roll, the best of heavy metal and the best of punk all wrapped into one. He was a fucking god."
Lars Frederiksen on his signature ESP LTD Volsung DCS with EMG LF-DMF pickups:
"I love everything about it. The tone is great and the pickups have a lot of body. The bridge on this is the best I've ever used. It's also super durable and very low maintenance. And that's important because I'm playing about once a week with all the bands I'm in, if you average it all out. It's the kind of guitar where you can walk into the store, buy it, and play it onstage that night. You don't need to upgrade anything. It's exactly what I would put on a guitar."