Over 150,000 people have already watched a guitar “shredding” duel broadcast live on Facebook this morning from A440 Studios in New Hope, Minnesota. It was a promotional stunt for tax preparation company H&R Block, which billed it as “the first ever guitar-powered document-shredding live event.”
Famed metal axe-man Michael Angelo Batio held it down on one side of the stage, while the other side featured Bibi McGill — best-known as the lead guitarist in Beyoncé’s backing band the Suga Mamas. As the two took turns soloing, dancing men and women in business suits shredded tax documents as well as informative messages and user comments.
“I’m looking at my fingers,” said McGill afterwards, speaking by phone from the Fallon advertising agency in Minneapolis. “They’re a little more sore than usual, but I had fun.”
Part of the fun, for McGill, was being able to meet and play with Batio for the first time. “When I was learning guitar,” she remembered, “I saw videos of him and it was unbelievable what he could do. No one else could do that.” Now a rock star in her own right, she said the live-streamed double bill was more collaboration than competition. “The only person I compete with is myself. There’s more than one way to shred.”
What’s it like to play in Beyoncé’s band? Needless to say, amazing. “Every night she’d call my name,” remembered McGill about touring with the music icon, “and that was always an amazing moment: to go down front to center stage and rock out with her.”
The “Tax Shred Live” event was a higher-profile online version of the shred-a-thons H&R Block regularly holds at branches across the country, encouraging people to shred their tax documents for security after keeping them for the recommended seven years.
Why Minnesota? Fallon was involved, and it was a central location. Being in the Gopher State, of course I had to ask McGill about Prince. She said she doesn’t think about him as an influence — “only Prince can play like Prince” — but she does have a favorite Prince song.
“He had long hair, wearing this Tarzan-looking thing,” she remembers about first seeing the young artist on television. “My whole family rushed in front of the TV to watch this guy, and he was playing ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover.’ I love all his songs, but that song’s just amazing. It’s in my head any time I think of Prince.”