EVER DE LA ROSA / POLUX

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Polux: Facebook / Instagram / Spotify / Website

1. Tell me about the stuff in these photos: brands/models, etc. Are you using all this stuff live, or is this for recording too? Is there anything you’re not stoked on that you might be replacing, or adding soon? Anything that will always be a fixture in your rig?

My rig is used for both recording and live playing, except for the Strat that I only use on recordings on certain songs and to jam at home.

Pedalboard:

1. Joyo PXL8 Effects Loop Router
2. Electro Harmonix Superego Synth Engine
3. Two TC Electronic Flashback Delays
4. TC Electronic Ditto Mini Looper
5. Boss TR-2 Tremolo
6. Boss CH-1 Super Chorus
7. Electro Harmonix LPB-1 Booster
8. 1985 made in Japan Boss DS-1 Distortion
9. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

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The only thing I want to replace on this pedalboard would be the Ditto Looper; I want to get the newer Ditto Looper X2 that has separate footswitches to stop and play a loop instead of the mini one where you have to click a couple of times to stop and re-record with the same footswitch. Being the only guitar player in Polux, it will make it a lot easier to play with sounds and ambient noise.

I can’t live without the Electro Harmonix Superego Synth Engine, the Boss CH-1 Super Chorus and the Tube Screamer — they are the base of my sound at this moment.

Guitars:

1. Fender Jaguar upgraded with ’62 Pure Vintage American Jaguar pickups and a modified Mustang bridge.

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2. Custom build Strat, painted by me with 1980s American Stratocaster pickups and a custom build neck.

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Amp:

Kustom ’36 Coupe Tube amp, made in USA

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2. Which guitar do you like more? The Strat or the Jaguar? And why???

Currently the Jaguar, the scale length I do find a bonus, and the neck profile is beautiful, love the sustain and the overall sound, I always use the same pickup settings (lead circuit with lead and rhythm on and mid tone cut off) and have taped the switches so I don’t accidentally engage them while playing (hahaha), works awesome.

The Strat I use it to jam at home mostly, to get ideas rolling, it’s the one always resting on the stand ready to be picked up.

I also have an Epiphone Les Paul with upgraded pickups, I put a single coil on the neck and a humbucker on the bridge. The sound is interesting to say the least, but not for what I’m doing now, but who knows, maybe for the next album, I’ll get that sucker out and experiment.

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3. What are a couple of your particular favorite pedals that you can’t do without – and explain why? Are there any pedals you have your eye on?

The Electro Harmonix Superego Synth Engine and the Boss Super Chorus with the Flashback delay (need to add an extra pedal here), I love those 3 combined, love the ambient sound you can get with the Superego — it’s a subtle synth, that goes just a bit long and the Super Chorus gives it that sweet spot, throw in that delay and you have this ethereal sound, still sounding like a guitar but with a dreamy tripping sound, for us as a trio, musically covers a lot of dead spots that sometimes are not needed.

I want to try the Electro-Harmonix Synth9, I think it would go well with our current vibe, also the Thermae by Chase Bliss as well as the Empress Zoia — this last one is getting all my attention right now, can’t wait to get my hands on that one; it’s supposed to be available in the Fall, so we’ll see…

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4. Let’s talk about that Kustom amp: When and where did you get it? Does it give you any issues being an older amp? Have you tried other amps? Why do you like this one the most?

It’s a funny story, I actually owned a Fender Super 112 Red Knob, that has to be the worst amp I ever owned, at least for me. I could never dial in the sound I wanted, so I put it up for sale about three years ago on OfferUp, after a month or so, some dood send me an email asking if I was interested in a trade. I guess he had been looking for the Super 112 for a while (no idea why, lol), he said he had a 2005 Kustom Coupe 36 to exchange. At the time, I was interested in getting a Fender ’65 Twin Reverb 85-watt 2×12″ so I was hesitant, but took the chance and went to see the Kustom amp.

As soon as I started testing the amp, I was blown away by the sound, the sound on this thing is first rate — it ranges from clean through great tube distortion, has an enjoyable, ballsy midrange overdrive sound and respectable fat rhythm/clean tone, all-tube sound, not a hybrid. One of the coolest things about this amp is the reverb has a tone on it! There is a direct out (low Z) with a direct volume as well. And it looks awesome!

No issues whatsoever, this thing is solid.

I am currently looking for a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus to add to my gear, love the clean sound on that amp.

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5. If money was no object and you could buy any piece of gear for one of your bandmates, what would you buy them and why?

I would probably get Albert a Ludwig Breakbeats Series drumset. It’s compact, has a cool punchy sound and we can carry that sucker easily to all the gigs, haha.

I wouldn’t want to leave Luis out, so I would get him a Fender Rumble Stage 800. Has a ton of features, one that I like the most is that you can have presets and you can easily navigate them in between songs. And of course, it’s super easy to carry around.

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6. What’s the worst piece of gear you’ve bought and why did it suck? On the flipside, what’s the raddest piece of gear you’ve bought and why is it so great?

The worst has definitely been a Boss Metal Zone pedal given to me like eight years ago — that’s the worst pedal ever invented (for my taste at least, haha).

The raddest so far has definitely been my Electro Harmonix Superego pedal — that opened a ton of ideas and experimentation for me. To date, I keep playing with settings and I can always get something different.

7. What’s coming up for Polux?

We have a gig this Friday, June 8, at The Merrow; we signed with C&R Music Group for management to start getting gigs in Mexico City and Hispanic gigs in San Diego; and we are also currently recording the last two songs for our album coming out in August, together with our music video for our single “1984.” We are trying to get more into the Latino rock scene as well after pretty much hitting almost every cool spot in San Diego.

 

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JOAQUIN TORRES / FUTURE HUMAN

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Future Human: Facebook / Bandcamp

1) Tell me about the stuff in these photos: Are you using all this stuff live, or is this for recording too? Is there anything you might be replacing, or adding soon? Anything that will always be a fixture in your rig?

My main guitar that I’m using is a white Fender Hendrix Stratocaster made in Mexico.  And I run that into a Vox AC30 and run the preamp section into a Marshall 4×12″ cabinet (depending on the size of the show).

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The effects I use from [left to right; top to bottom]: Stone Deaf Tremotron /// Eventide H9 /// Boss Cp1-x compressor /// Zvex Loop gate /// Boss TU3S Tuner /// Empress Echosystem /// Chase Bliss Brothers /// Black Arts Toneworks Pharoah Supreme /// Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler /// Meris Ottobit /// Ibanez De-7 Delay /// Boss ES-8 /// Digitech Freqout.

I’m always trying out new gear and new stuff that comes out. So while this is my board that I’ve used for recording and I’m using live, there’s some stuff that will probably change, yeah. I haven’t really been using the Z-Vex Loop Gate all that much so I might stick something else on there. I’ve been really interested in Rainger Effects’ new reverb or throwing my Deep Space Pulsar pedal on my board and use it for my synths. If there was one fixture on my board I’d probably say it’s the H9 just because it can do multiple effects in one algorithm. I’m pretty happy with it but one day I might just redo everything and not keep anything from this board’s build, I don’t know…

 

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2) Your pedalboard is fucking insanity. What are a couple of your particular favorite pedals that you can’t do without – and explain why? Do ever wish you had a smaller board? Do you think you’ll ever put a smaller, separate board together? 

If I had to pick my favorites at the moment, it would probably be the Empress Echosystem and the Digitech Freqout. The Echosystem is a delay machine. It’s got a bunch of different kinds of delays. It’s probably my go-to pedal when I’m just jamming because it’s one of those pedals that is very easy to use and I’m always finding new sounds that can come out of it. I think it could be nice to have a smaller board. I’ve never been able to actually do it though. I’ve always had about this size of a board. I used to have a board that was just ridiculous! (hahaha!) It was probably 2 1/2 times the size in length and was double-tiered in the back row. But I mean, the shit was ridiculous to gig with as you could probably imagine. If I did go smaller, I would just use my H9, Echosystem, and Chase Bliss Brothers or BAT Pharoah……if I had to.

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3) Talk to me about that H9 pedal — I don’t know much about them except that you can program a bunch of different pedals/sounds into it right? What do you use yours for?

It’s an everything box of effects. It can only run one algorithm at a time, but some of the algorithms contain multiple effects within one algorithm. I mostly use it for big reverbs, big walls of sound, modulation, and pitch shifting. There’s even a song I use it to make my guitar sound like a bass in a part of the song. I definitely will be digging deeper into this guy on our new material we’re writing.

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4) How do you like that Hendrix Strat? I’ve never been able to bond with a Strat (I’m more of a Gibson guy). What drew you to that guitar? 

I bought it slightly used for pretty cheap. No problems with it really. I first learned guitar on a Strat and then went to a Gibson Les Paul, that I still own. I like both, really. Strats are prone to a lot of noise issues and tuning problems but I just like the tone of the guitar especially with the reverse bridge pickup and the feel of the guitar. But like I said, I might want to change it up for a while and rock something else for a bit.

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5) Talk to me about that Organelle? It’s some type of synth or sampler, right? What do you use it for and what do you like most about it?

Yeah, it’s an Organelle. It’s such a deep piece of gear. Technically, it can pretty much do anything if programmed. I’m pretty sure it’s like a Linux computer that runs “pure data,” which is a computer language used to make algorithms for like a synth, a sampler, an effects engine, a lighting controller, whatever you want it to do. I’m not super knowledgeable about how to build pure data patches but there’s a huge community that do that share these patches. Anyways, I love it! I use it as a secondary instrument usually, and that’s why it’s awesome: you’re not limited to one instrument or one specific type of synthesis.

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6) I’ve gotta ask about the Deep Mind: Have you played any of the synths that are similar to it? What are some pros and cons (if any) about it? If you had a bunch of money to blow on a new synth — what would you get?

Not many, no. I still have a lot to learn on this front. Coming from guitar, and the world of effects, and venturing into making electronic music, I became interested in synths and started getting into this type of sound design, even though I wish I was a better player. There’s a lot to like about the Deep Mind honestly.  The price, the voice count, the effects the semi-modular design. To me, it sits really nicely in a dense mix, and isn’t overbearing, especially when Matt, our synth player, has a Korg Minilogue and I think it sounds most similar to vintage Roland synths but it truly is a chameleon. I was surprised at how good you can make the thing sound for the price. I think it is super underrated.  Especially when you consider I’ve gotten tones that sound amazing that emulate vintage synths without even using the effects engine section or modulation matrix at all! If there is one con, I’d say that I wish it was multi-timbral out of the box without having to polychain it to another DeepMind, but that’s what I use the Organelle for usually.
Hmmm…That’s a tough one. There’s so many cool older synths I would love to mess around with and there’s always new stuff coming out.  But if money was no issue and neither was space, I’d love to get my hands on a Waldorf Quantum or Arturia’s Matrixbrute.

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7) What’s the shittiest piece of gear you’ve bought and why did it suck? On the flipside, what’s the raddest piece of gear you’ve bought and why is it so great?

I used to have a Line 6 Uber Metal pedal that was pretty bad. It was just too overbearing and it was really hard to find a place where it didn’t stick out in a bad way.  The most disappointing piece of gear I’ve had was when I was in a guitar-synth phase and I had a Roland GR20 and GR33. I could never get used to the feel of it. As much as I wanted it to sound good — and don’t get me wrong it was cool sometimes — it wouldn’t track very well and it would always happen at the worst times (hahahaha)! Other than that, over the years, there hasn’t been too many pieces of gear that I didn’t like. I’ve usually let go of stuff because they were either too one note, or my musical interests had changed.

8) What’s coming up for Future Human? 

I’m super excited to announce we will be entering the studio very soon to begin work on our debut EP! We also have a rad show coming up at The Merrow on Tuesday, June 5th (get info here) with Blacks Beach Boys and The Gorgeous Boyscouts — big thanks to you and 91X’s Tim Pyles for putting the show together!

TODD ANDERSEN / DAYTRIP

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Daytrip: Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: brands/models, etc. Do you run both of those amps in stereo? And what is that weird, old lookin’ one? Looking to add or change anything in the future?

My live rig includes: A white Squier Jaguar (with custom spec Buddha pickups), yellow Prisma Sunset Series guitar, Sovtek Tube Midget amp head with Orange 1×12” cab, and an Otis Amplifiers Trudeau head with 1×12” extension cab. The pedalboard is running a Korg tuner, into a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor (used primarily as a splitter), which splits into the Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic overdrive and compressor on one signal path, and into the Stomp Under Foot Violet Menace fuzz and Boss CH-1 Chorus on the other signal path. Haha, it’s a bit confusing — I’ve twisted my mind in knots trying to figure this set-up out – but it serves a very specific purpose. I run both amplifiers at the same time, but not in the classic sense of a stereo set-up — my intention is to have one amp always running cleaner and jangly-er and the other amp running more distorted and powerful. The Double Classic’s signal path goes into the Otis, to get that going with some nice break-up, but with clarity and sparkle. The Violet Menace and Chorus go into the Sovtek – which has the headroom to handle the Violet Menace. So essentially: my “clean” tone is the Otis amp slightly broken up and the Sovtek completely clean; my “dirty” sound is the Otis slightly broken up and the Sovtek pumping out the Violet Menace fuzz. In my mind this set-up allows me, as the only guitar player, to sound bigger, clearer and jangly-er (which is always my ultimate desire a Beatles, Tom Petty and Big Star fan…)!

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The unique looking amp is an Otis Trudeau, made by my friend August Graybosch. He wanted the aesthetic to be similar to a 1940s radio with some midcentury modern vibes … I think he’s been killing it with his amp design and aesthetics! The amp itself is loosely modeled after/inspired by old Valco or Supro amps — it’s 15 watts but surprisingly loud and clean. The amp head actually has a built-in 8-inch speaker, but for playing live it is necessary to use the 1×12” extension cab, which looks awesome as well! It never hurts to have unique and eye-catching gear (that actually sounds GREAT) — I want people to be intrigued by the instruments I’m playing, I think it provides another element of standing apart from the pack.

I’m planning on sticking with this rig for some time, the only change would be if I can find way to purchase a Rickenbacker guitar… that’s been my dream ever since I started playing guitar and following music. I really want a 360 or 370, because those have stereo outputs and that would be an intriguing feature given my amp and effects set-up. I mean George Harrison, Tom Petty, Pete Townsend, Paul Weller, John Fogerty … all played those Ric’s … that’s the sound that lives in my head and my heart … I must attain it!

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2. Talk to me about that Prisma guitar. They’re made out of recycled skateboards or something like that, right? How does it sound vs. your Jag? What kind of pickup is that?

Yeah, they’re made by my friend Nick Pourfard, who I met at NAMM a few years ago. He does indeed make them out of recycled skateboard decks. The Sunset Series was his idea to produce a less expensive version of his guitar that has accents made from skateboard decks, as opposed to the entire instrument. This is one of the early models that only has one pickup and no vibrato. The pickup is a McNelly Stagger Swagger — which he describes essentially as a humbucking P-90 … it sounds fabulous! So, it’s got a different vibe than the Jag — it’s got a chunkier neck and a thicker, more classic rock kind of sound. I really like the simplicity of a one-pickup guitar that just rocks. Plus, it’s fun to play a guitar that your friend built and to be able to talk to random people about it and promote what they’re doing.

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3. I’ve got a soft spot for white Jags. Let’s talk about the old Squier vs. Fender debate. How do you think your Jag holds up compared to the American or Mexican models? If someone was on the fence about checking out a Squier Jag, would you recommend it? Also, got any choice words you’d have for Squier naysayers?

I love the feel of the Jaguar and this Squier Jag in particular: it has a fretboard radius that is bigger than a classic Jag, but it’s still a small and fast neck, which suits my hands and playing style well. Whatever idea you once had about Squier guitars needs to eradicated, they make some super solid guitars for an affordable price, and they are perfect for modding. I added some custom spec Buddha Jag pickups that run a bit hotter than a classic Jag pickup — I found the builder on Reverb — and then had it re-wired with new pots, switches and jacks. It’s also nice having a more or less inexpensive guitar — it feels right to really dig into it and thrash it around; I hate feeling too precious about instruments … they should have scratches and dings and dents and abuse, that means they’ve truly been loved! I’d certainly go for a Fender Jag if one of the versions has the same neck profile as my Squier, but for now I’m thoroughly happy with mine.

4. Talk to me about that Joe Walsh pedal: What is that? Where’d you find it? What do you like about it?

So it’s a dual function pedal: It acts as an amp-like overdrive/mild distortion and as a compressor. You can choose whether the compressor comes before or after the OD, which provides lots of tonal options. I thought I needed a compressor in my set-up but have found that it’s not entirely useful to me in the live context — though I do use that portion while recording. The OD section is always on, pushing the Otis into jangly breakup. I love researching gear and watching demos, so I came across it through those means. It didn’t hurt that Joe Walsh endorsed it — I grew up listening to and loving the Eagles, and his and Don Felder’s guitar tone is ingrained in my musical essence.

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5. I’m always interested in people’s fuzz choices since there’s so many out there. How’d you settle on that particular Stomp Under Foot?

Matt, who runs Stomp Under Foot by himself and builds the pedals, is an expert on the myriad variations of the Big Muff. Last year I got really into Dinosaur Jr. and wanted to have a sound similar to J. Mascis … which means have a Big Muff! J. uses a Stomp Under Foot Muff, so I decided that’s the way I should go. It also further assured me that the Big Muff was the way to go knowing David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd), who is my end-all-be-all favorite guitar player, has used a Big Muff in his rig for decades. I originally bought a special Ram’s Head version Big Muff to use in DAYTRIP. Matt sent me a message though Instagram and said he dug our sound, and that if I ever thought that the Ram’s Head wasn’t cutting it live, that he would send me a Violet Menace — which is similar to a Ram’s Head Muff but with an added mid control. After a couple of subsequent gigs, I determined that my distortion sound was getting lost in the mix and asked if he could send me one. Since then, the Violet Menace has been kicking ass and taking names! The addition of extra mids really lets the Muff cut though the live mix, without being obnoxiously loud. I’m a Stomp Under Foot guy from here on out — thanks Matt!

6. If you had to point someone to a song of yours that showcased your sound/style the best, what would it be and why?

I definitely think our first release, “Coolly (When Hell Freezes Over),” is indicative of my sound — and serves as a kind of mission statement for DAYTRIP. It’s bright and jangly, interspersed with some sonic blasts of distortion – but never does it lose clarity. I want DAYTRIP to aspire to be in the lineage of The Beatles, The Byrds, Big Star, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Jam, Buffalo Tom and Teenage Fanclub — all of which exhibit big, bright guitars and catchy riffs and melodies.

7. What’s the shittiest piece of gear you’ve bought and why did it suck? On the flipside, what’s the raddest piece of gear you’ve bought and why is it so great?

I really don’t think anything has been “shitty,” it’s all served its purpose: if I’ve gotten rid of it, that was more due to the desire to improve my gear or just the fact that I no longer was going in the direction that the gear was meant for. Even gear that I love, I’ve gotten rid of… I’m always scheming a way to get something new and better! The raddest pieces of gear are the Otis amp and the Prisma guitar — nothing is cooler than playing something one of your friends made, and oh by the way, they’re top-of-the-line incredible instruments!

8. What’s coming up for Daytrip? 

We have our debut EP coming out very soon (I think we’re just waiting to get some CDs and general merch made, and then we’ll have an official release show). Otherwise, we’re always writing new songs, trying to build the best live set possible, and we’re digging deeper into the San Diego scene. We want to be consistently playing the top SD venues and playing with killer bands that have a motive and sound similar to ours.

Daytrip performs at The Merrow with Michael McGraw and Retra on Tuesday, April 24, as part of a local-music showcase hosted by 91X Loudspeaker’s Tim Pyles.

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SATELLITE AMPLIFIERS

Since Gear and Loathing is, by and large, about local musicians and their gear, I’ve never run a profile on an area shop. Mainly because I didn’t put this site together as a tool to sell stuff for stores, etc. However, my buddy – Rodrigo Espinoza (videographer) – was at Satellite Amplifiers’ new(ish) storefront (1322 Gertrude St.) the other day and sent me a bunch of great photos. Since they’re constantly building some of the finest amps/guitars around, I figured I’d share the pics without further commentary. If you want to know more about them and their products, hit them up on their Facebook page, visit their website, or stop into their shop. – Dustin

JOHN VINEYARD / THE OXEN

 

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The Oxen: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud

1. Take me through your rig: You’ve got some really cool stuff – how’d you end up using what you do?

I’ve accumulated a lot of equipment, and a lot of junk, over the past 25 years! Some of my pedals were recommended by the other guitar player in my old band (El Gato) from Denton/Dallas, TX. We started in the mid-‘90s, so there were no internet reviews or YouTube demos. His guitar always sounded better than mine, so I just took his word for it on a lot of stuff. These days, I do some research online and peek at other people’s gear if I think their guitar sounds good.

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2. How did you end up with that Jaguar? What model is that? And give me the backstory on the Texas sticker…

I got that Jaguar new at a guitar show in Dallas back in the mid-’90s. It was made in 1994-95 in Japan. I recently put some Curtis Novak pickups in it, which I like way better than the stock pickups. I also got a modified Mustang bridge which has solved the problem of strings jumping into the wrong groove on the saddles when I play hard.

Aside from being from Texas, the flag sticker idea was inspired by (or stolen from!) one of my favorite guitar players, Chris “Frenchie” Smith, of the Austin band Sixteen Deluxe. He plays at high volume with a reckless enthusiasm that I love. He has an American flag sticker in that spot on his Jazzmaster, so I guess I put that Texas flag sticker on my guitar as a constant reminder that it is more important to play fearlessly and expressively than to be timid and technically “perfect.”

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3. I used to have Musicman head that I loved, so I’m way into that combo you have. What drew you to the Sixty-Five?

I really love my Musicman 210 Sixty-Five. I played a Vox AC30 for a long time, and I do still have it. My Vox is from 1985, and it has a darker sound than a lot of the more desirable AC30s. Recently, I started wanting an amp that would give me more of a twang sound, and I was researching Fender Twins. A lot of people were recommending vintage Musicman amps as a less expensive alternative. I found this one on craigslist for $400, and jumped on it. I’m super happy with it, and I’ve pretty much been using the Musicman live, but I use both amps for recording.

4. Love your pedalboard: What’s the one effect you use the most?

The effect I use the most is probably my Death By Audio Fuzz War. It’s my favorite distortion pedal that I have ever owned.

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5. I’ve heard mixed reviews on those Dunlop Tremelo pedals. Give me your quick review of it. Also, that big-box Memory Man looks like a slightly older one — late-‘80s/early-‘90s before the reissues? Totally drool-worthy. What do you like most about it?

The Dunlop Tremolo works fine for me, and I’ve had it for about 20 years. There was a time when I couldn’t get it to go as fast as it originally did, but some friendly elves must have come and secretly fixed it one night because it started working again. I think there are less expensive alternatives that work just as well or better, but that’s what I got. It takes up a lot of room – like the Memory Man – which is also about 20 years old. I can do some fun stuff with the chorus effect on the Memory Man when recording, but live, I pretty much use it as a straight delay.

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6. If you could get one piece of gear for one of your bandmates as a gift — what would you get, who would it be for, and why?

I think I would get Jozette a giant Orange Amps full stack that would tower over her. She loves those amps, and I think it would be fun to see such a tiny woman with such a giant rig. Of course, I would wind up loading and unloading it, so maybe I should rethink that…

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7. What’s your favorite Oxen song to play live and why?

Probably “Glass Pastures” just because it’s weird and has a lot of fun little parts.

See The Oxen at The Merrow on Saturday, Feb. 17, with Nowhereland and Sweet Myths. They’re also up for Best Rock Band at the 2018 San Diego Music Awards (vote for them here)

MARK SEAN / BLACK HEART SAINTS

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Black Heart Saints: Facebook / Website / Instagram / Twitter

1. Tell me about your guitars.

Fender Telecaster: I use this guitar for songs in standard tuning. It’s got a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the bridge for some extra oomph.

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Gibson Les Paul: This guitar is used for songs in Drop C — and also has a secret weapon, a 15dB boost switch.

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Moniker Dixie: Custom guitar that I designed with the Moniker Guitars team in Austin, TX. I keep it in Drop C tuning.

2. That Moniker guitar looks killer. How’d you come into possession of that and what separates it most from the Les Paul and Tele that you use?

The Moniker Dixie is a very special guitar because it marks the beginning of my relationship with Moniker Guitars, a company based here in Austin that I endorse. I worked with the team to build the guitar exactly to my specs. I always liked the classic look of the Tele body, but I wanted to beef it up with some Seymour Duncan Distortion pickups.

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3. Talk to me about these wild guitar finishes on the LP and the Tele! Are they custom? 

The finishes were actually put on at the factory, but the interesting thing is that for both guitars, the patterns are unique. I picked up the Les Paul at Sweetwater Gear Fest in Fort Wayne, Indiana. People have come up to me after shows and told me that it looks like everything from blue cheese to fancy bathroom tile.

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4. I’m drooling over that Jubilee. Is that a reissue? Have you had a chance to compare it to other Marshall amps? I’ve always been curious if they sound much different than a Plexi or a JMP?

I was drawn to Marshall initially because some of my favorite guitarists were always known as Marshall guys — Slash, Tom Morello. I’ve always lusted over Marshall’s Silver Jubilee. The original was released in 1987, but the one I have is a reissue from 2015. It’s a lot like the JCM 800, but with extra gain. It’s got a cutting, mid-range tone that works great for the hard rock sound that Black Heart Saints require. I’m interested in getting a power attenuator so I can really crank it up at club shows.

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5. What’s your thoughts on the Zoom G3?

I use the Zoom G3 for three uses: a noise gate, pitch shifter (+1 octave), and a boost. I won it in a contest that Guitar Center sponsored. My band at the time got to open for Slash and Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, and we also got a badass prize package. I’m very thankful for having the opportunity to open for Slash twice (most recently with Black Heart Saints).

6. If you had to point someone to a song of yours that showcased your sound/style the best, what would it be and why?

A song called “Call to Arms” has been a recent favorite of mine. It came out last year on our album ALIVE. It’s a killer track because it features the catchy riffs that I’ve been known to lean on, but also highlights the groove that I think is missing in hard rock today.

7. What’s the shittiest piece of gear you’ve bought and why did it suck? On the flipside, what’s the raddest piece of gear you’ve bought and why is it so great?

I love my Les Paul, but I have to be honest that I’m not too thrilled with the G-Force tuning mechanism (otherwise known as a robo-tuner). I’ve found that it can be unreliable at times, especially when trying to tune in lower tunings like Drop C.

8. What’s coming up for Black Heart Saints?

We have a music video in the works that we’re slated to shoot right after our Winter Tour 2018. Then after that, we plan to get back to the studio to work on some new material. This band is always doing something productive, and I love to stay busy — if we’re not on the road, then we’re either in the studio or working on something special.

Black Heart Saints perform at The Merrow on Wednesday, Jan. 24th.

DEAN PRIMICIAS / BE MINE PHANTOM VALENTINE

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Be Mine Phantom Valentine: Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

1. Take me through your rig: What do you primarily play during shows? Do you bring all this stuff out or pair it down?

Yes, all the gear is set up for shows — well, except for the baby grand. My brother’s first go-to instrument when he was younger was the piano and he played a lot of classical music like Beethoven and Chopin. Its great for making arrangements. You can create bass, rhythm, and lead and to think that composers created whole symphonies on this. Although its an amazing instrument, it doesn’t make it out to the shows.

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2. Talk to me about your synths! Why do you have those two in particular? Which do you find yourself gravitating toward playing more?

I have been a fan of Korg synths. They are pretty affordable and you get a lot of bang for your buck. They are also small enough to fit in tight places. We are mostly guitar-driven so the idea of having a small synth that can do the trick is appealing. The Microkorg does create a wide variety of sounds and I could see how it gets usage by a lot of popular bands like The Killers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. You can get pretty big sounds out of this little box with black and white keys and create and store patches easily. Plus, there are some cool presets already. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are going for a good electric piano or piano sound, but we have songs like “Instant Radio” and “Broken Love,” where Wes [BMPV’s other guitarist] plays these really cool wicked organ sounds for parts at a time. The MS-20 Mini is quite different to the Microkorg. It’s a monophonic all-analog synth. I like listening to some of the music that came out of the ‘80s new wave era, where analog synths were widely used. I think the MS-20 Mini does a pretty good job at creating those sounds and can get pretty deep bass. It does seem like there is a resurgence of analog synthesizers and some companies have been reviving old and creating new analog gear. Out of the two synths, I would prefer the Microkorg because you can get a wide variety of sounds and they can be a lotta fun.

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3. Which model Vox is that? And is that a Johnny Marr Jaguar? What do you like most about it? Did anything inspire you to pick those up?

This particular model is the Vox AC30 TB which I believe stands for top boost. I’m not sure if they make these anymore but these have the Blue Celestions, which make a nice warm tone with a healthy mid-range. I have owned Fender tube amps which I really like a lot, you can’t really go wrong with some of the Fender classics or reissues. Wes plays out of a Fender Twin Reverb and it sounds great for recording and live. I just found for me that the AC30 was warmer and could capture some of the lower ranges a little better. Yes, the Jaguar is the Johnny Marr signature model. I spent a lot of time at the guitar shop playing around with different guitars. I found that this guitar felt good and was a good match. It is versatile and, for me, had a creative feel to it which is important when writing music. It has two single-coil pickups but a setting where you can combine them to have a humbucker effect. It also has some boost and treble switches on it, which is really nice. Johnny Marr is one of the pioneers and arguably one of those musicians who started “indie-rock.” I listen to a lot of The Smiths. It was pretty much the album “The Queen is Dead” which made me say, “I have got to learn how to play the guitar.” He created some great music throughout the decades and I’ve kept up with a lot of his music. So in that case, it was hard not to pass up on a guitar that was designed by Johnny Marr.

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4. Very impressive pedalboard! I’ve got an old big box Memory Man too and I’ll never sell it. Do you notice a big difference between the tone/feel of the Boss delay and the DMM? Do you prefer one to the other?

Nice, I agree with you — not for sale. It could be one of those that you regret later. The Memory Man and DD7 are both delay pedals that can do similar things but have their differences. The Memory Man has a warmer and organic sound. The Boss DD7 has a brighter sound to it and seems to respond quicker. I like to use them both but regularly use the Memory Man and then use the DD7 for certain effects for parts of songs for the effects. It can create some psychedelic sounds with the reverse delay too. Although I feel that they combine well together and if I had to choose one, I would probably go with the Memory Man.

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5. If there was one piece of gear you could buy yourself (and money was no issue), what would you get?

Rickenbacker 330, black and white.

6. What does Be Mine Phantom Valentine got going on right now?

We are currently creating new music that we are really excited about! And just started shooting some videos. They should go up soon on our sites. We also finished enough songs to look into recording our music, so definitely stay tuned!

PETER DUFF / HARD TO HIT

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Hard to Hit: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website

1. Hey Peter, talk me through your live rig: Why is that Mesa amp your No. 1? I’m surprised not to see any modulation or delay/reverb effects on your board. What else would you add if you had the option? 

I decided to go with the Mesa 5:25 Express + for live for a few reasons. First and foremost, it just sounds the best for the kinds of heavy (but not too heavy) tones I’m going for, but also because of its flexibility and because it packs a ton of features into a head that will be easy to move around and keep in good shape. It has enough foot-switchable options that I was able to keep my pedalboard simple, which was important to me because for this band I decided I wanted to be able to focus more on playing and having a good time than setting up a complicated rig, and having extra patch cables, etc. to worry about. In addition to switching between a high and low-gain channel, it also lets me have foot-switchable reverb, two foot-switchable EQs per channel (the graphic EQ and the preset EQ knob which is a nice sounding midscoop) and also a foot-switchable boost. All that saves me 3 or 4 pedals on my board, which means I can keep it small in the one briefcase and I don’t have to use the effects loop since everything on the board is in front of the amp so that’s fewer cables to have to set up, trip over, or break.

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I didn’t bother with modulation, delay, or pedal reverb on this board because as of right now, the songs we’re playing don’t really call for it. There’s definitely a few spots where I would normally use my Carbon Copy a little bit, but not so much that I wanted to add the complexity or the tap dancing. I could definitely see changing it up and adding the Carbon Copy, Timeline, and Moore modulation pedal in the future if we end up using more effects for our next album. In which case I’d think about finding a smaller volume pedal, tuner, and/or power supply to free up some space.

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2. How did you settle on both an SG and a Tele?

All our songs right now are in drop D except one in drop C, so I’m using the Tele for the bulk of them and the SG for the one drop C song. Ironically, the Tele is the cheapest guitar I own, but somehow it just feels the best to play; the weight and balance is nice, the neck is fast, and I like the look of it. I swapped out the stock Fender humbucker in the bridge for a Seymour Duncan SH4JB and it sounds great. The SG handles the lower tuning the best out of all my guitars and it’s my second favorite, so it was an obvious choice.

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3. Out of all the effects you used on the record, which one got the most use and why? Were there any other effects you wish you had on-hand that you would’ve used?

The other pedals that got used the most on the record were the Tube Screamer and EQ. They were on pretty much the whole time, pushing our other guitar player’s amp a bit more for one of the main guitar tracks. I think I used a little Carbon Copy and reverb from the Strymon Blue Sky here and there, but for the most part, our guitar tones are pretty much straight-forward gain.

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4. Talk to me about the extra amps in this pic…what’d you use ’em for?

The other amps are a 1964 Ampeg Jet J-12, Peavey 6505 Mini Head, and Fender ’94 Twin (not to be confused with a Twin Reverb, this one has two drives that are actually pretty cool). I was planning on using the Peavey for the main guitar doubles, but our other guitar player’s Peavey XXX won out. I actually used the Fender for all the leads since its drive has a nice mid-range bite that compliments the mid-scooped Mesa and Peavey well. The Ampeg unfortunately didn’t make it onto the EP since I mainly use it for cleans or light bluesy drive, but it gets used in the studio all the time.

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5. You guys have a new EP coming out — how did the recording process go? Who did you work with and where did you record it? 

In addition to playing in the band, I’m actually a full-time professional engineer, so I recorded most of it at my studio: The Grey Brick Recording Studio. Two of the songs were recorded up at Catacomb in Orange County last year before I joined the band, but we ended up making some changes to those songs so the only part of those recordings we really kept was the drums; everything else for the five songs I recorded, mixed, and mastered.

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6. If you got to buy ANY piece of gear for one of your band mates, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard one since we’ve all got our rigs pretty well dialed in right now. Our bass player just got a new P-Bass and has a great Amgeg SVT and cab, our other guitar player’s Peavey XXX and Tele sound great, and our drummer just refinished his kit. Really the best thing for the band would probably be nice in-ear monitors. I just got some Shure SE315s which are awesome and some of the other guys are just using normal earbuds. Not the sexiest answer, but hearing protection is important, kids!

7. Besides the EP release show at SOMA on Friday, December 1st, what else does Hard to Hit have coming up?

The release is definitely the biggest news, it’s been almost a year since Hard to Hit has played because of some changes to the lineup and we decided to just focus on the EP before getting back out on stage, so this will actually be the first show back with the new lineup. We will also be releasing a video the same day. The following weekend, we will be doing a short run up to Bakersfield, Grover Beach, and one other city that’s still TBD. We will have another local show in February and we’re planning on a bigger West Coast tour for March.

THE PARKER MERIDIEN

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The Parker Meridien: Bandcamp

1. First off, who’s in The Parker Meridien and how did the group come together?

Nathan Hubbard: Parker Edison and myself first worked together on the live video for his “Apefood” single. After that, he contacted me about putting together a group to perform music from his release “The Parker Meridien” EP, and Parker Meridien is the resulting group. Currently the lineup is Parker Edison on vocals, John Rieder on bass and myself on drums and production. As we rehearsed and performed this music, I started throwing hooks and music at Parker, he wrote verses and more hooks, and we started adding these to the set. So we ended up with a set that is one-quarter tracks from the EP and three-quarters original material. We spent most of 2017 working on recording this material, and the release date of our new album “Fists Like Gotti” on Nov. 1 [the record release party will be Saturday, Nov. 4, at Til-Two Club] will be almost exactly 24 months since our first gig.

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2. Give me a rundown on your equipment? Was this the primary gear used to record the album?

After writing and performing this material many times, we decided a recording was in order, and decided to keep it “in-house,” so to speak, so we recorded the entire thing at my house. We recorded on an old Mac G5 using Pro Tools and an Allen & Heath board for the preamps. I had recorded all the samples, keyboards and background vocals when we were writing, so with those in place, we started by tracking drums in the garage. Rafter Roberts came over and gave me a few cool micing options, and I spent a bunch of time getting specific sounds, changing snares and hi-hats depending on the track. We used a 24” ‘60s Slingerland kick, a bunch of vintage snares, and hi-hats ranging in size from 12″ to 16”. I would like to say that a personal goal for me was to make this record with no quantizing/beat detective/sound replacing on the drums — an honest take on how I play. So there are two tracks that are loops of my playing, and all the rest is full performances – if a take had problems, rather than use digital editing to fix it, I would just do another take. The only exceptions are “Someway About It,” where we punched in the double-time section with a smaller drum-kit, and I did move one kick drum hit over a bit in “No Sequels.”

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Next we moved inside, tracking bass via a DI – no amps were used for this recording. John has a cool take on effects, so we spent some time getting specific sounds for each track, using a Moog FreqBox and Lo Pass Filter, a Zvex Wooly Mammoth and my old green Electro-Harmonix Big Muff. We did a bit of double-tracking the bass, either octave doubling or doubling with different effects, or in the case of “Someway About It,” we beefed up the Freq Box track by layering in a bass-ier sound underneath it playing a condensed version of the bass line.

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Vocals were all tracked in my backroom; we built a little blanket isolation booth, and used a couple microphones – a hi-fidelity condenser for most of the tracks, a beat-up dynamic with a bit of squashed frequency range for “40 Foot Tall” and all the background vocals, and a homemade telephone mic for “New River” and “Dirty Blvd.” Parker has a strong, rich baritone range — so depending on the track, we used different mics to either amplify or modify those characteristics. From there, I mixed and cleaned up all the samples, layering in field recordings and re-tracked some the keyboard parts for a more unified sound across the record. I also added vibraphone and glockenspiel to several of the tracks. I wrote the track “No Sequels” specifically for Rebecca Jade to sing the hook and the ballad middle section, so the last step was getting Rebecca in to sing. Thanks Rebecca! From there, we made stems of the audio and took it over to Rafter Roberts to master.

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3. That outer kick drum is massive. Give me the lowdown on why you’re using a setup like that?

After tracking drums for a few weeks, I wasn’t getting the kick sound I wanted on a few tracks, so I switched out the 24″ for a smaller 20″ Ludwig bass drum. That drum sounds great and is a bit more punchy, but lacked a bit of bottom, so I placed a 28″ Ludwig Scotch bass drum with no muffling in front of the other drum and placed a condenser very close to the front head. By blending the two mics, I got the punch from the 20″ with more sub-by bass from the 28″. You can hear that drum on “40 Foot Tall.” On a nice sound system, it pushes some air.

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4. WTF is that weird can-looking mic? Never seen anything like that before.

The chili-can mic is a microphone from an old analog telephone; I wired it to an XLR jack and melted a garlic-chili hot sauce can to hold the diaphragm. I also modified an old mic clip to fit the can. It got used all over the recording, we used it as a hi-hat mic on the drums, on the piano for “No Sequels,” and most notably on the vocals for “New River” and “Dirty Blvd.” It has a super squished frequency range which really blended well with all the samples, making the vocals really settle into the mix. It has become such a defining sound of the group, we’ve been using the microphone on live performances.

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5. Talk to me about the Moog FreqBox — what did you use it for?

John Rieder: You’ll hear the FreqBox in conjunction with the Moogerfooger Low Pass Filter on “Someway About It.” The FreqBox is kind of hard to explain. It’s not a typical synth pedal that processes the signal of the guitar but instead uses the input signal to trigger an internal oscillator. The result is very frenetic, and a little unpredictable, synthy goodness. I selected a sawtooth wave shape on the FreqBox and then ran this into the low pass filter pedal. I have an expression pedal controlling the cutoff frequency on the filter pedal, which helps me attain all the vintage Mu-Tron-type filter sweeps that you hear.

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6. What’s a track off the new album that you’re particularly stoked on?

I really like the track “40 Foot Tall.” It was a hook I started singing to myself in the car driving somewhere, I sang it into a recording app on my phone, took it home and lined it up with a few samples, brought it to rehearsal and we jammed on it, realized we could go back and forth between the main groove and the more rocking half-time groove, and built it up from there. For me, it’s the track where we found a portal to what the possibilities for this band were: “Are we a hip-hop band? Are we a live funk band? Are we an over-driven rock band? F it, we are all of those things and more….” This was also the hardest track to translate our usual “sweaty, all engines on go” live performance into the sterile microscopic recording studio situation.

7. Aside from the record release show on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Til-Two Club, anything else coming up soon?

We have a 360 video of our full set from an AC Lounge performance a few months ago coming out via local production company Audioscope Radio. [Watch it here] This is a cool experience, with a phone or tablet you can turn the viewer to see both the band and the audience. With virtual reality goggles, its super intense, like you’re floating above the audience. Beyond the release concert, we’ll be performing in San Diego and surrounding areas well into the spring to support this album.

BLAKE IMPERL / STRAY MONROE

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Stray Monroe: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube

1. Take me through your rig: What model Vox is that? How did you settle on this particular setup? Anything you tend to play more than others?

I use a Vox AC30C2. It’s hands down the best amp I have ever played. I think every guitarist has this sort of “ah-ha” moment where they plug into an amp, strum the first chord that comes to them, and then immediately realize this is the amp they’ve been looking for…

I most definitely had that experience when plugging into this guy. Oasis is my biggest musical influence, so I immediately ran to the British amps (Marshall, Orange, and Vox). I also tried out a few Fenders, but nothing clicked quite like the Vox. I love how it can go from a sweet clean sound to gnarly distortion and everything in between. I’m not the type of guy that enjoys having lots of EQs, so when I saw that the Vox had just three basic EQs, tone cut, reverb, and a pre-amp and master volume, I was sold. I love 4 different inputs which can really cover a wide range of sounds. One trick I have been into lately is the channel-jumping feature. It adds just the right amount of punch and let’s me cut down on my pedal usage.

My pedalboard has been a work in progress for the better part of a few years now. I started with the tried-and-true Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. I still, to this day, believe it is the best pedal a guitarist can own. The distortion it adds to your tone is just the perfect amount of grit while still preserving your amp’s natural characteristics. I never turn this pedal off, so I guess you could say I use it almost more to shape my tone rather than boost sound. Adam and I really consider this pedal to be the building blocks of that Stray Monroe sound and it helped shape all of the guitar tones on The Stray Monroe Show. I then started to branch out into some modulation pedals like the MXR Uni-Vibe and Carbon Copy. I can’t speak highly enough about the Carbon Copy. I think it’s the best analog delay on the market in terms of price and tone. I like that sort of “slapback” tone when playing leads and this pedal is perfect for that. Later on, I added on a Boss CE3 and an Xotic Effects EP Booster and SP Compressor. The CE3 is straight from the ‘80s and its tone truly shows that. I love its almost “too much” chorus sound. The Uni-Vibe, CE3, and Carbon Copy are how I achieve that beach-y tone on “Broken Records”. The EP Booster is a beast of a pedal. For being a one-knob pedal, it packs a serious punch. Sometimes I will just plug in this pedal by itself and get lost in its killer tone. I use this pedal mainly as a boost for solos. The SP Compressor is my newest addition. I had previously been using a Boss CS3 but felt I needed a compressor that suited my needs a little better. The SP compressor has met all those needs and even surpassed them. It adds that perfect balance to chords and arpeggios. I almost always leave this pedal on too.

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2. Looks like you’ve got quite a few different kind of guitars: Tele, Sheraton, Casino — lots of tonal possibilities. What drew you to those three guitars in particular?

I’m a hollowbody fanatic. Growing up idolizing Noel Gallagher, who is infamous for playing hollowbodies, I knew this was the style of guitar I wanted to play. I would daydream as a teenager about one day owning a Gibson ES-345, but being on a 14-year-old’s budget, I had to settle on the Epiphone Dot. I think this is where my love of hollowbodies took off. Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the aesthetics is what attracted me first, but after I started to understand tone, I realized that the tone of these guitars is something truly unique. I’ve got some big hands too, so I always felt like having a bigger guitar was easier for me. I’ve since upgraded from the Dot to a ’92 Sheraton and an ’05 Casino.

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The Tele was a guitar I knew very little about when I purchased it. It still is the nicest guitar I own to this day. It’s an American 2011 60th anniversary edition. It’s an absolute dream to play. This is my main guitar in Stray Monroe. One thing I admire about the Tele is that it never falls out of tune. I can play an entire show and never need to tune up. I wish I could say that about my hollowbodies! When I think of why mine and Adam’s tones work so well together, I attribute a lot of that to our choices in guitars. The bright sound of my Tele is the perfect complement to his full SG sound.

When playing live, I’d say I use the Tele about 80% of the time. I tend to just go off whatever I’m feeling that night for the hollowbodies, but lately I have been favoring the Casino.

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3. I noticed you changed the pickups in your Casino (I did too actually) — what pickups are those and why did you swap them out?

So those are actually Lollar P90 Soapbox pickups. I was fortunate enough to buy the guitar with those already installed. I picked up the guitar from Guitar Pickers in Scottsdale, Arizona. I walked into the shop with no intention of purchasing a guitar, but the minute I saw the wine red finish I was sold. I plugged it in and was just floored by how good the P90s sounded. The tone reminds me of if a Tele and a 345 were blended together. It’s super punchy but can be rolled back to get some warmer, more bluesy tones. I had been on the hunt for an ‘80s or ‘90s Riviera for a very long time, but hadn’t had any luck (if you’re reading this and have an ‘80s or ‘90s Riviera — get at me!). When I walked into the shop and saw this Casino sitting on the wall, I was immediately intrigued. Everything from the tailpiece, to its weight, to the neck profile, to the setup… it was all perfect. It quickly has become my favorite guitar.

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4. Love your pedalboard: I’ve always struggled to find a place to use a Uni-Vibe on songs — do you use yours much?

I find that the Uni-Vibe is almost like that expensive bottle of wine that you only bring out when you have fancy guests over… You can’t just continuously use it, especially in a rock band setting, but it definitely has its moments. I use it on “Broken Records” and whenever I’m playing some Hendrix-styled chords/leads. It’s such an awesome sound, but you can’t overuse it.

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5. If you could get one piece of gear for one of your bandmates as a gift — what would you get and who would it be for?

If money was no object, I would get Adam a 1961 Gibson SG with a side-pull trem. From the day I met him, he’s been rocking an SG. It started with an Epiphone and then more recently, he upgraded to a newer Gibson model. It’s such a quintessential part of the band’s sound. He’s always going back and forth about which guitar he wants to get next, whether it be a Yamaha, a Danelectro, or a brand new SG, but I think I’d definitely steal the show by getting him the ’61. It’s such a timeless guitar and the tone is unparalleled. You could strum a G chord, let it sit there, take a walk around the block, come back, and the thing would still be ringing out. Adam is super particular about the neck profile of his guitars. It’s quite comical, but over the past year since he’s been on the hunt for that “perfect” SG, he’s probably tried out over a dozen different models and said no to each one just because of the neck. Each time I’d get my hopes up thinking thinking, “Ok, this one has GOT to be the one,” just to have them let down. If I got him the ’61, his search would most certainly be over.

6. What’s your favorite Stray Monroe song to play live and why?

My favorite Stray Monroe song to play right now has got to be “Broken Records.” It’s definitely one of our slowest songs, but the riff and chord progression always suck me back in. That riff was a very spontaneous creation after a night of frustrated jamming, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the most satisfying moments in the song for me is kicking on my CE3, Uni-Vibe, and Carbon Copy, and just hearing that warm yet warbly tone. I’ve been changing up the outro solo recently to keep it fresh which is always a plus. Outside of guitar, I always enjoy singing that song because the lyrics mean a lot to me. I tend to get pretty into the story when playing that one. We actually released a music video for that song back in December which you can check out here!

Be sure to check out the band at Soda Bar on October 23rd with Frederick the Younger and Sights & Sages. Tickets are available here.