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1. How would you describe your process and the music you make?
I usually mess around on guitar, just strumming away. Sometimes I riff on a chord or a melody for awhile. I might sit on that for a week, other times it’s ready to go in the moment. I usually record straight to Garageband. I still have a digital 8 track and a nice vocal mic, but i find that out of necessity, it takes too long when racing through inspiration.
After that, I either add more instruments like bass/drums/Rhodes, or just write to the guitar track and finish up everything else later. A lot of it is done on the fly, though. These things become demos that mostly get fleshed out with the band later, who quite honestly make it sound better.
2. What’s your current setup?
Standard S101 Tele-style guitar. I’ve written most of everything on that guitar since 2005. Previous to that, I used a Slammer Hamer standard Chaparral bass, which was the basis for all my earliest songs. Back then, I played that into an ASR-10 sampler and looped everything up.
I’ve inherited a pieced-together drum kit from my friend, Jason aka Glynnisjohns (former bass player and founding member), that we used on our previous records. It’s sort of a Frankenstein built kit. I’ve got a a Memphis electric guitar that sits mostly — that one gets out of tune often. Rhodes Piano for some melodic sprinkling and lastly, a Devi Ever Vintage Fuzz Master pedal. That is my one and only pedal purchase. It’s got a nice clean setting and then a wonderfully mid-fi white noisey fuzz to it.
All of this is for home demo’ing purposes, I don’t play any of this live. I leave that to the professionals like my bandmates and friend’s bands.
I’m the biggest layman you have ever met. My friend Matt once asked me what kind of guitar I play. I told him, “a red one.” Jason bought me a tuner for one of my birthdays. I can barely tune a guitar, but I know enough instrument-wise to make songs. I’m pretty good at handclaps though.
3. Do you remember the first piece of gear you owned?
The aforementioned Slammer bass guitar, on indefinite loan from my sister, who encouraged me early on in my guitar adventuring. She also bought me my S101 aka the ‘red guitar.’
4. Your next piece, what will that be?
Some kind of small practice amp. I like to keep things charmingly lo-fi, or home-fi as we call it. A Moog would be nice too.
5. What projects are you working on?
Sick Balloons is on the cusp of releasing our fourth full length album, Telescopes (on) Parade. It’s the first ever studio, full-band recording, produced by our good friend Dave Matthies of The Gift Machine. Other than that, we have a new interim EP out now, called Pillow Fig, which also features my sister. You can find our stuff on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and all those other jazzed up streaming platforms.
Sick Balloons play the Pour House in Oceanside on Thursday, June 23rd, with Mirror Travel (TX) and Scruffles. The show starts at 9pm and it’s free.
Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego and Parker & The Numberman) for this interview.