JESSE GAWLIK / BROKEN STEMS

The Broken Stems: Facebook / Website / Instagram / Twitter / SoundCloud / Bandcamp

1. Lovin’ the pedal board. Lots of different brands — I’ve heard mixed reviews on Behringer pedals. What are your thoughts on them and the Octaver specifically? Are they good value for the money?

So I actually just purchased the Behringer Octaver, my first thought is that the materials are a little cheap. My second thought, after plugging it in for the first time, was that the sound quality comes out more distorted than I had anticipated. I took a chance on this one for $25 and I’m thinking of returning it. However, for about the same price, the Donner pedals are some of my favorites and much better quality.

2. Was there any trial and error putting this rig together? Have you gone through different guitars and pedals, etc, trying to find the stuff that work best?

Oh there has absolutely been trial and error! I probably have about 10 other pedals not on my board right now from over the years. Your needs change, and the sounds change, and sometimes the songs you’re playing live don’t use those pedals. However, the pedals I use the most are the Fulltone OCD distortion, Boss Digital Delay, and Crybaby Wah. These three combined with the tone of the Fender Twin Reverb and PRS are my favorite combination.

3. Is this the equipment you used on the new Broken Stems record, or did you use studio gear?

This is the equipment we used with the addition to a few plugins for extra sounds. Brad Sweet, our keyboardist and producer, actually recorded the entire album DIY in our garage and closet. We used a combination of the guitar from the amp, and direct-in, to get a full and comprehensive sound. But we used the OCD distortion pedal the most. We did our very best to record a true representation of what we sound like live, giving the album that “it sounds like they are in the next room” kinda feel.

4. That PRS sure is purty. If money was no object, what’s the one ‘holy grail’ piece of gear you would buy that you’ve always wanted?

Oh man, thats a tough question. If there was one piece of gear that I could pick up today it would be a PRS Super Eagle Private Collection. I love the hollow body PRS and this one is a mashup of both, giving it an extremely wide range of tones.

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5. What kind of amp are you using?

I’m using the Fender Twin Reverb XL. The tone and volume that comes from this amp is a thing of beauty. They’re clean at virtually any volume, and its a perfect canvas for my aforementioned pedals to do their work. Clean tone, powerful, and downright sexy if you ask me.

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6. What’s your favorite place to find new gear in town?

I mean, I kinda hate to say it because I will always support the local businesses first, however Guitar Center is just kind of the best place to experiment with different amps, pedals, guitars and more. If you are like me, you might get lost in there for a day. More and more, however, I find myself searching online, watching videos, and reading forums…but still nothing really allows you to get the full experience like the in-house setup that Guitar Center has.

7. What track on the new record do you feel is the best representation of your playing/style/gear?

“What Are You Connected.” Track 2 and title-track to the new album, “What Are You Connected” is one of the more technical songs and definitely my favorite song to rock live because of how much intensity there is. The beginning riff is one I have always dabbled with throughout my playing days and one day it just exploded into this song. It gets full use of the OCD distortion, the solo of the song uses the Crybaby wah to give it that extra feel, and I use digital delay in some of the verses. Out of all the album songs, this one probably rocks the hardest and makes me want to go on a 32-bar solo..which if you ever see us live…we usually will do!

8. Tell me what you guys have coming up?

With the new album released to the world, our next big event will be our Album Release Show at The Irenic on Saturday, Dec. 3rd [get info here]! We have local holistic vendors, local artists doing live painting, an open bar courtyard party before the show and some really talented acts, Creature and the Woods, and King Taylor Project performing before us. It’s an exciting night for us, because not only do we have a new album, we have a brand new light show, new merchandise (hats, hoodies, shirts, stickers, posters, and more), live dancers during one of our songs, and even a couple new-new songs to throw into the set. After the album release party, we are already planning production for the next album. No name for it yet, but we do have a concept in mind…or should I say in our soul 😉

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ISAIAH NERY / QUALI, MICE ELF & FIVEPAW

Quali: Facebook / Instagram / SoundCloud / Website
Mice Elf: Facebook
FivePaw: Facebook / Website

1. You play guitar in Quali, are you a member of any other bands?

Yes, I’m currently in two other active projects besides Quali. I play bass in this band called “Mice Elf”. It is more of a jammy/space alt-rock type of band. We actually just had our first show at Black Cat bar the other night. The other project is “fivepaw”. I play drums in that project. It has more of electronic, sci-fi elements to it, mixed with synths and modular-type stuff. I have also been messing around with Ableton lately, trying to get into sampling and making beats.

2. I’m assuming your first piece of gear was a guitar, I could be wrong though. Do you remember what it was?

The first instrument I ever owned was a Ludwig drum set when I was 10. I actually didn’t start playing guitar seriously until I was about 16 and I really didn’t get serious with messing with gear and becoming a total gear head until I moved to LA and started Quali.

3. What’s your current setup?

My current set up with Quali:

I play a Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster. I personally think it’s the only guitar you should own due to its sonic versatility, tremolo arm and beauty.

The Jazzmaster goes into a TC Electronics Polytune, then into my favorite pedal and part of my signature tone, the Ab-Synth Supreme by Fuzzhugger. This pedal gives me the harsh zipperyness I want from a fuzz while also somehow managing some clarity in my chord playing. It also has a second foot switch to activate an oscillation mode which can get pretty nuts sometimes.

Next in my pedal chain is a Marshall Shredmaster. I really like this high gain pedal for more of a conventional overdrive/distortion type of sound. That goes into this boutique pedal I got at NAMM a couple years back called The Epsilon, by dreadbox. This is more of a hybrid pedal of sorts. It can be an overdrive pedal or an auto wah. And of course you can blend the effects to get an even crazier sound. It also has a gate switch on it. This is a very cool interactive pedal. The next pedal in my chain is one of my favorite pedals, the Superego by Electro-Harmonix. This pedal is so innovative for guitar. It is basically a piano-style sustain pedal for guitar. The tracking is insane, you can just sustain chords while playing over them endlessly. The superego then goes into my Line 6 M9. This pedal is such a workhorse for me for the fact that you can have three effects on at the same time while also being able to have an expression pedal that can be used for all of them simultaneously if you want.

Next on the chain is the Timeline delay by Strymon. There’s really not much to say about this pedal except for the fact that it is the king of delay pedals, period. The Timeline goes into my Hardwire RV-7 reverb pedal. Just a really solid reverb that pairs perfectly with my fuzz. And that goes into my crazier reverb the Descent by Walrus Audio. This pedal is the ultimate ambient reverb pedal with separate wet and dry knobs, reverse reverb, 3 preset saves. You can also have shimmer-style reverbs with dedicated knobs for an octave down and up. And at the very end of my pedalboard chain is the Ditto X2 by TC Electronics. I really like the looper that was on the DL4 by Line 6 and this pedal is just that in a smaller housing.

The board then goes into my pride and joy: The Fender Bassman 70. This amp is the ultimate pedal-playing amp. You get such a nice clarity and headroom with this amp while also getting some really nice, felt lows. I actually got mine modded to carry 6550 tubes in it for more headroom and now it runs at about 110 watts. Also known as a sound tech’s nightmare. But to me, there’s nothing better than really feeling the sounds go through you. I play this with a Fender DT-412 cab. I believe it has Celestion G12T-100s in it.

4. What piece of gear, if any, are you looking to add? 

Right now, I’m looking to get a 2×12 cab to run on top of my 4×12. I used to have a 1×15 bass cab that came with my Bassman and I would run that with my 4×12. Having a full stack rig is so unnecessary and necessary at the same time. Nothing feels better in my opinion.

5. What new projects do you have lined up? 

The newest project I’m working on would have more beat-based and sampling stuff I’ve been doing on Abelton. I’m still new to the program but I have some cool ideas I want to work on with it. I also occasionally play drums for Recycled Dolphin, who happens to play drums in Quali for me. Also, be on the look out for the next Quali album which should be out hopefully later this year.

Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego and Parker & The Numberman) for this interview.