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.

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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!