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.

Advertisements

JESSE HOFSTEE / SPERO

Spero: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / SoundCloud / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your current rig.

I’ve always been after a big, bold tone for my guitar. I like more low-end, dark tones which is why I went with a ’66 Fender Bassman as my main amp. I use a lot of vintage gear; I feel that there is just more character in each amp, and nothing beats the simplicity and true tube tones. That has been my go-to amp since I really started playing guitar. It just puts out such a big, full tone and it has that low-end that I love. I more recently got my hands on an ‘60s Vox Super Reverb amp to add to the mix. It breaks up at a lower volume than the Bassman and has a dirtier tone which pairs great with the Bassman when running them stereo. My first electric guitar was my Gretsch Electromatic. It is one of the cheaper models that I bought used, but even after buying more guitars, it’s always been my go-to; I’m a big fan of Gretsch guitars. My other go-to guitar is my Harmony H78. I found it with no paint and no knobs and I knew I had to have it. All the main parts are original and it just has so much character and such a great dirty tone. As far as pedals, I have tried to keep things simple but over the years have acquired more and more. My board is still a work in progress and changes as I learn more. My main pedals that I use are my Boss Blues Driver and delay pedal for a little slapback delay. On some of our heavy parts I use my Boss Super Octave for a fuzzy thick tone. I got the Soul Food pedal for when I just need a little cleaner gain. Never used a phaser ’til our last time in the studio so it’s something I am now introducing here and there. I am a big fan of dynamic playing and songwriting so I use my volume pedal often to help achieve that. It also helps, since there is usually only one guitarist in Spero, to have a rhythm and lead volume level easily accessible.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style/gear?

My sound has changed over the years but our latest time in the studio I really captured some big, gritty tones that I have been after for awhile. Just a heavy but still natural classic tone is something I really have been into lately. Our latest single release “The Sounds,” is a good portrayal of that tone. It’s big and gritty, and has a tremolo going throughout which is something I have never used, but have been liking lately.

3. What’s the one “holy grail” piece of equipment you’d buy if money was no object?

The guitar I have always been after is a ‘50s-‘60s Gretsch White Falcon. A little aged off white paint and a little wear and tear would be perfect. I just think they are such beautiful guitars and have such a great classic Gretsch tone. One day I will have one.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise?

There have been a few different guitarists whose sound and gear setup I have always looked to for inspiration and its always changing for different styles. Lately, I have been digging Dean Fertita’s sounds, mostly on the latest Dead Weather album. He just has some screaming raw tones and makes good use of echo and delays to make the parts really sustain and sound like there is more than one guitar.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about?

Spero has a new EP entitled Eclipse that we released on May 13th. We had the opportunity to record with producer Vance Powell in Nashville and are so stoked on the outcome. [Purchase/listen to it here] We will be headlining a show to support the release at the Music Box on May 26th with Creature and the Woods and Grim Slippers. Hope to see you out there!

TOMMY GARCIA / MRS. MAGICIAN

Mrs. Magician: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud

1. Tell me about your current rig? The amps I’m using are all Satellite amps or things that we have modified. The one I use most often is a 75 watt model called the OMEGA that we added an additional tube preamp to, so I could get the sound I was after at a lower volume. Second up is a clone of a ’64 Fender Bassman called the ASSMAN; I love this amp for it’s slightly overdriven tones but that doesn’t really happen until it’s too loud to play live so it’s mostly a studio tool for me. And lastly, I’ve been using a ‘60s Dukane PA amp that we re-wired for use as a guitar amp with an old Vox Super Beatle cabinet, that we replaced the speakers in with modern Celestion greenbacks — it kind of reminds me of a brownface Fender Deluxe on steroids.

Guitar-wise, I’m using a parts-Jazzmaster that my friends all helped me put together by donating or selling me guitar parts for really cheap. The end result was a really inexpensive, great-sounding guitar that I think is as good, or better, than any model that Fender actually makes. Secondly, I still use my trusty ‘60s Silvertone Silhouette — mostly unmodded except for an added ground for the electronics and a bridge modded by my friend Brandon Madrid.

Then there’s pedals. When it comes to my live rig, it’s always kind of similar: Fuzz, boost, trem, two analog delays (set to different times) and reverb. In the studio, all bets are off and I just make shit up as I go along, usually trying new pedals that I’ve never used before — but live, I keep it the same and try and emulate the studio sounds with what I have in front of me.

2. What Mrs. Magician song do you feel is the best portrayal of the sound/style you’re after? “Where’s Shelly,” off of our upcoming LP Bermuda and I say that because it really has all of the different sounds that have been associated with our band over the years all rolled into one song. [Ed. note: Since the new album isn’t out yet, I’m including the band’s new single below. Enjoy!]

3. You work here in town at Satellite Amplifiers — in your eyes, what sets Satellite amps apart from others? If someone asked you they should buy one, what would you tell them? At Satellite, we strive to make things that we want to play and in many cases that’s how a prototype for something comes about. If I was asked why someone should buy one, I would just tell them to come play one and they would know why.

4. If money was no object, what’s the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy? A Mosrite Ventures model. I am a firm believer that the cooler the piece of gear looks, the better you will sound using it and that is the coolest looking guitar out there.

5. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise and why? The musician who’s sound I admire the most would have to be Rowland S. Howard. He wrote some of my favorite songs and was the most influential guitarist for me (other than the Swami). I also love that he used the same amp, guitar and pedals all the way from The Birthday Party up until he passed away, proving gear is secondary to imagination.

6. What do you have coming up that we should know about? Our new album comes out May 20th via Swami records. We also leave for SXSW next week.

3/12: Phoenix, AZ @ Viva PHX with The Growlers, RFTC, Mystic Braves
3/13: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress with Rocket From The Crypt
3/14: Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad with PRAYERS, Plague Vendor
3/15: Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves with Mind Spiders, SAVAK
3/17: Austin, TX @ Breakaway Records — 1PM
3/18: Austin, TX @ BD Riley’s (Official Showcase) –– 9PM
3/19: Austin, TX @ Dozen Street (Little Dickman Records Party) –– 4PM
3/20: Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room –– 4:30PM