ERIC JAMES / ENDCASTLE

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EndCastle: Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp / Spotify

1. Take me through that luscious rig of yours.

Guitar: 2014 Gibson Firebird

Pedals: Dunlop 535q Multi-Wah > EarthQuaker Devices BitCommander > ToneBone Hot British > ZVEX Box of Rock > Boss RV5 Reverb > Boss DD7 > TC Electronic Flashback > TSVG Emperor > Mad Professor Ruby Red Booster > TC Electronic Spark Boost > TC Electronic Poly Tune

Amp: Music Man RD100

Cabinet: Hand built by my buddy, Frank Andrews. It has 2 12″ Warehouse speakers.

I have a lot of distortion options on my set up and they all sound different. I usually use two of them at the same time. I can go from Skynyrd-style distortion to Dimebag Darrell distortion really quick. I recently picked up the BitCommander, which makes some incredible sounds. It sounds like a synth at times. I haven’t found a use in any of our songs for it but I cant wait to use it in one. For now I just use it for sound effects. I love my TC Electronic Poly Tuner. A lot of people don’t like the idea of it or are scared of it or say it doesn’t work but I have had lots of success. My old boss TU2 I couldn’t see during daytime shows at all, I think they fixed that on the TU3 though. My Poly Tuner pedal is so bright and clear its unbeatable, and once you get used to it, you just strum all the strings at once and it tells you if one is sharp or flat, it makes quick work of tuning in between songs or even during.

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2. Diggin’ the assortment of pedals on the board: I noticed you have two delays on your board — what is each for and why did you choose those two to use?

I use the Boss DD7 for just basic delay use. It has a built-in tap tempo that I’ll use. It is a powerhouse delay that I under-utilize however, only because it is a pain to get down on the floor and mess with the dials during a show. I like to just set it and forget it.

The Flashback delay is also a powerhouse – I wish I had bought the big boy one – the Flashback X4, which has presets and whatever else you need. I use the Flashback for modulated delays. It has a mode for Reverse which does exactly what it says, believe it or not. I go back and forth between the Reverse and the Lo-fi mode. The Lo-fi also does what the name says, it roughens up the sound of the delays and sounds like an old low-fi Beck cassette.

More often than not, I have both the DD7 and the Flashback going at the same time. It works great when clean or distorted. Most of the times I’ll use it clean with the DD7 on and the Flashback delay set on reverse and the notes ring out with a ghostly delay that creeps up back on the note again.

3. Same question with the boosters: Why use both a Ruby Red and a Spark?

The Spark has been on my set up for a few years now and will never leave. It’s a great little boost that I can use for solos to bring my level up a bit. A nice feature with the Spark is that you can either click it on and click it off like a normal pedal, or if you hold your foot down on the switch – it activates – and when you take your foot off, it will turn off right away, so it helps prevent my treestump feet from tripping up on stage, which still happens often.

The Ruby Red is kind of on loan to me from Jesse [Kling, guitarist in Dead Feather Moon]. I use it as a treble boost. I don’t run any EQ pedals and so my Firebird can at times sound more like a Crow when I don’t have any pedals going — so this adds a nice treble boost. It’s a night-and-day difference really and since I received it, I have had it turned on pretty much non stop. I used it in the studio on two tracks recently, and it is the only pedal in use I think for one of the songs.

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4. I remember talking with you about your guitars one time and you mentioned the Firebird was like the worst guitar ever built. But you’ve got it in your rig — why is that?

I have a weird relationship with the Firebird — anyone who has played in a band with me knows it. They are great guitars, but mine was a lemon, and Gibson was no help. Around the time I purchased my guitar, I noticed that a few of my guitar heroes were quietly switching from Gibson. Zakk Wylde, for example, who is known for his massive Gibson collection and signature Gibson guitars, all of a sudden cut ties with them and launched his own brand. Now as we all know, Gibson is dealing with bankruptcy issues. I feel like it is because their quality has gone way down.

I wanted a Firebird ever since seeing the Def Leppard “Hysteria” album tour videos as a kid; 15 years later I finally got one. I should have backed away from the deal when the ‘Big Guitar Store’ employee couldn’t figure out how to tune it, nearly twisting the wrong end of the tuner off, and wouldn’t take my advice of turning the tuning knobs on the back of the head stock. Shortly down the road, it would have tuning, electrical, and cosmetic issues. As soon as I’d fix a problem, another would pop up. I want to point out that the Steinberger Tuners they used for only about one year on the Firebird are both incredible and also the worst thing to go on a Gibson. If one breaks, which they do, you cant just buy one you have to buy the whole pack of 6. Steinberger went out of business and Gibson would not tell me what I was supposed to do with my broken tuner. I had to look on eBay dozens of times per day because apparently it was in high demand, but there weren’t many out there. If it did pop up it would be a pack of 6 for almost $500. I got super lucky one day, months later, and only had to pay $50.

I remember one night throwing my guitar against a tree at an outdoor party that my cover band played, it has honestly played better since that night. I’ll occasionally go back and forth between it and my Telecaster and my SG, but the Firebird fits on me much better and Ill never get rid of it.

5. Love the cabinet you’re playing through: Looks like one of those old Marshall 4×12” tall boys. Surely it must be a pain to haul that around — why not play a smaller combo and mic it live?

It looks massive, but really isn’t too bad. My buddy Frank, who I used to play with (he now plays in SD’s best Black Crowes tribute band The Black Crowes Revival) built it for me. It has two 12″ Warehouse speakers. Really nothing special inside there but it makes a good sound. The top speaker is angled up to my head so I can hear it at shows where we don’t have monitors. I have often thought about a smaller combo and I used to have smaller combos but I like that it is tall so it’s easy for me to turn knobs during the show or more importantly set my beer on top of it so I don’t have to bend down and pick it up.

I really do think there is a sound benefit – although during shows the mic might not pick that up. In practice, it sounds great. Jason from The Bad Vibes has a small Music Man combo that sounds huge however. Also having smaller amps on stage with me makes me feel like I’m in Spinal Tap during the Stonehenge scene — I’m always stepping on whatever is rolling around on stage, so that also explains the big tall cabinet.

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6. I also had a Music Man head for a while and loved it. Where’d you find yours? What do you like about it? Have you had any problems with it, being vintage and all?

I found mine at Moze Guitars in La Mesa. I played Kyle Areford’s [from The Paragraphs, Dead Feather Moon] Music Man and knew I had to copy him and get my own. It took a long time to find but it popped up on the Moze Instagram and I drove down the next day and bought it. I like it so much because I am able to get a tight solid distortion out of it if I want, or I can switch to clean channel and have a warm clean sound with as much built-in reverb as I want. It sounds like a mix of Fender and Marshall to my ears. I think my amp was built in the early ‘80s. The only problem I have had is with the foot switch, but it’s aftermarket so it’s not the amps fault. It’s built like a tank. Kyle and I have had to take his apart to fix it and it took both of us to lift the guts up and put them back in the head.

7. Fun question: If a pedal manufacturer approached you and wanted to build a signature Eric James pedal — what brand would you want it to be, what features would it have, what would you name it, and why?

You’re right, that is a fun question. I don’t know if this would even sound good, but maybe EarthQuaker Devices will read this and be inspired: I want to be able to have a delay/tremolo thing where you can use an expression to slow the speed of it down or speed it up. I have the MiniMoog MF Tremolo that has the expression pedal so you can pretty much do what I described, and I’ve tried it with delays, but I just can’t come close to the sound I’m trying to make. So that would be cool, but realistically if the day ever came to make my own signature ERJ pedal, it would just be a big box with a bunch of lights on it, no effects or anything — just the little led lights all over it that turn on and off because I love lights.

8. What’s the worst piece of gear you’ve ever owned and why? Conversely, what’s the best?

The only thing that comes to mind is the Boss Metal Zone. I guess it has its use somewhere, and everyone likes their sounds but on my set up it sounded like garbage. I ended up selling it to a guy who collected them and had many Metal Zones for some reason.

I think my Music Man RD100 head is the best amp I’ve owned. Its built like a tank. It gets super loud but I am usually able to get a good sound at lower volume.

Not the best — but my favorite piece of gear is my Boss RV5 Digital Reverb. I bought it from Steve Stevens of Billy Idol. It makes some great hall reverb that doesn’t sound like anything an amp reverb could do. I use it often now in our songs.

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9. Wait…you bought a pedal from Steve Stevens? WTF?

[haha] The story isn’t as fun [as you’d think]. Steve Stevens is one of my most influential musicians. Occasionally he sells his personal gear on his website (his Premier Guitar Rig Rundown video is incredible by the way). I was lucky enough to catch one of his sales and that’s how I got it. He autographed it to me and included a Steve Stevens playing card and some of his signature picks with his ray gun logo. I also hit him up one day asking a question about how he recorded one of his guitar tracks and he wrote right back — he’s a great guy!

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10. That’s straight up awesome. Speaking of awesome — you’ve seen a ton of bands play in town and I know you’re always scoping out what everyone’s using: Who do you think has the most awesome gear?

I can’t remember the last time that I went to a show and didn’t come home wanting to buy new gear because of whoever played that night. There’s no shortage of great guitar setups and guitar players in San Diego or traveling through on tour.

Jesse, from Dead Feather Moon, has my favorite sound. Between his gear and his playing style, he definitely has a unique sound that really comes to life when he plays live. He’s a wizard when it comes to his gear. Also Daniel “Cuervo” Cervantes from Mrs. Henry and 10 other bands. I remember one night being blown away at one of their Belly Up shows at how great his sound was, and he explained it was just his cheap Acoustic amp. [Read Cervantes’ own Gear and Loathing feature here to find out more about his rig]

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(Photo by Moses Namkung)

11. If money was no object, and you could buy any piece of equipment on the planet for one of your bandmates — what would you buy, who would you get it for, and why?

Dennis, our frontman/singer/guitar player extraordinaire, is one of the craziest, most expressive guitar players and songwriters I’ve ever met. I would get the guy who made Matt Bellamy’s crazy guitars [Hugh Manson, from Manson Guitar Works] with the built-in midi pad and what not, and have him make Dennis something even better. Also I’d have to get him a Theremin because he knows how to use those things.

12. What does EndCastle have coming up?

We’re stoked to be playing with Bosswitch and M. Crane at The Merrow on Thursday, July 26th. After that, we are playing on August 18th at Manhattan Bar and August 19th at Aztec Brewery. We are slowly recording songs at Emerald Age Recording, so we will have a few more songs up on our Spotify page soon. We’re working on new artwork and merch; I’d really like to make some EndCastle pogs.

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TONY GIDLUND / SHADES MCCOOL

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Shades McCool: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

1. Tell me about your rig these days. What are you using?

I’ve made the Jazzmaster my primary guitar and demoted the SG to backup status. Now that I’m old, I want that note definition more than gnarly distortion and the tremolo system let’s me do a lot more tricks. Also, I’ve heard it said that P-90 pickups are the best for recording.

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Amp-wise, I’m using the Orange “Dual Terror” (Tiny Terror on one channel and a Dark Terror on the other) into an Avatar 2×12 and/or a Sovtek 4×12. It’s 30 watts but can go as low as 7.5, which I love. I can’t even imagine a scenario where I’d need 100 watts. There’s this constant battle between guitar players who think their tone doesn’t even get good until 3 and sound people who want them to turn down to half that. With a 30-watt amp, I’ve removed myself from that conversation. No amps were used on any of our recordings though. All plug-ins.

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Effect-wise, I’ve got myself a tuner, EHX Mel9 Mellotron emulator, EHX Microsynth, EHX Ring Thing, Ibanez TS9DX, and a Boss DD-7 all velcro’d to an old red shelf. I went kinda nuts with pedal purchasing this year. The Ring Thing is probably the coolest because it does alien-sounding ring modulation stuff, octave/pitch effects, and more normal effects like vibrato and chorus. Crucially, it allows you to save nine settings.

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2. Tell me about the band: It started as a solo “hardcore karaoke act” and now it’s a full group, yea? Are all the Shades McCool songs, like, joke songs?

That is correct. As the legend goes, Ben Johnson aka Grammatical B was looking for an opening act. I had been going to Pants Karaoke a lot and signing up as this “character” that was not much except sunglasses and a standoffish attitude. I saw Ben’s Facebook post and was feeling very “say yes to everything” so I did and he was kind enough to indulge me. I put together a set of covers and a couple bits and just went for it. It was surprisingly well-received so I did that around town at non-traditional venues for about a year before assembling my backing band, The Bold Flavors. The best show of that era was playing on a friend’s lawn during the Rock & Roll Half Marathon.

Shades McCool & the Bold Flavors is basically a spoof of a rock band in the way that Stephen Colbert was of Bill O’Reilly. Each song is a vessel for a comedic premise, e.g. “Pretty Good Guy,” a list of non-sequiturs in a dating profile; “Custom Croutons,” a recipe that descends into madness; or “Inauguration Song,” a song written for Donald Trump to sing with The Beach Boys at his inauguration. So yeah, they’re all joke songs.

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3. With “The San Diegan National Anthem” for example — how are you not getting sued by Toyota of Escondido, Pacific Nissan, etc?

I’ve actually been asked this a bit and I have a few thoughts. I am not getting sued because:

A) It’s a medley of several things that were FORCED into the public consciousness over the years. We’ve basically repurposed public works into a drastically different piece of art.

B) It has no negative impact on the brands. It gets people talking about those jingles/dealerships and in fact, it may hurt a brand to not be mentioned in the song. Cal Worthington keeps leaving me passive-aggressive voicemails.

C) When you read the actual lyrics, they’re not the same as in the jingles (“Bah Bay Curse Otto Group. Pear, he’s got it. Mas y niece on”) and parody is extremely well-protected. Furthermore, no reasonable person would mistake this for a real commercial. It’s too rad.

D) They love it.

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4. What’s the next piece(s) of gear you’d would like to add to your rig?

I’m always looking for a good synth pedal to get some big weird sounds. The Microsynth sounds amazing but it’s a little unreliable as far as triggering and what kind of sounds you’re going to get out of it. I’m eyeing the Earthquaker Bit Commander. I’ve also wanting to mess around with some kind of compressor pedal.

(When not in character as Shades McCool, I play bass in Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place and Goblin Cock. I just bought and returned an Ampeg SCR-DI preamp pedal, then bought the preamp-only version of it. I’m planning to get a Tronographic Rusty Box before the next time we play).

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5. What’s coming up for the band?

We’re usually pretty slow writing songs because good premises are hard to come up with. We need a few more before we can record our full-length. We do have a new top secret song experience that I am very excited about. There are also a couple cool plans for “The San Diegan National Anthem.” The ultimate goal is to have it replace the regular National Anthem at local sporting events.

Shades McCool play the Music Box on July 20th with Pinback and Bit Maps.

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.

 

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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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.

IAN DE CERBO / IMD, GONJASUFI, HEZUS

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1. What bands/groups do you currently play in?

Mostly studio work with Hezus and Gonjasufi. I have some other projects with Psychopop, Scatterbrain and a few others.

2. Do you remember the first piece of gear you purchased?

A beater drum kit for like $200. I still use a few pieces from it now but it’s mostly junk now or art.

3. What piece of equipment do you use most often?

Four track or tape deck. Keep it simple.

4. If you had enough resources, money, time, space, etc. what dream piece of gear would you own?

Probably a Mellotron, or EMS modular synth, or a nice mixing board something probably easily over $10K.

5. What upcoming projects should people look out for?

Gonjasufi remix on Warp Records; IMD BeatTape Vol. 1; and a Hezus release on Hit & Run out of LA; release with Scatterbrain; Gonjasufi live band.

Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego) for this interview.

THE GORGEOUS BOYSCOUTS

The Gorgeous Boyscouts: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp / Website

1. First, give me a run down on what everyone plays?

Nick Schwarz – Vocals, Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Mike Lomangino – Bass, Vocals
Brandon Albu – Drums, Guitar, Programming

2. When did you guys start playing together? And how did you decide on the name?

The band name came about during a camping trip, our friend kept calling our camping group, The Gorgeous Boyscouts. It always gets a laugh any time someone hears it for the first time — so we stuck with it.

We started at the end of 2015 but after a few months, the original bassist quit and we took a few months hiatus. Mike joined the band in June 2016 and we’ve been going strong ever since. We’ve been having a ton of fun hanging out, practicing, and playing shows!

3. Who’s using the Line 6 amp, and for what?

The Line 6 is used for the acoustic guitar which all three of us will play depending on the song. It is a very new piece of equipment and just saw its first live show (at The Merrow show on Dec. 13th).

The amp is described as the amp for the modern guitarist and we agree. It comes with a ton of built-in effects that can be controlled by the pedal board or a smartphone app and is extremely customizable. You can experiment with a built-in looping station and large array of drums tracks making it easy to jam out by yourself and great for writing new material. Haven’t messed with the wireless feature, but good to have options. It also has XLR output. Been impressed with the overall sound and flexibility.

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4. I once had a Fender Twin Reverb but it didn’t have a master volume so I could rarely use it. Looks like you guys are using a vintage one from the ’70s – how did you come to acquire that, and what are your thoughts on its tone?

Nick plays his Strat through the Twin Reverb. He believes it is either from 1970 or ’71.  Nick bought it off an old bandmate (Will from Mariel – they still play around town and you recently just did a piece on their guitarist, Opie). The tone is great. Super clean and very full – classic Fender tube amp sound. It handles the distortion effects amazingly well and the best part is it can get loud. Real loud.

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5. Talk to me about the TC Electronic voice pedals. Do they work well live?

This is tricky. The autotune pedal can be real finicky – but sounds great when it is dialed in. Nick will use it for about 50% of our tunes – just when we’re aiming for a specific sound. Sometimes, the autotune just won’t work right and it sounds better to sing with it off. Not sure if it’s due to the key the song is played in or another factor. It took a few months of experimenting with the pedals on and off and effects being changed to really utilize them properly.

The other vocal pedal is for tone, shape, compression and “de-ess”ing and is always on. Helps add some fullness to the vocals. And really helps with the overall sound.

There are also gains on both pedals so Nick can adjust the vocal volume from the pedal board. You can also change the vocal pitch lower and higher which helps add some variety to the songs. We play a few different styles so it’s a good fit.

 

6. If money was no object, what’s the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy?

Brandon: I do not have a ‘holy grail’ item for myself but I would really like to get Nick new effect pedals and patch cables 😉

Nick: I would love a Gibson Les Paul or an SG. Brandon’s right — I could really use some new patch cables but the constant buzzing and cutting out really spices things up.

Mike: An Avella-Coppolo. They sound amazing and support the local craft.

7. Give me a link to a song that you have online that you feel is best representative of your sound?

It’s hard to pick one song that is best representative of our sound because we all write material and bring a lot of styles and influences to the table. The collaboration forces us out of our individual comfort zones. The end result makes for a very diverse live set that is fun to play and hopefully keeps the audience interested. This is a straight-forward rock tune called “Chrees.” It is one of the first songs we started playing together.

8. What do you guys have coming up?

We have a string of shows throughout December and January, including our album release show on December 19th at Soda Bar. Upcoming shows, social media links, and our brand new EP (which can be downloaded for free) can all be found on our website, www.gorgeousboyscouts.com. We are currently working on a bunch of new songs and are doing some more recording; expecting to release our first full-length album within a year.

RC KRUEGER / MARIEL

Mariel: Facebook / TwitterSoundCloud / Bandcamp / Website

1. Take me through these rigs!

To clarify, the guitar set-up I sent you is what I plan on playing in the coming month when Mariel adds another member. For the past year or so we have been playing as a three piece: Opie Tran on guitar, Billy Hagan on drums and me on bass, but prior to that we had another guitar and keys and that’s closer to how I hear it in my head and what the recordings reflect. Also on the recordings is a female voice, which has been fun trying to replicate with us three boys all taking those parts, but again not how I hear it. So the plan is for me to move to guitar and add a lady on bass and vocals. I just thought I should explain why I sent you two set-ups.

For my bass setup, I play a Music Man Sterling, which is a cheaper version of the Stingray, through an Orange Terror Bass combo and the only pedal I use is a The Wolf by Devi Ever, which is fuzz.

For guitar, I mostly play a Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster. It’s the one with the simplified electronics, it doesn’t have those knobs at the top, just a normal three-way switch, which I like. I play that through a Vox Night Train with just the 112 cab. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want a whole lot going on pedal-wise, so now I just have a Malekko Spring Chicken reverb, and two stages of dirt, an Earthquaker White Light overdrive and a Walrus Audio Iron Horse distortion. Opie thought I was crazy when I told him I didn’t even want one delay on my board. He has like 12.

2. Either that skull is giant or that bass amp is really tiny. Which is it? Next: Where the heck did you find that skull and does it accompany you guys to shows?

Both. The Skull, affectionately called Skulliosis, is very large, but a huge reason for me getting that Terror Bass was how small it is. It’s super small, sounds amazing and is plenty loud. Skulliosis does come with us to shows. My friend Seth Eubanks of the band Sullen Ray used to carry it around to shows and always have it at the front of the stage. A couple years back, he was moving out of a warehouse space that we at one point shared and he told me he had a pile of stuff that either belonged to me or I could have. Skulliosis was in that pile so I decided I would carry on the tradition and he’s been at every show we’ve played since. Also in that pile was a suit of armor that now sits on my front porch. So if you’re ever in North Park and see a suit of armor, that’s my house.

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3. Praytell – what is that Wolf bass pedal?

The Wolf is a fuzz pedal made by Devi Ever. It’s wicked. It’s been really important since we’ve been a three-piece. On big parts where it’d be nice to have another guitar chumming along while Opie plays a lead, I can turn that on and play chords and it fills that spot. All the harmonic goodness really helps those parts.

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4. Talk to me about your Vox Night Train: There’s a million amps out there – why rock the Night Train (which rules)?

You’ll start to see a pattern here, but I really liked the idea of getting a lunchbox amp for ease of transportation and the Night Train is my favorite one. I agree that it rules. I think it sounds great, but I’m definitely a Vox guy. I also have an AC-15 that I love.

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5. Walk me through this awesome pedalboard: Some excellent boutique choices – what’s the difference between the EQD White Light and the Walrus Iron Horse?

For me, a lot of the fun in pedals is the collector aspect of it. I’m a pretty big geek. I love screen-printed posters, small record labels, toys, geeky stuff like that. Boutique pedals can fall into the same category for me. I love the idea of one guy making this awesome piece of gear in his basement and then his print-maker buddy puts this incredible art on it. Not to say that that’s more important than the actual function of the gear, but it factors in. It’s why I’d prefer to have that Spring Chicken as opposed to say a Boss reverb. You know what I mean?

The White Light is overdrive. I pretty much always have it on and the Iron Horse is for when I want to get dirty. I chose the Iron Horse specifically because I used to have this old Rat from the ‘80s, so it had the LM308 in it and it sounded incredible, but it did wacky things. When you turned it on, it would work fine, but when you turned it off it would cut the power on everything else on the board, so it ended up only being used on some Mariel recordings because that wouldn’t work live. But that Rat got me into the idea of tighter distortion rather than fuzz and that’s where the Iron Horse came in because it can do that.

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6. When and where’d you get that Malekko Spring Chicken? I know some folks that’d like to get their hands on an original issue version like that one.

I got that Spring Chicken a few years ago on eBay. It’s pretty sweet. It can get real wacky if you want it to. And the art is so good.

7. I can confidently say you’re the first to send over pics with Star Wars figurines – which I love cuz I’m a super Star Wars nerd. Firstly: Rogue One – are you stoked? Secondly: The Force Awakens – good or no? Thirdly: Favorite Star Wars character and why?

Already got my Rogue One tickets. I’m super stoked. Maybe more so than I was for Force Awakens. That first Rogue One trailer was so good.

The Force Awakens was really great. I don’t know why people hate on it so much. People’s complaint was that it was too much like A New Hope, I think that’s silly. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on TFA? I thought it was a lot of fun. I like Kilo Ren a lot too because I imagine him saying and doing the raunchy things he does in Girls. Which he’s hilarious in…. oh man, do I lose geek points for bringing up Girls?

Since I was a kid, my favorite character has been Han Solo. I suppose I like his journey the most. He goes from being this shady, out-to-make-a-buck pirate, to respected General. Luke goes from farm boy to Jedi Master, but he’s always the good guy. Han’s intentions start out being pretty shady and he redeems himself pretty hardcore. In Battle Front, my favorite character to play as is Vader — but whose isn’t?

8. What else do you guys have coming up?

All of that. I have big plans for the coming year. We have enough songs for a record, so let’s record them and put them out. I went to film school and could do another Gear and Loathing just on film gear, but do you see any film content for Mariel? That will happen too. But the first step is to get the line-up in order. Hopefully after all that we can get a sick write up from Dustin Lothspeich. Hopefully.

OPIE TRAN / MARIEL

Mariel: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud / Bandcamp / Website

1. You’ve got quite the collection — which guitar do you play the most and why?

Up until a few years ago I only had a couple guitars. It wasn’t until last summer during recording guitar tracks for my other band did I catch GAS (guitar acquisition syndrome) haha. I’d say the guitar that honestly has been played the most is my acoustic guitar I got from Vietnam back in 2007. When I was a preschool teacher, I played it every day for the kids. I got tired of CDs skipping so I figured I’d just make my own versions of all the popular kid songs while making up my own along the way. It’s also been on random camping trips and is just always within an arm’s distance away when I feel like strumming some chords or writing new riffs.

Out of the electrics, I say the Squier J. Mascis Jazzmaster gets played the most. I originally got it to replace a P90 guitar that I was using with my other band but realized the tone and vibe fit Mariel much better. I also really like the fatter neck and Tune-o-matic bridge, being so used to Gibson-type guitars I felt right at home. I put locking tuners on it so string changing takes seconds and the balance of the body feels very comfortable. Its also a pretty inexpensive guitar so I don’t stress about too much about taking to gigs and beating the crap out of it.

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2. Is that the Ibanez DL7 on your pedalboard? Why do you use that and the Boss GigaDelay on the same board? Is one better than the other?

Yes it is! It was the first “effects” pedal I ever bought. I only ever use it for a slapback-type of delay and the occasional oscillation. The DD20 is my main delay used for medium to longer delay sounds. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other they just serve different purposes. I suppose the DD20 is more versatile but it also takes more brain power to use and the DE7 is less distracting with its simplicity. The main reason I got the DD20 is for the tap tempo function and LED screen (I have a terrible memory and need visual reminders). If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick the Boss just because it’s a tank and I tend to be rough on my gear. I have both because I’m lazy and don’t want to switch between banks on the DD20 and also I’m super sentimental and I get attached to my gear. Joking aside, stacking delays can make simple riffs sound gigantic and lead to super interesting sounds. I usually play super simple guitar parts and sometimes use delay as its own instrument similar to the Edge from U2. At one point, I had three delays but I realized it was overkill for what I was doing and that I should just get good at using two instead.

3. What’s the nondescript blue Digitech/DOD pedal?

Whoa you’re like a pedal detective! It’s a Digitech Bad Monkey, I’ve had that thing forever and it was the second “effects” pedal I’ve ever bought. I feel like there’s way better OD pedals out there but again, I’m super attached to my gear and it just works in my rig. One day, my bandmate and I got bored and started spray painting pedals so thats why it’s blue. I always have this dumb fantasy of some gear nerd trying to figure out my rig and starting a thread about it somewhere on the internet. Silly, I know. (Not necessarily! – Ed.)

4. Have you gone through a lot of different guitars and pedals to get to this point, or are you still searching for stuff?

Overall, I think I’ve been pretty good about getting to where I am with my gear. I tend to really research gear and make sure I really like whatever I’m getting. Considering how long I’ve been playing, I think the amount of gear I’ve gotten rid of is pretty low compared to how much stuff I have now. Pedal-wise I’m pretty satisfied, maybe one day I’ll replace that Bad Monkey with something else. If anything, I’d like to streamline my live rig and bring out my other toys for just recording. As far as guitars, I can’t see me wanting to stop collecting! I’d like to add an SG and Mustang to the quiver hopefully in the next year or so.

5. What song of Mariel’s is the best representation of your gear?

“We Lost the Fight.” We’re actually going to be recording soon so the best I have is from when we played at The Merrow a while back.

6. If money was no object, what’s the one ‘holy grail’ piece of gear you would buy?

A Gibson Les Paul Custom; it’s the guitar I saw so many of my heroes playing growing up and I still get aroused every time I see one!

7. What’s coming up next for the band?

We’re playing at The Merrow on 12/15 [INFO]. We’re also going to be working on new material, recordings and hopefully some touring.