JOHN VINEYARD / THE OXEN

 

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The Oxen: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud

1. Take me through your rig: You’ve got some really cool stuff – how’d you end up using what you do?

I’ve accumulated a lot of equipment, and a lot of junk, over the past 25 years! Some of my pedals were recommended by the other guitar player in my old band (El Gato) from Denton/Dallas, TX. We started in the mid-‘90s, so there were no internet reviews or YouTube demos. His guitar always sounded better than mine, so I just took his word for it on a lot of stuff. These days, I do some research online and peek at other people’s gear if I think their guitar sounds good.

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2. How did you end up with that Jaguar? What model is that? And give me the backstory on the Texas sticker…

I got that Jaguar new at a guitar show in Dallas back in the mid-’90s. It was made in 1994-95 in Japan. I recently put some Curtis Novak pickups in it, which I like way better than the stock pickups. I also got a modified Mustang bridge which has solved the problem of strings jumping into the wrong groove on the saddles when I play hard.

Aside from being from Texas, the flag sticker idea was inspired by (or stolen from!) one of my favorite guitar players, Chris “Frenchie” Smith, of the Austin band Sixteen Deluxe. He plays at high volume with a reckless enthusiasm that I love. He has an American flag sticker in that spot on his Jazzmaster, so I guess I put that Texas flag sticker on my guitar as a constant reminder that it is more important to play fearlessly and expressively than to be timid and technically “perfect.”

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3. I used to have Musicman head that I loved, so I’m way into that combo you have. What drew you to the Sixty-Five?

I really love my Musicman 210 Sixty-Five. I played a Vox AC30 for a long time, and I do still have it. My Vox is from 1985, and it has a darker sound than a lot of the more desirable AC30s. Recently, I started wanting an amp that would give me more of a twang sound, and I was researching Fender Twins. A lot of people were recommending vintage Musicman amps as a less expensive alternative. I found this one on craigslist for $400, and jumped on it. I’m super happy with it, and I’ve pretty much been using the Musicman live, but I use both amps for recording.

4. Love your pedalboard: What’s the one effect you use the most?

The effect I use the most is probably my Death By Audio Fuzz War. It’s my favorite distortion pedal that I have ever owned.

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5. I’ve heard mixed reviews on those Dunlop Tremelo pedals. Give me your quick review of it. Also, that big-box Memory Man looks like a slightly older one — late-‘80s/early-‘90s before the reissues? Totally drool-worthy. What do you like most about it?

The Dunlop Tremolo works fine for me, and I’ve had it for about 20 years. There was a time when I couldn’t get it to go as fast as it originally did, but some friendly elves must have come and secretly fixed it one night because it started working again. I think there are less expensive alternatives that work just as well or better, but that’s what I got. It takes up a lot of room – like the Memory Man – which is also about 20 years old. I can do some fun stuff with the chorus effect on the Memory Man when recording, but live, I pretty much use it as a straight delay.

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6. If you could get one piece of gear for one of your bandmates as a gift — what would you get, who would it be for, and why?

I think I would get Jozette a giant Orange Amps full stack that would tower over her. She loves those amps, and I think it would be fun to see such a tiny woman with such a giant rig. Of course, I would wind up loading and unloading it, so maybe I should rethink that…

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7. What’s your favorite Oxen song to play live and why?

Probably “Glass Pastures” just because it’s weird and has a lot of fun little parts.

See The Oxen at The Merrow on Saturday, Feb. 17, with Nowhereland and Sweet Myths. They’re also up for Best Rock Band at the 2018 San Diego Music Awards (vote for them here)

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PETER DUFF / HARD TO HIT

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Hard to Hit: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website

1. Hey Peter, talk me through your live rig: Why is that Mesa amp your No. 1? I’m surprised not to see any modulation or delay/reverb effects on your board. What else would you add if you had the option? 

I decided to go with the Mesa 5:25 Express + for live for a few reasons. First and foremost, it just sounds the best for the kinds of heavy (but not too heavy) tones I’m going for, but also because of its flexibility and because it packs a ton of features into a head that will be easy to move around and keep in good shape. It has enough foot-switchable options that I was able to keep my pedalboard simple, which was important to me because for this band I decided I wanted to be able to focus more on playing and having a good time than setting up a complicated rig, and having extra patch cables, etc. to worry about. In addition to switching between a high and low-gain channel, it also lets me have foot-switchable reverb, two foot-switchable EQs per channel (the graphic EQ and the preset EQ knob which is a nice sounding midscoop) and also a foot-switchable boost. All that saves me 3 or 4 pedals on my board, which means I can keep it small in the one briefcase and I don’t have to use the effects loop since everything on the board is in front of the amp so that’s fewer cables to have to set up, trip over, or break.

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I didn’t bother with modulation, delay, or pedal reverb on this board because as of right now, the songs we’re playing don’t really call for it. There’s definitely a few spots where I would normally use my Carbon Copy a little bit, but not so much that I wanted to add the complexity or the tap dancing. I could definitely see changing it up and adding the Carbon Copy, Timeline, and Moore modulation pedal in the future if we end up using more effects for our next album. In which case I’d think about finding a smaller volume pedal, tuner, and/or power supply to free up some space.

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2. How did you settle on both an SG and a Tele?

All our songs right now are in drop D except one in drop C, so I’m using the Tele for the bulk of them and the SG for the one drop C song. Ironically, the Tele is the cheapest guitar I own, but somehow it just feels the best to play; the weight and balance is nice, the neck is fast, and I like the look of it. I swapped out the stock Fender humbucker in the bridge for a Seymour Duncan SH4JB and it sounds great. The SG handles the lower tuning the best out of all my guitars and it’s my second favorite, so it was an obvious choice.

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3. Out of all the effects you used on the record, which one got the most use and why? Were there any other effects you wish you had on-hand that you would’ve used?

The other pedals that got used the most on the record were the Tube Screamer and EQ. They were on pretty much the whole time, pushing our other guitar player’s amp a bit more for one of the main guitar tracks. I think I used a little Carbon Copy and reverb from the Strymon Blue Sky here and there, but for the most part, our guitar tones are pretty much straight-forward gain.

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4. Talk to me about the extra amps in this pic…what’d you use ’em for?

The other amps are a 1964 Ampeg Jet J-12, Peavey 6505 Mini Head, and Fender ’94 Twin (not to be confused with a Twin Reverb, this one has two drives that are actually pretty cool). I was planning on using the Peavey for the main guitar doubles, but our other guitar player’s Peavey XXX won out. I actually used the Fender for all the leads since its drive has a nice mid-range bite that compliments the mid-scooped Mesa and Peavey well. The Ampeg unfortunately didn’t make it onto the EP since I mainly use it for cleans or light bluesy drive, but it gets used in the studio all the time.

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5. You guys have a new EP coming out — how did the recording process go? Who did you work with and where did you record it? 

In addition to playing in the band, I’m actually a full-time professional engineer, so I recorded most of it at my studio: The Grey Brick Recording Studio. Two of the songs were recorded up at Catacomb in Orange County last year before I joined the band, but we ended up making some changes to those songs so the only part of those recordings we really kept was the drums; everything else for the five songs I recorded, mixed, and mastered.

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6. If you got to buy ANY piece of gear for one of your band mates, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard one since we’ve all got our rigs pretty well dialed in right now. Our bass player just got a new P-Bass and has a great Amgeg SVT and cab, our other guitar player’s Peavey XXX and Tele sound great, and our drummer just refinished his kit. Really the best thing for the band would probably be nice in-ear monitors. I just got some Shure SE315s which are awesome and some of the other guys are just using normal earbuds. Not the sexiest answer, but hearing protection is important, kids!

7. Besides the EP release show at SOMA on Friday, December 1st, what else does Hard to Hit have coming up?

The release is definitely the biggest news, it’s been almost a year since Hard to Hit has played because of some changes to the lineup and we decided to just focus on the EP before getting back out on stage, so this will actually be the first show back with the new lineup. We will also be releasing a video the same day. The following weekend, we will be doing a short run up to Bakersfield, Grover Beach, and one other city that’s still TBD. We will have another local show in February and we’re planning on a bigger West Coast tour for March.

DANIEL CERVANTES / MRS. HENRY & CREATURE AND THE WOODS

Mrs. Henry: Facebook / Twitter / InstagramWebsite

Creature and the Woods: Facebook / Twitter / InstagramWebsite

1. Tell me about your current rig.

My current rig is an early 1970’s Acoustic 150 Solid State Head through a 6X10” 104 Cabinet. I’ve come to love pretty everything old and vintage but particularly ‘70s solid state and the amazing Acoustic Control Corporation. ACC was a staple of the ’70s rock sound, from John Paul Jones to Frank Zappa to Robby Krieger. Real good stuff and mine breaks up a bit more then the average model so I’ve been told. My main axe is a 10-year-old Mexican Fender Strat. This guitar has outlived them all, been beaten and abused for years and has an incredible neck and feel, setup with 12-gauge strings and a bridge to dive and soar bomb to heaven and hell. The two other guitars I’ve been using a lot recently are a 1970s Hohner Les Paul and a Fender Thinline Reissue Telecaster with humbuckers. Both have incredible sustain and tone, the tele I usually keep in open G or tune up for country stuff. For pedals, I’ve always got my Dunlop wah-wah and volume pedals, Diamond J Drive MK3 Distortion/Clean Boost, MXR Carbon Copy Delay and Xotic EP Booster which is modeled after the EP3 Echoplex Tape delay pre amp used by the likes of Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen. Can get the bulk of sounds I am after with these guys.

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

“Rock N Roll Band II” would be a great example of my tone and gear. Used a combination of these three guitars on the majority of the new Mrs. Henry recordings all done analog and to 2” tape at Audio Design Recording here in San Diego, CA. On this song, I am using my trusty Strat tuned to open D with a real crapped out and glassy tone getting that Stones/Faces a la Ron Woods vibe. Hit the EP boost on the solo and let it ride.

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

Gotta go with the Holy Grail Gibson ’59 Les Paul. Nothing swings like a Les Paul around the neck. Sustain for days, go have a bite and come back and that sucker is still ringing.

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


One musician I am particularly in awe every time I hear him is Adrian Belew. His use of the whammy bar is out of this world. First time I ever heard noise with such finesse and atonal fuzz was Talking Heads Live in Rome 1980, got the whole concert on YouTube and it’s just crushing. Parachute pants and all, and I believe a Strat through a Roland JC-120.

Be sure to catch Mrs. Henry at The Casbah on Thursday, June 2nd with Taken By Canadians (record release show)and Jimmy Ruelas. [INFO] Copies of Mrs. Henry’s new album, Otay, will be available on vinyl at the show.