J. ADAM WILLIAMS / THE LOWLAND DRIFTERS

The Lowland Drifters: Facebook / Instagram / SoundCloud

1. How would you describe your band’s sound.

We are trying to bridge spaghetti Western music with aggressive garage-rock and slight hints of surf. The lyrics all take place in some dying desert trailer-park town…our modern-day version of  ghost towns. It’s pretty dark, lyrically… almost pulp/noir. Imagine Breaking Bad meets The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. We have experimented with calling it “Doom Western”… not settled on that yet.

2. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: Is there anything you’re not stoked on that you might be replacing soon? Anything that will always be a fixture in your rig? 

My ADINEKO from Catalinbread is not the most used effect I have, but it is my favorite… a beautiful soupy analog delay. It was modeled after the old oilcan delay tech from the ‘70s. It modulates in sync with the delay rate and has multiple “delay heads” that allow you to have a mix of reverb and delay in the same effect. Very unique sounding and I don’t think I could ever live without it.

The SPARK BOOST is a great all-purpose boost. Want a Tubescreamer? Flip the switch up and cut your bass and treble. Want just a straight boost? Switch in the middle, giant taste and it will sound just like your straight signal but louder. I have even gotten a setting or two that hint at Vox cleans. Stupid amounts of signal boost on tap and a nice light overdrive.

FENDER VIBRO KING: I wanted this amp for so long it isn’t even funny. I like 10-inch speakers. They just seem more focused in a multi-guitar band.
I used to have a Twin and it was too heavy and I never could get it past two on the volume. This amp is still ungodly loud, but it is manageable and has a nice tonal balance.

The Zoom ME-100 is a great little all-purpose noisemaker. I use it for tremolo, acoustic, and when I want to push the reverb over the top.

I have a homemade phaser from B.Y.O.C. – it sometimes is a little finicky…I need to get in there one day and reflow solder.

The Greenhouse NoBrainer is an interesting high gain pedal. Lots of control over shaping of the mids and highs, but it always felt not as tight in the bass as I’d like. I don’t use this much in the current material, so it is prolly going to leave the board soon.

3. I’ve gotta ask: What’s the little button on the Tele by the pickup?

A kill switch I put in from my ‘60s freakbeat phase.. I still use it on occasion. That guitar has taken 10 years of my obsession with tinkering and mods. Including a new neck from USA Custom guitars.

I also have a small switch by my volume that taps my custom-wound bridge pickup from Cavalier Pickups. He makes fantastic pickups at a very reasonable price and quick turnaround for a custom winder. It gives me the all-important twang.

4. If you had to point someone to a song of yours that showcased your sound/style the best, what would it be?

“Johnny Law,” an instrumental and “Left Behind,” a murder ballad about a town sheriff who’s lost his hope and sanity. We are currently finishing mixes on these and they should be up on our pages in a few weeks.

“Cowtown” is an early demo we have that also shows where we are headed. It’s about a midnight robbery gone horribly wrong.

5. If money was no object, what is the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d get? 

Holy Grail… Hmm… I guess if we are talking big-ticket items, the only thing I’d really pine for is a  Fender “White Chicken”. It’s when you merge a Gretsch White Falcon and a Telecaster. Tele shape with a carved top. White paint, gold hardware, Bigsby Tremelo, etc. It’s not an official Fender thing, although the custom shop has made a few.

White Chicken

A 3×10 bandmaster wouldn’t suck either. And a pony…I want a pony.

6. What’s coming up for The Lowland Drifters?

We are finishing mixing work on a 5-song EP and gearing up for more gigs in the San Diego area.

The Lowland Drifters play The Merrow on Tuesday, July 26 with Bighorn Run and Corina Rose. RSVP here to get in for free.

BOTANICA CHANGO

Botanica Chango: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Bandcamp

Members: Joshua “J.B.” Becker (percussion/vocals), Tyler J. French (guitar/keys), Carlos Vicente Jr. (vocals/guitar), Sean Davenport (keys), Michael Alan Hams (drums), Bobby Roquero (bass)

1. Tell me about your guys’ stuff.

Carlos: We are currently in the writing process, so our rigs are a bit different. We are experimenting with a lot of vintage synths, drum machines in addition our normal pedal setups. A lot of the sounds that are coming out of this pre-production are pretty indicative of the time period the gear was made. Finding sound that fits the song we write next is always a work in progress.

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

Tyler: I/we get a lot of joy from finding new sounds, and we make a conscious effort not to get comfortable. One particular song in the new batch that we are all excited about, “Every knows,” is a pretty synth-heavy track that hopefully can make the girls in black move their hips.

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

JB: I’d probably say we could use some Quincy Jones brain, there’s nothing holy about our grails.

4. What was the first piece of gear you bought and what are your thoughts on it now? Do you have still have it?

Carlos: My first piece of gear besides a guitar and amp that really brings back memories was a DOD RP-6. It was my first foray into effects and it definitely influenced me quite a bit. I used it for about 6 months and started buying standalone pedals. The RP-6 is long gone, but it was an eye-opener for me.

5. What is your current favorite piece of equipment and why?

Tyler: My favorite piece of gear that we are writing on right now is the Moog Opus-3. It’s like a church organ you can play at Studio 54.

6. What’s coming up for you guys?

JB: The album we are currently working on is titled Action Park and is being written to be performed by professional figure skaters as Botanica Chango On Ice in LA. Our next show is SoundDiego’s Summer Splash Party at Harrah’s on July 16th, and we’ll be unveiling lots of new material from the album for the first time. [INFO]

MICHAEL McGRAW

Michael McGraw & The Butchers: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your current rig.

When I’m in my studio, I try different guitars depending on the vibe but as a live setup I’ve always played through a similar pedal setup, only changing out the overdrive a few times. For the past few years, I tried a more traditional amp/guitar combo with the ’65 Reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb amp and the Epiphone Casino and what I found was that the tone was incredible but I lost a lot of the dynamic control I had in the past. I recently switched back to my early ’90s Bedrock 2-12 amp; it was boutique before boutique amps were cool! The Bedrock is all hand-wired and modeled after the Vox AC-30 with a 100-watts of power at my disposal. The rumor is Bedrock made great amps but they were lousy businessmen!! I also love the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb and lately I use the Electro Harmonix Soul Food overdrive for it’s great tone. I was using the BBE Boosta Grande for added volume but now I added my JHS Superbolt on top of everything instead for some extra chaos!

2. Why do you use the gear you’re currently using?

I have used some version of my current setup for years because of how I play. What I do that’s kept me going in music is write songs and sing… frankly I play so much guitar because I have to! I’d much rather have a great lead guitarist but bands are a tough long-term dynamic so if you want to keep going in music for as long as you can, you do what you have to!! I started on acoustic in college so I am a strummy guitarist with some accents here and there. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with a lead guitarist regularly in awhile and I rarely solo so I find a nice reverb and some yummy overdrive help add character/dynamics to my guitar while allowing me to concentrate on singing.

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

When you’re writing and recording, sometimes you have no idea what songs people will grab onto or what sound will define them. As the years go by, certain songs stick around and tend to come up in conversation. For me, those songs are “Poorboy,” “Hillside” and “Closer Tonight.” “Hillside” was a song I wrote in a band called True Crime Authors with my buddy Lee Sammartino (drums) and I recorded it for my first EP in 2009. The song “Poorboy” really embodies the spirit and camaraderie I had with my close friends Chris Decatur (drums) and Mark Lane (bass) when we made the second EP in 2011. Lastly is “Closer Tonight,” which is a song that I carried around for years before releasing it last year on the full-length record.

4.Dream gig: What bands would you ask to play your all-time raddest show, and where would you play?

That’s easy…Stereophonics, Richard Ashcroft and Doves at Wembley Stadium!! I’m a Brit-rocker at heart.

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

I put an album out last year [listen/buy it here] but I am currently switching gears and getting back to my garage-rock roots so we should have a new single soon, hopefully in August. We’ll be playing next at the Soda Bar on Sunday, July 10, with the talented Jimmy Ruelas and a great band from Athens, GA called New Madrid. [INFO]

BRETT PATTERSON / THE WHISKEY CIRCLE

The Whiskey Circle: Facebook / Website / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

Comment below, on the Gear and Loathing Facebook page, or email gearandloathinginsandiego@gmail.com to be entered to win a pair of tickets to The Whiskey Circle’s EP release show at the Music Box on June 23!

1. Tell me about your current rig: For example, why do you use the gear you’re currently using? Best parts? Worst parts?

I guess it all depends on which rig we’re talking about? My main project is The Whiskey Circle with my wife Leanna, but I also play my upright bass for some local bands when needed and produce instrumentals with my brother in a project we call “Dream Queen.” For The Whiskey Circle, I play drums and keys at the same time. I’d prefer to just have separate people playing their own instruments, but at one point The Whiskey Circle was just a 2-piece and we felt the need for something more than guitar and drums. I was inspired by Shovels & Rope for the basic drum kit and keyboard combo.

For the most part, the drum kit I use is a Gretsch Catalina Club that we refer to as “Beetlejuice.” However, the 26″ kick in that Gretsch kit takes up too much space on the road and my Roland Juno kept falling off the top of it. So now I use a 22″ kick that came with a no-name, made-in-Japan kit that I scored off CL for $5. When I play live, I never play with more than a kick, snare and floor tom. When we record, I’ll mix the two kits together (13” and 14” rack toms and 16” and 18” floor toms) and make a 6-piece kit with the 26″ Gretsch kick to get that boom. When we play live, I always use small cymbals (Paiste 13″ hi-hats, 14″ thin crash and 20″ light ride), when we record I like to add a second ride and stereo crashes. My goal when playing for The Whiskey Circle is to always be quieter than Leanna’s vocals and let her be the focus of the song. When there’s a voice like hers in the band, it should never be drowned out by the instruments.

For the “organ” part of the rig, I currently use a Roland Juno Alpha-2 with a Behringer reverb/delay/echo pedal and a Marshall overdrive pedal through an Acoustic B20 bass amp for the low end. The pedals help the Juno not sound like a 1985 MIDI synth (which it is and why I originally bought it), but more like the organ on all of our recordings, a 1976 Kimball Entertainer.

Another cool thing about The Whiskey Circle is the other guitar player, Collin Webb, and I switch between drums and guitar throughout the set. The whole musical chairs thing started back when Daniel Cervantes was playing with us and he wanted to play drums on some tracks (if you didn’t know Dan is a drummer too then you’re missing out). It’s also really hard for me to sing the songs I wrote on guitar while playing drums and organ. Collin and I combine our pedals (although most of them are his) to get what you see in the picture. A lot of cool delays, shifters, modulars, fuzz and most importantly that Boss tuner. Collin plays that red Fender tele and I play Leanna’s daphne blue Mustang. Collin and I both play through his 12″ Fender Blues Jr.

Lastly, you’ll see the two fender basses and the Orange 1×12. Bass is my first instrument and my first love. I’ve recorded the bass for all of The Whiskey Circle tracks in the past and was playing bass in the band originally. My main live bass is the white reissue Fender Musicmaster with new Seymour Duncan pickups. My other bass is a P bass that was pieced together from CL parts: Squier P bass neck, MIM body, DIY surf green pick guard and pickups out of a 1971 American. This is the bass that has been recorded on all of The Whiskey Circle tracks. It needs some TLC as some of the higher frets are not quite right, but if you know how to make it work, then it’s the best thing ever. The Orange amp is a newer 1×12 Crush that was upgraded to 100w, new Jensen speaker and a 3″ tweeter installed to pick up some of the highs when we use the Bass Muff. It’s plenty loud enough to compete with the 12″ fender blues amps we all play with. This is the amp that our bass player uses live.

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

This is the demo version of one of the tracks off the new High Deserts EP called “Beaches.” It’s a song about everything I love: Leanna, CA, decriminalizing weed and riding bikes/motorcycles. It’s the first track that I’ve engineered and recorded everything on. Every piece of musical equipment that we own was recorded on the track (all three guitars through the Fender Blues Jr.) and also a Fender Champion (not pictured since we never use it live), the P bass and the Musicmaster (yes double bass tracks are the shit), and the Gretsch kit. It was definitely a pain multi-tracking by myself, but in the end, I think the track has a really nice “if the Velvet Underground hung out with The Blank Tapes in OB” sort of vibe.

 

 

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

I want everything in this video, but most importantly Jack Bruce’s Gibson EB complete with still-lit cigarette burning on the headstock.

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

Gear-wise, I would say Kurt Vile.

Music production/badassery-wise, I would say Dave Grohl. He’s from the DC area like me (we had the same HS PE teacher) and he played drums in 2 of my favorite bands, Scream and Nirvana. Not to mention his philosophy on drumming, like my favorite drummer (Ringo), is the best thing ever.

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

We are about to release our High Deserts EP via Wiener Records on June 17 with a music video and tour to help promote. [INFO] Our official EP Release Show is Thursday, June 23, at The Music Box with Jimmy Ruelas, Bad & The Ugly and Gary Hankins & the Summer Knowledge. [INFO/TICKETS]

BEN AMBROSINI / TAKEN BY CANADIANS

Taken By Canadians: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

1. Tell me about your current rig.

Lately, I’ve been jumping back & forth between a 1974 Greco Les Paul Custom and a 12-year-old Fender Mexican Stratocaster. The Strat has been through some real beatings, and is the first electric guitar I ever owned. I had that Wayne’s World “she will be mine, oh yes – she will be mine…” moment when I first saw this guitar. I’ll never forget going by the shop every other day or so just to see it hanging in the window at Moonlight Music in Encinitas. The Greco Les Paul was found in Philly by a friend of mine, and is built like a tank! Sustain for fucking ever. Super heavy. Lawsuit-era, and so pretty… Play ‘em out of a Fender 2×12 Hot Rod Deville. I love the Deville’s warmth and tone. It’s got great reverb, it’s simple, and breaks up nicely. The most used pedals on my board are the Vox Wah and Homebrew Electronics Big D Distortion. For years, I’ve been looking for the right distortion pedal, and that Homebrew is a killer. I was watching a band at Pour House a few months ago, and when their guitar player stomped on his pedal going into a solo, I almost pissed my pants. I had to know what the pedal was. Homebrew Electronics is no more unfortunately, but you can still find their stuff online. Totally functional, no frills. Very classic and to the point. That is, most simply, the sound I go for with my guitar rig… classic and warm. I want a timeless sound.

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

“Black Dove” is probably the best representation of the tone I’m usually after. I played the 74’ Les Paul on that one and I really wanted the guitar to walk the line between blending in and standing out when necessary. It’s pretty when it needs to be, but cuts through easily and clearly once you throw a little dirt on it. I also had some fun with “Stay Home & Fuck.” As “Black Dove” is an accurate representation of tone, “Stay Home & Fuck” is more of a representation of the guitar’s obligation to attitude. I recorded most of we eat you like a person on the Les Paul.

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

Gosh. I want a 1974 Gibson Flying V! I have never played one, but I saw a ’80 -something Flying V in a pawn shop in some state on our last tour and it occupied some real deep places in my mental landscape. I also hope to have a ‘50s Strat someday. Maple neck. I’m sure I’ll be able to afford one once our Spotify royalties come in from this new record.

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

I really admire Nels Cline of Wilco (and much more). The way that man plays a guitar could only come from a place uniquely genuine and real. It’s effortless, difficult, not perfect, perfect, pretty, and psychotic all at the same time. He uses his pedals in very interesting and creative ways, and can be seen regularly bending, beating, and smashing his guitars… He WORKS to get that sound you hear on those records, and I respect the hell out of that. His guitar work is so welcome alongside Jeff Tweedy’s voice and lyrics. I’ve never heard a guitar player compliment a singer so well.

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

Taken By Canadians’ record release show for we eat you like a person is tomorrow at the world famous Casbah! We are so excited to eat everyone like a person that night, and are so honored and fortunate to be joined by our friends: Badabing, Jimmy Ruelas, Mrs. Henry, and DJ Lexicon Devil. [INFO] we eat you like a person features a bigger, more electric sound from the band, and we’re really excited to share what we’ve been working on for the last few years. We recorded it at the best fucking studio in North County, Emerald Age Recording Studios, and were lucky enough to have Mr. James Page as our engineer. The record will be available on vinyl (limited — get one early), CD, and cassette courtesy of End of Impressed Records! See you Thursday!

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!

RUTGER ROSENBORG / THE LULLS

The Lulls: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Website

1. Tell me about your current rig: I never really use the Tube Screamer, and the EQ is just to prevent feedback when I play my hollowbody. I only use the Tremster on one Lulls song, and everything else is to create dynamics. My sound is based predominantly on stereo routing my Jazzmaster to my Holland Mini Jimi (a boutique tube amp that gives me just the slightest bit of unpredictability) and my Jazz Chorus (a solid state that recreates the same lush, clean tone every time). Tone above all. I hate mids so I cut them out completely (our ears hear enough of them as it is). The cleaner the guitar to amp sound, the more control I have over it with my playing and with my pedalboard. I start with a blank canvas and then add color only where it’s needed. I’m not just pouring out all of the paints at once; I’m mixing the right colors in the right proportions to create the scene I want.

For moments of breath, I use my digital reverb, which is always on the modulate setting. Adding a medium delay to the modulated reverb gives it a little extra kick in the ass. Using a phaser too much can get cheesy, but I like the effect of having it on the fastest speed to accentuate certain beats and make it seem like there’s another instrument coming in. The POG is to make up for the deficit of another guitar since the Lulls are just a trio. If we count my entire career in music, I guess you could say it took me 18 years to build this pedalboard the way it is now, but it has always been a fluid and reflexive process. Sometimes I think I want a pedal to create a certain sound, but then I realize it does this other thing too, so I go with that. The pedal fucks with me as much as I fuck with it. In general, my philosophy is: “The fewer the knobs, the better.” But what can I say? I’m a Swedish minimalist.

2. What’s your favorite piece of gear?  I don’t have favorites, but if I had to pick based on sentimental value, I would say my guitar. That Jazzmaster (an original, by the way) was given to me by my dad, who got it for free when he was 18 and impulsively decided to strip off all of the white paint (hallelujah).

3. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your sound/style?  My goal with my sound is defamiliarization (a term used by Russian formalists in the early 20th century to describe the way poetry works). I’m not a big fan of the whole dirty rock and roll guitar sound. At one point, it was innovative, but now it’s too recognizable. I want people to be surprised. I want them to go, “What the fuck instrument is that and how the fuck is only one instrument making all of that sound?” On a more specific level, I think a lot about the sound of water and how I can make my guitar sound like different forms of water. As such, I would say that either “Tyrant” or “Calafia” [listen to the song here], off of our upcoming album, demonstrate those sorts of things most evidently.

4. Who do you look up to the most sound/gear-wise and why?  I admire a lot about Daniel Rossen’s [Grizzly Bear] style and tone. Subtlety and intricacy. And the tones he gets on record. Good god. I tend to like very clean, pure sounds à la Ray Phiri, David Longstreth, and jazz guitarists like Kurt Rosenwinkel. Maybe I just like guitarists that have similar last names to mine.

5. What do you have coming up?  We’re waiting on some mixes to come back and brainstorming music videos, single releases, and eventually our album release. My pedalboard is featured in many permutations on this upcoming album, I’ll tell you that.

Be sure to catch The Lulls on Thursday, April 21, at Soda Bar with Haunted Summer, Garden Echo, and Annie Girl and the Flight. Tickets are available here.

JORDAN KRIMSTON / BIG BAD BUFFALO

Big Bad Buffalo: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your current rig: Weirdest part? Work in progress?  All of my Big Bad Buffalo gear is very “rock” oriented. It all kind of caters towards a fat, crunchy, hardly-restrained sound. I like the ability to slightly alter my tone song-to-song, which is the main reason I have pedals. I think the weirdest pedal I have is my Philosopher’s Tone pedal which is a distortion/sustain pedal, but I use it as a treble-boost pedal. I also have a Hardwire Loop/Delay pedal that I use to get a Tera Melos-esque stutter effect. My rig is definitely still a work in progress as BBB’s sound has changed and doesn’t require some of the effects I used to use.

2. What song of yours (or your band’s) do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style?  Ooh, tough call. If I had to pick, it would probably be between a couple songs of the new, currently unrecorded, album. Sorry! Off of American (our first album), I would say “Sharon is Karen.”

3. If money was no object, what’s the holy grail piece of gear you’d buy? I would definitely get a Satellite amp. Hands down.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise? Tough call for sure … I think in terms of distorted tones, I would go with John Reis (Hot Snakes) or Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), but in terms of clean tones I would go with Andrew Aged (Inc.) or David Pajo (Slint). Kinda split that answer four ways, haha.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about?  Lately, Big Bad Buffalo has been pretty inactive in a public sense. We’ve mainly been working on demoing songs for our next record which is due to come out in the summer. Once the record comes out, we’ll start playing a lot more again.

Big Bad Buffalo are playing an all-ages show hosted by 91X’s Lou Niles on Saturday, April 9th at The Studio in Encinitas (1057 s. Coast Hwy), with Indio Romero and Julian Rey Saenz. Get info here. Be sure to listen and download their debut album, “American,” here.

EDWARD LOZA / THE HEART BEAT TRAIL

The Heart Beat Trail: Facebook / Bandcamp

Uniform Victor: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about the gear in the pictures. What is your go-to live rig and why?  The guitar I reach for the most is my 1999 Fender Stratocaster. It’s one the most comfortable and versatile guitars I’ve ever played. This is also the guitar I play the majority of the time in The Heart Beat Trail. For a while, I was modifying the electronics and hardware for fun but the current setup feels and sounds like home. I chose the gold pickguard as a nod to Ken of L’arc en Ciel. Initially, I just thought it looked cool but there ended up being a pleasant side effect. Coincidentally, the pickguard seems to cancel out some of the 60Hz hum from the pickups without screwing up the tone and it even made the guitar a little louder.

My live amp of the moment is a Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 18 through a Fender Bassbreaker BB-212 cab. The amp is fun because I can push it hard and get a lot of reaction from the tubes. At only 18 watts, the amp sometimes struggles to rise above the band. Because of this I had to get a little more creative with the EQ on my amp and pedals than I would if I just had enough watts to be really loud. This lets me sit in the mix better and not be overly loud for the people in the front row.

On my pedalboard, I have one of my favorite flangers, the MXR M117R. I love sneaking flanger into songs. It can also be used to fake a chorus pedal and channel some lovely John McGeoch sounds. There’s also a Fulltone Deja Vibe on the board. This one is used heavily on the live version of “Cherry Blossoms” to get the syrupy wobble.

The red guitar is a Squier Jagmaster I got from my friend Paul Ryu in Mittens. It’s kind of like a wacky Strat with humbuckers and a short scale Jaguar neck. It’s pretty fun to play so I am grateful that Paul was willing to part with it. The Flying V is my newest guitar. It needs a little tweaking before I trust it live. Some guitars take a little more time to bond with but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A strange guitar can tell you weird and wonderful things if you take the time.

In the band Peacock, I play lap steel. It is a bit tricky for me to play as it forces me to approach my parts differently than I would on guitar. The tuning among other things puts me out of my comfort zone, which is a bit of fun. It’s perfect for the spooky ghost notes and chords.

When recording, I almost always use my ‘70s silverface Fender Champ or the Groove Tubes Soul-O 45. That Champ is a magical amp that just sounds incredible no matter how I set it. My Vox VBM1 is the amp I used on “Man of Tin” by Uniform Victor to get that ripping, amp-on-fire sound. Amongst the many pedals by the Vox are two of my favorites: the Zvex Fuzz Factory and the ProCo Rat. As much as I LOVE the Fuzz Factory, I find the Zvex Mastotron a little more controllable live. That’s why one is on my board and the other is in the studio. I never build a pedalboard without a Rat. It goes from overdrive to almost fuzz and I love the span of the tone knob. If I could only have one dirty pedal it would be the Rat!

2. Which song is a good example of your style?  The Heart Beat Trail song “Falling” is a good one. On the solos, I tried to make it sound like when you’re dying to tell somebody you’re falling for them but you can’t quite say it yet. The solos feel like the release when you get the courage to say you’re falling in love. I chose a thick distorted sound because I felt the first solo needed to be like when you’re afraid to say you love somebody so you just keep telling yourself. Then the second solo is like when you finally exclaim “I LOVE YOU!” and kiss like it’s the end of the world.

3. What is your “money is no object” piece of dream gear?  Building a custom guitar is something I dream of. I don’t care if it’s not cool to admit but I want a signature guitar; call me up, Fender. Getting the neck just right would be the most exciting part of the build. A compound radius fretboard, jumbo frets, large headstock and an asymmetrical rear profile sound like a good start. For the body, I’d like to think I could come up with something as unique as the Music Man St. Vincent guitar but it would probably end up being a Strat in disguise. Even though I have two sunburst Strats, I kind of hate that color. I would have to go with a more interesting color like cerise.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise?  I am torn between Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Nels Cline of Wilco. They both push the boundaries of expected guitar sounds while also being masters of the more familiar sounds. I also love the way they both have elements of exploding discordant noise mixed with heartbreaking beauty in their styles. What I have learned from them is to play with the beauty and danger of a volcano as long as is serves the song.

5. What shows, news or projects do you have coming up?  The Heart Beat Trail will play The Merrow on April 7th with Daring Greatly and The Peripherals. We are currently writing/recording a follow up to So Long, Carcosa. Peacock is a new band with Berkeley Kent Austin, Lia Dearborn, Evan Bethany and I. We are in the middle of recording with Paul Durso at Zos Kia Studios and should have something available very soon.

MEGAN LISCOMB / SOFT LIONS

Soft Lions: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / Boy King

1. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: My current rig is a Bonser amp copy of an old Silvertone, a Danelectro that Jon made over for me to look like a Silvertone, and a handful of sloppily daisy-chained pedals. I absolutely love this guitar. It’s super light and plays like a dream. My pedal board is def a work in progress. I’d like to get it a little tighter and wire it up. Jon just gave me a really dope fuzz and distortion pedal that he made, it’s got a cat’s face on it, so obvi I’m very excited to get it on my board.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style?  Of our currently released material, I’d have to say “Spellbreaker.” Plenty of reverb and a little bit of surfy-ness, but it also gets heavy.

3. If money was no object, what’s the ‘holy grail’ piece of gear you’d buy?  Oh god, I have no idea! Before I was in this band, almost all of my stuff was hand-me-downs from my dad and other friends, and I had really rarely ever bought anything. It’s just been in the last couple years after working with people like you and Jon Bonser that I started to see the value in being really intentional with your sound. It turns out some of my dad’s nicest stuff he gave me doesn’t sound like me. I guess I really love stupid cheap guitars. I recently bought a 3/4 size bubblegum pink Squier strat and I put stickers all over it and play it at home every day. If I had unlimited cash, I would probably buy a lot of really, really dumb guitars like that, Danelectros too, and do weird stuff to them. Glitter, stickers, flowers and crystals.

4. What was the first piece of gear you bought and what are your thoughts on it now?  Do you have still have it? The first piece of gear I ever bought was actually also a Squier guitar. It was white on white and I wanted it because it had a whammy bar. I bought it from a coworker at the movie theater where I had my first job in high school for $10 in the parking lot. I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe it’s in my mom’s garage? I also really wish I still had my first pedalboard. It was literally a board that I had covered with glitter and velcroed my pedals too. It was a huge fucking mess and it shed glitter everywhere.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about?  On Saturday, Soft Lions are playing a FUNdraiser at Shaper Studios (#softlionsFUNdraiser) to help us cover the costs of making our next record. The Schizophonics, Boy King, and DJ Jon Blaj will be playing as well, plus projections by Zeuqsav. On April 20, we’ll be recording at Tiny Telephone in SF, with John Vanderslice producing us. We’re unbelievably excited, and we’ll see you at the show!!