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.

bass_gear_wide

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.

thewolf

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.

night_train

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.

pedals

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.

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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]

BRIAN GOWER / PLANE WITHOUT A PILOT

Plane Without a Pilot: Facebook / Instagram / TwitterWebsite

1. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: How did you come to own these things? Makes/models/brands, etc.? Best parts? Worst parts? Anything a work in progress?

GUITARS:

The red Stratocaster with all the stickers is “Big Red,” my main gal. She started life as a Squier Fat Strat. I’ve done quite a few mods over the past 15 years. I have replaced the neck with an unfinished Maple Warmoth Neck (with custom star inlays), Schaller Locking Tuners, a Graph Tech nut, Graph Tech saddles, a Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker in the bridge and wired up to have a single volume knob. I gutted all the stuff I don’t use. I ripped out the tone controls, pickup selector, neck and middle single coil pickups, and some of the pickguard haha. Big Red isn’t just a looker, she’s got immense playability with the smooth and snappy maple neck and has a great, solid, mid-focused tone. I’d say we’re both lookin’ a bit worse for wear these days… but we’re both still kicking!

The pink one is my Gibson Les Paul Junior. She has her share of mods as well. First the headstock broke off at a gig a few years back…which sucked. I’ve since got that repaired, put on Sperzel locking tuners, a custom cut bone nut, a Seymour Duncan Antiquity humbucker, and a Leo Quan Badass wrap-around bridge. My bassist, Kyle, stripped and repainted this guitar. It was originally TV Yellow. I told him I wanted a pink Gibson and he obliged. Now I think she’s sassy and unique, as pink Gibsons are few and far between.

The Black one is my Gibson Les Paul Classic. I changed out a few bits here too… picking up a theme here? I added Schaller locking tuners, a custom cut bone nut, Graph Tech saddles, and Seymour Duncan Jazz/JB humbuckers. This one’s got a thick sound that can get bass heavy without getting muddy.

The last one is a Fender American Reissue of a ’62 Jazzmaster and it’s the most stock guitar I own. The only thing I switched was the Jazzmaster bridge for a Mustang one. It has a tone that’s really unique. I’d say it’s kind of twangy like a Telecaster, somewhat beefy like a Les Paul, and it’s a bit biting like an SG. With both pickups on it’s unlike any guitar tone I’ve ever played before. It’s worth noting that I use the shit out of the trem bar whenever I play this live.

AMPS:

Both amps are Orange 2×12 combos. I’ve become an Orange fan boy quickly over the past year. I blame my buddy Sean Tolley (Nothing Sacred/ Short Stories) for that. We used to share a rehearsal space with his band. One night, my amp was on the fritz so I asked if I could play on his Orange AD30 that was left in the room. I plugged in and was blown away immediately. It was the sound I had been searching for out of my similar Vox AC30 but couldn’t quite dial in. I swiftly bought my own Orange AD30r and ditched the Vox. It’s a Vox-y style EL84 amp that has more “oomph” in comparison. I’d say it has a ton more mid focus and more preamp drive on tap. It’s a fairly simple one-channel amp without an FX loop.

In addition to the AD30, I wanted a backup amp. You gotta have a backup, right? I wanted an amp with some more bells and whistles. So that brings me to the Orange Rockerverb 50 MKII 2×12 combo. It’s a 50-watt amp with clean and dirty channels, spring reverb, and a tube-driven FX loop. The dirty channel is where the Rockerverb really shines. It can go from subtle crunch to insane saturation. With these two amps, I can cover a myriad of tones. I only use one at a time for shows. Which one depends solely on my mood.

PEDALS:

Pedal chain goes Guitar > Dunlop Mini Volume > Dunlop Mini Wah > Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive > Fulltone Full Drive 2 w/ JHS boost mod > Black Cat Mini Tremolo > Boss DD-500 Delay > Catalinbread Talisman Plate Reverb > Amp.

I utilize different gain stages and the volume boost at key points of songs to bring dynamics to the band. I stack the drives and can use the clean boost independently. The reverb is on all the time. It really fills up some space, gives the guitar more impact, and doesn’t clutter anything up. The tremolo is used sparingly and is dialed in for a slight effect. The DD-500 is an incredible delay station. I can get tape slap, crisp dotted 8th delays, modulated patterned repeats, etc. all at the click of a switch. It has 200 editable presets… I’m only using 8 of them.

I’d say the pedalboard is the best/worst part of my rig. I’m happy with the flexibility and dynamics it brings to the band’s sound but it’s such a constant evolving thing. Let’s just say I change my board more than most people change their socks. Sometimes I want to scale it back. Then other times I’ll want to add more. I’m working on getting a midi pedal switcher system for my board so I won’t have to tap dance around as much. Hopefully I can get that squared away by the end of summer.

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

I’d say “Falling For You” off our upcoming full length album, Just Another Unsung Tragedy. Taken at face value, it’s a catchy, upbeat pop-punk song but if you dig deeper you’ll find it has some desperate lyrics hidden behind that forced optimism. Guitar-wise, it has some nods and winks to various rock ‘n roll and post-punk stylings strewn about. The main riffs and choruses have been dubbed with heavy gained guitars that blend into the verses that switch to guitars that have a lighter crunch tone. The bridge cleans up with strummed chords that have a touch of tremolo and slap delay. These tones are sort of a call back to a more retro ’60s feel. The lead “solo” guitar comes in with a lot of delay and reverb to give it a big ‘80s rock feel.

3. I noticed you use those big button things on some of your pedals. I’ve never seen anyone else use them, so I wanted to know why you do, and would you recommend them?

They are called “Barefoot Buttons” [www.barefootbuttons.com]. They are a newer company I found whilst browsing reddit. These buttons easily attach to pedal switches and make it easier to click on/off. They were made to also not hurt your feet if you play barefoot. I never play barefoot on stage but I do like the idea of having a bigger target to hit when clicking my various switches. I’m the lead singer and only guitarist in the trio. I have a lot of space to fill and need to switch sounds quickly and as seamlessly as possible. These buttons help me do so. Also the red boost switch and “A” delay (one on the right) on the DD-500 can be switched on at the same time if I get my foot stomping just right. I do that quite a lot to make solos stand out. Also these buttons look dope.

4. I’m sensing kind of a Billie Joe Armstrong vibe with the Strat, the LP Jr. and the Orange (I think he used an Orange at some point?) — is there something to that or no?

Bingo! Guilty as charged! Yes, I am very heavily inspired by Mr. Armstrong and Green Day. They were the first band I ever started listening to and I am still listening to Green Day albums to this day. I continue to find more and more things I enjoy about them. Whether it be the songs as a whole, his use of guitar tones/sounds, song structures, the album production, his lyrics, his live sound/gear… yikes I’m sounding like a creep, huh? As far as Orange amps, I know he’s more of a Marshall Plexi guy and has used JCM 800s & 900s in the early Kerplunk days but who knows, he might rock an Orange every now and then.

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

OK, so we’re back to the Green Day/Billie Joe thing. I’d buy a Marshall Plexi and get it modded with his same Dookie gain mod that cascades the front end and adds a preamp tube. I could finally have THAT tone. Maybe one day I’ll pull the trigger and get one.

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

“Big Red”, the red stickerfied Strat, was my first guitar I ever bought. I was 12 and I really wanted to play guitar. My dad wouldn’t just buy me one because he said, “If you worked for it and bought one on your own, you’d appreciate it more.” Boy, was he right! As impatient as I was then, I truly appreciate that sentiment nowadays. So I did all the chores, mowed all the lawns, recycled all the cans I could until finally one day, I had enough cash to buy a guitar. I went to the local guitar store and the clerk asked me what I wanted and I just pointed to the red Squier Stratocaster that was on the display rack. The clerk was gone for a while then finally came back from the stockroom and said “I’m sorry but we don’t have anymore of these in red. Do you want the one on display? I can take some money off the price and give you a cable, some picks, etc.” I said OK and was out the door a happy boy. It was already dinged up and scratched a bit from being a display model but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. I threw some stickers on over the years, broken a piece here or there, swapped some bits and I am still playing it at live gigs. My USA Fenders and Gibsons are all quite nice in their own right but they could never replace this one. It’s special. It’s the guitar that started PWP.

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

We’re headed on a West Coast tour the first week on June (dates below). Our first show is on Thursday, June 2nd, at Soda Bar with Squarecrow opening for Toyguitar (Fat Wreck Chords). We are also releasing our full-length, Just Another Unsung Tragedy, this fall. The album is mixed/mastered and we are in the final stages for artwork. We’ll have a few more things to nail down before we can have a release date and corresponding tour. Keep an eye out for that. For everything else you can check us out at www.planewithoutapilot.com and your various social media sites. We out here… we grindin’.

“The Big Dirty Tour”

Thursday, June 2nd- Soda Bar (San Diego, CA) [INFO]
Friday, June 3rd- The Caravan (San Jose, CA)
Saturday, June 4th- Triangle Tavern (Salem, OR)
Sunday, June 5th- High Water Mark Lounge (Portland, OR)
Monday, June 6th- Le Voyeur (Olympia, WA)
Wednesday, June 8th- The Roxy (Vancouver, BC)
Thursday, June 9th- Johnny B’s (Medford, OR)
Friday, June 10th- Jub Jub’s (Reno, NV)

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.

JEFF TERICH / BLOOD PONIES


Blood Ponies: Facebook / Instagram

1. What is your favorite piece of gear? My Fender Jazzmaster. I suppose it’s a little bit of a cop-out to say “My guitar!” But it’s true. It’s pretty versatile; I can use it as a catalyst for either some massively noisy songs or some more streamlined, goth-sounding stuff. Plus, I just dig the feel of it. Some guitars just don’t *feel* right, but when I got it—a Christmas gift from Candice a few years ago, no less—it became like an extra limb or something.

2. What song of yours (or your band’s) do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style? We have a song called “The Author” that’s maybe the shortest song we have, but the most potent distillation of what we do into a concise package. It’s a pretty fast song, with lots of delay and distortion, and no part is ever really repeated twice. It’s fun to play because it’s basically just this linear roller coaster kind of thing and it feels complete even though it’s only about two minutes. A guy at a show we just played said we sounded like a cross between Joy Division and Queens of the Stone Age, and the more that I think about it, this song might be a perfect example of what he was talking about.

3. Tell me about your current rig: How does it help you achieve the sound/style you’re after? I use two amps—a Fender Princeton Chorus and a bass amp—so that I can split the signal into two channels via A/B switch. I use an octave pedal with the bass amp, so that our songs have a bassline, even though we don’t actually have a bass player. Through the Fender amp, I use an OCD overdrive pedal and a Danelectro delay pedal. I love the sound of the delay, even though practically it’s not a super convenient pedal because the switch is just a quarter-sized button that it took me too many tries not to miss when stepping on it. And I use the chorus from the Fender amp. Those effects get me where I need to be. I have some other pedals that I don’t really use with this band because they just don’t fit the sound. And that’s kind of been my attitude from the start, that there’s no need to overload on effects. Some distortion, a little delay and some reverb (but not like crazy amounts of surf-guitar reverb or anything) do the trick. It’s also easier to carry everything to gigs that way.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise and why? When we started playing I was adamant that my guitar sound had to be just like that of Rowland S. Howard of The Birthday Party. I realized sort of quickly that was kind of a fool’s errand, however, just because the kinds of gear that people were using 35 years ago is going to sound inevitably different than what we use now. (Unless you track down all the exact same pedals, pickups, amps etc.) I still try to capture the scratchy, screechy sounds that he gets, but because the makeup of our band is different than The Birthday Party (two people as opposed to five) by necessity I play differently than he does, and I have a natural tendency to play things that sound a little beefier anyway. (Candice says that I do sing a little like Nick Cave though, so…)

But in terms of contemporary sounds, Gemma Thompson from Savages has a really badass guitar sound and the couple times I’ve seen them live, I’m always amazed at the kinds of cool sounds she’s able to wring from her setup.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about? Feb. 23 show at The Merrow with Hexa and Subtropics! And we’re planning on recording some tracks in March. It’s about time. We haven’t been a band that long but we’d like for people to be able to experience Blood Ponies: The Home Version.

See Blood Ponies at The Merrow on Feb. 23 with Subtropics and Hexa. The show is free with your RSVP here.