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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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!

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.