RORY MORISON / THE BAD VIBES

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The Bad Vibes: Facebook / Bandcamp

1.Take me through your pedalboard: What are you using and what are your favorite pedals?

We got the Vox Wah Wah, the MXR Bad Ass Distortion, the Death By Audio Apocalypse, Earthquaker Devices Grand Orbiter, Empress Tremolo, Earthquaker Devices Transmissor, and last but not least, the TC Electronic Flashback Delay. I’m definitely a delay junky so that Flashback gets me a lot of mileage, especially because I can navigate my way through three different settings so quickly with that pedal. However, that being said, more than any specific pedal, I’m more into what certain combinations can get me sonically. It’s taken me a while but I’ve found a balance in the possibilities on this board and most of the time, I have more than one running.

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2. That’s a beauty of a Gretsch: What made you want to play that particular guitar? 

First and foremost, I’ve always been a huge Neil Young fan. Always loved loved the brittle rust tone he gets out of the White Falcon. I’ve owned other Gretsch guitars but this one I got out of necessity because my trusty Epiphone Les Paul was on the fritz and I couldn’t get it fixed before some upcoming shows. She’s certainly a beauty with some real bedroom eyes! The feel on the neck and her body are great but her personality is kind of hard to deal with (certainly a reoccurring story in my life). She has that Gretsch twang but bites more than any I’ve ever played. For Bad Vibes, I find myself dialing back the high end on the amp to keep the midrange of my tone while trying not to lose the personality of the guitar. It basically makes me dig in on the action if I want that bite — which isn’t too hard since I lack any finesse as a player.

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3. That pedalboard is seriously impressive: Talk to me about that Death By Audio pedal — what does it do and what do you use it for?

Fuck man, that pedal is fucking nuts — it’s a touchy touchy pedal that has to be readjusted every time it comes out the case. Basically it has five fuzz circuits that you can select from and then a tone knob that shifts the frequency. Live, I mainly use what they call the Gainiac setting at two o’clock for riffs on “Cathedrals” and on call-and-response solos that take place on a new song called “The Tower.”

4. What’s a Bad Vibes song that you think really showcases your gear?

Most definitely “Vultures”: I think I use every single pedal on that song, which seems fitting since it’s our rock opera/war dance.

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5. Talk to me about the new album: What makes it special to you?

This is the band’s first record and we are putting it out on Daniel Cervantes’ (Mrs. Henry, Creature and the Woods) label, Blind Owl. Its special for many reasons but as an individual, I’ve never been able to focus long enough to put a record together, so there’s a sense of accomplishment and fear in that. For the band, we’ve been through a whole lot of struggles, smiles and cries, freedoms and arrests — you know, life — during the making of this album, which is why it gets the title No One’s Safe. This music is the result of that wild ride and it was recorded at Le Chateau de Bad Vibes, a house long
known for hosting parties till 9 a.m. involving fireworks, impromptu jams and what the Latin community would call “convivios.” The songs are embalmed in that energy and remind me of wonderful and horrible times in my life. The songs have changed a lot and continue to do so, but I think we will relish this moment, take a breath and continue on in a new direction.

6. With No One’s Safe dropping on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Casbah — what’s next for you guys?

We’ve already started work on a new EP being recorded and engineered straight to tape by Jordan Andreen over at Audio Design. We will be playing hometown shows but really trying to get out of town by doing small one-off weekend tours followed by an extensive one in late fall/early winter. We also have plans to begin recording the second album in collaboration with Mr. Andreen and Mr. Cervantes as co-producers. We are also most immediately thankful to you and everyone that has helped us along the way — come take intoxicants with us and dance naked or clothed… please… now… don’t make me ask again.

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FRANCIS ROBERTS / OLD MAN WIZARD

Old Man Wizard: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp

Ed. note: Ahead of Old Man Wizard’s two-week West Coast tour to promote their upcoming new 7″ single “Innocent Hands” (out digitally on Aug. 25 / check out the b-side “The Blind Prince” below), the band’s guitarist/vocalist, Francis Roberts, was awesome enough to share some of his fairly unique studio (and live) equipment with Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Enjoy. ~ Dustin

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1. The Wizcaster! My friend Connor (@highspiritguitars on Instagram) built this for me as a gift when he was launching his custom guitar brand. I think it was the first guitar he made for somebody other than himself. I think the design is based on an Epiphone Wilshire, but the neck feels more like a Fender. Really simple electronics, two P-90s. Really tough to beat.

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2. My High Spirit Strat! I helped Connor build a few of his Strat-style guitars, and took one home with me. This is basically exactly like a Strat, but the neck is nearly the width of a classical guitar. Featuring my wallpaper.

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3. The original Old Man Wizard live guitar/bass! These both ended up on the recordings [listen/download the band’s debut album here]. The bass is on both, I think that guitar is only on “Innocent Hands” (I know because took a video of myself recording with it on the LEEM amp). The guitar is a SonicF Z-7. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing that was built by a Seattle-based artist in 2009. He made a bunch of weird things (see for yourself). I tried a bunch of his guitars, and this was the one that was magical to me. It plays and sounds great, but the killswitch broke. I should get that fixed.

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4. Pedals and effects! I never use my live setup to record, and I never use a pedalboard. I do my own guitar tracking, and I go on binges of testing sounds and come back later to choose which takes to keep. I don’t actually know which pedals made it on to the record; I just chose the tracks that I thought sounded best. The only effects I know for a fact ended up on the record are the Univox Super Fuzz, a homemade Rangemaster, and the Echoplex in the photo. The guitar amps were all mic’d up with an SM57, nothing fancy in that realm.

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Here’s the live pedalboard. I’m experimenting with a SoloDallas storm pedal as part of my main live rig. It sounds huge but it only plays well with certain amps, so it’ll depend on the amp I bring along. I plan to bring my Ginormouse electronics delay/clean boost for leads (this was a custom build by a guy named Lewis Davis here in San Diego, and he makes really cool stuff. Worth checking out. He also built a rad phase shift that I use in my other band). I have a Catalinbread Belle Epoch “tape delay” that I pretty much always leave running these days. It seriously sounds almost as good as an Echoplex, but it’s better for live because it requires no maintenance and is nearly indestructible. And then I guess the last piece worth mentioning is the TC Helicon Mic Mechanic. It’s a killer inexpensive delay/reverb with XLR jacks for microphones, and it’s the best thing ever for vocals when you play a small venue that doesn’t have delay or reverb on the soundboard. The first time I used it at a show, I was asked if we had started using backing tracks. Sounds awesome, highly recommended.

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5. Frederick II: This is actually a Gibson Flying V from the early 2000s. I painted over the pickguard and Gibson logo years ago, and added a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. The pickups are stock, but I’m planning to rout out some space to replace one of them with a P90 soon. That’s the Old Man Wizard sigil thing burned into the body. I used a soldering iron to do that.

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Update: And here’s the V with a P90 in it, getting set up and ready for tour. I’ll probably still take the Wizcaster or the Z7 with me just in case it doesn’t feel right after a few nights.

6. What do you got against Fender and Gibson?

I don’t like sporting logos of brands who aren’t giving me anything! [laughs]

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7. The recording amps! I used the LEEM one on “Innocent Hands” as an overlay. It sounds really bad, so if you turn it up all the way, it sounds even worse, which was exactly what I wanted for the black-metal inspired parts in the song. The other amp is my Valco. I used that on every other guitar track on both of these recordings. All the knobs were actually turned up to 10 the whole time.

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8. That’s the back of my little Valco amp with the snakes painted on top.

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9. The keyboards! We don’t have a keyboard player for shows (and we don’t run backing tracks), but I’m a huge fan of layering keyboards on parts of songs to get a little bit of extra energy in a studio recording. From the top left, that’s a ‘70s ARP Quartet, a modern reissue ARP Odyssey (the small version), and they’re sitting on top of a chopped Hammond M-3, which is sitting on top of a two-speed Leslie cabinet.

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If you’re in one of the cities listed below (or know someone in these cities), be sure to catch Old Man Wizard when they come through. “Innocent Hands” will be out digitally on Aug. 25th — before then, pick up the limited 7″ from them at these shows.

Aug. 11: Tijuana, BC – Mi Pueblito
Aug. 13: San Francisco, CA – Hemlock
Aug. 15: San Jose, CA – The Caravan
Aug. 18: Seattle, WA – The Victory Lounge
Aug. 19: Anacortes, WA – Kenelly Keys
Aug. 20: Tacoma, WA – The Valley
Aug. 22: Los Angeles, CA – The Lexington
Aug. 23: San Diego, CA – Soda Bar

JOZETTE VINEYARD / THE OXEN

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The Oxen: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud

1. Take me through your rig: That Danelectro is so rad — is that new or old? Does it go out of tune a lot? I had one once and could never get the dang thing to stay in tune! How have you settled on the gear you’re currently using?

John [Vineyard, husband and bandmate in The Oxen] got me the Danelectro for Christmas. I have an Epiphone Les Paul, but I have back problems and it is so heavy. The G string on the Danelectro does go out of tune more than I would like, but I am going to have it looked at. I think a new nut might fix the issue.

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2. I dig the pedalboard: Take me to school on that Visual Sounds Jekyll and Hyde. I’ve never played one but you’re like the third musician I’ve seen recently that is playing one. What do you like about it?

I like that I can get 3 different overdrive/distortion sounds out of the Jekyll and Hyde depending on whether you have one or both switches pressed, and it’s really solid. John used that pedal and the Big Muff for years, but he gave them to me so he would have an excuse to buy new pedals for himself.

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3. I know absolutely nothing about that Ampeg amp! What is it? Where’d you get it? How old is it? What does it sound like?

I didn’t really know much about it either when I got it at Mark’s Guitar Exchange in Point Loma about 12 years ago. It’s a 1968 Ampeg Gemini II. It was $500, which was as much as I could afford, and it turned out to be a great deal. It’s loud and has a great built-in reverb and tremolo.

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4. Talk to me about that microphone! What on God’s green earth is that? Do you use it in the studio or live, or what?

That is a Placid Audio Copperphone. When John lived in Dallas, his friend Mark Pirro (bass player for Tripping Daisy and The Polyphonic Spree) was starting the company and sleeping on John’s couch while looking for a new place to live. He gave John that microphone as a “thank you” for his hospitality, and it’s one of the first Copperphones ever made. Mark has gone on to grow his company and has created a whole line of unique, hand-built microphones that have been used by everybody from Snoop Dogg to Rush. The Copperphone sounds like a telephone (or some say an AM radio), and we have used it live some. We use it all the time when recording – especially on vocals and guitars.

5. If money was no object — what’s the one piece of equipment you’d get next and why?

If money AND space were no object, I would love to have a grand piano. We live in a small apartment, so maybe I would just get an Orange amp instead.

6. What’s next for The Oxen?

We are doing a lot of DIY recording in our rehearsal space right now, and it’s turning out pretty good. We would love to finish up a full-length and release it early next year, but in the meantime, we are working on a split 7” with our friends, The Gift Machine. We are sending it out to get mastered and pressed in the next week, so hopefully it will be available in a few months. We took a break from shows because we had to find a new bass player, but we found a great one named Kevin Shumway! We just booked a couple of shows: Aug. 5 at The Stag and Lion in Carlsbad, Aug. 16 at the Belly Up with Creature Canyon, and at Soda Bar on Aug. 20 opening for Warbly Jets and the Schizophonics.

WALTER AYLLON / GRIZZLY BUSINESS

Grizzly Business: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

1. Lovin’ the Tele – tell me all about it.

I use to play shows with a Epiphone Sheraton, but as beautiful as she is, she was just too powerful for my sissy style rhythm guitar playing. I found this Thinline Deluxe Tele on craigslist and fell in love with it. Because it’s like a semi-semi-hollow body (if that’s a thing), it has some of the usual Tele twang but not too much with solid mids, which is perfect for me. Coincidentally, I bought it off of Joe from Burning of Rome who had me meet him at a coffee shop in Golden Hill. He told me he never even took her out of his home which led me to accuse him of using it as his bathroom guitar which he denied. It was honestly an honor to buy from such a distinguished guitarist. Sometimes when I hit certain chords I can almost still smell the subtle scent of Febreze 😉

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2. Tell me what “I am Beyoncé always!” means to you and why it’s scrawled on your pedalboard.

Well, it’s my favorite Michael Scott quote that can fit in that space. In a way, you can say it represents my inner diva perfectly. I’m also known around the band as like the awful boss so I guess that’s encompassed in there as well. The beauty of my pedalboard is that I made it out of a little chalkboard and I can write anything in there at any time. Right now, I have our setlist for our Soda Bar show this Saturday but I can also draw unicorns on there as well.

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3. Talk to me about your pedals – rockin’ the Joyo/Donner options, I see. What drew you to them over other pedals? Would you get higher priced options if you could or nah?

I am very new to the pedal party. When I was 13, I bought a compression sustainer which I thought was going to let me wail long notes like John Frusciante in “Emit Remmus.” That obviously didn’t happen as I now know a compression sustainer is the worst first pedal for a young guitarist. I started buying these within the last year and am beyond stoked. I did a lot of homework watching tons of YouTube videos of different brands and ultimately concluded that these were cheaper and sounded just as good. No amount of fancy pedals could or will ever make me sound like decent guitar player so why break the bank, you know?

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4. What amp are you using and why?

These days I use Brian’s (our bass player) Fender Blues Deluxe. All I know about it is that it’s tubed and I’m supposed to put it on standby before and after using it lol. I’ve been so plug-and-play all my life that it’s embarrassing how little I really know about equipment but at the same time I feel it’s kept things simple which I think there’s beauty in.

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5. If you had unlimited money, what is the first piece of gear you would buy?

I would quit the band and buy the most expensive grand piano I can find. Preferably previously owned by Beethoven and used as his bathroom piano. I can only really play the Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump theme songs but I’m sure they would sound great on such a fine piece of musical equipment. Maybe a massive harp too, who knows.

6. You guys got a new record coming out (Spanish Old-Fashioned)– how does it measure up against your last? What’s your favorite song on it and why?

My ultimate goal is to convert Grizzly Business into a Dr. Dog cover band. I think on this record we made a couple of baby steps towards that. There are a lot of backup vocals and layers upon layers of pianos and different noises. Brian was pretty new to the band when we made our first EP and you can tell he really made this one more of his own with some amazing bass lines. Matt left the studio with his usual angst of wanting to redo his drums which is always silly as they’re always great. I did my best to be as silly and sarcastic as I can with the lyrics. My favorite song on there would have to be “Fake British Accent.” It’s just a song about all the things you hate about the person you love wrapped in an almost ’50s-like happy prom song bundle. The best line I think I’ll ever come up with is in it which is “when ‘enough’s’ just a line you drew up to refine.” Pretty stupid, I know, but it’s the best I can muster.

7. What’s next for you guys after your CD release at Soda Bar on Saturday, Jan. 7?

After our release, we are jumping on planes and going on tour through Europe with a couple shows in New York as well! We are beyond stoked and are very much counting the days. We’ll probably get eaten alive and lose all our fingers and toes to frostbite but it’ll be great and hopefully we don’t give San Diego too bad of a musical name out there.

Grizzly Business tour dates:

1/7: Soda Bar (CD release with Inspired and the Sleep, and Spero)

1/12: Friends and Lovers (Brooklyn, NY)

1/13: The Delancey (Manhattan, NY)

1/17: The Windmill (Brixton, England)

1/18: The Bedford (Balham, England)

1/19: The Dog and Whistle Pub (Hertford, England)

1/21: Brussels Pub Crawl (Brussels, Belgium)

1/23: TBD (Berlin, Germany)

1/25: CC Muziekcafe (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

1/26: Le Truskel (Paris, France)

1/28: The Good Ship (London, England)

THE GORGEOUS BOYSCOUTS

The Gorgeous Boyscouts: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp / Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. What do you guys have coming up?

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

RC KRUEGER / MARIEL

Mariel: Facebook / TwitterSoundCloud / Bandcamp / Website

1. Take me through these rigs!

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Praytell – what is that Wolf bass pedal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. What else do you guys have coming up?

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

OPIE TRAN / MARIEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BRIAN STRAUSS / OF ENNUI

Of Ennui: Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

1. Tell me about your current rig.

So currently I have two setups. What you see on the left is an early 2000s Mexican Fender Stratocaster with a Line 6 Duoverb combo amp. The Stratocaster has been rewired with unshielded wiring so it’s great for getting really excessive feedback and the playability is incredible. At this point, I only use them occasionally for recording, mostly when I need a warm clean sound that other guitars can’t quite replicate. The pickups, even though they’re stock, have also been re-coiled so the output in the neck pickup is especially hot. It creates a fat, warm, clean sound that, when distorted, really reminds me of early Mudhoney or Melvins.

My main rig however has become what you see on the right. The amp is a Marshall AVT-275. The reverb is really nuanced on it and it really sort of layers itself in a beautiful way. That’s an Epiphone SG Pro 1966 reissue with the split-coil humbuckers instead of the P-90s. The sustain on it is what really sold me. It really allows my lead playing to shine and when paired with my E-Bow, it’s an intense combination. The E-Bow is a bit of the secret weapon of the band. Christian (my bandmate) and I share it because when you pair it with some delay and reverb over a brooding sort of melody, it really builds a landscape, and as we progress as a band, we pull farther and farther away from verse-chorus-verse and more towards movements. Compared to some of the other shoegaze players I’ve seen, my setup is pretty minimal: Boss Compression Sustainer, FV-50, CE-2, DD-3, Korg stompbox tuner, Big Muff Pi, a Crybaby wah, and the recently acquired Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder Boris edition. I’ve got the Morley Fuzz/Wah purely for recording.

I like to keep things relatively simple. I think once I’ve got a reverb pedal, I’ll be pretty set for a while. As for now, however, all the pieces have their roles. The compression sustainer is great for pulling back the mids on my sound and letting me blend a bit more with Christian, since we have no bassist I’m usually handling the low ends. But when I need to, I switch it off and push the volume on the FV-50 and my leads cut through the mix, which is useful for all the sounds Christian has, and the volume changes that come with them. I’m constantly adjusting and compensating for the changes, which is great because it gives me constant room to experiment live. The Big Muff really pushed it over the edge. Before, I was using a Boss DS-1 which is a great pedal for how cheap and simple it is, but for what we’re playing I needed something more powerful and a little more concise of a sound. The Eau Claire Thunder is my crown jewel, just a harbinger of doom and sludge and that feedback loop is great for builds. I recently used it for a 45-minute noise song I recorded and the sound was so devastating just on its own, I was blown away. I’ve almost always got my chorus pedal on, coupled with the delay, so it adds a full shimmer to my sound and is more the ambiance of the songs, often serving as a mirror to what Christian plays. I usually build my guitar parts all around what he’s playing, so it’s really essential for me to fill all the cracks of our wave-lengths while adding some syncopation with Julio (bandmate).

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

We have a song called “Delta of Venus” which is a really pretty song, but it’s also deeply despairing. We are very much inspired by that sort of duality, but there’s always a long-worded sense of humor to it. I use most of my pedals throughout that song, but it never feels very far-removed which I think is good, it creates a tonal continuity and it’s fluid all while expressing a dynamic range of sound. My pedals are very nuanced in “Delta,” and it’s as simple as switching my delay on for a few seconds during a build or turning on the Big Muff during the song’s climax and leaving it on during the final two choruses. Small but impactful touches. Volume changes are my biggest friend and provide more of a dynamic than anything texturally. I think volume is really underutilized by many guitarists in that way. Our debut EP, recorded at Rarefied Recording and Studio West, includes “Delta of Venus.”

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

Holy grail would probably be a vintage Orange head from their OR series. I take a lot of inspiration from Wata of the band Boris, evidenced by my acquisition of the Eau Claire Thunder. Plus Tony Iommi plays Orange and they’re wonderful amps, but the price range leaves me stuck with solid-state amps for the time being. The E-Bow was actually a big purchase I had wanted for a long time, but never got around to getting until last year as it just didn’t seem viable for the music I had been playing before that.

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

When it comes to gear, I’m usually thinking in categories of clean/distorted and loud/quiet and so I pull influences from pieces of different guitarists’ setups. Clean is hugely influenced by Johnny Marr and he’s probably the reason I own a Boss chorus pedal from before it technically became a Chorus Ensemble as they widened their line. Surprisingly cheap. I see a lot of guitar players knock Boss, but I’m in love. The simplicity of them and their durability coupled with that sound is revolutionary and Johnny Marr really utilized a simple setup because of it. Distortion, I’m usually influenced by Wata, as she’s just such a dynamic presence and her board really adds to that. Her board definitely influenced some key purchases I made including the E-Bow, the Korg tuner, and the Eau Claire Thunder.

5. What is your favorite piece of gear and why?

My favorite piece is my delay pedal. I get a huge array of sounds from the most subtle tweaks in the knobs and it really took my sound so much further. It became an essential companion piece to my playing and an invaluable component to what I have crafted as far as my sound goes as an individual guitar player. Above all, it added nuance and atmosphere that you just can’t capture purely with guitar playing. People knock guitar players like Tom Morello by saying that they rely on effects too much and I don’t really see anything wrong with that. Maybe it doesn’t make him the “greatest” guitar player, technically speaking, but it does make him a stronger musician by putting the overall sound above all else.

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

First piece of gear I bought aside from my guitar and amp was a Boss DS-1 distortion and that little pedal went so far. I do still have it and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but I had to take it off rotation to make room for the Big Muff when I got that. But now Christian uses it as an overdrive so it still gets love. I’ve had it for about 10 years and aside from some paint chips, it still works like a dream.

7. What does your band have coming up that we should know about?

Of Ennui is playing The Merrow on Saturday with our buds The Filthy Violets and The Paragraphs. We also recently finished recording our EP. If there’s interest we’ll do a vinyl release down the road. Along with the EP, we’ll have additional merch and some videos coming.

DAVE MATTHIES / THE GIFT MACHINE

The Gift Machine: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your current rig: for examples, brand(s)/makes/models? Best parts? Worst parts? Any funny/strange stories about how you came to use any of this stuff? 

I’m currently playing a early 2000 “Raw Power” Gibson Les Paul Standard equipped with a Fishman Triple Play MIDI pickup. I also have a custom Seymour Duncan SB pickup in the bridge position, which is cleaner sounding then the stock P-90, but I usually keep it turned up all the way in the middle position to shoot the gap between dirty and clean. From there, I run into an A/B switch with one output going into the new Electro-Harmonix Mel9 Mellotron Pedal into a little Vox keyboard amp (not pictured, new addition haha) and then the main guitar chain goes through an Electro-Harmonix B9 organ pedal, into a custom distortion pedal made by my friends Squarewave Industries in Seattle, then a Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Strymon Flint Tremolo/Reverb Pedal, an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Deluxe Memory Man, a EH Micro Pog octave pedal, then a Catalinbread Echorec delay, and sometimes an old Boss RC-20, depending on what’s in the set. This then goes into my 1970 Fender Super Reverb. I run a cable out of the external speaker jack of the Super Reverb into an early 2000’s 100 Watt solid state Fender Bassman. For the Fishman Triple Play MIDI pickup, it’s wirelessly connected to a laptop, which I route to a volume pedal and then to a little 20W Johnson tube amp.

The best part of this is it sounds really amazing and makes a lot a noise for one guy playing. The worst part is that it takes a bit to set up, but I’m getting it pretty dialed in!

The Gift Machine has been through a lot of lineups over the years, but when I originally started playing with my now-wife Andrea Gruber Matthies, it was just the two of us, so I started bringing in the POG and the chained bass amp to beef up the sound. A few years ago, we were playing as a 5-piece with Andrea on the drums, Dan Chambers on the guitar, Phil Benavides on bass, and Karl Blau on keyboards. Karl moved back to Washington state, Dan went away to college in San Francisco, and I work in Los Angeles a lot so we have had no time to get together and practice with Phil. We got used to making a lot of noise, but it’s just been Andrea and I again lately, so I had to get creative to fill up the space. Since our record Hard Facts Are Still Uncertain came out last year, I have written 30 songs, and being a two-piece also makes it lot quicker to put together new material. Once we get the new stuff down, I hope to bring some humans back into the mix.

2. Talk to me about this midi/synth pickup thingy you’ve got hooked up to your Les Paul – how does it work? What sounds do you use it for? Hard to hook up or put together?

My first acquisition in this direction was the Electro-Harmonix B9 organ pedal. You plug your guitar in, and it emulates 9 different organ sounds which you can mix in with your guitar tone. I was hoping that it would be like a fake keyboard player doubling my guitar parts. It’s OK, I still use it but somewhat subconsciously for sustain, but if you a play a full open chord on the guitar, it triggers every string that you are playing, so it can get a little toppy if you are doing a full strum. I thought that if I could figure out a way where only a few of the strings on the guitar triggered samples, it would be much more useful for what I was looking for.

Fishman started making the Triple Play pickup a few years ago. Basically it’s a little pickup that sits right in front of the bridge that has a little sensor for each string. The signal from the pickup is transferred wirelessly to a laptop where you can use it to trigger any sound you want! I have been using it mostly to trigger string, mellotron, and synth sounds, similar or the same as the type of stuff we use on our recordings. I can create a custom sound for each song in our set where only the guitar strings I want trigger the keyboard sounds. For example, I could be playing full chords on the guitar, but only the A string is triggering a cello sample. It’s fairly amazing, I can even load in custom sounds I’ve recorded, or layer multiple sounds, or switch between two different sounds mid-song. It’s a whole crazy area of research…I use a volume pedal to bring it in and out.

Though the manual and website say it will work on a Les Paul, there was not enough room between the pickguard and the bridge so I had to get in there with a razor blade and do a custom hack job on the pickguard to make it work. It also raised the action slightly so I had to bring it in and have the guitar reset as that kind of thing is not my forte. I asked around before I bought it at some local shops and no one was willing to take it on, as it’s a relatively new kind of setup. Worth the bloody knuckles and pain and suffering at this point…

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

We are recording a new record that features this setup and I am really excited about it, but nothing has been released so far. There are a few tracks off our last record that feature the chained bass amp and POG octave pedal that Andrea and I used to do in our version 1.0 two-piece. The song “Muddy Water” is a good example.

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

I am also a recording geek and have a solid home studio where we record most of our stuff and I also do overdubs sessions with bands I am producing. I could talk even longer about that stuff. I would have to say my personal holy grail would be the Fairchild 660 compressor. At $50,000 it deserves that designation, right? I really enjoy the Universal Audio plug-in version and, of course, love the sound on all the old Beatles records. You can just crush stuff and it still sounds really smooth and natural. I have dreams about finding this and other strange analog gear at thrift stores in mysterious towns. I think it’s going to happen one of these days…

5. 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 “real” piece of gear I bought (or more accurately my mother bought) was a 1977 Yamaha SG2000 guitar when I was about 13.  It was in the local music store in Mount Vernon, WA where I grew up, and, in a sea of very hair-metal oriented guitars, I picked it out because it looked like something George Harrison would play. Though it was a really expensive guitar when it was brand new, it was so incredibly out of style at this point that we got it for really cheap. As we were making the purchase, the guys behind the counter got really excited and went on to tell me a story that a roadie for the band Heart had been given the guitar by Nancy Wilson and then he sold it to them cheap because he needed the money. At that point, Heart was in the middle of their late ‘80s fame, and not knowing their “Barracuda” Seattle rock and roll history, it almost dissuaded me from getting the guitar at all! I did keep it and it was my main guitar for years until the frets got really worn down and one of the pickups became microphonic and I got the Les Paul I’m still playing today. I still have it, it lives at my parents house in Washington state. I had a little work done on it, but I’m afraid to get it re-fretted or too tweaked. I still play it when we tour up there and we don’t have room to bring all of our gear.

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

We are playing The Pour House in Oceanside with Mittens and Dirty Sidewalks on Friday, September 9th, and Soda Bar in San Diego on November 17th with our good friends from the Pacific Northwest, Karl Blau and LAKE. We are currently recording a new record that we hope to have out by the winter or early next year, but we will be doing a preliminary video or two this fall. We are also starting to book a European tour for next spring. I also just finished producing a great record for the North County San Diego band Sick Balloons which should be out in the next few months and I am also producing the next Trouble in the Wind record, which will come out sometime next year.

JOE & JAYE MacASKILL / PONY DEATH RIDE

Pony Death Ride: Facebook / Website / Soundcloud

1. Tell me about your current rigs: Best parts? Worst parts?

[Joe MacAskill] I’m using a Gretsch Electromatic hollow body. Just got it a couple months ago online. It’s the most expensive guitar I’ve owned which isn’t saying much, but I love it. I’m playing through a Vox  Valvetronix Modeling amp which has way too many settings, and if you’re ADD, it just might make your head explode. I got it for next to nothing at our former pawn shop hookup which is no longer a thing. The amp really isn’t loud enough so it’s on it’s way out, for a bigger Vox. Pedal-wise, I have a Boss ME-50 which has too many settings also, and I don’t have the patience to get it to do what I think it can probably do. I use various pedals as well that do the same thing as the Boss pedal, but I’m not smart enough to combine them all. I also have a vintage Boss EQ that goes for a lot online. I have it in my rig to make people jealous. Jaye plays a neat Univox bass she got at a vintage guitar shop online a few years back.

2. What song of yours is the best representation of your sound/style?

The song that best reflects our style is “I Think My Boyfriend’s Gay For Morrissey.” Lots of delay and chorus and fun little guitar lines that Johnny Marr may have done in his teens. Most of our material is punk-rockish type stuff, or on a ukulele. It was nice to write something that made me remember how to play listenable guitar lines.

3. If money was no object, what would be your “holy grail” purchase?

My “Holy Grail” equipment would have to be a Gretsch Falcon, which I didn’t know existed until last week. You could drop it and it would sound nice. And it’s really big, so it may even have a slimming effect on me! And it’s only $12,000! I guess I’d settle for a 1966 Fender Jaguar. It’s only $2,500! Jaye is holding out for a Gretsch acoustic bass. And maybe a better wedding ring. And harkening back to my metal days, a Marshall stack would be nice and an interesting conversation piece for house visitors.

4. Any local musicians (or otherwise) you admire gear-wise?

For musician admiration, I’d have to go with Zach Condon of Beirut. He plays a Lanakai ukulele, and it’s a $100 ukulele. How punk rock is that?! He tours with it, records with it, everything. I bought one and it really is amazing. I bought the higher-priced model for touring but still use the cheapo model for recording. You’d think he’d be endorsed and only play the top of the line model, but nope! Jaye is a big Simon Gallup of The Cure fan as far as bass goes, but I just can’t sell her on Geddy Lee. And she’s Canadian!

5. What’s next for Pony Death Ride?

We just finished recording our new record, Cat Sounds. It’s all about cats! And we got new costumes and are making some videos. The release date will be Sept. 6. We will be taking our little musical comedy act to a couple different burlesque and comedy festivals as well this summer along with promoting the the album.

Head to Big Front Door (4135 Park Blvd.) tonight, Sept. 6, for the Pony Death Ride CD Listening Party for “Cat Sounds” from 8-10 p.m. [INFO]