GARRETT PRANGE / EXASPERATION

Exasperation: Bandcamp / Instagram / Facebook

1. Tell me about your gear: What do you use the most and why? Are you playing both bass and guitar in Exasperation? Or just one?

The guitar I play most at this point is the early 2000s MIJ Jazzmaster, I just bought it a couple months ago so I’m really still just breaking it in. The Fender Bullet has become the back-up these days, but I have a lot of love for that guitar and it may one day reclaim its place. As far as the basses go, I am first and foremost a bass player and have played bass in pretty much every band I have been in in the past, but in Exasperation, I’m relinquishing those duties, although I will still have fingerprints on the recording of the bass, or how it will be recorded.

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2. That Traynor is pretty damn spiffy. When did you get it and how it is different than other amps?

Let me preface this question by stating that I love unusual gear, and obviously the sonic quality/character is very important, but I will almost always be drawn to something for how it looks before I investigate how it plays or sounds. I think the Traynor is a perfect example of that; it’s a 1973 YBA-4 Bassmate combo amp — its pretty much the Canadian answer to the Marshall Plexi; super clean and chimey, although a bit darker tone-wise than the Marshall, and fucking loud as hell. The amp has no overdrive channel and no reverb, which I actually really like because it allows you to have a really dialed-in clean tone that you can spice up with your pedal setup.

As you know, back in that time period, the line between what was a guitar or bass amp was pretty blurry. Being able to play both guitar and bass through it, and also having it be in a smaller combo format (easier for dragging around to gigs) checked off all the boxes for me. As of now, it’s not a really expensive vintage amp, and it is really easy for an amp tech to work on apparently.

Another huge factor for me was that I love the band Women; they are a huge influence on my songwriting and playing style and their guitar tones and song structures are just the perfect and hauntingly beautiful marriage between melody and noise. I saw that their guitarist Christopher Reimer (RIP) played through a Traynor combo amp, and that made me very interested in finding one for myself.

The thing about old amps though…they tend to break down. The first show I played through it, I was playing bass and I blew the power tubes out on the second to last song, the amp just shut off and the ominous smell of burning electronics had me cursing under my breath, haha. That was an easy fix, but then I blew out the speaker recording the guitars for our two-song EP a couple of months later. I replaced the speaker with a Weber California Ceramic 15″ speaker, and since then, no problems. *knock on wood*

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3. What the hell is that weird Fender guitar? I have no idea what model that even is! Give me the backstory!

That is a Fender Bullet! It’s a student model guitar that was meant to replace the Mustang after production was phased out in the late 70s. I like to think of it as the weird love child between a Tele and a Strat. It has a metal pickguard that the bridge saddles are actually attached to, so in a sense the pickguard is actually a part of the bridge; super weird. I believe mine is from ’80 or ’81. They changed the body shape to look like a Strat in later productions of it, and I think nowadays if they even still make them, they are all Squiers. It sounds and plays great and I love how beat up it is. I usually play completely on the neck pickup cause it has a little more oomph, but if I want to do my best Gang of Four impression with a real harsh ‘shards of glass’-like tone, the bridge pickup definitely does the trick.

4. Between the P-bass and the Rick, which do you like playing more and why?

The Rick plays more like a guitar than a bass; super fast/low action and a skinny neck with a much more mid-rangy tone. I absolutely love the sound and look of it, but it’s from 1976, which means I’d be super nervous to take it out on the road with me. I have had the P-bass for longer, and in that sense I am more used to playing it. It has a really wide maple neck that makes it super punchy and it is heavier overall then the Rick, which factors into playability over long stretches. I love the simplicity of only having one pickup in it as well. It’s a hard choice and some might consider it blasphemy but I’m gonna have to go with the P-bass.

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5. That pedalboard is sick. I’ve always wanted an EDQ Sea Machine – does it do like a subtle chorus as well as really warbly stuff?

Thanks Dude! I’m not really what you would call a “Pedal Guy,” but there are certain tones I like that I try my best to either emulate or make my own through what I have. The Sea Machine is rad, I really love chorus-y tones and this pedal is definitely an integral part to my overall guitar sound. I use it in a pretty understated way, but with six different controls on the pedal, you can really dial in a lot of warbly weirdness with it. Dave (Mead, our drummer) likes to call my guitar tone ‘Evil Andy Summers,’ which in a lot of ways is the coolest compliment anyone could give you.

6. Which Exasperation song are you most stoked to play live and why?

This may be a bit of a cop-out answer, but since everything is so new, I’m gonna say all of them! Although I really do like playing the two songs we have recorded: “Not Feeling Great” and “Million Points of Light.” You can check ‘em out on our Bandcamp page.

7. If you could get one piece of gear for Dave and money was no object, what would you get and why?

I would buy Dave an OG clear Ludwig Vistalite kit — not in those huge John Bonham-esque sizes though. Perfect balance of volume and tone, and they look cool as hell.

8. What’s next for Exasperation?

Impose Magazine just debuted our two-song EP, Points of Light, (check it out here) and we are in the thick of recording a proper full length completely ourselves, which has its benefits and drawbacks. I love recording/producing and overall it has been a super fun process so far. We are shooting for 10-12 songs and are about halfway through basic tracking at this point. We also have a few shows coming up, the soonest being on March 29th at Soda bar with Methyl Ethel (tickets available here), followed by April 22nd at Bar Pink with our local buds Dream Burglar, and then way off in the distance we are playing at the Hideout (I guess its gonna be called SPACE now?) on June 9th with Merchandise and B-Boys.

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NAMM 2017: In Photos

We went, we saw, we conquered. Gear and Loathing in San Diego presents: Winter NAMM 2017 in photos. Many thanks to James Albers for his photo contributions (and for the badge!) — Dustin

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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.

 

ISAIAH NERY / QUALI, MICE ELF & FIVEPAW

Quali: Facebook / Instagram / SoundCloud / Website
Mice Elf: Facebook
FivePaw: Facebook / Website

1. You play guitar in Quali, are you a member of any other bands?

Yes, I’m currently in two other active projects besides Quali. I play bass in this band called “Mice Elf”. It is more of a jammy/space alt-rock type of band. We actually just had our first show at Black Cat bar the other night. The other project is “fivepaw”. I play drums in that project. It has more of electronic, sci-fi elements to it, mixed with synths and modular-type stuff. I have also been messing around with Ableton lately, trying to get into sampling and making beats.

2. I’m assuming your first piece of gear was a guitar, I could be wrong though. Do you remember what it was?

The first instrument I ever owned was a Ludwig drum set when I was 10. I actually didn’t start playing guitar seriously until I was about 16 and I really didn’t get serious with messing with gear and becoming a total gear head until I moved to LA and started Quali.

3. What’s your current setup?

My current set up with Quali:

I play a Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster. I personally think it’s the only guitar you should own due to its sonic versatility, tremolo arm and beauty.

The Jazzmaster goes into a TC Electronics Polytune, then into my favorite pedal and part of my signature tone, the Ab-Synth Supreme by Fuzzhugger. This pedal gives me the harsh zipperyness I want from a fuzz while also somehow managing some clarity in my chord playing. It also has a second foot switch to activate an oscillation mode which can get pretty nuts sometimes.

Next in my pedal chain is a Marshall Shredmaster. I really like this high gain pedal for more of a conventional overdrive/distortion type of sound. That goes into this boutique pedal I got at NAMM a couple years back called The Epsilon, by dreadbox. This is more of a hybrid pedal of sorts. It can be an overdrive pedal or an auto wah. And of course you can blend the effects to get an even crazier sound. It also has a gate switch on it. This is a very cool interactive pedal. The next pedal in my chain is one of my favorite pedals, the Superego by Electro-Harmonix. This pedal is so innovative for guitar. It is basically a piano-style sustain pedal for guitar. The tracking is insane, you can just sustain chords while playing over them endlessly. The superego then goes into my Line 6 M9. This pedal is such a workhorse for me for the fact that you can have three effects on at the same time while also being able to have an expression pedal that can be used for all of them simultaneously if you want.

Next on the chain is the Timeline delay by Strymon. There’s really not much to say about this pedal except for the fact that it is the king of delay pedals, period. The Timeline goes into my Hardwire RV-7 reverb pedal. Just a really solid reverb that pairs perfectly with my fuzz. And that goes into my crazier reverb the Descent by Walrus Audio. This pedal is the ultimate ambient reverb pedal with separate wet and dry knobs, reverse reverb, 3 preset saves. You can also have shimmer-style reverbs with dedicated knobs for an octave down and up. And at the very end of my pedalboard chain is the Ditto X2 by TC Electronics. I really like the looper that was on the DL4 by Line 6 and this pedal is just that in a smaller housing.

The board then goes into my pride and joy: The Fender Bassman 70. This amp is the ultimate pedal-playing amp. You get such a nice clarity and headroom with this amp while also getting some really nice, felt lows. I actually got mine modded to carry 6550 tubes in it for more headroom and now it runs at about 110 watts. Also known as a sound tech’s nightmare. But to me, there’s nothing better than really feeling the sounds go through you. I play this with a Fender DT-412 cab. I believe it has Celestion G12T-100s in it.

4. What piece of gear, if any, are you looking to add? 

Right now, I’m looking to get a 2×12 cab to run on top of my 4×12. I used to have a 1×15 bass cab that came with my Bassman and I would run that with my 4×12. Having a full stack rig is so unnecessary and necessary at the same time. Nothing feels better in my opinion.

5. What new projects do you have lined up? 

The newest project I’m working on would have more beat-based and sampling stuff I’ve been doing on Abelton. I’m still new to the program but I have some cool ideas I want to work on with it. I also occasionally play drums for Recycled Dolphin, who happens to play drums in Quali for me. Also, be on the look out for the next Quali album which should be out hopefully later this year.

Many thanks to J. Smith (of NBC SoundDiego and Parker & The Numberman) for this interview.

DAVID ROBLES / MADLY

Madly: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

1. Tell me about your current rig:  Right now I am using a Fender Deluxe, with a 12″ speaker, for my main amp. I experimented with bigger amps but quickly realized that a smaller amp works better for creating feedback. This small amp plus my pedalboard creates the “Madly” guitar sound. My favorite thing to do is twist the knobs on my Line 6 pedals while feed-backing. It never comes out quite the same and it’s a chance for me to have fun improvising during the solo sections of our songs. I try to come up with new sounds with every performance. I use three Line 6 pedals…the DL4 Delay Modeler (Green), the MM4 Modulation Modeler (Blue) and the FM4 Filter Modeler (Purple). I’ve had them forever and they have never let me down.

The latest additions to my pedalboard, thanks to my girlfriend, are the Soul Food and the Octavix. I use the Soul Food as a lead boost and use the Octavix when I need a little extra juice. That thing has a mini-toggle that switches it from 9V to 24V = fuzz pedal on steroids!! And last but not least, the Micro Synthesizer which I use on two songs(“Dead Ends” and “Through You”). I’m a huge fan of retro keyboard sounds, so this pedal was a must for me. I’m sure I’ll be using it a lot more in the future.

2. What is your favorite piece of gear?  That would be the Black Fender Strat that was left with me by a good friend over 15 years ago. She said that she would pick it up whenever she felt inspired to start playing again. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago and never picked it up. She always insisted that I play it but I always held back…until recently.  I now play it in her honor. It has become my favorite piece of gear for obvious reasons. It has three Kent Armstrong pickups, so it plays and sounds great! Thanks Fiona, R.I.P.

3. What’s the worst or weirdest piece of gear you’ve ever bought?  That would be my Z-Vex Fuzz Factory pedal. I used it for a while a few years back but it was just too over the top, even for me! It’s almost impossible to control. The overtones that it creates are just INSANE! I’m sure that I’ll come back to it eventually. I’m just not ready for it right now.

4. What’s the one “holy grail” piece of equipment you’d buy if money was no object?  I would definitely try to purchase Jimi Hendrix’s white Fender Strat that was used for Woodstock. No matter how many times I watch that performance, it blows me away every time! I also love watching the Rainbow Bridge performance. He played the white Strat for that one too. He’s so in tune with his guitar that it seems to be part of his body. Physical poetry at its finest. Year after year, he continues to be my biggest source of inspiration. I doubt that I’ll ever get the chance to own his Strat but it sure is fun to dream!

5. What do you have coming up?  We just got done mixing and mastering our upcoming, 8-song album. We just need to finish up the artwork and then plan on pressing some vinyl. I’m sure we’ll have a record release party once it’s ready. As for shows, we have three coming up in the next few months.

• March 17th at Casbah with Systems Officer and The Slashes [info]

• April 22nd at Pour House with Shake Before Us and Dani Bell & The Tarantist.

• May 21st at In-Ko-Pah 3 with Three Mile Pilot, Audacity, The Blank Tapes, Shady Francos, Red Tank!, The Rosalyns, The Downs Family, Some Kind of Lizard, The Gloomies, Sunset intermezzo by the Montalban Quintet, Effects and lighting by Operation Mindblow [info]

TOMMY GARCIA / MRS. MAGICIAN

Mrs. Magician: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud

1. Tell me about your current rig? The amps I’m using are all Satellite amps or things that we have modified. The one I use most often is a 75 watt model called the OMEGA that we added an additional tube preamp to, so I could get the sound I was after at a lower volume. Second up is a clone of a ’64 Fender Bassman called the ASSMAN; I love this amp for it’s slightly overdriven tones but that doesn’t really happen until it’s too loud to play live so it’s mostly a studio tool for me. And lastly, I’ve been using a ‘60s Dukane PA amp that we re-wired for use as a guitar amp with an old Vox Super Beatle cabinet, that we replaced the speakers in with modern Celestion greenbacks — it kind of reminds me of a brownface Fender Deluxe on steroids.

Guitar-wise, I’m using a parts-Jazzmaster that my friends all helped me put together by donating or selling me guitar parts for really cheap. The end result was a really inexpensive, great-sounding guitar that I think is as good, or better, than any model that Fender actually makes. Secondly, I still use my trusty ‘60s Silvertone Silhouette — mostly unmodded except for an added ground for the electronics and a bridge modded by my friend Brandon Madrid.

Then there’s pedals. When it comes to my live rig, it’s always kind of similar: Fuzz, boost, trem, two analog delays (set to different times) and reverb. In the studio, all bets are off and I just make shit up as I go along, usually trying new pedals that I’ve never used before — but live, I keep it the same and try and emulate the studio sounds with what I have in front of me.

2. What Mrs. Magician song do you feel is the best portrayal of the sound/style you’re after? “Where’s Shelly,” off of our upcoming LP Bermuda and I say that because it really has all of the different sounds that have been associated with our band over the years all rolled into one song. [Ed. note: Since the new album isn’t out yet, I’m including the band’s new single below. Enjoy!]

3. You work here in town at Satellite Amplifiers — in your eyes, what sets Satellite amps apart from others? If someone asked you they should buy one, what would you tell them? At Satellite, we strive to make things that we want to play and in many cases that’s how a prototype for something comes about. If I was asked why someone should buy one, I would just tell them to come play one and they would know why.

4. If money was no object, what’s the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy? A Mosrite Ventures model. I am a firm believer that the cooler the piece of gear looks, the better you will sound using it and that is the coolest looking guitar out there.

5. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise and why? The musician who’s sound I admire the most would have to be Rowland S. Howard. He wrote some of my favorite songs and was the most influential guitarist for me (other than the Swami). I also love that he used the same amp, guitar and pedals all the way from The Birthday Party up until he passed away, proving gear is secondary to imagination.

6. What do you have coming up that we should know about? Our new album comes out May 20th via Swami records. We also leave for SXSW next week.

3/12: Phoenix, AZ @ Viva PHX with The Growlers, RFTC, Mystic Braves
3/13: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress with Rocket From The Crypt
3/14: Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad with PRAYERS, Plague Vendor
3/15: Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves with Mind Spiders, SAVAK
3/17: Austin, TX @ Breakaway Records — 1PM
3/18: Austin, TX @ BD Riley’s (Official Showcase) –– 9PM
3/19: Austin, TX @ Dozen Street (Little Dickman Records Party) –– 4PM
3/20: Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room –– 4:30PM