BRIAN REILLY / THE HIROSHIMA MOCKINGBIRDS

The Hiroshima Mockingbirds: Facebook

The New Kinetics: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp / Website

The Little Richards: Facebook / Twitter

1. Tell me about your gear:  Right now the guys and I are all using Bonser amps. Jon being the creator of these and our guitar player has surprisingly little to do with that. The amps are all hand-wired, point-to-point class A tube electrics. While they aren’t modeling amp cheap, they are astronomically cheaper than many amps that don’t come close. My Bonser Thundervolt is a fucking animal. It barks a compressed harmonic-pounding grunt that is subdued one moment and howling the next.

Guitar-wise, I have been favoring these three out of the too many I have. I build guitars so the price is right. The triplets here are all hand-built “Number Fifty Nine” one-offs. They started as boxes of parts or bare wood and were stripped, shaped, finished in nitrocellulose, worn and wired in weird ways.

Daphne (blue closet classic, matched headstock, Texas specials) gets played in The Little Richards; Charlie (sunburst heavy relic, CM Daugherty pickups, kill circuit, tone delete) in The New Kinetics; and Roy (blonde ’59 Esquire med relic slab ‘o drab) in The Hiroshima Mockingbirds. Roy is a fatal near miss that came about after reading a lot about Mike Bloomfield’s ’63 Telecaster that he bought with his first paycheck from Dylan and played at Newport ’65.

Charlie on the other hand started as a mission of desperation as years ago I was without a band, money, home or purpose when this crazy cat messaged me saying he had a Strat I could have [Ed. note: That’d be me]. It was supposed to stay stock. It didn’t and every piece and screw was changed, modified or refinished.

I mercilessly destroy guitars and will throw them on stage or swing them at mic stands. We have an understanding with each other.

2. What’s the worst part about ‘em?  They cut me back sometimes so we are even.

3. What’s the one song that portrays your sound the best?  Likely that would be our newer track, “Chicago.” We haven’t recorded it yet but it sits in a funny spot where tonally it’s suited well enough to not need any dressing up. It’s just an honest song about the ridiculous acidic cultural wasteland that we are all in together up to our necks. Roy is a slab ‘o drab and it let’s the sound breathe.

[Video by MaxSoundsMusic.com]

4. If money was no object, what’s the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy?  A Rickenbacker 12. That or a Gretsch Country Gentlemen. Both were on “Eight Miles High” and that track rests with Dean coolness in a place that’s one part mover, one part socially awakened and it isn’t too light. The midrange grinds up on the vox sound and creates this dry, driving sunshine noise. I’ve been chasing that for a while but I’m afraid of liking a guitar too much. What would happen if it left? My first Fender was stolen. My mom got it for me before she died. Since then I don’t like being attached to gear. I set up each one every two weeks, replace strings every week and treat them with respect.

If they don’t respect me back, I throw them across the stage and next week we try again. Trips [the band’s bassist] thinks I’m crazy. He’s a good judge of character so I tend to believe him.

5. Musician you admire most gear-wise?  Graham Coxon of Blur. His tones constantly vary wildly, all of them are unique and he knows no fear regarding unintended sounds. He is a dork with glasses and a soft spoken way. When he is on stage he becomes the monster we are all told to refuse at dread-inducing day job nightmares. His versatility is only equalled by the unlikely tenacity he retains after 30 years.

6. What do you have coming up?  We will be at Pitbull Audio on May 7th with The Bassics, Kids in Heat, The Bridge, and Omega Three [INFO]; Art on Adams June 4th; and The Tower Bar with The Fresh Brunettes on May 27th I think. We were supposed to do an EP but it quickly became a full length. We expect to release it early summer.

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LANDO MARTINEZ / HOCUS

Hocus: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SoundCloud

1. Tell me about the gear in your photos:  First up is my Bonser Instruments 2015 Tele Custom. This was made by local musician Jon Bonser (The New Kinetics/Soft Lions/The Hiroshima Mockingbirds). I brought him some Guitar World magazines and asked him if he could make me one of these, but better, cooler and left handed. Three months later, I received the best guitar in the planet. It has some high gains and low sounding rumbles. And it stays in tune!!!! Well-balanced for both live performances and studio recordings

Next is my 2001 SG Custom. This guitar is balls out tough and has that Gibson crunch! It’s been a great guitar in the field but due to many injuries and shows, is now my number two guitar that only needs to come out when needed.

Next is the “Hocus” sound. A lot of my peers in the music scene sneer and chuckle due to the fact that my amp that I use and can rely on is my solid state Crate GFX 212. It produces that great high gain and very well-balanced clean sounds. Coupled with my Bonser and Gibson, this amplifier screams and sings in perfect harmony.

Also here is my “pedal board”. 1 = gain . 2= gut punch gain. 3 = reverb
Even though I have three switches, I still miss them on occasion while performing.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style?  “Better Than You.” It’s a great rocker that just wants to get you jumping around and feeling snooty at the same time. Plus the riff and chorus is really contagious. It’s a great audience participation song.

3. If money was no object, what’s the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy?  Out of necessity and budget, I’ve always favored Crate solid state amplifiers as they have have a great tone and awesome sound. So if I had the money, I’ve always read that Orange Amplifiers are the “bees knees.” I would really like to try them out.

4. What is your current favorite piece of equipment?  My current favorite is my Bonser Instruments Custom Tele. Jon Bonser is not only a great musician, but a great human being and fantastic craftsman. I would see his posts about building amplifiers and it really intrigued me that wow, this guy is making amplifiers from scratch. I wonder if he could make me a guitar? So I asked him it was possible and he jumped on the project immediately.

I brought some magazines to his house and discussed what I wanted he was extremely patient, and really wanted this guitar to be “my” guitar. At times, I was really impatient but this was a handmade guitar made for me and about three months later, I had it. It looks and feels great. Not only that, this guitar was the very first guitar that sports the “Bonser Instruments” logo. I am very proud of it and him. Every now and then I send him drunk texts on how this guitar is my dream guitar and I thank him profusely. Hopefully we will get a sister made by the end of the year. Here is a link of my baby being made. For all you guitar players…check him out! His gear is AWESOME.

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about? We have two shows coming up:

April 15 at The Ken Club, San Diego, CA
May 6 at The Pier View Pub, Oceanside, CA

We have just completed recording and mixing a 9-song EP. It was recorded at Raunchola Productions in Spring Valley and will be mastered by Tad Doyle.
We hope have it out by May 2016.

MEGAN LISCOMB / SOFT LIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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