1. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: brands/models, etc. Do you run both of those amps in stereo? And what is that weird, old lookin’ one? Looking to add or change anything in the future?
My live rig includes: A white Squier Jaguar (with custom spec Buddha pickups), yellow Prisma Sunset Series guitar, Sovtek Tube Midget amp head with Orange 1×12” cab, and an Otis Amplifiers Trudeau head with 1×12” extension cab. The pedalboard is running a Korg tuner, into a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor (used primarily as a splitter), which splits into the Analog Alien Joe Walsh Double Classic overdrive and compressor on one signal path, and into the Stomp Under Foot Violet Menace fuzz and Boss CH-1 Chorus on the other signal path. Haha, it’s a bit confusing — I’ve twisted my mind in knots trying to figure this set-up out – but it serves a very specific purpose. I run both amplifiers at the same time, but not in the classic sense of a stereo set-up — my intention is to have one amp always running cleaner and jangly-er and the other amp running more distorted and powerful. The Double Classic’s signal path goes into the Otis, to get that going with some nice break-up, but with clarity and sparkle. The Violet Menace and Chorus go into the Sovtek – which has the headroom to handle the Violet Menace. So essentially: my “clean” tone is the Otis amp slightly broken up and the Sovtek completely clean; my “dirty” sound is the Otis slightly broken up and the Sovtek pumping out the Violet Menace fuzz. In my mind this set-up allows me, as the only guitar player, to sound bigger, clearer and jangly-er (which is always my ultimate desire a Beatles, Tom Petty and Big Star fan…)!
The unique looking amp is an Otis Trudeau, made by my friend August Graybosch. He wanted the aesthetic to be similar to a 1940s radio with some midcentury modern vibes … I think he’s been killing it with his amp design and aesthetics! The amp itself is loosely modeled after/inspired by old Valco or Supro amps — it’s 15 watts but surprisingly loud and clean. The amp head actually has a built-in 8-inch speaker, but for playing live it is necessary to use the 1×12” extension cab, which looks awesome as well! It never hurts to have unique and eye-catching gear (that actually sounds GREAT) — I want people to be intrigued by the instruments I’m playing, I think it provides another element of standing apart from the pack.
I’m planning on sticking with this rig for some time, the only change would be if I can find way to purchase a Rickenbacker guitar… that’s been my dream ever since I started playing guitar and following music. I really want a 360 or 370, because those have stereo outputs and that would be an intriguing feature given my amp and effects set-up. I mean George Harrison, Tom Petty, Pete Townsend, Paul Weller, John Fogerty … all played those Ric’s … that’s the sound that lives in my head and my heart … I must attain it!
2. Talk to me about that Prisma guitar. They’re made out of recycled skateboards or something like that, right? How does it sound vs. your Jag? What kind of pickup is that?
Yeah, they’re made by my friend Nick Pourfard, who I met at NAMM a few years ago. He does indeed make them out of recycled skateboard decks. The Sunset Series was his idea to produce a less expensive version of his guitar that has accents made from skateboard decks, as opposed to the entire instrument. This is one of the early models that only has one pickup and no vibrato. The pickup is a McNelly Stagger Swagger — which he describes essentially as a humbucking P-90 … it sounds fabulous! So, it’s got a different vibe than the Jag — it’s got a chunkier neck and a thicker, more classic rock kind of sound. I really like the simplicity of a one-pickup guitar that just rocks. Plus, it’s fun to play a guitar that your friend built and to be able to talk to random people about it and promote what they’re doing.
3. I’ve got a soft spot for white Jags. Let’s talk about the old Squier vs. Fender debate. How do you think your Jag holds up compared to the American or Mexican models? If someone was on the fence about checking out a Squier Jag, would you recommend it? Also, got any choice words you’d have for Squier naysayers?
I love the feel of the Jaguar and this Squier Jag in particular: it has a fretboard radius that is bigger than a classic Jag, but it’s still a small and fast neck, which suits my hands and playing style well. Whatever idea you once had about Squier guitars needs to eradicated, they make some super solid guitars for an affordable price, and they are perfect for modding. I added some custom spec Buddha Jag pickups that run a bit hotter than a classic Jag pickup — I found the builder on Reverb — and then had it re-wired with new pots, switches and jacks. It’s also nice having a more or less inexpensive guitar — it feels right to really dig into it and thrash it around; I hate feeling too precious about instruments … they should have scratches and dings and dents and abuse, that means they’ve truly been loved! I’d certainly go for a Fender Jag if one of the versions has the same neck profile as my Squier, but for now I’m thoroughly happy with mine.
4. Talk to me about that Joe Walsh pedal: What is that? Where’d you find it? What do you like about it?
So it’s a dual function pedal: It acts as an amp-like overdrive/mild distortion and as a compressor. You can choose whether the compressor comes before or after the OD, which provides lots of tonal options. I thought I needed a compressor in my set-up but have found that it’s not entirely useful to me in the live context — though I do use that portion while recording. The OD section is always on, pushing the Otis into jangly breakup. I love researching gear and watching demos, so I came across it through those means. It didn’t hurt that Joe Walsh endorsed it — I grew up listening to and loving the Eagles, and his and Don Felder’s guitar tone is ingrained in my musical essence.
5. I’m always interested in people’s fuzz choices since there’s so many out there. How’d you settle on that particular Stomp Under Foot?
Matt, who runs Stomp Under Foot by himself and builds the pedals, is an expert on the myriad variations of the Big Muff. Last year I got really into Dinosaur Jr. and wanted to have a sound similar to J. Mascis … which means have a Big Muff! J. uses a Stomp Under Foot Muff, so I decided that’s the way I should go. It also further assured me that the Big Muff was the way to go knowing David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd), who is my end-all-be-all favorite guitar player, has used a Big Muff in his rig for decades. I originally bought a special Ram’s Head version Big Muff to use in DAYTRIP. Matt sent me a message though Instagram and said he dug our sound, and that if I ever thought that the Ram’s Head wasn’t cutting it live, that he would send me a Violet Menace — which is similar to a Ram’s Head Muff but with an added mid control. After a couple of subsequent gigs, I determined that my distortion sound was getting lost in the mix and asked if he could send me one. Since then, the Violet Menace has been kicking ass and taking names! The addition of extra mids really lets the Muff cut though the live mix, without being obnoxiously loud. I’m a Stomp Under Foot guy from here on out — thanks Matt!
6. If you had to point someone to a song of yours that showcased your sound/style the best, what would it be and why?
I definitely think our first release, “Coolly (When Hell Freezes Over),” is indicative of my sound — and serves as a kind of mission statement for DAYTRIP. It’s bright and jangly, interspersed with some sonic blasts of distortion – but never does it lose clarity. I want DAYTRIP to aspire to be in the lineage of The Beatles, The Byrds, Big Star, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Jam, Buffalo Tom and Teenage Fanclub — all of which exhibit big, bright guitars and catchy riffs and melodies.
7. What’s the shittiest piece of gear you’ve bought and why did it suck? On the flipside, what’s the raddest piece of gear you’ve bought and why is it so great?
I really don’t think anything has been “shitty,” it’s all served its purpose: if I’ve gotten rid of it, that was more due to the desire to improve my gear or just the fact that I no longer was going in the direction that the gear was meant for. Even gear that I love, I’ve gotten rid of… I’m always scheming a way to get something new and better! The raddest pieces of gear are the Otis amp and the Prisma guitar — nothing is cooler than playing something one of your friends made, and oh by the way, they’re top-of-the-line incredible instruments!
8. What’s coming up for Daytrip?
We have our debut EP coming out very soon (I think we’re just waiting to get some CDs and general merch made, and then we’ll have an official release show). Otherwise, we’re always writing new songs, trying to build the best live set possible, and we’re digging deeper into the San Diego scene. We want to be consistently playing the top SD venues and playing with killer bands that have a motive and sound similar to ours.
Daytrip performs at The Merrow with Michael McGraw and Retra on Tuesday, April 24, as part of a local-music showcase hosted by 91X Loudspeaker’s Tim Pyles.