BLAKE IMPERL / STRAY MONROE

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Stray Monroe: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube

1. Take me through your rig: What model Vox is that? How did you settle on this particular setup? Anything you tend to play more than others?

I use a Vox AC30C2. It’s hands down the best amp I have ever played. I think every guitarist has this sort of “ah-ha” moment where they plug into an amp, strum the first chord that comes to them, and then immediately realize this is the amp they’ve been looking for…

I most definitely had that experience when plugging into this guy. Oasis is my biggest musical influence, so I immediately ran to the British amps (Marshall, Orange, and Vox). I also tried out a few Fenders, but nothing clicked quite like the Vox. I love how it can go from a sweet clean sound to gnarly distortion and everything in between. I’m not the type of guy that enjoys having lots of EQs, so when I saw that the Vox had just three basic EQs, tone cut, reverb, and a pre-amp and master volume, I was sold. I love 4 different inputs which can really cover a wide range of sounds. One trick I have been into lately is the channel-jumping feature. It adds just the right amount of punch and let’s me cut down on my pedal usage.

My pedalboard has been a work in progress for the better part of a few years now. I started with the tried-and-true Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. I still, to this day, believe it is the best pedal a guitarist can own. The distortion it adds to your tone is just the perfect amount of grit while still preserving your amp’s natural characteristics. I never turn this pedal off, so I guess you could say I use it almost more to shape my tone rather than boost sound. Adam and I really consider this pedal to be the building blocks of that Stray Monroe sound and it helped shape all of the guitar tones on The Stray Monroe Show. I then started to branch out into some modulation pedals like the MXR Uni-Vibe and Carbon Copy. I can’t speak highly enough about the Carbon Copy. I think it’s the best analog delay on the market in terms of price and tone. I like that sort of “slapback” tone when playing leads and this pedal is perfect for that. Later on, I added on a Boss CE3 and an Xotic Effects EP Booster and SP Compressor. The CE3 is straight from the ‘80s and its tone truly shows that. I love its almost “too much” chorus sound. The Uni-Vibe, CE3, and Carbon Copy are how I achieve that beach-y tone on “Broken Records”. The EP Booster is a beast of a pedal. For being a one-knob pedal, it packs a serious punch. Sometimes I will just plug in this pedal by itself and get lost in its killer tone. I use this pedal mainly as a boost for solos. The SP Compressor is my newest addition. I had previously been using a Boss CS3 but felt I needed a compressor that suited my needs a little better. The SP compressor has met all those needs and even surpassed them. It adds that perfect balance to chords and arpeggios. I almost always leave this pedal on too.

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2. Looks like you’ve got quite a few different kind of guitars: Tele, Sheraton, Casino — lots of tonal possibilities. What drew you to those three guitars in particular?

I’m a hollowbody fanatic. Growing up idolizing Noel Gallagher, who is infamous for playing hollowbodies, I knew this was the style of guitar I wanted to play. I would daydream as a teenager about one day owning a Gibson ES-345, but being on a 14-year-old’s budget, I had to settle on the Epiphone Dot. I think this is where my love of hollowbodies took off. Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the aesthetics is what attracted me first, but after I started to understand tone, I realized that the tone of these guitars is something truly unique. I’ve got some big hands too, so I always felt like having a bigger guitar was easier for me. I’ve since upgraded from the Dot to a ’92 Sheraton and an ’05 Casino.

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The Tele was a guitar I knew very little about when I purchased it. It still is the nicest guitar I own to this day. It’s an American 2011 60th anniversary edition. It’s an absolute dream to play. This is my main guitar in Stray Monroe. One thing I admire about the Tele is that it never falls out of tune. I can play an entire show and never need to tune up. I wish I could say that about my hollowbodies! When I think of why mine and Adam’s tones work so well together, I attribute a lot of that to our choices in guitars. The bright sound of my Tele is the perfect complement to his full SG sound.

When playing live, I’d say I use the Tele about 80% of the time. I tend to just go off whatever I’m feeling that night for the hollowbodies, but lately I have been favoring the Casino.

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3. I noticed you changed the pickups in your Casino (I did too actually) — what pickups are those and why did you swap them out?

So those are actually Lollar P90 Soapbox pickups. I was fortunate enough to buy the guitar with those already installed. I picked up the guitar from Guitar Pickers in Scottsdale, Arizona. I walked into the shop with no intention of purchasing a guitar, but the minute I saw the wine red finish I was sold. I plugged it in and was just floored by how good the P90s sounded. The tone reminds me of if a Tele and a 345 were blended together. It’s super punchy but can be rolled back to get some warmer, more bluesy tones. I had been on the hunt for an ‘80s or ‘90s Riviera for a very long time, but hadn’t had any luck (if you’re reading this and have an ‘80s or ‘90s Riviera — get at me!). When I walked into the shop and saw this Casino sitting on the wall, I was immediately intrigued. Everything from the tailpiece, to its weight, to the neck profile, to the setup… it was all perfect. It quickly has become my favorite guitar.

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4. Love your pedalboard: I’ve always struggled to find a place to use a Uni-Vibe on songs — do you use yours much?

I find that the Uni-Vibe is almost like that expensive bottle of wine that you only bring out when you have fancy guests over… You can’t just continuously use it, especially in a rock band setting, but it definitely has its moments. I use it on “Broken Records” and whenever I’m playing some Hendrix-styled chords/leads. It’s such an awesome sound, but you can’t overuse it.

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5. If you could get one piece of gear for one of your bandmates as a gift — what would you get and who would it be for?

If money was no object, I would get Adam a 1961 Gibson SG with a side-pull trem. From the day I met him, he’s been rocking an SG. It started with an Epiphone and then more recently, he upgraded to a newer Gibson model. It’s such a quintessential part of the band’s sound. He’s always going back and forth about which guitar he wants to get next, whether it be a Yamaha, a Danelectro, or a brand new SG, but I think I’d definitely steal the show by getting him the ’61. It’s such a timeless guitar and the tone is unparalleled. You could strum a G chord, let it sit there, take a walk around the block, come back, and the thing would still be ringing out. Adam is super particular about the neck profile of his guitars. It’s quite comical, but over the past year since he’s been on the hunt for that “perfect” SG, he’s probably tried out over a dozen different models and said no to each one just because of the neck. Each time I’d get my hopes up thinking thinking, “Ok, this one has GOT to be the one,” just to have them let down. If I got him the ’61, his search would most certainly be over.

6. What’s your favorite Stray Monroe song to play live and why?

My favorite Stray Monroe song to play right now has got to be “Broken Records.” It’s definitely one of our slowest songs, but the riff and chord progression always suck me back in. That riff was a very spontaneous creation after a night of frustrated jamming, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the most satisfying moments in the song for me is kicking on my CE3, Uni-Vibe, and Carbon Copy, and just hearing that warm yet warbly tone. I’ve been changing up the outro solo recently to keep it fresh which is always a plus. Outside of guitar, I always enjoy singing that song because the lyrics mean a lot to me. I tend to get pretty into the story when playing that one. We actually released a music video for that song back in December which you can check out here!

Be sure to check out the band at Soda Bar on October 23rd with Frederick the Younger and Sights & Sages. Tickets are available here.

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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.

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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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.

 

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]

BRIAN HOLWERDA / BLACKOUT PARTY

Blackout Party: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Website / Bandcamp / SoundCloud

1.Tell me about your current rig: How does the individual parts help you achieve the sound you’re after? Best parts? Worst parts? Anything still a work in progress?

Ah, the never-ending quest. I was bad for a while with Craigslist buying and selling pedals and amps. I would read different forums and think, “Oooh if I can just get this one piece of gear, I will be happy.” I horse-traded probably 10 different amps and way too many pedals. Then my buddy O told me one time that no matter what gear I was playing, I always sound like me. He was basically saying it’s in our hands and in our gut. Not that I don’t geek out on gear anymore, but I’ve thinned the collection significantly since then and choose to take a much more utilitarian approach.

I always come back to small amps that sound like they are about to blow up. They sound huge in the studio and they don’t hurt my back. With Blackout Party, I always needed a bit more clean headroom and jangle so I like using a Bassman or something in the 40 watt range, but for everything else I use a 15-22 watt amp. Running different tube combinations in stereo is fun when you can, like a Vox and Fender. I sold my Blues Jr. to Jesse LaMonaca a few years ago and begged for it back, so finally he sold it back to me before we moved to Nashville. That’s my main right now — it’s cheap but sounds awesome and is such an easy load-in. One time the road case wasn’t latched when I lifted it up and it crashed onto the street and tubes were bouncing everywhere. I plugged them back in and it still works fine. I do see an old Deluxe Reverb in my future, though. 6V6’s are my favorite tubes!

My board changes a bit depending on what I’m doing, but I always go right into the Greer Lightspeed and it stays on. I use it as a slight boost to account for any signal loss and to act as a preamp. If I’m playing a smaller room and can’t turn up my amp to where it sounds best, I like being able to bump up the gain on the Lightspeed. It sounds open, natural, and makes the guitar just “feel” better. I like a slightly pushed sound and use my volume knob on the guitar for cleaner sounds. I’ve seen the Lightspeed on tons of boards lately, and for good reason. Also, Nick Greer and his team are good people and I like supporting good people!

After that, I use any number of fuzzes, but always on super low gain as more of a boost or second level. I try to keep things musical and most times I’m not a fan of having the gain past 10 o’clock. I’ve used a lot of Black Arts Toneworks fuzz, and the Pharaoh and Black Forest are my go-to. I will leave them set a little different and occasionally stack them when things need to go into full warp. Mark from BAT has become a good buddy since we started drinking beers together at NAMM, and he lives in Tennessee as well. I love his mentality and humility, and he will be the first to tell you that tone comes from the fingers, not pedals. The Pharaoh is a classic and was the first BAT I got into. I use the Pharaoh Supreme now on Germanium clipping, lo-output mode with minimal gain. It’s interesting to hear a pedal associated with metal used in different applications, I just love it. The Black Forest is set dirtier to take things over the top. My next BAT will be the Quantum Mystic — it uses the germanium clipping that I dig and has a 3-band EQ so it can be dialed in a bit more. Anyone out there looking for some new fuzz should look at the Black Arts stuff!

After my dirt is a Boss EQ that I use for a slight boost when I want a plain old volume bump, then a EHX Nano Grail that I keep set to a washy spring reverb for a spaghetti Western sound. I used that a lot when I was playing with John Meeks for a real spooky sound. I’m looking to replace the EHX reverb with a Strymon Flint, which does the reverb and a tremolo in one pedal. My friend Erik Olson turned me on to the Flint and now I need one bad.

Last is an old MXR Phase 90 that I got from my buddy Andrew McKeag. He is such a cool dude and badass ripper, so I feel like this one has a little extra something special in it. He told me he used this one with Presidents of the United States of America, which I love! I just use it for that slow Waylon-style country thing, very sparingly. Phaser is like cumin, it’s great but if you sprinkle too much in the pot you are in serious trouble. 1-2 phaser moments per album or set, max.

For guitars, I always used Telecasters until I got the Gretsch White Falcon. I am a huge Neil Young and Stephen Still nut, so to me the Creamy Pigeon is it, quest over. Listen to the intro of “Wooden Ships” by CSN, or “Alabama” by Neil — that’s what this thing sounds like. I’ve got the deluxe top-of-the-line model with the TV Jones pickups, which to me sound a lot better than what comes stock. I’m usually in bridge pickup with a small bit of neck rolled in. At first, it was a little flashy for me, but I took the pickguard off and now it looks perfect. I was worried about taking it out of the house but my Mom and Dad actually encouraged me to look at it as a tool, like a hammer. It has a job. Now she has a few small blemishes and probably some dried sweat and beer, but plays better that way.

The Tele was built by my friend Mark in Crest, CA, and painted by Mike Maxwell who has done a lot of art with the Silent Comedy. It’s an old Civil War general, so we call it “The General.” It’s got a custom hammered copper arrowhead over the truss rod and it’s a total Frankenstein model. We aged the body by dragging it behind a car and throwing it up in the air on the driveway. It was my #1 before the Falcon and I still use it a lot. The pickups are Seymour Duncans, and I only use the bridge.

I love playing banjo too, and am happy to call the Deering family friends. They are such good peeps! It was good to see Jamie, Greg, and the crew recently in Nashville, and it was cool being involved in their ad campaign for their “Solana 6” nylon 6-string model. It’s definitely my go-to back porch and/or travel instrument at our house. The other banjo with the crazy ninja unicorn inlays was given to me by one of my best friends Jeff. I guess he found it in South Carolina and thought I needed it! It’s still one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me, so thanks again, Jeff! It’s got a Deering head but the rest is totally custom woodwork and insane abalone inlay.

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

I have to pick “All My Friends” off the newest recording. It’s a song that we’ve been playing since we started out, and even recorded previously. It’s so much fun to go into the extended jam at the end, you can really lose yourself on stage. Tim and Daniel have some neat guitar bits and Jesse and Hoth are just pumping. It feels good. On this tune, I used an old Silvertone acoustic with a P90 plugged into a Black Arts Pharaoh fuzz on germanium clipping and low gain, then layered that track with a baritone guitar into an AC30 and a Bassman in stereo. Really fun recording this one with the guys!

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

Man, hard one because for so long I drooled over the White Falcon and now it’s sitting here. I have to say I’m pretty happy with my current lineup, but an old Martin acoustic would be real nice. There’s a store here in Nashville called Gruhn’s, and they have rows of old Martins STARTING at $10k. Some of them feel ok, but a few of them just sound like they are plugged in when you hit a G chord. An old D-28 or D-35 would be real nice!

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

This ties into my favorite musician as well, which would have to be my Dad Jim and his 1966 Guild D-50. He put the love of all kinds of music in our house, and taught us to appreciate jazz and classical as well as rock and folk. I remember wanting to learn some Metallica riffs when I was a kid, but he sat me down and made me play James Taylor licks or the intro to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” to a metronome. At one point, he told me he’d buy me an electric guitar if I could play the riff in “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody at any speed to a metronome. I must’ve sat there for months playing it so slow, but I finally got it — and a Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar. He passed on his prized Guild to me a few years back and it is the one thing besides my wife and dogs I’d grab if the house were on fire. It’s the guitar my Dad serenaded my Mom with at camp before they were married, and has always been real special to our family. Plus it sounds amazing! Turns out Guild gave it to the Serendipity Singers as a promo model just before my Dad bought it in ’66, and we have a clip of them using it on Hullabaloo earlier that year. It’s one of the 2 in the back middle:

5. Blackout Party has a new record coming out — how would you say it stacks up against the your guys’ last one? What’s changed? What’s stayed the same?

It stacks up great to the last one, and feels like the natural next step to us. Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed had a twangy Americana sound and influence, where the newest record is heavier and has more texture. The constant is songwriting and focusing on themes everyone can relate to. We were able to do more on this one and experiment with some different sounds and ideas, where on the last one we literally plugged in and cut it all live in 3 days, even most of the vocals. We cut everything live again on the new one, but went in and layered a lot more fun ear candy on this one. For example, on “Grape and the Grain,” I’m singing vocals through a distorted guitar amp that was plugged into a rotating Leslie speaker to get a really warbly sound. We layered that in below the main vocal, but it added a really neat texture and we took the time to do stuff like that all over the record.

Also we have some cool guests, like Maureen Murphy who sings her butt off on “Smart Too Late.” She sings in Zac Brown’s band and was passing through the studio one night when the engineer asked if she wanted to sing a bit. It was all very random and lucky, but we all had goosebumps the second she started singing.

6. You guys also took a strange route of going all the way to Nashville to record the thing, then did an Indiegogo for vinyl, and then either went on hiatus or broke up (while you moved away) before actually playing a release show — which you guys are getting around to now. What happened and why the weird chain of events?

Yeah it’s been wild, and totally weird! A couple of my buddies were in Nashville working at Zac Brown’s place as engineers, and they invited us out to track here at Southern Ground. It appealed to me to get the guys out of San Diego and our comfort zones. I like being able to unplug from everyday responsibilities and focus on making noise together. The pre-sale thing on Indiegogo was a natural next step, and a big success for us. I see those platforms as a way to let friends and fans be directly involved in the process, and offer a new experience rather than simply buying a CD at a show. We went over our funding goal and did almost $10k in sales before the release, and it’s cool to know that many of the people who supported this project have their names listed on the vinyl as “Executive Producers.” After the pre-orders shipped, I got a great opportunity in Nashville and had to make some moves pretty quick. Tim [Lowman] had a similar situation so now 2/5 of the band is in Tennessee. We never broke up, but just said hey we are going to step back and re-address this later this year. In the meantime, my wife and I were able to buy a little house out here, I love my job, and I’m graduating with a business degree on the same night of our Casbah show! Been very busy, but excited to finally be putting on a proper release for our San Diego friends and fans.

7. What can fans expect at the release show on Aug. 27?

The whole bill is solid, so come early and stay late! The New Kinetics, The Slashes, and Mrs. Henry all will be badass, and then we are going to tie a nice big black bow on the evening. We partnered with Jameson to offer some cheap whiskey specials all night, so hopefully everyone takes advantage of that. It will all be fun, no power ballads! We’ve got a couple covers to sprinkle in there, and we are mostly excited to be back in that room and just feed off everyone’s energy!

8. What’s next for you specifically, and also the band? Any more shows coming up? 

I’m excited to be in Nashville and continue writing with a few specific people. My vision for this year is to focus on the publishing side of things, where I can be home at night with the wife and dogs, drinking a few beers in the yard, not in a sweaty van. I’d love to get the BOP guys out here for a few shows — I know we’d do real well in this market, but will ultimately depend on boring stuff like schedules and budgets. My next project is recording an EP with my neighbor Larry, who is a cool old cowboy. He heard me picking one day and showed up on my porch with a bottle of Jack and 2 vintage Martins! He’s an amazing songwriter and we have become buddies so I want to be involved with documenting the songs he’s written. I’m hoping to have it tracked in a few months, so when the time comes we will keep everyone posted on that.

Besides the Casbah show, there’s nothing booked, but we are hoping to play some more in San Diego. There’s even talk of re-releasing Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed on vinyl with the original alternate art at some point, which would be badass. I’d love to come back to San Diego to play Oktoberfest or another festival soon, or maybe just to play Tim Mays’ backyard! We shall see.

Blackout Party headline the Casbah on Aug. 27 for their “Float On Towards Our Doom” record release. Get info here.

J. ADAM WILLIAMS / THE LOWLAND DRIFTERS

The Lowland Drifters: Facebook / Instagram / SoundCloud

1. How would you describe your band’s sound.

We are trying to bridge spaghetti Western music with aggressive garage-rock and slight hints of surf. The lyrics all take place in some dying desert trailer-park town…our modern-day version of  ghost towns. It’s pretty dark, lyrically… almost pulp/noir. Imagine Breaking Bad meets The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. We have experimented with calling it “Doom Western”… not settled on that yet.

2. Tell me about the stuff in your photos: Is there anything you’re not stoked on that you might be replacing soon? Anything that will always be a fixture in your rig? 

My ADINEKO from Catalinbread is not the most used effect I have, but it is my favorite… a beautiful soupy analog delay. It was modeled after the old oilcan delay tech from the ‘70s. It modulates in sync with the delay rate and has multiple “delay heads” that allow you to have a mix of reverb and delay in the same effect. Very unique sounding and I don’t think I could ever live without it.

The SPARK BOOST is a great all-purpose boost. Want a Tubescreamer? Flip the switch up and cut your bass and treble. Want just a straight boost? Switch in the middle, giant taste and it will sound just like your straight signal but louder. I have even gotten a setting or two that hint at Vox cleans. Stupid amounts of signal boost on tap and a nice light overdrive.

FENDER VIBRO KING: I wanted this amp for so long it isn’t even funny. I like 10-inch speakers. They just seem more focused in a multi-guitar band.
I used to have a Twin and it was too heavy and I never could get it past two on the volume. This amp is still ungodly loud, but it is manageable and has a nice tonal balance.

The Zoom ME-100 is a great little all-purpose noisemaker. I use it for tremolo, acoustic, and when I want to push the reverb over the top.

I have a homemade phaser from B.Y.O.C. – it sometimes is a little finicky…I need to get in there one day and reflow solder.

The Greenhouse NoBrainer is an interesting high gain pedal. Lots of control over shaping of the mids and highs, but it always felt not as tight in the bass as I’d like. I don’t use this much in the current material, so it is prolly going to leave the board soon.

3. I’ve gotta ask: What’s the little button on the Tele by the pickup?

A kill switch I put in from my ‘60s freakbeat phase.. I still use it on occasion. That guitar has taken 10 years of my obsession with tinkering and mods. Including a new neck from USA Custom guitars.

I also have a small switch by my volume that taps my custom-wound bridge pickup from Cavalier Pickups. He makes fantastic pickups at a very reasonable price and quick turnaround for a custom winder. It gives me the all-important twang.

4. If you had to point someone to a song of yours that showcased your sound/style the best, what would it be?

“Johnny Law,” an instrumental and “Left Behind,” a murder ballad about a town sheriff who’s lost his hope and sanity. We are currently finishing mixes on these and they should be up on our pages in a few weeks.

“Cowtown” is an early demo we have that also shows where we are headed. It’s about a midnight robbery gone horribly wrong.

5. If money was no object, what is the one “holy grail” piece of gear you’d get? 

Holy Grail… Hmm… I guess if we are talking big-ticket items, the only thing I’d really pine for is a  Fender “White Chicken”. It’s when you merge a Gretsch White Falcon and a Telecaster. Tele shape with a carved top. White paint, gold hardware, Bigsby Tremelo, etc. It’s not an official Fender thing, although the custom shop has made a few.

White Chicken

A 3×10 bandmaster wouldn’t suck either. And a pony…I want a pony.

6. What’s coming up for The Lowland Drifters?

We are finishing mixing work on a 5-song EP and gearing up for more gigs in the San Diego area.

The Lowland Drifters play The Merrow on Tuesday, July 26 with Bighorn Run and Corina Rose. RSVP here to get in for free.

JEREMIAH LAFICA / THE FILTHY VIOLETS

The Filthy Violets: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandpage

1. Tell me about your current rig. How does the individual parts help you achieve the sound you’re after? Best parts? Worst parts? Anything still a work in progress?

From the beginning to the end of my chain I have:

Line 6 Constrictor -> DigiTech Bad Monkey -> Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh Fuzz -> Ernie Ball VP Jr. -> MXR 10 Band EQ -> Boss DD-7 -> Van Amps Sole Mate Reverb

On the VP bypass output I’ve got the Boss TU-2 Tuner.

The Constrictor has served me well for about 7 or 8 years now. I don’t even touch the dials at this point. The mellow setting really keeps the tone smooth and contained without eating away too much of the tone.

I’ve had the Bad Monkey for about as long and it sat on the shelf for the first few years, but I found a way to get some nice edge out of it with a high boost.

I picked up the Pharaoh Fuzz from a neighbor who was selling off a bunch of gear. I hadn’t heard of it, so I just took it home for a test run and immediately ran back to pay him for it. This thing can scream. It has a 3-way Germanium/Silicon switch that gives you two completely different fuzz tones. I keep it right in the middle to get the best of both worlds. I also keep the tone and high knobs cranked up at about 3 o’clock to preserve some clarity. If you push the Fuzz knob too far it can really get out of control, so I’ve got it around 9 o’clock most of the time.

The VP Jr. is a VP Jr… Not much to say except it’s reliable and does exactly what you’d want a volume pedal to do. I had issues with the sweep when I first got it and realized it was having difficulty with the patch cable I was sending in. Note to self (and others experiencing similar issues), some boutique cables just don’t work the same as the run-of-the-mill Livewire patches.

The 10 Band EQ is pretty nice for rounding out the rough edges of a bright tone or adding some punch to a weak signal. It has a volume and a gain in addition to the 10 frequencies you can dial in, so you can actually get some additional grit, if that’s what you’re after.

The DD-7 is my favorite stomper. I’ve tried other delays and they’re either too quirky, finicky or simply don’t give me the tone I’m after. I’ve been meaning to get the bypass switch for years but just haven’t managed to remember. Hopefully soon… I almost exclusively use the tap delay, rather than turning the time knob. I bounce between the 200ms and 800ms settings. The 200ms is square, giving you double the beats that you tap. The 800ms gives you a dotted 1/4 notes, which can really add a nice touch. Everyone says it’s dotted 1/8 notes, but from my experience they’re dotted 1/4.

Lastly, the Sole Mate Reverb. This is another pedal I picked up from that neighbor who was unloading some of his gear. It’s a pretty tame spring reverb, with an on/off switch, an output knob and a dwell knob. I usually keep the dials pretty low for some extra breath on the tail of the delay, but it can open up quite a bit if you want to crank it.

I also use Voodoo Power and a Monster Power Conditioner. It really does make a difference having strong, clean power.

It all runs to a Vox AC15, the best plug-and-play amp on the planet. Monkeys could dial this thing in and get great tones out of it.

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

This is one of our older tracks, from about 5 years ago. It’s called “You’re The Riot.” I’m not crazy about how the parts of the arrangement turned out on the record, but I liked the tone I was able to get for the solo in the middle of the track. I was actually using an Epiphone Casino for that recording, and I’d like to get my hands on one of my own at some point. In any case, the tone was warm and bright, crunchy and crisp. If I could nail down that tone at every live show, I’d be thrilled.

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

Eventide Space Reverb. Good reverb really stands out from the cheap stuff. That pedal has SO much versatility. It can pretty much replicate any reverb imaginable. Not to mention it also has delay, modulation, etc, etc. My birthday is coming up if anyone is feeling extra generous…

4. I noticed you’re using a Telecaster with two humbuckers instead of the standard single coils. Any particular reason? Can you still get those classic Telecaster sounds out of it or is it an entirely different sound altogether?

I used to be a diehard Strat player, but I realized that I was always cutting my highs because they were so overwhelming. So, I figured a Telecaster would bring me closer to the center. On top of that, I wanted a smoother, warmer tone, and the single coils just sounded so twangy, which I really can’t stand. The tonal range is narrower with this setup, but with the 3-way switch, I really like the amount of variety I can get out of each position. I usually keep it in the middle or down on the bridge pickup. I think it still sounds like a Tele with the humbuckers, but less twangy, which is wonderful.

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

Trey Anastasio from Phish. It may seem like an odd choice, given the obvious difference in the genres we play. But in the mid ’90s, he had an absolutely killer tone. I think he used and still uses two custom Languedoc guitars, which I’m sure was the biggest contributor to his tone, but whatever else he had going on in his effects chain was perfectly dialed in… except when it wasn’t, which was probably like 1 out of 5 shows, most likely because he was too spaced out to realize it. Anyhow, when I first started learning to play, I tried to model my tone after his and ended up learning a lot about playing in general.

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

It was an Ibanez acoustic guitar. I still have it, and I hate it more each day. This was when I was in my first year of playing. Someone told me, “Hey man, it’s got Fishman Pickups, it’s totally worth it.” Nah, not even a little. The truss rod (something I was completely unaware of at the time of purchase or the next year thereafter) was broken. And, the tone just generally sucked. I actually try to be as inconspicuously careless as possible with it, hoping it breaks so I have a fully legitimate reason to find a replacement.

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

We’re playing this Saturday, June 18th at the Casbah, possibly July 18th at Soda Bar, and there will likely be another Casbah show in the next month or so. No other dates at this point. We’re really trying to focus on new material since we just got the band back together this year after a 3-year hiatus. Luckily, someone heard us at either House of Blues or Casbah when we played recently and it sounds like they’re going to fund an 8 or 9-song EP and try to get our publishing off the ground. Fingers crossed!