Monday, December 2, 2013

Total Castration #3 Spacebag

             Space-bagging is the term bike punks and crusties use when they take the silver bag of booze out of a box of wine. Fits in the messenger bag easier! In the 70’s ski bums had their leather boda bags, but this is 2013!
Spacebag are Seattle’s one and only. Other bands have progressive noise rock bands (Behold the Arctopus come to mind…) but none of them put on a party like Spacebag! I will hold them up against any other act for shear insanity of music. And they have something no other band in the world has: A grind keyboard player. As you will read, Luke LaPlante has been playing since he was eleven.
But he’s not the only prodigy, Dave Webb is badass who unabashedly subscribes to the school of shred but who also knows how to just settle down and rock. Steve Vai meets Carcass if you like. I could tell he was excited to talk about his rig, as any good shredder would!
And Andrew Gormley, what a pedigree! (As Encyclopedia Metallium so eloquently puts it ex-Torment, ex-Die 116, ex-Kiss it Goodbye, ex-Playing Enemy, ex-Rorschach, ex-Shai Hulud, ex-The Arid Sea, ex-Under Control, ex-Today is the Day (live)) The man is a monster of a drummer and such a nice guy! With many other talents as you will see. He even recorded their last record, which is phenomenal.
They are all super nice guys. I told Luke that I thought Andrew and Dave were the first guys he’s ever played with that truly complimented him. Not to put down Luke and Dave’s other bands/bandmates, Sean and Wah Wah Exit Wound respectively. Nothing but stellar talent in those bands but with Spacebag, for me, something really clicked! When I finished the Sandrider interview I had mentioned to Luke that I wanted to talk with Spacebag next, and then life happened. Any of the dozen of people following my interviews know they are few and far between (Only two in a year?!?!) it takes time to transcribe an hour-long interview and then edit it etc. I’m just happy I’m finally getting a second interview in before the end of the year! And all because Luke hounded me, thank you Luke!
(As always, opinions of myself and those being interviewed are just that, opinions and we all know that opinions can’t hurt you. We all have different tastes and experiences so please don’t sue or troll ok? Well thought out discourse is most definitely appreciated. Thanks!) 

Luke LaPlante: Keyboard
Andrew Gormley: Drums
Dave Webb: Guitar

Jeffery: I have three questions I ask everyone and depending on how loquacious you are this could take a while. Seeing’s as how we just spent ten minutes talking about ProTools rigs it should go fine…
Andrew: I have a question, what does loquacious mean?
Jeffery: Talk a lot basically…
Andrew: OK thanks. I’m a drummer you gotta dumb it down.
Jeffery: What was your first rig and what was the story behind it? Who wants to go first?
Luke: Peavey “Renown”. It was the first time I ever tried distortion with a keyboard. 2x12 right? And it added some distortion but I played around with a Rat pedal. That was the beginning of ‘Captain Power Chord’.
Jeffery: How old were you?
Luke: Fifteen.
Jeffery: So you decided you were going to play distorted heavy metal keyboards when you were fifteen years old?
Luke: Yeah. This was in my fourth year of piano lessons. The distortion, the huffing gas, smoking weed and punk rock just made me quit piano lessons. Cause I could fucking play with my favorite records and I was like, “I can do that!”
Jeffery: Four years seems like a long enough time for lessons, I mean, unless you want to play Chopin for a living or whatever.
Luke: Yeah, eleven to fifteen until I was like, “Fuck you Dad!” (Laughter)
Jeffery: So, you had the peavey, what was your first keyboard?
Luke: Roland XP10.  I mean I had a Casio but the one I remember the most was the Roland, which my old drummer made into a crazy art piece and it’s like a shelf in my house now. It’s got saw blades coming out of it and stuff… my drummer from Sean, Mike (Peterson).

Andrew: My first drum set was a Tama Swingstar, it was the cheapest of cheap drums, you could get a whole kit for like $300 they had pressed wood with a black plastic laminate around it. I saved up my paper route money to buy that. I started off with the five piece with the really shallow toms 12”, 13” & 16” and as I got a new job I added a floor tom and some high toms and I set it up like Clive Burr from Iron Maiden and that drum set was a piece of shit but the hardware is awesome!
Jeffery: Tama hardware is the best man!
Andrew: I’ve used that hardware for a long, long time, and touring and they just stood up! But the drums I used WAY longer than I should have. I was recording like bigger records with that shit set until someone came up to me and said, “You are NOT supposed to be playing drums like that.” And I was like: OK.
Jeffery: We have one of those Swingstars at Vera and at first I was like, this is a jazz kit so I put coated Ambassadors on everything and I was like why does this kick sound so bad and then I realized it was a crappy kit so I put a Powerstroke 3 on it and now it sounds like a plain old kick drum. It’s fine. Records fine. But does it sound awesome? Not really.
Andrew: I believe with the right tuning and the right heads you can make shitty kits sound good. And I stood by that philosophy for a long, long time but it just got to the point where those drums just weren’t working out. For the longest time I even had the front head removed from that kit and since the lugs on that kit would rattle I removed them so I couldn’t even put a head back on there.
Jeffery: Single kick?
Andrew: Yes, I’ve always played single kick. The first band I ever played in was called Torment a New Jersey thrash band and I got kicked out because I didn’t play double bass.
Jeffery: You son of a bitch… turns out you can still do it with one foot…
Luke: And a floor tom. (Laughter)
Andrew: Actually that’s how I learned to do the alternating floor tom etc. I started doing that in Torment. They didn’t appreciate it.
Jeffery: That was the Swarming Hordes trick, the fake double kick thing. It sounded awesome!
Andrew: Yeah. I think you can make it sound more interesting than straight double bass.
Jeffery: I think so to, totally agree. What about you Dave, what was your first rig?
Dave: My first guitar was an acoustic guitar I found in the attic it was a Yamaha and I didn’t really know how to play it but I played it all the time and saved up, saved up and bought a Mexi-Strat in middle school. Sixth grade I think.
Jeffery: Mexi- Strat everyone’s first guitar.
Dave: And a Peavey Bandit. I thought I was Stevey Ray Vaughan (Laughter) it was pretty fucking awesome.
Jeffery: Someone called them the Tennessee Marshal ha ha!
Luke: I call them the Peav(static sound)!
Jeffery: The only thing I liked about the Bandit was that you could turn the gain all the way up and the mids all the way down and sound like Celtic Frost ha ha.
Andrew: When I first started playing I learned bass at the same time and my brother had a Might Mite he but I actually went out and for Christmas, I must have been 12 years old, my present was a Peavey TKO65 and that thing was massive for it’s size.
Jeffery: They are actually pretty tough. The TKO.
Andrew: I blew it up it was the TKO65, 65 watts
Dave: I always get the TNT and the TKO mixed up ha ha!
Luke: Did you guys all do the thing where you had the singer for your first band sing through someone’s old practice amp Cause they traded up into a new practice amp?
Andrew: Yep!
Jeffery: Ha ha we really didn’t understand the concept of buying a PA. Plus we were practicing in my friends room right next to his water bed so…
Luke: I Had an early band where we had that like ancient Roland PA? With the tall speakers and shit?
Andrew: Did you have the Sure Vocal Master?
Luke: Maybe that’s what it was!
Jeffery: I’ve always wanted on of those-
Luke: You think you want one of those! HAHA
Jeffery: That’s how you get that garage rock vocal sound. But what you have to do is mic it like another guitar amp.
Luke: You mike the P.A.?
Jeffery: That’s what Billy Childish from Thee Headcoats does, it seems kinda stupid at first but if you want that like, totally distorted garage rock sound it sounds totally rad.
Dave: Can I add one thing? In my original rig I had a… fairly soon after the bandit I was awarded for Christmas or Channuka or something it was the plastic Tube Screamer the black one, they called it the Soundtank. I was like this distortion pedal is gonna be awesome! And I turned it up with a crystal clean amp and I turned it on and it did like nothing… I was soo disappointed. And one day, many years later I discovered the power of the Tube Screamer-
Jeffery: The real Tube Screamer?
Dave: It doesn’t matter I still have that one it’s right there in that red bag. But I had no idea that you have to have a tube amp turned up loud to make it work. A Tube Screamer into a small solid-state amp is a horrible sound.
Jeffery: My bullshit theory has always been: real tube distortion into solid state, solid state distortion into tube… I don’t know if that’s a good thing but that’s always been my style ha ha.
Dave: And I think I had a Rocktron pedal called the Vibrator
Jeffery: Oh man, the Vibrator…(Chuckles)
Andrew: Put the Vibrator and the Big Muff Pi together and magic happens! (Laughter)
Dave: At some point the Big Muff entered the picture. I had the green one-
Jeffery: The soviet one?
Dave: Yeah
Luke: Chasin’ the Muff! (More sophomoric laughter)
Jeffery: I could never figure out when I was younger what was better distortion or fuzz you know?
Luke: Well, 90’s was all fuzz!
Jeffery: That’s the thing in the 90’s they’d have like “hyper triple fuzz”! It sounded brutal but I was like what does this do?
Andrew: I was always anti-fuzz.
Jeffery: As opposed to distortion? I can handle a vintage fuzz, but it just squares up the wave instead of jagging it up so it doesn’t give you that much articulation.
Dave: I think of fuzz as more of a special effect because once you turn a fuzz on there is no more dynamics. Not much picking or anything. Some of the germanium ones you can roll back but that seems to become like an extension of the amp… but with a Big Muff or something it’s just ON. But sometimes you get like weird overtones like dancing around and the octave thing happening.
Jeffery: And they sound pretty good on bass if that’s what you are goin’ for, Muff on bass and a Rat on guitar and BOOM! 90’s!
Luke: And the Muff on the organ! (Big laughs)
Jeffery: Funny AND good sounding!
Andrew: I think we got a new song title!
Jeffery: I think you do!
Dave: We put a Muff on the organ on that Sean record!
Jeffery: So Luke tell me what our set up is right now…
Luke: I just bought a Roland Juno DI. It’s all white which rules! I play through a Gallien Kreuger bass amp, it’s a 700RB with a 4x12 and separate 1x15. That head has never fucked with me; it’s the most solid amp ever.

Jeffery: You kinda can’t go wrong with a GK.
Luke: And I play through a Metal Zone, I put it through the Rocktron Hush first and tthat is more to gate out not only noisy shit but like the sustain that’s natural on piano…
Jeffery: I was wondering about that because it’s not like it’s feeding back…
Luke: It cuts out that natural sustain of the piano which gives it most of the realistic sound of a guitar. It’s the piano preset, everything else is random synth sounds, but using the piano is the way I can play the fastest. And it’s the closest to a guitar string…
Jeffery: Did you ever see Today is the Day when they had the keyboardist who played like sampled bass sounds through a bass amp?
Luke: Yeah! I also saw a really cool keyboard on the self-titled tour but that guy had way more crazy presets and stuff.
Andrew: Scott Wexton and Chris Reeser. I played in Today is the Day for two shows and I played in that line up with Chris.
Jeffery: Amazing. I remember seeing that and I was in an industrial band at the time and I conned my band mates into going to see that show and they were like, “What?!?!” it was intense.
Andrew: I think what he had- I was in for such a short period of time, but I think had had the bass sounds and samples going on with the other hand so that blended in with the noisy parts that Steve (Austin) was playing and he actually had a bass amp and a guitar amp so he split it out.  He had a really interesting set up.
Jeffery: Well it was about as high-tech as you could get at the time.
Andrew: He had a disk and he had to load those sounds on there…
Jeffery: That was the main problem with those old samplers you had to load the sounds and you’d be, “Holy shit I gotta play in like 2 minutes!” The Young Gods is another band that did not have a guitar player they just had a keyboard that played guitar loops musically.
Dave: So it just begins the riff?
Jeffery: No he had complete riffs for each song and he’s play the samples…
Dave: But it wasn’t a guitar setting on a keyboard? He’s just like triggering samples?
Jeffery: Yeah but I don’t know how he did it but it sounded really cool because they are so loopy as a band. I don’t think you could have just hired a Death Metal guitar player like those other industrial bands did, KMFDM or Liabach or whatever.
Luke: Or like Andrew WK having the Obituary guys backing him up.
Jeffery: Exactly, they’d just hire whatever metal dudes they knew to come in and play the riffs.
Luke: Even though they are watching me play keyboard not guitar people are like, “No, there is some kinda bass or whatever!” Like there is some kind of secret to what I’m doing, or people will have been outside like, “I could have sworn it was a guitar!”
Jeffery: I think that’s the beauty of what you do; you are distorting the shit out of a piano and it blends well with the guitars.
Luke: And I can’t play guitar at all!
Jeffery: (Laughs) Why should you?
Luke: I wanted to play keyboard because I watched Unsolved Mysteries and wanted to play songs like that.
Jeffery: It that true?!?
Luke: Yeah (Laughter) and then I got into Napalm Death and shit… let’s combine em!
Jeffery: Andrew, we talked about your old crappy drum set, when did you finally move up into something more ‘pro’?
Andrew: Well, when I was on a tour with Playing Enemy one of our buddies, Eric Kinder worked a drum shop down in San Francisco and he goes, “Look, I’ll just give you a drum set. Pay me when you get the money.” The set I was playing more recently was a black Tama Rockstar, giant kick, the whole kit was giant, 24” 13”, 14”, 18’ floor… everything was just monstrous. And the problem with that drum set is you’d play fast and you are not getting any of the articulation of the notes it’s just a lot of rumble, rumble, rumble. I used that kit on one of the Playing Enemy records and Matt Bayles was complaining, “These toms are just ringing the whole time, you gotta play smaller toms.” So after that I rented a kit to record the second Playing Enemy LP from American music and it was really cheap like $300 for the whole weekend and the guy said what kind of heads do you use and he put all new heads on the drums and he matched up the toms that I wanted a 12/14/16 and I loved that drum set, whatever it was… It was a Yamaha, a little but older, and I thought I should probably get a set similar to this one so I ended up getting a Yamaha StageCustom “Advantage” which isn’t really as high end as the one I played on.

Jeffery: But it’s a step up from their entry level Stage Custom.
Andrew: Yeah this one is probably the last drum set I’ll ever buy. It definitely works well with what we are doing here.
Jeffery: I agree it’s like a working man’s kit, it’s not like a DW that’s expensive and every drum sounds the same, it has good wood you can hear it when you play.
Luke: What is it?
Andrew: You know, it’s like this Japanese basswood, I don’t even remember like 7 plys and they alternate a couple different plys, it’s not maple. People think it’s maple just because of the color. But my snare drum was a maple Tama snare I really liked and the shell started splitting, I was just throwing it in a suitcase and going on tour so I said, “Man I just want another maple shell and just reuse the Tama hardware. And this guy Jerry Garcia just cut the shell and put it together for me.
Jeffery: Garcia drums?
Andrew: He just cut me out one for like $40
Jeffery: Well I was going to ask you because it hilariously matches your other drums but I was going to say I really don’t like the stock snares that come with those kits. Way to 90’s sounding for me…
Andrew: The snare was unusable. One of the problems is, they only have eight lugs. You need a ten lug snare to get the torque even and kinda crank it down in a way that you can actually get some attack on it. The eight lugs you crank down on it and just get a higher clunk. And I use the Tama IronCobra Jr… I don’t use the highest end but something that works for me.
Jeffery: Relatively rugged and fast? It must be fast I see you play and I’m like-
Andrew: Well I learned how to play with whatever came with the Swingstar, I was always breaking the straps on it but that’s what I learned how to play and that’s what I need something similar to that so I’ve always stuck with Tama. I’ve tried other pedals and they’re great but I just can’t play the same way with them.   
Jeffery: I’m big into those Camco pedals. To me they are no frills, they’ve made pedals that are more rugged and more articulate but to me…
Dave: More like a Speedking? Those things are awesome.
Jeffery: Well that would be even older… Camco at least has the chain. There is a newer company, Big Dog, who has a model that I love that is essentially the same thing. Simplicity man, there is a lot to be said for that shit.
Andrew: Yeah.
Jeffery: What are you playing right now Dave:
Dave: Well, I’m glad you asked!
Jeffery: I have noticed you rock the Hamer.

Dave: I do love me some Hamers. I was talking about that Mexi-strat I had earlier? My next guitar, it was some like that they were blowing out on sale, it was that other Hamer, (he’s holding a bright green one) not this one, it’s my back up. That one it’s got like a Les Paul thing going on; mahogany with the maple top, only it’s a double cut away 24 & 3/4 scale…more like a Les Paul Jr. except it has the top like a Les Paul.  So that guitar I’ve broken the headstock and stuff and I’ve tried a lot of guitars but that one always sounds the best so I use it on all the recordings but I wanted something with a Floyd Rose for metal. And I feel like, with this band, it’s got like a party vibe so I tracked this thing down and this one is from the golden age of shred.  I think it’s like an ’86… and the cool thing about this guitar is: almost all the “super-strats” are 25 & ½ frets like a Fender and have bolt on skinny wide necks like an Ibanez. So this is all mahogany and it’s a set neck, 24 & ¾ just like a Gibson and I really like the ebony instead of rosewood and it’s got the Floyd Rose…
Jeffery: So you can do all that crazy ass shit that you do in this band and it’ll stay in tune.
Andrew: What kind of pickups do you have in that guy?
Dave: I fucked around a lot. The electronics that were in here were super goofy, it had 3 way switches, one for each pickup: on, off and on but out of phase so if you wanted to go from on to all off you had to do this (complicated switch/hand movement) it was like how would you ever do any of that? The middle pickup was kinda in the way of my picking so I just took it out and this is a regular three-way switch and this is a DiMarzio Aria, they are really cheap and they sound maybe better than any other noiseless pickup. You know how noiseless single coils usually sound like there is a blanket over it? I think they just compensated for that by making it so bright you have to turn the tome down a bit. So it’s the brightest noiseless one.
Jeffery: Do you use it?
Dave: I go to that pickup in between songs because it doesn’t feed back that’s what I use it for ha ha.
Andrew: What makes it “noiseless”?                      
Dave: It’s basically a tiny little humbucker. It’s a fairly modern one so it sounds pretty good. And this one is a Seymor Duncan. I tried a few different boutique humbuckers and stuff. I tried a whole bunch of stuff because the Floyd Rose basically kills your tone. There is no sustain, it’s off the guitar body. 
Jeffery: And the strings aren’t resonating through…
Dave: Yeah, so even though it’s mahogany it doesn’t sound like a Les Paul, so this is a Seymor Duncan Custom 5 that I got for free because the plastic was broken so I just taped it together and put it on and I was just trying it for fun but I like it. It’s got a hot vintage sound. I normally like the JB’s that’s what’s in my other Hamer. And that’s your standard 80’s metal sound… it’s weird because I normally like midrange a lot but this a fairly scooped pickup but maybe that’s what compensates for the tonal qualities of the guitar. And it actually sounds good clean.
Jeffery: Yeah the old school ones do but the new hot ones usually don’t. That’s why a band with brand new Schecters with active pickups and they click down into the clean and it’s like, “Fuck!” It’s so brittle and gross sounding. I guess Metallica got around that by using Roland Jazz Choruses as their clean sound. Which makes sense since they had those huge long parts with clean arpeggios and such. What amp are you playing right now?

Dave: I think it’s an ‘82 or ‘83 JCM800 and I think I got it in 2005 so I’ve had it for a while and a few years later I got this.
Jeffery: The JMP, with a master volume on it?
Dave: It’s exactly the same thing the early 800’s and the later JMP’s are the same if it has the two vertical inputs and a master volume it’s the same. The last ones with the master they just hadn’t switched to the box yet. That’s a 50 watt and that’s a 100 watt that cab is a Vader cab I got on Craig’s list it’s covered in truck bed liner so it’s indestructible it’s got Eminence speakers and is rated for 600 watts or something stupid so the speakers don’t break up at all. But I like a lot of definition and I tune down to D.
Jeffery: The whole guitar is in D?
Dave: The whole guitar is down one step.
Jeffery: I love that! It’s like the old school Death Metal tuning. But you definitely have more of a shredder style, which matches your guitar and head, but the tuning deepens your tone and makes it sound different than the traditional E.
Dave: I started playing in D when I was in a duo and then I’m really, really lazy, like I don’t like playing with capos and I don’t like playing in alternate tunings I’d rather just force everyone in the band to have to learn to play in D.
Jeffery: It’s not that hard to get Luke to play in D ha ha!
Luke: I’m always in tune! That’s why I had to get a new keyboard. I bent the crap out of the bender, just annihilating for so long. I was out of tune. And there was a show where-
Dave: Everybody is looking at me with the Floyd Rose and-
Andrew: We are like, “Come on tune your guitar we are playing a show here buddy!”
Dave: And I’m hitting the tuner and I’m sweating, messing with these little things and I’m getting out my hex set, undoing the locking nut…
Andrew: Everybody is staring at him like come on dude!
Jeffery: Basically because you just hammer that thing…
Luke: It just got stuck bent.
Jeffery: Half detuned sorta shit!
Andrew: When we finally figured out what was going on he would plat=y it and you would hear it going in and out of tune.
Luke: It’s like, “I might as well get a new car ha ha!”
Dave: and when you are tuning on stage you can’t really hear yourself and typically the stage tuners, you gotta trust it but I’m looking at it I’m turning the knob but what I’m hearing is wrong!
Andrew: And then I feel like an asshole going, “Luke, your keyboard is out of tune!”
Luke: You’re an asshole! (Laughter)
Dave: I think it says a lot about modern society and the technical age we live in where we just blindly trust these computers.
Andrew: Oh man!
Jeffery: We are going down a wormhole here!
Andrew: A singularity. Before we get there you should talk about your other pedals too!
Dave: Before we get there I do want to say one more thing about this guitar: this was volume and tone and because of where I play it was really hard to do swells or anything so I switched em.  So basically I redid all the electronics in the whole thing.
Jeffery: So someone else would try to play it and be like, “What tha?!?”
Dave: Why does the volume sound like a shitty wah wah pedal? And I leave the tone off. Not all the way up. Only on this guitar, I’ve always been an all the way up kinda guy but the tone has to be on 8 1/2 otherwise it’s Shrill Bill over here.
Jeffery: Every guitar I get I take the tone knob off, switcher comes off, one humbucker in the bridge position volume only and I take off the wammy and throw it across the room. It’s a ritual of mine if I get a fender or something
Dave: I and a new like Charvel sort of thing that was made in Japan but that was a very nice guitar and it had a real Floyd Rose on it that was the biggest piece of shit in the world… And I hate to be one of those guys but they just don’t make em like they used to! I think the old 80’s ones are better. I tend to like old guitars and new pickups…  So this pedal is cool, it’s like the main thing-

Jeffery: Just to explain this thing looks like an electrical box-
Andrew: It’s an electrical box you get at Lowes!
Luke: It’s an AC quad box.
Dave: So we were talking about Tube Screamers earlier, when you’ve got an 800 it’s got a fair amount of gain but if you really want to get all those sweet pinch harmonics and dive bombs and stuff you’ve gotta hit it with a Tube Screamer or something. And I was using a Screamer before but I’ve always wondered about the Klon pedal, have you heard of that? It was like the original “Boutique” pedal from the 90’s I think and this guy built it and built up a mystique around it, it’s basically a clean boost. And it had a little bit of overdrive, so it’s kinda like a Screamer but different frequencies are emphasized. It does something else and it got silly people were paying like $800 for a Klon pedal on EBay. Just ridiculous. So Andrew built me one. For $40 I parts or whatever!
Jeffery: Nice! So you just looked it up online?
Andrew: Well he had the PCB-
Dave: The deal with the Klons is that he covered his circuit board with goop so you couldn’t copy it. Some guy bought one, took the goop off and copied the circuit board.
Andrew: there is a whole open source thing going on online with guitar pedals and if you go off into the computer world there is a lot of Arduino’s for those of you who know what that is… never mind ha ha! They will reverse engineer and someone well say well that cap isn’t right you need this part. So I went online and sourced out all the parts. The parts are so cheap when you get them on line just a bunch of resisters and capacitors.
Dave: So we didn’t use the special boutique-
Andrew: I think I used the special film capacitors yeah I got all the good stuff in there. The green Mylar capacitors…
Dave: So anyway it sounds good! It sounds a little smoother than and it’s more flat than a Screamer.
Jeffery: Sweet! I might have to fire that thing up later!
Dave: But honestly once the band is playing, like I said I used the plastic TS, I bought the fanciest recreation of the original like SRV used, but it doesn’t really matter I guess. If the frequencies are nice that’s just extra. So that’s on all the time and when we do the starts and stops I just turn it off so it doesn’t feed back.  I have it right on the edge but I hate it if it’s just constantly feeding back. In a perfect world-
Luke: You’d never listen to Eyehategod haha
Jeffery: Yeah but they use that!
Andrew: Yeah but if you are playing anything technical if you just feedback over the breaks it just kills it. There is no dynamics. When you have a heavy band that’s doing something complicated you want those stops and starts to mean something.
Luke: Even the jocks like the gates like Pantera used.
Jeffery: That’s why I have a gate right away because I play the same head that EHG plays and I love that fucking thing but the problem is it’s a solid state head so get it to break up you have to crank the gain and output so as soon as that happens it’s instant feed back.
Dave: I never realized a lot of the feedback that I was getting was actually mechanical feedback. Have you ever stuffed a shit load of foam under your pickup and screwed it down?
Jeffery: What? NO! That’s a thing?
Dave: The pickup is jiggling around and I’ll be feeding back and I’ll just hold it and it stops. So you think about Van Halen and those guys who used wood screws and screw their pickups directly to the wood. It actually makes sense
Jeffery: Never thought bout it but yeah… And just for the record MXR phaser?
Dave: That phaser is the reissue of the old one and it was cheaper than the Van Halen one and I wanted to do some Van Halen stuff-
Andrew: Didn’t you buy the Van Halen one?
Dave: I had the signature Paul Gilbert signature flanger. And I decided the flanger was a little too much. It had a cool airplane taking off sound but with a flanger the bottom drops out but with the phaser things just get squishy. I just kick it on for all my high stuff and it adds a little squish to the high notes that just make ‘em sweeter. And for the most recent show I added the Micro POG. I just use it when there is like a single note thing, not a chord that just needs a little more. Cause I’m not good at moving power chords around really fast like a lot of dudes so I just do single notes a lot of times, or when Luke is playing high-
Luke: Which is often! Ha ha high man. 
Jeffery: I feel like you can move power chords around pretty fast is the point I wanna make.
Dave: But it’s not y go to thing, I’m more of a position player. I’ll get into a position and play a lot of shit but I’m not usually moving chords are around as much
Luke: It’s because he never listened to punk ha ha
Jeffery: Well that’s not your thing. I mean you can play rhythm but, me personally I only play rhythm… basically because I never learned how to play guitar. It took me 10 years to learn the circle of fifths and know what note I’m playing…
Luke: We’d be here a long time if we didn’t know what actual notes we are playing…
Dave: Actually playing with a keyboard player has improved my theory more than anything I can think of in recent memory. Because I am accountable; Luke is like, “What note are you playing?” and I have to count up and be like, “It’s an A sharp sir!”
Luke: And apparently guitar payers don’t like fifths. Cause I’m like playing all these fourths.
Jeffery: Guitar players don’t like fifths?!?
Luke: Not this guy.
Dave: Not me I was in a duo forever so I always play fourths…
Jeffery: And like you said you’re not rolling power chords like crazy.
Luke: And it kind of generic to be like juh juh juh juh.
Dave: I always play fourths and I like the reverse power chord but it’s really just the minor 3rd. if you play the one and the minor third together and move it around.
Jeffery: I love the dissonance of that.
Luke: Plus the fourth is a backwards power chord but for me, I’ve been playing fifths for so long just to move my finger over a quarter of an inch (Laughter) it’s like some weird tyrannosaurus arm grind shit!
Dave: Clenched fingers!
Luke: There is some weird brain thing where I can just play fifths all day long cause I’ve been doing it since I was 15.
Dave: So if I have to play one of Luke’s riffs and don’t play the fifths I just turn on the POG and it fattens things up.   
Jeffery: The secrets!
Dave: And if I’m playing a lick in one register and if I could play it down an octave, I don’t have to.
Jeffery: It gives you that octave.
Dave: Because I’m really lazy! (The rest of the band chuckles…)
Jeffery: Once again, he is “Really lazy”!
Andrew: I know, I know!
Jeffery: I’ve fucking seen you play guitar dude! Jesus. Third Question:
Andrew: That’s only 2 questions?!?!
Jeffery: I told you man, loquacious! What do you wish you had? What would you drool over?
Andrew: Ah some spaghetti with a side of meatballs?
Luke: Two chicks man! Ha ha
Jeffery: We haven’t really talked about your cymbals… you obviously have everything you need.
Andrew: These are just cracked practice cymbals. I’m not very snobby about my equipment but something simple. AAX’s I like. I used to play the 2002’s but they just got so expensive
Jeffery: They got popular too.
Andrew: But you now the metal they use in the 2002’s is the same metal that they use for B8’s
Jeffery: Really?
Andrew: It’s like a 8% they add an extra tin like 8% tin to copper so that’s why it’s a B8 so when you have like a 20% that’s when you have in the Zildjians and Sabians and they add a little silver to that as well. So a 2002 is closer to a B8 then an AAX.
Jeffery: See I knew there would be some nerdery if I asked him about cymbals!
Andrew: I was thinking about making my own cymbals! Not really.
Luke: Yes you were!
Andrew: Well I’m interested in how they are made so…
Jeffery: Well the fact that it starts with a solid piece of bronze and they lathe it out, that’s weird! 
Andrew: they have to heat it up and roll it and heat it up and roll it over and over again. So when you have an alloy, the metals don’t just combine so they keep on doing that over and over again. Then they cut it down and they lathe it down and sometimes they hand hammer it. Usually they just have a machine that hammers it down real fast.
Jeffery: So weird! And then they take all that extra shavings and stuff and melt it back in and make another one? What a trip. I was freaked out when I learned about it I thought for sure they’d just take some sheet metal and hammer it out. I had no idea.
Andrew: I would love to have a giant like Neil Pert kit, Pert sorry…
Jeffery: Say it right!
Andrew: But I would never want to set it up more than once!
Jeffery: Set it up in the basement-
Andrew: Or have it on a flat bed so I could like park it and be done with it ha ha, no I think this is all the kit I need so.
Dave: That’s why I would never, I’ve thought about bringing the second amp or maybe have the low go to one but I was just like, it doesn’t really matter” especially for the kind of gigs we play and stuff. Just plug and play a half stack. Do you really need anything bigger than a half stack to play a bar?
Jeffery: No, the only reason I started playing a full stack is because we started playing bigger shows and I needed to hear myself. It meant I didn’t have to put guitar in the monitor. I didn’t turn up any louder it was the exact same setting it’s just I could hear it.
Andrew: You can make the argument that this much air sounds better than this much air being moved on a bigger stage. But with what we are doing you are putting a mic in front of it in most places and the other places are small so...
Jeffery: Yeah you got these guys rolling in playing the exact same shit the Stones were playing stadiums with back in the 70’s and they walk into the club and it’s like. “Holy fuck!” And loud is cool, but now that I have been doing sound for so long I’m like well loud is cool if your drummer is loud and if your singer is loud and you can all keep up but if one person is out of the equation then…
Dave: Listen. Just listen…  In a perfect world, vocals aside, if you put one mic in front of a band you should be able to hear everybody right? I mean we are not a jazz band where you can record us with two mics or whatever, we are a metal band, but I see so many bands where all you hear is guitars and cymbals.
Luke: We are loud enough. It’s not over the top, but we can hear each other on stage.
Jeffery: Another key us having the drums pushed forward.
Luke: That’s how we practice too.
Andrew: When I played in Playing Enemy there was a lot of competition for space.
Jeffery: Well I can see that because everyone was moving around a lot-
Andrew: I’m talking sonic space.
Dave: That’s why I really started going for a mid range sound with guitar. I started realizing the guitar doesn’t have to have tons and tons of low end. It’s a midrange instrument. That’s why when you watch all those behind the music things where they isolate the tracks on the mixing board and by itself it doesn’t sound that big, because it fits like a piece of a puzzle into the whole band.
Jeffery: Well when I’m mixing I always end up rolling all that stuff off anyway. Like everything below 100hz on guitar, which is like for most grind bands, “Why do you have a bass player?”
Dave: Poor guy!
Jeffery: Ha ha yeah, just two full stacks you don’t need a bass player.
Luke: He owns the van! (Laughter)
Jeffery: Yeah! Exactly. They aren’t doing anything but moving more hair… unless you are Dan Lilker in Brutal Truth where the bass player is integral… So, nothing else on the wish list?
Luke: Well when I was recording a record with Andrew I did get to use a Dual Rectifier
Andrew: Demain’s (Great Falls).
Luke: Fucking Brutal. But I’m afraid to fuck up tubes with what I play with my keyboard. I can’t prove anything but I just have a feeling.
Andrew: You should try that Ampeg SS150.
Jeffery: Yeah dude you could try rolling mine? I have an extra one you could borrow… No pedal needed! But I think your set up is perfect.
Luke: Even though I’ve been playing like this since I was eleven I’m still in that experimental (stage)... plus I’ve been looking into a midi controller into a laptop, but then that laptop would fuck up.
Andrew: Yeah then you’d be dependent on stuff like that. That does remind me, I DO have a wish list. I want my own synth set up! The bass pedals I can play with my high hat foot. The high hat is totally useless get some bass going on! With a refrigerator 8x10 with an Ampeg SVT sitting on top.
Dave: Keith Moon didn’t need a high hat! Can I answer for them, what I would like them to have?
Jeffery: Yeah, no one’s ever done that before! Ha ha!
Dave: I would like Andrew to have bass pedals, (laughter) just like he’s talking about. A whole thing over there and then I’d Luke to have like the 3 tiered keyboard set up.
Luke: I’d like that too! Mostly esthetically …
Dave: A Rick Wakeman style of vibe so he could do this spread eagle stance. And I would just like to be louder than everyone else-
Jeffery: As usual!
Dave: Cause I’m a guitar player!
Andrew: Yeah right!
Jeffery: I need more me in the monitor!
Andrew: Ok riddle me this: how come guitar amps only go up to 100 watts usually but bass amps are like 7000 watts?
Jeffery: ‘Cause it takes more watts to push low end…
Andrew: That’s bullshit though because every fucking bass player is like bubububuh, “Hey can you hear me?” With the big refrigerator and that’s all you hear!
Jeffery: Well those SVT’s are 300 tube watts but it does take more power to push low end but for me I have an Ampeg V4 that’s 100 watts and it’s the loudest fucking thing! It’s on 1 and a half when we play live. I went back to my SS150 because it sounded awesome but it’s heavy as fuck I can’t even lift it.
Dave: And those are dicey because there are so many tubes in them. My favorite thing about the Marshalls is there are only 2 preamp tubes and 4 power tubes and they are right there not upside down like a Fender
Jeffery: Well I was told that my V4 has one tube that they don’t have a source for. Fortunately it doesn’t go bad all that often I’m told.
Dave: This guy, he has an all tube SVT and he’s had so many problems with it. First of all when he has to get it re-tubed you have to practically take out a bank loan to do it.
Andrew: Really?
Dave: Because they’ve got KT88’ s… or 6550’s which are a little cheaper but they don’t sound as good as the KT88’s are like 40 bucks a tube.
Jeffery: It might be the year, because they had a lot of solid-state stuff in that time but I think the tube stuff went downhill… It’s the blackface one. The Blue-face ones are better or the classic reissue is ok. There is actually a 100-watt tube guitar head they made for a short time there which I’ve only seen once in Olympia for like $200. And I’ve never seen another one. It had the same face but I looked in the back and was like, “Wait a minute!” That thing probably sounded awesome! They always have such good gear in Oly you ever notice that?
Dave: They do!
Jeffery: I don’t know what that’s all about but you’ll see someone with like three Sunns and they got them at the pawn shop…
Dave: Three sons? Get a job you gotta feed those kids! (Laughter…) Forget being in a band!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Total Castration Interview #2 SANDRIDER

Something I’ve been thinking about and not really said out loud is that a lot of bands over that last few years have been playing a specific sub-genre of heavy music, to me it consists of hardcore punks that want to play heavier; much like when the dudes in Black Flag grew their hair out and started listening to more Sabbath. I’m not sure how that became trendy again, probably on the tail end of the ubiquitous ‘Stoner Rock’ scene, which itself is a bastardization of early Doom… there are some amazing bands out there playing this type of heavy.
I’m of the opinion that Seattle is one of the birthplaces of this (along with Chicago, the Bay Area and Austin etc). Even more specifically I think a few local bands led the charge in the new hardcore crossover to heavy: Akimbo and the Ruby Doe were right there. This is what happens when kids grow up listening the Sub Pop and AmRep style gnarliness. It’s not ironic when Nat wears his Nirvana shirt and it’s no coincidence that Akimbo has been on Alternative Tentacles for most of their career.
Recently, I had a chance to do a story about Sandrider for Seattle Passive Aggressive zine and I really didn’t want to get into the Sci-Fi aspects of Sandrider’s name because the conversation would then skew into a totally different direction. I’ve known these 3 guys for 15 years at least and if we started talking Dune we’d never stop!  I used the fact that I already had these guys cornered to interview them about gear, in the past, in the future, what they’re rocking now… Normally I would give you a rundown of their gear but as you will see they do a good job of explaining it themselves.

Once again, all opinions in this blog are just that, opinions. So please don’t sue or troll! There is a lot of good-natured ribbing amongst friends in this interview and that’s just fine. If you’d like to comment please do, I’m always up for being schooled.

Nat Damm: Drums
Jon Weiznewski: Guitar
Jesse Roberts: Bass

Jeffery: Nat, what was your first kit? And then what did it turn into?
Nat: When I was 13, with bar mitzvah money, I went to that place in Bellevue...
Jon: Kenelly Keys?
Nat: No, there was a carport underneath it, it closed down, and you went upstairs…
Nat: No, I can’t remember the name of it but, I had never played drums before, I didn’t know what the fuck I was looking for I was 13… but I found this awesome 3 piece kit it was a 22”, 14”, 16”. Later I found out it was Japanese but the brand was called Thor. (Laughter)
Jeffery: Thor! That’s heavy!
Nat: Yeah it had this rectangle and it just said THOR in super bold letters with this fist holding a fucking lightning bolt.
Jesse: That sounds awesome!
Jeffery: Yeah it does.
Nat: I paid way too much for it. It was like $400 and it should have been a hundred but I bought it and that was my first kit and I played in The Dissidents with Jon, our punk band when we were like 13… and then I bought a kit off of Matt Leonard actually, that was covered in all these stickers you know, vegan this, vegan that, blah blah blah (Laughter) Love you Matt! So what I did was I stripped off the vinyl off of all the drums and my next door neighbor had these political signs out and I took one and it had these thin wooden strips holding the signs up and I used them to reinforce connecting the 2 bass drums together creating-
Jeffery: The Cannon!
Nat: I mean it looked cool to my 14 year old self I don’t know if it sounded that good.
Jon: I remember it not sounding good.
Jeffery: I remember it looking IMPRESIVE! But I couldn’t tell ya how it sounded.
Nat: It was a long time ago. Then I went and joined the Tight Bros (Way Back When) years later and the hallway to get downstairs to the practice space had a big fridge right by it that came out past the door jam and the Cannon couldn’t get down the stairs so I found a rock and I broke it in half and that was the end of that you know? (Laughter)
Jeffery: When you were in the Tight Bros, I remember you were the kid in that band-
Nat: I was 18.
Jeffery: People were like oh shit this hot drummer kid is in the band, not to put words in peoples mouths but they (Tight Bros) were kicking ass and all of a sudden they had this kid in the band!
Nat: And it went downhill from there ha ha big shoes to fill (Justin Olsen).
Jeffery: I totally disagree. I think you guys took it to the next level but they became a little more classic rocky maybe because of your style-
Nat: I grew a lot on that band and was exposed to a lot of music (Tight Bros) was influenced by music from the 60’s and 70’s and that has helped me get to where I am now and I am very grateful to have had that experience.
Jeffery: It helped. You grew, we saw it happen and that’s where you said, "Oh shit I gotta get a vintage kit now"?
Nat: I DID end up buying an awesome early 60’s Slingerland. Have you seen that Jailbreak video from AC/DC? It’s the same kit that drummer plays (Phil Rudd). It was a beautiful mahogany kit and I ended up selling that to Marc from the BloodBrothers.
Jeffery: And you started making your own kit?
Nat: Right after that actually, yeah. I used the money to start building and refinishing a kit and I’ve done 3 now. Jesse’s got my second one, that maple kit. The first one is actually on Holland it’s with a touring company that my friend Zabier runs.
Jeffery: I remember for a while the shells were up on the wall here in the practice space
Nat: Akimbo was going on tour out there and I packed it up in this big box and I was walking through customs and I was terrified they were gonna tax the fuck out of it and I walk up and this German woman, I speak a little German, and I knew what she was asking me but she was like how much is it worth and I was like, “Zero, Zero. It’s a gift.” and she was like, “Ah fuck you I can’t understand what you are saying!”
Jeffery:  And she let you go? Nice! And didn’t you have it packed all inside it’s self?
Nat: Yeah I wanted it to be as compact as possible it was a 24”, 14” 18”
Jeffery: Which to me is a pretty badass kit.
Nat: Yeah and I carved ‘play harder’ on the top of the kick drum there, a little gold leaf… nerdy. My goal was to refinish a drum kit every year till I die.
Jeffery: That sounds expensive ha ha
Nat: Not really it’s fun and easy.
Jon: I want to go back to the cannon real quick. We took the cannon on the very first Akimbo tour and we always thought it was this very cool, original thing. We were the only band I’d ever seen that had made this insanely long phallic (laughter) thing but we had a show at Mission Street Records and we didn’t even realize how lucky we scored it was our first tour and had a show at Mission Records with some band called Artemis Pyle-
Jeffery: No way! That’s some real shit right there!
Nat: We made good friends with ‘em those guys are awesome!
Jon: Artemis Pyle sets up their drums and they’ve got a fucking cannon too! (Their 1st drummer not Jenson from Iron Lung)
Jeffery: What? Oh shit I’m having a flash back of you telling me this way back in the day ha ha how did I forget?
Jon: Yeah we showed up and not only does he have a cannon but that drummer is like-
Nat: He’s insane!
Jon: He’s a cornered dog on meth ha ha it was very vindicating like, “All right, there is a thing here.” It was sort of a handshake.
Nat: He and I… he like looked at me all weird… he was like a mystical rabid beast who wouldn’t actually hurt you but…
Jeffery: The Mission scene was very likeminded. Seattle and the Bay Area were just like (crosses fingers) getting it! It was one of those perfect fucking moments… Jesse tell me about your first rig when you were a kid and you were trying to learn how to play.
Jesse: My first electric guitar was a Gibson Marauder that I still own-
Jeffery: Oh shit I’ve always wanted one of those, bolt on neck right?
Jesse: Yeah, I got it and it was like that dark burgundy finish and it had like these misfits skulls spray-painted on it. (Laughter)
Jeffery: When you bought it, it did? Punk rock!
Jesse: And it had anarchy symbols carved into it. My dad actually took it and he sanded it down and years ago I had seen a Green Amp and I thought it was so cool but I had no idea where I could find one so he painted this guitar green so I have a green marauder with a white pick guard. That and a Peavey Bandit 1/12, the Mississippi Marshall ha ha!
Jeffery: Every band I was in until I was 25 had one of those.
Jesse: To me those amps are like rats; they are going to be around well after the apocalypse.
Jeffery: You’ll whip out it’ll be covered in moss and shit and it’ll still play-
Jesse: It’ll still shred your ears ha ha.
Jeffery: I used to love those cause if you turn the mids all the way down you could sound like Celtic Frost like almost exactly (makes Celtic Frost guitar chug sound).
Jesse: Totally,
Nat: (interjects) Band Aid Music!
Jeffery: Ha ha he remembers now! I can back that up and throw it in and no one will ever know you forgot. So Jesse here you are starting out on guitar and you had, what did you call it the Mississippi Marshall? (Huge laughs) What was the impetus to start playing the bass? Cause you are in my opinion well known for being an amazing bass player.
Jesse: Oh Thanks! Well the Ruby Doe started off as a 4 piece and I was playing guitar… originally the way Aaron (Ellh) and I started playing together was the bass player of the band that I was in at the time in High School moved away to college and we need a bass player and I had heard of Aaron-
Jeffery: What town was this?
Jesse: This was in Wenatchee, and he wanted to play guitar too so for a long time we were both playing guitar and then our bass player decided he wasn’t into it any more so I just decided to do it. I was playing bass through my guitar amp…
Jeffery: Ok so once you and Aaron were playing together what was that set up like?
Jesse: A DualRectifier and that same 4/12. Two Dual Rectifiers so lots of white noise ha ha.
Jeffery: The Dual Rec is barely passable in my opinion, the Triple…
Nat: I don’t even know what you are talking about.
Jeffery: You don’t have to you’re the drummer ha ha!
Nat: God damn right.
Jon: Sounded great in Botch!
Jeffery: True! We’re talking about guys that didn’t turn the gain all the way up cause they tuned down and didn’t have to and you know how the more you tune down the less distortion you need just more volume really?
Jon: Yeah…
Jeffery: Well shit, all the bands I’ve seen playing Mesa and Marshall, the shit I plug into and can’t figure out how to get my sound and then I hear them and I’m like “You’re the best band in the world!”… So I dis on it but, like it matters. Know what I mean?
Nat: Some people just sound good no matter what they are playing.
Jesse: I’ve seen Mastodon use Dual Rectifiers and they sounded great.
Jeffery: Well the Melvins, when they fly in just get all Mesa… throw em up there and they sound great!  
Jon: Mesa 400+ is an awesome bass head!
Jesse: So fuckin loud!
Jeffery: That is in my top 3 bass amps for heavy music, right up there with the Sunn Coliseum and Ampeg SVT of course.
Jesse: I think the Sunn has a push that the SVT’s don’t have.
Jeffery: SVT’s have a growl.
Jesse: But there is a sag to them…
Jeffery: The 400 watt solid-state ones sound great but you got to redline them to get enough volume and then they die on you! Where as you can literally dime a Sunn and it just sounds like you dimed it.
Jon: I’ve found that with my Sunn you get it to 4 or 5 and that’s as loud as it goes-
Jeffery: Ha ha it just gets more distorted they somehow tuned a solid state amp so you turn up the amp and it just gets more distorted it doesn’t get louder…
Jon: Usually it’s on 3 or 4 ha ha-
Jesse: And there is nothing in there. You open it up and it’s ridiculous, the circuit is really simple.
Jon: The only reason they are heavy is because of the wood they are made out of! (Laughter)
Jeffery: (turns to Jon) we’ve moved into the Sunn Coliseum. You’ve rocked that for years…
Nat:  I dropped it once.  At Mission Street Records. We were loading in the rain and I was all by myself trying to push it over the curb on that cab (Sunn 2/15) and it slipped and no one was around and… (Laughter)
Jeffery: The truth comes out!
Nat: We were loading in and I was like-
Jesse: You were all setting up and Nat’s just over hear going… I hope it plays!
Nat: That’s exactly what I was doin! (Laughter and a reenactment of the moment ensues) I picked it up and everyone in line to get into the show was looking at me and Jon comes back out and I’m like, “Oh here’s your head.” The first band plays and the second band plays and Jon plugs in and plays and it’s fine and I’m like whew that’s cool!
Jesse: The clouds part ha ha
Jeffery: Solid state. Try doing that with an SVT.
Nat: It hit hard! I was terrified I have to say.
Jon: Funny side note that is very relevant to what we are talking about but not relevant at all… we were talking about Mission Records Homo Eradicus played there and we put all the amps and the drums on the stage and Brandon (Nakamura) had this huge crazy Fender 4/12 with a 4/10 on top and he’d just got his (Sunn)300T so he had that on top. And the stage was like plywood on top of tires so it’s like a trampoline and there is this giant bass stack behind me ha ha and I play drums with ‘heart’, I play them very hard and I guess the whole show, no one in the band noticed but the whole audience was watching this giant tower rocking back and forth just waiting for it to topple. But it never did.
Jesse: Must have made for a very exciting show, like watching Charlie Chaplin movie.
Jeffery: Ok Jon so you’ve already told me you started out as a guitar player and now you are one again…
Jon: Actually my first rig is one that’s actually very special to me; my dad made himself a guitar when he was like a loser hippie. And it’s a piece of shit ha ha it’s fucking impossible to play and that’s what I learned on.
Jeffery: I think the bigger a piece of shit you learn on just makes you that much better when you get a good guitar…
Jon: That was a huge moment moving on from that, I mean he gave me that guitar when I was like 10 or 11 and it sat under my bed for a year until I finally decided to get stoked on playing guitar, and I’m learning and I’m like this is s fucking hard! Rudimentary pickups and sounded terrible but it’s very close to my heart and I still have it.
Jeffery: That’s great!
Jon: So the first real guitar I got was for a birthday present a couple of years later when I was 14 and I got this Mexi Strat and it’s still what I play now its fucking amazing it just feels so good.
Jesse: Ha ha Mexi Strat…
Jeffery: I’ve been waiting to talk about this Mexi Strat ha ha
Jon: It’s great!
Jeffery: Hey a Mexi Strat is fine but I do want to take a collection up and get you a hot rail or something ha ha  or a humbucker…
Jon: No! (Laughter all around)
Jeffery: That’s why I wanted to start this argument cause I knew you’d say that. Cause I know you and you stick to your guns, it’s a disagreement but I know that you are purposely playing this guitar.
Jon: Yep.
Jeffery: I think what you do with it and what you get done, I was just listening to the record last night in prep for this ad I think it DOES give you a distinctive sound that if you were just busting out with a Les Paul you guys would not have, and it does allow room for the bass to growl through.
Jon: Absolutely.
Jeffery: And it’s not like you aren’t distorted but it’s my personal opinion I hate playing single coils ha ha. Ironically I was jamming with Android Hero earlier and we were playing a space jam and I clicked it up into my middle pickup and I had this lead going and I was like, “Sweet!” and then like, “God damn it!”  because I knew I was gonna  come here and try to give you shit about playing fucking metal with a single coil! (Laughter) if it was good enough for Jimi ha ha and to be fair 80% of the guitars Kurt Cobain played were shitty surf guitars.
Jon: I love it. There is this frequency you can hit when you are playing a good overdriven vintage amp when you hit the D and G strings you can get this magic and fuck with the bar chord a little bit. I use the shit out of it. It sounds so fucking good! Not one person has told me my guitar sounds like shit.
Jeffery: I would never say that ha ha. Let’s talk about your amps; you have the Sunn Beta Lead, which we are huge fans of obviously, Black Flag, Melvins etc. But you have this, what could be termed old school Verellen?
Nat: Vintage.
Jeffery: But you’re not playin the Skyhammer.
Jon: I bought that from him before he had ‘lines’.
Jeffery: Exactly so he was kinda doing copies of things he wanted to do.
Jon: So this one is a copy of a Hiwatt; he called it the HigherWatt, and I think that’s pretty much what it sounds like.
Jeffery: It’s… if any body has ever played a Hiwatt you can’t really make it break up it’s more like the output tubes that are breaking up…
Jesse: It’s the output. There’s no pregain to it at all, it’s all volume.
Jeffery: It works well with the Beta Lead because that’s all mids and you got the Hiwatt pumping out the low end and the chime-
Nat: That’s the one that hurts me!
Jeffery: It sounds good and with the single coils that’s probably what adds dimension-
Jon: Yeah
Nat: Are they both always on? You A/B them?
Jon: Yeah I A/B them the Verellen is always on and the Sunn comes on and off when I need the extra balls. And quick shout out to Stacy Schragg (RIP) I got it from him
Jeffery: (Gasps) Oh shit man I was so jealous of his shit, non stop!
Jon: Yeah.
Jeffery: He was a good friend of ours and he passed away but he had every piece of Sunn gear that you could ever want. He had the Collection! New and old.
Jon: He was a Sunn dawg!
Jeffery: Every fucking thing he did was on purpose and he had that crazy guitar like a see through headstock.
Jesse: Like a TravisBean?
Jeffery: Well not metal but it was the kind of guitar that someone who played electrical classical guitar would play but he played it jacked all the way up to his chest and he shredded grind! And he was supposed to sell me- well, one of those (Beta Lead) and he never did-
Jon: That was probably the one!
Jeffery: And I hope to god when he passed that his shit made it some place where someone would appreciate it!
Jon: Totally!
Nat: He had it all before it was super popular.
Jesse: Well it sounds so good!
Nat: (To Jesse) We ever talk about him? He played guitar with us on tour. He had a house in Southern Oregon and we always knew there was a great place to play on the way to San Francisco.
Jeffery: Medford-
Nat: Great house and they had a big shed in the back yard and they’d make you food and you’d just play an awesome show to 30 or 40 people and then there would be a BBQ afterwards…he just took really good care of us.
Jeffery: It was always fun.
Nat: He was an awesome dude. (Moment of Silence)
Jeffery: Way to bring it down Jon!
Jon: Sorry ha ha.
Jeffery: No that was great. It made me remember about what an awesome guy he was and how rad his gear was and I’m glad it’s living on. OK. Now that we’ve talked about past let’s talk about future… we can start with you again Nat, it there any shit you fuckin HAVE to have?
Nat: Yeah I need new snare stands.
Jeffery: What?!? Snare stands?
Jesse: Is this gonna turn into a kick starter pitch?
Nat: No, we haven’t played a show since Neumo’s last month and I go to unpack my crap and I’m like, “Where the fuck its my snare stand?” I’ve had that since I was 17 and I’m 32!
Jeffery: Alright, sounds like you needed an new snare stand anyway ha ha
Nat: That’s all I need! No ah I would love to get a new snare drum.
Jeffery: What are you playing now?
Nat: It is a LudwigSupersensitive. It’s a Superphonic shell right? But it has that extra large snare on the bottom that extends out. It’s a symphonic drum. The original snares that came with it you could adjust the screws for each wire! It was nuts!
Jeffery: Insane I’ve never ever heard of anything like that! God damn orchestra geeks are intense! (Nat shows us the snare)
Nat: I do love it but it’s cumbersome.
Jeffery: It got Stolen, but I was big into the RogersPowertone that I had.
Nat: Was it wood?
Jeffery: It was metal. There is something about those, they don’t project as much as a Superphonic, I play rimshots a lot-
Nat: Me too.
Jeffery: They have this crack, a Powertone it’s almost made for that. It’s like CAWK!
Jon: I love that! COCK! COCK! COCK!  (Laughter) Put that in your interview!
Jeffery: I am nonplussed! Heh heh
Jeffery: That’ll teach me to use any sort of phallic euphemism around you!
Anyway, I think it’s the snare sound of the Dave Clark 5… and early 70’s Ringo. That dry crack.
Nat: And I could use a huge 21” crash and I had this vintage pair of 15” hi hats and one of them cracked. So I have a newer 15” I put on there… I play my hi hats upside down-
Jeffery: What?!?! OK, see we are learning something here! You actually put the heavy one on top?
Nat: Fucking love it!
Jeffery: That’s why I love doing this blog right there!
Nat: With the light one on top there is no play off of it. Maybe it’s because I play them so high up? But yeah I play them upside down I just love the play out of it. It’s more about the feel of it.
Jeffery: Holy shit do you know anyone else who does that?
Nat: I’ve never really talked about it.
Jesse: I’m totally gonna try that now!
Jeffery: Fair enough. So we got crazy hi hats over here and a single coil over there ha ha!
Jon: So were talking about single coils…
Jesse: He’s pissed!
Jon: No no no. We all like records that have a lot of bass on them right?
Jeffery: Of course!
Jon: Not like low end either but like when the bass player, assuming he can play well and assuming he’s playing something interesting, you want that to be present. And some punk records, like Dead Kennedy’s or Nomeansno had some really creative bass playing front and center. With a single coil the guitars are still very present but you can push the bass a lot further. And we definitely pushed Matt(Bayles) out of his comfort zone on that record we were like “More bass, more bass.” And it did not squash the guitars because it had this frequency that it sits by itself.
Jesse: I’ve always had kinda a weird bass tone so it’s been a challenge to engineers where they always want to get like an ‘official’ bass tone but I’ve always been halfway between a bass and guitar.
Jeffery: Well I’ve always been really fond of that, you listen to Black Sabbath and Geezer sounds all round, it doesn’t sound all low, he has this mid thing and you can hear it. Most of my favorite bass players have always had a more present tone.
Jon: Me too. I feel like the inverse of that is that when you are playing bass with a more present tone it makes you play better.
Jesse: You have to.
Jon: You can hear yourself. You have this individual space within the band and it pushes a musician to be like, “Ok I can try shit!”
Jesse: And it’ll make a difference.
Nat: As a drummer, that makes me play better because I can hear the parts and I want to be able to accent that. There is a little lick, in the middle section of that new song I can hear what you are doing and it reminds me of Karp, it’s a little fill and I heard that and I was like I gotta figure out what you are doing there and do it with you.
Jeffery: OK so… Jesse… you have a LOT of gear… (laughter) I’m in your practice space and there is a wall of bass amps and cabinets.
Nat: And he just got a new one and it’s beautiful!
Jeffery: And I know they aren’t ALL yours…
Jesse: They are actually ha ha.
Jeffery: I’m gonna say 70% of the darkness in this room is yours. I’m seeing five 8/10’s and four 2/15’s? This is a Hiwatt? And a newer Sunn and this vintage Sunn is a reflex cab? That’s one of the ones you play in Old Iron? You got your Matamp, which I’m assuming you play guitar through?
Jesse: I use that for Old Iron. For Sandrider I use the Coliseum that Jon turned me on to for a long time I was using a Traynor pre into the power amp type thing-
Jeffery: Sure that’s Bob (Weston) from Shellac’s set up I think, it’s in a cool box but it’s a classic sound-
Jesse: It’s a good sound but it was broken or whatever and I came in and used Jon’s Coliseum and I used his Stingray and I was like, “This is crushing!”
Jeffery: And you’ve since bought 2…
Jesse: Well that one’s Jared’s (Old Iron) as well but I’ve moved on. So now I use the Rusty Box and that’s something I couldn’t do without-
Jeffery: Funny, cause the only other interview I’ve done so far is GreatFalls and Shane swears by the Rusty Box. And we had a huge conversation about the music man how people would be playing Jazz Basses or whatever and they get to a point in hardcore where they switch to the Music Man and they just stay there.
Jesse: Oh yeah you can’t like go back, every other bass just sounds quiet and wimpy after that. It’s like playing a big fuckin TeslaCoil (laughs) They are engineered so well.
Jon: Full circle moment! The reason I bought a Stingray is because PlayingEnemy (Shane’s previous band) sounded so amazing! (Laughter) then I bought one and the reason Jesse bought one is cause I had one and now were here talking about this!
Jeffery: I just want to point out that you said the Rusty Box was indispensible…
Jesse: Indispensible. It’s the pre amp out of a Traynor TS50? Its advantages because I can put it at the beginning of my signal chain and when I was using the Traynor it was like if I used distortion box it ended up all compressed so now I can just boost it.
Jeffery: I did not know that.
Jesse: If you look at it it’s the same controls as the Traynor. This thing is a Prunesand Custard it’s made by this company Crowther in New Zealand I got turned on to this pedal it’s a sub harmonic generator and like a distortion.
Jeffery: Ashdown has that built in to their pres right?
Jesse: Yeah in their amps. Ruby Doe played the last show McKlusky played in Seattle and his bass tone was so crushing and I totally scoped his pedal board and I noticed he played Hot Cakes, also by Crowther and their bass player, it was Prunes and Custard.
Jeffery: Which by the way, Future of the Left, their new bass player who shreds, she also plays the Crowther. I leaned in and checked it out. Ok, Is there anything anybody else really wants?
Jon: I’d actually LOVE a Model T. I’d be very tempted to swap out the Beta Lead if I had one and here you go Jeff, I prefer the new Fender model to the vintage one.
Jeffery: Really?
Jon: Yeah like the silver ones, those ones sound better. I base that one two things: Akimbo, Burke played with that amp forever and it sounded fantastic. And RussianCircles also played one of those for a long time and they sound great.
Jeffery: Playing Brandon’s Model T, I always needed a distortion box in front of it. They are one of the top tube amps of all time but maybe it’s from playing solid state my whole life, but I just need that grit.
Jon: I don’t do any palm muting.
Jeffery: You don’t do any palm muting. I never thought about it!
Jesse: I’m terrible, when I play guitar I love to palm mute! Guilty pleasure!
Jon: I remember when I first learned to palm mute; it changed my life.
Jeffery: I was just remarking today about how there was a time I didn’t know how to play pinch harmonics-
Jon: I cant.
Jeffery: Well that’s cause you play a single coil! (Laughter all around)
Jon: It’s true! 
Jeffery: Full circle once again!