Saturday, April 19, 2014

Slowly taking over the internet.

Naah, not really, but I'm popping up in some different places, lately.

My wife has finally decided to start blogging, so I'm doing some minor contributions to her blogs: Nightmare Cats and Bubbles and Foam . Also, I decided to get off my butt and do some reviews on Amazon, Cheaper Pedals, Reverb, and elsewhere.
Finally, there's my other Blog,  I Can Save Everything and my old blog Highway One Zero Street

Evidently, I decided to be a writer for the time being.

New TV

I won't say much, but I've been watching some new, and new-to-me shows on my TV, besides watching Don Draper self-destruct on Mad Men.
If you haven't yet, watch Fargo. Do it, Do it now.
I just started catching on it Legit. Surprisingly tender hearted- like Ricky Gervais, and DJ Qualls is actually pretty good in it.
I also just started catching up on Felicia Day's the Flog. Sweet, and cute, an excellent tonic to the dark and bitter fare I usually watch.
Finally, the new season of Ch:os:en is better than the second season which was choppy and uneven, but not quite up to the first seasons paranoid genius.

Triggerfinger- By Absence of the Sun

I was a bit late to the party with Triggerfinger, only catching up to them about two years ago, but I'm glad I did. They're like a middle ground between  Black Keys styled retro garage blues and Queens of the Stone Age styled big block rock. So, this new one is great, and H-E-A-V-Y. Gigantic, fat sounding guitars all over the place, playing twisted love songs to bad news, with poppy blues-based glamrock melodies. I realize most of the English speaking world isn't hip to them, yet, but if they ever catch the ear of Black Keys fans, I know they'll be bigger because, quite frankly, they're better. Ruben  has the best style, and a great falsetto that he deploys like a bomb. All three are great musicians, and the songs are catchy, with a good humour that never gets into cheesey territory. What more do you want from Rocknroll...

Happy Record Store Day

I'll start with what I got- I got Die Kreuzen- "Cows and Beer" ( aw c'mon, of course this is my second copy. but my first copy literally wore through about 10 years ago) Floor- Oblation ( yes, I'm friends with people. Even so, I was supposed to get it two weeks ago- damn post office) Garbage with Brody Dalle  "Girls Talk Shit" 10", and Triggerfinger -By Absence of the Sun, obviously I already talked about Floor, and Triggerfinger is next. I don't see the point in talking about Die Kreuzen- it a ground-breaking record, but from over 30 years ago. I haven't had a chance to hear the Garbage, just yet, so maybe in a few days on that one.
But, I'm here to talk about the day, itself, not what I bought. I wasn't feeling it today. But, I had errands to run, so I thought I'd drop by. On top of that, to register my displeasure with what RSD has degenerated into, I dressed ( as best I could) like Phil Spector in Easy Rider. I wore bad seventies shades, with a black shirt, tan jacket and ill-fitting cap. Why? Because Easy Rider is about how the sixties' counterculture failed, and because Phil Spector is a good example of what's wrong with the entertainment business. Besides killing people, and being a colossal asshat, you know why he liked Mono over Stereo? Because he felt like it gave him control over the listener. Wanna know why he liked singles? Because he felt that it was a lower investment for him, with a better return. He saw the "kids" for what they really were- trained consumers. It seems to me that's what record store day has become- training for consumers. I got emails from Amazon, Itunes, etc etc today all about "record store day". I think that a fake holiday overtly trying to get you to buy stuff is already dubious, but it's gone over to full bore Christmas levels of consumer conditioning.
Still, I ran into Jad Fair and his friend, and he convinced me to not get the Pagans 12" saying to me - I played with them, when they were declining. Must have been around 1981. They had some good songs but it was 1981. We were all declining then. I couldn't put the Die Kreuzen back, because, well, Die Effin' Kreuzen, man, but I realized I didn't want some fake nostalgia trip- I wanna keep it as new as I can handle. Same goes for format- I have vinyl. I'm not getting rid of it, but I think it's time to press forward- I'm going to try to stick with Mp3's for the time being.  


I know, I'm usually ahead of the curve, and I'm behind on this one. What can I say- my post office sucks, sometimes.
So, I hate to damn it with faint praise, but my honest reaction is that this'll do until Torche comes out with their new one. I know this is Steve Brooks' "real" band, and I know that my friends at Chunklet like Floor better, and so on, but I'll take the heat- I prefer when there's more structure, and yes, I mean cheesey old-fashioned pop song structure.
So, if you don't know the relationship between Floor and Torche is Steve Brooks, and it's kinda like the relationship between The Melvins and Big Business, but in reverse. Floor came well before Torche, and it was far more experimental than Torche will ever be-and thus far more prone to both self-parody and innovation. But, much like The Melvins and Big Business- if you like Torche, there is a chance you'll like Floor too- but if you like Floor, you might not care for Torche.
I do believe that Floor is Art- and that's all that really matters,  It's much better, and I think heavier when there's a riff or two, and when they allow some melody in, it feels like some of the heaviest rock you'll ever hear, but then the drone takes over, and it turns to boredom. The thing is- when they're good, they're really really good- so it's tough to have to give such a weak and mixed response. I really wouldn't want to see them live, because I think it really wouldn't do me any good, so I'm saying go to Itunes Amazon, or wherever, and download only the tracks you like. Still- there you have it- I bet there will be tracks you'll want to download. Maybe your tolerance for downtuned 2 chord drones is greater than mine, but even if you have less, you'll want to download at least one track, here. As for me, I like Rocinate, Sister Sophia, War Party,  Raised to a Star, and Forever Still.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How'd you get that Tone, Man?

So, I'm still liking gear, and that probably won't change, but I'll try to fit that into various places- mostly in the other blog. This one fits here, though. I asked several guitarists the same question- can you spare any details about what you used on this specific song?  I found some real surprises, and a lot of interesting notes. Really, though, my point was just that these are some guitar tones that I really like. If you want to stretch it out a bit, I suppose you could say that this is a blueprint for my musical aesthetics. Less of a stretch is to just say that these are guitar sounds that I think you should hear, and then, you should see as many of these bands play live as you can. So, here's some answers:

I almost always play a red 90's "60's style" Fender Telecaster on our recordings. Original pickups have been replaced with some kind of Broadcaster reissue pu's. I'm using the bridge pu for the whole record. GHS Boomers .11s. Live I use a run of the mill OCD distortion pedal but for most of the songs on the record, including "We Should Do This Again", I am using a 70's MXR Distortion + that our recording engineer brought in. He collects them and they all sound a little different. For the slightly boosted over dub after the joke part I think I used a black Dunlop or Dallas Arbiter fuzz face full on and the guitar volume knob quarter cocked. I used a Sovtek Mig 50 that I own as the main amp on the entire record. The second amp on "WSDTA" is a Blonde Bassman going through some kind of Marshall 2x12.

That's Dari from Disasteratti.

So, to answer your question in regards to what was used for the guitar tone, it's a Epi Les Paul hollowbody model w/ the pickups replaced w/ Les Paul '59's pick ups. The amp is an older Fender Deville 50 watt combo w/ the trebles cranked, and the bass & mids at about 5. The amp also has it's own spring reverb, and I believe that was at a 4-- just enough to give it more of 'big room' sound of sound. On top of that, is a EHX Holy Grail Reverb set to it's "hall" setting at about a 4 & an MXR Carbon Copy with moderate mix & some quick kind of slapback. Just was going for something big, droney, and piercing. There was also a 2nd guitar player present (we were once a 5 piece band) in that song, which I believe used a Solando 100 watt head, and a rat fuzz pedal. The specifics of that rig/setup I'm not totally aware of, but it's on the rhythm side in the mix.

That's Grant from War Brides

The amps on SOCO were: soldano avenger, vox ac15, fender dual showman. I used a custom made zvex clone for the bit crushed riff. I used a bunch of odd mics on the cabs so it def helped color the sound. On the new record we used mainly Morgan amps and Orange OR50.The zvex clone was through the fender dual showman. We did us an ampeg svt 4pro with a big muff, rat and a zvex as well.

That's Kemble from Aeges

The introduction of "Down The K-Hole" is Jason playing his G&L Broadcaster. (Now known as the ASAT, it was originally labeled Broadcaster, reportedly to invite a lawsuit from Fender in order to ensure publicity. Only a few hundred were made). He used a Carbon Copy delay and MXR Distortion +. It was recorded using an Epiphone Valve Jr. into a 2x12 cabinet mic'ed with a Cascade Fathead ribbon mic and a Sennheiser E609. When I come in with the chunky chords, it's a mid-70s Tele through a MXR Classic OD and a Zvex Super Hard-on into a Hiwatt DR103 and Hiwatt 4x12 with original Fane speakers (running at a much lower volume and gain than live). Same mic set up. My Tele was running the bridge PU which was rewound to vintage specs by Lindy Fralin. For the "solo" section, Jason and I doubletracked our parts with more gain/distortion (I think recorded with just the 609) and then panned the doubled tracks opposite of our main parts. 

That's Russell from Tyranny is Tyranny

The guitar is a 1978(ish?) Gibson SG played through an early 90s Carvin x-100B tube head. I didn't use any pedals so 90% of the tone comes from there. The rest obviously came from the cabinet which (I think) was a my early 90s Fender 4x12. I've never really paid too much attention to what speakers it has, i just know that I like the sound. There's a slim chance that I used a Marshall 4x12 that was at the studio, but I kind of doubt it since I tend not to like the speaker break-up on most of those. The bass was probably Robert's short-scale danelectro longhorn bass (reissue) played through a Sunn(((o 200s head and the studio's cab (probably something akin to a badass, indestructible, mesa boogie PA cabinet). Robert uses a Tronographic "Rusty Box" pedal that -in my personal opinion- every bass player should own. The drums are Tony's vintage Ludwigs from 1959 (they belonged to his dad who died when Tony was a kid). I can't tell you much about head-tension or shell size, but I can tell you that Tony tunes them A LOT and is super particular about his snare sound (the muscle behind that tone is no accident). All of the instruments were tracked together in a single room to an analog tape machine after HOURS were spent on mic placement and pre-mixing. The hope was to get as much good room sound as possible and fill in with the close mics. I can't tell you how it was done, specifically. Suffice to say: Justin is a smart dude who spent a lot of time and effort to figure that stuff out. Vocals were added later, along with VERY sparing guitar overdubs (obviously we knew we were limited in what we could do overdub-wise since the room sound would be so prevalent).

That's John from Nonagon

My set up was Andy White's Marshall Super Lead Mark II with PPIMV mod running at 50 watts into an Avatar 4x12 with Celestion green backs. 

The guitar at the time was my Les Paul Copy, with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge as always. Other than a Digitech tuning pedal, I'm pretty sure I just went straight in, no other pedals. Andy White, again, if memory serves correctly was using his Nash strat style guitar, stock single coils, into a heavily modded old Traynor tube amp - all the amp work done by St. Louis legend, Obeid Khan of Reason Amps and now Magnatone fame among others - running into a slant Marshall 4x12 also with green backs. He may've been using a power soak of some sort at the time on that head, but again, pretty much just straight into the amp and onto "tape." All guitars mic'd with an SM57 and recorded by our drummer Ken McCray, mixed by engineer Ian Whalen and mastered by James Plotkin. No tape, all digital. 

That's Andrew Elstner from Tilts

I guess it depends on which guitar sound you are looking for the rhythm or the leads as they are two different tracks of guitars that are pretty distinctly different. For the Conan part (The rhythm for the most part... the Cheap Trick, Didjits bit/main riff) it's a Ibanez Jet King (two humbucker rip off of Fender and Gibson all at once) in middle position through a MusicMan HD-120 combo with the gain turned up unreasonably high.... most of that is just clean tone until it gets to the leady bits (the Wipers rip off) which go to the higher pitch pickup (neck?) and has a boost through a Ben Adrian Bunnydrive pedal also unreasonably cranked... I forget what he based that circuit on, but I want to say it was a Crowther Audio Hot Cake. Any which way you slice it... the important thing is, high pick up for those bits. Chorus leaves the distortion on and switches back to both humbuckers... and then for the outro there is an Electro Harmonix Small Clone chorus on as well and the melody is mostly played by simple hammer ons. I'd probably have to defer to Shane for his bit, which has all of the guitar heroics and solos and such.

That's Conan Neutron from Victory and Associates

On that song I used a Rat and a Boss Hyper Fuzz through a Sovtek Mig. Tony used a mid 90s Big Muff through a Hot Rod Deville. I played a Tele reissue with P-90s and Tony played his Rickenbacker Dakota, IIRC.

That's Michael from Like Like The The The Death

The guitar on the all the Black God stuff is a Fender Tele Deluxe Reissue with Seymour Duncan Stag Mag in the bridge, occasionally I use the neck pickup which is an SD P-Rail. The main amp is my JCM800 into Emperor cabs with Weber 65 watt British Series speakers, second amp is Twin Reverb with Weber Chicago Series speakers. I think "Ghost In You" has a tremolo on one guitar in first chorus and a wah on the second chorus. I think a third guitar comes on in the end with a Supersonic Fuzz Gun pedal on it.

That's Ryan from Black God

We're not that secretive of our sound. We used stock Yamaha and Ibanez guitars with 10-46 strings, nothing special. The sound that you hear on "Oreol" and all the others songs on the album came out of a guitar modeling software "Revolver". I don't remember the exact preset we used, but I think it was some sort of Mesa Boogie imitation. No mic to amp at all, our friend who recorded the album wasn't familiar/comfortable with the technique (!!!) and preferred to use the computer program instead. There you go, total demystification!

That's Boris from Tona



So Far With Coachella

Afghan Whigs. They absolutely destroyed. Both the Pixies and QOTSA delivered a great half-set. The Pixies started out a squalling noise, but the second half of the set, featuring the newer songs was exactly what I want from the Pixies. On the Other hand, sound problems did in QOTSA, so badly that I'd say- stick with it until the end of "In My Head", the come back for the ending version of "Song For the Dead" in which an extremely Pissed off Josh Homme turns the song into a heavy metal industrial stomp, as apocalyptic as the nightmare bird swarm graphic they played under- if that were the last song they ever played it wouldn't surprise- Great way to use the energy that was bringing their set into disaster territory ( they managed to make "Go with the flow" no fun at all.)  really it must be a tough stage, though, because lots of bands have been sucking, hard.