Where was the album recorded?
Half was recorded at Millbrook Sound Studios in Millbrook, New York, and the other half was recorded at Village Recorders in Santa Monica. I live in LA, Ric lives in New York, and David and Greg live in the Boston area. So I flew into New York and David and Greg drove down from Boston. That first visit was maybe a week—not as complicated as it might seem.
Did you track your parts at home or did you do them all at the studio?
We did them all at the studio. There may have been some keyboard parts and other things from the demo—and Greg might’ve done some stuff on the computer—but I don’t remember exactly. I recorded everything in the studio.
What was your gear setup for the record?
On the west coast sessions, since I could drive there, I could bring more of my own stuff. For the east coast sessions, I just shipped a few guitars and a bunch of pedals along with my pedalboard. But Paul Orofino at Millbrook Studios has a fantastic collection of amps and it seems like he’s got one of everything—we could pick and choose whatever we wanted. It’s funny, though, because with all the vintage stuff that he had, we ended up mainly using the Fender Blues Jr. It’s like a tiny version of a Hot Rod Deluxe.
Just a stock Blues Jr.?
Yeah. For some reason, the Blues Jr. sounded amazing and we used that a lot, especially for the clean stuff. I also used a vintage Fender Vibrolux and an Ampeg Gemini. Paul has a bunch of heads in the control room that are mounted into the wall with a switch box, so you could try out any head easily. He also has two cabinet configurations, and I could switch between them. Along with these Marshalls, Hughes & Kettners, and all kinds of different amp heads Paul had in the control room, he had a whole collection of combo amps.
For the west coast stuff, I used a few different small amps of my own and Garret [producer Garret “Jackknife” Lee] had some amps, as well. I brought a handwired Vox AC15—the white one with a TV front and a Pentode/Triode switch. I also brought a reissue Princeton Reverb, a reissue Deluxe Reverb, and my Peavey Penta—that’s a wild amp. Garret had an old British AC30 that we used, along with an old Selmer. Though I don’t think we used the Selmer that much—he was having problems with that one.
What were the main guitars you used on the recordings?
The two main guitars were my signature model SG and a ’63 ES-335 Historic reissue. I used a Fender Custom Shop Nocaster, a white Fender Custom Shop ’66 Strat, and a Phantom Guitarworks 12-string. There’s my 6-string bass Strat from the Fender Custom Shop that’s like a Stratocaster, but it’s an octave lower. They built it for Dick Dale but he didn’t want it, so he gave it to me. It’s very cool. It’s like a blonde Mary Kay-looking thing, and it’s got a big, long neck on it—but it’s just a Strat. I also used a Martin HD-28V acoustic, and a white Mosrite Ventures model. I think that’s it!
How about cables, picks, and strings?
I’m a loyal D’Addario and Planet Waves man. On the Gibsons, I use .010 through .046—the regular 110s. And then, lately, on the Fender I’ve been using .0095s. They are between the .009s and .010s, and since they are a little lighter, I find them easier to bend with the longer scale.
How about pedals?
I’ll tell you what’s on the pedalboard for this Cars tour, if I can remember them all. It’s a big pedalboard. I’ve got a JangleBox compressor and a bunch of Line 6 stuff—a DL4, FM4, Echo Park, Verbzilla, Roto-Machine, and Tap Tremolo. For chorus, I’m using my old TC Electronic pedal, and I’ve got a Cry Baby wah-wah, a phaser, and a little Boss harmonizer.
What kind of pedalboard is it?
I had it built by Stompin' Ground—they’ll custom-build whatever you want. It has a case and wheels, and there’s room for other stuff in there. It’s powered underneath by two Voodoo Lab Pedal Powers.