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Joel Stroetzel riffs on his Caparison signature guitar, flanked by his Fuchs and Laney heads. Photo by LDOphoto.net
Adam and Joel, you guys swear by the Maxon OD808 Overdrive. What’s so special about it?
Stroetzel: It adds a little bit of solid-state tightness in front of a tube amp, but it also adds a little bit of compression and sustain and just kind of smoothes things out. It’s weird—I haven’t not used it in, like, 10 years. Before that, I was using an old-school Ibanez Tube Screamer from the early ’80s.
Dutkiewicz: We have the gain all the way down—it’s just for a little bit of compression and a little bit of focus and clarity in the picking. It doesn’t add any real distortion.
Is it pretty transparent, or does it add a bit of a mid hump like an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer? Dutkiewicz: Oh yeah—it’s pretty much like a TS9.
What other pedals are you using these days?
Dutkiewicz: It’s real simple, it’s guitar into a wireless unit, into the OD808, into a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and then into the head. I also use a Maxon AD-9 Pro analog delay for specific parts of the set.
Stroetzel: The main things are the 808 and the Maxon AD-999—the bigger analog delay pedal. The biggest difference between that and the AD-9 Pro is that the AD-999 is a little bit warmer sounding and you have better control over the delay times—you can dial in slow speeds more easily. [Ed. note: Killswitch tech Josh Mihlek says Stroetzel uses the AD-999 in the studio and the AD-9 Pro live.] For clean stuff, I also use the Maxon CP-9 Pro+, and I have a Boss NS-2 in front of the dirty amp.
Adam, how is your back doing these days—is guitar weight no longer much of an issue?
Dutkiewicz: I’ve been very healthy, so hopefully it remains that way. Thankfully, the EVHs aren’t that heavy. I was really concerned about my back shortly after the emergency surgery I had [in 2006]. I was looking for the lightest possible guitar and, of course, Parker was it. But I’ve been feeling pretty good—knock on wood!—for a little while.
Back pain is one of the most debilitating types of pain. How did you stay so upbeat—and so prolific?
Dutkiewicz: You kind of have to—you don’t really have much of a choice. You can sit there and lament, or just accept the situation and deal with it and move on, y’know?
But when it drags on as long as it did for you, it can sometimes completely transform your outlook and personality.
Dutkiewicz: Oh yeah, my ex found me in our living room, like, just swallowing pills … I drank two bottles of wine and I’m just punching the floor, and I’m, like, “Ahhh! Get me to the hospital now!” It was bad news! [Laughs.]
And yet you were still doing a lot of playing and producing during that time. Do you have any tips for other guitarists facing similar problems?
Dutkiewicz: Well, I heard something cool the other day on ESPN—“The only handicap is a bad attitude.” Y’know, you’ve got to freakin’ take things for what they are and push through. It’s pretty much the only choice you have.