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For Revelation, the band decided to bring in legendary producer Don Gehman. It marks the first time the band brought in an outside producer.
What did you use on the solo to get that whirly, almost flanger-like sound?
I did so many guitars on that track. For some, I used my Leslie. Others sound like a keyboard. There’s another part that sounds like a violin. It’s all just overdubbed guitars. That’s why I mentioned Queen, because the guitars have that orchestra effect. I don’t even know how many layers of harmony guitar I did on that song, but it was quite a bit.
Was Brian May an influence when you were growing up?
Not where I would pick up an album and wear it out. I know “We are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I sometimes get him and the Black Sabbath guy confused [laughs].
How did Don approach all the different layers on that track?
I let him do his thing. I tried to give him the tracks he was hearing and wanted to work with. We would lay down a rhythm track, and if it felt good, we would keep it. Then I would go back and do a couple of fills and a few runs for the solo. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to sound until the finished product was there. It’s like being a bunch of wizards in our little cave, putting all our musical stuff in a cauldron and not really knowing what’s going to happen. You know it’s going to be powerful and magical, you just don’t know to what extent. Coming at this from a guitar player’s standpoint, for me, I would put more guitars everywhere. [Laughs.]
Do you usually overdub your solos?
Not all the time. It’s like painting a picture—you go back and add some details to try and make it look prettier and stand out more. I might do the solo right there while we create the foundation, or I might do some overdubs.
Are your solos mostly improvised, or do you sketch out melodic ideas before you track?
That’s the fun part for me. I get to go in with a clean piece of paper, and I love making up the solo on the spot. So whenever I do a solo, my brothers will be there listening and we know if that’s the one or not. Like on “Blame It On Love”—we were bouncing some ideas around, and then all of a sudden this thought of a Mexican Stevie Ray Vaughan was going through my mind. My brother Ringo was sitting in the control room, and when I finished, the first thing he told me was “Man, I love you bro,” and he had tears in his eyes. I told him I loved him too, and we knew that was the one. We felt the crying going on in the guitar. That seems to be the part that takes some time for me. Not like it’s hard—you’re just searching through a box that has a bunch of cool toys in it.
Speaking of toys, what guitars did you use?
It was a grab bag. I played a Telecaster for a lot the rhythm tracks and some solos. Then the 335 came into play. Of course, I had my Strats and a Danelectro baritone guitar. As the song developed, I reached for whatever sound it called for.
The band gets funky in front of a crowd in Waco, Texas with "Oyé Mamacita."
Yeah, you used the bari on the solo to “The Greatest Ever,” right?
Yep. I call that the “Big Daddy” guitar. I think it fit well with that song because it’s about a dad singing to his children. I remember the first time I heard one was on a Clint Black song called “Killin’ Time.” There was a baritone on there that did a pretty badass little lick. Simple little melodic structures work better on the baritone. They come out nice and fat.
What amps did you plug into?
I used my basic live rig: a couple of Fender Twins and a Marshall JCM2000 with a Tone Tubby cab and speakers with hemp cones. I just love them. They sound great and last a long time. It’s pretty much the same setup as when I did that Rig Rundown with you guys.
Still using a pair of Tube Screamers?
Yeah, I’m using my TS9, and I use another one just for a little extra overdrive.