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Abasi’s main axe is his TAM100 with DiMarzio Ionizer 8 pickups, a quilted-maple top, basswood body,
and a wenge/bubinga neck. Photo by Maclyn Bean
Is the click track programmed with different meter changes, or is it just a pulse?
Reyes: The click track is usually an eighth-note pulse. We do riffs with odd meters, but if you have that eighth-note click track, you’re always on, whether it’s an upbeat or a downbeat. Sometimes there are little accent marks. On this last tour we even had cues where we put a clap along with the click. Matt is doing some of the craziest drumming ever, so we have claps to cue us in for the upcoming parts. It’s just anything to help make the show tighter for us.
Let’s talk gear. Are you guys still using the Axe-Fx II?
Abasi: Yeah, Axe-Fx II for everything. We have these Port City Pearls. They’re single-channel, point-to-point handwired, super-clean boutique tube heads. Daniel Klein, the company’s owner and main builder, also has an Axe-Fx, and he was unhappy with a lot of the amplification options, so he made this head, he says, “to inhale pedals.” It’s basically like a blank slate for guys who are running $350 Tube Screamers and stuff like that, but it’s not sterile—it imparts a lot of cool dynamics and character. So we tone-matched the Port City amp through the 2x12 OS Wave cab that he makes as well, and that tone match is a part of every tone you hear on the album—it’s all coming from the same virtual amp and cab. We do the same thing live, but onstage we actually have the physical amps for monitoring. We send the direct signal through the front of the house.
What about guitars?
Abasi: My main axe is my signature Ibanez TAM100. Man, that thing just sounds great. The DiMarzio Ionizer 8 pickups mixed with the wenge and basswood combination is super-pleasing but versatile. I’m really happy with it. That’s what I use for virtually everything. I was also playing the TAM10, a lower-tier model, on this tour, partially to promote it, but also because it’s a great guitar. It has a maple neck, so it’s a bit brighter. There’s also a Vigier Excalibur 7-string that I use for some solos, and a nylon 7-string that Godin was kind enough to give me. That’s featured on “Para Mexer.” It’s Javier playing primarily.
Animals as Leaders tears it up on “Ka$cade” at La Tulipe in Montreal. Check out the Holdsworth-ian interlude starting at 1:49, accompanied by audience applause and raised devil horns.
Javier, what can you tell us about your upcoming Carvin signature model?
Reyes: We’re starting the prototypes right now. I’m experimenting with a lot of things, from chambered vs. non-chambered to different types of woods.
In the meantime, which guitar are you going to bring on tour?
Reyes: More than likely one of the two Carvins I have. The blue one in the pictures has an ash body and flame-maple top, and I recently got another one with a walnut body, flame-maple top, and a walnut/maple neck. I used it at the last show at the Roxy. The walnut sounds amazing. It’s pretty round—a little more round than I was expecting.
What about those unconventional fanned-fret, compound-scale guitars you guys have?
Abasi: I have a Strandberg guitar, and a Rick Toone guitar called “Blur.” It’s this weird baritone 8-string thing. For the 7th and 8th string, the fretboard extends a minor 3rd lower than the rest of the neck. We took these two guitars on tour to perform the song “Physical Education” because it features a C# tuning.
Reyes: On the tour I have to use Tosin’s guitars for those songs—unless I can get Carvin to make me something like that.
Abasi: I’m really into ergonomic guitars. I’m thinking of concepts for my next signature guitar, and ergonomics is something I really want to bring to Ibanez.
You’re probably the only guy who can make these quirky guitars cool and marketable to the masses.
Abasi: Totally. We’ll see how it goes.