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more... ArtistsGuitarsGearGuitaristsOctober 2014Dot HackerRed Hot Chili PeppersJosh Klinghoffer

Dot Hacker: Psychic Friends Network


Photo by Rachel Martin.

How about pedals?
Klinghoffer: Um….
Walsh: How much time do you have? [Laughs.]

Klinghoffer: When possible on this album, I tried to dial in my tones—we’re talking overdrives and distortions—from the amp. If we were doing a heavier song, I tried to hike the amp up and leave it at that. But you can’t quote me on that being the case all the way around. With Dot Hacker, I usually use a [Ibanez] TS808—an original Tube Screamer—as my main overdrive. There’s a variety of fuzz pedals laying around—anything from the old [Univox] Super-Fuzz to [ZVEX] Fuzz Factorys to all manner of Big Muffs and weird boutique things. Between Clint, myself, and Jonathan, we have tons of stuff. I used a Boss CE-2 Chorus, and we’re both big fans of the Boss VB-2 Vibrato and the Boss DM-2 [analog delay]. Those are my staples—the Boss DM-2, the CE-2, and the VB-2.

Walsh: Yep, same here.

You can tell there are quite a few effects on the new albums’ guitar parts, but they’re almost mystifyingly subtle—yet powerful and effective. What’s the secret to absorbing your effects into your repertoire without making them be your repertoire?
Klinghoffer: Since all four of us have spent time serving other peoples’ songs, it’s a really nice place for all of us to get serious and explore sounds that we’ve always wanted to hear—like a dying bee, or a choking grandmother. We probably spend too much time trying to choke grandma, but … yeah. [Laughs.]

In this band, one distinction between Clint and myself when we’re both playing guitar is that I’m less effected than he is. It’s usually me who’s playing the chords and being married to whatever is easiest to sing to. He’s kind of more ethereal or colorful. Throughout the course of the band’s existence, Clint has dialed up a couple of amazing cocktails of effects that run in tandem, and I think that answers your question—you’re not jumping to one effect to do one thing, but kind of using a variety of things to serve a song. Also, sometimes the parts and tones aren’t solidified when the song goes down—we wait until the vocals are down and we leave as much space as we can. Sometimes we don’t leave that much, but we try and find sounds that provide the best use of space that the song requires. I might throw down a really simple part at the zero hour, and he might do the same thing at the last minute—throw down, like, a two-note melody you can’t really hear. That’s the beauty of this band: We work for the whole or the team. It’s not about one part. That actually comes back to haunt us when we try and play live—because there are lots of little things in the recordings. I think we just are all about making the song an enjoyable and interesting experience rather than, “Okay, here’s the chorus—now the tone has to change.”

YouTube It

Josh Klinghoffer strums his naked-toned Firebird while Clint Walsh veers from ethereal washes to wailing Strat slapback on this track from How’s Your Process (Work).

What’s that vibrato on the dark, thumpy guitar in “Whatever You Want”? It has this warm, swampy, vintage vibe.
Klinghoffer: There’s kind of a collection of guitars there. We used the Fender Vibratone speaker, a sort of Fender Leslie speaker they put out in the ’60s. And there’s a track of Clint playing guitar and me live-treating his guitar through this amazing Montgomery Ward Supro-like amplifier. All I know is that it’s a Montgomery Ward 50-watt head.
Walsh: With a crazy-responsive EQ.
Klinghoffer: Yeah—the high and low knobs are crazy. It’s kind of like a live vibe pedal.

How about that trippy, Leslie-type effect on the trebly counterpoint lead in the same song—same stuff?
Walsh: I think that’s the VB-2 with maybe some of the Strymon TimeLine delay, which is really good when you go beyond the presets—you can create some really cool sounds. Maybe we even had some [Fulltone] OCD for a little drive.

How about the warbling guitars in “First in Forever”?
Klinghoffer: I wrote the guitar part on a borrowed Gibson 120-T [thinline archtop] with flatwound strings. It has one [Melody Maker-style] pickup and one volume and one tone knob. I wound up having to give that guitar back, but I always said that when we got around to recording that song I would either use my friend’s or get another one. I had to get another one. It’s pretty much a simple, untreated guitar through the amp for the main part of that song.

Josh, is it weird to go from playing funky Chili Peppers stuff to the moody, atmospheric, borderline avant-garde Dot Hacker stuff?
Klinghoffer: I feel like both bands could do either kinds of music if they wanted to. There are things that I bring into a Chili Peppers context that sound more like Dot Hacker, and the Dot Hacker guys all have an appreciation for the kind of music that the Chili Peppers play. It’s only confusing sometimes with the roles: When you’re the guitar player in a band with a very prominent and incredible lead singer, and then you go to another band where you’re the lead singer, that’s the only thing that’s kind of confusing. But I welcome it. It’s amazing to watch my brain have to deal with that stuff. I never really admitted to myself that I wanted to do that until we got this band going. This band taught me how to be comfortable doing that—how to be comfortable with myself—and that you should believe in who you are. I probably can’t not be myself to a fault sometimes, but I think I’ve also learned how to be who I’m supposed to be in certain situations and serve those situations correctly.

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