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Do you feel like you guys are still evolving in your sound?
Keith: I think so. I think our first record was made so quickly, and the fact that we did it ourselves, and so I think our next records should be a bit deeper. Maybe we’ll spend three weeks in the studio instead of two.
I really dig the guitar tones coming off the album. How’d you get those sounds together?
Stevie: Keith has an arsenal of vintage amps, as well as our co-producer, Mike Plotnikoff. But what we used mostly on the record were Keith’s amps – for me, it was mostly a JTM45, but there were Plexis, Park amps … every vintage rock amp from the ‘60s and ‘70s was at our disposal.
Live, I’ve been using a Budda Superdrive 80. Open, loud and raw. It’s also got a great middle. In smaller rooms, I use the Superdrive 45 – they’re great. The Twinmaster is also a great combo amp, and it kicks the shit out of most other amps I’ve heard. I think they only made a limited number, and I managed to get my hands on one.
Keith: I have a pretty extensive gear collection, and I’ve been at it for a while. I usually try to go for the older stuff – I pretty much have every vintage Marshall, every vintage Vox you’ll need. But on 15, you’re hearing a lot of Super Lead 100s, a ‘66 JTM45, an old AC30 Top Boost and an armload of vintage guitars.
What guitars should we be listening for on your latest album?
Stevie: For me, I really connected with the JTM45. It was punchy, spanky and had a great bottom end. I coupled that with a ‘62 SG Junior. It’s been reworked with humbuckers, Gibson PAFs. I did leads with that same configuration and a Tube Screamer thrown in, or the Red Rooster pedal, for that wooly quality. I really like that wooly, ‘60s lead tone, like Hendrix. The clear ryhthms, on like a song like “Sorry,” I used a ‘62 reissue Strat.
Keith: On the album, I have an old Gretsch 6120 that I do a lot of the rhythm tracks with. I also have a ‘51 Esquire that’s on there a lot. Right before the record started, I went through a bit of a Strat phase, and picked up a ‘71 Strat that’s great. There’s also a lot of Les Paul Junior on the record.
So do you guys toy around with pedals or effects much? Or do you try to keep your signal clean?
Stevie: Not so much – in the studio, there’s not a lot of pedal effects for my side – I’m on the right side with the rhythms, Keith is on the left side [in the stereo spectrum], so you won’t hear a lot of effects on me. Live, I use a Tube Screamer and a wah pedal. Just recently, I switched to Budda, because they’re making such great pedals. br>
I try to keep it simple like that, because I feel like I’m jumping around so much, I can get confused if I have to hit a couple pedals at one time. Less is more for me anymore. I had some more pedals in the chain, but I just kind of found that it was too much. br>
Keith: I’m not a real big pedal guy. The guys at Keeley make these true bypass loopers, and I’ve been using that because I don’t really want anything in the way. And we still use cables, we’re not wireless.
Is there a reason you haven’t gone wireless?
Keith: It sounds better. I toyed with wireless a few years back, and every time I’d have a problem with the wireless, I’d plug the cable back in and just say, “damn, that sounds great!” Mogami cable is really solid.
Wrapping up, you guys kind of represent a younger generation of guys playing true rock and roll. Is there any advice you’ve picked up for people listening and trying to get into it?
Stevie: A lot of the bands we play with at festivals, they’re not learning to play their instruments like they used to. There’s very little emphasis placed on songwriting. So if you want to stand out, really learn your instrument, and learn about tone. Try out different things, and listen to a lot of records. Listen, listen, listen.
Keith: There are really two sides to it. On one side, we see these guys playing with tracks behind them. Really concentrate on being great players and performers, so you don’t have to rely on tracks behind you to pull it all off.
The other side is that this is all a business, so you need to educate yourself on how all the parts work together, otherwise it will be a long road.
When Stevie plugs in to rock out, here’s what he’s grabbing.