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That’s a cool thing, because you talk about layers and that’s kind of an unorthodox approach, the way you’re using different tunings all within that one track that is in low B.
That’s the whole trick – to get things in a spatial composition in the mix and have their own little unique space in that spectrum. That’s why whenever I go for an overdub on the rhythm, even though I’m playing exactly the same thing, I’ll either change the mic pre, the cabinet, amp or guitar, but I’ll leave everything else the same. It gives it a little different character and the trick is to find that blend. Use that other amp to add to it instead of just doing a straight double. Of course, your playing is always slightly different, so that gives it that Iommi doubling effect.
I was just going to make the Sabbath reference for the touch of out-of-tuneness that makes it cool.
He didn’t do it intentionally; he tunes it down to D and uses very light strings because his fingers aren’t real, so he has to use them. That was sort of a happy accident – I don’t think he consciously said, “Ok, I’m going to be out of tune.”
I put all this energy into my gear, writing these songs, getting my engineers and the studio, making everything pristine, getting the mics up and finding the right sound, and I didn’t even have the patience to plug in the tuner. I just thought, “I’ve got an idea, let’s just go with it.”
That’s great – no tuning on the recording, just trust the gear.
Well, it’s great when you do your first track. When I write, I have a very hard time duplicating anything I’ve just played because it’s just off the cuff. Even if I listen to it 50 times, I can never play it exactly the same way or as good as when I played it the first time, so I have to live with that first one. Then, when I overdub it, to tune I have to take that guitar, sample it, run it into the tuner, calibrate the tuner and then tune my next guitar to that calibrated tuner to get the tuning right.
I go for that carnal spontaneity. My ideal record would have the band rehearsing, setting up and recording the fucker. Unfortunately it never happens that way; it’s usually good the first time or the 100th time, but never in-between.
Souls of We has that really cool, strippeddown, natural vibe coming across on the lead tones, and even some vintage tones. How do you get those sounds?
In the studio, I rely mostly on the Lynch Boxes, but I also have an arsenal of other amps, pedals and guitars that I pull from, depending on the moment. First, I do a basic track with the Lynch Box and the Brahma module or the Mr. Scary module, and for the next track I’ll skip over to my ‘69 or ‘68 plexi, or a number of other amps.
The Brahma module is actually based on your ‘69 plexi, right?
It’s obviously slightly different because we’ve got a different transformer, but I use NOS tubes in them and I’m constantly reworking it. I could just replace all the tubes in my modules to Ei tubes, which makes a tremendous difference over the JJs and other Chinese tubes. I’m constantly evolving those modules.
The other amps that I’ve used for recording this thing have been the ENGL Special Edition head – it has less mids, more of a Boogie-esque sound. For 6L6s, I use a Voodoo and a Budda Superdrive 80. I also use an old, original Soldano SLO100, and I’ve got an old Orange head that I like to use once in a while. I’ve got an old Marshall P.A. head that sometimes I plug in and I occasionally use an old 65 or 130-watt Music Man HD for leads. Both [of the Music Mans] are very unique, with sort of a blackface sound, but they have a transistor front-end that accepts pedals in a really nice way in their power tube section. I use two overdrives when I use that and I use a low input with some delay.
You have quite an array of pedals – I noticed the Cusack Screamer in there...
I’m always swapping out overdrives. I obviously use Tube Screamers and hybrid Tube Screamers – which the Cusack is. I have the Lynch Time Machine Boost – the hand-wired version. It’s got silicon, germanium and FET; it has all three in one so you can pick and choose. I just use a straight overdrive on it most of the time, but sometimes I use the germanium when I want something a little nastier. I’ve got a Keeley-modified DS-1, an early Japanese DS-1, and I really like the TIM pedal as well – it has a great overdrive.
There are so many overdrive pedals out there, so I swap those out because it really depends on the amp. As far as the Lynch Boxes, I find that I don’t even need overdrive with those because they have enough drive where it actually compresses the sound too much and kind of destroys the frequency range to a certain extent. I think if you can get away without overdrive that’s the best thing.
Absolutely, I sort of steer to the Seymour Duncan Screamin’ Demon pickup on heavier-weight guitars. I tend to use lighter guitars these days, in the 8.5 to 9 lb range; I like the way they resonate. I’m also kind of steering away from maple and going to alder. The alder with a maple top, maple neck with a maple cap, you get the brightness and the pop, but you still get the warmth.