Photo by Frank White
You recorded previous albums with a block-letter 5150 amp. Did you use that on Vengeance Falls?
Heafy: We basically tracked the whole record with it. I believe this particular 5150 belonged to Eddie Van Halen then it went to Sammy Hagar, and then Slash.
Beaulieu: During mixing everything got really beefy-sounding. The guitars sounded good, but it was missing some … balls, I guess. A little more oomph. So [mixer] Colin Richardson reamped it with a Kemper profiling amp. The way it was profiled and EQ’d just has a little more body.
Heafy: There are no cabs and no mics. The tone is an Andy Sneap profile. I’m not sure what the rig that was profiled consisted of, but Andy is known for utilizing 5150s, 5150 IIs, and 5150 IIIs in his studio.
You guys previously used the Fractal Axe-Fx.
Beaulieu: I was using the Axe-Fx and was super into the concept of having a small rack and no giant pedalboard. With the Axe-Fx, it was like, “Bam, I can get any sound I want, and I don’t have to bring any more gear than this.” I’d heard about the Kemper through friends, but what sold me was hearing the mixes. From the first tune I was like, “Dude, what did you do to the guitar tone? It sounds so brutal!” I got a Kemper a few months before the tour and learned that thing inside out. I can’t wait for the next album to have my Kemper at the studio and start copying shit.
I understand that you program the Kemper yourself.
Beaulieu: I’m pretty good at figuring out gear. I didn’t even look at the manual. I programmed everything on the Axe-Fx and the Kemper. I haven’t even had a guitar tech who really knows how to run them. I don’t like to rely on other people. I like to be hands-on with my gear. [Laughs.] Minus the guitars. I hate changing strings. Have fun with that!
Matt, does the Kemper sound or feel better to you than the Axe-Fx?
Heafy: For me, yes, though some bands prefer the Fractal. The thing is, there is no right or wrong answer. If you like the way a $300 plastic guitar sounds, that’s fine. It’s all about finding what works for you. What works for me are my Epiphone and my Kemper. If it doesn’t work for other people, that’s fine. Kids shouldn’t be buying a full-stack rig for their bedroom.
What sort of rig do you have in your bedroom?
Heafy: I write and practice with the smallest Roland Micro Cube. I don’t have any other amps in my house. I use the JC clean setting and the crunch or classic one, not the setting with full distortion. I don’t use anything else. I prefer the Cubes and minimalist tones because they don’t mask what you’re doing when you’re working on your chops. If you’re just jamming and want to have fun, add effects. But if you’re honing your playing, it’s good to really hear what you’re doing and not cover it up with effects or distortion.