21. People’s Blues of Richmond’s Tim Beavers

After losing a mutual friend at college, guitarist Tim Beavers and bassist Matt Volkes began playing music together to cope with the pain. They completed their first two albums in a flash—Hard-On Blues and Good Time Suicide—and then their original drummer and keyboardist left the band. Fortunately for Beavers and Volkes, they got with stickmaster Neko Williams (son of Drummie Zeb, from the legendary reggae band The Wailers). The power-trio format works well for the band, allowing each member to showcase his talents. Beavers wails and hollers like a possessed banshee while delivering creamy, hyper-speed blues licks on his 6-string. To keep the fans on their toes, he’ll play behind his head and in the club’s front rows. Williams has the ability to lay down hip-hop beats within a rock context (think Blink-182’s Travis Barker or the Roots’ Questlove), and by locking into his mighty groove, Volkes keeps things solid. This fortified rhythm section allows Beavers to go off the handle on a moment’s notice. If you’re looking for a head-turning good time, look no further than the hard-chargin’ People’s Blues of Richmond.

“I didn’t know a whole lot about guitars when I bought Frankenstein (my 2006 Gibson SG Standard). I was saving up for a Gibson Les Paul Standard for a year and I wasn’t even sure if I was in love with the way they played or felt. When I saw Frankenstein leaning against an amp at a music store, I thought it’d be nice just to put my fingers on its strings. I ended up playing it for an hour before I looked up and thought, ‘Oh, fuck! I accidentally just fell in love.’ It was so light, so small, but so damn ferocious (not to mention a thousand dollars cheaper than the Les Paul). I didn’t want an SG, but I wanted that SG. Over the years we’ve played thousands of shows together where we’ve been covered in beer and sweat and mud. Its headstock has been broken six times. Yes, six. You can see by the picture of the back of the headstock that I did the last two repairs myself.

“Just like my guitar repairs, I’ve had to get creative with my pedals as I built my own board out of a piece of scrap wood and Velcro tape. My pedals are a simple combination of effects that make me a very happy guitar player. My guitar goes into my Boss TU-2 tuner pedal first. Those things are solid, but I would never pay the price for a new one. Next is my Vox wah. I used to play different wahs and I was constantly disappointed. The Vox 847A gives me a really crazy treble boost that I love to use when I kick into a guitar solo. I don’t like a bunch of wah-wah rhythm guitar playing because I’m never too far in the background in a three-piece, so I basically only stomp it for solos. My Pro Co RAT pedal is my favorite thing on my board. It’s an affordable box that wants to rip the speaker out of your amp—and I respect that—but it can be dialed in for a perfect balance between garage-punk grunge and blues-psych rock. That Joyo JF-33 Analog Delay pedal is just for stirring up a little insanity during the drum solo or while I’m smashing a guitar.

“I am very appreciative of all the use and abuse my equipment has put up with from me. My gear is my family. I love, respect, and appreciate all of it ... and sometimes I have to beg it for forgiveness when I fuck it up.”

22. Speedy Ortiz’s Devin McKnight

This band emerged in 2011from singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ laptop while she was a counselor at summer camp. Later that year she recruited four dudes to help her flesh out her songs with jagged and angular guitar riffs that often sound out of tune. The corkscrew nature of Dupuis’ and lead guitarist Devin McKnight’s one-two punch suggests such ’90s anti-heroes as Cobain, Mascis, and Malkmus, rather than the group’s more polished contemporaries. On their second album, Foil Deer, Speedy Ortiz has sharpened its pop-sensibility with hooks that ride atop biting, almost jarring music.

Devin McKnight's Gear
“My No. 1 guitar is generally a Fender Standard Fat Strat, but that was broken during our recent tour, so I’ve been using an Epiphone Limited Edition Les Paul Standard. Either one works though. I generally like a guitar that can take absurd amounts of gain and still sound good. Taking that amount of gain is especially important in Speedy because I need to get really loud and quiet in a split second.

“If you look at how the pedalboard is arranged, you’ll notice the DigiTech Whammy Pedal is at the center of the board. That pedal anchors my use of everything else. Bad notes become good and good notes become gross, all at the swipe of the treadle. I don’t use many delays or reverbs because I prefer a dry, loud sound. However, I use the MXR Carbon Copy because it cuts through really well and the slapback can create a slight signal boost. The delay time knob can also be easily manipulated with my foot for some crazy oscillation-type sounds. The left side of the board consists of distortion and overdrive, specifically the Tech 21 SansAmp GT2 for amp modeling, and a pair of ZVEX pedals: the Super Duper 2-in-1 for boost, and Fuzz Factory for noisy, screechy, feedback stuff.”