Chris Bishop plays a Fender Strat and this 60th Anniversary American Standard Telecaster, all modded by Dan Stang. “He made this crazy noise button that I put in all my guitars,” says Bishop. “It creates a hum that can be controlled by
a wah pedal or, if you put fuzz on it, it creates a different frequency hum.” Photo by Michael Frey
Do you guys write when you’re on the road?
Personally, I do a lot of the riff writing on the road, because we’re on the road a lot, especially recently. With Anthrax and Volbeat it was an arena tour so we had accommodations that allowed us the room to write—we could run through songs in the green room. It’s one thing that you have to stay on top of while you’re on tour—make sure you’re writing. My voice memo at any given time is just full of new riffs that are just waiting to be jammed with the band.
What was it like to have Machine producing again?
He became one of our buddies. He pushes Crobot into the right direction—more funk, more groove, more riffs. When it was time to do this last record, we didn’t want to seek out and get comfortable with another producer. We already had that comfortability with him from the first record and, because of that, I feel we made a stronger, better record. We approached things differently with writing and tone.
What did you do differently?
With this album, we only did one guitar performance and we didn’t layer things. We had an Orange OR100 and a Laney Lionheart, the tweed-front vintage ones. It’s very Fender-sounding with a nice spring reverb. We ran them both simultaneously with a 20-millisecond delay on one side and it just created this huge awesome sound. We created a giant guitar sound by having one performance—you retain all the inflections of the playing as opposed to layering and layering and losing that. I was really happy.
I guess you won’t have any trouble playing this material live then, will you?
All the crazy stuff that sounds like it would be overdubbed is how I play it live. Very rarely do we overdub stuff. Like, maybe I’ll overdub a crazy fuzz on a riff or something, but other than that it’s very minimal.
Tell me about your guitars. They have some unique mods to them from what I understand.
Right now, I’m playing a Strat. I have a guy who builds crazy shit for me. His name is Dan Stang. He’s a phenomenal guy who techs and builds and hand-winds pickups for me. He made this crazy noise button that I put in all my guitars. He basically just stumbled on it because he was trying to make me a switch for one of my guitars and he messed it up. What it does is, it creates a hum that can be controlled by a wah pedal or, if you put fuzz on it, it creates a different frequency hum. You can hear it on “Hold on for Dear Life” in those big breaks where there’s weird, crazy feedback. That’s the noise button. It’s also in “Easy Money”–that siren sound between the first verse and pre-chorus, and “Play it Cool.” I’m always trying to find weird new sounds.
Have you ever thought about taking your tattoo business on the road with you?
It’s funny you should say that. We just did a tour with Sevendust and I ended up doing a tattoo for LJ [Lajon Witherspoon, vocalist] on his birthday and then tattooed a big cover-up on Clint [Lowery], the guitar player. It was awesome. I grew up a Sevendust fan and now I’m hanging out and tattooing these dudes. I also got to tattoo over in Wales. When we were touring in Europe I stayed an extra week and tattooed fans of the band. It’s opened a lot of doors.
Does tattooing influence your music in some way?
It’s sort of a bonding thing. It’s one of my favorite things—to be able to give other musicians that I respect tattoos that they’ll remember.
Chris Bishop’s Top 5 Favorite Guitar Solos
1. “Sunday Morning Flood” (Diamonds & Debris, 1997) by Cry of Love with Audley Freed on guitar. “‘Sunday Morning Flood’ is one of my favorites. It’s got this giant, slow blues break. The dynamics are just phenomenal.”
2. “Heartbreaker” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969) by Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page on guitar. “I’ve always loved Jimmy Page’s solo in ‘Heartbreaker’ and how the song does a complete 180. And he’s got that really cool bend that he does behind the nut.”
3. “Who Knows” (Band of Gypsys, 1970) by Jimi Hendrix. “The solo, when the dynamics drop out and come back in … it’s one of my favorites.”
4. “Firebirds” (Psychic Warfare, 2015) by Clutch with Tim Sult on guitar. “His solos are so minimal, but so well-written and groove-oriented. “Firebirds” is very simple, but it’s so great because it’s got a weird key change and he’s playing these weird notes—it’s such a minimalistic solo.”
5. “Freedom” (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) by Rage Against the Machine with Tom Morello on guitar. “‘Freedom’ is such an awesome, melodic solo. It’s not just the noises and stuff that he usually does—he’s actually playing and it’s really good. And it’s such a good build into the riff that comes next; it’s the perfect setup for the end riff.”