Posen plays with a select group of pedals, but he was most surprised while cutting his album by his early version of the Kingtone miniFUZZ. “That thing just takes it into Hendrix-y kind of territory, which I hadn’t planned on,” he says.
Photo by Jon Roncolato
You recorded How Long at Stereobus Recording, which is the same studio where your parents recorded when you were growing up.
The studio used to be called Channels. A good friend, Paul Yee, who’s the engineer on the record, bought the studio and took it over and called it Stereobus. He didn’t really change much—just put his own gear in there. The walls are shaggy carpet. When we were kids, we would climb those walls. It’s this full-circle moment. Everyone I had on How Long, I’ve had about 15 years of musical experience with. Including the fact that it’s that studio, a place I grew up in … it just felt right. It felt like home.
What guitars did you use on How Long?
I used a Collings 360 LT M, and my black Strat, which is an Eric Johnson Strat that I’ve had for almost 10 years. Once I tuned it to open C, it really came alive a different way. I also have Suhr Classic S Antique that I used on the song “Try,” another Collings—a SoCo Deluxe, a Josh Williams Mockingbird, which is a 335-style, and a Teisco Del Ray. And that’s on the song “Get You Back.” Those six guitars were the main ones. They’re all in either standard tuning or open C with a capo.
The tones throughout the record are really dialed-in. The song “Get You Back” really caught my attention. The solo really opens up and gets gnarly! What were you using on that song?
“Get You Back” was this little old Kay amp. I don’t know the model. We just had it cranked and I tried to blow it up, basically. I have a Victoria Reverberato, which is a huge harmonic tremolo and reverb head. I call mine Frank, as in Frank the Tank. Whatever amp I’m using, and specifically for that Kay, I was running Frank through it for the tremolo and the reverb, and I had a Hudson Broadcast [preamp] on the whole time, which is basically one of my favorite pedals that I use a lot.
There are a few guitar tracks on the song, but the main riff through the verses and the guitar solo, through the end, that’s one continuous track. That was all on the Teisco Del Ray, with that Broadcast hitting that Kay amp really hard, and then halfway through the solo, when things get a bit gnarlier, it’s this silicon fuzz pedal by Jesse Davey. He goes by Kingtone. Now that pedal is called the Mini Fuzz, but the one I have is just called a fuzz. That thing just takes it into Hendrix-y kind of territory, which I hadn’t planned on. That Teisco is so microphonic, feeding back like crazy and getting all these cool overtones. That was the sound.
There are three instrumental tracks on How Long, each about a minute long, and they really stand out. On the other songs, your guitar is playing mostly supportive material, but on these three tracks, it’s the focus. Where did these songs come from?
Obviously, I’m known as a guitar player, but my music and the music I write is not guitar music. It’s songs and it goes back to the Beatles. I love songs and I love story and melody and singing, and there was a lot of detail and attention put into the guitar sound and the playing and the parts—almost more than I’ve ever done.
The solos, those interludes, were basically a nod to the last couple years of slowly building a profile by playing a lot of guitar by myself on YouTube or Instagram, demoing guitars or pedals or amps. A lot of people know me from little clips of me putting the phone up and trying out ideas. I have so many instrumental song ideas. I wanted to use them as a little breath of fresh air from the songs, but it was a tip of the hat to the people who know me for that stuff, so they wouldn’t listen to the album and say, “Where’s the guitar playing, man?” There’s guitar playing and solos on every song, but just in case there’s anyone wishing there was more guitar stuff, that’s for them.
Do you have a love for guitar records, or do you have a guitar album in you? It seems like you have a good instrumental thing going.
I definitely have plenty of guitar music and instrumental music in me. I definitely have that side to me, and I probably will at some point. I’d love to do a record just like those interludes. That was my initial plan. I just trusted my gut and I can reach more people by playing songs, and I get moved more by a story and lyrics and harmony, so that’s where I naturally go. The live show is a lot more guitar-centric.
Posen’s slide playing helps keep the feel loose despite the tight groove on this soulful mid-tempo rocker, “Things That I’ve Said,” from How Long. Posen’s slide solo at 2:14 offers support for the melody and sets up the breakdown, and the descending chord progression puts Posen’s detail-oriented songwriting and arranging display.