“One of the nicest things about owning a studio and designing pedals is that I can figure out what do I have a need for,” admits Ballou. And as you’ll soon find out, his biggest (and constant) need is angry, violent, metallic distortion. Starting at the top left (and then going clockwise), we have the Demedash Effects T-120 Videotape Echo. “This is one of the coolest analog delay pedals,” giddily asserts Ballou. He loves the overall functionality of the pedal and its feature set, but the icing on the cake is that when bypassed you can hold down the left footswitch and it will act as a momentary freeze/shimmer/oscillator. Next you have the Shift Line A+ Astronaut III Multiverb Space Unit. Kurt got hip to this pedal when Converge was touring Russia and ventured into a guitar store in St. Petersburg. For this pedal, Kurt’s go-to setting is the reverse shimmer.
The single-knob red GCI design (Oh Yes!) is Kurt’s latest creation (mentions tentatively it may be called Onslaught) that is a “mid-forward, ultimate thrashy, djenty, clanky, articulate, heavy guitar pedal.” The red pedal on the right is Kurt’s first original codesign—the SBD or Super Beatle Distortion—that was inspired by a circuit from Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis’ Creepy Little Fingers. Taking it up a notch, Ballou added in an active mid boost in front of the fuzz circuit. Additionally, he boosts the bass level after the fuzz circuit so it sounds huge.
Next up in green is the God City Instruments OGR (a collaboration with Electronic Audio Experiments’ John Snyder). The Optical Gain Reduction is a compressor that Ballou uses on every bass-recorded track in God City Studio.
Then there is the Foxrox Electronics Octron2 (inspired by the guitar feedback lassoed by Mahogany Rush guitarist Frank Marino) that Ballou uses for thorny solos that bristle with weird overtones and elastic ghost notes. Following that is a newer GCI Crimson Cock (original codesigned with Rob Davis) that is a treble booster loosely based on the Rangemaster circuit with an added range control (a cap blend on the input) and the switch toggles in a Muff stage at the end of the circuit.
The penultimate stomp is the God City Instruments Ape Eye (collaborated with Soursound) that is dirt box centered around the API 2520 discrete op amp. Lastly, we have Kurt’s Jugendstil silicon fuzz that is aptly described on their site: “If there were a Venn Diagram showing the overlap between ‘90s British shoegaze and ‘90s Swedish death metal, Jugendstil would feel right at home in the middle.” And everything was powered by a Truetone 1 Spot PRO CS7.