I know it’s the delay, but your records never sound dry.
It’s because of the delay on there. I love delay. It’s gotta be set right though. I like playing something and having it answer back to me in a slow pace. It makes it better for me to be able to channel. That’s the best way I can describe my enthusiasm for delay.
Tell me about your number one guitar.
My number one is the black one that I was playing in the Two Rock video. It’s a St. Blues and it’s patterned off a Strat. It just gives me what I’m looking for. I like my action as low as I can get it without fret buzz. I tune down to E flat, I use 10 – 46 strings, and I just go for it.
The way I grew up, it don’t matter what [the gear] is. It could be a Sears Silvertone and a Pignose amp. It ain’t what it is, it’s what you can do with it. St. Blues is from Memphis, I’m from Memphis, so why not go with a hometown place. They are waiting on me to graduate from treatment, and they’re already putting together the schematics and the layout for the Eric Gales model.
What’s going to be different about the Eric Gales model?
It may be a left-handed body with a right-handed neck—maybe. I’m still not sure yet. It’s going to have my flaming guitar logo on it, and it’s going to have some really damn good sounding pickups in it. I’m talking with Seymour Duncan right now to see what they’ve got as far as vintage-sounding single-coils. I use a diversity of pickups. Whatever sounds great is what I roll with.
What are you using on the floor?
I’m using a Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Wah, a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Octavio, and a Chandler Digital Delay. I go stereo out of that into the Two Rock. My feed out goes into two Two Rock 100-watt heads. It’s not necessarily for the volume, but the volume is there if I want it. It’s there for the fullness. I have two 2x12 cabinets, but they’re going to start making me some 4x12 cabinets.
You’ve gone through some heavy shit. How has this influenced Relentless?
It tells the story. I was able to channel. I was hungry and ready to get what I was feeling out. I believe we captured a really good vibe of intensity and relentlessness. I think Relentless is a great title for this album. I think it describes exactly how the intensity of this record came about.
Any advice for anybody struggling with drugs?
I’m really glad you asked that question because this is what I really want to promote. I would like for people coming up who are going through the circle of what I’m going through, to see that you can overcome these obstacles in life. I want somebody to say, “If he can do it, I can do it.”
I never thought I would have been that person. I’m just keeping myself on the straight and narrow, for the powerful message for the next person to be able to say, “That’s who I look up to.” Not for my skills or talent, but me as a human being addressing things that are going on in my life. I’m standing up to them, and I’m handling it in the right way.
How did you meet Eric Gales?
He was recording at a local studio. I was working on a prototype amp that I thought would be good for Eric. I met him working on the previous album when he used a different Two Rock amplifier. I brought an amp down that had a similar architecture. He really liked it a lot and used it on the album. After that we decided to do a signature model together.
What did he want on the signature model that wasn’t on the prototype?
He wanted less stuff. Our amplifiers have a lot of options, switches, and different EQs. Eric was not into that. He just wanted a live performance amplifier with the same vibe, but all the controls on the front. He wanted a clean tone, an overdriven chunky chord thing, then he wanted full on. He wanted the amplifier to have three different possibilities.
Tell me about the features.
The Eric Gales amp is really not about features. It’s more about his signature sound. It’s an EL34-based amp with a special transformer made for it. It has some of the prettiness of some 6L6 amplifiers, but more controlled and a little more of a compressed EL34 thing. It’s pretty explosive compared to a Marshall, and real responsive.
How many models are there?
We make three versions: A 100-watt, 50-watt, and then a 50-watt with dual rectifiers. Eric uses the 100-watt. On the album he used the 50-watt with dual rectifiers. When we figured out all the different things he wanted, we built him some prototypes. He played them all, then we further tweaked the one that he liked. He liked the 100-watt better.
Tell me about the channel switching.
It’s a two-channel amplifier with no reverb but there are separate tone controls for both channels. It’s pretty versatile. It’s not three channels, but when you hit the tone bypass it does some re-EQing at the same time. He uses the lead channel for his rhythm tone, and the lead with the bypass for his high-gain tone. When you hit the bypass it bypasses the tone circuit. It changes some EQ, opens up the bass and treble controls, and adds a little something back in.
You can go anywhere from a real clean tone to pretty nasty. It maintains a sweetness even at high gain, but maintains harmonic structure. It doesn’t get so compressed that you can’t tell one note from another, or one guitar from another. It still has that clarity.