Did you use the Saturator or the Ice Nine pedals at all?
I believe the Saturator was used for the solo in “Light Years Away.” That would have been through an old [Marshall] 6100 amp and then probably through my old Millennia FTP 1 which functions just like a light compressor and a DI, and went straight into Pro Tools. That was done at home. I don’t think I used the Saturator on anything else. Everything else was just basically the Marshall JVM amp for 90 percent of the work, and some Wizard amps for a couple of songs. I have a specially-made custom reverb by Two-Rock they made for me early in the year that sounds really nice.
Was there any residual Chickenfootness that you brought to the record?
[Laughing] I spent quite a lot of time recording, going on tour, and doing the live DVD with Chickenfoot. During the writing sessions I started to get the sense that I was really enjoying the process of being with a band, seeing where the band can really morph your ideas rhythmically, and how something can play out. In the studio I put it to Mike Fraser that I really wanted the album to have a band sound. I wanted everybody to feel like they had room to inject some of their own ideas into the songs, and I wanted the guitar to have this emotional impact that we had never yet achieved.
Mike and I have been doing records together since ’96 – ’97, so we’d done a lot of work together. He mixed the Chickenfoot album as well, so I think he understood what I was going for. Since he had mixed the Chickenfoot Get Your Buzz On live DVD, he had a good handle on what I meant by trying to capture a live feel. So I think that was the Chickenfootedness that spilled over.
Have you stopped using the Peavey JSX amps completely?
I haven’t used the JSX amps since the Chickenfoot tour started over a year ago. We did that first club tour through the U.S. back in May of last year. When I got back, I met Sammy at his studio. We both plugged into some Marshalls that we had and we thought, “We gotta go back to playing Marshalls!” We knew what Chickenfoot really needed. He was playing is own Crate model before that. Just like that, the two of us switched to Marshall. The next week we flew to Vienna and Marshall had a bunch of amps waiting for us. Then I started trying to figure out how to use the JVMs, and I’ve had a lot of fun with those amps. They’ve been really amazing sounding on the Chickenfoot tour, and they wound up having a great presence on my new solo record.
They’re so articulate, which is so unusual when you’re looking for an amp that can handle lots of levels of gain. The engineer Santiago Alvarez at Marshall figured out a way to get them to be big and ballsy. They have a way of being very articulate, which really helps me out when I’m trying to concentrate on phrasing. I want people to hear every little nuance of my picking.
I saw you on the Chickenfoot tour right after the switch. Your sound was a lot more rugged.
It was much bigger. There’s no substitute for turning up loud and using an all tube amplifier. The EQ was passive, whereas the JSX had an active EQ. Part of the problem I had with Peavey is that after the amp initially came out, the changes that I wanted to see made to the amp were way too slow in coming. During the production of the Chickenfoot album we were working on a 50-watt head, and there was just no progress. It was grinding to a halt and I was wondering, “What is going on with you guys? How come there isn’t an engineer working on this stuff for me?”
If an artist is going to endorse a product, they have to get support from the company. If they don’t, then they give up too much by always having to play this thing that their name and face are attached to. Peavey makes a lot of great things, but at the time it seemed like the engineer they had was not really responding to me or the other artists enough. I either needed to not be endorsed by somebody, or go to a company where they really did want to help me out quickly, and make changes as changes were needed.
Any surprises for the upcoming tour?
I think the whole tour is going to be a surprise. As I look at the set list, we’re playing a lot of the new album, and we’re pulling out a lot of songs that either I’ve never played live before, or haven’t been in the set list for years. For those people who’ve seen us live, they’re gonna see a lot of surprises.
Joe’s Gear Box
Ibanez JS Single Coil Prototype
Marshall JVM410 (Modified)
Vox Big Bad Wah
Vox Time Machine
Vox Ice 9