joey landreth

Joey Landreth on Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Texas Flood" | Hooked

The Canadian guitar slinger recalls the moment that cemented his passion for playing thanks to SRV's evocative delivery and compelling chord voicings.

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Get familiar with some hot, new bands and their road-tested rigs.

The sheer volume of SXSW's music festival can be daunting for anyone. This March the Texas capital hosted more than 2,200 bands in over 100 venues, spanning five days. In recent years they’ve added a tech conference, music-poster showcase, comedy summits, and a film festival. From the PG prerogative, our 2015 coverage thus far has included a performance gallery, gear expo report, and a call-out for SXSW bands to watch this year. And those items are only spotlighting a sliver of what happens in Austin every year.

The Live Music Capital of the World has been taking hits recently about the gentrification of the downtown district that has hosted many of SXSW’s shows and events since its inception. Plus, the NASCAR-looking marketing and in-your-face corporate sponsors are a glaring opposition of the festival’s DIY roots. But the bands and artists still treat the booming event all the same—it’s about performing.

SXSW is unlike any other music-based festival in the world. Thousands of bands flood 6th Street and the surrounding grounds as many of them perform not just several times during the week, but numerous times a day. You’ll often spot bands sprinting down the sidewalk with gigbags and pedalboard cases in hand frantically trying to get to their next show. It’s safe to say that nearly every SXSW performer has a few things in common, like hunger—nutritionally and artistically—dedication and appreciation to play music for unsuspecting future fans, and for the interest of this piece, their love of gear.

We talked to 20+ bands from all different genres about their setups including the stoner-metal Elder, indie-darling Courtney Barnett, sun-soaked shoe-gazers Best Coast, hometown pysch-rockers The Bright Light Social Hour, and even the good-time-having masked luchadores of El Conjunto Nueva Ola. Click through to see and learn about the rigs—and the players’ rationales—behind some of the bands that were showcased in Austin during SXSW 2015.

1. Elder’s Nick DiSalvo

Guitarist Nick DiSalvo stoically leads the Boston power trio by letting his riffs do the talking. The psych-stoner-rock band mixes equal elements from metal juggernauts Sleep and Sabbath by writing and performing long, droning rippers. DiSalvo uses his superb dexterity to lighten things in the vein of Rush’s Alex Lifeson (listen to the colorful flair in songs like ‘Compendium’ off of Lore, which has a ‘Natural Science’ vibe in its opening). The band’s most-recent release, Lore, is a 5-song, 58-minute epic that balances between teeth-rattling heavy and melodic ambient passages in a manner that never makes the hour of music drag.
Unlike the band’s complex music, DiSalvo prefers to use one guitar and one guitar only—his Gibson USA SG ’61 Reissue. “I love this guitar firstly because of its playability and relatively wide tonal range for a SG. It has the thinnest neck I’ve ever felt and held, it’s super light, and it’s so easy to maneuver with (or simply have hanging from your neck for hours every night on tour). I can get everything from ripping trebly leads that hurt the ears, back to lush, thick chords, thanks to the stock ’57 Classic pickups.” Amps
While many bands at SXSW carried their guitar and pedalboard from bar to bar, DiSalvo took it upon himself to bring his whole rig during his week in Austin. “My primary head is a Sound City 120, modded to the specs of a Hiwatt DR103. Anyone who’s heard that amp knows it’s got classic British crunch and wicked clean sounds, the problem with Sound City amps is that they don’t have a master volume and, well, don’t sound that good. I picked this head up from a friend who modded it and I knew instantly I wanted it. It’s not as clean as a Hiwatt, it’s got some strange static-y noises, and always seems to pick up the local pop radio station, but I love it—even with all its eccentricities. Currently I’m using a Marshall 1960A and an Orange PPC412 cabinet. The Marshall has G12T-75 speakers and the Orange has V30s, neither is actually my ideal but together the darker and more dampened Orange cab mixes well with the treble from the Marshall. It works, but I’m looking for old Marshall cabs with V60s.” Effects
(Left to right, top to bottom) Boss TU-2 tuner, TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper, EarthQuaker Devices Grim Reefer fuzz, MXR CAE Wah, Dunlop volume pedal, EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master reverb/delay, MXR Carbon Copy delay, Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh fuzz.

”I finally caved after almost a decade of refusing to get a pedalboard. The allure of being able to have all of my usual pedals at the ready without setting up and breaking down finally won me over. My setup now has become more diverse than in previous years—I try to let my amp and guitar do most of the talking without anything too over-the-top effect wise. I have a few fuzzes (one for rhythm, one for leads) that are my main tools. I love to use the Pharaoh fuzz for heavy, chunky riffing and my (beloved and very limited) Grim Reefer for squealing bends and weird phase-shifty grime. The Dispatch Master is a great pedal for helping recreate some of the lusher soundscapes fromLore, while my Carbon Copy is my go-to for simple slapback delay sounds. My most recent addition would be the TC Electronic Ditto Looper—I don’t use it much, probably only twice per set, but it really opens up possibilities to play studio songs more accurately live.”

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