What was that first guitar your dad bought you? It was a Raven Telecaster copy. I remember it well. Do you still have it? No, I really wish I did. Last time we talked, I learned that you prefer Ibanez guitars to the iconic Gibsons and Fenders. Yeah, I'm an Ibanez guy. It's funny, even when I was a teenager I played Ibanez guitars and I still do today. One of the coolest guitars I had when I was a teenager was a 1977 Ibanez. I know Ibanez doesn't like to talk about it but the seventies there was a time they call "The Lawsuit Era" which was when Ibanez was knocking off Gibson guitars and making them better than Gibson did at the time and it caused them a lot of trouble. I had a 1977 Ibanez Destroyer in Korina. And that was one guitar I got rid of that I even kept a photo of it in my wallet for all these years. I missed that guitar, man. So I said if I see one of those again I'm going to get it. And it's funny; I've been dealing with Ibanez now for years. Some of my stuff is Custom Shop. But a few years ago I went on this big vintage kick where I was scooping up all the 70's stuff that I love. I ended up finding one of those '77 Destroyers and I have that on the road with me right now. During that collecting period, I got a couple double necks (a white one and a red one), a few Flying V's, a couple different Destroyers. Do you still bring the vintage guitars on the road? Yeah, I'm about half and half right now between vintage guitars and new guitars. When I was collecting all this sh-t, I was bringing like 20 guitars with me. I've scaled that down to like 10 now that I use on the road. I do swap out guitars during the show quite a bit. I've got four vintage guitars, a couple Custom Shop Ibanez guitars, and then a few of the newer Ibanez ART models I'm using. That Custom Shop stuff is great but there's something to be said about that old wood. It really does have its own sound. You can pick up any of those old 70's guitars and the tone is just amazing. What are the specs for your Custom Shop guitars? Well some of our tunings are a whole tone down. So I wanted something a little more of a baritone feel to them. I'm a huge fan of mahogany so all the Custom Shops are made of mahogany. I keep my guitars pretty simple, less to go wrong on the road. But even the new ones I would buy off the shelf, I would change the pickups in. I really like the Jeff Beck Seymour Duncans. I use those a lot of the time. I'm not a fan of active pickups. The ARTs for example come with active pickups but I just rip them out and put in the pickups of my choice.
"So I grew up on a lot of classic rock - Pink Floyd, early Aerosmith, Zeppelin."
How crazy do you get with your tunings? Usually it's just standard or drop tunings. We don't use any open tunings or anything like that. I have lightened up my strings a lot from the early days and I try to play with a little more finesse. I used to break strings all the time back when we first started. When we started we were running at 90, we really wanted to take over the world. We were young and full of piss and vinegar and I could break a string almost every song. These days I can't remember the last time I broke a string during a show. You guys have got a new album coming out pretty soon. How has your approach to tracking your guitars changed over the years? Well, actually this time around was different then our last few records. Our last few records were kind of what everyone has been doing lately, a lot of layering. Like you would have one guitar setup with a pair of amps and you would double track that then you would go in with another guitar and another amp and track it again and you use that process of layering to get this big thick sound. This time around I intentionally wanted to get away from that. I really wanted to go with a simpler sound. I thought our tone was good in the past, I think my current rig sounds great and I want to capture that simpleness about it. So our approach this time was just to get the sound where I wanted it and just stick with that rig the whole time. So the rig I used in the studio is the same as what I use on the road. I use Diesel VH4 amps, I'm a big fan of those. The only thing that's different in my live rig is that I use a middle cab. I use an old Marshall MP1 because they're programmable. In the studio I used a little Orange Tiny Terror amp run through 1x12 cab made by a company called Krych, which are made by a guy in London Ontario, which is up by where we're from. He's making these cabs right and they're bad ass. He uses Celestion 30s in them. The main cabs I'm using right now are some custom Krych 12x6 cabs. It's one cab with two compartments, one is a 4x12 and one is a 2x12. So, live, my Diezel will run the 4x12s and the Marshal will run the 2x12. My sound in the studio was just the Tiny Terror in place of the Marshall going through the 2x12 portion of my cabs and that was the setup I used on the entire record. That transfers well to your live sound as well. Yeah, it's all the same rig basically. Its tough to recreate the sound of three different guitars layered on top of one another. So this simplified things and it transfers very well into my live sound. I interviewed you guys back when One X came out and we talked about how you guys got a cabin out in the woods and just jammed together for a couple weeks. Yeah we generally do something similar to that. We all have short attention spans so if try to get us to write in a new city, forget about it, everybody's everywhere. For One X we did get a cabin up in the woods in Ontario and wrote a lot there and we still do that. We'll pick a spot and meet up there and all camp out for a week or two at a time and focus on writing as much as we can. The thing about this band is we can all play guitar. So we write everything together. We write a lot of our stuff acoustically together by jamming.
"I keep my guitars pretty simple, less to go wrong on the road."
When is the new album coming out? October 2nd and it's called "Transit of Venus". I never like to ask what the meaning of the album title is because I think it's a generally sh--ty question. But in the case I am a little curious. It's not too deep. It's not like we wrote a concept album or anything like that. It started more from our fans. About a year ago people started to speculate about what the new album would be called in website forums and stuff like that. It's cool, we started watching what fans thought the title might be and then this whole Venus thing came up and they kept talking about it and going on about it. It turns out that this year was the transit of Venus on June 5th and it won't happen again for another 300 years or so. We thought it was cool how our fans started talking about it and we just left it in the fans' hands and called it "Transit of Venus". Is there anything else you'd like to say about the new record? Are there any surprises on there? Any didgeridoo solos? No didgeridoo solos. I will say that it is our must musical record. We're all really excited about it. There's a lot more musicianship, a lot more solos, things like that. We don't really have a lot of solos on our past records. We were very riff driven. We've got some more keyboard stuff on there but it's very well balanced. We think it's our best record yet. Interview by Justin R. Beckner Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2012
"There's a lot more musicianship [on new album], a lot more solos."