It’s one of the amazing musical moments of 2011 so far: after various levels of straightforwardness in the first 10 minutes of Deconstruction - some heavy, some restrained - Devin Townsend demands ‘show yourself!” and all the savage energy left dormant since the dissolution of Strapping Young Lad is unleashed, grabbing you by the throat and dragging you back to its skull pit before you know what the fuck happened.
The minutes leading up to that moment – “Praise The Lowered” and “Stand” – leave hints at what’s going to happen next. The former gradually increases in intensity from floaty electronica to metal screams, never dropping the steady but restrained tempo even as the death screams build up. The latter sounds like the spiritual cousin of “Destructor” from Ki (the first album of the Devin Townsend Project tetralogy), and it also drops little crumbs of heaviness behind it, leading up to that ‘Show yourself!’ moment. From then on, anything goes. Crushingly heavy rhythm guitars. Choirs. Blast beats. Death metal. Fusion-tinged chord progressions. Spoken word interludes. Fast passages. Techno beats. Someone taking a particularly cathartic shit. A cheeseburger.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Geoff Tate, vocalist for Queensryche (who just happen to be one of my favourite bands). Queensryche is about to release a bold new album called Dedicated To Chaos (via Roadrunner), and the ever-eloquent Mr. Tate took some time out to talk about the album’s unique direction and the changing way that listeners consume music.
Here’s a snippet.
Queensrÿche have an extremely varied back catalog – it all sounds like Queensrÿche but no two albums sound like each other.
In our stuff, we’re kind of a difficult band for a lot of people. We try really hard to stay out of categories and genres, and we don’t think of ourselves as anything other than Queensrÿche. We don’t attach ourselves or our thinking or identity to any genre. But the industry is kinda built around selling a genre. So record companies have a difficult time with us because we don’t fit neatly into a little package that they can market. We’re always experimenting with our music and pushing it in different ways, adding our musical influences into our writing. A lot of times people find that frustrating. They don’t see the art in it, which is beyond me, because that’s what I always look for in music. I see music as being strictly art. It’s not a competitive sport.
You can read the full interview here. Dedicated To Chaos is out on June 24 or 28 depending on which territory you’re in.
Hey! Check out my interview with Leader Cheetah’s Dan Crannich for Australian Musician Magazine.
Here’s a snippet:
Do you have any kind of routine for letting [songwriting] happen? Some musicians get into meditation, some need to work out before they riff out…
I’ve started trying to meditate a little bit. It’s my first time living by myself. I just came out of a long-term relationship and I’ve got a lot of things going on in my life on top of that. So I’ve actually be trying to do things like lighting some candles and doing a bit of meditation, just to try and clear away a little bit of the psychic baggage that’s hanging around. But I find music, especially performing and writing it, being creative, just really helps to stay in that positive mood. It does shed weight and feelings that are hanging around you. It’s a very renewing kind of thing. But the meditation, not before I write, I don’t. It’s more just picking up the guitar. You kind of know when you’re in a mood where things are going to come. Sometimes you surprise yourself – sometimes you’re not at all even really thinking about music, and you pick up the guitar and stuff starts happening, but quite often it’s that time when you sit down by yourself and you’ve just got a feeling that if you do it now, something’s gonna happen! I don’t know whether it’s something to do with the planets or whatever, but I definitely think there’s a feeling that you have when the good stuff is going to come. That’s why I’ve never felt a huge amount of ego attached to my songwriting. You definitely do get better at writing songs, but that’s just because you get better at honing in. The most integral part of a great song is that initial flash, that initial idea, that initial melody. Whatever it may be. For the kind of songs I write it’s melody. For a different style of music it may be a rhythm. You definitely get better at knowing how to arrange and trim the fat, and build it up, but I think that initial thing is always kind of the same.
CLICK HERE for the full interview.
Sending my thoughts to Leslie West, who just had part of his leg amputated due to complications from diabetes.
According to Blabbermouth.net: “West had flown in to Mississippi to perform at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with his band Mountain. On Saturday, his leg began to swell, and as a diabetic he was rushed to the emergency room. It was decided that an amputation was required in order to save his life. Surgery was a success and the procedure removed his limb up to the knee.
West is expected to fully recover and faces extensive rehabilitation.”
Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski has written a very cool account of a snapshot taken with Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul in 2004 during a photo session for a Guitar World cover. I’m pretty sure I’ve got that issue stashed away in the study somewhere in my ridiculously overflowing stash of guitar mags. Aah, Dimebag. We miss ya! Back in high school my band used to play both “This Love” and “Becoming.” And when I was 16 I totally got loaded on masala to Far Beyond Driven while my parents were out of town. Good times. It’s like everyone has a Dimebag story too, whether they met him or not (I did not. Dammit). Anyway, check out the story behind the Guitar World photo here.
Dunlop announces the release of the MXR Analog Chorus.
This all-analog pedal uses bucket-brigade circuitry to create classically lush, liquid textures that you just can’t get with digital circuitry. Rate, Level, and Depth controls, as well as knobs for cutting High and Low frequencies allow ultimate tone control. Like all MXR pedals, the Analog Chorus comes in a heavy-duty housing with durable jacks and switches for a lifetime on the road.
Guitar World’s new Guitar Girl’d blog focuses on women and guitar, a new feature for the website. This week’s blog article, The Top 10 Hot Male Guitar Players, has been causing quite a stir, with postings by several of the lucky guitarists on the list.
The author created this list with tongue-in-cheek commentary after repeatedly coming across Top 10 lists of “Hot Female Guitar Players.” And deeming it only fair, decided it was time to turn the tables!
Find the list here:
Okay, so I was just checking my Twitter followers (you can become one of them here) and I noticed that my most recent follower was someone called FuzzBoxGirl, and she has a YouTube Channel with a bunch of pedal reviews, including a vintage 1968 Univox (Shin-ei) Super Fuzz. She also has a wicked sense of humour, a killer guitar collection, a knack for matching cocktails and fuzz pedals, and a great line in retro rock riffage. Only her feet and hands appear on camera. Mysterious. My prediction: FuzzBoxGirl will own the guitar world by this time next week.
As a seven-string slinger myself, please allow me to be the first to say, “YES!!!” Great to see Dunlop stepping up to the plate with a Heavy Core seven string set.
Dunlop announces the Heavy Core Seven String set, the newest addition to its line of Heavy Core Strings.
Heavy Core® Strings are uniquely designed for the player who tunes low and plays hard, built with a heavier core wire for players to really “dig in” while retaining definition and punch without modifying their instruments. The Heavy Core Seven set was specifically developed for tonal balance and superior intonation when using standard B, B with dropped A and 1/2 step B Flat tunings.
The Heavy Core Seven set, like all Dunlop strings, are 100% manufactured in Benicia, California where we take great pride and care in offering players the finest, USA-made strings available. Packaged using corrosion-inhibiting VCI Fresh Technology so you get the freshest set of strings every time. Now shipping.
Our Heavy Core Seven set is available with the following gauges: .10, .13, .17, .28, .38, .48, .60.
Visit jimdunlop.com for more info.
Gibson LP Junior DC Bass – click the pic for more info
Here’s my latest for Gibson.com:
Life on the road is hard. You’re away from your loved ones, your neighborhood and all your stuff! When you’re far from home for so long, little familiarities backstage can be the only link to home and normal life that you have, so bands can be forgiven for requesting the occasional unusual or specific comfort item – anything to bring some sanity to those weeks or months away. Backstage riders – the contract document that spells out a band’s backstage requirements – are notorious for diva-like demands, but when you get to the heart of it, most rider requests are just about making the artist feel a little more at home.
10. Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent’s 2002 rider stipulates that the tour is very environmentally conscious, and as such, no Styrofoam or polystyrene cups, plates or containers are to be used. Catering requirements include one box of MAN SIZED KLEENEX (yes, it’s written in uppercase in the rider for emphasis), and although the Nuge requests a carving knife, carving fork and cutting board for roasted chicken, that chicken is to be supplied by the concert booker rather than caught by Ted’s own bare hands.
CLICK HERE for the rest!
Australia’s MI Amplification has a small stable of top-quality tube amps – currently the Megalith, the Revelation and the Iron Duke. The Megalith is the meanest-looking of the bunch, with understated but decidedly tough-looking cosmetics and an imposing ‘none-more-black’ colour scheme. I tested the Megalith Beta with a matching MI Amplification speaker cabinet with four US-made, 12-inch, 8 Ohm Eminence Wizard speakers in an 18mm void-free plywood enclosure.
The preamp features two independent channels (Clean and Overdrive), each with Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume and Contour controls, as well as a three-position EQ Shift switch. The Contour control works in the phase inverter, and its effect can particularly be heard in the tightness or looseness of the sound and attack. When turned to the left it emphasises fat mids, while increasing travels to the right scoop out the mids and increase the bass.
The EQ Shift switch selects between three voicings – 0 shifts the midrange frequency upwards and adds more low mids as well; 1 offers a more ‘British’ tone, with a more even frequency spread; and 2 is more scooped and ‘American.’ The Clean channel also includes a three-position Attack switch which further adjusts the tightness and response, while the Overdrive channel has a three-way Mode switch for low, medium and high gain voicings.
In the power amp, things get even more interesting. With four tubes in a push-pull configuration, you can install KT100, KT90, KT88, KT77, 6550 (this is what was in the test model), EL34 or 6CA7 power tubes for between 150 and 200 watts of output power. If that’s too much for you though, you can drop the output power to 40% by selecting the low power mode on the Standby switch.