INTERVIEW: Eskimo Joe’s Kav Temperley

Eskimo Joe’s new album, Ghosts of The Past, finds the band returning the more stripped back feel of four-times-platinum Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006), after the more elaborate orchestration and experimentation of 2009’s Inshalla. Produced by Matt Lovell, who produced Black Fingernails, the first single is “When We Were Kids.” I spoke with bass player/vocalist Kav Temperley a few days after the band returned from what was, by all accounts, a pretty kickass set that the Splendour In The Grass festival.

You just played Splendour. That must have been cool.

It was amazing. We were really lucky to play from about six to seven, so we played just as the sun set. You play to this amphitheatre and you can see it filling up with people… Kanye West got helicoptered in, Kate Moss was hanging backstage…

You’ve travelled such a long distance since I first saw you guys at the bar at the University of Canberra in the late 90s.

Yeah. We’ll probably be back at the uni bar one day.

The press release for the new album says this album is a return to your rock roots. 

It’s definitely a rock and roll record. We had an idea of going into the studio with two people on guitar, bass, upright piano and drums, and to just have that treatment. If you listen to The Pixies’ Doolittle, they can make everything work on those instruments. They can make everything work, and they don’t need anything else. It’s all there. And that was our intent. And when you start doing that, you end up having a much more rock and roll-sounding record. That’s just the nature of it. The last record had all these moments which were kind of almost like Toto’s “Africa” or something like that, whereas this is much more down to The Police and The Pixies again.

Or at least Toto’s later, post-Africa stuff!

Yeah! There ya go!

So it was a conscious decision to do something different to the previous one?

Yeah. For us it’s always about kicking against whatever we did before, and the last record was eclectic. You had Led Zeppelin rock things but there was also Peter Gabriel kind of moments on it. It was going all over the place, and we just really wanted to make a very uniform-sounding record, where if you press play you know exactly what record you’re listening to. That’s kind of what happened with Black Fingernails, Red Wine. There was nothing premeditated about it. The album before it, Songs Of The City, was kind of eclectic and we just wanted a very uniform-sounding record, and that’s what we’ve done again, and this is what it sounds like. All of my favourite records, like Harvest by Neil Young, it doesn’t matter what’s on the record, it sounds like the same session. The same musicians in the same room, performing a different song. That, to me, is what always works best. But then, the ‘white’ album by The Beatles has always been one of my favourite records, and even though that sounds like the same band playing a bunch of different styles, it’s still a very eclectic album, and at the end of the day it still sounds like the white album.

 

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SUMMER NAMM 2011: Ampeg GVT Series amps

Ampeg Brings All-Tube Tone to Guitarists With New GVT Series Amps GVT debuts at Summer NAMM 2011

Nashville, TN – July 20, 2011 – Ampeg re-enters the world of premium guitar amplification with the announcement of the GVT Series Guitar Amps, due out this summer. Each head, cab and combo offers all-tube guitar tone in a sleek design inspired by classic Ampeg guitar amps from the ‘70s.

“Over the years, Ampeg guitar amps have delivered an alternative to the standard tones of the time,” remarks Ampeg’s Director of Amplification, Pyotr Belov. “The all-new GVT line is no different. It can easily handle a wide range of playing styles, but does so with pure Ampeg guitar tone that easily outshines the leading tube amps.”

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MUSIKMESSE 2011: Ampeg GVT guitar amps

Remember those cool Ampeg Lee Jackson amps back in the day, which Zakk Wylde and Paul Gilbert played, and which came with an actual ignition key for turning them on? Those were badass. Well Ampeg is back in the guitar game now with the GVT series. Check it out!

PRESS RELEASE:

Ampeg Brings All-Tube Tone to Guitarists With New GVT™ Series Amps

Wed, 06 Apr 2011

Ampeg today re-enters the world of premium guitar amplification with the announcement of the GVT series guitar amps, due out this summer. Each head, cab and combo offers all-tube guitar tone in a sleek design inspired by classic Ampeg guitar amps from the ‘70s.

The comprehensive line of Ampeg GVT Guitar Amps range from an ultra-compact 5-watt head, all the way up to a gig-friendly 50-watt, 2×12 combo. GVT heads and combos are all-tube by design, including 6V6 and 6L6 power tubes for unmistakable American feel and tone.

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INTERVIEW: City of Fire’s Byron Stroud

Byron Stroud is a legend in the metal bass world. He was the man responsible for holding down the thunderous low end of Strapping Young Lad, as well as SYL offshoot Zimmer’s Hole. When Dino Cazares left Fear Factory and Christian Olde Wolbers switched over to guitar, Byron stepped into the bass slot. Then Christian and drummer Raymond Herrera were out of Fear Factory, Dino was back in, and SYL drummer Gene Hoglan joined, reuniting one of the most iconic rhythm sections in metal. You still keeping up? Well now Byron and Fear Factory singer Burton C Bell have another band on the side, called City of Fire. CoF is more melodic and traditional than FF and far less extreme than SYL, but that’s not to say they aren’t heavy. Their self-titled debut mixes metal and melody to great effect and allows Bryon to explore darker, moodier metal textures than he can in his other jobs.

When one hears of a band fronted by the singer from another popular band, the first thought is ‘I guess that’s something the singer put together.’ Not so with City of Fire – it all started with legendary underground thrash band Caustic Thought. “That was a band I started right out of high school with Ian White and Bob Wagner,” Byron says. “That was a band that Devin Townsend and Jed Simon both played in before we did Strapping Young Lad. I’ve always stayed in touch with the guys and we’d do the odd reunion show here and there. The last one we did a couple of years ago went really well, so we got together and started writing songs and we really liked the direction it was going. We brought in another player, Terry Murray, and once we did some demoing I thought Burton would be into it. Burton and I have a similar taste in music, and when I sent him the demos he freaked out. The only vision we really had was that we didn’t want any song to sound like any other song on the record. We’re happy with the way it turned out.”

The arrangements in City of Fire leave a lot more sonic space for Stroud to move around in. “It definitely gives me an opportunity to try different styles of bass. I do more fingerstyle playing. I started out as a finger player, and it was only when I joined bands like Strapping where I started playing with a pick to keep up with everybody. And when you’re playing finger style it’s one less thing you have to worry about: trying to find a pick!”

I suggest that I can hear a few psychedelic influences creeping into some of the riffs and melodies of City of Fire. “We hear that too in the songs, but it was just natural for us. And the songs we’ve written since we recorded the record are more of the same. We’ve definitely tapped into something we’re really into and feel we can pull off and make sound killer. That’s the great thing about Terry Murray – he’s a producer in Vancouver as well and he reminds me of a lot of things that Devin Townsend does. He has a similar production style that Devin has, so he’s really good at the layering and getting great performances out of people.”

Byron’s bass arsenal includes Fender and ESP instruments. “I have a couple of custom Fenders that I got made a few years ago when I joined Fear Factory. I’ve always been with ESP, then when I joined Fear Factory I started using Christian’s basses and I just loved them. They were a more rounded bass, whereas the ESPs were more cutting. I’m back with ESP now, so I use both. I have some ESP 6-strings and 5-strings, and I still have my trusty Fenders. For amps I was with Ashdown for a while but now I’m back to Ampeg again. I’ll use two separate tones: I’ll have one amp that’s strictly a sub tone – no mids or highs – and I’ll have another amp which is an extreme distortion tone. I can switch that from a distortion to a clean sound but I always keep the sub. But for City of Fire I just went with a basic old 1968 Ampeg SVT through an old 8X10 cabinet, cranked it up and got the classic tone.”

City of Fire’s self-titled debut album is out now in Australia through Stomp, and will be released in the US on Candlelight Records on August 24.

LINKS: City of FireCity of Fire on Myspace

 

HOW TO SOUND LIKE: Josh Homme

Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme has always been a master of the dry, clean-yet-distorted tone, and nowhere is this sound more in-your-face than on the self-titled debut by his ‘other other band,’ Them Crooked Vultures, a trio with Dave Grohl on drums and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards. Homme’s guitar is recorded very cleanly and mixed very loud and clear, so this recording is the perfect way to get your ears right up close to his tone without risking the wrath of security by scrambling up on stage to jam your ear against his speaker cabinet.

There are a few tricks to getting Homme’s tone down. Part of the secret is in using low or medium output passive humbuckers. Use too beefy a ‘bucker and you risk overloading the input of your amp, smearing articulation and making everything too hot. Homme is fond of interjecting power chord riffs with barre chord stabs, and this kind of contrast and emphasis would be totally lost of your dynamic and tonal spectrum were squished by too hot a pickup. His pickup choice also helps to maintain clarity and punch when playing single note lines on the lower strings (and don’t be shy about using the neck pickup for overdriven rhythm – it’s all too easy to get into the ‘I play rock, so rhythm guitar must be on the bridge pickup’ trap). Homme has been known to use a variety of Aussie-made Maton electric guitars over the years (check out the BB1200 JH with Maton ‘Hommebuckers’) in addition to Ovation Ultra GPs.

Homme has used all sorts of amps over the years, including bass amps and an array of vintage Ampeg valve amps. Aim for a clean tone to start with (rather than beginning on your amp’s high gain channel), but crank it to get some crunch and grind from the power amp and the speakers rather than the preamp. Keep the bass at treble at around halfway or lower and boost the mids for some of that characteristic power. It also helps if you’re able to get your hands on several amps and a splitting device so you can drive multiple sound paths at once, all set for different sounds, and preferably with different speaker sizes, wattages and constructions to really enhance the three-dimensionality of the sound.

Homme uses pedals to augment his basic tone from time to time, and the Crooked Vultures album is home to a few particularly tasty octave fuzz sounds. This type of octave effect (also heard on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ solo and used more and more live by Joe Satriani) is different to the harmonizer or pitch shift version of octave doubling. The effect, which is combined with fuzz, is more like a bizarre squirrelly harmonic overtone doubling your original note. True octave fuzz pedals track better when you use the neck pickup, and they’re very interactive units so you might need to listen closely and adjust your picking technique by minute degrees to get the most out of the pedal. You can also get some rather strange background noise if you don’t mute your strings properly between notes or chords, so be careful!

NEWS: Ampeg, Blackheart at Manson’s Guitar Show

Ampeg and Blackheart at the Manson’s 2009 Guitar Show

Following the highly successful 2008 Manson’s Guitar Show, Ampeg and Blackheart amps are pleased to announce they will be exhibiting at this year’s show with a host of cool new products and exciting gear on display.

The exhibition will be held at the Riverside Leisure Centre, Exeter on the 24th & 25th October 2009, which promises to be an unmissable event. Ampeg and Blackheart will both be debuting for the first time in the UK, new products including the Ampeg Micro VR Head and SVT-210AV cab, BA300 and 600 combo’s.

Blackheart will be showing the BH100H Hothead amp as well as the entire Blackheart range of amps, cabs and combo’s. Even better there will be special deals at the show and each day there will be a chance to win a BH15-112 Handsome Devil combo worth £399.

Demonstrating the Blackheart gear will be former Guitarist of the Year and Guitar Idol finalist Jas Morris

This is a great opportunity to meet the team, ask about the gear, try the cool new products and we look forward to welcoming you on our stand number 36.

-Ends-

About Ampeg

Ampeg, a LOUD Technologies Inc. brand, has produced some of the music industry’s most innovative and memorable products over the past six decades, satisfying the needs of musicians on stages and in studios all over the world. Ampeg products offer incredibly unique features and performance capabilities, which have resulted in numerous U.S. patents under the Ampeg brand name. For more information visit www.ampeg.com.

Ampeg is a registered trademark of LOUD Technologies Inc. in the United States and all other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

About Blackheart

Blackheart Engineering is a new guitar amplifier company benefiting from both the design expertise of Pyotr Belov and manufacturing muscle of Crate/LOUD Technologies Inc. Dedicated to delivering the best old-school, all-tube tone at price points within any guitarist’s reach, Blackheart truly embraces the camaraderie, attitude and spirit of irreverence that is rawk!

For more information visit: http://www.blackhearteng.com.

Blackheart Engineering is a trademark of Loud Technologies Inc. in the United States and all other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

About LOUD Technologies Inc.

LOUD Technologies Inc. (www.loudtechinc.com) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of professional audio and music products. As the corporate parent for world-recognized brands including Alvarez, Ampeg, Crate, EAW, Knilling, Mackie, SIA and TAPCO, LOUD Technologies produces and distributes a wide range of digital recording products, loudspeakers, commercial audio systems, audio and music software, guitars, guitar and bass amplifiers, and orchestral string instruments. LOUD Technologies’ brands can be found in professional and project recording studios, video and broadcast suites, post-production facilities, sound reinforcement applications including churches and nightclubs, and retail locations as well as on major musical tours.

REVIEW: Ampeg J-20

I like MIDI-controlled channel-switching, tone-sculpting mega amps as much as the next dude (sometimes more, I think), but sometimes there’s nothing finer than plugging into a very simple valve amp and letting rip. Ampeg comes to the rescue with the J-20, a 1960s-themed 20-watt, Class AB, all-valve, point-to-point wired 1X12” combo in its Diamond Blue Lead Series.

The J-20’s preamp has three 12AX7 tubes, while the power stage is built off dual 6V6s in fixed-bias mode. Rectification is via a 5AR4 valve, and the amp’s lone effect, a tremolo, operates via bias variation. Look in the back and you can actually see the valves shimmering in time to the tremolo rate. Very cool. The tremolo is controlled by a footswitch, and has controls for rate and depth. The only other controls the amp has are volume and tone, while Normal and Bright inputs also allow you a bit of tone-sculpting control without loading the amp up with switches, dials and other such voodoo. Simple and straightforward. There are twin output jacks for hooking the J-20 up to external speaker cabinets if the included 12 inch Alnico-loaded unit isn’t enough, but the J-20 is quite loud due to its Class AB operation, so you might want to hold off on hooking up a couple of quaddies until you’re playing Madison Square Garden.

At lower volumes at J-20 has a very up-front compressed tone. You could almost be forgiven for thinking there’s a compressor built in, or that you’ve got your favourite compressor pedal in-line. This gives the amp the feel and responsiveness of being cranked up even at bedroom levels, by approximating the sonic effects of a pushed power amp. At lower volumes the tone control almost functions as a gain control, with the volume and body noticeably increasing at the same time as the treble level. Turn up the volume and eventually the sound starts to break up and become crunchy and overdriven, but remember we’re talking about a vintage-style amp here: you’re not going to get insane rivers of molten distortion flowing forth from the speakers. You’ll get some jangle and clang with good sustain and nice overtones though.

The tremolo circuit is a little bit noisy when you’re playing by yourself, but you won’t hear that background noise in a recording or concert situation, so it doesn’t even really rate as a ‘negative.’ The effect adds anything from a nice shimmer to a simmery undulation to an all-out violent strobey freak-out. I found the former to be my preferred setting, especially for Clientele-style jangly chords from my Ibanez Talman (by the way, that guitar has a Bigsby whammy bar, and there’s something primal and cool about going all Duane Eddy on the low E string with a Bigsby and an amp tremolo effect. You gotta try it).

The J-20 is very responsive to whatever you put into it, be it single coils, humbuckers, P90s, etc. It’s simple and elegant, and it while it doesn’t get in the way of your playing it also makes sure you are presented in your best light. It would be great if a spring reverb was included to soften the edges a little bit in some situations, but as it stands it’s a very usable amp for those who like to get old school with their tone.