French metal band Gojira have been a ‘next big thing’ for far too long. They’ve maintained the same line-up since forming in Bayonne in 1996, and each successive album has pushed them closer and closer to the spotlight. But L’Enfant Sauvage is going to change all that. This is the album that seems finally destined to bump Gojira all the way into at least Lamb of God/Trivium levels of fame. It combines a Devin Townsend-esque appreciation for atmosphere and melody with post-thrash rhythms, post-death metal drumming and a live, human element that’s missing from so much current studio-tweezed metal. After a triumphant run during Australias’s Soundwave Festival (which saw Devin Townsend and Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal join them on stage for a historic performance of their studio collaboration “Of Blood And Salt”), Gojira are ready.
“The reason why we did that tour was to see a kangaroo,” guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier says of the recent Soundwave shows. “That was our main purpose! The reason why we came to Australia! And then we played some shows with Soundwave. But mostly we wanted to see a wild kangaroo. The last day of the tour we still hadn’t seen a kangaroo so we rented a car and went to the desert. Couldn’t find one the whole day. But on our way back to Perth we saw one, man! The night was falling and this huge kangaroo was jumping, and everyone was screaming in the car.” But now that the hunt for bipedal marsupials is over, Gojira is getting down to business. L’Enfant Sauvage is their first album on Roadrunner Records. It’s a diverse collection of tracks, some heavy, some more ambient, with an unusual amount of colour and drama for most bands other than Devin Townsend and Cynic. “I don’t listen to metal a lot,” Duplantier explains. I listen to Massive Attach and Morcheeba and Radiohead, Portishead. My brother [Mario Duplantier, drums] likes Indian music. Christian [Andreu], the other guitar player, doesn’t like music at all! He likes silence! He’s like, “Wow, this is the best.” And the bass player [Jean-Michel Labadie] listens to all kinds of metal. He’s a huge metal fan. So it’s an interesting mix. We have different attitudes, and it creates something more personal. I’d like to think that through the years, as we release albums, it’s getting closer to what we are, closer to the core. It’s a nice feeling. I love this album. We reached something that Im’ really, really happy with.”
I recently had the chance to talk guitar backstage with Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti prior to the band’s sideshow with Steel Panther during the monstrous Soundwave festival. Alter Bridge are about to release a live DVD via Roadrunner which will hopefully keep fans sated for a while in between Tremonti’s solo album and the next Creed recording. Mark is, and I say this in the most respectful way possible, a guitar nerd just like you and me, so it’s always fun to talk shop with him. So, enjoy!
How have the Oz shows been going?
We came down here without knowing what the crowd response was going to be, and it’s just like we’ve been touring here our whole lives. It’s incredible.
It’s been great watching you guys grow and evolve as a band, and especially seeing how nuts they go for you in the UK.
Yeah! This is very reminiscent of the UK over here in Australia. It’s seeming to grow very quickly. This is the second time we’ve been here and it’s already been over the top.
Slash got up and played a song with you recently. What was that like?
Oh it was great. Slash has played with us a handful of times now, and every time the crowd just eats it up. We love it. We’re all fans and we’re just honoured to have him out there.
And you’re playing with Steel Panther on this tour.
Yeah. We’ve known them for a while. We did a few shows in the States, we’re under the same management and they had the idea of putting us together on these sidewave shows. And I’ve jammed with them before, but I probably won’t do that tonight because they’re two very different shows.
Massachusetts modern metal monsters Unearth are currently here in Australia for the Soundwave festival, and guitarist Buz McGrath is rocking a pretty unique guitar for the shows. Buz was a longtime Ibanez endorser with some of the coolest Ibanez LA Custom Shop guitars in the biz, but although he still has a soft spot in his heart for that company, he recently decided it was time for a change. That led him and his unique custom ideas to find a new home with ESP, who recently introduced the LTD Buz-7 (click here to preorder it from Bmusic). Black bound maple fretboard, Snow White Sunburst finish, reverse headstock, neck-through-body construction, maple neck, alder body, 25.5″ scale, extra thin flat neck contour, 24 extra jumbo frets, EMG 707 active pickups, Grover tuners, Floyd Rose 1000 series bridge… it’s one of the sexiest 7-strings ESP or LTD has ever produced. I managed to grab some time with Buz to ask him what the deal was.
You were an Ibanez guy for a million years. What happened?
It was about a year ago that I felt like I couldn’t really do much with them. They were very good to me the whole time I was there. They made me some amazing custom guitars. Mike Taft, he was awesome. he would give me whatever I asked for. But I just felt like I needed a change. Part of my motivation was a signature model – not that that should be the be all and end all of a company, but that was part of it, and I saw that with ESP I would at least have a chance to get to that point. Whereas Ibanez has so many great players in much bigger bands than me who don’t even have that on the horizon. I thought that if Oli Herbert from All That Remains doesn’t get one then I don’t think they’re going to give me one. Or Chris Broderick [Megadeth], who ended up leaving for Jackson.
But I love Ibanez guitars. They were always good to me, but ESP made some goals of mine happen, and that’s rad. Not to mention I was always a fan of those guitars too, so it was always an easy choice.
If you’ve caught Devin Townsend live lately, you might have noticed him playing this beautiful Framus Mayfield Custom. Devin is using this guitar for his open C tuning (CGCGCE). It has a Bigsby B7 tremolo, passive MEC electronics, EMG Devil Signature set, a Graphtech Black Tusq nut, it’s made of AAA grade flamed maple body and neck, and it has a tigerstripe ebony fretboard, and check out those cool illuminated inlays on the 12th fret, headstock logo and fretboard side dots.
I had a chat with Devin backstage at the Soundwave Festival yesterday and he mentioned how he loved combining the 50s look of the hollowbody shape and the Bigsby bridge, with the EMG active humbuckers and low tuning. He’s also got a Sadowski Telecaster on the way, which I think will be really cool – I loved the ESP Telecasters he used in the Infinity era.
Wait a minute. [Record Scratch]. EMG Devil Signature Set? Check out the logos on the pickups. Cool!
Now, this is a Framus Custom Shop instrument rather than a commercially available signature model, and it’s a great example of what Framus can do. Check out their site for more info and a gallery of beautiful customs.
Oh and he’s a video of the guitar in action at Devin’s show here in Melbourne the other night.
And here’s a great interview with Soundwave TV about Devin’s next album, Epicloud, which he’ll be recording in Perth, Australia after Soundwave wraps up.
Devin Townsend first came to the world’s attention via guitar hero Steve Vai in 1993. Vai, usually known as an instrumental artist, wanted a vocalist for his Sex & Religion album. All the demos the label sent over were from real pretty, safe-sounding singers. Vai was despondent. Then Devin Townsend’s demo landed on his desk. Today “hard rock vocalist for hire” is the last thing Townsend’s name makes us think of. Terms like ‘Heavy Metal Auteur’ and ‘Progressive Iconoclast’ are considered more apt. His latest opus, the Devin Townsend Project, took in four albums and was recently capped off with a huge box set and a four-night live run where each album was performed and filmed for an upcoming DVD.
Primus have been entertaining the masses with their off-beat, colourful, twisted, highly virtuosic and even more highly listenable brand of funky avant garde rock (back in the day it was just called ‘alternative’) for over two decades now. The band went into hiatus a while ago, but the individual members never slacked off – oh lordy no. With Primus or solo,Les Claypool is perhaps best known for his incredibly original and technically mind-exploding bass playing within Primus and without, but did you know he’s also a vintner? A keen fisherman? No? Well maybe you can ask him about those things when the reactivated Primus play the Soundwave festival in Australia during February and March.
Hello there, how are you?
So, first question is more of a statement looking for a comment: you’re coming back to Australia, this time with Primus…
[Puts on robot voice] It is very exciting. I always very much enjoy coming to Australia. [chuckles] Any excuse to come to Australia is a good excuse for me.
I know you were down here recently solo, but when was Primus last down here?
Oh it’s been many moons. It’s been at least ten years.
Are you a fan of many of the other bands on Soundwave?
I have no idea who’s playing Soundwave. What happens is, people tell me where to go and what to do, and that’s what I do. My job, when I’m at home, is to tell my children where to go and what to do. When I get back into travelling mode I become a teenage child.
Drummer Jay Lane is back in the band, so now you have like a Primus/Sausage combination. How’d that come about?
Well, ah, it became apparent that the band was not going to be performing much, if ever, any more the way it was and Jay Lane was eager and available and it just seemed like the perfect time to bring him back on board. He’s a very creative individual as well as, hey, a very enjoyable person to be around.
Do you have new album plans at the moment?
We’re in the studio at this time – well right now we’re in Argentina, but we’ve been in the studio for the past few weeks.
How’s it shaping up?
Oh it’s shaping up well. Sounds are being bounced off the walls. Sounds are bouncing and sticking.
What’s it like out there for Primus at the moment?
I have no idea. Do people even put out CDs any more? I don’t know. It’s a digital download world. The only thing I can assure is that whatever release we do put together will be available on vinyl. Something that I find is a mandatory requirement with our releases.
It’s got to the point for me with mp3s where not only am I nostalgic for vinyl, I’m also starting to miss even the detestable act of unwrapping the plastic from a CD cover.
I will never miss the unwrapping of plastic on CD covers. Whoever invented that notion of shrink wrapping CD covers… whoever the bastard is that invented that hard plastic vacuum wrapping that comes on nearly item you get from headphones to steak knives, there should be a global civil suit against that individual because I guarantee there have been many instances of blood loss, if not even loss of digits, in the attempt of trying to open these damn packages.
I actually have a cut on my hand right now from that very malady, so I hear you, very much.
It’s a wretched thing. It just makes it so it’s more difficult to take back to the store if you don’t like it. I’m not talking about CDs, I’m talking about whichever product you’ve purchased in that wretched, horrible shrink wrap. I’m sure it’s really great for the environment too.
I shudder to think what it’s doing to the dolphins.
Yeah, can you imagine how hard it is for a dolphin to open one of those things?
Haha. Okay, my buddy Rohan, who plays bass in my band, is a huge fan and he has a few questions for you. The first is, is the whamola going to make an appearance in Australia?
You never do know. The whamola is like the Sasquach. It’s this ever-elusive thing where when it pops up it’s always exciting. But it’s an elusive beast.
What’s the deal with the whamola anyway? Is it like the bass player’s version of a diddley bow?
The old blues guys used to make them. It’s like a plank of wood with a couple nails in it and a string stretched across. You play slide on it with a bottle or something. It’s this rickety, homespun kind of instrument.
I’m not sure! Maybe I need to get one of these diddley-boos, or whatever you call it, so I can do some comparative performing.
And what envelope filter do you use?
I’m not even sure what it is. Just some old Korg multi-effects thing they don’t make any more… I think it’s a… no, I can’t remember. It’s nothing special though, it’s just an envelope of some sort.
Yeah! So are you much of a gear guy?
I’m not a big gear guy, but from doing this for such a long time, I’m like a couch. All the lint and all the various things accumulate around and underneath me, in my cushions. I have a lot of various pieces of equipment and instrumentation but I don’t actively seek the stuff out. They just sort of end up in my world.
One thing your playing has always proven is that no matter what you’re playing, it always sounds like you.
It’s in the hands and the genitalia.
Well yeah, especially with the bass. It’s a very low, ballsy instrument.
A very sultry instrument.
So what basses are you playing these days? Still rocking the Carl Thompsons?
I have a handful of Carl Thompsons. I have an old Dobro bass – I think it’s a Michael Kay or something, this very inexpensive thing [Actually it's a Michael Kelly Bayou 4 resonator bass]. http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/bayou4.html But I’m actually in the process of designing and having built my own Claypool-designed bass guitar, so we’ll see how that comes out.
Will it be just for you or will it be available for the general public too?
It’ll be for me at first. If it works out we might peddle off a few of them. I just for many years wanted something specifically designed for my particular comfort and playability. I’m working on it right now with a good friend of mine. I should have it by the time we got to Australia.
Without knowing it you must have sold so many six string basses and six string fretless basses to the bass players of the world.
I avoid six string basses and six string fretlesses. I have one of each and I tend to avoid them. I love the four-string. That’s what I’m most comfortable with and that’s what I play the most.
Yeah, John Paul Jones didn’t need more than four strings, goddammit!
Yeah! Nor did Mark Sandman [Morphine].
PRIMUS – Australia: Soundwave Festival 2011
2/26 Brisbane, AU RNA Showgrounds Gregory Terrace
2/27 Sydney, AU Eastern Creek Raceway Brabham Drive/Ferrers Rd
2/28 Sydney, AU Enmore Theatre With The Melvins
3/3 Melbourne, AU Palais Theatre With The Melvins
3/4 Melbourne, AU Melbourne Showgrounds Epsom Rd
3/5 Adelaide, AU Bonython Park Port Rd
3/7 Perth, AU Steel Blue Oval Corner Guildford Rd & West Rd
This is an alternate edit of an interview originally published in Mixdown magazine.
Slash’s live juggernaut is soon to hit Australia for Soundwave Touring (as well as New Zealand’s G-TARanaki festival), and the legendary top-hatted one is riding high on the success of his self-titled solo album. It’s not Slash’s first solo project, of course – there was of course Slash’s Snakepit – but it’s his first under his own name, and this particular set of songs, performances and guest vocalists has captured old and new fans in a way not seen since Santana’s Supernatural-led revival. I caught up with Slash to discuss his forthcoming Aussie shows. Incidentally, if you missed out on tickets, Slash has been confirmed for the 2011 Soundwave festival!
This is an alternate edit of an article I wrote for Mixdown Magazine’s July 2010 issue.
I caught the MTV Classic show here in Melbourne recently. That was really cool!
Yeah! That was actually this band’s second live performance. We’d done one a couple weeks prior to that at the Roxy in Los Angeles, and the band had been together for two weeks. It was ‘here’s the songs, learn them and we’ll just go.’ I think that’s the way I like to do things. But it was a cool show!
It really felt like a band already.
I know! I was very fortunate. When I made the record I knew that at some point I was going to be touring on it, and I didn’t know exactly how I was going to put that together. It was going on in the back of my mind as I was putting together the album. At the tail end of the record I met Myles Kennedy, and he did a couple songs on the record, and I was just completely blown away at his vocal abilities, and also as a person. I asked him to do the tour and he signed on. So I knew in myself I had a really capable frontman, and so the most important element in any rock band, aside from the vocals, is the drums. I started looking for drummers, and I got all these references for this guy named Brent Fitz. I took a few drummers into the studio to see which one I wanted to use, and I also met Brent Fitz and had him come down, and he just turned out to be a great drummer. And it was just ironic, getting these references for him from unrelated sources, different people from all over that suddenly knew I was looking for a drummer and recommended this guy. Then I had a bass player in mind, and he came down and did about four rehearsals and I realised he wasn’t the guy, and it was only going to be about a week before our first gig at the Roxy. I was sort of in a pinch, and Brent recommended this guy that he knew from Las Vegas, and Todd Kearns showed up the next day, and he was perfect. And he could sing. And they’re all really, really good blokes. They’re like, f**kin’, great work ethics and obviously great players. We had a chemistry instantly, and that’s really what gave me the confidence to go and do that sort of impromptu Roxy gig then to come to Australia and do the MTV launch. And now we’re 11 gigs into the tour and the band is just pristine. And that to me just seems like a blessing, because you never know what’s going to happen.
That was pretty ballsy, to take your second gig and broadcast it all over the world!
(Laughs) See, a lot of people misconstrue and confuse ballsiness with ignorance! (Laughs) No, I’ve always been like that. You just go for it and see what happens. And maybe it might be ballsy, and a lot of it has to do with just the eagerness to get out there. If you think you have it together to do whatever it is you want to do, just go for it.
The response to your solo CD seems huge.
Yeah, it’s one of those things where I didn’t have any major expectations, I didn’t try to figure out any kind of numbers or anything like that. I just was happy with the record and put it out. But I have to say, in the first week, to get that kind of response on a global level is really way better than having the opposite!
And you’ve got a lot of metalheads listening to Fergie, and she kicks ass on that track!
I know she does, I knew she would! I got familiar with her voice a few years back and I knew she was going to be awesome for this. And she brings a certain amount of sex appeal to a sort of rock n’ roll song, not only because she’s a girl, but because as a person she’s innately got that sort of … I don’t want to put the wrong light on her, but she’s got a certain amount of street smarts and she’s got a certain amount of sex appeal. And her mentality is a little more dark than maybe you might think of her in the Black Eyed Peas, so when she does rock n’roll it sort of drips of lusty sex as opposed to more romantic sex. And that’s her personality for real. I knew it was going to work, and when she delivered the lyrics I was like, ‘wow, that’s perfect.’
Let’s talk about guitar stuff! Could you tell us about your new Seymour Duncan signature pickups?
Yeah! Seymour Duncan is one of those discoveries, that, f**k, it was in 1986 that I first discovered the Seymour Duncan Alnico II, right? And I was familiar with the DiMarzios and Bill Lawrence pickups, and also Seymour Duncan’s, but I hadn’t really picked a favourite at that point. When I got the Chris Derrig Les Paul it had the Seymour Duncan Alnico IIs in it, and that was just one of those sounds, the combination of the guitar and the amp or whatever, that I was really, really pleased with. After the record was done, that guitar became my guitar. It was great sounding, and that was the only guitar I had! And later on, whenever I put a guitar together, like I ended up getting these two Les Paul Standards in 1988, and I put those same Seymour Duncan Alnico IIs in it, and it’s been my main pickup ever since. But I’ve never had a Slash model pickup because I really couldn’t conceive of anything to do to the Seymour Duncan Alnico II design to expand on that. So I never did a Slashmodel until just recently, when we were doing the Gibson model of the Derrig guitar. I had the idea of going in and re-inventing the original Alnico II from 1986, because everything evolves over time, and now theyr’e using a couple of different components and what-not. So we put together these old-school Alnico IIs, and that became the Slash model, which are really, really great. So when you buy a Gibson ‘Appetite’ guitar, that’s what’s in them: the USA and the Custom Shop, and they’ll be in the Epiphones when they come out too. But you can buy them separately now too.
I saw you using a Les Paul with a Floyd Rose live.
Oh the Axcess! Yeah! The tremolo bar is something I don’t use all the time, but there’s always one song per record where I’m like, ‘I need a tremolo bar!’ And I’d been using a BC Rich Mockingbird for years for that particular purpose, and the only thing about the Mockingbird is it’s not as thick or aggressive volume-wise as the Les Pauls, so I’ve always felt from on stage that there was a dip in the overall attack of my guitar sound as soon as I put on the BC Rich, and I always sort of grinned and bore it, for years, just because of the tremolo bar. Anyway, Gibson came out with the Axcess Les Paul, and I always felt it was kinda sacrilege to rout out a Les Paul for a Floyd Rose, but since they had done it themselves, y’know, I thought I’d give it a shot!
What can you tell us about your ‘Brauerburst,’ the modified Les Paul you bought from Andy Brauer?
He sold me one of his reissues, which was a specific year for a certain kind of reissue which was very spot-on with the original guitar. It’s a really nice Les Paul Standard ’59 reissue. It was set up great, and it’s actually one of the only times I haven’t replaced the pickups with Seymour Duncans [ed. note: the guitar has Sheptone AB Custom humbuckers). And it has a really nice, old school kind of feel to it. And that's the main guitar from him that I have. I had him set up a couple of guitars when I was in the studio. He's really good.
How's the new Marshall AFD100 coming along?
It's great! It's basically done but I had a couple tweaks I wanted done to it. It's ready for me to hear now but I'm in the middle of this crazy festival tour so I haven't had a moment to sit with it. So I'm going to hear it at some point between now and the middle of July. [NOTE: A week after theinterview was conducted, Slash got to try the latest version of the head, and liked it so much he used it on stage that night]. It sounds f**king amazing. Santiago over at Marshall really outdid itself. The whole reason for the AFD amp and the Appetite guitar, it was a novelty for all these super fans who a really gear-heads who are trying to emulate the sound from the Appetite for Destruction record. We did it for the guitar but the key component to that sound was the amp. And back in the day it was just an amp that sounded good. Amps really are inconsistent when it comes to time. It might sound good at one point, and sound completely different, not having changed a thing about it, five or ten years later or even in a different venue. So I never really treated amps the way I’d treat a particular guitar. So I knew that all these people were trying to recreate the sound from the Appetite record, and the thing about that record is it was a particular amp with a particular studio with a particular studio and particular guys at a particular time, and it is what it is. But there is a recognisable tone that comes directly off of the amp that I decided, let’s have Marshall go to the source and try and recreate what that identifiable tone is. So I stripped some tracks off of the actual Appetite masters. I used ‘Night Train’ and ‘Welcome To The Jungle,’ and I used those as a reference and gave it to Santiago, and he delivered an amp that has this particular harmonic structure, and a gain structure that has a particular harmonic value to it, and a certain kind of a midrangey thing, and also a certain kind of a gain that gives it a sort of …it’s hard to verbally describe but it’s a very attacky, but very midrangey and soft-sounding, honky-sounding tone which really sounds great. He managed to reinvent that, and he’s really succeeded. The final tweak was I wanted more bottom end. It’s already got a really tight bottom end and I wanted to get a little thicker-sounding without getting muddy. And then it’ll come out. It’ll come out some time before the end of the year. It’s going to be a limited edition, I’m not sure to what extent but it’s not going to be as limited as the Custom Shop Les Pauls are, but the last time I did a run of limited Marshalls they did a sizeable run.
And finally, could you tell us a bit about your signature Crybaby?
The key thing about the Slash model Crybaby is it’s got this boost in it, a gain button which is really an ‘out of control’ button. You really have to be set up right to be able to use it without taking everybody’s heads off. But it’s wonderful in the studio. I did a recording with Alice Cooper recently and I did a song called ‘Vengeance Is Mine,’ and the guitar tone is just my Crybaby into a Marshall, and it’s really f**king intense sounding, and it’s just that boost button, which is adjustable – you take the plate off the pedal and adjust those frequencies and that kind of stuff. But without the boost it’s really more of an adjustable Crybaby. Pretty cool tone though!
Well that’s our time up. This has been really cool, thanks so much!
I know, it’s good talking to you, it’s been really cool to do a guitar interview in the midst of all these other f**king publications! I enjoyed it, thanks.
Anthrax will soon be winging their way down here to Australia to lay waste to the Soundwave festival. Despite the presence of Meshuggah, Trivium, Jane’s Addiction and Faith No Friggin’ More, all bands I would love to see (either for the first time in the case of the first two, or again in the case of the others), the prospect of seeing Anthrax is probably the most exciting thing for me about this year’s Soundwave. Oh, I saw Anthrax a few years ago when they reunited with their classic Dan Spitz/Joey Belladonna line-up, and that was pretty cool, but credit where credit is due: the post-Spitz/Belladonna line-up with Rob Caggiano and John Bush on guitar and vocals respectively is pretty bitchen. Now, Caggiano was a part of the Anthrax line-up which recently recorded the album Worship Music with new singer Dan Nelson. You heard about it, right? Yeah, it was supposed to take over the world instantaneously upon release. There was a huge buzz and big positive vibes surrounding the album. But somewhere along the way, Nelson was out and John Bush was back to help out on vocals for a few gigs. Well, with Soundwave rapidly approaching I caught up with Rob Caggiano to discuss the album, Soundwave, and the kind of geeky guitar stuff you’d expect me to talk about.
I Heart Guitar: I guess the big question people want to know the answer for is, is John Bush singing at these performances?
Rob Caggiano: Yes he is!
I Heart Guitar: Cool! I feel like a jerk asking this question because you’ve probably heard it a million times lately, but is he coming back on board for good, or is this an extended one-off?
Caggiano: Nothing’s really official right now. Honestly I can’t really give a definite answer on that. It’s looking really good. It’s feeling really good and the shows we played were amazing so far. And it looks like he’s going to sing on the record. So we’re just kinda taking it one day at a time and hoping for the best, but right now everything’s really positive and everything feels great!
I Heart Guitar: Cool! So what kind of stuff are you going to play at Soundwave?
Caggiano: I’d love to do some new stuff, maybe one or two songs off the new record, but I don’t really know. It’s really up to John. I know Scott (Ian) is getting together with John really soon to go over lyric ideas and vocal ideas and just talk about the record and all that stuff, and figure out a game plan. So it really depends on how that meeting goes, but I would love to.
I Heart Guitar: Yeah! There was such a buzz about the album when it was finished with Dan and I couldn’t wait to hear it. So how are you going to approach it – are you going to keep the music as-is, or change things with John’s input?
I Heart Guitar: What’s it sound like?
Caggiano: In my opinion, it’s pretty much ‘We’ve Come For You All’ to the next level. The faster parts are way faster, the melodic parts are real catchy. There’s definitely some stuff that’s reminiscent of the ‘Among The Living’ era, which is pretty cool. It’s a really well-rounded record. It’s killer. We’re really psyched on it.
I Heart Guitar: One thing I’ve always wondered relates to when you first stepped into Anthrax. Now, I’m a big Megadeth fan and I’m used to seeing new lead guitar players join the band
Caggiano: Right! (laughs)
I Heart Guitar: And I’ve always thought ‘Man, I’d love to one day join Megadeth.’ What’s it like to be on the other side of something like that?
Caggiano: Oh it’s been a blast! For one thing, Anthrax has been one of my favourite bands forever, so when I first started playing with them it was a bit surreal. Looking over at bald Scott Ian is very Twilight Zone-esque. But it’s been great. It’s been a blast.
I Heart Guitar: How did it all come about?
Caggiano: Well, y’know, the band is from New York originally. Now everybody lives in different cities, but we have a lot of the same friends. The music scene and the circle of people in New York, it’s kind of incestuous, you might say. We just had a lot of the same friends and when the whole thing came up and they needed another guitar player, I just really pushed for it. It ended up being really cool.
I Heart Guitar: Okay, being a guitar geek, I’ve gotta ask: what gear are you using at the moment.
Caggiano: That’s an interesting question. As a record producer and engineer I have tonnes and tonnes of gear. So I’m always using different amps and different guitars, effects pedals and stuff in the studio. But live I try to keep it simple. I have a really simple pedalboard of the Boss tuner, the (Jim Dunlop) Slash wah, an old (Ibanez) Tube Screamer, uh, what else do I have in there… Boss DD5 delay pedal, ISP Decimater Noise Gate pedal. And every now and then I throw in the (MXR) EVH Phase 90, but just for some lead stuff, like as a boost or whatever. That’s pretty much it though. I’m running a Samson wireless. My favourite amp in the world is a VHT Pitbull Ultra Lead. The thing is, in Europe it just seems easier to rent Marshalls. I mean, I love Marshalls as well. When we’re borrowing a backline or renting a backine I like Marshall JCM2000 DSL. It’s just a killer amp.
I Heart Guitar: That’s what I use actually.
Caggiano: Brilliant amp.
I Heart Guitar: What about guitars?
Caggiano: I’ve been with ESP forever. All Custom Shop, kind of based on the Horizon but a little different. The model that I have, they don’t really sell. They’re not like stock models. My main Horizon’s a neck-thru. Shaved neck, string through the body. They actually just gave me one recently with a Floyd Rose on it and I’ve been really digging it. I haven’t played with a Floyd Rose in ages, but I use it quite a bit on the new Anthrax record. I love it. And I use all DiMarzio pickups. They make definitely the best pickups out there. I’ve been using the Tone Zone a lot. I love it.
I Heart Guitar: So back to studio stuff: what did you use on the new CD that you might not be using live?
Caggiano: Well for one, the way I recorded the guitars, especially Scott’s guitars, I told him, “I want you to dig up your old Marshall head that you recorded ‘Among The Living’ with. Go into the storage room, dust it off, get it fixed, whatever the hell you have to do with it, but I want to use that amp.” My idea was to split the signal and blend the sound of that old Marshall, which is the classic sound of Anthrax, and blend it with a killer new amp, which turned out to be a VHT. Actually, he changed the name of the company, and it’s now called Fryette Amps. He’s got a couple of amps, one’s called the Deliverance and the other is the Sig X, and they both just crushed. And the sound of the two of them together was just amazing. The Sig X is great. I’m gonna actually pick one up pretty soon, I think. I love that amp.
Thanks to Riot Entertainment for hooking up the interview!