Star Wars Is Def Leppard

Ok, so if you follow me on Twitter you know I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Even the prequels. Yeah. Come at me if you wanna fight about it. Anyway, something just hit me while listening to a (subscriber-only) Steele Wars podcast where fans called in with their ideas about the possible Obi Wan movie or other non-saga Star Wars movies:

STAR WARS IS DEF LEPPARD.

Def Leppard is a huge band, right? There was a time where they were selling tens of millions of albums (Hysteria alone has sold over 25 million copies). They have die-hard fans the world over who know every song from every album. Every B-Side. Every little piece of trivia. They collect pressings from different countries, etc etc etc. These are your real hardcores. 

Now, here’s the thing. Go to a Def Leppard concert (seriously, do it. They’re awesome) and you’ll see 15,000 people in the audience. Among them are probably, like, 500 people who know every single song. Then there are another 14,500 people who only know the big hits. If the band was to drop in some deep cuts to please the hardcores, you have 14,500 people going “Uh… what’s this? Let’s go get a beer.” Throw in enough of those songs to satisfy the super-intense fans – the B-side collectors – and guess what: the reviews will suck. “Oh they played a bunch of stuff I didn’t even know. What a waste of money. Nobody ever heard Lady Strange on the radio at work.” And next time Def Leppard comes to town they’ll be playing to just those 500 people – but they won’t because the machine is too big. They’re a business with employees. They have staff to pay. They have ongoing costs to cover which the touring cycle takes care of, and you can’t just take a business like that and say “Y’know what? Let’s make 95% less money on the road this year!”

What I’m saying is, some of us may really really want a Star Wars movie that fills in some piece of obscure timeline trivia or would just be, like, totally cool, but instead we’re gonna keep getting Pour Some Sugar On Me.

They’re saving Ded Flatbird for the novels and comics.

Meet My New Kiesel Vader

Kiesel Vader

Hey Meet my Kiesel Vader! She’s a V7 with Hipshot/Kiesel vibrato. One of the coolest things about Kiesel is that every guitar is essentially a custom instrument: there’s an almost overwhelming range of options from which to spec out your dream guitar. Funnily enough, there’s a pretty similar guitar to mine on the V7 gallery, but that’s pretty much coincidence: whoever ordered that guitar just happened to have similar tastes to me. There are some differences too though, and as Homer’s assistant Karl said on The Simpsons, “My reasons … are my own.” Let’s break down what I selected and why.

Karl

So. Every element of this guitar was selected for a particular reason related to synesthesia. I’ve written about this before, including this article for Guitar World. Essentially synesthesia is a condition where a sensory input will set off other sensory ‘resonances.’ For instance, the number ‘2’ is blue to me, and always has been. It tastes kind of creamy and is very smooth to the touch. My brain has just always thought of it this way, and ditto for the other numbers, letters, shapes. It can happen with anything: particular speaking voices remind me of certain times of day. Certain guitar tones can generate really specific and complex chains of association that might incorporate texture, perception of size, levels of luminance, and so on. I’ve never done mushrooms cos I probably don’t need to. My brain is psychedelic enough on its own. That’s why I dig sensory deprivation tanks.

But back to the guitar: each of my specifications were based on specific things I wanted this guitar to be for. Things I wanted to play on it, sounds I wanted it to make, feelings I wanted it to generate or represent.

* Colour. This particular Aqua Burst reminds me of a shade of blue I often see in my dreams. I have a recurring dream of a futuristic city rising out of the ocean on the horizon, and it’s always an exciting place to visit. I wanted this guitar to embody that same sense of freedom and joy I have in those dreams. That’s also why I selected a flame maple top: to give the feel of waves in the ocean.
* Fingerboard. I always feel musically influenced by the colour of a fretboard. I feel like I play more ‘sunny’ on maple, and more ‘dark’ on rosewood. I chose Zebrawood because its mix of light and dark colours will (hopefully) encourage my subconscious to blend those two approaches.
* Neck. This is a 5-piece Black Limba/White Limba neck-thru. I wanted something that had more of a natural, ‘this used to be a tree’ look, and the particular colour of Black Limba reminds me of tree bark. This is a pretty futuristic-looking guitar so I wanted to balance that with something a bit more earthy.
* Body. The body is Alder, and I chose a natural finish because, again, I just wanted to offset the futuristicness of the design. And the almost desert-like colour balances really nicely against the Aquaburst top. It kinda makes the guitar look like Scarif from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
* Satin finish. I didn’t want this one to be shiny: sometimes it feels like a glossy finish is a barrier between me and the guitar.
* Pickups. This guitar as shipped has Kiesel Lithium pickups, but I’ll be installing my Seymour Duncan Custom Shop model, the Magnetar, soon. The bridge Lithium has an Alnico V plus ceramic booster, and a DC Resistance of 13.16k, and the neck model is Alnico V with a reading of 7.78k. The Magnetar is a pickup that MJ created for me when I asked her for ‘A pickup that sounds like the look of sunshine through a glass of beer, the feel of freshly-sanded wood and the taste of creme brûlée. It has an Alnico 8 magnet and it sounds both woody and airy, with a nice kick in the upper mids. Not too hot, not too gentle. This guitar will also have the first neck version of the Magnetar, and I’m going for a Zebra look for the same reason as choosing a Zebrawood fingerboard.
* Logo. I went with a white logo with black shadow because it stands out nicely and I wanted to proudly display the Kiesel name. Also another Zebra/light-dark balance thing.
* Seven strings. You can get a Vader in 6, 7 or 8 strings in standard or baritone scale or multiscale. I selected 25.5″ 7-string because 7 feels right to me, and I tend to be most comfortable on 25.5″ 7-strings rather than longer scales because I like to think of the 7 as a 6-string with a few extra notes when I need them, rather than orienting the whole guitar design towards those lower few notes. And I went with standard instead of multiscale because my multiscale heart belongs to Ormsby Guitars. Heh.
* Tremolo. Because whammy bars is fun.

So what does one name an instrument like this, designed to evoke both natural beauty and a certain space-age aesthetic, and to hopefully serve as a catalyst for better things?

Scarif.

Kiesel Vader

How A Guitar Pedal Helped Bring BB-8 To Life

bb-8

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me you probably fell instantly in love with BB-8, that adorable spheroid critter. I love how much emotion is conveyed in his movements and voice. And it turns out a very simple guitar effect was used as part of the sound design process to imbue his vocalisations with a touch of humanity: the humble talk box. Jammed into the face of none other than SNL alumni Bill Hader. The info is contained in this great interview by Amy Ratcliffe for The Nerdist featuring supervising sound editor Matthew Woodand supervising sound editor/sound designer David Acord. Read More …

Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced

Okay, this is of course not a movie site but it’s my site and I can write the hell about whatever the hell gets me excited, right? So the official Star Wars Facebook just posted this:
The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film. Read More …

INTERVIEW: Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher

Mastodon’s Crack The Skye is a hard album to top. Heavy, progressive, psychedelic, multilayered, complex – any concept album that knits together such disparate elements as Rasputin and astral travel has gotta be followed up by something pretty big. Just like Crack The Skye, The Hunter finds Mastodon doing what they do best – combining lyrical and musical creativity – yet the approach is different, the songs are shorter, the themes less interwoven and the results more eclectic. The Hunter is a crucial album for the band. After the strength and influence of Crack The Skye, The Hunter has to prove it wasn’t a fluke – it just has to. Guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds are one of the most interesting and creative duos in modern metal, and I spoke with Kelliher a week before the album’s release. But first we have even more important matters to discuss, about a shared interest… 

(Oh, and, uh, language alert.)

Before we get into talking abut the album, there’s something I wanted to ask you because we both have this in common: what do you think about the new Star Wars Blu-ray and all the changes they’ve made?

Y’know, I’m a fuckin’ Star Wars fanatic. I’ve got all the tattoos, all the toys… It’s like Beyond Thunderdome with the fuckin’ toy collection. I didn’t really know what was going on with the Blu-rays until I paid attention. I don’t really watch too much TV. And I turned the TV on and saw a commercial for it. My buddy had just told me about the spoiler – Darth Vader saying ‘Noooooo!’ as he’s throwing the emperor off the fuckin’ thing, and he was like ‘Fuck all that, it’s a bunch of bullshit. Can’t they just leave it alone? But I’m gonna buy it anyway.’ And after I saw the fuckin’ commercials, the advertising for it on television, I was like, ‘Man, it looks so awesome!’ I’m not gonna lie, I was completely sucked in by George Lucas once again. Just the little scenes that they showed on television, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to watch the whole thing.’ I’ve already seen the movies like fifty trillion times. I’ve got them on every format – Beta, VHS, LaserDisk – you name it. I’ve got every version. And it’s a shame that they had to fuck with the originals. They should have a Blu-ray of just the original movies separately if you want to watch those. Don’t fuck with it, man. Don’t put fuckin’ Hayden Christensen in where Darth Vader’s ghost was at the end of Jedi! What the fuck is that? Everybody aged except for him? What the fuck does that mean? Why? That’s just a sell-out. It makes me mad! I can go off on that shit. I was like, ‘What is that, a Walmart fuckin’ special?’ Maybe they should have done a young Yoda. Maybe Phyllis Diller or somebody could have done that. I don’t know. It’s ridiculous!

But the thing is, when people always ask me, ‘What do you think of the new movies,’ well, they’re fuckin’ horrible, but then again I’m not an 8-year-old boy any more. And when I was an 8-year-old boy – my kids are young, my son’s name is Harrison, for god’s sake – my other son’s name is Cohen, so I’m a little nerdy with the sci fi stuff. But the thing about Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, they’re still cool to me when I’m 40 years old. The new movies to me, they’re horrible. The fuckin’ fart scenes, where one of the creates farts, the whole Jar Jar thing, it’s fuckin’ retarded. But my kids, they think it’s awesome. They’re like, ‘Wow, this is the coolest thing ever.’ And when they watch Star Wars they think it’s kind of boring. They know the characters and they’re interested, but movies have changed so much since when we were kids. I tried to watch that movie Transformers when it came out a couple of years ago, on a small television on our tour bus, and I could not even watch it, because a) there’s way too much shit going on, because kids these days need to see like 50 bazillion laser beams and explosions happening on a TV screen at once rather than an actual story, and, like, feelings and script going on. It’s just all about the action and something happening on the screen. And I couldn’t watch it. I was like, ‘I’ve got to turn this off. This is shit.’ Everything’s in focus, everything’s CGI, it doesn’t look real, I just can’t stand it. So who am I to say anything about movies these days? Let them release it. I don’t have a Blu-ray player but I’ll probably buy one just so I can watch the movies again and boo at the parts they redid.

Read More …

NEWS: GalacticBinder’s list of Star Wars/guitar crossovers

Just received an email about this cool article on GalacticBinder.com about Star Wars/guitar crossovers. As something of a Star Wars geek myself (at least, I was before I got a girlfriend, became a dad, began writing for a bunch of guitar magazines and writing a blog), I’m far too amused by this sort of stuff.

CLICK HERE to see Star Wars stuff on eBay
Or CLICK HERE to go straight to the action figures. You know you want to.