On this album, I used a lot
of min7% 5 and 7sus4 chords. I
love the sound of those chords,
and I feel they are terribly
underused in heavy rock.
milkshake-thick power chords, and then the phased, slippery leads
and straight-ahead arpeggiated solos. In your pre-Mr. Big days,
you were using an ADA MP- 1 tube rack preamp, which had something like 128 presets. How do you approach tone selection now?
Do you have a standard set of, say, 10 or 15 go-to tones, or do
you just dial things up from scratch with each song?
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I used the same amp and just a few guitars for almost the whole
record. I mostly use pedals to change sounds. I saw Frank Marino
play a club show a few years ago, and he had one of best guitar
sounds I’ve heard in a long time. I used to listen to Mahogany
Rush Live all the time when I was a kid, and Frank was legendary
for having this giant pedalboard. I still love the way pedals sound
in front of an amp, so that’s what I do. Some of my new pedal discoveries on this album were two overdrives by Majik Box. One is
a Venom Boost, and the other one was a prototype with no name.
I used them for the whole record, so they’re going to put them
together into one box and make a new signature pedal for me
called the Fuzz Universe. It’s a good name, I think!
I also used a HomeBrew Electronics UFO fuzz octave pedal, a HomeBrew
THC chorus, a HomeBrew CPR compressor and Detox EQ for clean
stuff, a Cry Baby 535Q wah, and, of course, the Phase 90 and Airplane
Flanger. And lots of Velcro to hold it all together.
The beginning of “Blue Orpheus” sounds a bit like a Brian May
tribute. Did you intend it that way? Also, the main verse guitar
tones seem to have more of a fusion feel than I’ve heard in your
past work. What was the inspiration there?
That’s a Todd Rundgren song that was originally all vocals. I tried to
stay true to Todd’s arrangement, but I used guitars instead of voices.
And I’m happy anytime I can sound like Brian May. The verse was
challenging for me, because I wanted to use the cleanest sound
possible but still have sustain. I ended up using my HomeBrew