True, but when we started Something for
Everybody, I said “Let’s play like a band,
everyday.” Everybody said, “Yeah, that’s
what we need to do!” And we did it for
exactly one day. In my opinion, there
wasn’t enough real jamming. The album
was essentially assembled in pieces using
[MOTU] Digital Performer or [Apple] Logic
by whomever was in the studio at the time.
“So Fresh” sounds like classic Devo.
When we first tracked that song, I put a different solo—a more contemporary-sound-ing one—on it. But John Hill and Santigold
[Santi White] came in to help produce the
song, and Santigold said, “No Bob, don’t
you remember your lead in ‘Be Stiff’?
You’ve got to do something exactly like
that.” So I thought about it for a minute
and said, “Wow, you really know your Devo
history.” Then I went back into the studio
and whipped out a solo, a là “Be Stiff.”
Do you remember which guitar and amp
you used for that track?
I used the Rickenbacker and WEM amp, as
well as a little handheld Radio Shack amp
that John Hill had brought in. I also used
the Ibanez Spud guitar.
The riff on “Mind Games” is awesome, too.
I really like “Mind Games” because I play
a guitar part all the way through it. After
recording it I thought, “I know what would
really make this cool.” So I took another
track and doubled the whole part an octave
higher. I’m pleased every time I hear it.
Care to comment on some older songs?
“Girl U Want”—great riff. How did you
get the guitar sound on that track?
The meat of the sound is the Ibanez Spud
guitar, which has active electronics. I
cranked up the midrange on the guitar, as
well as the amp, which was an Acoustic that
graphic EQ. I did weird things with the EQ,
like making designs and patterns with the
GEAR U WANT
Ed Marshall has been Mothersbaugh’s guitar tech and Devo’s
stage manager for nine years. Before that, he wrangled gear for
SoCal punk outfit TSOL and worked with guitarist and inventor Buzz Feiten. Marshall also fronts a nine-piece band called
The Ooks of Hazzard, which features seven ukuleles, accordion,
and cajon. Marshall was kind enough to fill in some info on
Mothersbaugh’s guitars and live rig.
“Bob’s Gibson Custom Shop Mike Bloomfield Les Paul hasn’t
been modified in any way,” says Marshall. “He uses GHS strings
(GBXL .009–.042) on this guitar. The ’ 64 SG Standard has P-90s
and a Gibson Vibrola. I removed the pearl-handled vibrato bar.
The SG came along on the tour as a backup for the Les Paul. So
far, Bob has never used it, but it sure is nice to prep everyday.”
As for Mothersbaugh’s treasured G&L SC-2s, Marshall says, “Bob
loves them—he owns between six and ten. His favorite two are
the white ones he has toured with for more than 20 years. One
has a whammy, and he uses it whenever ‘Gut Feeling’ is on the
set list. The SC-2s are stock, and Bob likes GHS GBL .010–.046
strings on them.”
Regarding the more bizarre guitars used in the Devo repertoire, Marshall says Mothersbaugh’s ’ 67 La Baye 2x4 has been
glued back together and reinforced several times because it
gets major abuse. “Since he breaks all the strings [GHS GBXL
.009–.042s] every time he plays it, I seated the whammy bar
spring with hot glue and tie wrapped it. I also keep some extra
Kluson tuners and string ferrules on hand.” As for the Ibanez
Spud guitar, Marshall says it has been through multiple world
tours—as well as a couple of decades in limbo. “It has an Ibanez
active pickup system, and it’s so tough that, after all those years
of abuse, it has only needed a volume pot replacement.”
Beyond guitars, Mothersbaugh began using a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx system on the first day of the Something for Everybody tour.
“We go direct out of the Fractal Audio into a splitter, and use a
monitor wedge behind him with just his guitar sound,” Marshall
explains. “Bob uses a footswitch to jump between his main
sound and a lead channel, and I dial in settings for each song
from behind the scenes. I also patch a Tube Screamer in line
when he uses the La Baye 2x4 for ‘Mr. DNA,’ but on the next
tour we will use a MIDI pedalboard to give him full control.”
To enable free movement onstage, Mothersbaugh plugs into
a wireless Brace Audio unit. “We just tried out the new DWG-
1000x, which reject radio interference and still produces a clear
sound. We are all very happy with its performance.”