AL SCHNIER GETS JANGLY ONSTAGE
WITH HIS ’ 74 GIBSON EDS-1275.
forth—because we’re not afraid to take chances. We’re a live band,
and we didn’t just rehearse the songs like what you hear on the
album and we have to play them that way or else we train wreck.
I think that’s what sets the genre apart and keeps the fans excited.
But an album isn’t really the place for a 20-minute guitar solo.
You guys get an amazing array of sounds on the new album.
Do you have pretty different tonal proclivities that happen to
complement each other, or are your tastes and tendencies pretty
similar and you have to work to make sure you’re both covering
different sonic territory?
Schnier: It’s a little bit of both. It’s funny, because we dance
around each other a little bit in that regard, but we’ve both been
sort of carving out our own thing, and it tends to work … for the
most part. We both lean toward different things in our choices
of what we’re going to play and what we’re going to do, sonically.
But in a lot of songs we end up in the same territory, too. It’s,
like, “Ohhh … you were going to use humbuckers and a fuzz
pedal and EL84s on this thing? Because that’s what I was going
to do, too.” And it’s, like, “Well, we can’t both do that, so maybe
I’ll use P-90s and not use a fuzz pedal, or use P-90s and a tweed
Deluxe kind of thing.”
Chuck and I are very conscious of that, and if one of us is really
onto something—really chasing something—the other one will
be respectful of that and say, “I was going to do something like
that, but clearly you’ve got this nailed down, so I’m going to try to
come up with something different.” Or, “Hey, I’m already doing
something like that, and it sounds like we’re clashing, maybe … ”
y’know what I mean? It’s instinctive at this point. I mean, I’ll show
up at the studio with one of every sort of guitar that I would want
to have, and several crates full of pedals, and one of every amp that
I would want to have. So that way, when we start playing the stuff,
I’m like, “How do I really want to approach this song?”
But that’s speaking more about when we’re recording something.
What we’re doing live just sort of happens—it’s been sort of a con-
stant evolution, and we just tend to stay out of each other’s way.
I mean, how many bands have there been with two Les Pauls and
Marshalls in the band, and it’s not really an issue anyway? When
we’re on tour, I have basically two different amps to choose from,
but I’m mostly using Vox AC30s—although I’ve started using an
old ’ 68 Marshall plexi when we’re playing in larger venues. But I
don’t necessarily want to record every song with an AC30. It’s the
same thing with guitars. I only have three or four guitars on the
road, but in the studio I can bring a Rick or a [Gibson] ES-335
with me to take things a little bit further toward the tones I’m hear-
ing in my head, instead of just approximating those things with my
main stage guitars.
Garvey: I have a very specific theory about this: I think when you
play in a band with someone for a long time, you influence each
other a little bit. It might be unconsciously, but I think that when
you hear something the other one does that you like, it sinks in and
you pick it up and start doing it maybe six months or a year later.
So, tonally, I think we kind of go in waves, but I know that being
in a two-guitar band makes me very conscious of the frequency
range that gets represented. So if Al is playing something that’s real-
ly bass-y or very clean, I might pick more of a notched frequency
in the other direction, just to contrast. And in that way, it’s a fuller
sound, and also you get a little more clarity from both things. And
if he’s playing lead, I’ll strip back and play something that’s, like,
really light and jangly—almost like an acoustic sound. You’re con-
stantly adapting to what’s going on in order to make more clarity
out of what’s going on. We do most of our playing onstage, but in
the studio it’s easier to figure things out.
As far as specific gear choices, when we first started, I think we
both played single-coil guitars. I played a Strat for a really long
time, and Al had a P- 90 guitar. He started with humbuckers a lot
earlier than I did, and then about eight years ago I started using
humbuckers more. Then he eventually went to Telecasters for a
while. So I think it’s that thing where both of us want something
new, and then you learn after layering the guitars what might
sound better in that context. In the studio this time, I did something weird—I got into the studio and I totally changed my operating procedure. I was making it up on the spot, and I had some
things that I’m not psyched about, but on the other hand I had
some happy accidents. We worked so quickly that I really didn’t
have a lot of time to think about it. It was pretty much just throw
and go. We were working so quickly that the guitars sounded like
one thing in the room with the amp, but in the actual recording it
sounded like something different when we went in to listen to it.
Like, there were parts where I would have a really treble-shy tone—
something that was more fuzzy and murky—and when Al switched
to a Marshall that had more headroom than his usual AC30, it
ended up being very complementary.
Chuck, what do you mean when you say you changed your