FEATURE > LEE RANALDO
Guitars: Fender Lee Ranaldo Signature Jazzmaster (third from
left), various Fender “Jazzblasters” (Jazzmasters with Wide Range
humbuckers), Saul Koll Jazzmaster-style semi-hollowbody (far left,
note the behind-the-bridge pickup), Jarrell JZH-1x (second from left),
Fender Telecaster Deluxe (second from right)
Amps: Fender Super Reverb, Fender Deluxe, Ampeg Jet, ZT Lunchbox
Effects: Ibanez AD- 80 analog delay, BJF Electronics Honey
Bee, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive
Strings and Picks: Ernie Ball strings (various gauges,
depending on tuning), Jim Dunlop picks
“Hoarfrost” [from SY’s A Thousand
Leaves]—pieces that feel pretty solitary.
Is there an appeal in those structures as a
I do love to hear a lot of tonality and the
interplay of notes. That comes from playing
a lot of acoustic guitar, which I’ve always
done. And those spare arrangements are a
great way to get down deep into that interplay. We rarely let ourselves get as delicate as
“Hoarfrost” in Sonic Youth, though. But
that might be my favorite recording of one of
my songs in the whole Sonic Youth catalog.
THURSTON [MOORE] AND I HAVE REALLY DIALED
IN OUR TONES IN RECENT YEARS—THOUGH I THINK
OUR REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS THAT WE GOT
BETTER AT MIXING OUR GUITARS TOGETHER.
mix—“put those two here, take me out there,
then me and Alan there”—those kinds of
things. I really, really enjoyed that part of it.
There’s a lot of guitar-generated ambi-
ence on this record.
That came from layering the three of us.
I knew what I wanted for a rhythm bed,
but then Alan and Nels were so good with
countermelodies that there was a lot of stuff
to play with. So it came down to this really
fun process of layering and arranging in the
“Xtina as I Knew Her” seems to have very
That one is the most layered. It was just a
rhythm track, then Alan came in and put
some chordal stuff on it and very purpose-
fully didn’t play in some sections. Then Nels
put on the fiery riffs and we traded back
and forth on the leads—mine were more
Neil Young-like and his were more fluid.
But as dense as it sounds, it’s not quite as
wall-of-sound as it might seem. It’s just a
few guitars playing off a rhythm section and
then John Agnello, who mixed the thing,
used a lot of short delay to spread the tracks
out a bit—it almost makes it kind of a blur.
Did you use any new gear or consciously
try to differentiate this record from a Sonic
Youth record from a sound perspective?
No, I didn’t think about it like that. I
played a lot of my “Jazzblasters” [Fender
Jazzmasters customized with Fender
Wide Range humbuckers from old Tele
Thinlines], which have a very strong