Strings ‘n Things #22- Sofa King

Here again to fill the blog-shaped hole in your heart, today on Strings ‘n Things the fidelity is lo but the bar is hi- it’s the sumptuous sounds of Sofa King

As a straight, white, male in a band in Birmingham, UK, I think that it is safe to say that there are plenty of straight, white, male bands from Birmingham, UK. Which is also to say that as a whole, our indie scene is pretty cis male heavy. I do not mean that as a slight against the aforementioned groups, but let’s not pretend that it’s a well-rounded gaggle of rockers. But things have been changing- slowly and surely. From the likes of Grl Gang Brum and Brum Girl Skate providing platforms for girls and other marginalised genders in cultural communities where they have been otherwise under or even misrepresented, or the efforts of promoters such as This Is Tmrw, Supersonic and Kaleidoscope to host more gender-balanced line-ups, it feels like the days of Birmingham’s music scene being a boys’ club may, fingers crossed, be numbered. But smashing patriarchy is one thing- making art that stands on its own feet regardless is another. With Sofa King, Dianne heavily blurs the lines between her art and her own existence- they have a symbiotic relationship, as does that of the best artists and their work. Her discography does not sound exclusively contemporary- there’s a heavy hypnagogic pop influence, and a retro futurism that could have you mistakenly believing you’d stumbled upon some forgotten gem of the mid 2000’s Paw Tracks roster, or some Todd Rundgren deep cuts. It almost feels underwhelming to get the skinny on her guitar equipment- throughout her work it’s the gorgeous, modulating synths and kitschy keyboards that take the centre stage- with latest release Don’t Let the Capitalists Win calling to mind the lo-fi musings of Grouper and Panda Bear, but with a heavy dose of existential dread in mix. It’s the kind of work that makes you ask “who is this individual and what the hell is going on in there?”- which is exactly what our fair city needs in the golden era of Foals-lite festival fodder. So see this more as a chronicle of Dianne’s humble beginnings rather than a deep dive into her djentiverse- and then go drink up her discography with untethered thirst.

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.

“My very first guitar was some kind of nylon string acoustic, I was so young at the time I definitely had no idea what I was doing so just ran round the house hitting out of tune strings until I lost it somehow (or confiscated, but I’ll say ‘lost’ as it’s nicer). Then I started playing drums and decided to become a rhythm section, baby, and begged my parents for a bass- which is probably why I feel like bass is my spiritual home. Then a series of basses followed, culminating in a Japanese Fender Precision from the 90’s (now sold) and a Japanese Mustang which was originally white but is now sort of an orange/red colour, as well as a custom-built bass with a humbucker. In terms of six-strings, I returned to the nylon acoustic, and then my teenage desire to make noise drew me to an Epiphone SG and then a Fender Strat (white on white, baby) both of which I still have. There are others, but the one that I let go and miss most is a Westone, which was just the loveliest lil’ shredder I ever did use.”


Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?

“My Dad introduced me to The Clash, which is a very Dad thing to do, like falling asleep in front of football or mowing the lawn. They’re the band that I most closely associate with early memories of wanting to play the guitar specifically. Rinsing London Calling over and over, and thinking how cool Paul Simonon looked on the artwork, I think that’s where it all started, but then childhood memories are hard for me to grasp onto.

In terms of continued inspiration, a handful of modern artists are important to me when it comes to pushing guitar into new territories of sound and its role in songwriting. Cate Le Bon and Aldous Harding are in there for their use of tones and melodies specifically inherent to guitars, whilst other influences like Connan Mockasin and Kirin J. Callinan take guitars and bring in new textures and sounds to turn them into something they’re not- without it becoming a gimmick.”


Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.

“I don’t even know what to say about my music anymore- it’s sort of a desire to push out in all directions at once. I guess what I’ve put out there generally falls into to that dreampop/synthpop area, with a gothic bent bringing the danger, and with a tendency to favour rhythms over melody. Guitar has usually occupied a textural space- very rarely being at the forefront of anything. Sometimes it hits that link between harmony and rhythm- like a bass in the upper registers. I think my approach is less ‘melodies and riffs’, and more ‘harmonies and rhythms’.”


What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?

“I tend not to use amps outside of a live situation! I like the sound of DI’d guitar best- it feels more honest, plus there’s always the option of running it back through an amp always being there if I need it. On those rare occasions where I am on stage playing guitar, I run stereo into a Fender Vaporizer and a Roland JC-40 (or, if I’m being lazy, just stereo into the Roland). Pedals are a whole lot more important! The chain currently runs:

Boss TU-3 > Boss PS-6 > Danelectro Cool Cat Metal > Digitech Digiverb > Rat clone > Boss PH-3 > Boss DD-7 > Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine > Electro Harmonix Neo Clone, and a compressor sometimes if I feel like adding a pedal that doesn’t do anything at all.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?

“The Neo Clone from my current setup, it just adds nice texture and can do a whole lot with just a knob and a switch.”


What’s your current main guitar, and why so?

“Probably the five dollar nylon string guitar I found in an op-shop in Warrandyte- you can’t play any higher than the 8th fret but it sounds real nice. It’s easier to pick up and pick out chords and intervals that I like. I need immediacy because I will balk at the slightest sign of a hurdle.”


Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?

“Rose Davies fucking shreds, I feel very blessed that she has been playing with Sofa King, far too talented to be wasting time with my dinky little tunes. Matt Jenkins (Tremorsz) is tight as hell- he always seems to know exactly what he wants out of a setup. Thom Edward (God Damn) knows exactly what heavy means, more deeply than anyone I know. And you gotta give it up for Scott Abbott (Table Scraps), dude built a Flying V -Strat, crazy bastard.”


If you could play any venue anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?  

“The Tote Hotel in Melbourne because people are actually allowed to go to shows in Australia! Fuck our government. Fuck Boris.”

Where can we find your music?

“It’s all available for free on my bandcamp, and then the usual Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Trying to figure out if I can get it off of Amazon Music.”

Strings ‘n Things #21- Matters

Let’s not even bother with the COVID-19 jokes. Your favourite blog on the Bham scene is back on your screen- and this week we’ve got one of the city’s most forward-thinking guitarists to spill his techy, midi-synced secrets- Stuart of Matters.

Due to generally being people about town, there was a fair bit of buzz around Matters before they even started. I vividly remember standing on the stairs of The Sunflower Lounge for one of their very earliest shows- it was the kind of ‘holy shit’ moment that stuck to the sides of your skull past their last note, past closing time, past the hazy taxi ride home, past the slurred recounting of their brilliance endured by my girlfriend before bed, past the hangover the next morning. In fact the moment never really passed at all- a few years on and they’re still incessantly vital feeling- a real shot in the arm for Birmingham’s independent music scene. And the reason why- they’re not simply yet another a guitar band. They make art that is best experienced in their multi-media live set- combining their head-expanding electronica with a visual show that transforms any toilet venue stage into a raving feast for the senses. Stuart’s approach is more akin to that of sound designer than riff merchant- weaving dissonant & distorted between the bludgeoning bass and wild LFO oscillations of Brid’s monstrous Moog Sub 37 (often supplemented by any number of other synth devices all synced up to the same clock source). There’s something dystopian to their sound- an unsettling urgency that reminds us we can’t outrun what we’ve got coming our way. Anyway, enough doomsday prophecies; let’s get electric!

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.

“I started on an old acoustic. Following that I borrowed an electro acoustic, plus a small amplifier. I have no idea what make/model, but I accidentally discovered overdrive with those. From there I had a Squier Stratocaster and a solid state Peavy Bandit. I still have the Bandit! As I had no one to guide me, and the internet didn’t exist, I was sucked in by numerous terrible guitars – an Ibanez with a floating tremolo, a Les Paul-shaped Stagg, some Dean thing, and generally a whole bunch of stuff that never stayed in tune. I went to an older Squier Telecaster Custom for Das Bastard – it did a great job. In Them Wolves I used an Eastwood Airline Map, and then for Matters I moved to an Eastwood 3P before finally ending up on my Revelation RJT-60 bass VI.”


Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?


“I really can’t say that anyone inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place. It was an accident. I wanted to play an instrument, and as we had this old two-tier organ in the house I started organ lessons. Obviously I was the coolest child in my primary school! After a few years a kid from the next street attempted to smash my skull in with a rock, but I protected my head with my right hand and he smashed that instead. That put a stop to my organ lessons and I was granted access to the aforementioned acoustic in the loft- seeing as I could just about hold a plectrum. 
When we started Matters we were inspired by Suuns, Holy Fuck and The Field– especially the aforementioned’ s live set up. I’m always really impressed by Daniel Fox of Girl Band. Jamming with Brid (synths) inspires me to keep pushing myself.”

 
Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.
“We make, for the most part, instrumental electronic music. We sit on the dance/electronic side of things. I would have hated the idea of this band when I was a thrash metal loving teenager! When Matters started I was approaching it very differently to how I am now- for the first release or so it was much more ‘rock’ guitars with synths, but since switching to the bass VI, the music has shifted. Our single ‘Hannah’, was the start of that. I will always find it a challenge to be a guitarist playing techno/trance/dance, especially when it comes to not repeating myself or sticking to a formula. I enjoy that though.”

What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise? 

“It’s a lot of Boss, and I’m not sorry! GLX bass EQ> Boss SD-1 > EHX Attack Decay > TC Electronic Sub ‘n Up > EHX Blurst > Boss MD-500 > Boss DD-500 > Boss RV-500.
My modulation, reverb and delay are all midi clocked to Brid’s synths. 
My amp is a Roland JC120. Big and clean. It copes with the highs and lows of the VI really well.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?

“The Boss DD-500. I know that are other pedals out there that offer midi connection, and the ability to write patches using pedal to computer hook up – but this is the one I use. It has never failed me.” 

What’s your current main guitar, and why so?

“My main guitar is my bass VI, which is a Revelation RJT60-B. I’ve had it for a good few years, and initially started using it just to double up on some of my regular guitar parts in the studio. After those first couple of releases we wanted to take the band in a different direction, and I found that using only the VI gave me the sonic shift I was looking for. It is a cheap guitar- £140 at the time. The intonation isn’t great – but we feel that helps us keep the organic sound we have. It sits really well with Brid’s synths. I wouldn’t swap it with anything.”

Photo probably by Sam Wood!

Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?

“Anyone that is creating their own style and place has my admiration, and there are many in Birmingham- Anna and Meesh from Dorcha to Adam and Thomas from Hoopla Blue, Kaila from Youth Man/Pretty Grim/Blue Ruth. We are soon releasing a track that features Kaila.  I spent years standing opposite Greg Coates when we were in Das Bastard and Them Wolves – big sound and great riffs.”

If you could play any venue anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?

“Given the current situation, I would be very happy to play The Hare and Hounds tomorrow!”

 
Where can we find your music?

“We put a lot of effort into making our own videos, so it’s always nice when people find us through our Youtube channel.
Other than that it’s all the usual– bandcamp and Spotify.

Gearholics Anonymous #4- Martin

We’re chomping at the bit to re-open again once lockdown lifts on Wednesday! We don’t know about you, but we’re dearly missing being thoroughly surrounded by the objects of our affection (family be damned). Last up in our gear-itis chronicles is the main man himself- Martin.

What’s your first memory of realising you might have more than simply a passing interest in guitars?

“My first memory is receiving a plastic Beatles guitar in cream and red (with matching black plastic Beatles wig) when I was about 5 or 6. It was the size of a Ukelele with four nylon strings. After that, it was Top of The Pops circa 1972 seeing Mick Ronson with David Bowie doing Starman.”

What was your first electric guitar and amp?

“A Top Twenty made in Japan in red sunburst- £16.50 from Musical Exchanges in August 1973 – when they were on Broad Street. Gary Chapman sold it to me (my Mom, that is). Next was an Avon Telecaster copy that had been stripped and had the edges of the body painted white. First amp was a beige AC15 from circa 1960, which I wish I still had! I swapped it for a Sound City Concord because the latter was louder (but sounded like a tray of cutlery being thrown down a fire escape).”

Who were the primary influences on your gear and technique during your formative years?

“In no particular order- Mick Green, Wilko Johnson, Mick Ronson, the Quo, Hank Marvin, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Brian May.

How many guitars do you currently own?

“Currently, including all the shop stock, about 300!”

What’s your biggest gear-related regret?

“Letting the aforementioned AC15 go, and also a ’77 Telecaster Custom that I sold to buy Christmas presents a long time ago.”

Desert island time- one guitar, one amp, one pedal…

“Strat, an AC30 and my Ibanez Super Tube Screamer

Why that particular guitar for your desert island choice?

“A Strat because you can do most things with it, and it has a tremolo. It’d probably be my Tokai Silverstar in Olympic White with rosewood board, big CBS headstock & four bolt neck- all stock, no mods.”

You win the lottery and may make one gear-related purchase only…

“It would have to be an early 70’s blonde Telecaster with maple neck. Not too heavy though, please!”

Impart some wisdom to fellow gear hounds…

“If you want to cut through playing live, dial back the gain on your amp/pedal, use the mid control on the amp and don’t have too much bass. Also, practice with a higher action than you would usually prefer- it will sound better and make you play better. Always stretch your strings when you change them. Buy good quality leads and patch leads if you use pedals!”

Gearholics Anonymous #3- James

What’s weirder- that this writer is finally interviewing himself, or that is has taken this long? Burning questions be soothed- here is my own long-awaited tell-all.

What’s your first memory of realising you might have more than simply a passing interest in guitars?

“I was always an obsessive child- firstly it was sharks and dinosaurs, then skateboards, so it figures that I’m now down this particular wormhole and have been unable to crawl out. I vividly remember using the library computers around age 12/13 to join the Ultimate Guitar forums, trawl through Musicians Friend, and gather any titbit of info I could about Kurt Cobain’s equipment. The gear used was always intrinsic to the music made by it for me, right from the beginning. There was something about it that elevated its user- like a transformative appendage.”

What was your first electric guitar and amp?

“A totally classic combo- the ubiquitous Squier Affinity Strat (full thickness body, small headstock) and a Vox Valvetronix 15 amp. That amp served me well for many years, the Strat I never really gelled with. I broke the high e within 10 seconds of handling it…”

Who were the primary influences on your gear and technique during your formative years?

“Like so many I started on a cheap classical guitar and would pick things up by ear. By the Way was big and I was mad on RHCP, but it was the s/t Nirvana greatest hits compilation that blew my tiny little brain. Hearing that for the first, second, eightieth time was a truly mind-altering experience. I bought a Nirvana tab & cd book from a music shop in Stamford and went to town. Soon after that, it was Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains who got me into playing more riff-based stuff, as well as Master of Puppets. I only really developed my own ‘voice’ around age 19/20 when I started getting into more ‘indie’ stuff, alternate tunings etc. There is nothing more exciting that hearing music that makes you want to redefine your own approach. I love intertwining players- Verlaine/Lloyds, Kokal/Wayman, Moore/Ranaldo, but also hate the logistics/egotistical strain of being in a band with another big-headed guitar player, so I’ve drawn my own style heavily from Ira Kaplan, Roger Miller, J. Mascis et al. I couldn’t afford any additional gear until I was about 21, so you could say I’m making up for lost time.”

How many guitars do you currently own?

“The lowly number of 4, plus an acoustic and a bass! 2 p90-equipped Tokai LPs, my Marr Jaguar, a G&L ASAT (Esquire), 80’s Greco P-bass and a folk-sized acoustic. I’ve had lots come and go- from Jazzmasters to Jacksons, but I’ve not the space or finances to justify stuff hanging around sadly. However, the ones I’ve currently got are the result of years of playing different guitars and knowing exactly what I want in a recording setting. And I’m also having a Champagne Sparkle Jaguar with Firebird pickups built which has me just a little, tiny bit bursting with anticipation. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to having my own signature model.”

What’s your biggest gear-related regret?

“Mainly offloading stuff simply to pay bills- but the one that comes to mind is my ’72 Fender Musicmaster. It was a dog but was ever so charming and sounded absolutely fantastic. You could wriggle the neck around in the pocket, and it was a truly utilitarian piece- stripped to the wood and with just one neck pickup (which was supposedly a prototype SD, but it sounded very much like a late 60’s Strat). Gaffa-tape “strap locks” and all. I wrote all my early Mutes stuff on it- much like a Tele it was free of fancy distractions and just encouraged you to make music, rather than play rock riffs (Les Paul), do dive bombs (anything with a trem) or make atonal nonsense (Jaguar 3rd bridge techniques). Sadly, Musicmaster prices are going the way of the Sun so it looks like I will have to scrounge a little longer before I may get another. I miss it very, very much.”

Desert island time- one guitar, one amp, one pedal…

“My Fender Johnny Marr Jaguar, a RAT, and a Fender Princeton (preferably a ’68 drip edge Silverface with a Ragin’ Cajun speaker to increase the volume whilst handling pedals like a beaut). That could do so much- verb n trem for surfing, cranked up amp for crunching, maxed-out RAT for burning.”

Why that particular guitar for your desert island choice?

“My Jaguar is an odd guitar- not ideal in many ways (no sustain, plunky, pokey and sometimes shrill) but it reacts superbly to any and all pedals and is practically indestructible. The Bareknuckle pickups are super low output, so it seems to impart less of its own character and let your pedals and amp do more work- it’s malleable. I use a lot of stupid tunings and the Jag just handles them all without going out of wack or anything. I’ve thrown it across stages, ripped off the strings, repeatedly bashed it into amps for 5 years now and it’s had nothing more than a fret dress in the cowboy-chord area.”

You win the lottery and may make one gear-related purchase only…

“For investment purposes I’d go with a CBS Strat, but for my own personal enjoyment I’d probably go with some kind of ’65-’66 Jaguar. Preferably Burgundy Mist with dots & binding and a matching headstock. I’d have to play a few to make sure it was the right one- the pickups vary so wildly between examples! I played a ’71 Jag in Brighton once that had the most sonorous, sweet, bell-like neck pickup I have ever heard. It was magical. But the bridge pickup was a flaccid, weedy piece of crap… so I’d need to go hunting.”

Impart some wisdom to fellow gear hounds…

“Do not be afraid to steal, mix and match- whether it be gear, techniques, pedal order etc. Every truly “original” player has generally stolen from many places to develop their own sound- whether that be from imitating other guitar players or attempting to emulate the sound of other instruments entirely. S-, steal unashamedly in principle and attempt to distort the influence in practice. And never, ever buy anything with a Floyd Rose.”

Gearholics Anonymous #2- Ges

The UK may be at a standstill once more, but our insatiable lust for all things gear just will not cease regardless. We are harkening back to where the trouble all started, as the TLGS team get all reminiscent about their own journeys from guitar-curious adolescents to full-on Fender freaks, Gibson goons, Ricky sickos and generally possessing a perversion for every brand in-between. This week we have Ges on the chez long.

What’s your first memory of realising you might have more than simply a passing interest in guitars?

“In my first after-school job there were two secondhand shops nearby (pre-Cash Converters) and they always had guitars in the windows. My lasting memory is of two Japanese-made CSL/ Ibanez- one Telecaster-style, one Stratocaster-style. Both were in (ambrosia rice pudding) Olympic White and both had maple necks. Just stunning!”

What was your first electric guitar and amp?


“My first electric guitar was a Kay Tulip– 3-pickups with a tremolo (Bigsby-ish). 3-tone sunburst with a floral pattern around the black pickguard. It had 3 slider switches that turned each of the pickups on. The electronics were awful ,but the neck was great! My first amp was a 15-watt transistor type. 1 input , and I think it had a 10″ speaker (from a Ford Cortina) Sold to me from Yardley’s by Mr John Thomas (Budgie) for a then-eye-watering £25.”

No description available.


Who were the primary influences on your gear and technique during your formative years?


“I was a big fan of Jeff Beck and Paul Kossof. But I had two real heroes in music. First was my uncle, Noel Casey- he was like my big brother. He played bass for a lot of bands in Limerick and his house was always filled with musos and wonderous instruments (incl. a Levin Goliath, 60’s Fender basses & a piano), as well as some great albums!”
“Closer to home, it would have been Pete Oliver. I had known Pete for years through various shops he had worked in, and had also worked with him at Musos on Hurst St. He was one of Birmingham’s finest guitarists, and a gent!”

How many guitars do you currently own?


“One less than I think I need.”

What’s your biggest gear-related regret?


“Not buying a Gibson J200 that we had in the shop last year (along with a few other people who tried it and later came back a little too late)!”


Desert island time- one guitar, one amp, one pedal…

“My blonde Tokai es-335, Musicman 212 sixty five amp, and my Òkko Diablo Plus distortion”

Why that particular guitar for your desert island choice?

“It’s very versatile and will cover practically all styles (if it works for Larry Carlton what’s not to like?)”

You win the lottery and may make one gear-related purchase only…


“A Dumble!

 
Impart some wisdom to fellow gearholics.

“Don’t be afraid to try unfamiliar brands- they may surprise you! Ask the guys and girls at the store what they like or dislike about gear- such as reliability, value & build quality. It could save you a lot of time and money!”

Gearholics Anonymous #1- Rob

After speaking to so many incredible local guitarists for our ‘Strings ‘n Things’ blog, we felt it was time to turn inward, and so we are giving the good people what they didn’t even know they wanted. It’s time to meet the stars behind the walls-of-guitars- the TLGS team!

As lockdown v 2.0 holes us all up in our homes once again, never fear- we are here to provide you with some much-needed escapism. Delve into the catacombs of Rob’s strat-addled brain as he gives us the scoop on his own personal journey through the infinitely-expanding universe that is being a guitar-nut.

What’s your first memory of realising you might have more than simply a passing interest in guitars?


“When I kept drawing pictures of Stratocasters in my school books.”


What was your first electric guitar and amp?

“A Kay sunburst coloured guitar that didn’t work electrically, and a reel-to-reel tape recorder set to ‘PA’ with it’s microphone elastic banded to the top ‘horn’- buffered by a plastic sunglasses case to cut down on the rattles. (kids today don’t know they’re born!)”


Who were the primary influences on your gear and technique during your formative years?

“The ‘vintage’ clip of Jimi Hendrix on the Lulu Show shown on the Old Grey Whistle Test, the book called ‘Lead Guitar’ which had just the blues scale and some 7th chords, and the blues in general. (I’m still waiting to be ‘formed’.)”


How many guitars do you currently own?

“About three or four less than I intend to own.”


What’s your biggest gear-related regret?

“No one big regret, just the missing of some tasty things which I couldn’t afford at the time.”


Desert island time-one guitar, one amp, one pedal…?

“Stratocaster (preferably CBS 4-bolt style), possibly a small Fender amp, but most likely my 50watt Marshall non-master volume head and cab because as it’s a desert island I can play it at the volume intended – flat out! And a Uni-Vibe.”


Why that particular guitar for your desert island choice?

“Because despite Stephen Hawking saying the centre of the universe is a super-massive black hole, it’s actually a Stratocaster.”

You win the lottery and may make one gear-related purchase only…?

“Probably a Jim Klacik Unique-Vibe, or another mint condition original Uni-Vibe.

Impart some wisdom to fellow gear hounds…

“Don’t be fooled by or hung up on brand names (to not name the obvious two), you can get a far better example of a guitar if you look into what the guitar in your hands IS, not what’s written on it’s head. Unlike “when I were a lad”, with today’s quality and value for money there’s no reason to have a s**t guitar!”

Strings ‘n Things #20- The New Righteous Mood

After what feels like an eternity away, we’re back in the saddle with another unmissable edition of the world’s premier blog for all things ever. And it is with unbridled joy and furious anticipation that we welcome one of Birmingham’s most charming new groups- the slacker-rock-worshipping doll faces of The New Righteous Mood

The faces in TNRM should be familiar to anyone who has been kicking the shit around our most beloved indie venues for a while now- with guitarist/vocalist (and visual artist) Tommy Greaves causing all kind of ruckus with the briefly-burning-bright wonderboys Wide Eyed & Gleam, and even adding a touch of class to The Twang for a short while. Drummer George is a multi-instru-mentalist, previously providing lush ambience as guitarist in the late Prayers, whilst guitarist/vocalist Huw was also the tub-hitter in the aforementioned Gleam. My how these guys get around- but despite their musical promiscuity, they all seem to have really hit their strides in TNRM. Drawing their primary inspiration from the post 9/11 NYC bloom of notably looser indie rock, you can place their sound firmly in the camp of The Strokes, Parquet Courts, Vivian Girls et al. Melodious and gleefully free of most technicalities, the likes of ‘Sleep Walker’ may not be earth-shatteringly complex, but they’ve been crafted with a nose for hooks and soothing, sonic satisfaction. Like chocolate fudge cake. Their debut EP A Few Righteous Tunes is out now, so wolf it down ever so quick and then join us as we float away on the river of riffs.

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.

Tommy: “My first guitar was a Hohner classical, acoustic but my first proper electric was a Musicman Axis Sport which I still have. I’ve bought and sold so many that it’s hard to keep track, but a few of my current favourites are my American Professional Jazzmaster, Jazzmaster 60’s Roadworn, a 90’s Rickenbacker 330 and my trusted modded (and pretty abused) Classic Player Jaguar.”

Huw: “I started with a really rubbish Argos classical guitar when I was 10 but a few years later got myself a Fender 50’s ri Telecaster which began my love of all things Fender. These days I play a Telecaster Custom– can’t beat that bridge pickup twang.”

Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?

T: “I started playing when my Mom and Dad wanted me to get a hobby as a kid- as I didn’t play any sports and just drew on my own most of the time. When I first started I pretty much exclusively listened to Hip-Hop, so playing definitely opened up my musical tastes. Favourite players growing up were Marr and Shields. Lately I love Max Kakacek’s playing in Whitney, and the sounds the guys in Fontaines D.C get.”

H: “Probably play guitar because of my Mom- she’d play Beatles songs to my sister and I as kids and we’d try to play/sing along. I was obsessed with Johnny Marr and Peter Buck growing up, but recently I’ve been inspired by Bill Ryder Jones and Buck Meek.”

Tommy with Huw’s Tele.

Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.

T: “I tend not to think about it too much within my own art. Generally when I try and do something like a certain artist I like I end up getting a bit stuck. My Bloody Valentine definitely inspired me to use pedals to create sounds a guitar isn’t usually responsible for.”

H: “TNRM is a pretty guitar driven band, we formed with a love of bands like Guided By Voices and The Strokes– both bands whose sound relies on two interweaving guitarists. Tommy and I are both pretty busy players, so finding a way to compliment each other’s contributions is always fun to figure out.”

What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?

T: “Guitar: Fender AP Jazzmaster , Fender Roadworn Jazzmaster

Amp: Fender Blues Jr with a Celestion Vintage 30

Pedals: Colorsound Fuzz Box, MXR Sugardrive, Maxon TS, EHX Hog, Boss DM3, Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine, EQD Transmisser, Boss RV5.”

H: “Guitar: Fender Telecaster Custom

Amp: Marshall Origin 20 or an Orange TH30

Pedals: EHX Soul Food, Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive, Death By Audio Fuzz War (revoltingly fun), Boss DM-3, EHX Holy Grail.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?

T: “If I could only take one pedal to a show it would definitely be a DM-3.”

H: “That Boss DM-3 is nearly always providing some slapback.”

What’s your current main guitar, and why so?

T: “Both my Jazzmasters. After playing a Jaguar for so long I thought that was the guitar for me, but after playing JM’s long enough I found myself far more at home on them.”

H: “The Fender Telecaster Custom I bought off Tommy. The mix of the wide range humbucker in the neck and the twang of a Tele bridge pickup really does it for me. I’m in the market for a short scale like a Mustang or a Lead II next.” 

Huw with Tommy’s Tele. Not confusing at all.

Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?

T: “I’d say Aaron Buckell who plays for the also very talented Robert Craig Oulton, and James Attwood of Hunger Moon. Both are very tasteful guitarists who makes it look effortless.”

H: “I really enjoyed watching the guys from Brain Food when we played with them. Some serious guitar chops in that band!”

Where can we find your music and see you play next?  

H: “Fuck knows.”

T: “Our music is up on all major streaming platforms. Best place to check it out is Spotify so we can appease the algorithm. As for lives shows, that’s a touchy subject!”

Strings ‘n Things #19- Victories at Sea

It’s a Friday and that can only mean two things here at The Little Guitar Shop- #1 Rob’s 4-day weekend is already underway and #2 it’s time for another Brum strummer to give up the goods on the cutlery they use when dining at the table of rock.

Anyone who’s more than a passing ghost in the Birmingham muso world will have undoubtedly have been serenaded by JP at some point- he is not only an infinitely supportive champion of local up and coming bands as part of promoters This Is Tmrw, but has also been pulling on the strings of our blackened hearts for nearly a decade now with the much-lauded Victories At Sea. They’re cinematic, panoramic, gothic, fantastique! Fittingly, JP’s sound is a dense, swirling, modulated mass of arpeggios and ocean-sized chords- a beautiful union of the shoegaze and post-punk influences that have stirred him since those halcyon days of the 90’s. And it’s clearly hitting the mark both at home and abroad- the band have toured Europe with the likes of Editors and recently released their 2nd LP through Gentleman Records to deserved acclaim. Lose yourself in ‘Follow You’ below and then dive in with us.

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.

“Around 11 years old I was lucky enough to be bought my first guitar, a Tanglewood acoustic- nothing fancy but it’s still a treasured possession that fires out a heavy output of my ideas, guess it’s my ‘go to guitar’ still for getting what’s in my head late at night onto paper. Couple years later I made the classic purchase of a Rockwood Strat copy in glorious sunburst with a Laney amp. No idea why I bought a Strat copy as I’ve always hated the shape (take that Clapton), but it was cheapish and I could pay it off monthly like a positive debt. That did me much good service in my first couple of college bands before I smashed it up at a gig in Aberystwyth in my wannabe JJ72 days- pretty sad I did that now. After that I went through a many terrible purchases (Epiphone Riviera, couple of Epi Les Pauls) but I’ll cut to the king: The Fender Telecaster Custom ’72ri, all black and absolutely my favourite guitar ever! That did me good for a few years until it was stolen in London after a soundcheck, which I’m still mourning. I’ve never been one for replacing like for like- it was like losing a cat and replacing the poor sod with another- the personality was lost. It was also uninsured, but luckily in the preceding months I’d acquired a white Fender Telecaster Deluxe as a back up. I never took to it much until VAS began in 2010 when it really fitted and has since become my number one (though on occasion it does get bullied out the way by my Gretsch G5420T, which is a lovely problem to have). Other than that, there’s a Fender Jaguar Special HH which is pretty spikey when it wants to behave, and an Olympic White Fender Mustang.”

Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?

“I’ve no shame in admitting watching a video of Def Leppard live and seeing Steve Clark rock out ‘Switch 625‘ pretty much sealed my wish to play guitar before I owned one or knew how to play. Him and Angus Young- guess that’s what happens when you’re 9 years old. After the Nirvana years, and Oasis phase, 1997 was probably my key year in developing some real direction to build a style of my own. Radiohead/Blur/The Verve is my kinda gig- those three bands that year meant a lot. Been a few years since all that but Greenwood/Coxon/McCabe are my primary triangle of magical influences, add in Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant, and more recently Bill Ryder-Jones.”

Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.

“I suppose it’s ‘hopeful misery at the smalltown disco’ soundscapes we make- the odd pop song, odd Mogwai moment, odd acoustic moment of brittle anxiety. I have a terrible live-guitarist-ability dampener which is having to sing at the same time. It’s been an ongoing battle for years- repeatedly it’s challenged whether I actually enjoy playing guitar live as I’m simply not proficient enough to play blind. It pulls me in directions of absolute hit-and-miss, as I’m equally precious of delivering the songs vocally. But I like to think there’s an edge in bending the truth and sometimes it can be very rewarding just to hammer the thing and not worry about precision, after all no one I’ve really ever admired played perfectly. So I approach live playing as a release, and no one’s significantly told me off yet. “Flukey” is probably a better word but, there’s heart there. Recording though- sit me down, let me explore, get it right, take time, try it out, then fall in love with it. The last album writing/recording cycle was so so good for that- I fell in love with playing guitar again.”

What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?

“In VAS at the start I was ridiculously blasting a stereo signal out via a Marshall JCM900 4×12 and Fender DeVille in front of 20 people- what a pain to commute those were in days without being in a van! But now I am perfectly happy just with the DeVille- when it heats up and the Tele goes in it’s the warmest brick I’ve used, heavy when it needs to be and tidy as much as it needs in the gentle times. Recording the record though, we threw a load of amps together, albeit mainly our producer’s not my own! Blackstar, Ampeg bass amp, Fender Twin- that was a glorious week. Pedal-wise I admit I’m not hugely adventurous. I reckon there’s guitarists out there who would grimace at my simplicity but I seriously have no qualms with mainly using BOSS- they are solid and in the chain are as fun as anything (though I do have a shopping list for Death By Audio and EHX when I get the finance together). It’s all about reverbs and delays and fuzz, the RV5, DD3, DD6, BD2 and (though borrowed) CE5. There’s an EHX Holy Stain in there for extra reverb out of the delays for the ‘Exit’ moments and a tremelo option and a RAT which has made a return after years of neglect to boost the choruses. I’d love an original silver/black EHX Micro Synth in there if I could find one that was functioning at less than half a grand- that would probably see a return of the Marshall though, for dynamics.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?

“I don’t believe anyone who says otherwise but it’s the TU3 or equivalent digital tuner. I’m the worst ‘by ear’ tuner’ going- I shiver to think about early bands when I didn’t have one! I can probably at worst cope doing a show with the minimum of a TU3, DD3 and RV5 if some baggage handler decided to chuck my board onto the wrong flight.”

What’s your current main guitar, and why so?

“Fender Telecaster Deluxe- it survives being thrown at the ground for the most part, great tone and loud, it’s a joy to play and looks kinda nice.”

Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?

“Stuart Tovey of MATTERS, James Brown of Mutes is a brutal guitarist, Ben and Mike of Boat To Row interplay really well, Thomas Edward of God Damn, and Thomas Hewson of Hoopla Blue.” 

Where can we find your music and see you play next? 

“We released our second album Everybody’s Lost And All I Want Is To Leave six months ago on Netherlands’ based Gentlemen Records, pre-that there’s our debut album and two EPs out on Static Caravan. There’s a few vinyl knocking about out there but all pretty much gone, so Spotify it, YouTube, all the rest! As for playing live, in these times who knows! Our Euro shows have all been postponed until at very least Spring next year ,which would be effectively a year since the album came out! It’s all crazy but it’s important we get through this time together in well and working order- so for now it’s writing and writing at home remotely, maybe a gig before the end of this year if the pandemic allows, it’s hard to plan but we’ll do something somewhere sometime and we sure won’t take any of it for granted ever again.” 

Strings ‘n Things #18- Black Mekon

Some things are best left unexplained and under-analysed. So rather than wax lyrical or spew word-vomit in a vain attempt to ‘use my degree’, I shall leave you in the ruthlessly capable hands of psycho-punks Black Mekon.

Besides, what could be said that would go any way towards shedding some light on these infinitely-outlawed outliers? If you know- you know. Black Mekon are a beautiful buzz-saw of noise- somehow beamed-in from both sides of the present day and frighteningly out-of place. No soft edges where they’re from- just blunt force trauma. International superstars that may not be of this earth, their latest album ‘The Lumpiness of Demand’ is out now via Stockholm label PNKSLM (also home to the wonderful Brum duo Cherry Pickles).

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.


“My first guitar was a ‘Super Twenty’, or the Gwenty as I thought it was called for years due to the illegible logo on the headstock. As Baby Mekons we would steal or borrow all of our equipment so when I saw the Gwenty for only £10 in Musical Exchanges I decided that it would be rude to not pay for it. It’s one of those super-nasty Japanese guitars that they used to sell in Woolworths in the 1960’s, like Teisco or Kay. It’s still my favourite guitar, it’s so awful. Really high action so you almost break your fingers, and sounds like it’s being played through a transistor radio. I took it ‘home’ to Japan when we first toured there and a kid came running to the front of the stage and excitedly said “I have that guitar… it’s bad!” I only ever had one nice expensive guitar which was a Strat and it got stolen at a gig- totally deserved that. I bought a left handed Watkins Rapier which was great because I’m a lefty, but I had to have it rejigged to be strung right handed because I’ve only ever played righties. The Little Guitar Shop changed it for me, so thanks guys! It’s nice to have a guitar where the volume knob doesn’t give me forearm burn. I’ve mostly played Tesicos and cheap knockoff guitars- if they look cool that’s good enough. With Black Mekon it’s always going to sound like it’s broken, so style over substance forever!”

Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?


“I’m not a guitarist in the normal sense of the word, which I think is obvious. I never watched guitarists and tried to emulate them or wanted that to be my ‘thing’. I only ever saw the guitar as a means to an end, something needed to add to the sonic stew. So really, necessity was the inspiration.
That’s not to say I don’t love watching guitarists! As I’ve deliberately kept myself shielded from learning more or developing, it’s like watching magicians. I love that! I love keeping that naiveté and being in awe. I just approach playing in a different manner. I can’t possibly do what those cats do. I prefer it all to be held together with spit and gaffer tape.
Poison Ivy- The first time I saw The Cramps live, that swagger, chewing gum and barely giving a shit. Technique and skill be damned, her playing was perfect. Hound Dog Taylor, with his 6 fingers. He played shitty Teiscos which justified my love of them. Jon Spencer turned me onto him, and of course Jon and Judah are my all-time favourites. Watching the line up of Demolition Doll Rods, Guitar Wolf and Blues Explosion, that was a ‘let’s start a band’ moment!I used to love very early Beck when he would thrash about wildly on an old acoustic guitar with a fork stuck in the top. I also really love Cedelle Davis, wildly out of tune playing with a butterknife. If I ever see someone play with a dessert spoon they’ll instantly go on my list. Mick Collins of The Gories/Dirtbombs. Mick once told me his super power would be to make a guitar go out of tune just by looking at it. It’s mostly all the same people who I still dig today.”

Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.


“Our music is below-the-belt noisy, noisy, oomph! It’s very instant, keep it brief and to the point. My approach to playing is the same as it’s always been and I really don’t think it will ever change: land that flaming plane with zero hours of flight training! Or to slightly modify the title of on of my favourite books: Play the Guitar Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit.”

What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?


“I normally use a Fender Blues Jr. but for the past year I’ve been using a 1993 Vox AC10 gifted to me from my cousin, Black Mekon. All my pedals are made by my buddy Stef from Health & Efficiency with the exception of the Boss tuner (which I clearly never use). I have a basic overdrive, a volume boost, reverb which does a nice noise swell with a switch (I think it’s based on a Death By Audio thing) and The Mekonizer which is based on a Sam Ash Fuzzstainer and modified so it gets all that wiry treble and bowel-rumbling bass of our sound. Very rarely I throw in an Akai Headrush E1 when I need to do the ‘2 guitarists’ job live and I have a fantastic fuzz built by another local pedal doctor Ian at Ghost Effects, that one is based on the Os Mutantes Regulus pedal.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?


“The Mekonizer, hands down. Although I probably used the reverb more on our last tour. But the Mekonizer is our sound.”

What’s your current main guitar, and why so?


“A really nice Jag that my cousin, Black Mekon, gave me. I’ll cop to it: It’s just so much easier to drive, all my other eccentric pieces of shit are like riding a tractor down a staircase. What can I say, I got a bit old. Some guy once shouted at me “You’ve gone pop!” because I was playing up and down strokes rather than just furiously plowing down like the agitated punk I proclaim to be. I couldn’t argue with him- it was a moment of deep shame.”

Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?


“Birmingham has tonnes of under-appreciated guitar geniuses. You can watch a lot of local bands and they’ll be some wizardry going on in the guitar department… it’s not a cop out but I really couldn’t list them all. Throw a dart and you’ll hit one! Scott from Table Scraps has been my go-to guitar guy for years. Priscila from Cherry Pickles baffles me, which is always a good thing in my book. I admire/hate my brother Black Mekon’s ability to fall ass backwards into his sound. He is the only person who practices and tries less than me. My cousin, Black Mekon, has been my hero forever. He’s too good though, he should switch hands or something.”

Where can we find your music and see you play next?  


“New album, The Lumpiness of Demand, out now on PNKSLM.com! Buy it on vinyl, if you can afford it, or steal the digital version and share it with all of your friends!
As for seeing us play, that’s a tear-jerking question right now eh? We turned ourselves into a cartoon for 2020 when we saw the shit hit the fan but we’re working on a few things. Let’s stay in contact over the airwaves for now, we’re not going anywhere. Party at our house when the sun comes back out, you’re all invited.”

Strings ‘n Things #17- The Devil & Saint Joseph

Whilst we’re some way off of post #666, we’re still bringing you the devil and the details today, as six-string-sinners-in-arms Joseph Frascina and Billy Beale bear the stains on their souls from the cold comforts of Warstone Lane Cemetery.

There’s being ‘committed’ and then there’s being committed. Even in his days screaming the slaughterhouse-blues with dearly-missed quintet The Hungry Ghosts it was clear that Joseph Frascina does not do things by halves- a prolific visual artist , compelling weaver of stories, and a damn fine dresser, Frascina’s music is the soundtrack to some reality of his creation- a morally bankrupt and bloodthirsty America where killer is king. There’s a vicious undercurrent to The Devil & Saint Joseph’s material that calls to mind the unrelenting violence of a McCarthy novel- but with an apocalyptic bent that suggests barren highways and endless horizon distorted by the cruel heat of a getaway Summer. The interplay between Frascina & Beale is architectured with a murderous purpose- bedraggled bass and snaking leads skirmish against the hauntological heartbeat of an old drum machine, whilst the trio remain coolly-detached from their myth-making behind aviator shades. With both guitarists being firm devotees of vintage and rare gear, you can bet there’s some drool-worthy pieces being packed here. You’ll have to wait until live shows return to get the full picture- right now the group are just tidying up their first release. But that’s enough from me- let’s pass the proverbial microphone over to the criminals in question.

LGS interview photo

Talk us through your guitar history from your first to your most recent.

Joseph Frascina: “The very first one was a very cheap classical guitar, a 3/4 sized that I had when I was 7 years old.”

Billy Beale: “Was that like an Argos job?”

J: “Yeah, from a catalogue.”

B: “Classic”

J: “I switched to an Epiphone Les Paul and then an old Danelectro U2, then a 60’s Silvertone 1448. That’s the one with the amp in the case. Then another 60’s Silvertone, a 1487 which is my current main one. It has a built-in speaker and was designed so that it could be plugged into an amplifier and played like a “normal” guitar (which is how I use it), or you could use the internal battery-powered amplifier. It has an incredible sounding gold foil pickup. I’ve also found an old 60’s Kay parlour guitar that is black with a white scratchplate with a musical note design, and a 1937 Kay Kraft resonator with a Schireson Brothers cone. It’s a National “lawsuit” guitar where they were making necks for National, but they branded them “Kay Kraft” and sold them under their own name. So it’s basically a National Havana but branded as “Kay Kraft”.”

B: “Joe there, showing off his knowledge of old American brands! My first one, my parents got me a cheap DeArmond M65 from Sound Control in Brum. Not a great guitar, it was really heavy and sounded bad. Luckily my Dad had nicer guitars so I was always playing his ’94 American Strat whenever I could. I had an Epiphone SG when I was a teenager, then got into Teles and now my main ones are my Firebird and my parts Tele. Those are the ones I play out. I’ve been lucky to have a few cool sixties guitars sort of fall into my lap, mostly thanks to my proximity to The Little Guitar Shop. Like the ’66 Mustang I used to have, my ’66 Epi Caballero and this ’65 Firebird. There was a cheap Vintage-brand 12 string acoustic I played a lot when I was younger. That’s at my folks’ so my younger brother’s playing it lately. And I’ve got my Grandad’s old resonator that’s only really good for bottleneck slide, but it’s a bit mysterious. I need Joe to research the manufacturing history for that one.”

Who inspired you to pick up guitar, and who inspires you to keep on playing today?

J: “I can’t remember exactly who inspired me to pick up the guitar, although I’ve always been around the big sixties/seventies record collection of my parents, which also contained a lot of blues and country, so definitely some music of that era inspired me. Robby Krieger’s playing on The Doors’ records which were constantly being played at home made a big impression as did the hypnotic, expansive, world-devouring fingerstyle playing of John Fahey and James Williamson’s wild guitar on The Stooges’ Raw Power which cuts like a chainsaw through that beautifully erratically mixed album which would always get me moving as a child, high on sugary treats. What really cemented it for me was Jack White, in particular the ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ video on MTV. The Lego video. That clicked with me immediately and that made me want to make all of the music that I’ve made since. I very vividly remember watching that at an impressionable young age and thinking “this is incredible, this is the sound”. It’s the combination of unpolished rawness and pop immediacy that I love in music.”

B: “The person that inspired me to pick up the guitar most was the person that gave me a guitar, my Dad. The stuff that I was into early on was mainly Nirvana, but Dad being a big Clapton fan got me into blues, deeper into the different players, styles and subgenres. My uncle Paddy was always fronting bands around Brum when he was younger. If anyone remembers The Velvet Texas Cannonball, that was Pad on the mic. Nowadays, I’m a bit obsessed with Ty Segall, and the acts associated with him. He seems to make music with the same alchemical elements that I would draw from, but I lack the inspiration, talent and work ethic.  I love Nile Rodgers’ playing, I’d love to be able to play like Nile Rodgers but… I can’t! He’s too good. I can do a good Dick Dale impression, though. That comes in handy.”

J: “I think you and I both are very influenced by old American blues and R&B artists in our playing and listening choices. That’s something we both share.”

B: “Yeah, we’re both trying to attack that music in a way where you can clearly see the influence, but it’s coming at it from somewhere new.”

live

Tell us about your music, and how you approach your guitar playing within the context of it.

J: “The inventiveness of the writing in our band arose from a situation of compromise which necessitated me needing to fulfil the twin roles of rhythm guitar and bass guitar in the band, so I restrung my Silvertone 1487 with heavy gauge baritone strings and tuned it down to B. The signal is split between a guitar amp with heavy tremolo and reverb, and also shifted down an octave into a bass amp. It’s kind of a Spaghetti Western baritone/bass sound. The writing, from a guitar perspective, has emerged from essentially bass lines, which is different from previous approaches in other musical projects. That’s the basis of most of the tunes.”

B: “It gives the songs an uncanny feeling where the sound is kind of familiar-yet-unfamiliar at once, because it’s this thing that’s not guitar nor bass nor even a baritone, really. It’s its own thing. Although stylistically, I am predominantly a sort-of blues player, I see the guitar as broadly textural. It’s about choosing when to play melodically, or rhythmically, or just noisily, or some combination. Just trying to make the best sound for the song, the best noise for a given situation.”

J: “We should say something about the music.”

B: “Cinematic.”

J: “Country noir. Very influenced by everything from Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks to Angelo Badalamenti’s work for David Lynch mixed with the dark electronic drum machine driven sound of Suicide and The Kills. The songwriting itself is quite “pop” in terms of structure and delivery. Gothic Americana, really.”

B: “It’s soaked in old surf rock and psychedelia. There’s a lot going on in there!”

What setup are you currently running, amp and pedal wise?

B: “Pedals – fuzz, wah, something wobbly like phaser or univibe, overdrive, delay

Amp – “I’m lucky to have found a ’73 Fender Vibrolux from TLGS and an old seventies Traynor YGM-3, and it’s lucky I know Johnny Brelliot to keep them running. He is an absolute wizard with amps and he’s taught me a lot about them.”

J: “Pedals –  I use a Zvex Super Hard On  to split my guitar signal between a guitar amp and bass amp. On the guitar side I use a Catalinbread Valcoder tremolo pedal and JHS Superbolt which are on most of the time to get that vintage Supro tone and a JHS Angry Charlie or Russian Muff for distortion and fuzz. On the bass side I use an old big box Electro Harmonix Octave Multiplexer which has a really cool wonky synth tone. And also – not for guitar, but it’s cool – I use a Death By Audio Echo Master for vocal delay.”

Amps – for guitar either a 1975 Vox AC 120, which is so heavy it makes you cry even to look at it, or an old tweed Fender Blues Deville although I’m looking for something lighter, more portable and a Wem Bass Dominator.”

What’s the one pedal that you couldn’t live without?

B: “I’m not married to any given pedal, I’m always changing them up. I love a good fuzz, I always like to have a fuzz under my foot. Most recent favourite is a one-knob silicon fuzz face variant from Brelliot.”

J: “Similarly, my setup has changed radically over time.”

B: “Your favourite is that tremolo.”

J: “Mine is the tremolo. It’s on continuously. It’s a Catlinbread Valcoder, it replicates the Valco tube tremolo. And also the old Octave Multiplexer to get more low-end from the bass amp.”

B: “That’s my answer. Joe’s octave pedal.”

What’s your current main guitar, and why so?

B: “The ’65 Firebird because it’s light, it’s got a nice neck and it sounds really good.”

J: “Mine currently is the Silvertone 1487. The only person I’ve seen with one is Howlin Wolf in a photograph, which is fine by me! I think it’s from 1965. That’s strung as a baritone. But for regular guitar playing it’s the Silvertone 1448 which has the original case with a built-in valve amp. I love how it was made with such a sense of thrift – using excess stock from other departments of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue that it was originally sold through in the 60s – using bathroom sealant for the binding, tabletop formica for the scratchplate and lipstick tubes for the pickups which give it such an incredible sound – the name Silvertone seems almost poetic to me as the tone has a shimmering, silvery quality. It’s black with a sparkle finish to boot so it glistens like the night sky.”

Are there any other local guitarists you particularly admire?

B: “Joe from The Devil & Saint Joseph.”

J: “Mine has to be Billy from The Devil & Saint Joseph.”

Where can we find your music and see you play next?

J: “Well we’re in the process of making a record but in terms of shows – who can say in these strange times that we find ourselves in.”

B: “Shoot a flaming arrow into the sky at 3:03am and we’ll come play.”