Page 1

guitar & bass tabs

5 SONGS THE BLACK KEYS So He Won't Break

ARCTIC MONKEYS Cigarette Smoke KINGS OF LEON Sex On Fire

SAY WAH? KNOW YOUR STOMP BOXES 20th anniversary

Vibro King Amp

15

ICONIC LES PAUL PLAYERS

The Black Keys NEW ALBUM

featuring

THE STROKES Automatic Stop WEEZER Perfect Situation


Contents

26

Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem/NME

14 42

2

FEATURES

15 Iconic Les Paul Players From heavy metal enthusiasts to indie rock icons to reggae superstars, it seems like nearly every musical legend has strapped on a Les Paul at some point to take advantage of its signature sound.

Megadeth’s Chris Broderick Talks Technique With his monolithic chops and die-hard work ethic, Broderick has emerged as the scariest monster shredder on the planet. The Megadeth member has a deep respect for both music and musical performance and has pushed himself relentlessly in the pursuit of technical proficiency and musical freedom.

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

The Strokes: 10 Years & Up The Strokes provide a first-hand take on their oft-mythologized history and a window into the dicey creative process behind their last album.

56

Green Day’s ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!

78

Robert Radler Discusses New Guitar Documentary

Armstrong talks about their monumental forthcoming trio of albums, a 36-song set heavily loaded with some of the most adolescent, loud, fast and obscene poppunk they've ever churned out.

The creators of a new film dedicated to the electric guitar — and all the magic and mayhem that comes with it — need tens of thousands of dollars to buy music clearances for the clips in the film. And they’ve turned to a crowd-funding website, indiegogo.com, for help.


Contents LOUDSPEAKER

NEWS BROADCAST

DEPARTMENTS TABLATURE

LEARN YOUR FAVORITE SONGS!

100

“So He Won't Break” The Black Keys

104

“Cigarette Smoke” Arctic Monkeys

10 Monthly Q&A with 3 bands by Aaron Lewis

122

“Sex on Fire” Kings of Leon

SOUNDCHECK

138

“Automatic Stop” The Strokes

144

“Perfect Situation” Weezer

6 The Black Keys Begin Sessions for Next Album by Damien Fanelli

8 Danelectro Auctions Guitars for Charity by Luis Sucre

GUITARS & EQUIPMENT 12 The Essential Amplifier for the Perfect Tone by Remy Hart 30 Say Wah? Five Essential Signature Wah Pedals by Tommy Pierce 32 Know Your Stomp Boxes by Justin Borucki

FRETBOARD

TIPS & TECHNIQUES 54 Quick Licks for December by Charlie Griffiths 68 Guide To Pinch Harmonics by Josh Cameron 72 Whammy Bar Tricks by Robert Warren

COVER PHOTO BY ROBERT MAXWELL

4

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

The Black Keys Photo by Jimmy Fontaine


LOUDSPEAKER

News Broadcast

Patrick Carney (left) & Dan Auerbach (right) of the Black Keys photo by Jimmy Fontaine

The Black Keys Begin Sessions for Next Album THE AKRON DUO HAVE RETURNED TO THE STUDIO TO PLAN THEIR NEXT LP. THE BLACK KEYS, the power-packed

When asked about what to expect from

Though the Keys hit the studio with

Akron duo who released Brothers in 2010

their upcoming album, Auerbach noted

producer Danger Mouse for their last

and followed it soon after with 2011’s El

that the band’s albums tend to take shape

three albums, Auerbach says there are

Camino, have already started sessions for

rather sporadically.

no set collaborators yet for the upcoming

their next album. “We spent a week in the studio,” Auerbach says of a July session in Nashville sandwiched between a string of tour dates. The guitarist admits it wasn’t “the most focused studio session,” but he and drummer Patrick Carney did

“We never know what’s going to

LP. “Not sure who we’re gonna work with

happen,” Auerbach explains. “We don’t

or if we’re going to [produce] it ourselves,”

We never know what’s going to happen... It’s sort of a spontaneous thing.

“get some ideas down and started the ball

6

by Damian Fanelli

he says. When he is not touring the globe or down in the studio with Carney, Auerbach has been collaborating with other artists in music production. “That’s what I live for, honestly,” he

rolling.” Auerbach and Carney plan to

plan it. We start recording, and then all

says. “To be in the studio making music

regroup in early 2013 to begin officially

of a sudden it starts to take shape and we

and being part of a team trying to make

recording and they hope to finish quickly.

have an idea.” Auerbach adds that each

something interesting or cool. That’s

“We might not finish it until March

Black Keys album, to him, represents “a

everything for me.” The fun, it seems,

since we have to tour so much, but we’ll

snapshot of a moment in time. We like to

never stops for Auerbach. “There’s no

see,” Carney said then. “After July, we’ll

let them be like that,” he says. “It’s sort of

reason it should,” he says, laughing.

be able to know how long it’ll take.”

a spontaneous thing.”

“I like to stay busy.”

Reverb Magazine • December 2012


Practice your freedom of expression.


SOUNDCHECK

Guitars & Equipment

The Essential Amplifier for the Perfect Tone FENDER CELEBRATES THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VIBRO-KING AMP. by Remy Hart FENDER INTRODUCED the Vibro-King

wired circuitry, custom Schumacher®

20th anniversary model features all-tube

in 1993, marking a return to a tradition

transformers, and much more. The Vibro-

hand-wired circuitry on the eyelet board,

of hand-wired amps while including a

King’s rich, full tone and sensitivity are

custom Schumacher transformers, three

previously unavailable selection of sought-

unparalleled when it comes to picking

new proprietary Fender Special Design

after features. In the nearly two decades

dynamics and guitar knob settings.

Alnico P10R-F speakers by Jensen for

since, guitarists and amp aficionados have praised the Vibro-King as one of the most touch-sensitive amps ever, with clean shimmer at lower volumes and thick overdrive when cranked up. Fender

The Vibro-King’s rich, full tone and sensitivity are unparalleled.

now celebrates those two decades of great

warmer tone and more. The Brown/ Wheat version has a solid pine cabinet for extra resonance. Some of the other unique features include a matched pair of Groove Tubes® 6L6 output tubes, pregain ‘63-style Fender reverb with dwell,

tone with the 20th Anniversary Vibro-

The guitar amp has crystal-clean tones,

mix and tone controls (go from mellow

King. Fender and Jensen® collaborated

sparkling reverb, and the commanding

to intense “crashing” reverb effect), tube

on the amp’s trio of warmer-sounding

overdriven tones are downright inspiring.

vibrato (tremolo), custom transformers by

10” speakers, and a finger-joined solid-

Available in black, blonde and brown

Schumacher®, Fender chrome tilt-back

pine cabinet increases resonance. Other

coverings with silver, oxblood and wheat

legs, as well as two-button footswitch for

premium features include all-tube hand-

grill cloths, respectively, the Vibro-King

selecting vibrato and FAT boost.

SPECS Tube Amplifier 120 V / 60 Watts 2 Inputs Effects Loop Single Channel 1 Extension Jack Speaker Solid State Rectifier Pre-gain ‘63-style Fender® Reverb: Dwell, Mix, Tone. Fat Switch. Volume, Treble, Bass, and Mid. Vibrato: Speed, Intensity Red Amp Jewel Fender® Chrome Tilt-Back Legs Brown “Dog Bone” Handle (Brown and Blonde Versions), Black “Dog Bone” Handle (Black Version)

DIMENSIONS Length: 10.5” (26.7 cm) Width: 24.88” (63.2 cm) Height: 22.66” (57.56 cm) Weight: 72 lbs. (32.65 kg)

PRICE $4999.99 photo by Fender

12

Reverb Magazine • November 2012


ICONIC

Les Paul PLAYERS

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most recognizable guitars of all-time and the artists who brandish it seem to transcend age, era, gender and genre. From heavy metal enthusiasts to indie rock icons to reggae superstars, it seems like nearly every musical legend has

10

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

strapped on a Les Paul at some point to take advantage of its signature sound. Sure, the axe is heavy, but that’s part of the secret to its tone—and if it is good enough for these 15 legendary players listed here, it should be good enough for you too, right?


photo by Gibson


THE VIRTUOSOS JIMMY PAGE Led Zeppelin’s Page has penned so many classic rock riffs that it’s hard to even know where to start with the guitarist’s list of accomplishments. However he couldn’t have done it alone and the chunky sound of his Les Paul was intrinsic to tracks like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog” and helped add a welcome dose of heaviness to the classic rock formula. Regardless of what you think of rumors of the upcoming Robert Plant-less Zep reunion, you can bet that Mr. Page and

ERIC CLAPTON Although Clapton experimented with different styles of guitars throughout his four-decade-long career, his time with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and the Yardbirds were both defined by his use of the Les Paul. In fact it’s remarkable how many versatile tones the British guitarist was able to coax of his favorite axe as he channeled the ghosts of classic delta Blues acts and recontextualized them into a rock context. While you can debate all day what your favorite era of Clapton’s career was, we’ll always have a soft spot for the sonic discovery of his Les Paul years.

12

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

photos courtesy of: the Jimmy Page Collection, Chris Campbell, and Heinrich Klaffs

his Les Paul will both be present.


PETE TOWNSHEND Townshend is a guitarist who has experimented with different axes, but his ‘70s output is largely defined by his Gibson Les Paul Deluxes. It’s safe to say that Townsend’s legendary windmill guitar strums wouldn’t look nearly as impressive if he wasn’t rocking out on a giant slab of mahogany. If you want a great ex-ample of Townshend and his Les Paul obsession in action, we recommend checking out the classic Who docu-mentary The Kids Are Alright.


photos courtesy of: Redferns, and John Frost


THE KINGS OF BLUES GARY MOORE Moore (left) is another termi-nally under-rated Les Paul player who has played with Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II and Greg Lake among others. For a sizable chunk of his career his axe of choice was a 1959 Les Paul Sunburst, which used to belong to British Blues legend — and Moore’s close personal friend—Peter Green. While it is impossible to know whether the warm tone of the Les Paul influenced Moore’s sound or vice versa, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Moore left an indelible mark on the music world with his playing.

PETER GREEN When you have a musical superstar like B.B. King saying things like “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats,” you know you’re doing something right. King was talking about Fleetwood Mac guitarist Green whose axe of choice was incidentally a 1959 Les Paul. The secret to Green’s tone was the fact that a magnet of his neck pickup was reversed, creating a unique effect. However, if Green wasn’t such an inventive and original player we highly doubt he would be as celebrated as he is today.

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

18


THE SHREDDERS ACE FREHLEY Frehley could have picked any kind of guitar to install a smoke bomb inside, but he picked — you guessed it — a Gibson Les Paul. In fact his arsenal of Les Pauls is almost as closely associated to the guitarist as the make-up he rocked every night during KISS’ ‘70s heyday. Not only was Frehley’s Les Paul-fueled sound responsible for riffs like “Cold Gin” and “Shock Me,” it also helped make KISS one of the most recognizable bands (or as bassist Gene Simmons describes it, “brands”) in rock history.

ZAKK WYLDE Ozzy Osbourne has been blessed with a plethora of amazing guitarists, but next to Rhoads he’s probably best known for enlisting the bearded shredder Wylde. Although Wylde started out playing tracks like “No More Tears” with Ozzy, armed with his signature bull’s-eye-painted Les Paul Wylde has further established himself via his metal outfit Black Label Society and his solo work. While it’d admittedly be tough for any guitar to endure Wylde’s hard-partying lifestyle and playing, the Les Paul is the only axe that’s

JOE PERRY Perry is known for a lot of things — including avoiding the aging process — but his most recognizable trait is the Les Paul that you can find hanging around his neck when he performs with Aerosmith. In fact, Perry is such a Les Paul enthusiast that in addition to playing nearly every variation of the axe for the past 30 years he also has his own Custom model. Perry reportedly has a collection of over 600 guitars and we’re betting that his Les Paul arsenal alone could give any Guitar Center in America a run for its money.

photos courtesy of: Getty Images, Gibson, and AP Photo/The Bulletin, Khoi Ton

been able to rise to the challenge thus far.


THE FOREVER YOUNG RANDY RHOADS As the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, virtuoso Rhoads was the first guitarist to meld classical guitar chops with a heavy metal sensibility to create a unique hybrid of music that still sounds groundbreaking today. In order to accomplish this impres-sive feat, when he wasn’t playing on nylon strings he was finger-tapping and sweep-picking on his white Les Paul. Sadly Rhoads died in 1982 at the age of 25, but tracks like “Crazy Train” continue to be karaoke staples and inspire future generations of guitarists to strap on their own Les Pauls.

PAUL KOSSOFF Paul Kossoff may not be a household name, but as the guitarist for Free, Kossoff was able to take soul, blues and rock and merge them into a unique amalgam of music with a little help from his Les Paul. In fact you can hear some of his extended guitar solos on Free’s early output such as Tons Of Sobs and Free. Although Kossoff passed away at the age of 25, his play-ing has been immortalized in several posthumous selections such as Koss.

22

Reverb Magazine • December 2012


DUANE ALLMAN Allman was best known for donning Gibson SGs and other axes from time to time, but the most famous era of his playing featured him rocking sunburst and Goldtop Les Pauls. His Southernfueled brand of rock was partially due to the Les Paul’s unique tone and his most famous solos proved that Allman had a special symbiotic relationship with his guitar. Sadly, Allman passed away when he was only 24, but that only makes his accomplishments with the Allman Brothers Band and Derek And The Dominos even more impressive.

BOB MARLEY Marley is unquestionably the most influential reggae player ever and it’s no secret that he often utilized the Gibson Les Paul to help craft his sound. While most of the other guitarists in this list used walls of distortion to bring out Les Paul’s inner beast, Marley utilized clean tones and upstrokes to develop his own signature sound and proved that the Les Paul isn’t just one of the heaviestsounding guitars in existence but it’s also one of the most versatile.

photos courtesy of: Steven Rosen & Andrew Klein, Dean Simmon, and David Burnett


THE PUNKS SLASH Guns N’ Roses’ former guitarist Slash is probably best known for three things: his messy mop of black hair, signature top hat and sunburst Gibson Les Pauls. In fact his Les-Paul-through-a-Marshallstack sound is responsible for some of the most popular guitar riffs of all-time: “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” anyone? Oh and speaking of the latter riff, if you really want to nail the tone be sure your pickup selector is in the rhythm position — and despite Slash’s own preferences we don’t recommend downing a fifth of Jack Daniel’s prior to plugging in.

STEVE JONES As guitarist for the Sex Pistols, Jones is responsible for arguably the greatest punk album of all-time, 1977’s Never Mind The Bollocks. His aggressive guitar sound ushered in a whole new era of music— and out of all the guitars in the world, Jones decided that the Gibson Les Paul would be the best conduit for this pioneering new sound. These days this former iconoclast is just one of many influential guitar players to have his own signature version of the Les photos courtesy of: Getty Images, Gibson, and AP Photo/The Bulletin, Khoi Ton

Paul, which will hopefully motivate today’s neophytes to craft their own musical sea change.

BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG Although Green Day’s Armstrong didn’t start out on a Les Paul, these days you can see him sporting his own signature edition of the Les Paul Junior. However don’t let the diminutive nature of Armstrong’s axe convince you that his tone is any less aggressive than his peers, because listening to the band’s opus American Idiot, it’s clear that the exact opposite is true. Green Day’s next album will reportedly be out next summer and we can’t wait to see what Armstrong is able to pull off with a little help from his Les Paul Jr.


WHEN THEY FIRST ENTERED the public consciousness in 2001, the Strokes would’ve been the last band anyone would’ve pegged for longevity. Even in his otherwise highly complimentary review of the debut LP, Is This It, Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber conceded that the Strokes had “nowhere to go but out of style.” Indeed, merits of the music aside, there was a nagging sense that this band —with their vintage tees, leather jackets, and perfectly disheveled publicity shots—was something of a passing fad. Fortunately for Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr., Nick Valensi, Nikolai Fraiture, and Fab Moretti, backlash

26

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

isn’t always fatal. Sometimes it’s the only way for the music to get a fair shake. Over the past year and a half, the notoriously insular, guarded band gave Pitchfork rare access, granting interviews with key members within its inner circle. They provided a first-hand take on their oft-mythologized history as well as a window into the dicey creative process behind their new album, Angles. As we learned, just because the Strokes have gotten this far doesn’t mean things are getting easier. Talking about the making of Angles, Valensi admitted, “I won’t do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful—just awful.”

photos by David Collins

BY Jonathan Garrett


The Beginning ONE OF THE MOST COMMONLY held

recalls that Hammond kept a small

misconceptions about the Strokes is

collection of rejection letters. “They got

that they were an overnight success.

rejections from Matador and Hollywood.

A persistent early rumor purported that

Albert would frame and hang them on

the band was opportunistically assem-

his wall.”

bled by John Casablancas, Julian’s

By the time the band showed up at

father and the founder of Elite Model

Gordon Raphael’s Transporterraum

Management. The truth is decidedly

studio in the East Village in October

less salacious. Casablancas, Moretti,

2000, pessimism had set in. “Julian let

and Valensi were informally collaborating

me know up front that they never had

since they were high-school age, playing

good luck with recording and didn’t like

together in a short-lived band called

the process,” says Raphael. “I asked if

"They got rejections from Matador and Hollywood. Albert would frame and hang them on his wall."

Just Pipe prior to Hammond and Fraiture’s involvement.

he had any special requests and he said, ‘Yeah, make it sound like nothing that’s

The Strokes’ lineup fell into

going on right now.’ Everyone was using

place in 1998 when Hammond

Pro Tools and digital technology, tripling

— a former Swiss boarding

the snare drum and adding samples to

schoolmate of Julian’s —

manager Ryan Gentles

make things 25 stories tall. So I thought:

moved to New York City to attend

‘What could be the opposite of that? How

NYU and, rather serendipitously, recog-

about I record the band playing together

nized the name of John Casablancas’

in one room?’”

modeling agency. All these years later,

Raphael remembers the session

Hammond still can’t believe his luck.

running smoothly, though he doesn’t recall thinking the results were anything

“What are the odds? I move to New York and wind up living across the street from Elite, where Julian was working. I had no friends, so I thought I should go over and speak to him. Two weeks later, we were living together.”

extraordinary. “When I finished, I put their three songs in a folder with another 200-300 songs I had recorded that year, “he says. “I was on to the next thing.” It’s possible the three-track recording might’ve slipped into obscurity if not

albert hammond Jr.

However, attention for the newly

for Rough Trade Records founder Geoff

christened Strokes was anything but

Travis. Gentles, who was then booking

immediate. In fact, the band struggled to

the Lower East Side’s Mercury Lounge

get anyone to take notice for the better

and had hosted the band as headliners

part of two years. “We were playing to

on several occasions, agreed to assist

nobody every two weeks in New York City,” says Valensi, who estimates the band did up to 100 shows with fewer than 100 people in attendance. Part of the problem, aside from the fact that the band was still coming into its own as a live entity, was they

"I asked if he had any special requests and he said, ‘Yeah, make it sound like nothing that’s going on right now.’" producer Gordon Raphael

had no recorded material. The Strokes made a couple of attempts to commit

28

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

the Strokes in sending out the demo to

songs to tape, but each session left the

labels. At the suggestion of his boss,

band frustrated with their inability to

Gentles sent a copy to Travis, who had

properly capture their sound. They had

scouted and worked with the Smiths and

halfheartedly sent these early demos

the Jesus and Mary Chain, among many

out to a few labels, but most didn’t

others. “Geoff called me two days later

bother to reply. Manager Ryan Gentles

with the CD playing the background. He


wanted to bring them to England and

The entire tour was sold out before we

band called the Strokes.’ We got the CD

make them an offer based on the demo.”

even arrived in England.”

off him, went into the office and played

With Travis’ support, it was full-speed ahead. Gentles quit his job at the Mer-

That “fucking magazine” was UK weekly NME, which was quick to anoint

those three songs. The reaction was pretty much unanimous.”

cury to officially manage the Strokes,

the Strokes as rock’s next big thing.

Oldham believes that unanimity and

and they all immediately prepared for

While NME is known for enthusiastic

eagerness at NME had as much to do

an all-expenses-paid trip to England to

endorsements, its championing of the

with the dire state of rock as it did with

promote The Modern Age EP, which was

Strokes still seemed unusually forceful.

the quality of the band’s songs. “It was

nothing more than a repackaged version

The band appeared on the cover of the

very hard to fill the paper each week.

of the Raphael demos. The shock is

magazine twice in the span of three

The two dominant trends were nu-metal

still palpable as Valensi recounts the

months leading up to the release of

(Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park) and British

tale today. “It took us two years to get

their debut album. Then deputy editor

sensitive singer-songwritery groups like

as big as we had gotten in New York—

James Oldham was one of the first to

Travis, Embrace, and Star-sailor. Even on

countless shows and so much hard

hear The Modern Age EP. “Tim Vignon,

an optimistic day, you were saying, ‘OK,

work and sacrifice in other areas of our

a press officer, came in to play us a

they’ve got a couple of good tunes, but

lives. And Geoff was able move us way

new group he was managing called the

they’re boring, have no personality, and

past that just by releasing our demo and

Music. When he finished playing them,

they look bad.’ There was a real yearn-

getting an article in a fucking magazine.

he said, ‘We’re doing press for this other

-ing for a savior.” Reverb Magazine • December 2012

29


26

Reverb Magazine • December 2012


is this it WHEN THE BAND RETURNED to the

though I was just standing outside the

States following the frenzy in the UK,

club, it gave me a better impression than

they found a far more receptive U.S.

I had a month prior when I saw them

record industry. According to Gentles, the

at the Mercury Lounge.” As the band

Strokes met with every major label in the

was about to embark on a tour with

States and a handful of independents,

Manchester band Doves, Ralbovsky met

though many of the indies may not have

the band outside of New York, where he

bothered because “they realized they

could converse with them at length. The

couldn’t afford them.” Raphael believes

strategy paid off: The Strokes announced

the breathless UK press clips and sold-

their signing to RCA shortly after

out shows were in fact the only thing

wrapping the tour.

stoking the major labels’ sudden love affair with the group. “Without that hype, the EP would have been in the fucking trash can within 25 seconds [at any American record company]. They liked the Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails. They would’ve said it was out of fashion.”

"The only way we can get the label off our backs is if we let Steve come in and show us what he has in mind."

Indeed, even the man who ultimately

At that point, the band was in a

signed the band was a grudging convert.

somewhat unique situation, having

A senior vice president of A&R at RCA

already recorded a significant portion

Records who had worked with the Red

of what would comprise its, debut

Hot Chili Peppers and would later go

album. Raphael, who was again

on to help guide Kings of Leon, Steve

handling production duties, claims that

Ralbovsky was initially tipped on the

Ralbovsky was not pleased when he

Strokes by an intern and had his interest

was finally invited in to hear what the

further piqued by an enthusiastic write-

band had been working on. “The next

up in Time Out New York. He saw two

day, Ryan told me Steve gave him a

early shows at the Mercury Lounge but

list of producers and mixers and said

left fairly nonplussed both times.

he was willing to pay extra if the band used one of them,” says Raphael. “They

“They weren’t the sharpest performances, and the look hearkened back to a certain period before they were even born. They reminded me very much of the bands that I would see at Max’s Kansas City in the late 70s.”

didn’t really want to go with a different producer but, after many meetings that I didn’t know anything about, they said, ‘The only way we can get the label off our backs is if we let [Steve] come in and show us what he has in mind.’”

Oddly, it was his final, failed attempt Steve Ralbovsky

Ralbovsky hints at disagreements with

to see the band that convinced him

his signings but is somewhat vague in

to pursue them. “I had gotten bad set

describing his objections, saying only:

time information and they were already

“We talked about a couple of different

onstage [at the Bowery Ballroom] when I

things, but, ultimately, I decided to

got there, and there was a line down the

support the band’s vision of what the

block. If I had waited, I would’ve missed

record should sound like. Julian had a

the set, and I didn’t want to do the whole

very specific point of view.”

’I’m on the guest list, I need to get in’

Raphael, however, doesn’t recall such

thing. But there was a window right near

a cordial exchange and remembers the

the steps to the subway and you could

argument over the sound of the record

hear the music pumping out. So I just

spilling over into the mastering phase.

stood there for two or three songs. Even

“When we finished Is This It, we had to Reverb Magazine • December 2012

31


go to Sterling Mastering Labs to master

Nite”’s rise to No. 5 on Billboard’s

‘Hard to Explain’ and the B-side for the

modern rock chart-—created high

first single release in England. I pushed

hopes. Is This It exceeded expectations

play and, to my surprise my little 8-track

in England but stalled out in the U.S.

basement computer recording sounded

when its subsequent singles failed to

absolutely stunning. At that moment,

eclipse “Last Nite”’s popularity. The

Steve stood up with the head mastering

album reached gold status, but the

engineer from Sterling and said, ‘Guys,

feeling that it didn’t achieve what it could

this is some of the most unprofessional

have in the States remains. Hammond

sounding music I have ever heard. This

admits that he hoped Is This It would

is not going to sell, and you are really

be more widely embraced but doesn’t

doing damage to your career by trying to

know how the band could have made

release music that sounds this way.’

that happen without compromising their identity. “I tend not to blame anyone but

My heart just sank because I had just celebrated the fact that it sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. I wanted to cry.

Then the mastering guy, Greg Calbi, Gordon Raphael

stood up and said, ‘That’s right. They’re not going to understand your music in Kansas anyway. Why make it more difficult by having that distortion on your voice? Be sensible.’ I picked up my computer, said I disagreed, and left the building carrying the thing.” Whether Raphael’s recollection is accurate or not, it’s hard to argue with either side. No one would ever describe sound of Is This It as professional; likewise, the decision to stick with the decayed production and vocal effect was clearly an artistic one. One thing’s certain: Those qualities ensured Is This It would stand out upon its release. In the context of major label albums,

"It's the easy way out to blame every thing around you. At the end of the day, though, it's important to be really happy with the music you're making because that's the part you can control." Hammond

it’s hard to overstate how much of an anomaly Is This It was when it arrived in fall 2001. While not exactly lo-fi, the production had a similarly distressed veneer. The Strokes frequently expressed admira-

tion for Guided by Voices, and Is This It’s no-frills aesthetic owed quite a bit to the Ohio band’s mid-period works. (The two bands would eventually go on to face off against one on “Family Feud” in the “Someday” video.) Still, despite the album’s non-radiofriendly production, the initial burst of excitement around its release— auspicious album reviews and “Last 32

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

myself,” he says. “It’s the easy way out to blame everything around you. At the


end of the day, though, it’s important to

stage [with those bands]. ‘It’s nothing

the industry may also have been to

be really happy with the music you’re

against them,’ he said. ‘I don’t think

blame. During the fall season in the

making because that’s the part you can

we’re in the same genre and I’m not

year 2001, major labels were just begin-

control.”

going to do a band-off with them.’ That

ning to understand the enormity of the

was pretty much the last time we were

threat posed by illegal downloading

played on MTV.”

and their tightening budgets may have

In hindsight, Gentles wonders if some of the band’s promotional decisions affected the album’s commercial fate. Like how they refused to play the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards because the network insisted on having them share the stage with the Hives and the Vines, with each getting a minute-and-a-half to

disproportionately impacted unproven

"That was pretty much the last time we were played on mtv." gentles

artists like the Strokes. “When the

Musician JP Bowersock, who gave

or the new R. Kelly record? When times

music industry goes into that kind of period, where do you think they’re going to put their money: On an up-and-comer

play. “No one says no to the MTV Video

Hammond and Casablancas guitar

are tough and profits are down, you

Music Awards—the producers actually

lessons and was credited as the

focus on your moneymakers. And mo-

made me get Julian on the phone to

band’s “guru” in the liner notes to Is

ving less than a million units is not

explain why he would not play on the

This It, believes that the condition of

a moneymaker.”

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

29


room on fire FOR IS THIS IT, THE STROKES had the

straight through. And I said, ‘Holy shit,

of weeks.” Though he is quick to add:

luxury of crafting songs in concert over a

Nick, when did you learn to play the

“I think it’s our most listenable album

protracted period. And while a few of its

guitar like that?’,” says Raphael. “He

start to finish, possibly even better

songs were holdovers from the Is This

was doing the craziest solos, and Julian

than our first.”

It era, Room on Fire wasn’t road-tested

was making really difficult rhythmic shifts

The rap on Room on Fire upon its

anywhere near to the same extent as the

with his songwriting. They had become a

release was that it was too similar to

material on the first record. The band

monstrously well-prepared, tight band.”

Is This It. In his review for Rolling Stone,

started arranging and recording almost

The Strokes booked exactly three

David Fricke claimed that “in most of the

immediately after touring obligations for

months of studio time, and Valensi

ways that matter, it is exactly like their

Is This It wrapped in 2002, beginning

recalls feeling under the gun. “I remem-

first.” The sub-head for the SPIN review

with renowned Radiohead producer

ber being in the studio on that last day

read: “The Strokes don’t fix what ain’t

Nigel Godrich. They ultimately scraped

and just staying up 24 hours straight

broke.” Rob Mitchum’s review for this

those sessions and returned to Gordon

trying to work out all these last little

site went so far as to brand Room on

Raphael. “They entered the studio the

kinks. I think the album would’ve ended

Fire as Is This It’s “identical twin.” While

first day and played the album for me

up a lot better if we’d had another couple

there are unmistakable sonic similarities

34

Reverb Magazine • December 2012


"Nick was doing the craziest solos, and Julian was making really difficult rhythmic shifts with his songwriting. They had become a monstrously well-prepared, tight band." Raphael between the two records, Room on Fire

to imagine how Valensi’s synth-mimicking

It and Room on Fire, recalls the second

guitar lines on “12:51” or the smooth

record being “the beginning of the other

Motown shuffle of “Under Control” would

guys starting to voice their opinions on

have fit on Is This It. Room on Fire is var-

the music as forcefully as Julian would

ied yet always careful never to stray too

voice his.” Fraiture remembers some

far from the territory the Strokeshad

palpable discomfort on tour as well.

already staked out as their own. More

“We were all up for working on music

than anything else, it sounds like a

and playing, but [Julian] would want to

natural progression.

wait to get back to New York and get

But the intensity of the Room on Fire’s

settled [before writing]. It was a little

mostly does what second albums are

recording sessions may have started to

bit frustrating. Around then he started

designed to do: further define the band’s

expose some of underlying tensions that

withdrawing, maybe because he stopped

sound while simultaneously exploring its

would fully surface during the making of

drinking as well. A large part of our rela-

boundaries. Yes, the tinny production and

their next record. Bowersock, who sat in

tionship was based on that—being

callbox vocals remain, but it’s really hard

on the studio sessions for both Is This

at a bar and drinking.” Reverb Magazine • December 2012

35


first impressions of earth “I’LL BE RIGHT BACK” is the final lyric

But Raphael’s departure didn’t seem

on their previous album Room on Fire,

to do much to streamline the creative

but it would take the Strokes close

process. Valensi describes the year spent

to two and a half years to produce its

recording as full of fits and starts, with

follow-up. Raphael, who helped the

all band members rarely in the same

band construct a new studio for the

place at the same time. “We’d write and

sessions, sensed that they were looking

arrange a song, call up the producer,

to shake things up for album number

and record it. Then he would leave for a

three. Peers the White Stripes had

couple of weeks and we’d start working

already gone platinum in the U.S. and

on another song and call him back when

newcomers such as the Killers and

we were ready to record again.”

Franz Ferdinand—groups that didn’t even exist when Is This It was released in 2001—were threatening to pass them by. “I believe they saw all the bands that came in the door behind the first record that were selling three times more than them and were wondering if it was a

has the most positive memories of

the time, they were getting married and

the sessions. Most of the others

having children and wondering how they

describe the recording process for

could go higher than they did.”

First Impressions in varying degrees of joylessness. Moretti remembers it be-

introduced Hammond to Dave Kahne,

ing “difficult to put on a smile everyday.

a producer who had worked with both

It was a get-the-job-done kind of thing.”

Sublime and Sugar Ray. The band

Fraiture concurs. “The certain thing that

believed that throwing Kahne into the

makes bands great—the communica-

mix might help them find a new way

tion, the focus—was starting to recede,”

to express and develop their sound.

says the bassist. Hammond, meanwhile,

However, they were reluctant to let

checked out entirely. “Talk about not

Raphael go. Their initial plan was to

having fun—that’s the understatement

see if both producers could

of the year. I was balls-to-the-wall fucked

coexist, but Raphael quickly

up, so it’s hard for me to judge.”

"Talk about not having fun-that's the understatement of the year. up, i was balls-to-thewall fucked so it's hard for me to judge." hammond

felt marginalized. “I said,

As a general rule, the Strokes aren’t

‘Julian, I don’t really like this

easily satisfied. Most of the band mem-

scene. I want to go.’ And he

bers are quick to criticize each of their

said, ‘Please stay.’ ‘Why? I’m

studio albums, but First Impressions is

not doing anything.’ ‘Well, because if you

a favorite punching bag. All but Casa-

leave, we’re going to fire Dave Kahne

blancas now consider the 52-minute

because we don’t know how to talk to

album to be too long. Gentles recalls

him. But we think he’s onto something

almost succeeding in getting the album

with our sound, and we need you to stay

shortened prior to its release as “Julian

in case we need you to explain what we

agreed to [cut three songs] at one point.

mean.’”

I told the label and they were happy

Raphael wound up staying on

about it, too, but [Julian] rang me up

for another month when he claims

a couple of weeks later saying he

Casablancas again pulled him aside

couldn’t do it. He didn’t want the songs

to let him know that they were able

sitting around doing nothing.”

to communicate with Kahne without assistance and that he was free to go. Reverb Magazine • December 2012

Of all the Strokes, Valensi probably

production thing,” says Raphael. “At

As it turned out, Sean Lennon

36

"It was difficult to Put on a smile everyday. It was a get-the-job-done kind of thing." moretti

But Hammond felt the issues went beyond mere numerical length. “It’s not


just about the number of songs. It’s

frequently jarring listening experience.

that, when you listen to it, it feels heavy.

Some tracks, such as the marauding

I had never felt that with us.” Meanwhile,

spy theme “Juicebox” and Barry Manilow-

Valensi’s concerns lie squarely with the

cribbing “Razorblade”, sound like they

production. “My worry is that the album

could have come from an entirely diff-

won’t age well. You know how you listen

erent band. Casablancas

to certain albums from the 90s and they

says he recently listened

just sound so 90s? That’s the problem

to First Impressions and

in going with state-of-the-art, cutting-

was “overall pleasantly

edge technology. The top of the line

surprised,” but even he

shit always gets dated because there’s

readily admits that “some

another trick that comes out in a

songs missed the mark. I think people

couple of years.”

missed the messed-up excitement

Unlike Room on Fire, the experi-

"We could’ve stayed a little weirder and people would’ve come around to us, but we rushed to it by trying to sound slicker." Casablancas

vvof what we had. We could’ve stayed a

mentation on First Impressions has a

little weirder and people would’ve come

tendency to come across as a forced,

around to us, but we rushed to it by

misguided bid for relevance. It’s a

trying to sound slicker.”

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

33


34

Reverb Magazine • December 2012


angles THE STROKES DELIBERATELY made no plans following the final tour for First Impressions. Management referred to the down time as a “much-needed break,” but fatigue doesn’t appear to have been a factor in the Strokes’ decision. Hammond released a solo album in late 2006 and, during the extended hiatus, Fraiture and Casablancas had worked to issue their own as well. Moretti, meanwhile, began contributing to a new band called Little Joy. Valensi, the only member to not actively pursue another project, doesn’t mince words when asked what he thinks of these nonStrokes-related musical endeavors: “I’m not a huge supporter of side/solo stuff. I’m of the opinion that you’re in a band and that’s what you do. If there’s leftover material and time, then sure, by all means. But if you’re playing material that you haven’t even shown to your main band and you’re just sort of keeping it for yourself, I’m not a big fan of that.”

"I'm not a huge supporter of side/solo stuff. I'm of the opinion that you're in a band and that's what you do." valensi Before entering the studio to record the fourth album, Valensi expressed some skepticism on whether the band would even be able to continue due to all the newly competing priorities. “I remember reading a review of First Impressions in SPIN and they mentioned in their review that it sounded like the last Strokes album. At the time, I took offense. But, in hindsight, they were so close to the truth. I’m not even sure we’re going to make a fourth album at this point.” Of course, the Strokes were ultimately able to complete Angles, though perhaps not in the way Valensi would have wanted. A lot of the early press for Angles has focused on the fact that each of the Strokes contributed as songwriters, which is technically true. However, that storyline also implies a collaborative spirit that seems to have been largely absent from the sessions that birthed the album. Reverb Magazine • December 2012

39


Moretti, Hammond, Valensi, and Fraiture initially started the recording process with producer Joe Chiccarelli in January 2010. Casablancas, still tied up with promotional obligations for his solo album, Phrazes for the Young, planned to join the

“I feel like we have a better album in us, and it’s going to come out soon.” Valensi

group after initial tracking. However, that never materialized and the band instead

wound up completely rework-ing the Chiccarelli sessions on their own. Chiccarelli receives credit for only one track on Angles. Still, Casablancas took a less handson approach with Angles. He recorded his vocals remotely and sent his parts to the band as electronic files. Likewise, during the recording phase, most communication between Casablancas and the rest of the band took place via e-mail, and, according to Valensi, most of the singer’s ideas and suggestions were written “in really vague terms,” leaving the others without much to go on. Casablancas’ literal distance was quite deliberate, and to hear the singer tell it, the strategy was something he’d hoped to do from the beginning. “When I’m there, people might wait for me to say something. I think it took me being a little mute to force the initiative.” While Casablancas’ disengagement may have been by design, Valensi found the whole experience deeply dissatisfying. “I won’t do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful—just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there. I’d show up certain days and do guitar takes by myself, just me and the engineer. Seventy-five percent of this album felt like it was done together and the rest of it was left hanging, like some of us were picking up the scraps and trying to finish a puzzle together.”

songwriters, Valensi believes it could take some trial and error before the Strokes find an effective new way to establish quality control. “We’re all learning to work on each other’s songs and learning how to deal with emotional

Interestingly, although Casablancas nick valensi

40

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

issues that come up in relation to the

and Valensi remain at odds on the

songs, when to let go and when to fight

merits of the process used to record

and compromise,” says the guitarist.

Angles, both seem united in their desire

“I feel like we have a better album in

to improve upon the album itself. With

us, and it’s going to come out soon.”

all members now acting as contributing

Casablancas also expresses some


reservations about Angles, even if he’s

against-the-world mentality, the com-

fifth album will happen (and they have

not as quick as Valensi to find the silver

munication breakdowns are an especially

enough leftover songs from Angles for a

lining. Asked if he likes the finished al-

disconcerting development. Perhaps

decent head start), most express that

bum, he takes a long pause. “I mean...

belief in cautiously optimistic terms.

“I definitely think there will be a 5th Strokes album. I mean, I hope so.” Casablancas

“Everyone’s putting the Strokes as a

divergence is inevitable for any band

quick.” Casablancas, in typically cagey,

each other during the intense early

together as long as the Strokes, no

non-commital fashion, offers: “I definitely

scrutiny they experienced circa The

matter their shared history. While all

think there will be a fifth Strokes album.

Modern Age EP, priding itself on its us-

the members believe the Strokes’

I mean, I hope so.”

yes...It’s a tough question because I think the whole point was that I was going to let things go so there’s a bunch of stuff [on the record] I wouldn’t have done.” For a band that drew strength from

priority for at least the next little while,” says Valensi. “The best thing we can do right now is put out another one really

Reverb Magazine • December 2012 41


FRETBOARD

Tips & Techniques

Quick Licks for December THIS MONTH’S SELECTION OF CLASSIC ROCK PHRASES by Charlie Griffiths

THE MAIN FOCUS HERE in terms

Example 1: Phrasing

of vocabulary is classic rock, which we’re

Let’s begin with a Brian May-style lick. It has an interesting melodic shape, a great rhyth-

going to define for the purposes of this

mic structure, a marvellous sense of flow and perfect grace and composure. What more does

study as pre-Van Halen, so you’ll find no

a great rock lick need?

eight-finger tapping, no three-octave sweep picked arpeggios and no 32ndnote legato monster licks. What you will find, however, is a choice selection of medium-tempo classic rock phrases that are stylistically diverse, melodically

Example 2: Sequential (Descending)

flexible, and in addition, display a wide

Where would Thin Lizzy (or indeed Jimmy Page) be without this lick? We’re looking at a

range of articulation and dynamic devices.

descending sequence of three notes, transposed to each potential starting note from the

They are all also completely useable

minor pentatonic.

to guitarists of different levels and in a variety of settings. It’s arguable that it is this mid-tempo range phrasing that really establishes the character of a rock guitarist. When the tempo gets cranked up, there are often less workable options.

Example 3: Double-Stop

You’ll often find the same fingerings

Here is an example of a double-stop lick. The thickening effect of playing two notes at once

and melodic pathways being adopted by

is remarkably effective when projection is an issue.

many guitar players, but it is the specific melodic phrasing and note selection that really allow their personality to shine through. The following examples shown on the right (in standard tuning: egbdae) are different ideas, or some form of sequential permutation of the notes, all derived from one particular scale:

Example 4: Intervallic/Slide Nothing earth-shattering from a note perspective here; it’s the articulation that counts. Consider your fingering options as this is a massive influence on your effectiveness in executing the idea cleanly and efficiently.

Example 5: Scalar This three-notes-per-string finger-twister neatly boxes in our first area pentatonic shape, Whilst the pentatonic scale is generally at the core of each idea, we are by

and fills in the scale tones courtesy of the Aeolian-endorsed and metal-approved flattened 6th (F) and natural 2nd (B)!

no means restricted to it exclusively. Follow the associated text for each idea and all will become clear. Once they are mastered, you can move each idea through a selection of keys. It’s fair to say that rock styles tend to favour the keys of E, A, D and G, so start with these before eventually aiming for fluency in every key. For soundclips, visit our website at: www.reverbmag.com/quicklicks/

54

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

Example 6: Triadic/Arpeggio We shall ease you into our triadic based section with a simple three-against-four idea. Again, intonation (tuning between the notes) is a huge issue, so make sure you’re perfectly in tune.


Reverb Magazine • December 2012

39


A Guitarist's Wish List PLAY ON THE GO WITH THESE MUST-HAVE ITEMS

Vox amPlug Jamming late at night? Don’t want to wake the neighbors? The amPlug Series of palm-sized headphone guitar amps make it easy to enjoy great guitar sounds anywhere. Simply plug the amPlug directly into any guitar, attach a pair of headphones, and you’re ready! Use the AUX input jack to plug any CD/MP3 player right into the amPlug and jam along. Connect the optional amPlug Cabinet (sold separately) to create a miniature amp stack to share the sound with friends.

Vox amPhones The unique Vox AC30 headphones can plug directly into a guitar or an ordinary music source, and deliver surprisingly intricate, detailed sound for their price tag. AmPhones can be used as conventional headphones when the amplifier simulator is switched off. You can connect your guitar/bass to these headphones, or use them for listening to music. AmPhones are what you need, whether you're practicing by yourself in your room, or listening to your portable audio player on the way to the studio. AmPhones are a must-have item for any VOX enthusiast.

Strap a screaming stack to your belt! The MS-2 is the ultimate in portable battery/mains operated micro amps, packing full Marshall tone into a tiny case measuring just 14cm x 11cm x 6cm. This mighty micro Marshall has switchable Clean and Overdrive modes. A single Tone control provides fill focus of bass to treble. You can take the signature Marshall tone and vibe with you with the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp. Classic Marshall grille cloth; crunchy distortion; and plenty of volume for good, clean fun. Controls for overdrive, tone, and volume. Powered by one 9V battery. The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp includes belt clip and headphone jack.

150

Reverb Magazine • December 2012

photos by Vox and Marshall

Marshall MS2 Mini Amp


Reverb Magazine  

student publication design project (*All texts and images are taken from online sources)

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you