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The first single, Keep My Cool, from Melbourne threepiece Aluka, was recorded in a stairwell one freezing August morning, the unusual location just one of many producer Nick Huggins chose in which to record the girls, such as a public swimming pool, a barn and a WWII bunker among others, utilising innovative mic’ing techniques.

DAVID JONES WORKSHOPS COLLARTS For those in Melbourne this week, David Jones is conducting a workshop at Collarts- The Australian College of The Arts – for secondary school students and musicians of all instruments and all levels Saturday 27 October. The awardwinning master drummer, who is Collarts’ Artist-in-residence, will present the workshop from 3 to 5pm, at Collarts, 55 Brady Street, South Melbourne. The workshop is free.

KOSMIC SOUND WINS WEB AWARD Perth’s Kosmic Sound is proud to have won a prestigious Australian Web Award in the category of Best Overall User Experience. Kosmic was the only music retail site to feature in the awards. Kosmic currently have super deals on Gibson, Epiphone, Mackie and Behringer gear. Go to for more information.

GUITAR FACTORY PARRAMATTA AMP DEALS Guitar Factory in Parramatta recently opened their new amp room and are celebrating with great deals on Vox amps, such as the VT20+ at just $189 and the AC15VR at $375. They’ve also slashed prices on Yamaha acoustics, keyboards and drums. New in store is the Yamaha P105B digital piano at $749. Go to www. for more information.

SUHR AT GUITAR BROTHERS Musicians looking for something different to the tried and true brands may want to check out the range of Suhr gear at Guitar Brothers in Brisbane. Suhr make a great range of guitrs, amps, pickups and pedals. Suhr users include Mark Knopfler, Mike Landau and respected fusion guy Scott Henderson. Go to www. for more information.

WANNA BUY A RECORDING STUDIO? One of Sydney’s longest-running independent studios is up for sale. A fully operational recording studio based in the city’s south-west, 20 minutes from the CBD, it features a classic analogue desk, hard disc recording, low rent, long lease and parking. Easily operated as a co-operative, it’s a steal at around $73k, lock, stock and barrel. Call 0423 681 978 for details.

CREDITS Muso. Issue 2 - October 2012 Ph: 03 9421 4499 Fax: 03 9421 1011 584 Nicholson St Nth Fitzroy 3068 Website: Editor and Advertising: Greg Phillips Distribution enquiries: Layout & design: Matt Davis iPad edition: Dave Harvey Contributors: Reza Nasseri, Shannon Bourne, Baz Bardoe, Michael Smith, Marcel Yammouni, Joe Yammouni, Eamon Stewart, Mark Owen. Photographer: Kane Hibberd Published by Street Press Australia PTY LTD Printed by: Rural Press

Recorded over three sessions at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room Studios in Melbourne, when drummer James Baker was in Melbourne from Perth with his band The Painkillers, the eponymous album by Spencer P Jones & The Nothing Butts, featuring The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin, sees release Friday 9 November. Sydneysiders The Preatures recorded their second EP, Shaking Hands, at the LA studio, The Bank, owned by session drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, Elliott Smith, Jack White), with former Hives bass player, producer Tony Buchen (Tim Finn, John Butler Trio, Blue King Brown). The second album, To The Dollhouse, from Melodie Nelson, AKA Sydney musician Lia Tsamoglou, was recorded in Melbourne by Simon Grounds (Kes Band, Laura Jean) and mixed in Tasmania by Chris Townend (Daniel Johns, Augie March).

While the focus has been on the fall of the giant Allans + Billy Hydes retail group crash, we shouldn’t forget that we still have some great independent instrument stores in Australia. Something of an institution, Manny’s at 161 St Georges Rd, North Fitzroy has come of age! Manny and Gail Gauci-Seddon and staff have been serving Melbourne’s musician community for 21 years and still have the passion for what they do. Manny is a seasoned guitar player himself and knows what musicians want and that’s a vital thing today, knowing your customers. Muso salutes Manny’s.

GIBSON SETTLES WITH US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE The Lacey Act is a conservation law introduced by the American Congress back in 1900, brought about to protect native flora and fauna. Recently the law was amended, with massive consequences for those guitar manufacturers using exotic timber imported from around the globe. In 2009 and again last year, Gibson guitars ran into trouble with US authorities when shipments of timber from India and Madagascar were claimed in armed raids by a SWAT team. After a long and gruelling period of legalities, Gibson finally decided to settle out of court. CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz commented, “We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve. This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars. An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.” “We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact with a caring human being representing the government. Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job-creating US manufacturer at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalise rules and regulations and treat US businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair. I am committed to working hard to correct the inequity that the law allows and insure there is fairness, due process and the law is used for its intended purpose of stopping bad guys and stopping the very real deforestation of our planet”.

Sydney fivepiece Strangers recorded their album, Persona Non Grata, with Shihad drummer, producer Tom Larkin.


like the cut of Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies’ jib. I’m not quite sure what a jib is or how best it should be cut, but I feel the phrase perfectly summarises my approval of how Ben has approached the creation of his debut solo album, Diamond Days. A drummer in an internationally recognised band steps out from behind the kit. He has a collection of unfinished, unconnected ideas from which he forms songs. Good songs. Happy songs. Playing drums on the album is almost an afterthought as he is too busy having fun laying down guitar, keyboard and bass tracks. He downloads an app, uses it on the spot to write music in the studio for a track which closes his album. Ben makes up a name (Bento) to call the project as he doesn’t want it to appear as a solo album. It’s an ad hoc mentality which on this occasion has paid off. The result is a quality pop album. I’m betting that the public will agree with me. Even if it hadn’t worked though, I get the feeling that Ben would

Black Sabbath are currently back in the studio with producer Rick Rubin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Slayer) working on the new album they began working on last year slated for release next year. Chicago cult punk heroes Alkaline Trio have begun recording at Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins, Colorado, with long-time friend and producer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Rise Against, Hot Water Music). The new album, Paradise And Lunch, from Ry Cooder, was recorded, mixed and mastered by Martin Pradler at Wireland Studios in Chatsworth, California, and Drive-By Studios in Hollywood, Cooder producing it himself. Former Comets On Fire member Ben Chasny recorded the latest album, Ascent, under his reconvened previous project banner, Six Organs of Admittance, at Louder Studios in California, coproducing with Tim Green. Sounding nothing like his former band TZU, Melbourne six-piece Texture Like Sun’s frontman Mark Pearl called on fellow former TZU member Pip Norman (Sparkadia, Ash Grunwald) to produce his new band’s self-titled debut EP, recorded over a year between Darwin and Melbourne’s Bounce County Studios. The EP was mixed by Dan Rejmer (Bjork, Foals, Paul Kelly).


Amber Technology today announced its appointment as the new exclusive Australian distributor for US-based tube guitar amp manufacturer Jet City Amplification. With the addition of Jet City Amplification, Amber Technology further expands its growing product portfolio of leading music technology brands. Founded in 2009, Jet City Amplification continues to expand its “design by Soldano” lineup of all-tube guitar amplifiers, featuring simple controls, cool cosmetics and sensible pricing.

AUDIO TECHNICA’S LP1240-USB Audio-Technica’s 50-year journey started in a Tokyo garage with a high-quality turntable cartridge, so the new LP1240-USB is something of a return to the company’s roots. Designed to deliver exceptional music reproduction even under the most demanding professional applications, the new turntable offers a host of high-performance features making it ideal for professional, mobile and club DJ use, and its sleek, gloss black design complements any home music system. Locally, the LP1240-USB is selling for around $690.

WIN A $1395 STERLING BY MUSIC MAN RAY 35 To celebrate the success of the Sterling by Music Man and S.U.B. series of guitars and basses, CMC Music is giving away a Sterling by Music Man Ray 35 to one of the first 500 visitors to like their new Facebook page.

FINDING THE RHYTHM In the new book, Finding The Rhythm In Music ( JoJo Publishing $49.99), Melbourne author Marla Swift presents readers with a new simple and precise method of learning how to understand and perform musical rhythm, explaining how to feel rhythm and combine this with the reading of music, giving a deep, instinctual understanding.

have been happy with the enjoyment he got out of the writing and recording process. This is my point … during a sad time in our industry where a huge instrument retail chain can fall, and it’s easier for the liquidators (who have no synergy with music people) to just close down the operation rather than negotiate a deal with interested parties and save jobs, it’s comforting to know that artists like Ben are still out there, oblivious to everything else as he creates his art. As long as there are Bens around, and as long as there are fine instrument stores out there, staffed by musicians who are serving musicians like Ben, then I think it’s all going to be OK.


BLUE MICROPHONES Blue Microphones, a leading innovator in microphone technology and design, announces “Free Fall 2012,” an in-store promotion at participating retailers through to November 30. During Free Fall 2012, customers who purchase a Bluebird, Baby Bottle or Reactor microphone instantly receive a free enCORE 100, 200 or 300 live mic. In addition, customers who purchase a Cactus or Kiwi microphone will receive a free Robbie mic preamplifier.


From Silverchair to production chair, Ben Gillies sits comfortably with his new solo project, Bento. Greg Phillips reports.


istorically, drummers and bass players have copped a raw deal with regards to their perceived creative contribution to a band - after all they’re just the rhythm section aren’t they? A prime example is Silverchair, one of Australia’s most successful bands. While the trio of drummer Ben Gillies, bassist Chris Joannou and vocalist/guitarist Daniel Johns have achieved the unprecedented record of having all five of their albums reach number one on the charts, it’s generally been frontman Daniel Johns who has collected most of the accolades. Once drummer Gillies decided he was going out on a limb and recording his own album, it was always going to be interesting to finally hear Ben’s own musical voice. Funnily enough, Diamond Days, Ben’s new solo project is not such a giant leap from Young Modern, the musical statement Silverchair left us with and says as much about that band as it does about Bento. Diamond Days is essentially the threading together of a myriad musical ideas Ben had lying around in his head or documented on tape over the last decade or so. “I have always been a writer,” said Ben. “I wrote a lot in the early Silverchair days. When Dan

changed his writing approach, I was happy to take a step back. That was after Neon Ballroom and was a lot of years ago, over ten years. I mean a lot of those older ideas kind of fell away but I always logged ideas either on a four-track or on my phone or little Pro Tools sessions. There were some almost finished songs through to just a chorus idea or melody idea or just a set of chords. Working on the record, I did combine a lot of those. Sometimes it would just be me in a supermarket on aisle 12, and something would pop into my head. I’d put the dictaphone on and try not to look like I was too weird humming a tune in the middle of the supermarket.” Bento is the moniker Gillies came up with to work under in an attempt to sway people away from thinking this was totally a solo record. Ben’s partner in rhyme was Eric J Dubowsky (Faker, Art vs Science), as well as a bunch of mates that also includes Papa vs Pretty’s Thomas Rawle. Ben uses the Trent Reznor/ Nine Inch Nails association as an analogy of what he was aiming for in describing his role in the project: “I really wanted to have a band name rather than just be Ben Gillies … and the Space Cadets ... I dunno! I don’t personally like the perception of being a solo artist.” Releasing a solo project was never a burning ambition for Ben, rather something he thought he just might enjoy doing one day. “I think I have always wanted to get into the studio and have a really good chunk of time on my own and work on my own songs, without record company pressure, and just be really free. When Silverchair decided to go



on an indefinite haitus, or long break until we feel the time is right, in a way it was a blessing in disguise. It gave me the chance and enough time to finally have that opportunity. There have probably been times in the past where I have had time to do that but because Silverchair is such a massive and awesome thing, there’s a lot of energy you have to give to it. Sometimes the last thing I’d want to do is go back in the studio.”

The result of Ben’s studio time with his mates is a joyous, upbeat pop album, abounding with positivity. The Australian Football League liked the vibe of Gillies’ first single, title track Diamond Days, so much that it became an unofficial soundtrack to their finals broadcasts. Ben describes the album as a patchwork quilt of those fractured ideas he’s collected over time. It’s those incidental musical notions that combine to make this such a sonically absorbing and openly happy album, testament to the gratification Gillies obtained from making it. “The experience was liberating and exciting. I think I am just an optimistic kind of person. Dark songs are cool but obviously that wasn’t what I was feeling when I was writing this. I think diving into the unknown, the unchartered waters, I had that nervous excitement which comes from making music.”

Although Gillies is loath to portray Diamond Days as a solo album, he did write the material, had a stab at contributing parts on keyboards, guitar, bass, drums (of course!) and even utilised an iPhone app. “Give me an instrument and after a while I can make some kind of sound out of it,” he admits. “The last song on the album, the really trippy one called Naked Next to Me, it

came out of the Brian Eno app called Bloom. We were in the studio and I was consolidating all of those ideas I was telling you about and Josh asked me if I’d heard about the app. Between takes we were just chatting about music and he said, ‘dude, you are going to love this.’ I got it straightaway and began to muck around with it. I really love that instinctual reaction to a sound or song or instrument. I said plug

While Ben enjoyed the freedom of trying whatever musical whim entered his head, the vocal parts initially gave him quite a bit of grief. It was during a dinner with co producer Eric J Dubowsky that he aired his fears.

“You know what, I really think it was. Maybe we were suppressing it because of young teenage angst. It feels really natural to sit down and hum a tune that pops into your head, being open to it and letting it flow naturally. You know, I think most people can do it. If you sit down and start to go doo do doo do, you start humming shit and usually that’s the stuff that people love to hear because it resonates with everybody.”

“We kept putting off the vocals because a lot of the choruses were written but not full songs. I was nervous about it. After a few drinks at dinner, I said there’s something I have to get off my chest. I said I am really nervous about singing. I said, I know I can do it but I have never had that pressure and I just have to air it that I am nervous. The first song was Miss My Mind and it’s quite exposed and there isn’t a lot of band around it to cover mistakes. Anything

Being such an internationally successful band, Silverchair had the luxury of working with a number of high-profile producers including Kevin Shirley, Nick Launay and David Bottril. On their much-lauded fourth album, Diorama, they also employed the services of genius arranger Van Dyke Parks. For an artist breaking out with their first solo album, you’d assume that invaluable studio experience must have been of

like that sound. All of a sudden I want to buy Vox amps or some other brand. Once you open the door to that stuff, firstly you don’t want to shut the door but once you do it, that’s it, it’s open forever.”

’ Bento s

Portamento it in and hit record, we’re going to do a song right now. I fumbled around for five or ten minutes then we cut together that cool little intro part and a few other bits and pieces. Then on the spot, I put the drum track down. I put a really basic bass down and all it is is just an octave… me going dom, dom, dom and that’s all it is, the whole song, but it’s a good example of simplicity being all you need.”

Over his long and successful music career, Ben has accumulated a swag of music gear, some of which he dug out for the recording. “I’ve got a shitty old bass, a basic Gibson studio acoustic, and a bunch of drum kits. I have a couple of keyboards, a Wurly and a Rhodes. It’s funny because I have never been in the driver’s seat as much as I have with this. I can definitely see myself going crazy with buying cool new guitars, amps. That’s going to happen very soon or happening. I now have to think about guitar sounds, tones. In a band situation everyone has their role but with this I have had control of every facet of Bento. So whether it’s the guitar tone or the bass, I’m now having to go, OK I don’t like that or don’t

that is a challenge, if you can confront it then you can say you had a go and then if you conquer it, you gain some confidence. I felt that within that first day of recording, I got my confidence, then I could go in and enjoy the recording process rather than get sweaty palms. I didn’t want anyone in the studio apart from me and Eric but after I did half a dozen takes, it was just like I was performing.” Even with Silverchair, Gillies has never had a huge allegiance to any particular drum set-up, preferring to mix it up. Constants have been Pearl or Le Soprano drums, Sabian cymbals, Remo skins and Vater sticks. Le Soprano honoured Ben with the production of a Ben Gillies signature kit in the early 2000s. With Bento, it was again, however, a mix and match scenario.

“It was funny. I didn’t really use the kits I had used with Silverchair except for one. On some of the drum tracks I did at The Grove Studio, I used an original Premier 303 that I played on the recording of Tomorrow. It was just sitting at my house and was all shitty and dusty and even the skins on it were the same skins I had used on Tomorrow. So they were like 18 years old but still sound fantastic, so warm and old. I think a lot of engineers can get really caught up in making sure there are no buzzes. Particularly with rock music, once you get it all down on tape you don’t hear that stuff... you don’t hear the creaks. If you have a good sound engineer, I reckon once you get the sound right after about fifteen minutes, you are ready to go. That’s the approach I took and then once we got to BJB, I just enquired if there were any spare kits lying around, partly because I wanted a different sound and partly because I was late. They just had random kits sitting around. So I’d grab a bass from here, some toms from over there - it was a real mixed bag. It went with the nature of the album.” Bento offered Gillies the chance to release any pent-up musical ideas he may have been concealing over the years with Silverchair, I wondered if that also applied to drumming concepts? “Not really,” said Ben. “I’ve always had the freedom and said my two cents’ worth in Silverchair as far as songs go but I’ve always had the drumming freedom to pretty much do what I want ... except maybe with the albums that Dan had written, where he had a clear vision of what he wanted the drums to be. Even within that, he has been pretty open to how I interpret it. The drums came as a later thought with this though. Really it was about the tunes and the melodies.” It’s fascinating to see how the members of a band who started out with the angst of Frogstomp have, with each ensuing album, gradually displayed such a high regard for melody and pop structures. I wondered if that pop sensibility had always been there, even in the early Silverchair days?

great benefit. Gillies is more pragmatic in his summation of the Diorama recording experience.

“I guess I learned that it is very difficult to mix over a hundred tracks of audio! I love Diorama and I think it is one of our best records and I love that we did a lot of orchestration but it’s that classic thing that less is more. For me personally, within SIlverchair it works. I love to put horn sections and strings on stuff but I would just really scale it back. You don’t need an eightypiece orchestra. You could get twenty guys and make this amazing wall of sound. The recording process was pretty much how we’d done it in the past. You know, it’s band, some overdubs and orchestration, then vocals, so there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that we hadn’t done before.” With regards to Bento’s Diamond Days, the studio process was much less formal than the massive productions that some of the Silverchair albums became. More energy was placed on the moment at the point of recording rather than afterwards in post-production. “In terms of shuffling stuff around and making it sound good, we kind of did that on the fly,” Ben admits. “We didn’t have a band to lay down a rhythm track and then overdub. Sometimes I played drums to a click track and there was nothing else. I had to imagine where everything else was going to go. Sometimes that didn’t work and we’d have to go in during the process and say, well this song needs a middle-eight now. Eric would set up the keyboard and I’d make something up on the fly. Sometimes that would work, sometimes not and we would cut that in and play some drums over that. I have been describing it to people as a patchwork quilt. We didn’t have a formula we worked to; it was always living in the moment, you know, what do we need right now?” With the album in the can and released this week, Ben’s focus now shifts to how he can reproduce this music live. He may jump behind the kit to satisfy the desire of some hardcore Silverchair fans he’ll find in the audience, but generally he’ll be Bento’s frontman. It’s a concept he’s still getting his head around when thinking about the instrumentation he’ll need on stage. “I reckon keys, bass, guitar, drums and, what am I missing? Oh yes... singing! A lot of it can be pulled off with keys’ sounds. All the tricky stuff is done on keys. It’s all achievable with a minimum band. Personally I am shitting myself that I have to get up and front a band. Like I said before though, once you confront those fears you can really go out and enjoy it. There still isn’t a band as such, just a lot of muso friends that I am going to get involved to play. The long-term plan is to have a stable of guys who are the band. If we go and do a record, it’s just a given that they’re the band.”

OTHER DRUMMERS WHO HAVE FAMOUSLY STEPPED OUT FRONT. DAVE GROHL Grohl has had so much success with his power rock outfit The Foo Fighters that it’s easy to forget he was behind the kit with the legendary Nirvana. Even in that band, with the focus always on Cobain, Grohl began to move towards the front, involved in writing and contributing lead vocals to the track, Marigold, originally released as a B-side to Heart Shaped Box). Grohl gladly returned to drum duties for supergroup project, Them Crooked Vultures alongside Josh Homme and Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.

PHIL COLLINS Starting out as drummer in English progressive rock band Genesis, Collins later forged one of the most commercially successful solo careers in rock history. Before he had a massive worldwide solo hit with In The Air Tonight, he’d already stepped to the front of Genesis as vocalist when mercurial singer Peter Gabriel left the band. Due to the level of success Collins has achieved, he’s suffered from much derision from a newer generation of music fans. He hasn’t helped his cause by breaking out In The Air Tonight as a party piece every time he appears as a guest on stage. He also copped a fair bit of flack for both his divorce via fax in the late ‘80s and another legal case where he took two band members to court seeking $780,000 in royalties he claimed were overpaid fees.

RINGO STARR The most famous singing drummer of all time. Often referenced by other high-profile drummers as a musician who does not get anywhere near enough recognition for his playing skills, Ringo made several cameo appearances on Bealtes albums, usually with the tracks people love to hate, such as Octopus’s Garden and Yellow Submarine. It’s not surprising, with the childlike qualities of those songs, that Ringo later became the narrator of the children’s animated series, Thomas the Tank Engine. Starr released two solo albums in the same year The Beatles called it a day and had a number #4 single on the US charts with It Don’t Come Easy. More recently Ringo’s All Star band has performed regularly with lineups consisting of a who’s who of rock including Joe Walsh, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Dr John, Todd Rundgren, John Entwistle, Peter Frampton, Jack Bruce, Ian Hunter, Edgar Winter and even our own Colin Hay.

KRAM Formed in 1989, Spiderbait have always been the darlings of Australia’s alternative music scene, often featuring high on Triple J’s annual Hottest 100. While Kram has never really left the drum stool with the band, his lead vocals on tracks such as Calypso, Buy Me A Pony and Black Betty have resulted in the band achieving a great deal of chart success. Kram released his first solo album, Mixed Tape, to much acclaim too.



The Paper Kites A snippet from the first three shows of The Paper Kites’ Young North Tour in October, with amazing supports Art Of Sleeping and Battleships.

feeling like you can’t move around without knocking a stand or a guitar over, but it’s necessary to create the experience from our latest record Young North.


Thursday 11 October – Heritage Hotel, Bulli NSW “Passengers travelling to Sydney on flight DJ859, your flight has been delayed one hour” – not an ideal start to the tour for Raz and myself, who were already running late for soundcheck. We’d both worked most of the day in Melbourne while the rest of the crew had caught an earlier flight to sort out the gear, the set up, lighting hire and the rest. We finally arrived in Sydney, swooped through to pick up our hire car, and fanged it down to Bulli for our first show of the tour at The Heritage Hotel. We arrived long after our soundcheck was over and the first band (Battleships) had already started. Luckily our TM/Sound Engineer, Brett was all over it. With only 25 minutes to change over, set up and check our extra instruments, it left me feeling extra thankful for our crew. We had a quick meal at the pub and went upstairs to get warmed up and ready for our show. Before long we were standing side of stage listening to our intro music, just before walking on. First show of the tour! Whoo! First show nerves were evident to me through the start of our set, but I felt like our preparation and rehearsing paid off. The best thing about touring with a sound engineer is that no matter what venue you turn up to, they’ll always get the best out of the system. It wasn’t the crème de la crème of systems, and the foldback wedges were pretty muddy, but all things considered, it was a great show!

The Bullians were pretty darn accommodating at The Heritage Hotel, and I was surprised to see a regional crowd so attentive during our set. The rowdy minority were bullied into silence by the attentive punters. One lady actually came up to me after the show, “What a lovely show,” she said, “your audience is pretty intense though! This girl suddenly told me to stop talking because she’d paid good money to be here and wanted to hear the songs! I guess she’s a big fan.” I suppose I should be flattered that people would feel so strongly about listening to what they paid to come and see. Although the ‘shhhhhing’ sounds weird through the quieter songs in the set, I appreciate the sentiment. Thanks ‘shhooshers’. Highlight: The friendly folk of Bulli/Sam’s shirtless impersonation of Michael Flatley.

I’ve found one of the hardest instruments to get a sweet tone from is definitely the banjo. I’m playing a Deering Good Time Special, which sounds awesome acoustically, but micing up a banjo is just ridiculous, and hard to get any foldback without the thing screaming feedback. So I installed a Fishman Rare Earth pickup, which sounds pretty cool yet hugely clanky in the mid range. The secret ingredient has been the LR Baggs direct inputs we’re using on this tour. There is the perfect number of variables without massive compression on the DI, which makes it so much easier for a good sound through front of house and in foldback. In fact, it’s the same deal for all of our acoustic instruments.

Friday 12 October – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney NSW

At this point I’d like to make a note of our extensive instrument entourage on this tour. This is what it takes to tour with The Paper Kites: two six-string acoustics, a twelve-string, a resonator, banjo, mandolin, lap steel, bass guitar and two electric guitars; Josh’s drum gear and our four pedal boards. Of course we can’t forget Deb’s lighting gear and Brett’s general TM and sound gear. It gets ridiculous sometimes on stage,

We woke to the sound of heavy rain and booming thunder, which shook the whole hotel. The old girl is 120 years old, so she didn’t fair too well through the storm. There was


Lowlight: Loadout in the rain the next morning.


water coming through the roof and the windows, all over the stairs and the lobby floor. It was no surprise to the staff, so I guess it must happen all the time. We managed to get everyone together to go to the Gong for brekky, which was cheap as! I paid $8 for my coffee and cooked breakfast. Heck yeah, love a bargain! We fought the storm wind on the drive to Sydney, listening to Grizzly Bear’s Shields and enjoying the folks around with inside out umbrellas. We stayed in a hotel just across from Victoria Park. Think ‘90s timber bunks slumber party, with no ventilation. We killed some time before heading off to Oxford St. The only parking in the area we could find was a secure paid parking joint… $82! I don’t understand how people afford to park like that in the city. Load in, set up and soundcheck was a dream. Unlike the night before, we had plenty of time, and a lot more room. It really makes a difference when the venue is organised, and the house guy is really cooperative and helpful. We had a chance to run through a bunch of songs together and make sure everything was sounding nice and cohesive. We ducked out to inhale some chicken burgers and legged it back to watch the amazing Battleships play to their home crowd. And what a crowd! An appropriate turnout for such a great band. They have such a big musical presence, and confidently deliver a unique brand of post-rock with character. The dudes are so talented and real nice too, which makes them a pleasure to tour with. I have to say one of the best parts of my night was watching Dan play drums from side stage – that guy is amazing to watch and listen too! While back in the green room later, we were surprised by the arrival of our great friends from Avalanche City, all the way from New Zealand just to see us play (they managed to squeeze in some shows while they were over too). While on the road in NZ with Avalanche City, we had a significant amount of Daves on tour; Dave Parker, Dave Baxter and myself. We developed an intricate and complicated chant, which only we could understand, “DAVE! DAVE! DAVE! DAVE! DAVE!”…etc. Thus formed our ‘Dave’ brotherhood forever, and that chant would be the very same chant that united us once again this very night. “DAVE! DAVE! DAVE! DAVE!” echoed through the Oxford Arts Factory as we jumped up and down, arm in arm, like the winning team of a grand final. Maybe you had to be there? Anyway, we later stood side of stage with the curtains drawn as the intro music started the set. I have to say this was the most nervous I’ve been before a show for a long time. We had discussed earlier the balance and percentage of time spent performing on stage to an audience, versus the days and days of rehearsing, travelling, organising, setting and packing up, finding hotels, places to eat and of course loading out. We worked out it’s about 6% of the whole shebang but it feels like 99% when you’re up there

and it’s all totally worth it! And it was worth it that night. The OAF was sold out, and the crowd was beautiful, responsive and attentive. We couldn’t have asked for more. The whole show was a bar-setter for us, and possibly the best show we’ve played as a band to date. I have to say the lowlight of the show was the load-out. As soon as the show finished, the DJ started spinning the doof, and the crowd totally switched out to a new scene. Within 20 minutes our crowd was out, and the Oxford St party crowd was in. Josh was propositioned, a drunken lad fell down some steps and someone opened the stage curtain and vomited next the foldback wedge. The OAF is awesome, but is also notoriously bad


Saturday 13 October – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW A glorious morning! (Not that we could tell from the cocoon of our room.) We had the morning off, so a few of us went out for some brekky with friends in Glebe. We bumped into the Art Of Sleeping dudes and hung out at the markets for a while. After few bargains all ‘round and some gelato, we headed back to the hotel, then hit the road up to Newcastle. Getting to Newcastle was not as exciting as we’d hoped. When we got to the venue, we were told that we couldn’t load in for another hour. Brett managed to work his magic (which is what we pay him for) and we were allowed to load through the front. However, this was only the start of the ‘Not allowed’ show of the tour. “Can we open the back doors?”, “Not allowed”. “Can we use the hazers?”, “Not allowed”, “Can we have a good time?”, “Not allowed”. This guy was running a tight ship. We ended up with a short soundcheck and a stage with huge booming subs underneath it. All I could hear was bass until the room filled up later on. We had dinner in the pub, which was already full of blokes letting off steam from a long week at work. The NRL was blaring and the pool tables were swarmed. It was an absolute sausage fest. We got our food and basically ate in silence, because we couldn’t hear each other over the volume of Biffo on the phone to Shano telling him to get the F*#@ down to the Cambo

SAM STARTED A SONG ON THE WRONG KEY AND I MISSED A CUE FOR THE LAP STEEL, ONLY TO COME IN ONE SECOND LATER AT EXTREME VOLUME” for the front entry load-out. The back doors are locked and alarmed so we had to push our way through the pandemonium, with all the gear, out the front and down a flight of stairs to the vans. (When I say we, I mean the other guys. I was minding the vans out the side, talking to my wife on the phone, good job gang). Highlight: Dan from Battleships. Lowlight: Load-out.

for a game of pool and a jug of Tooheys. Biffo’s girlfriend later dropped a glass of beer on my feet. The whole night was real fun, and Art Of Sleeping played an amazing set! We had more time and space to hang out with those guys, and realised that we’ll miss them when this whole tour is over. Sam started a song on the wrong key and I missed a cue for the lap steel, only to come in one second later at extreme volume. I really enjoyed playing our cover of Dreams. So it was a great night with really good people, and despite the hiccups we were able to laugh it off before a huge drive back to Sydney. We managed two and a half hours sleep until the lobby call to get to our flight back to Melbourne. Highlight: Spending the day in sunny Glebe. Lowlight: “Not allowed” at the Cambridge Hotel.

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Love them or loathe them, you’ve got to give American music legends Aerosmith credit for their longevity and amazing album sales stats. Greg Phillips spoke to bass player Tom Hamilton about Music From Another Dimension, their first studio album in a decade, due for release in November.

Fender Relic bass G&L Asat bass Ampeg B15 amp Gallien Kruger amps blow one of those up and get a good sound.”

Music from another dimension


hey’ve always been considered America’s version of The Rolling Stones … Steve Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, the Stateside Jagger and Richards. Aerosmith are in a rare group of recording artists who have sold over 150 million albums. The hits? Yeah, they’ve had a few… Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way, Dream On in their early days and later on, Love In An Elevator, Janie’s Got A Gun and Dude Looks Like A Lady. In Australia, they’ve never achieved the level of adoration they are used to at home and that’s probably one reason why they’ve only ever toured here once, but expectations are that album number 15 could bring them to our shores. Music From Another Dimension was a long time coming, partly due to extracurricular activities band members are involved with, and partly due to the difficulty of getting things done in a band with such strong personalities. The main issue delaying a start on the album was choice of producer. Once that was sorted, Hamilton tells Muso, the band was ready to roll tape. “I would say the bulk of the album was realised over the last two years. Some of the riffs have been around for many years. There were a couple of older songs, which were close to being finished, but everything was completely redone, redesigned and reimagined in the last year or two. It started with Jack [Douglas, producer] and I

think that some of these riffs were always going to be in limbo until we did work with Jack.” Much like The Stones, after four decades Aerosmith have to deal with that ever-present question of when they’ll call it a day. Although there’s no talk of quitting from the band’s camp, there is a sense of swansong about the new album in that musically it has a retrospective feel about it. “I think we just wanted something that had a strong connection to when we started but without trying to contrive an imitation of Toys In The Attic or Rocks. We have gained so much throughout our career by trying something outside of what we normally do. We have learned to just try things so I think there is a range of different material on the record and hopefully people like it and don’t jump all over us for not playing every song as fast and loud as we can possibly go.” On the album Hamilton mainly used a Fender Relic Jazz bass, as well as a G&L Asat through an Ampeg B15 amp, which is a different set-up he used on their recent American tour. “On stage I’m using Gallien Kruger amplifiers but for most of the set, I have been using my G&L Asat,” he says. “Last summer when we

were in the studio, their artist rep came over and dropped off this amazing Asat with an incredibly deep gold sparkle finish. He just said, ‘Here, do with it what you will!’ I tried it out and thought it was pretty interesting but the damn thing was as heavy as lead. Then we went out on the road and I brought it out with me and loved the sound of it, but it was so heavy! I got pissed off at it and only used it for a few songs. I told the company that I loved their bass but why did it have to be so damn heavy? So they made me one out of pine with that same finish and it’s beautiful and a joy

to play. Then they made me one out of ash and I channeled it, you know, dug a lot of the wood out of it and put a blue sparkle finish on it and that sounds great too. I have really been having a lot of fun playing them.” Hamilton is not a huge fan of effects, preferring to keep it fairly clean. “The only effects I really use are distortion but I have never been able to get the exact distortion sound I hear in my head. I have tried to do it with pedals. I think in the future, I’m going to pursue it, maybe trying some Marshall guitar amps. See if I can

The national Songwriters’ Circle tour kicks off in Sydney this week. Greg Phillips spoke to Steve Balbi, one of the Circle’s participants.


he Songwriters’ Circle is a concept which began in Canada and has since spread its wings across the globe. The Circle usually features three or four singer songwriters, who not only perform their songs to a live audience, but also dissect them, discussing how their songs are written, relating amusing anecdotes etc. This Australian tour features Canadian artist Matthew Barber, local guys Nicholas Roy, Asa Broomhall and former Noiseworks and Electric Hippies member Steve Balbi.

The Songwriters Circle Steve Balbi was unaware of The Songwriters’ Circle until he got a call from a couple of local promoters looking to launch the program here. Balbi was not short of work, being in the midst of recording a new Noiseworks album, rehearsing with that band for the Long Way To The Top tour, recording his own solo album, running his Ziggy stage show, and fronting ‘80s band MiSex... but the Circle gig intrigued him. “It seemed like a good thing to do,” he says. “It would be great for it to be an ongoing thing whereby people say, oh Songwriters’ Circle, four songwriters where we can go and listen to their guts. I’m not doing it to make a million bucks and go to the Bahamas, I’m doing it because it is the part of music which means the most to me.” Balbi is interested to hear what his fellow songwriters have to offer the audience on the tour but is fairly clear about his ideas on songwriting. “I’ve always thought that honesty is the best policy,” he reckons. “I like writing in metaphors, it’s nice to write in poetry but I think it’s best to just tell it like it is. I love affecting people. I like it that I can play a gig and make people cry. I love being able to tap into their emotions. Don’t be afraid to hurt somebody.”


There are a million ways to tackle songwriting but one approach which Balbi has never subscribed to is the business method, whereby you write to a brief or treat songwriting as a day job. For Steve, it’s more a case of write when inspiration strikes and don’t force it. “There was an instance where I was asked to write a specific song based on rock’n’roll, fast cars and chicks and I thought the whole concept was ridiculous. I wrote the song in about five

minutes and it actually became successful and took an album to number one but I never meant to write that song. I come from a place where it’s a real gift to write a song, it’s quite precious.” For a musician who is playing an instrument and creating music on a daily basis, it’s easy to keep repeating musical ideas. Most writers develop comfort chords or habits which lead them down a similar musical path but Balbi doesn’t necessarily think it’s a disastrous practice.

“I think it is something you need to be aware of but not too bothered about. I think it’s OK but at the end of the day, it’s either going to move people or it’ s not. The chords may not matter, it could be a phrase or the melody or instrumentation. I think as writers, we all try to steer away from writing the same thing too many times. But comfort chords, yeah, the capo is good for that. Same chord, different key!” Another way Balbi prevents himself from repeating ideas is to put himself in different life situations, removing himself from any kind of comfort zone, a credo he brings to the stage too. “I hate being organised. I love the energy of being on the edge of anything. I hate being staid and in control. I think that is really boring so I will always put myself in dangerous situations. Whether it is something I say to an audience or something I give. I think the audience sometimes think, ‘Should you be saying that?’ It puts them in an uneasy place and it’s a place from which you can take them and make it OK.”

In forty years with the band, Hamilton doesn’t feel his playing style has changed much but has an interesting take on his band role. “I think I am a little more assertive with my playing and my writing but no, I think my role is what it has been and it’s interesting how my musical role is so similar to my band member role. As a musician, my musical role in the band is to be a liaison between the drums and the guitars, and my role as a band member is usually to be in between two personalities trying to claw away at each other. I try to make the guys understand each other a little better.” As bass player in a multi-million album selling band, Hamilton has racked up quite a few recognisable bass riffs, one of them, Sweet Emotion, was rated in the top 25 of all time in a recent web poll. But which bass lines does

One of Balbi’s most enjoyable methods of songwriting is in conjunction with another artist. It’s the exchange of ideas which appeals to him and it’s another reason why The Songwriters’ Circle held so much interest for him. The first time Balbi encountered collaborative joy was with fellow Noiseworks ad Electric Hippies member Justin Stanley. “Before Noiseworks there was an ad in the paper for a guy who wanted people to write songs with and I answered the ad and so did Justin,” recalls Steve. “We arrived at this guy’s place at the same time. It didn’t work out with him but Justin and I stuck together. With Justin it was effortless, there wasn’t any real verbal involved. I’d add a bit, he’d add a bit. He’s probably my soul brother in regard to music and collaboration. I don’t think I could find that with anyone else anywhere in the world.” Pushed for an example of songwriting perfection, Balbi offers two. “I break my life down to the simplest choices and the simplest route is always the greatest. I keep coming back to what I think the greatest song ever written and that’s Let It Be. What it says on many levels with its simplicity and the progression,

Hamilton consider to be among the best? “First of all, that’s a pretty amazing thing to hear. I mean I am aware that when people hear that bass line, they do know that it’s Sweet Emotion, which is interesting. As far as bass lines that I like, I was never one for getting the same bass line down as a record. First of all I didn’t have the patience. I didn’t have good enough equipment as a kid growing up to hear the bass well enough. I knew guys who would put their turntable on 78 to figure out the bass that way. I’ve always been one to learn the chords and then play something similar. I have always loved the bass part to Lady Madonna and a lot of Beatles’ songs, especially Rain and Paperback Writer. McCartney is so creative and uses such simple elements.” As to when the band might return to Australia, Hamilton is a little exasperated. “Jesus, I don’t know,” he said. “We’re so overdue. I think we’ve only been there once in our lives, It’s crazy! It’s insane, so make a loud enough noise down there and we’ll be there!” Music From Another Dimension is out November 6

it’s remarkable, just that line… Let It Be. Everybody’s life, every moment, every second, if you can embrace that phrase… it’s magic. On the other hand, I love the story of Like A Rolling Stone because that is my story. I remember hearing that song when I was about 12 years old and thinking what an amazing story and it ended up being my life. I think it’s amazing songwriting.” Balbi is looking forward to the uncertainty of the Songwriters’ Circle gigs and the surprises it will bring. I road test a couple of questions which may come from the floor on any given night. Song he’s most proud of? “What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What To Do? Nobody has heard it. It will be on my new solo album.” Easiest song he’s ever written? “Greedy People, which I wrote for Electric Hippies. We’d just walked out of the break up from Noiseworks. We left the accountant. I went home and wrote this sweet, melodic, jolly, pop song which was seamed with anger.” The Songwriters’ Circle begins in Sydney on October 25 and includes two shows at the Sydney Blues & Roots Festival.

Best tip for home recordist?

One of the more intriguing panels at this year’s Face the Music conference will focus on music production. Panelists include Forrester Savell (Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect), Jimi Maroudas (Eskimo Joe, Bertie Blackman), Steven Schram (San Cisco, Shihad), and Gareth Parton (The Go! Team, The Breeders), pictured. Muso’s Greg Phillips puts questions to three of the four panellists and offers a sneak preview of the kind of information you may obtain by attending the session.

Perspective. Really hard one to get, really important to have a handle on. So take lots of little breaks, do some exercise, listen to other music, come back to your music fresh.

Tip for recording guitars?

Face The Music faces the producers


very mainland state in Australia now has it’s own annual music conference and each claims that their’s is the most vital. In its 5th year Victoria’s Face The Music has proved to be one of the more popular events of this kind. For all of those knowledge hungry folks out there intending to work in the music industry or wanting to learn something to further their music career, conferences like Face The Music are invaluable and I’d suggest, well worth the meager investment to attend. Taking place again at Melbourne’s fantastic Arts Centre complex and once again running in parallel with the Australian World Music Expo, the two day conference occurs on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 November. The two day event presented by The Push and Music Victoria features presentations, discussions, networking, live music, practical workshops, and the hottest tips and tools to give your music career the edge. This non-profit event is made possible by the contribution of a host of music industry professionals including high profile artists, booking agents, promoters, artist managers, music lawyers, record label directors, event managers, and publicists, generously sharing their time and experience.


Where did you get your start?

I studied at SAE in London in the mid nineties and started working as a freelance assistant at loads of the top London studiosStrongroom, Townhouse, The Church.

Most memorable session ever at studio and why? Working with The Breeders- Kim Deal was my hero since her early Pixies days so exciting and daunting to work with her.

Session most proud of and why?

Working on the first couple of Foals singles was pretty special- there was a big industry buzz around them at the time and I had to make sure the hype was matched by some decent recordings.

What do you ask of an act when you begin a session?

That they are open to experimentation in the studioit’s not necessarily about recreating their live show...

Best tip for home recordist?

Buy a few bits of better quality gear, rather than lots of cheap stuff. Concentrate on capturing good performances rather than over editing.

Tip for recording guitars?

Play well! Get guitar tones right at source rather than over EQing in the mix. Guitar choice/pick up choice/ amp choice/ pedal choice/mic choice- all change the sound hugely- these days I’ll often record a direct signal from the guitar as well as the amp (I can then re-amp this signal later to add any missing timbres)

Tip for recording vocals?

Make sure the headphone mix is right- too loud and the vocalist will oversing. Having a great vocal mic, pre-amp and compressor always helps..

Biggest studio no-no for an artist?

This might sound a bit square but ... musicians getting wasted in the studio might seem fun at the time but 99% of the time gives crappy results.

What do you see the producer’s role as?

It depends on the band- more experienced musicians just need to know that they’re performances are being captured properly, less experienced ones need to be coached and given a helping hand. People management is a big part of it.

If you could work with any act in the world, who would it be? Sonic Youth- I’m a fan boy.

JIMI MAROUDAS Where did you get your start?

I have been playing music for as long as I can remember. Elvis was my first inspiration inspiring me to pick up the guitar at the age of 4. As far as music production goes, I got a 4 track recorder for my 16th birthday, 7 years later I landed an assisting gig at Sing Sing studios which was a massive turning point and a life changing experience.

Most memorable session ever at studio and why? This is so tough as there are so

many wonderful memories in the studio. One moment that I recall is being in Paul Kelly’s bungalow/recording studio at the back of his house. We were recording Paul and Troy Cassar-Daley singing a duet. So there we were, squeezed into the bungalow and Paul is nonchalantly leaning on a mattress that is resting against a wall. Hardly raising his head to the microphone, he proceeds to deliver a jaw dropping performance! I remember Nash Chambers (who was producing) and I looking at each other thinking this is just incredible!

Session most proud of and why?

When I was just starting out as a producer and engineer I received a call from The Living End to record and mix some b-sides for their forthcoming album release. I was super excited to be working with the guys and promised myself that I would work as hard as I possibly could to impress. We recorded 6 songs in 3 days and I mixed them all in 2 days. Throughout the recording session I could overhear the guys making flattering comments about how it was all sounding (bear in mind that they had just finished their album with Nick Launay who is absolutely incredible!). I just kept my head down and kept working. On our day off between recording and mixing their manager called asking if there were any rough mixes to listen to because the band couldn’t stop raving about how the session was going. An empty taxi was sent to my house and I popped the only cd with rough mixes into the backseat of the car to be taken straight to management. A month later, I receive a call from the band’s management saying “Just thought we’d let you know that we’re here mastering the album and the band loved what you did so much that a track you did has made the record! Congratulations” Six Months later I was back in the studio working on an exclusive recording with the guys the week that the album was officially released and went straight to #1. Home run!

The player and the parts are key here, but options always help. So having a number of different guitars and amps on hand is always great as you can really tailor the sound scape to fit the mood that you’re going after for any given moment. For amps, having a good sounding room can make massive difference too.

Tip for recording vocals?

Having the singer be absolutely comfortable and free from distraction is the most import thing here. I have recorded vocals in all sorts of different locations, environments and times of day, all in the attempt to have the singer feel most comfortable.

Biggest studio no-no for an artist? Going into a session not knowing what you want to get out of it. Clarity of vision and realistic expectations are really important.

What’s a benchmark album for you in regard to recording quality as opposed to quality of songs?

Quality of recording is always important and I go to great effort in continually pushing the sonic boundary. Ultimately I don’t really think about music in those terms, it either moves me emotionally or not.

If you could work with any act in the world, who would it be?

Are we bound by time? If any artist at

any time, working with Elvis on “American Trilogy’ (or “Wooden Heart”)


Where did you get your start?

Chris Thompson at Triple J was kind enough to let me tag along to Live At The Wireless recordings and broadcasts.

Most memorable session ever at studio and why?

Peggy Frew from Art of Fighting stopping mid vocal take to run off and deliver her baby.

Session most proud of and why? Nobody got stabbed during the making of the Ground Components album. Close, but we avoided bloodshed.

What do you ask of an act when you begin a session? To really listen to each others parts.

Best tip for home recordist?

Sounds good, is good.

Tip for recording guitars?

Small amps and well set up guitars. One microphone.

Tip for recording vocals?

Don’t stare at them when they are singing.

Biggest studio no-no for an artist? Being late.

What do you see the producer’s role as?

The bus driver with a load of screaming school kids all wanting to go somewhere different. Some of them have motion sickness and some are wanting you to teach them how to drive.

Do you think you have your own sonic style?

Yes, Rough around the edges. Heaps distorted and over compressed. www.facethemusic.


have lives. If it’s not a brand new instrument, they come with a history and a life you are not really aware of. You know when you pick them up. Maybe it doesn’t even sound that good, it doesn’t really matter sometimes. It just feels right and you have a connection with them when you hold them. It allows you to do what you want to do with them and not get caught up in that equipment thing.

It’s been seven long years since The Wallflowers last release, Rebel, Sweetheart. Son of Bob, Jakob Dylan and his floral mates return with a brand new album Glad All Over and invite Clash and Big Audio Dynamite legend Mick Jones to assist on a couple of dub-flavoured tracks. Jakob called up local guitar slinger and Wallflowers fan Shannon Bourne to chat about it all.

Shannon: Yeah some of the old guitars with no real brand name can have a funky tone about them.

The seven year itch Shannon: Reboot The Mission is one of the Mick Jones tracks on the album which turned out great. What was it like working with Mick Jones? Jakob: Well, the band had recorded that song and we knew we were doing something in their territory. I just saw them recently and talked and said if there was anything we could ever do together, we would. We both wanted to. Anything to have the sensational Mick Jones join us. Shannon: What kind of guitars and tones did he bring to the table? Jakob: To tell you the truth, we sent him a file which is how people do things these days. I’d like to be able to tell you we stayed up all night in New York City or something but we sent him the tracks and he was generous enough to spend some time on them. I wish I could tell you what he did but I don’t think the equipment he used matters that much as he has such tremendous tone in his fingers. To me, it would sound like Mick Jones whatever equipment he used. Shannon: I have noticed quite a change in sound from Bringing Down The Horse to the latest album. Was that to do with having a different producer on

board as opposed to T Bone Burnett? Jakob: I don’t think so. I don’t think we were conscious of that. You know, things happen over time... bands evolve, people evolve, abilities change. I suppose it does sound a lot different to Bringing Down The Horse, I hope it does. I don’t think any of us would really know how to redo anything... that record or a different one. There’s a whole lot of factors which go into making a record. People’s interest in it or just something in the air at the time can’t be reproduced.

Shannon: I noticed some dry, funky tones on the record with the piano and also some dub textures. Was that something you or your producer decided to go with?

lot of stuff we haven’t done, so we say, ‘let’s discuss that’. So if you hear something like Motown or funk or whatever, it’s because we haven’t done it before and realising there is still stuff to do. Shannon: Was it more you bringing stuff to the table or the band writing together from the ground up?

Jakob: No Jay [ Joyce] doesn’t work that way. He’s played guitar with us. He was on Bringing Down The Horse actually. He’s not that type of producer. He’s very much a part of this band when making records, he’s such a fine guitar player. We just mess around with stuff and discuss our favourite music and there’s a

Jakob: Yes it was very much that. I brought a few completed songs to the table which is how historically the band has done things. When we first started talking about getting back together, when we discussed it , everyone wanted to be more involved. One of the key things we were looking for was... would the record feel good? Shannon: When you write, do you gravitate to any particular guitar? I have seen you with a nice White Tele and a few different acoustics. Does the instrument indicate what you are going to do? Jakob: I have a lot of stuff and sometimes it is nice to see familiar things around. I’m not sentimental about them or materialistic, there are just things I like and when I turn around, they are still there. I used to collect that stuff and be more interested. Instruments

Jakob: The life that they lived before you got your hands on them, you know, they lived and breathed. You can pick up a massively expensive instrument that doesn’t feel like anything. Maybe it sat in the back of a closet for years and didn’t live. You know, someone may not know it but they might have Charles Manson’s guitar! Can you imagine the stories it wants to tell? Shannon: I wouldn’t want to! Jakob: You never know. It wouldn’t be lost on me. I think if you would hold that guitar, you would feel something.

The energy of the player would transfer into the wood. There’s something in that guitar wherever it is. Shannon: What were the factors which made you take a seven year break from the band? Jakob: Probably a lot of communication failures. Simply put, we never stopped. The strain was gaining on us. You know with me particularly, I had never had a break or played to people outside the group. When we weren’t working, I was writing records for us. It may have seemed like the band took time off but I didn’t take time off. I was trying to write songs. It was just necessary for everybody, we were all burnt out. The classic internal issues were goin’ on. We did the right thing. There’s no need to break up under those circumstances, you just stop doing it. You don’t have to give a statement or explain to anybody, you just go and do different things. If you want to do it again anytime, we can. I don’t think we thought it would be seven years. Glad All Over is out now through Sony Music.

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-Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Virtuoso

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Prairie didn’t realise he wasn’t re-recording the original Marching Powder. He said he’d been listening to it and I laughed saying it’s a bit longer than that!�

As the first remastered and expanded solo albums of the late Tommy Bolin hit the streets, guitarist Greg Hampton talks to Michael Smith about a tribute album to Bolin, Great Gypsy Soul, that set the stage for the reissues.

Sharing production tasks between Hampton and Haynes was a natural – the pair have worked together for years, and Hampton plays in a band, 9 Chambers, with Haynes’ bass player in Gov’t Mule, Jorgen Carlsson. “We’ve known each other long enough that communication comes fairly naturally,� Hampton admits. “It’s never laboured.�


lready touting a reputation as something of a prodigy, Tommy Bolin, born in Sioux City, Iowa, 1951, was already a 24-year-old veteran when he was tapped in by Deep Purple to replace founding guitarist Richie Blackmore in 1975. He’d recently departed from The James Gang, where he’d replaced Joe Walsh, recording two albums with them

The Tommy Bolin legacy before splitting to cut his solo debut, Teaser, which featured contributions from a number of fusion players he’d worked with in the band he formed just three years before, Energy. Bolin wrote or co-wrote seven of the nine tracks on Deep Purple’s Come Taste The Band album, after which they decided to split, and headed out with his own band, recording a second album, Private Eyes, before unfortunately dying of a heroin overdose 3 December, 1976, after opening for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck earlier that evening. Released in March this year, Great Gypsy Soul is a 2CD set credited to ‘Bolin and Friends’; coproduced by guitarists Greg Hampton whose credits include albums for Alice Cooper and Lita Ford, Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule and the Allman Brothers. “Sonically,â€? Hampton suggests, “it sounds amazingly‌ I wouldn’t say modern – [but] it’s very current sounding. Some of the playing is just breathtaking, it’s ridiculous; so ahead of its time. As well as Hampton’s own Hampton Hacienda Laboratory, recordings were done at a variety of

studios that suited the various guests, involved including Wyman Studios, The Steakhouse, Command Studios, Tarpan Studios, Carriage Hose, Echo Mountain Studios, Sunset Lodge Studios and Perdenales Studios, with additional production carried out by Fabrizio Grossi, who also mixed the album with Hampton, the results mastered by Pete Doel at Universal Mastering. “At the NAMM shows every year,� Hampton continues, “all

these cats come to LA or Orange County over that course of time in January, and we were very fortunate to get quite a few performances within that timeframe. In two nights we got Warren and Joe Bonamassa, Steve Morse and Myles Kennedy [Alter Bridge]. Brad Whitford [Aerosmith] we did back east in Carolina. Nels Clines [Wilco] did some amazing stuff with [Israeli jazz guitarist] Oz Noy on that Flying Fingers

track [Disc 2]. And the version without Nels and Oz on that outtake from Teaser is incredible, seventeen minutes with Porcaro playing all those drum parts.� Completing that second disc is a piece called Marching Bag, which is broken up into four movements with Prairie Prince playing Michael Narada Walden’s drumkit, “doing his best Narada imitation,� Hampton laughs in recollection, “on a twenty-eight minute version of Marching Powder [the version that was released on Teaser featuring Narada], which was taken from seven different takes, all different tempos and most of that drumming on there was just dodgy at best. We did that at Narada’s studio outside San Francisco. He has this drumset that never moves – he just did the new Jeff Beck record on it – it’s always mic’d, sitting in the corner, this big double-bass kit, green sparkle, and it’s got to be the best-sounding drumkit I’ve ever heard in my life. But

The Teaser album was originally recorded at The Record Plant, Electric Lady and Trident Studios, Bolin producing with Lee Kiefer, apart from two tracks produced by Dennis MacKay, who also mixed the album at Trident Studios in London. Hampton produced, with Bolin’s drummer brother, Johnnie, the other two CDs of alternate and outtakes included in The Ultimate Teaser, mixing them again at Hampton Hacienda Laboratory with Jeremy Mackenzie. Hampton’s approach to this record was simply – “Trying to make it sound as good as I could. The drums, again, were

the biggest juggling act to get to sound good, but [Bolin’s] playing is just stellar – that was the main thing. There was just so much stuff – there’s some other jammy stuff that’s gonna be released too. He’d go up to the Hollywood Hills to this guy’s place that had a rehearsal studio with a lot of guys he’d be touring with – that man’s energy was just incredible – but it’s not multitracked, a lot of it. It is what it is – source material. Some of it is quite good, some of it‌ you know, not,� he laughs again. Overall though, it’s gonna be great for other people to discover.� As for Bolin’s second and final album, Private Eyes, a lot of the original multitracks have been lost, but his death inevitably meant not nearly as much additional material was recorded so the reissue, when it’s released, won’t be quite as expansive as the Teaser triple-disc set. For these tracks, Hampton points out , he didn’t use an amp at all for his solos on the recording, opting solely for DI. Both Great Gypsy Soul and The Ultimate Teaser are both out now on 429 Records through Universal.

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2011 #47





Behringer X32 Digital mixer


igital consoles have become popular with sound engineers over the last decade due to the abundant features and ease of operation. These consoles have been very expensive and out of reach for many, but Behringer is about to change that. The Behringer X32 is the new kid on the block and boasts jam-packed functions and features at a price point that will impress the most discerning buyer. Since acquiring sister companies Midas & Klark Teknik, technological ideas from those brands have been implemented into the X32’s preamps as well as the effects and EQ algorithms. What you’ll notice about this 32 channel, 40 input console is the neat layout, so even if you are a first time user you will get your head around it fairly quickly. The 25 mix buses, which includes eight DCA (Digitally Controlled Amplifier) groups with simultaneous group level control, come equipped with serious signal processing (dynamics, EQ and inserts), which can be configured quickly to meet the demands of virtually any gig, large or small.



he H4N is the next generation of the widely popular Zoom H4, improving on the size of the display and adding a new 4-Channel capture mode.

As far as the X32’s use of motorised faders, Behringer decided to design and build the scribble screens and faders in-house, offering the features and functions of a much pricier console. Another handy feature is the dedicated view buttons for every section on the console surface, so you don’t have to go through multiple layers to access basic functions.

Another feature on the X32 is that the 32 channels of audio can connect from a computer via the USB/Firewire interface card slot on the rear panel. There are also two sets of 48 digital inputs on the desk itself. These use the AES50 ‘SuperMACí standard, an ultralow latency audio network hooked up with standard Cat 5 Ethernet cabling primarily intended for connecting Behringerís new S16 digital stage boxes. With up to three units per AES50 interface, a total of 96 sources and 48 returns are accessible from the console. The X32 straight out of the box lets you record your tracks straight into your DAW. You get compatibility with ProTools, Logic, Cubase and other ASIO or Core-Audio compatible DAWís.

On the top left section of the mixer, you have a dedicated channel strip section featuring 17 backlit buttons and 13 rotary controls with LED-collars right at your fingertips. This provides easy adjustment for each channel’s compressor, 4-band parametric EQ, gates and much more, all clearly functional and easy to set up.

Some other specs include: Midas-designed, fully programmable microphone preamps for audiophile sound quality,40-bit floating-point DSP features “unlimited” dynamic range with no internal overload and near-zero overall latency, 32 x 32 channel audio interface over FireWire and USB 2.0, with DAW remote control emulating HUI and Mackie Control, iPad app for professional remote operation available free of chargeóno host PC required, high-resolution 7” day-viewable colour TFT for easy viewing of workflow components and parameters, future firmware updates, including new FX ìPlug Insî, downloadable from free of charge, USB type-A connector providing file storage and uncompressed stereo recordings plus show presets and system updates, Ultranet connectivity for Behringer’s P-16 Personal Monitoring System plus AES/EBU stereo digital output and MIDI, and networked remote control.

Below the channel strip is the 16 motorised input faders providing 32 high-end programmable mic preamps (switchable banks) as well as 6 balanced Line Ins and Outs on 1/4” TRS, 16 balanced XLR Outs, plus dual Phones and balanced Control Room outputs on both XLR and 1/4” TRS connectors. Scribble strips on each channel are backlit with dimmer functionality and let you change the colors and customise the labels. The scribble strips change with

Overall, I would’ve liked more time with the X32 but I was confident in using this desk after only a few hours of use. There is so much more this console can do and as far as a digital console costing goes, this one is a fraction of its competitors. This guy is going to turn a few heads. So clubs, houses of worship, school auditoriums or musos looking for a live/ recording console, it is definitely worth checking out. The X32 comes with a three-year warranty and is a definite mustsee at your authorised stockist. The game is about to change!




the layer that youíre on and you can also route your inputs/outputs to create custom fader layers.

The X32 is armed with a wide selection of FX modules that you’d need. There are eight stereo or 16 mono effects which are fully assignable such as echo, delay, reverbs and even guitar cabinet emulators to name just a few. Guitar cab emulators are great when you either don’t have enough room on a stage for your Marshall 4x12 or the amp goes down before a show. The player can plug directly into the system via a DI, and off you go with a high-quality emulator, keeping the show going. Klark Teknik have delivered in this department, providing crisp quality and user-friendly effects which are extremely useful and dispenses with racks of out-board gear.

Zoom H4N Handy Recorder

Just looking at the unit I was impressed, with its solid build, perfectly positioned XY stereo mics, large on-screen display and simple to use interface. This unit is far more flexible than one might think, operating in three modes for stereo, 4-channel surround and multi-track record. The stereo mics can be adjusted at 90º or 120º, and a mid-side matrix decoder allows for extra spatial dimension during field capture. Two XLR inputs also take Hi-Z ¼” guitar leads so you can plug your guitar/ bass/drum machine straight in, and the addition of 24/48V phantom power means any type of mic is compatible with this unit.



The specs on paper are pretty impressive, with up to 24-bit 96 kHz WAV/320kbps MP3 recording, it records audio as well as a DAW. With 32-bit effects processing and up to 50 types of effects including guitar/bass amp sim, reverbs, delays, modulation, and compression, so every sound source has a suitable effects chain. All the information is stored on an SD storage card (the unit comes with a 2G card and can go up to 32G), and can be transferred to computer via USB. When using ‘Stamina Mode’ you get up to 11 hours of continuous recording and even Cubase LE 6 is bundled in, should you wish to edit further I tested the Zoom H4N in Stereo, 4-Channel and Multi-Track modes to see what it was capable of. I grabbed my acoustic, set it to stereo mode, threw on some headphones and played. All you have to do is adjust your headphone level, mic level, hit record and play, and you’re off recording a stereo track at 44.1 kHz/ 16 Bit WAV. The quality is nothing short of studio grade and the onboard mics sound amazing if you’re just singing along with an acoustic guitar. This function is perfectly suited to singer/songwriters


that want to capture spur of the moment. ideas You can even email your band mates the MP3s later. The onboard compressors and low cut were an amazing way of adjusting different environments, ensuring levels are balanced and clipping is absent in noisy places Activating the 4-Channel was a great way to add extra depth to your field recordings, sounding wonderful on pianos when paired with a couple of close condensers. You can even use it for capturing a simple drum kit by close miking the kick and snare while using the XYs overhead. Multi-Track mode was where this unit really shines, allowing a little demo to come together quickly. Plug in a drum machine, bass or guitar and use the onboard amp sims for convincing amp modeling to put together a killer demo in no time. The Zoom H4N is the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of portable recording, with so many features making it relevant, for so many situations.



here’s something to be said for a familyrun business, even if it’s grown way beyond that. The hard working ethos and passion for the product usually seems to underly the corporate facade and this is what I’ve found to be the case with Canada’s Godin guitar company. When I received a Godin Core HB model guitar for review, I knew to expect a certain level of craftsmanship and ingenuity. There are three models all up in the Core range including the EMG and P90 pickup models. The HB relates to the twin humbuckers featured on this model. My first emotion on sighting the guitar was delight. I wasn’t expecting such a hotrod looking, rock’n’roll instrument. The trans red coloured, single cutaway instrument with black scratch plate and tone control knobs is striking to the eye. The mahogany set neck, rosewood fingerboard and beautiful chambered solid mahogany body scream quality. A 3-way pick-up selector switch is in white rather than black for a bit of contrast. A shining Graphtech Resomax silver bridge adds to the aesthetic. The headstock features Godin chrome plated contemporary-type tuners and signature logo. The guitar is quite weighty in the hands without being back-breaking, and before playing a lick you know it’s going to ring out and sustain like a son of a gun. The 22 fret, 300mm radius fingerboard with a 629mm scale length allows for sleek fret runs without being super slippery and makes for a generous note bend. Due to the chambered construction it’s possible to output some bold, chunky chords and smooth semiacoustic jazz stylings, characteristics you’ll find in many Godins. However, switch the Nitro humbuckers to rock mode and fuzz away to your heart’s content. From fluid George Benson-like licks to Neil Young-style sustained distortion, this guitar had both genres sorted fabulously. Unlike some of the other innovative Godin models, this is more of a workhorse-like instrument, free of fuss. The Trans Red colour tone is mighty attractive, but you may favour the

equally stunning Denim Flame model in blue, the Lightburst or Sunburst options. Comparatively speaking, the Core series is up against your Epiphone SG or Les Paul models and may be a little more expensive. It all comes down to whether you want something a little different and a little more exotic than the bog-standard guitar everyone else owns. Godin guitars are designed and manufactured in Canada. A nice human touch to each Godin instrument is the quality assurance tag which hangs from every guitar depicting 12 check-off points from body/neck finish and electronic install to intonation set up, final inspection and packing, each initialled by a Godin employee in ink. A small detail but one which proves they care about the products they manufacture and more importantly about the musicians who buy their instruments.


DV Mark Triple 6




V Mark is an Italian brand which has developed a devout group of followers from gear heads and guitarists to producers and engineers all over the world. And while their gear may have been sometimes placed in a corner with the Stratocaster-playing dad rockers, The Triple 6, or 666 for Slayer fans, is about to change this trend.

Channel one is the clean channel, and it’s a nice rounded warm vibe. It doesn’t really have any break up, even when you push the gain. That can be good or bad depending



Two AA batteries power the unit’s bright led display, three rotary knobs control parameters and access different pages, a single stomp switch activates effects, engages the tuner or works as a tap tempo and four cursor buttons change effects and allow you to make up a chain. Navigation is ‘child’s play’ and anything unknown is easily resolved in the manual. I began by testing this unit the same way as a stomp box, between my guitar and amp, setting a clean tone and running through the 30 presets. Straight off the bat the first preset, ‘RAT Drive’ gave me a great rock tone. Here, five effects were chained together, a noise gate, distortion pedal, parametric equalizer, graphic EQ and a delay. You can select up to 6 effects at once and chain them together in different configurations, but beware there is a DSP limit in play. What’s even better is that any alterations made to the effects when scrolling back and forth are remembered by the unit without having to save.

6 4

Distortions sounded thick and meaty, and thanks to the Zoom ZFX IV processor, tones don’t sound too harsh or ‘digital’. Standout distortions were the ‘Squeak’ (RAT) and ‘T Scream’ (Ibanez Tubescreamer) which both sounded similar to the real deal, but certain pedals like the ‘MetalWLRD’ (Metal Zone) really failed to hit the mark, having only one tone knob as opposed to four to shape your sound. Instead, for a metal distortion I chose the ‘Squeak’, threw in a noise gate and scooped some



The Mini Mofo pumps out 15 watts of Class-A tone, with two EL 84’s firing the power amp and three 12AX7’s in the pre. Four cascading gain stages give all the drive you could ever need with the included footswitch operating the Mofo gain. Middle, Bass, Treble and Presence make up the EQ section with the Master volume controlling overall volume in conjunction with the Stealth switch (stealthily positioned underneath the head) dipping the wattage. There are two separate tone shaping inputs for US and UK tones, a series effects loop (which requires a stereo insert cable), 8 and 16 ohm outputs for a range of different cabs, and it all comes built in a cool, see-through steel chassis. Plugged in, the difference between

Now, powerful processing gets even smaller in the form of the Zoom MS-50G Multi Stomp pedal, a multi-effects processor housed in a single stomp box. Small effects processors have been around for a while, but I haven’t come across any that contain 55 effects consisting of 8 amp models, 12 dynamics/ filter effects, 10 distortions, 2 clean effects (including an acoustic sim), 13 mod/ sfx and 10 delay/ reverbs.

Hayden Mini Mofo and 112 Cab

he Hayden Mini Mofo is a little freak of an amplifier, with more gain and grunt than most full-sized heads. There are a variety of voicing’s on tap from warm cleans to mild break-up, or classic ‘Plexi’ rock to full blown metal mayhem.

the two inputs is that the US seems to have a bigger rounder bass like an old Fender or Mesa, whereas the UK has a grittier midrange and chime like a Vox or Marshall Plexi. I started with my Strat plugged into the US input scanning through the clean tones. The cleanest sounds came by turning the Master all the way up and keeping the Mofo all they way down, then using the gain to delicately set the volume. This resulted in a very clean, pristine tone with a nice fat bottom and jangly presence. There’s no reverb with this amp, but the series FX loop would eat up some reverb or delay for this type of sound. Turning the Master down and increasing gain brought about a mild drive along the lines of a Fender Deluxe or Blues Junior, whereas going all out and using some Mofo resulted in a nice flabby Mesa-style lead tone.



fter having reviewed quite a number of different Walden guitars over the years, one thing always rings true, they’ve always been great value for money. Walden guitars are solid in construction and attractive in design, but more importantly always seem to play well and sound great too.

Six custom gold machineheads with satin black buttons aid tuning, and a Graphtech Fossalite nut and saddle cut to perfection, mimicking the tone of a vintage bone nut. Two glass fibre rails sit in the neck just before the headstock adding extra stability and extra tonal harmonics. The action is set low and string tension is loose, perfect for lead guitarists, beginners or players that are sick of shredding the callouses on stubborn strings, and the neck profile is shallow, smooth and makes for hours of comfortable, stress-free playing.


Amp modeling was okay too, (nothing close to Fractal Audio or Line 6) and it’d be possible to go to a gig and plug the pedal straight into the desk for a useable tone. However, I’d suggest this pedal is designed to plug straight into a guitar amp. The Marshall Plexi, Fender Deluxe and Vox emulations sounded good and the Diezel model came close in 4th place. The real standout effects for me (besides the distortions) were the funky auto-wah and voice box, incredibly simple and effective noise gate, superb reverbs and delays, and a great Univibe effect. Tracking on the harmony and pitch shifting devices is spot on also and will please players who like these types of effects. In summing up, the Zoom Multi Stomp MS-50G is a brilliant device and would make a handy addition to any guitarist’s pedal board. Who knows, next time your amp blows a fuse at a gig or rehearsal you might even find yourself plugging one straight into the PA.


A scalloped spruce X-brace sits under the top alongside carefully carved tone bars stabilising the soundboard and providing detailed clarity and an open voice for this instrument. North American Sitka spruce is the pick for the top and is renowned for its balanced voice and strong attack, adding extra detail and crisp overtones in the mix.

Over on the UK input it’s a different story, as this amp magically transforms into a classic rock machine, eating up every note from my Les Paul. The bass becomes more subtle and immediate, the mids more focussed, the treble barking like a Marshall and the presence extremely sensitive. I hit the stealth switch and pumped the master for a saturated, responsive tone. I love how this amp adjusts to your playing, and it’s possible to get all your tones from the guitar by adjusting pickups and rolling the volume up or down.

mids with a couple of EQs in order to get a really impressive tone.

Walden Natura G740CE Acoustic

The body on the Natura G740CE is something different, coming in a ‘Grand Auditorium’ design, where the body is wider at the lower bout and narrower at the upper bout, with a beautiful Venetian cutaway allowing easy access to higher frets. The materials are all solid wood, a hard Sitka spruce top, light mahogany back, neck and sides and dark rosewood bridge and fingerboard.

One thing that’s immediately obvious is how much tonal range is available with the four band EQ – it’s so wide and musical with a massive dynamic range. You can go from mid-scooped metal to honky vintage leads and everywhere in between. The bass is solid too, even with the Eminence equipped Hayden 1 by 12 cab. The presence was really overbearing to my ears, so I liked keeping the treble up and the presence low as sort of master cut for the highs.

The Hayden Mini Mofo head and cab work beautifully together, being made for guitarists seeking a wide range of tones for recording, gigging, or setting that one perfect tone and using your guitar for dynamics. For a little amp, the Hayden Mofo does a hell of a lot.


hose mad scientists at the Zoom laboratories have done it yet again. For those in the know, these Japanese audio gurus have been leading the pack with their pint-sized handheld audio (and video) recorders for quite some time, also making a memorable stamp on the guitarists’ collective consciousness with their 505 and G series effects.

Channel two offers as much gain as you’ll ever need. I had the gain about halfway and was playing through every metal riff I’ve ever played. The amp puts are a really tight, distorted tone. It’s clear, crisp and you can really play some faster, intricate stuff without it being swallowed in saturation. That was the best thing about the amp for me, the fact that no matter how low I had my guitar tuned, the amp still put out a clear and powerful sound. Channel three is just a bigger, nastier version of channel two, and is marketed as the ‘Lead’ channel, which seems fairly redundant considering the footswitch has a solo function to boost the volume for lead breaks. So basically the amp sounds fantastic, and for a metal/hardcore/hard rock player looking for a versatile amp I think this is a great solution. It doesn’t have the muddy wash of the Mesa and it’s a tighter, less ‘fizzy’ amp than the Peaveys. My only qualm is that the amp navigation took a little getting used to. However, if you are patient enough to brush your long metal hair every night, you are most likely patient enough to play this amp.

Zoom MS-50G Multi Stomp


on personal taste. Importantly, it sounds great. A lot of amps made for ‘metal’ forget about clean, so its nice that this amp has the ability to really showcase DV Mark’s ability to create a really nice sounding tone.

This 120 Watt all valve 3 channel amp is based on the DV Mark Bad Boy, with the main change being a more aggressive gain and tone controls. It’s got a bunch of cool features like selfbiasing, loop assign, usual channel switch and a solo button. It has equalisation for each channel, presence and gain control, as well a volume.



Visually, the quality and colour of woods is quite attractive, a soft vanilla spruce top, golden brown mahogany back, sides and neck and a dark tan finish on the headstock. The rosette features a nice blend of abalone and pinstripe to match surrounding white plastic pinstripe bindings, and mini dot markers add a modern, minimalist vibe to the fretboard. Unplugged she sounds great, very evenly balanced without too much top or bottom end. There is

a nice sparkle of presence resulting from a combination of fresh strings and great construction making lighter picks and fingerstyle playing sound crisp and airy. Lead guitar playing is especially good with the lower action and light string tension, as it’s so desirable for bending strings, vibrato and hammerons and pull offs. Plugged in, the B-Band T-35 is a simple, clear and bright preamp, utilizing a piezo pickup under the bridge saddle to provide tones. It’s a very brilliant sounding guitar when plugged in that would sit beautifully at the top of a dense mix, ideal alongside a couple of electric guitars or perhaps capo’d to sound a bit like a mandolin. The Walden Natura G740CE is another quality choice in a saturated market of acoustics under $1000, its appeal lying in comfort, tone and ease of use. The pickup is very easy to operate, and it would be hard to get a poor tone out of it with its wide, musical 3-band EQ.


Product: Casio XW-G1


t’s not unfair to say that in the past, the name Casio hasn’t figured highly in discussions about must have, hi-tech music making gear. However, it’s clear the company is now intent on making a bit of a statement with its two new synths, the XW-P1 and the XW-G1. The former is very much a player’s instrument with a vast range of synth, organ and rhythm sounds, and handy features such as ‘hex’, which allow the layering of up to six sounds. However, the XW-G1 is a slightly different beast, aimed at what might be diplomatically termed the ‘DJ’ market. With its amazing new features, the XW-G1 will add some grunt and inspiration to the DJ and dance music setting.

keyboard. I also immediately noticed the nonslip area on the top right, which would be ideal for an iPod, or similar such device.

It’s essentially a sixoscillator synthesiser with the capacity to record phrases and samples. It looks great and two things initially struck me - how light it was and how ‘generous’ it is with 61 keys. These are weighted just a little so they’re much more fun to play than the usual ‘springy’ kind of synth

It has all the expected ins and outs on the back panel, but one handy feature is the option to run other devices through its processing engines. The XW-G1 is in essence a production workstation. It’s generally laid out in a functional manner, and features the sorts of capabilities that’ll appeal to DJs who want to take their performance up a notch – the preset sounds are very ‘club’ and there are plenty of rhythm kits and so forth. It’s probably not intended to be a standalone piece of kit and shouldn’t be judged as such. What it can do is provide a considerable presence to DJ and live electronic music performance, and its sequencing/sampling capability allows complex phrases to be stored and played with one key stroke.




The main controls are divided into what are essentially three main areas. The left deals with the editability of tones, with four assignable knobs, and nine sliders. Three parameter program button options on the left allow the sliders to be used for different sound editing functions. It also doubles as the event editor for the sequencer function and is laid out in a way reminiscent of classic Roland kit synonymous with techno. I could speculate that Casio may have felt this was a kind of genre standard. The right-hand section deals with navigating around the preset sounds and user banks. It’s the middle that will interest the dance music fraternity greatly however. This area has the main volume knob as well as controls for the three main functions - performance mode, tone editing mode and the step sequencer. In performance mode the keyboard can be divided into four and there are 100 user and 100 preset tones, available plus the capacity to play prerecorded sequences and phrases. Tone editing allows the user to generate new tones, while the 16-step sequencer consists of nine note parts and four control parts. Five of these are for drums, one for bass, two for solo instruments and one for chords; however there’s still plenty of scope to create phrases for jamming, or augmenting a performance. Additionally, there’s the sampling capability, with up to 19 seconds per sample available. Used intelligently this is the kind of firepower that’ll make you look good.

W 10 8

The Kemper Profiling Amp is quite different from all of its so-called competitors, as it’s genuinely the first of its kind. The KPA allows you to capture (profile if you will) the sound of any amp and quicker than Usain Bolt runs a 100-metre sprint. This is a new and unparalleled approach to guitar tube amp sounds. You can profile all and any amps you have, with your favorite sounds and/or cabs. You can even swap profiles with others on the net. There are already a number of people with vintage amp collections who have shared their profiles. I’m already thinking about two of my mates’ amps I’d love to profile - Shannon Bourne’s Gretsch Amp and Vinny Mancuso’s (Freestate) Modified Mesa. Well I’m that guy (like most guitarists) that is too excited to read the manual and likes to get straight into a new piece of gear headfirst. Lucky there’s an array of presets. So with its multiple output options, I plugged into my studio setup and got going. I immediately found Plexi and JCM 800 profiles (two of my favorites in the Marshall range) that brought a smile to my face (good start KPA). In the past when using a Simulator/Emulator I’ve always found that where they were lacking was in the sound of the air that only a mic’d amp gives you. I love that I can profile an amp with a mic other than a 57 or a 421 and can now use some of my favorite ribbon mics . I found most of the preset profiles very usable. So much so, I got straight to work on replacing guitars I recorded on a Jimmy Cupples track I was producing. I found it easy to modify the profile, adding and




The same can be said for its similarities in sound. To begin with, I ran the guitar through a Marshall valve amp and that classic rock sound we all know so well was clear and present. It’s important to remember that this model is in the sub $1000 price range and therefore equivalent to the Epiphone range of Les Pauls, and like the Americans, the sound is very close to the real thing.

The sound is rich and the guitar is really easy to play. When soloing with distortion, the sustain holds for days and coupled with a big muff pedal, the tone is irresistibly bold. The clean sound held its own too, but let’s face it, this guitar is in its element with the gain knobs turned up.


My only concern is with the tuning heads standing the test of time. This is an issue with all brands that have models within this price range, so it’s nothing new. If you really want to remedy the problem you can buy some standalone tuning heads. You might also consider this guitar’s bigger brother the ALS140F, if you’re serious about upgrading to a prolevel guitar with extra pickup grunt.

When you take a step back and look at the guitar, it’s hard to believe the price. It’s a really well-built guitar that sounds legit and the finished product is quite impressive. I must admit that I busted out “Sweet Child of Mine” and apart from my suspect playing, the tone was identical to the recording. You can definitely achieve the look and the sound with this model.


he Audya 4 is presented as a state-ofthe-art modern Expander and Arranger module; in simpler terms, it allows you to create accompaniments, backing tracks, and play along with them. Although you may be forgiven for thinking that this may be a very confusing and complicated device, you’d be mistaken. The interface is very user-friendly and allows you to navigate through the device quickly and with ease. And it’s a device that many players, arrangers and performers will find a very useful and valuable tool in their arsenal. Ketron have been around since the early ‘80s, are based in Italy, and have a rich history for audio interfaces, keyboards and PA systems. Since Ketron’s renowned MS60 / MS40 series was launched back in the early ‘90s, Ketron has been at the forefront of the industry and the Audya 4 is definitely consolidating that.


subtracting gain, highs, lows, mids, etc. The KPA even has a number of onboard effects Delay, Reverbs, Mods, etc, that are very easy to control My recording setup/ studio is in a residential area. Out of respect to my neighbours, I usually halt drum recordings at 6pm and guitar recordings no later than 9pm. The KPA comes in very handy for those late night sessions. Anyone who has recorded guitar knows the variables of mic placement on a speaker cone. Sometimes you come up with a killer sound in an unlikely way i.e. a room mic and a close mic and so on. It’s quite cool that I can take a snapshot of my recorded rig and use it at anytime. So you’re all getting the gist that I want one, right? Well you’d be correct. In fact I think you’re going to be seeing the KPA in a lot of recording studios in time. I think once you get over that it looks like a machine you’d see in an Intensive Care Unit and use your ears to judge, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Will it replace real amps in the future? Probably not, but I think they will co exist peacefully.

Ketron Audya 4 Advanced Music Station


The intonation was great from the word go. Every note was pitch perfect. This is due to the sturdiness of the neck and the whole guitar for that matter, which is really evident when you pick it up.

With this model, Tokai shows once again they’re the real deal and that’s no false boast. Check out the list of players who have slung a Tokai around their neck, not least the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Since 1997 they’ve been producing Fender’s Japanese line which sees them really as the masters of the sub $1000 market these days.


e’ve all read the sensationalist claims of various guitar amp simulator/emulator manufacturers suggesting they have the upper hand with this new technology… some assert their products are even better than the real thing. Before going any further, I feel compelled to let you know I’ve always been a tube amp guy, with brands like Fender, Vox, Marshall, Mesa/ Boogie and even some of the more boutique brands like Ulbrick and Badcat being among my favorites. I love the purity of tone that a good quality valve amp provides and have been lucky enough to have heard and own quite a few in my time.

Tokai Lp Style ALS-48

laying this guitar was my first expedition into the world of Tokai. Although I’ve held down many conversations with friends in the past about the fabled Japanese brand, our paths have never actually crossed. The first thing that hits you is its striking resemblance to the American brand on which the model is clearly based. This model in particular (the LP STYLE ALS-48), is shaped like the Gibson Les Paul and in the Cherry Sunburst colour, the Jimmy Page look is certainly achieved.

Kemper Profiling AMP

The Audya 4 has over 560 in-built groove styles and 370 drum sequences, making it almost impossible not to find the right beat for your song, be it original or a cover. If for some reason you can’t find one, the device allows you to import you own drum samples and sequences; you can also start from scratch and create your own within the device. It has over 150 guitar patterns, allowing you to select a style, as well as the key and the chords or notes. It also includes a massive bank of bass guitar, ambient sounds and special effects, offering the user a total sonic experience. The device is made with both home studio and live situations in mind, with plenty of inbuilt effects including reverb, chorus, flanger and delay. It has two XLR inputs so you can have two vocals at any one time, with individual effects on either channel, MIDI in, into two through and 32 MIDI channels and two line inputs. You can play your guitar straight into the music station and use the in-built effects and play straight through the PA - no more lugging around a sequencer and amps or a pedal board.

This unit is such an impressive piece of kit, it’s impossible to even to talk about half of the abilities this gives the user. More features I haven’t mentioned include the Pro level multiplayer with up to six tracks simultaneously playing back, playlists, the ability to pre fader listen to your tracks, cross fades etc etc, input harmonisers and a state of the art vocaliser. Built with the working musician in mind, it’s easy to use and the 17 sliders allow fast and easy real-time control over effects and volumes. Although I have barely scratched the surface of this device, you can see why the Ketron Audya 4 is going to be the preferred arranger and sequencer for many performers. Do yourself a favour; get down to your local music store and spend some time with one - you won’t regret it. I’m off to delve further into this beast.



Muso Issue 2  

Muso Issue 2

Muso Issue 2  

Muso Issue 2